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Sony Alpha SLT A58 review

Sabyasachi Biswas May 29 | Updated on May 29, 2013

Sony Alpha A58 review

Sony Alpha A58 review

Sony Alpha A58 review

In low light shooting conditions, the Sonly Alpha A58 sometimes tends to exaggerate reds and yellows, and mutes blues and greens   -  Business Line

The Sony Alpha SLT A58 is very good at tracking subjects, and coupled with a fast continuous shooting mode, it is ideal for shooting fast-moving subjects   -  Business Line

Sony’s new entry-level digital SLT camera is proof that the manufacturer is determined to give Canon and Nikon a run for their money.

When it comes to cameras, Sony has always been the one to step away from tradition. The fact that it chose to incorporate the Single Lens Translucent (SLT) technology over the traditional mirror assembly stands out as an example. Another fact that makes Sony the odd-one-out is that it decides to throw in an OLED viewfinder when the competition utilises the traditional ones.

The best part, however, that it brings all the good things that you get from these features into an entry-level camera. The Alpha 58 is the latest snapper in the beginners’ segment, and it has quite a few tricks up its sleeve, as we found out.

Design and build

The new Sony SLT-A58 looks and feels exactly like the outgoing A57 model. Being an entry level SLT, it is quite compact at 128.6 x 95.5 x 77.7mm and weighs 492 grams. The body feels quite plasticky, but overall the grip feels quite solid. There is, however, a major disappointment in form of a plastic lens mount – this is one component we believe should always be metal for the sake of durability.

The A58 uses 3-inch tilting screen, which provides only vertical flexibility. From what we’ve seen, cameras in this segment see a lot of personal usage like self portraits and group shots, and a screen that also swings outwards horizontally would’ve been a much better choice. The screen resolution is only up to 4,60,000 dots, which is a very low number as compared to the Canon EOS 100D and Nikon D3200. The screen isn’t touch-sensitive, but then the addition of a touchscreen would’ve increased the price of the product.

Users get an OLED viewfinder instead of a regular optical one. If you’re apprehensive about an electronic viewfinder, you should know that there are a few advantages that you get on the A58. All your real-time settings info is displayed along with the frame visual. This means that don’t need to keep removing the camera from your face to look at the LCD while adding the right lighting to your composition.

There is ample flexibility offered in terms of dials and buttons for tweaking settings, and the placement too is ergonomic.

Specs and performance

The A58 uses a 23.2 x 15.4mm, Exmor APS-HD CMOS sensor which has a 20.1 million pixels resolution. This bumps up the resolution from the A57’s 16.7 MP. For AF, this beginners’ Alpha totes a 15-points AF system with 3 cross-type sensors. Aprt from that, the A58 also has an automatic framing system that automatically saves a trimmed version of the picture by determining if it is a portrait, tracked object or a macro shot.

As much as the low-res viewfinder is a dampener, the OLED viewfinder is actually a delight to use. It is very bright and colour representation is extremely accurate. There is hardly any lag time, irrespective of the amount of light available and the image being simulated. You do, however, feel the need to cup your palm around the viewfinder if you’re shooting outdoors on a very bright day.

The AF is somewhat unpredictable. Tracking subjects in bright conditions it is exceptionally good, and the focus stays locked on for good. But at times when you’re shooting a macro (within the macro distance) and portrait subjects in colourful or densely populated backgrounds, the AF takes a lot of time to lock on, and the new 18-55mm kit lens makes a lot of noise while doing so.

The most spectacular thing about the Sony A58 is that it can shoot full-resolution 20.1 MP images at up to 8fps, while not compromising on continuous auto focus and auto exposure performance. This, for an entry level SLT/SLR digital camera is absolutely stunning. However, once you shoot a burst sequence, the camera takes a while processing the images before it is ready to shoot again.

Image quality

From the many images produced, it was evident that the sensor is very good at reproducing reds and yellows. Blues and greens were inconsistent while using the auto white balance mode. Nonetheless, the images were neither very muted nor were they over-the-top in terms of colour reproduction.

The JPEG images taken in Fine quality had extremely low levels on noise up to ISO 3200, but the RAW images showed a lot of noise when blown up on the screen unprocessed. Otherwise, the low-light performance was stellar. Even in the darker shots, there was no smudging and the whites were not muddy at all.

We say

For a beginners’ SLT/SLR, the A58 offers a lot of power and rich imaging quality to the user. It also has a lot of filters and creative modes that one can play around with and get good images. Sony has a wide array of lenses available to go with the A58, and it has been confirmed that Minolta/Konica Minolta lenses would also be supported on the A-mount. So if you want to stick to JPEGs and use a camera for learning photography as well as using for everyday imaging, the A58 is a good option.

Rs 32,990 (with 18-55mm lens kit)

Love – low light performance, fast burst mode

Hate – RAW performance, unpredictable AF

sabyasachi.b@thehindu.co.in

Published on May 29, 2013

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