Sony A33 Review

 
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Sony A33 Performance


Timing and Performance

A mixed bag when it comes to performance.

Startup/Shutdown

Power on
to first shot

~0.8 second

Time it takes for camera to turn on and take a shot.

Shutdown

~2.0 seconds

How long it takes to turn off. (Slightly slow, due to dust-removal sensor shake on shutdown.)

Buffer clearing time

9 seconds *
after 13 L/F JPEGs

Worst case buffer clearing time. -- This is the delay after a set of shots before you can remove the card. Some cameras won't shut down until the buffer is cleared.

8 seconds *
after 7 RAW frames
12 seconds *
after 7 RAW + JPEG frames

*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme III 8GB SDHC memory card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times.

Startup and shutdown times are slower than average compared to a consumer SLR. Buffer clearing times are about average for a consumer model.

Mode Switching

Play to Record,
first shot

~0.5 second

Time until first shot is captured.

Record to Play

~1.8 seconds

Time to display a large/fine file immediately after capture.

Display
recorded image

~1.0 second

Time to display a large/fine file already on the memory card.

Mode switching times are average to slower than average for a consumer SLR.

 

Shutter Response (Lag Time)

Full Autofocus
Single Area (center) AF

0.215 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture (with Sigma70mm f/2.8 prime).

Full Autofocus
Wide Area AF

0.219 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture (with Sigma70mm f/2.8 prime).

Full Autofocus
Single Area AF, Flash enabled

0.470 second

Time from fully pressing shutter button to image capture (with Sigma70mm f/2.8 prime), Auto Flash enabled.

Pre-focused

0.102 second

Time to capture, after half-pressing and holding shutter button.

Continuous AF
0.212 second
This mode usually shows no speed increase with our static subject; we have no way to measure performance with moving subjects.
Manual focus
0.208 second
For most cameras, shutter lag is less in manual focus than autofocus, but usually not as fast as when the camera is "pre-focused."

Looking at the Sony A33's ability to determine that it's properly focused when shooting the same target multiple times, its speed is a bit faster than average for a consumer model SLR. The A33 required 0.215 second for full AF using the center focus point. Lag increased slightly to 0.219 second in wide-area AF mode. Enabling the flash raised the lag to 0.470 second (this is because the flash metering preflashes add delay). Continuous autofocus mode lag time was 0.212 second and manual focus was only slightly faster at about 0.208 second. When prefocused, shutter lag was 0.102 second which is good but a bit slower than average for an SLR these days, and somewhat of a surprise for a camera that doesn't need to wait for a mirror to be raised before taking the shot. Keep in mind that the shutter is normally open though, so it needs to be closed and re-opened to take the exposure.

To minimize the effect of different lens' focusing speed, we test AF-active shutter lag with the lens already set to the correct focal distance. We also use the same Sigma 70mm f/2.8 macro with every camera (on all platforms except Four Thirds/Micro Four Thirds and Nikon consumer models lacking an in-body focus motor), to further reduce variation, and because our tests showed that focus-determination time with this lens was close to the fastest, across multiple camera bodies from different manufacturers. Being an older design with a non-ultrasonic motor, it wouldn't be the fastest at slewing from one focus setting to another, but that's exactly the reason we measure focus determination speed, which is primarily a function of the camera body, vs focus adjustment speed, which is primarily a function of the lens.

 

Cycle Time (shot-to-shot)
Single Shot mode
Large Fine JPEG
0.98 second

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots.

Single Shot mode
RAW

0.97 second

Time per shot, averaged over 20 shots.

Single Shot mode
RAW + JPEG

0.98 second

Time per shot, averaged over 11 shots.

Early shutter
penalty?

No

Some cameras refuse to snap another shot if you release and press the shutter too quickly in Single Shot mode, making "No" the preferred answer.

Continuous Hi mode
Large Fine JPEG
0.16 second (6.25 frames per second);
14 frames total;
8 seconds to clear
Time per shot, averaged over buffer depth of 14 shots, then slows to an average of 0.71s or 1.40 fps.

Continuous Hi mode
RAW

0.17 second (5.94 frames per second);
7 frames total;
7 seconds to clear

Time per shot, averaged over buffer depth of 7 shots, then slows to an average of 1.08s or 0.93 fps.

Continuous Hi mode
RAW +
JPEG

0.15 second (6.67 frames per second);
6 frames total;
11 seconds to clear

Time per shot, averaged over buffer depth of 6 shots, then slows to an average of 1.75s or 0.57 fps.

