Sony A33 Review

 
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Sony Alpha A33 Modes and Menus

When powered on, the Sony A33 is automatically placed into Record mode. The Mode dial on the left side of the A33's top panel lets you select various exposure modes. The Mode dial offers the following selection of shooting modes:

Auto: Proceeding around the Mode Dial in a clockwise direction, the first option on the Sony A33's Mode dial is the Auto mode, which gives the camera control over most exposure variables, including shutter speed, aperture, and ISO sensitivity. The user can still adjust image resolution / compression, aspect ratio, image stabilizer, flash metering, AF illuminator, color space, drive mode, flash m mode (off, auto, or on), face detection, and smile shutter.

Auto+: In Auto+ mode, the Sony A33 still retains control over the same exposure variables as in the standard Auto mode, but also has the ability to recognize specific scene types, and to enable shooting functions not typically available in automatic shooting, such as slow shutter, continuous advance, slow sync / daylight sync flash, and Auto HDR. Scene types that can be recognized in the A33's Auto+ mode include Night View, Hand-held Twilight, Landscape, Backlight Portrait, Portrait, Tripod Night View, Backlight, Macro, and Night Portrait. Recognizing that it might be confusing to less experienced photographers that the A33 can capture multiple image bursts in Auto+ mode, Sony has provided two options in Custom Menu 2 that allow burst shooting in Auto+ mode to be disabled, or to have the camera automatically select only one image from each burst to be saved.

Program AE: In its Program AE mode, the Sony A33 controls both aperture and shutter speed automatically, and you have control over all other exposure variables, including exposure compensation. Unlike many SLRs, the A33 lacks a Program Shift function in its Program mode, however, so without switching to a Priority mode, you're stuck with whichever balance of shutter speed vs. aperture that the camera selected.

Aperture-Priority AE: This mode allows you to manually set the lens aperture (with available apertures depending on the lens in use), while the Sony A33 selects the most appropriate shutter speed. You have control over all other exposure variables, including exposure compensation.

Shutter-Priority AE: The opposite of Aperture-Priority mode, Shutter-Priority AE allows you to set the shutter speed anywhere from 1/4,000 to 30 seconds, while the Sony A33 chooses the best corresponding aperture setting. Again, you have control over all other exposure variables, including exposure compensation. The Bulb setting that's available in Manual Exposure mode isn't available in Shutter-priority AE mode.

Manual Exposure: This mode provides full control of all exposure variables, including independent control of shutter speed, lens aperture, and ISO sensitivity, and hence there is no exposure compensation function. The Control dial adjusts shutter speed by default, and adjusts the aperture when turned while holding down the Exposure Compensation button. The shutter speed range also includes a Bulb setting, allowing long exposures for as long as you hold the Sony A33's Shutter button down. A display in the viewfinder reports whether the Sony A33 thinks your settings will result in under, over, or correctly exposed photos.

Continuous Advance Priority AE: In this mode, the Sony A33 offers its highest shooting rate of seven frames per second, but with some limitations. If Continuous Autofocus is enabled, then the lens aperture is fixed at its fully open position, and ISO sensitivity is controlled automatically. In Single Autofocus mode, aperture and sensitivity can be manually controlled, but shutter speed is controlled manually, and focus is locked from the first frame. Manual focus shooting has the same limitation with regards to shutter speed.

Sweep Panorama: Captures multiple images in a burst for as long as the shutter button is held down, then automatically stitches them into either a 2D panorama, or a 3D panorama that's saved as a multi-picture object file. Focus and exposure are locked from the first frame.

Scene: This mode provides access to the eight preset shooting modes via a Scene Selection menu. Scene modes available are: Portrait, Sports Action, Macro, Landscape, Sunset, Night View, Hand-held Twilight, and Night Portrait.

Flash Off: This mode functions identically to the standard Auto mode, but disables use of flash -- perfect for shooting in situations where flash might prove objectionable, such as in museums.

