Sony SLT-A35

      Photo Review 9

      In summary

       An affordable, lightweight DSLR with an electronic viewfinder and useful high-speed recording modes.Sony’s just-announced SLT-A35 takes the 16.2-megapixel sensor and the Translucent Mirror Technology (TMT) technology from the popular SLT-A55V and includes them in a smaller, lighter and lower-priced camera body. Introduced to replace the SLT-A33 model, it has a fixed LCD monitor and its continuous shooting speeds at full resolution are half those offered by the A55, which remains in Sony’s range. Like the SLT-A33 , the A35 lacks a GPS receiver. . . [more]

      Full review



      Sony’s new SLT-A35 takes the 16.2-megapixel sensor and the Translucent Mirror Technology (TMT) technology from the popular SLT-A55V and includes them in a smaller, lighter and lower-priced camera body. Introduced to replace the SLT-A33 model, it has a fixed LCD monitor and its continuous shooting speeds at full resolution are half those offered by the A55, which remains in Sony’s range. Like the SLT-A33 , the A35 lacks a GPS receiver.

      We’ve covered the advantages and disadvantages of the TMT technology in our review of the SLT-A55V. On the plus side, it displays the same view as the sensor captures and allows you to assess shots without having to remove the camera from your eye. You can also record video while looking through the finder. On the minus side, it has the granularity of an EVF, although the A35’s finder is better than most.

      Build and Ergonomics
      Like the A55, the body of the A35 is made mostly of black polycarbonate which is both light and relatively robust. Its feel and conventional SLR styling are quite similar to the A55, although the new camera is roughly 30 grams lighter. Overall build quality is very good for its price tag.


      Angled front view of the new Sony A35 with the 18-55mm kit lens.

      The grip is large enough to suit users with average-sized hands but should still be comfortable for more petite users. Most of it carries a rubber-like cladding that adds handling security – particularly when you wish to shoot one-handed.


      Top view of the A35 with the 18-55mm kit lens, showing the key controls.

      The top panel control layout replicates the set-up on the A55, although there have been a couple of changes to functions on the mode dial. The 10 frames/second burst setting has been replaced with the new Tele-zoom Continuous priority AE mode, which allows a burst of images to be recorded at the top rate of seven frames/second. The edges of each frame are cropped to produce 8.4MP (3568 x 2368 pixels) images.

      The Scene sub-menu has been expanded to include a number of special effects, including settings that have become popular in cameras from other manufacturers. These replace the Creative Style settings in the previous models. Effects available for the A35 include: Toy Camera, Pop Colour, Posterisation (Colour), Posterisation (B/W), Retro Photo, High-key and Partial Colour, the latter with Red, Green, Blue and Yellow options.


      Rear view of the A35.

      The main change to the rear panel has been the replacement of the A55’s adjustable monitor with a fixed screen. The 3-inch Xtra Fine TFT LCD monitor on the A35 is the same size as the A55’s and has the same 921,600-dot resolution plus brightness adjustment.

      Aside from that, the remaining controls are identical to those on the A55. So are the base and side panels. The former has a single compartment for the battery and memory card, with the card slot accepting SD/SDHC/SDXC or Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo cards.

      The tripod socket is metal-lined and located centrally in the base panel on the optical axis of the lens mount. Three connection ports are located behind lift-up covers on the left hand side of the camera body. The larger (hard plastic) cover protects the USB and HDMI ports while two smaller (rubber) ports cover microphone and remote control terminals.

      Sensor and Image Processing
      The A35’s EXMOR CMOS sensor is the same as the sensor in the A55. Measuring 23.5 x 15.6 mm it has 16.7 million photosites with an effective output resolution of 16.2 megapixels. It’s coupled to the latest BIONZ image processor, which underpins all camera functions.

      As in other Sony DSLRs, the low-pass filter in front of the sensor is coated with a dust-repelling layer and the filter is vibrated each time the camera is turned on or off. The A35 also comes with Sony’s sensor-shift image stabilisation system which has the advantage of working with all lenses.

      Like other Sony DSLRs, the A35 records images as JPEG or ARW.RAW files. Two compression levels are provided for the former, while the latter can be captured with or without a JPEG file. Raw files are compressed losslessly and the image is fixed at 4912 x 3264 pixels.

