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Sony Alpha a58 review

DSLT merges two beginner lines

Our Verdict

For

  • Picture Effects
  • Low light performance
  • Good EVF

Against

  • Slow autofocus
  • Frustrating raw format use
  • Not an articulating/touchscreen

It's been a few years since Sony first introduced its DSLT, or translucent mirror, cameras, and it seems as if consumers and the industry are now au fait with the idea. The company generally updates its entry level cameras once a year, and so it has refreshed the Sony Alpha a57 with the Sony Alpha a58.

Although outwardly the two cameras are pretty much the same, the Sony a58 now features a newly designed 20.1 million pixel sensor, compared with the Sony a57's 16.1 million pixel device.

It also features an improved electronic viewfinder (EVF), which now boasts OLED technology for improved brightness and contrast. As DSLTs, the Alpha range can only use electronic viewfinders, and as such Sony has been working hard to improve their performance.

Sony Alpha a58 review

Although some people don't favour electronic viewfinders, there are a couple of distinct advantages to using them. For starters, it's helpful to see changes you make to settings displayed in real time via the viewfinder. You also spend less time removing the camera to glance at the LCD screen as the image pops up in the viewfinder, helping you determine whether or not you've nailed the shot.

On the back of the camera is a 3-inch tilting screen. With 460,000 dots, it's a fairly low resolution screen when compared to other beginner models currently out there on the market, such as the Canon EOS 100D. It's also not touch-sensitive, which although unfortunate, perhaps would have pushed the price up too far for the target consumer.

Talking of price, the Sony a58 currently costs £449 / US$599.99 / AU$799 with a newly designed 18-55mm kit lens.

Sony Alpha a58 review

The camera uses a 15-point AF system, which includes three cross-type sensors. It is capable of shooting at 8fps in telezoom continuous advance priority AE mode, or at 5fps at the camera's highest resolution, giving it one of the fastest burst rates currently in the entry-level market.

Sony is targeting this camera both at those with compacts looking to make their first step into the DSLR/T interchangeable lens market, as well as those with existing entry level DSLRs looking for a replacement.

Another new feature, which is particularly interesting, is Auto Object Framing, a step-up from the Auto Portrait Framing system that made its debut last year. Now not only can the camera automatically crop portraits for better compositions, it can also do it with objects, including macros and moving subjects.

Sony Alpha a58 review

As befits the intended consumer of this camera, Sony has included a number of fun and simple features. These include Sweep Panorama, a feature first outed in the company's range of Cyber-Shot compacts, and a range of Picture Effects and Picture Styles.

Another feature that may be particularly appealing is Clear Zoom - Sony's name for its digital zoom. This uses By Pixel Resolution Technology, which is designed to double the effective focal length of whichever lens you're using, while maintaining the same resolution. Those customers who don't want to purchase additional lenses may find this is especially useful.

One of the benefits of the translucent mirror is that the camera can deliver autofocus during fast burst speeds. The camera is capable of shooting at up to 8fps, which is pretty high for an entry-level camera, certainly beating the Canon EOS 100D, which is capable of 4fps.

Sony Alpha a58 review

Along with the wide number of lenses already available for the A-mount, Sony is launching three new lenses at the same time as the Sony Alpha a58. First up of those is a new 18-55mm kit lens, which will be bundled as part of the Sony a58 kit package.

Sony is including the 18-55mm kit lens as standard with the Alpha a58, which covers an equivalent focal length of 27-82.5mm in 35mm terms. Although Sony doesn't have quite the proprietary lens range of Canon and Nikon, the number of A-mount lenses now tops 50, with seven premium optics available manufactured by Carl Zeiss.

Tech Specs

Product TypeDigital SLT Camera
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
Maximum Video Resolution1920 x 1080
TouchscreenNo
Effective Camera Resolution20.1 Megapixel
GPSNo
USBYes
Product Familyalpha
Image StabilizationOptical
Optical Zoom3.1x
Brand NameSony
FeaturesFace Detection, Noise Reduction, Live View, Continuous Shooting Mode, External Flash Shoe, Smile Detection
Screen Size6.9 cm (2.7")
Video FormatsAVCHD, MPEG-4 AVC, MP4
Viewfinder TypeElectronic
Weight (Approximate)492 g
Minimum Focus Distance250 mm
Maximum Image Resolution5456 x 3632
Maximum Frame Rate30 fps
Number of Batteries Supported1
Battery Built-inNo
Battery RechargeableYes
Battery IncludedYes
Display Screen TypeLCD
Image Sensor TypeExmor APS HD CMOS sensor
Total Camera Resolution20.4 Megapixel
HDMIYes
Camera AssemblyBody with Lens Kit
HD Movie ModeYes
Battery Model SupportedNP-FM500H
Memory Card SupportedMemory Stick PRO Duo, Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo, Memory Stick PRO-HG HX Duo, Secure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital Extended Capacity (SDXC), Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card, Eye-Fi Card
Height95.5 mm
Width128.6 mm
Depth77.7 mm
Autofocus Points15
Focal Length18 mm to 55 mm (Lens 1)
Image FormatsJPEG, RAW
Audio FormatsAC3, AAC-LC
Flash ModesAuto Flash, Flash OFF, Flash ON, Slow Sync, Rear Slow Sync, High Speed Sync, Red-eye Reduction, Wireless Sync, Flash Exposure Compensation, Pre-flash
Focus ModesManual, Auto
ManufacturerSony Corporation
Product Modela58
Product Namea58 Camera and 18-55mm Lens
Product Linealpha
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberSLTA58K
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.sony.co.uk
Marketing Information

Advance your images with the creative freedom of interchangeable-lens DSLR photography. The Sony Alpha a58 SLT-A58K camera combines innovative technologies with user-friendly features for intuitive handling and impressive quality. The 20.1-megapixel Exmor HD APS sensor delivers richly-detailed images with a truly professional look. Combined with Sony CMOS technology, the a58 achieves high resolution and excellent low-light performance with reduced noise. Thanks to award-winning Translucent Mirror Technology, you'll be able to shoot and focus simultaneously for ultimate speed and precision. Lock-on AF helps guarantee tack-sharp photos, even when shooting quick-moving subjects. And with a wide range of sensitivity-from ISO 100 all the way to ISO 16000-your photos and Full HD video will shine with noticeable clarity and reduced graininess, even in challenging lighting conditions. Includes an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens.

Battery Life700 Shot
Display Resolution460800 Pixel
Built-in DevicesSpeaker, Microphone