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Sony Alpha DSLR-A550 Gordon Laing, December 2009


Sony Alpha DSLR-A550 results : Real-life resolution / High ISO Noise

Sony Alpha DSLR-A550 vs Nikon D90 Real-life resolution

 
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To compare real-life performance we shot the same scene with the Sony Alpha DSLR-A550 and Nikon D90 within a few moments of each other using their best quality JPEG settings, lowest base sensitivities and default processing options. Each camera was fitted with its respective kit lens (see details below) and adjusted to deliver the same vertical field of view. Each shot was taken in Aperture Priority at f8 with Auto White Balance.


The image above was taken with the Sony Alpha A550 at a sensitivity of 200 ISO and the kit lens set to 24mm f8; the original L:14 JPEG file measured 6.46MB. The crops below are taken from the areas marked by the red squares and presented at 100%.

The Sony Alpha A550 features two additional Megapixels over the D90, so the crops show a slightly smaller area, but even pixel-peepers will be hard-pushed to notice any significant difference in their actual resolved detail in our real-life tests.

In the first three rows of crops, the degree of fine detail is essentially the same, with only tiny details in the fourth row revealing any benefit in the Sony’s favour – and this is as much to do with its lens performance in this region of the frame as it is the extra pixels. That said, it’s sufficiently minimal not to influence a buying decision.

The biggest difference between the images from both cameras here is their image processing and in particular their measured white balance. Sony traditionally tends for a colder, bluer balance, whereas Nikon errs towards the warmer side. Neither is 100% accurate in this respect, so it boils down to either choosing the one you personally prefer, or adjusting the settings as desired.

To see how both cameras compare in low light across their sensitivity range, check out our Sony Alpha A550 High ISO Noise results. Alternatively if you can wait a moment longer, scroll down to the bottom of this page to see what benefits there are to shooting in RAW with the A550.



Sony Alpha DSLR-A550
with Sony DT 18-55mm SAM
 
Nikon D90
with Nikkor DX 18-105mm VR
f8, 200 ISO
f8, 200 ISO
     
f8, 200 ISO
f8, 200 ISO
     
f8, 200 ISO
f8, 200 ISO
     
f8, 200 ISO
f8, 200 ISO
     



Sony Alpha DSLR-A550: JPEG versus RAW


We photographed the scene above using the A550's RAW plus Large Fine JPEG mode, allowing us to directly compare images created from exactly the same data. Below are crops taken from the original JPEG file alongside the RAW version, processed in the supplied Image Data Converter SR 3.1 using the default settings.

The converted RAW file using the default settings is very similar to the in-camera JPEG, albeit slightly softer due to lower sharpening. Of course tweaking the settings may deliver superior results, and shooting in RAW gives you greater flexibility when it comes to adjusting things like White Balance, but sadly we’re not seeing a boost in quality here with the defaults.

Now head on over to our High ISO Noise results page to see how it compares across its sensitivity range.

Sony Alpha DSLR-A550: JPEG
with Sony DT 18-55mm SAM
 
Sony Alpha DSLR-A550: RAW
with Sony DT 18-55mm SAM
f8, 200 ISO
f8, 200 ISO


Sony Alpha DSLR-A550 results : Real-life resolution / High ISO Noise

 

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All words, images, videos and layout, copyright 2005-2014 Gordon Laing. May not be used without permission.

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