Sony A58 review: Sony’s new 20-megapixel entry-level SLT camera promises a lot of specs for its price. But is it capable? Find out in our hands-on Sony Alpha 58 review video.
The Sony A58 joins the SLT Alpha range as the Sony A57 replacement and sits just above the entry level 37. New to the Sony A58 are a host of features that should appeal to photographers who are starting to get more serious about their photography and want to take more control over their pictures.
Along with the Sony A58′s newly designed 201-megapixel Exmor APS-C HD CMOS sensor and Sony’s translucent mirror technology, the A58 adds an increased ISO range from 100 to 16,000, full HD video recording, an improved EVF and an enhanced Bionz image processing engine.
It’s an impressive spec list indeed. Here Amy Davies takes a look at what this new Sony Alpha camera has to offer in her Sony A58 review video.
Sony A58 Review Video Transcript
Sony has introduced a new camera at the bottom of its SLT line-up, the a58. It replaces not one,but two cameras – the a37 and a57, in an attempt to simplify the beginner range of Alpha cameras.
The a58 is a DSLT – the T standing for Translucent and referring to the fixed mirror inside the camera. Unlike normal DSLRs, light travels directly through the mirror, rather than it flipping out of the way. This means that the camera can offer faster frame rates and quicker autofocus speeds in live view – which the camera is effectively always shooting in – and video mode.
The a58 has a fairly hefty body, with this large grip and rubberised coating helping when shooting one handed.
On the top of the camera is a mode dial for switching between the various shooting modes on offer, including fully automatic, fully manual and semi-automatic options, such as aperture and shutter priority. There are quite a few other options also found here, including scene mode, sweep panorama and picture effects.
The buttons on the back of the camera are well laid out, with easy access to almost everything with your right thumb. Only the main menu button is more inaccessible, but with the quick function menu accessed with this button, you should find that you don’t need to delve into the full menu very often.
You can access all the most commonly used settings, including white balance, Drive Mode and Picture Effects, via this function button. It’s also here that you’ll find Auto Object Framing, a new feature for the Alpha series which automatically crops your images for what the camera considers to be a better composition.
We’d previously seen Auto Portrait Framing, but with the addition of Auto Object Framing, any kind of photo can be cropped, rather than just people shots.
At the top of the camera is a zoom button, this is used to activate Sony’s Clear Zoom function, which uses By Pixel Resolution Technology and doubles the effective focal length of whichever lens is attached. We’ve been impressed by how well this performs compared with other forms of digital zoom before, and a similar performance is put in by the a58.
Unfortunately, a lot of the most interesting features of the a58 can’t be used when shooting in raw format. These include Picture Styles, Clear Zoom and Auto Object/Portrait framing.
Annoyingly, this means that you need to delve into the full menu, switch off raw format shooting, then go back to whatever you’re trying to use. This can be a bit of a tedious process and we had hoped Sony would have come up with a better solution for this by now.
As there’s not a traditional mirror in the camera, the a58 uses an electronic, rather than optical, viewfinder. Sony has used an OLED in the a58, compared with the LCD in the a57. It’s a noticeable improvement, offering a clearer and brighter view. Some don’t like electronic viewfinders, but there are a couple of distinct advantages.
The ability to see any changes you make in live time via the viewfinder is useful, as is the captured image popping up to help you know whether you’ve nailed the shot or not. This sensor here automatically switches to the viewfinder, and switches off the LCD screen, when the camera is lifted to the eye.
The 460,000 dot screen isn’t fully articulated, but it does tilt up and down to make it easier when shooting from some awkward positions in landscape format. It’s not as much help when shooting in portrait format though.
It’s quite a low resolution screen, but it doesn’t suffer too badly from glare or reflection, with the ability to tilt the screen helping if the sun is very strong. Once again, Sony has chosen not to incorporate a touchscreen on its entry-level model.
One of the problems with a translucent mirror is that less light is able to get to the sensor, sometimes meaning that the lens hunts around to attain focus, especially in lower light conditions. The A58 kit lens has quite a noisy focus mechanism, so this can be a little distracting in certain situations.
Sony Alpha cameras have impressed us before with their excellent image quality, and the a58 is no different. Generally, it produces very detailed shots with good colour rendition and exposure.
It’s worth experimenting with different Picture Effects and Styles, as well as the Sweep Panorama when you want to get more creative, too.