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Sony Alpha 57 review

April 14, 2012

Overall Rating:

3

Sony Alpha 57


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Manufacturer:

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Price as Reviewed:

£700.00

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

Features

There are several cameras across the Nikon, Pentax and Sony brands that use a variation of the 16-million-pixel, APS-C CMOS sensor that is found in the Alpha 57. Like its Alpha 55 predecessor, the Alpha 57 uses a 1.44-million-dot LCD electronic viewfinder (EVF), but in this case it has been refined to offer an additional ‘maximum’ magnification setting that further enlarges the view.

A defining difference between the Alpha 57 and the more expensive Alpha 65 is that the Alpha 65 uses Sony’s 2.359-million-dot OLED EVF, which is brighter, crisper and gives greater contrast.

Key shooting modes carried across from the older Alpha 55 include high dynamic range (HDR), 3D sweep panorama, sweep panorama, intelligent auto (iA) and iA+. iA+ includes the continuous shooting and HDR mode options.

The Alpha 57 has 10fps high-speed shooting that can be used with continuous AF and exposure control for approximately 25-frame bursts. A new 12fps burst is available in the tele-zoom continuous advance priority AE mode. To achieve this faster frame rate, a 1.4x magnification is applied, resulting in a 25-frame burst of 8.4-million-pixel, medium-quality JPEGs.

Clear Image Zoom and Auto Portrait Framing are two new shooting modes that make use of Sony’s Pixel Super Resolution Technology. Clear Image Zoom offers up to a 2x zoom from the selected focal length. When used, a full-size 16.1-million-pixel image is saved, unlike with the 2x teleconverter modes found in the Alpha 65 and Alpha 77 that simply crop into the full-size image. Clear Image Zoom works by cropping into the full-resolution image, then interpolating neighbouring pixels, effectively upscaling the image.

Auto Portrait Framing works with face recognition. Once a face has been detected in a scene and the image recorded, a second file is processed that crops the image according to the rule of thirds and in relation to the captured face.

One feature that is lacking in the Alpha 57, but which can be found in the Alpha 65, is GPS. Otherwise, the Alpha 57’s specification is impressive for a camera of its price, and the features on offer should satisfy those who are new to photography.

  • 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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