 

Playback Mode
The Playback button on the rear panel accesses the A33's Playback mode, which rather unusually allows you to review either captured still images, or movies -- but not both side by side. The left and right arrow keys scroll forward and backward one image or movie at a time, and turning the Control dial has the same effect. The Up arrow key cycles through the various display modes -- image only, image plus basic information, and RGBY histogram with detailed information, of which only the first two modes are available in movie playback. Using the AEL (Enlarge) and Exposure Compensation (Reduce) buttons, you can enlarge captured still images by as much as 11.8x, while the arrow keys pan around the zoomed image. Panoramic images can be automatically scrolled across the screen by pressing the AF (OK) key, and paused with a second press. The same controls are used to play, pause, and cue through movie files. By pressing the Reduce key without playback zoom active, the NEX-5 can also display images or movies in an index format for quick viewing, with either six or twelve thumbnails per page. The index includes tabs on the left hand side with which to switch between still image or movie playback, and this can also be done through a Playback menu option. The A33 also remembers whether you captured a still image or movie most recently, and defaults to entering the Playback type relevant to the last image or movie capture performed.

 

Sony Alpha A33 Menu Details

Pressing the Menu button provides access to the camera's main menu system, while the Function button calls up the separate Function menu when in Record mode. Below are Sony A33 menu options and their descriptions.


Record Menu 1:

Record Menu Options: Screen 1
Top-Level
Selection
Second-Level
Notes
Image: Size
3:2 aspect mode:

- L:14M
- M:7.4M
- S:3.5M

16:9 aspect mode:

- L:12M
- M:6.3M

- S:2.9M

Sets the pixel dimensions of captured still images

3:2
L=(4,592 x 3,056)
M=(3,344 x 2,224)
S=(2,288 x 1,520)

16:9
L=(4,592 x 2,576)
M=(3,344 x 1,872)
S=(2,288 x 1,280)

Image: Aspect Ratio
- 3:2
- 16:9
Select normal or HDTV wide screen aspect ratios for images.
Image: Quality
- RAW
- RAW & JPEG
- Fine
- Standard
Specifies the compression level and file type of images. Raw files are always recorded at maximum resolution, ignoring Image Size setting. JPEG resolution / quality is fixed to Large / Fine when using Raw & JPEG mode.
Movie: File Format
- AVCHD
- MP4
Selects AVCHD or MP4 compression for movies. AVCHD is only available for high-def 1080i video (17Mbps, 1,920 x 1,080 pixels, interlaced). AVCHD video is saved at 60 fields per second , from 30 frames per second sensor output. MP4 is 30fps progressive scan, and available at two lower resolutions -- non-standard high-def (1,440 x 1080, 12 Mbps), and standard-def VGA (640 x 480, 3Mbps). Audio is Dolby Digital for AVCHD, and AAC for MP4. (All frame / field rates for NTSC cameras; PAL cameras have 25 fps sensor output, 25 fps MP4, and 50 fps AVCHD.)
Movie: Size
- 1920 x 1080
- 1440 x 1080
- VGA
1,920 x 1,080 pixel option only available when file format is set to AVCHD. Lower-resolution options only available when file format is set to MP4.
Movie: Audio Recording
- On
- Off
Allows sound recording during movie capture to be disabled altogether.
SteadyShot
- On
- Off
Enables or disables the sensor-shift type SteadyShot function, which corrects for blur caused by camera shake, but should be disabled when the camera is on a tripod.

 

Record Menu 2:

Record Menu Options: Screen 2
Top-Level
Selection
Second-Level
Notes
Panorama: Size

- Standard
- Wide

When set to Standard, horizontal panoramas are limited to 15.2 megapixels, and vertical panoramas to 8.4 megapixels. In Wide mode, horizontal panoramas are 23.0 megapixels, and vertical panoramas are 12.0 megapixels.

Panorama: Direction

- Right
- Left
- Up
- Down

Selects in which direction the camera will be panned when using the Sweep Panorama function.
3D Panorama: Image Size

- 16:9
- Standard
- Wide

When set to 16:9, 3D panoramas are recorded at HDTV-friendly 1,920 x 1,080 pixel resolution. The Standard setting records 3D panoramas at 5.3 megapixels, and the Wide setting at 7.7 megapixels.

3D Panorama: Direction

- Right
- Left

Selects in which direction the camera will be panned when using the 3DSweep Panorama function.
Flash Control
- ADI Flash
- Pre-flash TTL
Selects the flash metering method. ADI uses pre-flash, but also considers distance info provided by lens. Pre-flash TTL uses exposure calculated with pre-flash only.
AF Illuminator
- Auto
- Off
The A33 lacks an AF assist lamp, so unless an external flash with AF illuminator is attached to the hot shoe, the camera's popup strobe is used to assist AF by firing a burst of low-power flashes.
Color Space
- sRGB
- Adobe RGB
Changes the color space setting.

