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Sony Alpha a58 review

DSLT merges two beginner lines

Outwardly, little has changed on the Sony a58 from its predecessor, the Sony a57, although Sony says it is a little bit smaller. Holding the cameras side by side it's not particularly easy to see the differences, though.

It has a large, chunky grip, which is particularly useful when shooting one-handed, and is reasonably weighty enough to give it a quality feel. It feels like it could withstand the odd knock or scrape, and is of a more premium construction than the Sony Alpha a37, which it also replaces.

On the top of the camera is a dial for switching between the various modes it has to offer, such as fully automatic, semi-automatic and fully manual. One new addition to this dial is Picture Effects, which previously could be accessed via the main menu. Picture Effects can also be accessed when shooting in other modes, such as aperture priority. This enables you to keep control over other settings while still using the Picture Effects, whereas in the dedicated mode, everything is automatic.

Sony Alpha a58 review

Built into the hand grip is a scrolling dial that can be used to alter aperture or shutter speed, depending on the mode you're in. When in fully manual, the dial controls shutter speed when used on its own, but if you hold down the exposure compensation button and use the scroll dial, aperture is altered.

Dedicated buttons on the back of the camera provide quick access to key settings, including ISO and exposure compensation, and like other cameras in the Sony Alpha range, there's some customisation that can be enjoyed for those who like to work in specific ways.

The function button accesses a type of quick menu that has the majority of the most commonly used settings, such as Drive Mode, Metering and Creative Style.

Sony Alpha a58 review

A number of the most interesting options available on the Sony a58, such as Auto Object Framing, Clear Zoom and Picture Effects can't be shot when shooting in raw format. Not only is this pretty annoying in terms of keeping a clean image to work with, but it also requires a pretty tedious delve in and out of the main menu to switch to JPEG-only shooting.

Having the ability to switch to JPEG from the function menu would have been much quicker, as would a pop-up screen asking if you'd like to switch off raw format shooting if you attempt to use one of these functions. Better yet, it would be nice if Sony enabled raw format shooting when using these tools so there was no need to switch it off at all.

A dedicated button for the digital zoom feature can be found on the top of the camera. Press this and then use either the left and right keys to zoom incrementally, or the up and down keys to zoom in steps.

Sony Alpha a58 review

There's also a dedicated button for exposure compensation, so you can press this first and then use the scroll dial to make changes.

Like its predecessor, the Sony Alpha a58 has a movable screen, which is handy for shooting at awkward angles. However, Sony has chosen to make this a tilting device, rather than a fully articulated one, meaning you can't pack it away when it's not in use, and it's less useful when shooting portrait format images.

Sadly, it's still not a touchscreen device, which would have been handy for setting autofocus point. Instead, to set the autofocus point you need to press the central OK button and then scroll around with the arrow keys to the area you desire.

Sony Alpha a58 review

Helpfully, an eye sensor is included to automatically turn off the screen and activate the EVF. This makes it a much more seamless transition and more akin to using an optical viewfinder than having to switch between the two with a physical button.

However, there is also a physical button included, which can be used when switching off the automatic detection. This is handy if you only want to use the EVF and LCD for a certain length of time.

Thankfully, Sony has decided to include a standard hotshoe, rather than the Alpha proprietary hotshoe that has been on the majority of Alpha DSLTs up until this point - good news for those with standard accessories.

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
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