New Tool: Sony A55 DSLR Camera

by Josh on July 10, 2011 · 9 comments

in Journal

It won’t be kept in my workshop, but you’ll notice the contribution of this tool to every project I share.  It’s my new Sony a55 dslr camera.

Sony A55 DSLR Camera

I have owned film slr cameras before, but never a digital version.  I’ve been casually shopping them for a while, but I really got inspired when I saw the outstanding photographs a shutterbug friend shared with me after we vacationed with him last summer.

Then over the past few months, it seemed like every time I opened my feed reader, another blogger I follow had gotten a snazzy new camera.  After considerable reading, and deal-seeking I picked the Sony a55 and paired it with a versatile, affordable Tamron 18-200mm zoom lens.  So whadya say, Katie, Carla, Mike and Katrina?  Can I join your club?

I picked the Sony because it is compact and comfortable to use, and packs some great features.  First, it focuses and shoots incredibly fast (10 fps) so I have a better chance of catching the moment with my always-in-motion kids.  It also has a fantastic movie mode,  a cool “sweep panorama,” and a few high dynamic range settings that composite a burst of exposures into a single image.  It also got the coveted endorsements of both Popular Photography and the clerk at my local camera shop.

I’ve had the Sony for about couple months now, so you’ve actually seen some photos from the camera already, but here are a few sample shots that can pull double duty showing off the camera and catching you up on some things I’ve been meaning to write about for weeks.

Out and About

snapping turtle

Lake Hiawatha water plants

Keeping Nature Deficit Disorder at bay this summer, our family has gone camping, taken many bike rides, played in the neighborhood parks, and enjoyed the local scenery like this view of the lake near our house.  We’re fortunate Minneapolis’ early leaders recognized the value of preserving parkland–particularly around the many lakes and streams in our city.  It’s a special thing to be able to walk out of the neighborhood coffee shop and before your latte is cold be someplace natural enough to watch herons, catch tadpoles, or cross paths with a snapping turtle.

The Rest of the Story

dog portrait

In my last post, I told you about the antique dining table I bought through Craigslist but I left out an important part of the story.  While I was away on the four-hour purchasing excursion, our young rescue-adoptee dog, jumped the backyard fence when Ms. Bungalow let him out for a bedtime constitutional.  When she tried to catch him, he ran past her into a busy street where he was hit by a car.  Don’t worry– the photo above was after his accident, and although it might not be clear, all his limbs are intact.   Our vet now calls him the “miracle dog” because other than a few cuts and scrapes, his lone injury from the accident is a paralyzed tail.  Usually the only thing dogs and tables have in common are the crumbs that fall to the floor, but now the story of our dog and the story of our dining room table are inextricably linked.

DIY in the Kitchen

Chop salad with bread

I’m still working on finishing my kitchen mini remodel following a setback with my new countertop.  (More on that in a future post…)  In the meantime, I am trying to do even more healthy, seasonal, scratch cooking like this chopped salad.  Our family has been pescatarian (lacto-ovo vegetarian + occassional fish) for a little over seven years but I’m still working on making our mealtimes more nutritious, delicious, and sustainablicious.  With two young kids, it’s easy to eat too much cheese pizza and pasta marinara.  Incidentally, that salad recipe comes from the cookbook, “Clean Food” by Terry Walters, which I bought at the beginning of the summer.  Everything I’ve made from that book has been excellent (though not always kid-approved) and I like how the recipes are arranged seasonally to help me be intentional about using in-season produce.

What’s Next

The thing about SLR cameras is that they invite collecting accessories.  After all, what’s the point of an interchangeable lens camera with only one lens?  So far I’ve held off rushing to buy additional lenses, a supplemental flash and other accessories, but that’s probably only a matter of time and budget.  Regardless of how I fill my camera bag, I hope you will see better, more helpful pictures that enrich your enjoyment of my blog.

{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

Katie July 10, 2011 at 10:39 pm

YAY! Congratulations on becoming a new DSLR Dad! It’ll change your life 🙂
xo – kb


Reuben July 10, 2011 at 11:16 pm

The only problem with fancy new cameras is that you can’t use it to take a photo of itself. Have fun with the new toy!


mike @HA July 11, 2011 at 9:19 am

The new camera, and pictures, look great! The built in HDR will be really helpful for house shots. Bright windows + dark room are the bane interiors. I’m so glad your dog is ok, my heart stopped for a second when you said he was hit by a car.


Allison July 11, 2011 at 5:42 pm

Love the pics, particularly the dog. Nice to see professional cameras being used instead of all the point and shoot ones.


Kristin July 13, 2011 at 1:06 pm

Oooh – I want one too! I will have to hold off for now though… That salad looks fantastic BTW. I love food like that.


Adam July 18, 2011 at 8:58 pm

The photographs look so crisp and bold. The turtle is my favorite, btw. I am dreaming of a DSLR for myself, unfortunately my economic outlook for this dream is not good. I would have a lot more research to do on brands even if I could afford one. Maybe in time for Christmas…? How did you decide on that specific brand/model? Consumer reports? First hand reviews?


Josh July 22, 2011 at 7:19 pm

When researching cameras it is easy to get overwhelmed by data and review websites. For in-depth reviews, DPReview is the place to go, though they definitely tilt toward the professional photographer.

I mentioned this in an off-hand way above, but my camera was Popular Photography magazine’s “Camera of the Year” and the people I visited with at my local camera shop also recommended the Sony over its Canon and Nikon competition.

I also looked through the reviews on for some more end-user feedback and a sense of what complaints/concerns people had with the camera.

But no amount of research can replace the value of holding the camera in your hands to see how you like the size, button placement, materials quality, menu system, etc. So when you’re serious about buying a camera, do yourself a favor and go someplace where you can handle every model on your consideration list.


Rona July 20, 2011 at 2:11 pm

How are you liking the tamron lens? I have mostly nikons now and one tokina, and was thinking about purchasing a walk-around tamron lens.


Josh July 22, 2011 at 7:37 pm

I like the Tamron lens very well, Rona. As a versatile walk-around lens the focal range is great and it can produce some very good results. A portrait photographer friend saw one of my recent photos (not included in this post) and thought I must have used a prime lens to get the nice depth of field and crisp focus in the image.

However, I’ve noticed that the lens isn’t quite as sharp at the edges as it is in the center and I wish it focused a bit quicker and more quietly, but those are the compromises I made for a low purchase price. The 18-200mm lens that I have is a pretty old design and the newer 18-250 and 18-270 lenses, while substantially more expensive also substantially improve on the limitations I mentioned.

Give the Tamron range a look, Rona, I think you’ll find a lot to like.


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