 

Record Menu 3:

Record Menu Options: Screen 3
Top-Level
Selection
Second-Level
Notes
Long Exposure NR
- On
- Off
The A33 can perform dark frame subtraction noise reduction for exposures longer than one second. This cannot be disabled in Auto or Scene Selection modes, and cannot be enabled during continuous shooting, bracketing, panorama, hand-held twilight, or multi-frame NR shooting.
High ISO NR
- Auto
- Weak
Noise reduction levels at high ISOs. Only applies to JPEG images. Cannot be set to Auto during continuous shooting or bracketing. Cannot be set to Weak in Auto, Sweep Panorama, or Scene modes.

 

Custom Menu 1:

Custom Menu Options: Screen 1
Top-Level
Selection
Second-Level
Notes
Eye-Start AF
- On
- Off
The A33's Eye-Start AF feature automatically starts focusing as soon as your eye is placed against the viewfinder. The IR sensor used to detect this can be fooled when certain viewfinder accessories are attached, or the camera is worn with a neck strap, so it may be desirable to disable this feature to save battery life.
Finder / LCD Setting
- Auto
- Manual
The A33 can use its Eye-Start AF sensor to detect when your eye is brought to the viewfinder, and switch between the LCD display and the electronic viewfinder automatically. Alternatively, the Finder / LCD button can be used to switch manually. This can potentially save power, since the EVF uses more power than the LCD, and the Eye-Start sensor may be triggered with the camera hanging on a neck strap.
AEL Button
- AEL hold
- AEL toggle
Determines whether exposure lock is retained only while the AEL button is held down, or locked and unlocked with sequential presses of the AEL button.
Focus Hold Button
- Focus Hold
- D.O.F. Preview
For lenses with a focus hold button, the function can be changed to act as a depth-of-field preview button instead.
Focus Magnifier
- On (Delete button)
- Off
If enabled, the Delete button can be used to initiate a focus magnifier function in Record mode. The fisrt press brings up a crop box that can be positioned anywhere in the frame with the four-way controller. The second press switches to a 7x zoom, the third press to a 14x zoom, and the fourth press returns to an unzoomed view.
Red Eye Reduction
- On
- Off
If On, low-power flash bursts are used immediately before exposure, to reduce the probability of red-eye.
Release Without Lens
- Enable
- Disable
Allows a photograph to be taken when the camera doesn't detect an attached lens. This is useful when shooting with lenses that lack any electronic contacts, such as when using a telescope attachment.

 

Custom Menu 2:

Custom Menu Options: Screen 2
Top-Level
Selection
Second-Level
Notes
Grid Line
- Rule of 3rds Grid
- Square Grid
- Diagonal + Sqaure Grid
- Off
If enabled, the A33 shows grid lines on the live view feed, useful for precise image framing. These can either split the frame into a 3 x 3 grid (aka rule of thirds), a 6 x 4 grid, or a 4 x 4 grid plus diagonal lines from the frame corners to the center.
Histogram
- On
- Off
Enables or disables a small luminance histogram near the bottom right corner of the LCD display or electronic viewfinder in Record mode. When active, this replaces much of the info in the EVF's "detailed info" view, and the LCD's "partial info" display, including the shutter speed and aperture indicator gauges. The histogram isn't shown in other overlay modes, such as the electronic level mode.
Display Recording Data
- For live view
- For viewfinder
If set to "For viewfinder", this replaces the "Image with detailed info" view on the rear panel with an "info display"-type view (no live view in the background), as on a traditional SLR camera. The electronic viewfinder must be used for image framing while this view is active, and its overlay types are unaffected.
Auto Review
- 10 sec.
- 5 sec.
- 2 sec.
- Off
Sets the display time for an image immediately post-capture, or turns review off.
Auto+ Continuous Advance
- Auto
- Off
Only accessible with the Mode dial in Auto+ mode. When set to Auto, this option allows the A33 to enable continuous burst shooting automatically, when it detects a fast-moving subject.
Auto+ Image Extract
- Auto
- Off
Only accessible with the Mode dial in Auto+ mode. If the previous Auto+ Continuous Advance mode is enabled, Auto+ Image Extract allows the A33 to automatically select what it deems to be the best shot in each continuous burst of image captured. Only this shot is then saved, and all other shots in the burst are discarded without user intervention.