      Two aspect ratios are selectable via the menu system: the normal 3:2 or widescreen 16:9. When raw files are recorded in widescreen mode, the longer sides of the image are cropped but the file size remains at 4912 x 3264 pixels (3:2 aspect ratio) with the cropped areas shown in black. Typical image sizes for all still capture modes are shown in the table below.

      Image size


      Aspect ratio

      Approx. File size




      4912 x 3264





      4912 x 3264



      L: 16M

      4912 x 3264



      M: 8.4M

      3568 x 2368



      S: 4M

      2448 x 1624



      L: 14M

      4912 x 2760




      M: 7.1M

      3568 x 2000



      S: 3.4M

      2448 x 1376



      Panorama (max. size, Standard mode, Horizontal)

      8192 x 1856

      4.4:1 (approx.)


      Panorama (max. size, Standard mode, Vertical)

      3872 x 2160

      1.8:1 (approx.)


      Panorama (max. size, Wide mode, Horizontal)

      12,416 x 1856

       6.7:1 (approx.)


      Panorama (max. size, Wide mode, Vertical)

      5536 x 2160

      2.56:1 (approx.)


      The A35 offers the same video recording settings as the A55, providing three resolution settings: 1920 x 1080 pixels; 1440 x 1080 pixels and 640 x 480 pixels. Full HD clips are recorded in AVCHD format, while MP4 format is used for the 1440 x 1080-pixel and 640 x 480-pixel clips. Typical recording times for a 4GB memory card are shown in the table below.



      Frame rate

      Recording time on 4GB memory card


      1920 x 1080 pixels

      17 Mbps

      28 minutes, 30 seconds


      1440 x 1080 pixels


      41 minutes, 40 seconds

      640 x 480 pixels


      2 hours, 31 minutes, 10 seconds

      As in the A55, the A35’s TMT viewing system enables phase-detection AF in movie mode, with focus readjustment while clips are recorded – provided the lens is set at maximum aperture.

      Focusing and Exposure
      The focusing and exposure systems in the A35 are essentially the same as in the A55 and covered in our review of that camera. Three focus area settings are available: Wide, Spot and Local, the latter supporting focus area selection from the 15-point array.

      The standard AF-S, AF-C and AF-A (automatic switching between the two) modes are provided, with the latter being the default for most of the Scene Selection modes. In all modes, the AF point(s) where focus is confirmed glow green.

      Face detection is also provided by default and Smile Shutter shooting (where the shutter fires when a smile is detected) is available via the Fn menu. The latter can be switched off, if desired.

      Missing is the ‘Digital Level Gauge’ which, in the A55 indicated whether the camera is being held level in both the horizontal and front-back directions and is useful for keeping horizons straight and preventing tilt-based distortions. However, otherwise the display options are the same as in the A55 and A33 and include a graphical aperture/shutter speed indicator that makes it easy to see changes in exposure in changing brightness levels.

      Camera Settings
      The main menu contains three pages of shooting settings, two pages of set-up options, two pages of playback setting, single pages for organising images on the memory card and adjusting date and time settings and three pages of ‘tools’. When you select any of the menu settings, a brief explanation of the setting pops up on the screen after roughly a second, to guide you on its usage. The default setting is on, but it can be switched off with a setting on page one of the ‘tools’ menu.

      Aside from the Tele-zoom Continuous priority AE mode and Scene mode effects mentioned above, most of the recording modes in the A35 carry over functions from the A33 and A55 DSLRs – and include some functions introduced on Sony’s Cyber-shot digicams.

      We’ve covered the Sweep Shooting modes in our review of the A55, where they were grouped under the Sweep Panorama setting.

      Like the A55, the A35 includes a 3D Sweep mode, although it was disabled in the camera provided for our review so we can’t comment on it aside from providing the options available in the table below.

      Image size


      Aspect ratio

      3D Panorama, Horizontal

      1920 x 1080


      3D Panorama, Standard

      4912 x 1080

      4.55:1 (approx.)

      3D Panorama, Wide

      7152 x 1080

      6.62:1 (approx.)

