Sony DSLR-A560 Review

 
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Sony Alpha A560 Modes and Menus

When powered on, the Sony A560 is automatically placed into Record mode. The Mode dial on the left side of the A560's top panel lets you select various exposure modes. The Mode dial offers the following selection of shooting modes:

Auto: Proceeding around the Sony A560's Mode Dial in a clockwise direction, the first option 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 mode (off, auto, or on). You can also control a number of live view and movie related options, including movie file format, size, and audio recording, AF method, face detection, and smile shutter.

Program AE: In its Program AE mode, the Sony A560 controls both aperture and shutter speed automatically, and you have control over all other exposure variables, including exposure compensation. Unlike many SLRs, the A560 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 A560 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 A560 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 A560's Shutter button down. A display in the viewfinder or on the rear panel in live view mode reports whether the Sony A560 thinks your settings will result in under, over, or correctly exposed photos.

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 A560'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 Display button 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 A560 can also display images or movies in an index format for quick viewing, with either four or nine 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 A560 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 A560 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 A560 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
- 1,920 x 1,080
- 1,440 x 1,080
- VGA
1,920 x 1,080 pixel option is only available when file format is set to AVCHD. Lower-resolution options are 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 A560 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.
AF Method
- Contrast AF
- Phase-detect AF
Selects whether the A560 should use contrast detection or phase detection autofocus in Focus Check Live View mode. Phase detection AF is always used in all other modes. Contrast detection is slower, and only suitable for static subjects, but is potentially more accurate, doesn't interrupt the live view feed, and allows the AF point to be placed almost anywhere in the image frame. Phase detect AF if faster, but more prone to back / front focus issues, interrupts the live view feed to drop the mirror, and is limited to the 15 physical points (11 manually selectable) on the AF sensor.

 

Record Menu 3:

Record Menu Options: Screen 3
Top-Level
Selection
Second-Level
Notes
Color Space
- sRGB
- Adobe RGB
Changes the color space setting.
Long Exposure NR
- On
- Off
The A560 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 A560'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.
Function of AEL Button
- Focus magnifier
- AEL
Selects whether the AEL button should be used to access the focus magnifier function, or to perform an exposure lock, when using the Focus Check Live View mode. The focus magnifier allows either 7x or 14x zoom to confirm precise focus, and the zoomed area can be moved anywhere within the image frame.
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.
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.
Auto Off w/ Viewfinder
- On
- Off
Ordinarily, the A560 uses its Eye-Start AF sensor to automatically disable the LCD display when you bring the camera to your eye in OVF mode. When set to off, the LCD remains active until manually disabled.

 

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 A560 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.
Auto Review
- 10 sec.
- 5 sec.
- 2 sec.
- Off
Sets the display time for an image immediately post-capture, or turns review off.

 

Playback Menu 1:

Playback Menu Options: Screen 1
Top-Level
Selection
Second-Level
Third-Level
Notes
Delete
- Multiple images
- All in folder
Lets you delete all photos in the current folder, or only marked photos.
Still / Movie Select
- Still
- Movie
One of the more unusual design features of the Sony A560 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 A560 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

- Image type (still image mode only)

- All
- Display 3D only

- Movie type (movie mode only)

- All
- AVCHD
- MP4

- Enter
- Cancel

3D Viewing
Only accessible when connected to a 3D-compatible TV via HDMI. Allows the camera to be set only to display 3D images.
Protect
- Multiple images
- Cancel all images (still image mode only)
- Cancel all movies (movie mode only)
Write protects images or movies, 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

Volume Settings (Movie mode only)
- 7
- 6
- 5
- 4
- 3
- 2
- 1
- 0
Selects the playback volume for movies, or disables sound playback.

 

Playback Menu 2:

Playback Menu Options: Screen 2
Top-Level
Selection
Second-Level
Third-Level
Notes
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 portrait orientation 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 2
Top-Level
Selection
Second-Level
Third-Level
Notes
Date / Time Setup
Daylight Savings
- On
- Off
Set the cameras internal clock and calendar.
Fields for:
- Month
- Day
- Year
- Hour
- Minute
- Date format
- Y-M-D
- D-M-Y
- M-D-Y
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
Adjust LCD brightness.
- Level selection dialog (For Manual brightness setup only)
- -2 to +2
Power Save (LV)
- 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.
Power Save (OVF)
- 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

- Japanese
- English
- French
- Spanish
- Italian
- Chinese (simplified)
- Chinese (traditional)
- German
- Portuguese
- Dutch
- Russian
- Swedish
- Danish
- Norwegian
- Finnish
- Polish
- Czech
- Hungarian
- Korean
- Arabic
- Persian
- Thai
- Greek
- Turkish
- Bahasa Malay

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.
USB Connection
- Mass Storage
- PTP
Sets USB mode.

 

Setup Menu 2:

Setup Menu Options: Screen 2
Top-Level
Selection
Second-Level
Third-Level
Notes
Audio Signals
- On
- Off
Enables sound during self-timer countdown, etc.
Cleaning Mode
After cleaning, turn camera off. Continue?
- Enter
- Cancel
The A560 uses its sensor shift mechanism to shake dust from the optical low pass filter overlying the sensor, 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 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.
Pixel Mapping
Attach the lens cap. Continue?
- Enter
- Cancel
Maps the location of stuck pixels on the image sensor, and uses this information to automatically correct these pixels in subsequently captured images.
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
- Speed Priority Continuous
- 2 / 10 sec. self-timer
-Bracket Continuous 0.3 / 0.7 EV
- Bracket White Balance Hi / Lo
- Remote Commander
Continuous Advance Hi is 5 frames per second max. Continuous Advance Lo is 3 fps max. Live View mode is fixed to Continuous Lo, while Focus Check Live View mode is fixed to Continuous Hi. Speed Priority Continuous fixes exposure and focus from the first shot, but allows seven frames per second in all shooting modes except for Sweep Panorama, 3D Sweep Panorama, and all scene modes bar Sports Action.
Flash Mode
- Off
- Auto
- Fill-flash
- Slow sync
- Rear sync.
- Wireless
Wireless flash shooting requires HVL-F58AM or HVL-F42AM 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 from all fifteen points, Spot uses center focus area, Local allows user to choose from a subset of 11 AF points.
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
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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