 

Playback Menu 1:

Playback Menu Options: Screen 1
Top-Level
Selection
Second-Level
Third-Level
Notes
Delete
- Marked images
- All images
Lets you delete all photos on the card, or only marked photos.
Still / Movie Select
- Still
- Movie
One of the more unusual design features of the Sony A33 is that it completely separates still images from movies in Playback mode. You can't browse directly from a still image to a movie, view thumbnails or slideshows containing both still images and movies at once, or access menu options except those related to the current data type. This option selects whether the A33 should display still images or movies in Playback mode. The change can also be accomplished by going to thumbnail mode, and then switching between the still image and movie tabs.
Slide Show

- Repeat

- On
- Off
Display slide show of captured images.

- Interval (still image mode only)

- 1 sec
- 3 sec
- 5 sec
- 10 sec
- 30 sec

- Movie type (movie mode only)

- All
- AVCHD
- MP4

- Enter
- Cancel

Image Index
- 6 images
- 12 images
Determines how many still image or movie thumbnails should be displayed in index mode.
3D Viewing
Only accessible when connected to a 3D-compatible TV via HDMI.
Protect
- Multiple images
- Cancel all images (still image mode only)
- Cancel all movies (movie mode only)
Write protects images, or removes protection.
Specify Printing (Still image mode only)

- DPOF setup

- Multiple Images
- Cancel All
Sets up photos for DPOF (Digital Print Order Format) printing on a compatible standalone printer.

- Date imprint

- On
- Off

- Enter
- Cancel

 

Playback Menu 2:

Playback Menu Options: Screen 2
Top-Level
Selection
Second-Level
Third-Level
Notes
Volume Settings (Movie mode only)
- 7
- 6
- 5
- 4
- 3
- 2
- 1
- 0
Selects the playback volume for movies, or disables sound playback.
Select Folder (Still image mode only)

- Folder name selection dialog

Browse images from one specific folder only.
Select Date (Movie mode only)

- Date selection dialog

Browse movies from one specific date only.
Playback Display
- Auto rotate
- Manual rotate
Sets whether the camera automatically rotates vertically-shot images in Playback mode.

 

Storage Menu 1:

Storage Menu Options: Screen 1
Top-Level
Selection
Second-Level
Third-Level
Notes
Format
- Enter
- Cancel
Formats the selected memory card, erasing all files (even protected ones).
File Number
- Series
- Reset
Set whether filename continues to increment from last image, regardless of whether folder or card has changed, or the card has been formatted.
Folder Name
- Standard form
- Date form
Select standard folder names (i.e., 100MSDCF), or include the date in the folder name (i.e.., 10170101).
Select Recording Folder
- Folder selection dialog
Selects current folder.
New Folder
Create a new folder with a number incremented from the largest previous number.
Recover Image DB
Check image database file?
- Enter
- Cancel
Allows a corrupted database file to be rebuilt.
Display Card Space
Number of remaining still images / Minutes of remaining movie recording
- OK
Figures shown are for currently selected resolution / compression.

 

Date and Time Menu 1:

Date and Time Menu Options: Screen 1
Top-Level
Selection
Second-Level
Third-Level
Notes
Date / Time Setup
Fields for:
- Month
- Day
- Year
- Hour
- Minute
- Date format
Set the cameras internal clock and calendar.
Area Setting
World map with cities in currently selected time zone displayed.
Left / right arrows select time zone, up and down arrows adjust daylight savings.

 

Setup Menu 1:

Setup Menu Options: Screen 1
Top-Level
Selection
Second-Level
Third-Level
Notes
LCD Brightness
- Brightness Setup
- Auto
- Manual
- Sunny weather
Adjust LCD brightness.
- Level selection dialog (For Manual brightness setup only)
- -2 to +2
Viewfinder Brightness
- Brightness Setup
- Auto
- Manual
Adjust LCD brightness.
- Level selection dialog
- -1 to +1
Power Save
- 30 min
- 5 min
- 1 min
- 20 sec
- 10 sec
Determines the amount of inactivity time that will cause camera to enter a low power mode when using Optical Viewfinder mode. Pressing shutter button half-way exits power save mode.
Control for HDMI
- On
- Off
Enables or disables Consumer Electronics Control (HDMI-CEC), which allows certain playback functions to be remotely controlled from an HDMI-attached high definition display's remote control.
Language
- English
- French
- Spanish
- Italian
- Japanese
- Chinese
Menu language setup.
Help Guide Display
- On
- Off
Enables or disables the help guide display function, which pops up helpful information when changing operating modes or browsing the menu system.

