With the focus on Sony’s SLT technology-wielding Alpha 33 and 55 cameras, have we all been passing over a perfectly capable DSLR? Sony offers up the Alpha 580 for your consideration
LCD, Viewfinder and Video
There is no change to the folding LCD screen from that of the Alpha 550. The newer Alpha 580 features a 921,000-dot resolution screen that displays crisp detail and a bright output. The two-hinge folding screen is solid and built to last, and feels more durable than the Alpha 55’s single-hinge swivel screen, which is more susceptible to snapping off. That said, the two-hinge version is less flexible, with the folding action restricted to landscape-format photographs only.
The inclusion of an optical viewfinder is likely to please some ‘traditionalists’, but in reality I can only describe its performance as adequate. Viewing is a little dark and you really have to press your eye in close to see the image properly.
I found myself using live view as a preference, which is more intuitive as changes to exposure can be seen as they occur and the screen can be angled. Focus check live view is handy, but I have seen other systems that use a blow-up of the focus area when in manual-focus mode, which is a quicker method.
Sony developed its electronic viewfinder no end for the Alpha 55 SLT model, making it possible to access both menus and the scene through the eyehole, and it would not come as a surprise if this is the direction the company turns to more widely in the future.
For the first time, Sony has introduced Full 1080i HD video into its Alpha DSLR range. Image quality is crisp, but continuous focusing is not possible during shooting, unlike with the Alpha 55.
However, I filmed a video of around 20 minutes in length on the Alpha 580 and it showed no signs of overheating, whereas Sony’s SLT models have suffered from this problem and shut down after less than 15 minutes.