      Other handy functions include the D-Range Optimiser, which is accessed via a button just behind the shutter release. Pressing it opens a sub-menu with three settings: Off, DRO Auto and HDR Auto. The DRO Auto setting offers five levels of processing for brightening darker areas in images (such as backlit shots) without affecting correctly-exposed highlight areas. The HDR Auto setting provides six selectable levels that work on both highlights and shadows. In each, three shots are recorded with different exposure levels and combined in-camera to produce an image with an extended dynamic range. Two images are then recorded to the memory card: one with the correct exposure plus an overlaid image.

      This processing only works on JPEG images; if you shoot RAW+JPEG, only the latter will be processed. Manual control of DRO processing is only available in the P, A S and M modes. The camera defaults to auto with the all scene pre-sets except the Sunset, Night View, Night Portrait and Handheld Twilight modes where it is disabled.

      Noise reduction processing is available for both long exposures and high sensitivity settings. Long exposure noise reduction involves dark frame subtraction, which extends the processing time by the length of the original exposure (a 10-second exposure takes 20 seconds to process). It can be switched on and off. Two settings are provided for high sensitivity noise reduction: auto and weak.

      Not unexpectedly, many of the features we liked about the SLT-A55 are also found in the new camera. The compact and lightweight body is a pleasure to use and most frequently-used controls are within quick and easy reach. For most situations, we didn’t miss the adjustable monitor, although there were a few instances in which it would have been handy (though not indispensible).

      Our tests on the production model showed it to be remarkably similar to the pre-production model we used for ‘First Look’ at this camera at the beginning of June. Consequently, we have simply updated this review with the addition of the results of our Imatest tests.

      With the default settings, JPEG images straight from the camera appeared bright and vibrant and with plenty of detail recorded. Without the D-range adjustments, shots taken in bright, contrasty lighting contained blown-out highlights and blocked-up shadows, both of which were easily corrected by choosing appropriate settings from the wide range of options available. The 6.0EV setting in the HDR sub-menu tended to produce rather flat images, although they were quite easy to correct with editing software and the recorded dynamic range was largely retained.

      The speed and accuracy of the autofocusing system was as impressive as it was in the SLT-A55, particularly in the high-speed burst mode. Recording at seven frames/second, this mode enabled us to capture shots of motion too rapid to see. The Sweep Panorama function worked as well as it did on the SLT-A55 we tested.

      Imatest showed the resolution of images from the review unit to be slightly below expectations for a 16-megapixel camera. This was true for both JPEG and AWR.RAW files, although the latter were closer to expectations than the former.

      However, since raw files from this camera were not supported by Adobe Camera Raw at the time of our tests, we had to use Sony’s Image Data Converter SR (Ver. 3), which was supplied with the camera and is not as effective as the Adobe application. We suspect files converted with Camera Raw would meet (or exceed) expectations for the sensor’s resolution.

      Low light performance was generally commendable, although we’d give the top ISO setting of 12800 a miss for long exposures. Shots taken with ISO 6400 were usable, although noise could be seen in them; ISO 1600 was somewhat better.

      Imatest testing confirmed our subjective assessments, showing a steady, but gradual, decline in resolution as sensitivity was increased. The graph below shows the results of our tests.


      Flash shots were usable throughout the camera’s sensitivity range, although ISO 12800 produced some softening, along with visible noise. Flash exposures were evenly balanced across the camera’s sensitivity range.
      We’ve already reviewed the Sony 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 SAM kit lens when we reviewed the DSLR-A380 in July, 2009. This lens in built to a price but, nevertheless, a good performer for its type. The graphs below compare the Imatest results for JPEG test shots across the lens aperture and focal length ranges, along with the lateral chromatic aberration measurements near the edges of the filed in the same test shots.


      Movie quality was generally good and autofocusing was faster than cameras with reflex mirrors provide and similar to the speeds we found with the SLT-A55. The camera’s inherent high contrast meant highlight clipping was common in movies but overall sharpness at all resolution settings was excellent. Sound quality, although not outstanding, was better than acceptable, particularly with the AVCHD movie clips.