 

Setup Menu 2:

Setup Menu Options: Screen 2
Top-Level
Selection
Second-Level
Third-Level
Notes
USB Connection
- Mass Storage
- PTP
Sets USB mode.
Audio Signals
- On
- Off
Enables sound during self-timer countdown, etc.
Cleaning Mode
After cleaning, turn camera off. Continue?
- OK
The A33 uses electromagnetic vibration of its low-pass filter to shake off dust, a function performed automatically whenever the camera is switched off. The cleaning function can also be performed manually on demand with this option. After performing this operation, Sony recommends removing the lens, manually raising the translucent mirror, and holding the camera lens mount-side down, then using an air blower (but not a spray blower) to clear dust from the sensor, rear of the translucent mirror, and surrounding areas.
Version
Version number
- OK
Displays the current firmware version of the camera body.
Demo Mode
- On
- Off
When enabled, the camera performs its demo routine after one minute of inactivity.
Reset Default
Reset Default?
- Enter
- Cancel
Returns all settings to their defaults, except for date/time setup, and area setting.

 

Function Menu:

Function Menu Options
Top-Level
Selection
Second-Level
Third-Level
Notes
Drive Mode
- Single-shot Advance
- Continuous Advance Hi / Lo

- 2 / 10 sec. self-timer
-Bracket Continuous 0.3 / 0.7 EV
- Bracket White Balance Hi / Lo
- Remote Commander
Continuous Advance Hi is 6 frames per second max. Continuous Advance Lo is 2.5 fps max.
Flash Mode
- Off
- Auto
- Fill-flash
- Slow sync
- Rear sync.
- Wireless
Wireless flash shooting requires HVL-F56AM or HVL-F36AM external flash.
Autofocus Mode
- Single-shot AF
- Automatic AF
- Continuous AF
Automatic selects between single-shot and continuous AF as appropriate.
AF Area
- Wide
- Spot
- Local
Wide option lets the camera choose AF area, Spot uses center focus area, Local allows user to choose which of the 15 AF sensors to use.
Face Detection
- Off
- On
If enabled, faces are taken into account when determining focus and exposure.
Smile Shutter
- Off
- On
If enabled, automatically captures an image when a smile is detected. Smile detection sensitivity can be adjusted in three steps.
ISO Sensitivity
- Multi-frame Noise Reduction
- Auto
- 100
- 200
- 400
- 800
- 1600
- 3200
- 6400
- 12800
- 25600
For regular shooting, noise reduction applies at ISO 1,600 or above. Multi-frame noise reduction captures multiple images in sequence, then combines them into a single image with reduced overall noise. This mode is only suitable for relatively static scenes.
- Auto
- 100
- 200
- 400
- 800
- 1600
- 3200
- 6400
- 12800
Metering Mode
- Multi segment
- Center weighted
- Spot
Metering mode is fixed to Multi-segment in Auto and Scene modes.
Flash Compensation
- -2 to +2 EV in 1/3 EV steps
Sets the flash exposure compensation level in EV.
White Balance
- Auto WB
Custom option sets white balance manually from a neutral target.
- Daylight
- Shade
- Cloudy
- Incandescent
- Fluorescent
- Flash
- -3 to +3 step adjustment (except Fluorescent, which is -1 to +2 step)
- Color Temperature
- 2500 to 9900K in 100K steps
- Color filter
- G9 (green) to M9 (magenta)
- Custom
- Custom
- Custom Set
DRO / Auto HDR
- D-R Off
DRO adjusts tone curve to bring out shadow detail. HDR merges multiple sequential shots in-camera to create a single exposure with increased dynamic range.
- DRO
- Auto
- Level 1 to 5
- HDR
- Auto
- 1.0 to 3.0 EV in 0.5 EV steps
Creative Style
- Standard
- Vivid
- Portrait
- Landscape
- Sunset
- B/W
- Contrast
- Saturation
- Sharpness
Customizable styles start with a preset style, but allow contrast, saturation (except B/W), and sharpness, adjustments within a +/- 3 step range.

 

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