Advance Priority
Continuous mode
Large Fine JPEG
0.14 second (7.06 frames per second);
13 frames total;
9 seconds to clear
Time per shot, averaged over buffer depth of 13 shots, then slows to an average of 0.73s or 1.37 fps.

Advance Priority
Continuous mode
RAW

0.14 second (7.14 frames per second);
7 frames total;
8 seconds to clear
Time per shot, averaged over buffer depth of 7 shots, then slows to an average of 1.18s or 0.84 fps.

Advance Priority
Continuous mode
RAW +
JPEG

0.14 second (7.06 frames per second);
7 frames total;
12 seconds to clear
Time per shot, averaged over buffer depth of 7 shots, then slows to an average of 1.82s or 0.55 fps.

Flash recycling

3.4 seconds

Flash at maximum output.

*Note: Buffer clearing times measured with a SanDisk Extreme III 8GB SDHC memory card. Slower cards will produce correspondingly slower clearing times. Slow cards may also limit length of bursts in continuous mode. ISO sensitivity and other settings such as DRO or NR can also affect cycle times and burst mode performance.

Single shot cycle times are slower than average for an SLR, at just under one second per frame for any quality. Continuous mode speeds are however very good for a consumer SLR, at about 6.3 frames-per-second for large/fine JPEGs, 5.9 fps for RAW and 6.7 fps for RAW + JPEG. Advance Priority mode is exceptionally fast for a consumer model, at about 7.1 frames per second in any quality. A 2.5 frames-per-second burst mode is also offered.

Buffer depths are about average for a consumer model, with 14 frames for JPEG frames with a fast SDHC card, 7 RAW frames and 6 RAW + JPEG frames. Buffer depths are similar in Advance Priority mode, at 13 large/fine JPEGs, 7 RAW and 7 RAW + JPEG frames. The flash takes 3.4 seconds to recharge after a full-power shot, which is good, though the flash isn't as powerful as most built-in SLR flash units.

Download speed

Windows Computer, USB 2.0

14,925 KBytes/sec

Typical Values:
Less than 600=USB 1.1;
600-769=USB 2.0 Low;
Above 770=USB 2.0 High

Connected to a computer or printer with USB 2.0, download speeds are very fast; definitely fast enough that you will likely not feel the need for a card reader.

Bottom line, the Sony A33's performance is a mixed bag. Startup, shutdown, some mode switching times and single-shot cycle times are slower than average, autofocus speed is slightly faster than average, and continuous burst mode and download speeds are well above average. Overall, the Sony SLT-A33 should do fine for its intended target market, and should even do well shooting sports because of its good burst speed and focus tracking. Those wanting faster burst mode (up to 10 fps) and deeper buffers for longer bursts should consider the A33's more expensive siblings, the A55 and A55V.

Battery and Storage Capacity

Battery
Below average battery life compared to a traditional consumer SLR, but decent battery life for an interchangeable lens camera with EVF.

Operating Mode Number of Shots
Electronic Viewfinder,
(CIPA standard)
270
Live View LCD,
(CIPA standard)
340

The Sony SLT-A33 uses a custom rechargeable lithium-ion battery for power, and ships with a charger. Battery life compared to a consumer SLR with optical viewfinder is below average, but reasonable for an SLR-class camera that depends on electronic viewfinders. We recommend you pick up a spare battery and keep it freshly charged and on-hand for extended outings.

The table above shows the number of shots the camera is capable of (on either a fresh set of disposable batteries or a fully-charged rechargeable battery as appropriate), based on CIPA battery-life and/or manufacturer standard test conditions.

(Interested readers can find an English translation of the CIPA DC-002 standards document here. (180K PDF document))

Storage
The Sony A33 accepts SD cards including SDHC and SDXC types, or Memory Stick Pro Duo memory cards. No card is included with the camera.

Image Capacity vs
Resolution/Quality
1GB SD Memory Card
Fine Normal
RAW
RAW
+
JPEG
4,592 x 3,056
Images
(Avg size)
163
6.3 MB
230
4.4 MB
66
15.3 MB
47
21.7 MB
Approx.
Comp.
7:1 10:1 1.4:1 -
3,344 x 2,224
Images
(Avg size)
259
4.0 MB
355
2.9 MB
- -
Approx.
Comp.
6:1 8:1 - -
2,288x 1,520
Images
(Avg size)
406
2.5 MB
506
2.0 MB
- -
Approx.
Comp.
4:1 5:1 - -

We strongly recommend buying either a large capacity SDHC, or a large capacity Memory Stick Pro Duo card, at least a 2GB card, preferably a 4-8GB one, to give yourself extra space for extended outings or shooting video. (Check the shopping link above, cards are really cheap these days, so no reason to skimp.)

 

Sony A33

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