      Auto white balance performance was also a cut above average and marginally better than the A55’s with incandescent lighting. Although a residual warm cast remained in shots, it was relatively slight and easily removed during the editing process. Interestingly, in-camera adjustments were inadequate for correcting this cast.

      Shots taken with fluorescent lighting were close to cast-free. For both lighting types, the pre-sets slightly over-corrected colours but the manual measurement system delivered a neutral colour balance and the A35 provides the same extensive white balance bracketing options as the A55.

      We conducted our timing tests with a 32GB SanDisk Extreme Pro SDHC UHS-1 card, one of the fastest on the market. The review camera powered up ready for use in just over one second. Capture lag was effectively negligible, regardless of whether the lens was pre-focused.

      Shot-to-shot times averaged 1.6 seconds when the viewfinder was used and 2.3 seconds with Live View. Shot-to-shot times with flash averaged just over three seconds.

      Image processing times were average for a DSLR. It took 1.2 seconds on average to process each JPEG file, 1.8 seconds for each ARW.RAW file and 2.4 seconds for each RAW+JPEG pair.

      In the high-speed continuous shooting mode, the review camera recorded 10 high-resolution JPEGs in 1.6 seconds. It took 4.4 seconds to process this burst. With the low-speed setting. shots were captured at 0.4 second intervals. Some processing took place during capture because processing was completed within 1.4 seconds of the last frame recorded.

      A slightly faster capture rate was recorded for ARW.RAW files and RAW+JPEG pairs, although high-speed bursts are limited to six frames. For raw files, only, it took 5.8 seconds to process a burst of six frames but with RAW+JPEG pairs processing was completed 8.6 seconds after the last frame recorded.

      Buy this camera if:
      – You’re looking for a capable, lightweight DSLR that can shoot high-resolution stills and Full HD video clips.
      – You’re prepared to shoot and edit both JPEG and ARW.RAW images.
      – You want body-integrated image stabilisation that works with all lenses.

      Don’t buy this camera if:
      – You’re a point-and press photographer who isn’t prepared to explore the camera’s full capabilities.
      – You don’t like electronic viewfinders.

      JPEG image files




      Raw image files converted into 16-bit TIFF format with Image Data Converter SR (Ver. 3).






      Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.


      Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.


      20-second exposure at ISO 100; 24mm f/5.


      8-second exposure at ISO 1600; 24mm f/11.


      4-second exposure at ISO 6400; 24mm f/16.


       2.5-second exposure at ISO 12800; 24mm f/18.


      Flash exposure at ISO 100; 55mm focal length, 1/100 second at f/5.6.


      Flash exposure at ISO 1600; 55mm focal length, 1/100 second at f/5.6.


      Flash exposure at ISO 6400; 55mm focal length, 1/100 second at f/6.3.


      Flash exposure at ISO 12800; 55mm focal length, 1/125 second at f/9.


      Close-up at 55mm focal length; ISO 200, 1/160 second at f/5.6.


      Close-up at 18mm focal length; ISO 160, 1/160 second at f/4.


      Standard Sweep Panorama with 28mm focal length; ISO 100, 1/160 second at f/9.


      Wide Sweep Panorama with 28mm focal length; ISO 100, 1/160 second at f/9.


      Dynamic Range Optimisation. The top image shows DRO on the Auto setting; the lower picture shows Auto HDR set to +6.0EV. 30mm focal length; ISO 100, 1/160 second at f/11.


      Nine shots from a high-speed burst capturing a fast-moving subject; 55mm focal length; ISO 100, 1/250 second at f/9.


      High-speed burst mode; 40mm focal length; ISO 100, 1/125 second at f/13.


      50mm focal length; ISO 100, 1/160 second at f/8.


      Still frame from AVCHD video clip at 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution.


      Still frame from MP4 video clip at 1440 x 1080 pixel resolution.


      Still frame from MP4 video clip at 640 x 480 pixel resolution.




