Sony A65 And A65V

Sony A65 And A65V Review

When the long-awaited SLT-A77V was announced this summer, there was a little surprise: Sony has added a little sister to the APS-C top model with the SLT-A65V, which is about 400 Euros cheaper than the Alpha 77V. Sony didn’t save so much on the SLT Alpha 65V’s inner values, but rather applied the red pen especially to the case and one or two equipment details. The result is a camera in the 1,000 dollars class that at first glance appears to be richly equipped with functions and is certainly capable of meeting even the most ambitious demands.

In this review, I had the opportunity to practice with the 65V model, that I received as a test unit from a distributor, that is almost the same as the 65. A65V is the same as A65, except that it has GPS.

Brief assessment


  • Practical recording functions
  • Very high sensor resolution
  • Excellent video quality
  • Very high continuous shooting speed (but quite small buffer memory)
  • Bright, detailed electronic viewfinder with large viewfinder image


  • Viewfinder display heavily noisy in low light
  • Somewhat few configuration options
  • Set lens and noise behaviour at higher ISO levels significantly limit the resolution advantage of the sensor

With 24.3 megapixels on an APS-C sensor, Sony outdoes itself – 16 megapixels were previously current – as well as Canon. Even the 35mm full format is not as easy to get, as 22 megapixels were common with Canon and 24 megapixels with Sony and Nikon. Practice will show if Sony could improve the sensor technology and image processing accordingly or if one has to expect a clearly higher image noise; after all, up to ISO 16.000 is possible. Even the anyway not high optical performance of Sony’s set lenses does not bode well for the 24.3 megapixels. So one can be quite sceptical whether the user needs this resolution at all or whether it is useful for him at all. After all, Sony has some very good lenses in its range that can certainly compete with the sensor. But these lenses also cost money accordingly.


Ergonomics and Workmanship

With the latest generation of Alpha cameras, Sony is finally bidding farewell to the brick design of previous models, which was apparently still a Minolta legacy. The SLT-A65’s body has brisk curves, only its back is flat. This may seem fresh and light to one person, but for another it may seem rather playful – but this doesn’t detract from the ergonomics: The A65 sits comfortably in the hand and the controls are easy to reach with your thumb or index finger. It’s just a pity that Sony has designed the buttons and switches a bit small and also saved one or two control elements. Especially a second dial under the thumb is missing, it is reserved for the more expensive A77. So the upper side of the A65 right of the viewfinder hump is yawningly empty, but there would have been enough space for more buttons. After all: Most of the keys are not hardwired to the corresponding functions, they can be reconfigured if desired. Important functions for which there is no button are conveniently and quickly accessible using the clear quick menu. Thus, it is rarely necessary to visit the main menu – if you do, you will quickly find your way around thanks to its clear structure. Not forgetting that the A65V has a large and handy selector wheel in the upper left-hand corner, which can be used to set the basic functions in a flash.

In contrast to a classic DSLR camera, the A65 does not have an optical viewfinder and therefore does not need a oscillating mirror or a bulky prism dome. Instead, the SLT-A65V relies entirely on an electronic viewfinder image display, a concept that Sony introduced last year and is now consistently applying to more sophisticated cameras. Compared to the first SLT generation, Sony has significantly improved the video viewfinder on the A65. With a resolution of around 2.4 million pixels, it is now so fine that the viewfinder image appears clear and detailed, just like an optical viewfinder. In addition, the EVF is about 30 percent larger than conventional optical viewfinders on the best APS-C cameras. The EVF has a little problem with high-contrast subjects – the shadows in the display are completely closed out even though they are drawn through in the image. It also makes a lot of noise in very low light, but always shows a sufficiently bright viewfinder image even in dim light or when the dipped beam button is pressed.

With the A65’s magnificent EVF, you almost forget that the camera also got a very fine-resolution display from Sony. It is a little bit unusually hinged at the bottom, so it can be folded and turned into almost any position – but not anymore if the camera is mounted on a tripod. The A65V automatically switches from the display to the EVF when the camera is lifted in front of your face – a small sensor at the top of the viewfinder eyepiece makes this possible. All in all, the handling of the A65V proves to be quite successful. It doesn’t really bother that the case is noticeably made of plastic, especially since Sony has opted for a relatively robust looking polycarbonate. Also the rubberized cover flaps for the various connection sockets make a good impression. The same applies to the metal tripod thread, which is correctly positioned in the optical axis.


