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Sony SLT-A37 Review

Sony SLT-A37 Review

It’s easy to see Sony is on a winner with its NEX series. Likewise, the fan mail for the SLT DSLR range is growing.

Forgive me, but whilst I appreciate the benefits of the SLTs — through the lens optical image, small form factor, entrée to a nice range of lenses, etc — I have not been a great fan. There, now I’ve said it!

The main downer for me is the reflex viewfinder, bringing an eye level view of the subject to the photographer, thanks to the fixed semi transparent mirror that shares the light path with the CMOS sensor. For me, the view is murky and imprecise. Due to this shared arrangement, there is a light loss, believed to be about one half of an f stop; how this is achieved is not explained by Sony … perhaps the f numbers are fiddled with!

But there are plenty of things to enjoy: the camera uses phase-detection AF continuously — for stills and video shooting. Most times, this is faster than contrast detection, used by compact and mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. If you want to delve further, there is an excellent Wikipedia article on the system. The camera was supplied with the f3.5/18-55mm kit lens.

Sony SLT-A37-1.jpg

Sony SLT-A37 Features

A big plus, right off, is the look and feel of the A37: looks just like a DSLR: ‘cos it is one!

Good in the hands, the SLT has a pronounced speed grip at right; power and shutter controls at top right; nearby are the control dial (for variation of the aperture or shutter speed) and access points for screen zoom (in shoot mode), turret finder/rear screen button (there is also a sensor for eye contact with the turret), movie record, exposure compensation and a useful exposure adjuster (AEL) plus a variety of other helpers.

Sony SLT-A37-rear.jpg

Menu 1.jpg

Menu 2.jpg

The mode dial and menu button are unusually but helpfully placed at the extreme left/top surface, so occupying both right and left hand fingers; the rear, where sits the smallish but enjoyably vari-angle 6.7cm LCD screen, has little more than the four way jog dial, holding the AF button, display, shooting rate/self timer, direct ISO selection, white balance; gathered here also are a Function button, buttons for replay and a handy in-camera guide.

Traffic rain 2.JPG

The three cross/15 point AF system helps keep track of fast moving subjects … for many, this would be a deal maker in its own right!

Another feature that will attract many to the A37 is the Auto Portrait Framing mode. This will take over the camera, detect where the subject’s eyes are and crop any images containing a face. The crop is displayed on the rear screen, post picture capture. Both the original and cropped images are saved. Weird but wonderful! The process is based on face detection and the rule-of-thirds. It should save many people who have trouble framing people shots!

Quite a package!

The 16.1 CMOS captures a maximum image size of 4912×3264, or a 42x28cm print.

Movies? Full HD 1920×1080 capture in AVCHD or MPEG4 at 1440×1080.

Shooting video, I found to my delight that the SteadyShot function delivered smooth, bump-free video while walking with the camera; auto focus and exposure were constantly in attendance. A terrific performance, only tempered by the fact that I could not shoot stills while mid video recording.

By The Bye there is 7fps continuous stills with full time AF shooting available.

Panoramas? Of course! In typical fashion, there is a sweep pano function that captures pictures up to 12,416×1856 pixels.

Sony SLT-A37 ISO Tests

Sony SLT-A37 ISO 100.JPG

Sony SLT-A37 ISO 400.JPG

Sony SLT-A37 ISO 800.JPG

Sony SLT-A37 ISO 1600.JPG

Sony SLT-A37 ISO 3200.JPG

Sony SLT-A37 ISO 6400.JPG

Sony SLT-A37 ISO 12800.JPG

Sony SLT-A37 ISO 16000.JPG

Only at ISO 3200 does noise become evident. By ISO 12800 the noise is worrying and by ISO 16000 I figure you can’t use it.

BTW just a note to the picky! If you think these shots are slightly off level, you’re right! Framing such a precise shot as this is very demanding of small LCD screens, especially one that is even smaller than the norm. Like this! I’ll try to do better next time!

Artist.JPG

Sony SLT-A37 Review Verdict

Quality: excellent. The shot of the artist was taken in a quick moment, grabbed streetside. Only a little Photoshop fiddling was needed to bring it into line. A very good performance.

