Sony Alpha 57 review

April 14, 2012

Overall Rating:


Sony Alpha 57

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Price as Reviewed:


With its 16.1-million-pixel sensor, 15-point AF and 10fps with continuous AF, Sony’s Alpha 57 may suit aspiring wildlife and action photographers

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Sony Alpha 57 at a glance:

  • 16.1-million-pixel, APS-C-sized CMOS sensor
  • 1.44-million-dot electronic viewfinder
  • ISO 100-16,000 (extended to ISO 25,600)
  • 15-point AF system with three cross-type points
  • 12fps high-speed mode
  • Street price around £700 with 18-55mm kit lens

During the launch presentation for the Alpha 57, Sony revealed it is unlikely to release another DSLR and will instead focus on its single lens translucent (SLT) cameras for the enthusiast market.

This strategy is perhaps an admission that Sony is unlikely to be able to compete successfully with the top DSLR brands in a crowded marketplace, and that developing a different type of system is the best way forward. Sony’s innovative SLT line-up, although still only the second generation, has already established itself as a viable alternative.

An SLT camera uses a fixed translucent mirror, whereas a DSLR features a moving mirror. The fixed mirror of the SLT has advantages over a DSLR in several areas. When compared to its direct DSLR competition, such as the Nikon D5100 and Canon EOS 600D, the Alpha 57 benefits from phase-detection AF for video recording, high-speed capture at 10fps with continuous AF and an uninterrupted live view feed.

The downside to the SLT system is that not all the light coming through the lens reaches the sensor. However, even those concerned with the low-light ability of the SLT system will have been impressed by the performance of SLT cameras.

The Alpha 57 replaces the Alpha 55 in Sony’s current line-up of four SLT models. Sitting between the Alpha 35 and Alpha 65, the Alpha 57 is ideal for those who cannot quite afford the more expensive 24.3-million-pixel Alpha 65, but want more than the entry-level Alpha 35 can offer. On the surface, there are few differences between the Alpha 57 and its predecessor. However, in several areas the features set of the new camera matches other cameras that cost a lot more money.

  • Video: 1920x1080 pixels (at 50fps, 25fps or 24fps), 640x480 pixels (at 25fps), AVCHD 2 with MPEG-4 AVC H.264
  • White Balance: Auto, 6 presets, Kelvin, plus custom setting
  • External mic: Yes
  • Built-in Flash: Yes – GN 10 @ ISO 100
  • Shutter Type: Electronically controlled focal-plane shutter
  • Memory Card: SD, SDHC, SDXC, Memory Stick Pro Duo
  • Output Size: 4912x3264 pixels
  • Viewfinder Type: Electronic LCD, with 1.44 million dots and 100% frame coverage
  • White Balance Bracket: Yes, 3 exposures
  • AF Points: 15-point with 3 cross-type, auto or manual selection
  • LCD: Articulated 3in LCD with 921,600 dots
  • Focal Length Mag: 1.5x
  • Sensor: 16.1-million-effective-pixel APS-C (23.5x15.6mm) CMOS sensor
  • Exposure Modes: iAuto, program, aperture priority, shutter priority, manual, scene selection, sweep panorama, 3D sweep panorama
  • Weight: 618g (with battery and card)
  • File Format: Raw, JPEG, raw + JPEG simultaneously
  • Power: Rechargeable Li-Ion NP-FM500H battery, up to 550 shots
  • Shutter Speeds: 30-1/4000sec in 1⁄3EV steps plus bulb
  • Colour Space: Adobe RGB, sRGB
  • Drive Mode: 12fps in tele-zoom mode, 10fps in continuous advance priority AE, continuous 8fps high or 3fps low, single-shot, self-timer
  • Lens Mount: Sony Alpha mount
  • RRP: £749 (with 18-55mm kit lens)
  • ISO: 100-16,000 (expanded to ISO 25,600 in multi-frame NR mode)
  • Focusing Modes: Manual, single-shot AF, automatic AF, continuous AF, face detection
  • Dimensions: 132.1x97.5x80.7mm
  • DoF Preview: Yes
  • Metering System: 1,200-zone evaluative metering, centreweighted and fixed centre spot
  • Connectivity / Interface: USB 2.0 Hi-Speed, HDMI
  • Compression: 2-stage JPEG
  • Exposure Comp: ±3EV in 1⁄3EV steps

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