Sony has given the A65V all the features you would expect from a mid-range DSLR. The camera can be controlled fully automatically, offers various scene mode programs and can be operated by ambitious photographers as a semi-automatic or completely manual mode. In addition, the A65V offers various creative programs that distort a photo as soon as it is taken, such as creating a thumbnail effect or an image in the style of a historical photograph. The A65V doesn’t want to make photography easier by offering an excessive number of scene modes, but – typical for Sony – focuses on practical special functions. This allows it to convert bracketing shots into an HDR image without fuss, or merge continuous shooting at high ISO sensitivity into a virtually noise-free image. The A65V takes panoramic photos with a single pan and assembles them automatically. Portrait panoramas and even vertical panning are also possible, but the direction of movement must be selected somewhat awkwardly in the main menu.

The A65V has an impressively high continuous shooting speed, taking photos at a breathtaking 10 fps at full 24 megapixel resolution. This is made possible by dispensing with a mechanical oscillating mirror; the high continuous shooting rate is also a plus point for the SLT concept with its electronic viewfinder. Whereas focus and exposure were always frozen on the first image of the series in the SLT cameras of the first generation, the A65V can now track both during the high-speed series – but only optionally. When the focus is to be adjusted, the camera fixes the shutter speed and the lens is fired up to F3.5 or the maximum aperture; however, the camera still adjusts the exposure for each frame using the ISO number. If, on the other hand, focus tracking is switched off, the automatic exposure control functions as a program automatic during the high-speed series; now the depth of field can be controlled as desired by setting a suitable aperture. During a high-speed series, the A65V has to process an immense amount of data, and this takes its toll: for one thing, neither the display nor the EVF shows a live image; instead, the viewfinder displays the last shot. On the other hand – and this almost weighs more heavily – the camera can only maintain the high speed for around ten RAW shots or 18 JPEG photos. So in practice, you should choose the high-speed mode with care. As an alternative, the Alpha 65V offers two additional continuous shooting functions at around 7 fps and 3 fps respectively – they work without restrictions and show a continuous live image.

The A65V’s ability to process immense amounts of data quickly is also evident in video recording: it records films at Full-HD resolution (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) at up to 50 full frames/s and in the process pushes the data onto the memory card at a rate of around 27 megabit/s. This means that it even exceeds the specifications of the Blu-ray Disc format, but players with the latest firmware should generally still be able to play back the recordings. On the PC monitor, the video recordings impress with excellent image quality, they practically reach broadcasting level. The high data rate demands a powerful PC for subsequent video editing – it’s just as well that the Alpha 65V can also film at reduced frame rate or resolution. The A65V records the sound to the film with a very good stereo microphone, for very high demands on the sound quality it offers a connection possibility for an external microphone. It’s just a pity that Sony deprives the A65V of the possibility to manually control the sound recordings, as there is an electronic wind filter that can be switched on. The camera tracks the focus continuously and without pumping, even when filming with fast phase AF.

Sony recently announced that in the future all Alpha cameras will be equipped with a GPS receiver, including the Alpha 65V. Equipped in this way, the camera records the corresponding location coordinates for each shot if desired. The Alpha 65V also has a flash on board. The flash functions are quite sophisticated, the on-board flash can even be used to control a wirelessly connected flash unit. The camera can also be controlled remotely, either by cable or optional infrared remote shutter release. A classic PC sync socket for connecting a studio flash unit is missing, and the A65V does not offer the possibility of remote control via PC. Nevertheless, it also cuts quite a fine figure in the studio, as Sony has given the camera the new “peaking” function. It makes manual focusing much easier by highlighting contrasting edges within the plane of focus in color. The autofocus system of the Alpha 65V uses 15 phase comparison sensors and works quickly, which is typical of the class. In the dark, the on-board flash assists the autofocus with an unpleasantly bright flash burst, and the flash only pops up automatically in the automatic programs. As usual with Sony, a movably mounted image sensor compensates for any camera shake; this image stabilizer works with almost all lenses.


Image quality

With the SLT-A65V, Sony is once again heralding another round of the highest megapixel number. Sony has placed around 24 million light-sensitive cells on the APS-C sensor – this does not bode well at first. Long gone are the days when the sheer megapixel number of a camera could already give a clear indication of its image quality. The higher the number of pixels with an unchanged sensor area, the smaller the individual sensor elements are. And small light-sensitive cells mean, first of all, higher image noise and poorer input dynamics – quite apart from the fact that the attached lens must also provide adequate optical resolution. In addition, the SLT cameras have a partially transparent mirror in the beam path, which deflects about one third of the incident light to the AF sensors.