Why you’d buy the Sony SLT-A37: the price; SLR viewing; auto portrait function; excellent move capture;

Why you wouldn’t: card loading through the base; murky eye level finder; poor quality rear LCD screen.

I may become a convert! I enjoyed my brief review time with the SLT-A37. Good value!

Sony SLT-A37 Specifications

Image Sensor: 16.1 million effective pixels.
Metering: Multi segment, centre-weighted, spot.
Lens Mount: Sony A-mount, Konica-Minolta AF mount.
Exposure Modes: Program AE, shutter and aperture priority, manual.
Effective Sensor Size: 23.5×15.6mm HD CMOS.
35 SLR Lens Factor: 1.5x.
Shutter Speed (stills): 30 to 1/4000 second and Bulb. Flash sync: 1/160 sec.
Continuous Shooting: up to 7 fps; 5.5 fps at full res.
Memory: SD/SDHC/SDXC, Memory Stick Pro Duo cards.
Image Sizes (pixels): Stills: 4912×3264 to 2448×1376.
Movies: 1920×1080, 1440×1080, 640×480 at 25/50p.
Viewfinder: Turret 1.2cm (1.44 million); 6.7cm LCD screen (230,400 pixels).
File Formats: JPEG, RAW (Sony ARW), JPEG+RAW, MPO (3D), MPEG4, AVCHD.
Colour Space: sRGB, Adobe RGB.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 16000.
Interface: USB 2.0, HDMI mini, EyeFi, remote.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, DC input.
Dimensions: 124.4x92x84.7 WHDmm.
Weight: 506 g (inc battery and MS card).
Price: get a price on the Sony Alpha SLT-A37K with 18-55mm Lens at Amazon.

Summary
Reviewer
Barrie Smith
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Sony SLT-A37
Author Rating
4

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Barrie Smith is an experienced writer/photographer currently published in Australian Macworld, Auscam and other magazines in Australia and overseas.

  • http://MandenoMoments.com/ Mandeno Moments

    With all due respect, there are some significant errors in this review:

    1) The SLT cameras are not DLSRs (although they are functionally equivalent to DSLRs).

    2) SLT cameras do not have a “reflex viewfinder”, rather they have an EVF (electronic viewfinder).

    3) The “shared arrangement” has nothing to do with the viewfinder. The SLT mirror splits (“shares”) the light that enters the camera so that some goes to the sensor and some goes to the auto focus system.

    4) perhaps the f numbers are fiddled with No, not at all. The f-number is a measure of how much light the lens admits into the camera, and the light loss occurs after the light has passed through the lens.

    No, I’m not a Sony fanboy.

  • Frank A

    @Mandeno: Your points are absolutely spot-on! And you make the writer look like a bit of an amateur. :)

  • Frankwick

    How about a review of its bigger brothers, like the a77?

  • Frank

    OK, don’t have a A37, I have a A350 & a SLT-A55 … so similar to the A37 …

    Some comments …

    1) That’s a bit like saying every DSLR isn’t a real SLR as it doesn’t use ‘film’ … irrelevant!
    2) No reflex but an EVF … So What, what you see is what you shoot!
    3) SLT’s don’t ‘split’ I think … it’s an opaque reflective surface to the viewfinder sensor till you press the release, then it becomes clear and allows the light to the primary sensor …
    4) True …

    I am obviously a ‘Sony Fanboy’ … primarily because I think they give people what they want without the usual hang ups about ‘names’ … after all it’s the photographers eye that’s important & it’s a bad workman who blames his tools!

  • http://www.gerenm.net Geren

    Frank:

    1) Mandeno is correct.
    3) SLTs do split. Some light is sent up to the full-time autofocus in the top of the “mirror box”, the rest passes through to the sensor. What you see in the viewfinder and LCD panel is what the sensor is seeing. This is how your SLT-A55 works.

    I am a Sony user (SLT-A35). I find it important to know how my camera works to get the best out of it.

