Sony A560 Viewfinder

The Sony A560 features a digital SLR design, so the optical viewfinder offers a true, through-the-lens (TTL) display. A dioptric adjustment dial to the right of the eyepiece accommodates eyeglass wearers, letting them adjust the viewfinder optics between -2.5 to +1.0 diopters. The viewfinder eyepiece has a fairly typical eyepoint, specified at 19mm from the eyepiece, or 15mm from the eyepiece frame. Magnification is fairly low at only 0.80x for a 50mm lens and -1 diopter of dioptric correction. This is likely due to the room needed for the Live View sensor. Coverage is specified at 95%, typical for non-pro SLRs.

Like the Sony A550, the A560's viewfinder uses a pentamirror design. The advantage of a pentamirror is it's lighter and less expensive; however an all-glass pentaprism design delivers more light to the viewfinder eyepiece, thanks to its more efficient internal reflection. A solid pentaprism isn't compatible with Sony's tilting-mirror Live View mechanism, though. A pair of horizontal infrared sensors just below the viewfinder detect your eye as it approaches the viewfinder, and deactivates the LCD information display if you have the Auto Off w/ VF option enabled in the Custom menu. You can also set these sensors to initiate autofocus whenever your eye is in range of the eyepiece (Eye-Start AF), which makes the A560's autofocus seem more responsive.

Sony A560 Viewfinder Callouts
AF area
Spot metering area
Shooting area for aspect ratio 16:9
Flash compensation
Flash charging
Wireless flash
High-speed sync
Manual focus
Focus
Shutter speed
Aperture
EV scale
AE lock
"Shooting unavailable" warning
Camera shake warning
SteadyShot scale
Aspect ratio 16:9

The Sony A560's extensive information display features a series of focus target marks in the center of the view that highlight briefly when the AF system is activated. Against uniform, light backgrounds, extremely fine lines can be seen leading up to each active target mark from the left or right sides of the frame, but these aren't in the least obtrusive. Note that, while the autofocus sensor has fifteen individual focusing points, only eleven of these are manually addressable, and only these points' locations are shown in the optical viewfinder. For those familiar with older Sony SLRs, it's also worth noting that while the AF point displays are now all boxes, only three AF sensors at the center of the frame are cross types, with the remainder being line-type sensors.

Camera information appears beneath the image area in a small strip, and reports all of the major camera settings, such as shutter speed, aperture, flash mode, EV compensation, etc. To the far right side of the strip is the Super SteadyShot (anti-shake) scale, indicating the degree of stabilization whenever anti-shake mode is activated. The information readout in the viewfinder activates whenever you half-press the Shutter button, and remains active for a few seconds afterward.

 

Viewfinder Test Results

Coverage
Fair accuracy from the optical viewfinder, and Quick AF Live View mode was even less accurate. Focus Check Live View mode was very accurate, though.

Optical Viewfinder
LCD (Quick AF Live View)
LCD (Focus Check Live View)

The Sony Alpha 560's optical viewfinder showed about 94 percent coverage accuracy with our Sigma 70mm f/2.8 prime lens, almost matching Sony's 95% specification. That's lower than average even for a consumer SLR. The image also appears slightly tilted and shifted vertically relative to the imaging sensor, which we're unfortunately seeing more and more frequently in consumer SLRs these days. The amount of tilt and shift on the Sony A560's finder isn't as bad as many we've seen, though.

Quick AF Live View mode had slightly less coverage at about 91%, but was also tilted and shifted very slightly. We're used to seeing close to 100% coverage from cameras' LCDs in Live View mode, but Sony's approach of using a secondary image sensor for Quick AF Live View rather than the main imager means that lower coverage and minor misalignments like this can occur. (The upside, of course, is much faster shutter response than most Live-View SLRs that use the main image sensor for the Live View viewfinder display.)

Coverage in Focus Check Live View mode, which displays an image derived from the main imaging sensor, is 100%. Excellent results here.

 

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