Contrary to what might have been expected at first, the high pixel density does not cause any problems for the dynamic range of the A65V: The camera processes a very high contrast range of almost eleven f-stops (EV) – up to ISO 1,600, but the signal-to-noise ratio is less good, with the strength of the useful signal falling below an acceptable 35 dB at ISO 800. And so the noise suppression of the Alpha 65V has to intervene earlier and, above all, more forcefully than with APS-C cameras with lower resolution and a clear view of the sensor. After all, Sony has meanwhile mastered noise reduction very well. The camera has practically no problems with the particularly annoying color noise, which remains invisible even in the highest ISO regions. The brightness noise, on the other hand, becomes critical from ISO 1,600 – the A65V has to pay tribute to its high pixel density and the partially transparent mirror. It should not be forgotten, however, that the Alpha 65V offers a very simple and effective remedy for noisy high-ISO images: Reduce resolution. If you scale the images down to twelve megapixels, you can still get good results at ISO 6,400, and even ISO 12,800 is still usable.

The A65’s image sensor and image processing give a neat figure on the bottom line, but without causing a storm of enthusiasm. But what does it look like when a lens comes into play? Sony offers the Alpha 65 in a set with the standard zoom 18-55/3.5-5.6 – in this configuration, the camera has passed through the digitalkamera.de laboratory. To make a long story short: The price-optimized set lens slows down the high-resolution sensor of the A65V. The absolutely achievable resolution of a maximum of just under 40 line pairs per millimeter is thus only on a par with the already not exactly high level of the A35 – and its sensor has a resolution of only 16 megapixels. In practice, the A65V equipped with a Sony CZ 24-70/2.8 has been able to prove what it’s really made of: Now the Alpha 65V is swinging up to an image quality that almost reaches the level of the Alpha 900 35 mm full format camera – at least as long as the sensitivity is not set higher than ISO 400. In other words, anyone wishing to exploit the very high resolution potential of the Alpha 65V cannot avoid purchasing high-quality lenses. Otherwise, you will only get very large image files that look unexpectedly flat and lacking in detail in 100% view.


If you’re ready to get involved with Sony’s SLT concept with electronic viewfinder, the Alpha 65V is a good, sometimes even superior camera, but it also has some weaknesses. Outstanding is the very high continuous shooting speed, which is unrivalled in this class. The video qualities are also convincing all along the line. Sony has significantly improved the electronic viewfinder compared to the first generation SLT, the viewfinder image is sharp and detailed and also much larger than the entire APS-C competition. The camera fits very well in the hand and is easy to operate. There is hardly any reason for criticism of the equipment of the A65V.

Although the configuration options are somewhat limited, it convinces with practical recording functions. The fact that Sony has equipped the camera with an APS-C sensor, which offers immense 24 megapixel resolution, only benefits image quality under good conditions. Due to the high pixel density and the light-absorbing SLT concept, noise suppression has to intervene early and massively and thus destroys a good part of the resolution advantage that the sensor of the Alpha 65V theoretically has over the 16-megapixel competition already at medium ISO levels. In order to fully exploit the resolution potential of the A65V, low ISO levels and accurate exposure are mandatory. Above all, however, also suitable glass. The set lens 18-55/3.5-5.6 is clearly not one of them, it is simply overtaxed with the sensor and degrades the Alpha 65V to a 16 megapixel camera at best.


Manufacturer Sony
Model SLT Alpha 65V
Price approx. 1000 dollars at market launch
Sensor Resolution 24.7 megapixels
Max. Image resolution 6.000 x 4.000
(aspect ratio) (3:2)
Lens Sony DT 3.5-5.6/18-55 SAM
Filter thread 55mm
Viewfinder electronically
Dioptre compensation yes
Resolution 2.36 million
Image field coverage 100 %
LCD monitor 3″
Resolution 921.600
rotatable yes
swiveling yes
as viewfinder yes
Video output HDMI (PAL/NTSC)
Automatic programming yes
Automatic aperture control yes
Automatic timer yes
manual exposure yes
BULB long time exposure yes
Scene modes
Portrait yes
Landscape yes
Macro yes
Sports/action yes
Additional scene modes 4 additional scene modes
Exposure metering Multi-field, centre-weighted Integral, Spot
Flash yes
Flash connection System hot shoe
Remote release yes
Interval recording
Storage medium SD/SDHC/SDXC, MemoryStick Pro Duo
Video mode
Format AVCHD or AVI
Codec MPEG-4 (AVC) or Motion-JPEG
Resolution (max.) 1.920 x 1.080
at frame rate 50 frames/s
automatically ISO 100-1,600
manually ISO 100-16,000
White balance
Automatic yes
Sun yes
Clouds yes
Fluorescent lamp yes
Incandescent lamp yes
Miscellaneous Shadow, flash, manual color temperature selection
Manually yes
Number of measurement fields 15
AF auxiliary light Flash
Speed approx. 0.2-0.3 s
Languages English
Additional languages 16 additional languages
(ready for operation)
543 g (housing only)
622 g (with lens*)
Zoom adjustment manually on the lens
One-hand operation
(zoom and shutter release)
Triggering during storage possible. yes
Battery life about 510-560 pictures
*with lens Sony DT 3.5-5.6/18-55 SAM