      Image sensor: 23.5 x 15.6 EXMOR CMOS sernsor with 16.7 million photosites (16.2 megapixels effective)
      Image processor: BIONZ
      A/D processing: 12-bit
      Lens mount: Sony A-mount (compatible with Minolta A-type bayonet mount)
      Focal length crop factor: 1.5x
      Image formats: Stills -ARW.RAW, JPEG (Exif 2.3), RAW+JPEG; Movies – AVCHD at approx. 17 Mbps/MP4 at 3-12 Mbps
      Image Sizes: Stills – 3:2 aspect: 4912 x 3264, 3568 x 2368, 2448 x 1624; 16:9 aspect: 4912 x 2760, 3568 x 2000, 2448 x 1376; Std Panorama: 8192 x 1856 (H), 3872 x 2160 (V); Wide Panorama: Horizontal – 12,416 x 1856 (H), 5536 x 2160 (V); 3D Panorama Max. 7152 x 1080; Movies: 1920 x 1080; 1440 x 1080, 640 x 480 all at 29.97 fps
      Image Stabilisation: Body integrated image sensor shift Super Steady Shot
      Dust removal: Charge-protection coating on low-pass filter plus image sensor shift mechanism
      Shutter speed range: 30 to 1/4000 second plus Bulb; X-synch at 1/60 second
      Exposure Compensation: +/- 2EV in 1/3 EV steps
      Exposure bracketing: 3 frames in 1/3 or 2/3 EV steps
      Self-timer: 2 or 10 seconds delay
      Focus system: TTL phase-detection AF via CCD line sensors; 15 points (3 cross type)
      Focus modes: Single-shot, Auto, Continuous AF; Direct manual focus, Manual focus; wide, spot and local modes
      Exposure metering: 1200-zone evaluative metering with multi-segment, centre-weighted and spot modes
      Shooting modes: Auto, Auto+, P, A, S, M, Tele-zoom Continuous priority AE, Sweep Shooting, Scene/Picture Effect (Portrait, Sports Action, Macro, Landscape, Sunset, Night View, Hand-held Twilight, Night Portrait, High Contrast Monochrome), Flash Off
      Picture Style/Control settings: Toy Camera, Pop Colour, Posterisation (Colour), Posterisation (B/W), Retro Photo, High-key, Partial Colour (Red), Partial Colour (Green), Partial Colour (Blue), Partial Colour (Yellow)
      Colour space options: sRGB, Adobe RGB
      ISO range: Auto, ISO 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, 12800
      White balance: Auto, Daylight, Cloudy, Shade, Incandescent, Fluorescent, Flash, Kelvin temperature setting, Colour filter, Custom
      Flash: Auto pop-up; GN 10 (m/ISO100); range 1.0 to 3.6 m at ISO 100, f/2.8
      Flash exposure adjustment: +/- 2EV in 1/3 EV steps plus flash bracketing
      Sequence shooting: 5 fps at full resolution; 7 fps in Tele Burst mode at approx 8MP
      Storage Media: Single slot that accepts SD/SDHCSDXC or Memory Stick Pro Duo cards
      Viewfinder: 1.2 cm colour EVF with 1,440K dots and 100% FOV; -4.0 to +4.0 dpt adjustment, 19mm eye relief
      LCD monitor: Fixed 16:9 aspect ratio 3-inch TFT Xtra FineLCD with 921,600 dots, 100% FOV
      Data LCD: No
      Playback functions: Single-frame, Index (4 or 9 frames), Enlarge (7.2x to 14x), Slideshow, Picture rotation (auto mode available), Histogram (independent luminance/RGB available), Shooting information
      Interface terminals: USO 2.0, HDMI (Type C Mini), Mic. terminal, remote controller, Bravia synch
      Power supply: NP-FW50 InfoLithium battery; CIPA rated for approx. 440 shots with LCD monitor
      Dimensions (wxhxd): 124.4 x 92 x 84.7 mm
      Weight: Approx. 415 grams (body only); 473 grams (with battery and card)


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      RRP: $749 (body only); $949 (as reviewed with 18-55mm lens); $1,199 (twin lens kit)

      Rating (out of 10):

      • Build: 8.5
      • Ease of use: 8.5
      • Autofocusing: 9.0
      • Still image quality – JPEG: 8.5
      • Still image quality - ARW.RAW: 8.5
      • Video quality: 8.8
      • OVERALL: 9.0