Digital camera technology has benefited from a wealth of innovation over the past decade, with manufacturers constantly redefining what’s possible with existing technology, while developing all-new abilities and features to make photography better.
We’ve seen sensors become more populated with pixels, maximum sensitivities raised, dynamic ranges expanded and many more things besides. And we’ve also seen the birth of new types of cameras altogether, such as the compact system camera. Sony’s Single Lens Translucent (SLT) range, which includes this SLT-A35, falls neatly into this latter bracket. These cameras offer an interesting design that falls somewhere between a traditional DSLR and a compact system camera.
In a nutshell, it’s all down to the internal mirror. Whereas a regular DSLR has a solid mirror that reflects 100% of what it sees, SLT cameras such as the A35 use a translucent mirror design that partly reflects the image and partly allows it to pass directly through. In practical terms this allows SLT cameras to provide a simultaneous live feed to both the phase-detection AF module in the roof of the camera as well as the image sensor at the back of the camera.
The main benefit of this arrangement is that there are no moving parts – the internal mirror remains in position at all times – thereby allowing continuous, lightning-fast phase-detection autofocus to be maintained, even when the camera’s being used in live view mode. In addition, SLT cameras can also achieve a faster continuous shooting speed – up to 7fps on the A35. This makes SLT cameras ideal for sport, wildlife and all kinds of situations where the emphasis is on being able to capture fast-moving action.
Sadly though, there is a price to be paid for this arrangement, which is the lack of an optical viewfinder and the reliance, instead, on an electronic viewfinder. Does this spoil the party, or are the inherent benefits of SLT technology enough to render this a minor inconvenience?
Let’s take a closer look and find out.