– = “not applicable” or “not available

Brief assessment


  • Practical recording functions
  • Very high sensor resolution
  • Excellent video quality
  • Very high continuous shooting speed (but quite small buffer memory)
  • Bright, detailed electronic viewfinder with large viewfinder image


  • Viewfinder display heavily noisy in low light
  • Somewhat few configuration options
  • Set lens and noise behaviour at higher ISO levels significantly limit the resolution advantage of the sensor

Sony Alpha SLT-A65V Datasheet


Sensor CMOS sensor APS-C 23.6 x 15.8 mm (crop factor 1.5
)24.7 megapixels (physical) and 24.3 megapixels (effective)
Pixelpitch 3.9 µm
Photo resolution
4.240 x 2.832 pixels (3:2)
4.240 x 2.832 pixels (3:2)
3.008 x 2.000 pixels (3:2)
Image formats JPG, RAW
Color depth 36 bits (12 bits per color channel)
Metadata Exif (version 2.2), DCF standard
Video resolution
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 50 p
1.440 x 1.080 (4:3) 25 p
640 x 480 (4:3) 25 p
Video format
MPG4 [codec MPEG-4]


Lens mount
Sony AF


Autofocus mode Phase comparison autofocus with 15 sensors
Autofocus functions Single AF, Continuous AF, Manual, AF Assist Light
Sharpness control Live view

Viewfinder and monitor

Monitor 3.0″ TFT LCD monitor with 921,000 pixels
Video finder Video viewfinder available, dioptre compensation (-4.0 to 1.0 dpt)


Exposure metering Center-weighted integral measurement, matrix/multi-field measurement over 1,200 fields, spot measurement
Exposure times 1/4,000 to 30 s (Automatic
) Bulb function
Exposure control Programmed automatic, Shutter priority, Aperture priority, Manual
Exposure bracketing function Exposure bracketing function with a maximum of 3 shots, step size from 0.3 to 0.7 EV, HDR function
Exposure Compensation -2.0 to +2.0 EV with step size of 1/3 EV
Photosensitivity ISO 100 to ISO 1,600 (automatic
)ISO 100 to ISO 16,000 (manual)
Remote access Remote triggering
Scene modes Landscape, Macro, Night Portrait, Portrait, Sunset, Sports/Action, 0 additional scene modes
White balance Clouds, sun, shade, fluorescent lamp, incandescent lamp, manual
Color space Adobe RGB
Continuous shooting Continuous shooting function max. 10.0 fps at highest resolution and max. 17 stored photos
Self-timer Self-timer with 2 s interval, special features: or 10 s (optional)
Recording functions Live histogram


Flash built-in flash (flip-up
) Hot shoe: Sony Alpha (also Minolta)
Flash range Flash sync speed 1/160 s
Flash code Guide number 10 (ISO 100)
Flash functions Auto, fill-in flash, flash on, flash off, slow sync, red-eye reduction


Image stabilizer Sensor shift (optical)
GPS function GPS internal
Power supply unit Power supply connection
Power supply 1 x Sony NP-FM500H (Lithium ion (Li-Ion), 1,650 mAh)
Playback functions Image index
Face recognition Face recognition, smile recognition
Image parameters Sharpness, contrast, noise reduction
Special functions Live view
Connections Data interfaces: USBUSB type
:USB 2.0 High Speed
AV Connections AV output: HDMI output Micro (Type D)
Supported direct printing methods PictBridge
Tripod thread 1/4″
Special features and miscellaneous Semi-transparent non-moving mirror on the image sensor Optical
image stabilizer (sensor shift)
3D panorama sensor
Cleaning function and antistatic coatingFlash sync speed
1/160s Optional
noise reduction from ISO 1600ISO
25.800 with MultiFrame NR (multi-frame denoising with up to 6 shots)
Adjustable contrast, saturation, sharpness and brightness (-3 to 3)
Zone matching (-1 to 2)
Dynamic Range Optimizer with five levels of noise reduction
from ISO 1600 to 12,800AF
Sensitivity -1 to 18 EVPrediction
25,600 with Multiframe NR

Size and weight

Dimensions W x H x D 132 x 98 x 81 mm
Weight 622 g (ready for operation)


standard accessory Sony NP-FM500H Special BatteryBattery ChargerUSB-Connector CableRiserBeltImage editing software

Sony Software Package for Windows (XP/or higher) and for Macintosh (System X/or higher)

additional accessories Sony HVL-MT24AM Macro FlashSony
NP-FM500H Special Battery Power Supply
AC-PW20AM Removable Memory CardAlpha LensesInfrared Remote Shutter ReleaseRMT-DSLR1Remote
Cable Release

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