  • alfmeister

    The critique by Mandeno Moments is entirely correct.
    In addition though I would like to point out that the entire review is missing the point of a review of a new piece of gear. Namely the latest technology now available in the A37.
    1) 3rd generation Bionz processor. There are certain lenses that can utilize the new lens correction processor. These lenses also benefit from the electronic first curtain shutter that increases the shot to shot speed.
    2) By Pixel Super Resolution. The clear image zoom is superb in digitally doubling the length of the lens by interpolating the image data from image samples programmed into the processor.
    3) EVF. The 1.44 mp high resolution electronic viewfinder allows you to see 100% of the image and also displays all setup and adjustments including image preview and quick review, all from the viewfinder.
    The ISO tests aren’t labeled so these tests are pointless. Of all the reviews I’ve read this one needs the the most revision. Until then it’s nearly useless.
    I own an A37 and it’s a great camera.

  • Andi

    I have SLT A37. what i love about sony is surge technology that enables many new features in the camera. No Like Others.

  • kevfinger

    Everyone is getting hung up on technical terms. One minute it has a translucent mirror according to Sony, and to some reviewers it has a semi-transparent mirror. Who is right ? Who cares ?
    I got caught up in the Sony Alpha camera system through buying a KonicaMinolta DSLR, later to be joined by the Sony A450, and now by the A37. All 3 cameras have different learning curves.
    The A37 has lots of features to meet my current needs. Funny enough I am coming to grips with the EVF and I find now that I like it. It takes time to adjust to it. The LCD is sufficient for my needs..
    What’s more important I am very happy with the images that I am getting.
    My first gripe is the location of the memory card slots, and my second gripe is that the handgrip is a little bit on the small size, especially after being used to the heavier A450. Mind you the A37 is only a little bit smaller but a lot lighter than the KonicaMinolta 5D.
    To sum it up, It’s a very good camera.

  • Charlie Fowlds

    I bought one a few weeks ago and I have never looked back, the tiltable LCD screen is excellent as I am mostly taking photos when I’m low down, the image quality is spectacular, and I was amaized with the amount of spec that I got for only spending £249.99, I got a bag, lens, and a 8gb memory card included, amaisingly cheap and amaisingly good

  • kevfinger

    charlie fowlds certainly got real value for money.
    About 6 months ago I bought my A37 body and I thought I got a very good bargain for €399 (£332) from Sony.ie. This was followed up when I bought the 18-55mm lens (which was split from a kit), plus lens filter and P&P to Ireland for £78 from a shop in the UK. This was topped-up by €60 (£50) Cash-back from Sony. All in all, the A37 complete with lens and filter cost a total of €430 (£360). In short, the A37 is one great little camera for for that price tag.
    The only negative point is the short battery life, and the cost involved in purchasing the very important spare.

  • Gary

    Liked all of the reviews, they helped my decision to purchase the A37Y (18-50 & 55-200) brand new for $360.00 AU at auction. Not much more than I paid for my 10Mp Cybershot a couple of years ago! See http://www.graysonline.com/computers-and-electronics/cameras/product-group/digital-slr-cameras
    It is my first DSLR and I am only now becoming comfortable while using the A and S settings rather than full auto. The results are stunning and I have bought a bunch of batteries, double battery charger and memory cards for my camping / fishing expeditions next spring. Thanks to you all for helping me make the right choice.

  • kevfinger

    There is a very good forum web site for Minolta, KonicaMinolta and Sony users.
    It is full of ideas and information, particularly the compatibly of certain cameras with certain lenses. Plus useful comments on current and previous cameras, lenses, flash units, accessories, etc.
    The web site address is:- http://www.dyxum.com

  • Mary bourgeois

    I’ve had my Siny A37 for about a year– today it started taking triplicate pictures!! How do I correct this? We are on vacation in Europe and it’s really taking up my time! Help!!!

Some older comments

  • kevfinger

    June 14, 2013 07:49 pm

    There is a very good forum web site for Minolta, KonicaMinolta and Sony users.
    It is full of ideas and information, particularly the compatibly of certain cameras with certain lenses. Plus useful comments on current and previous cameras, lenses, flash units, accessories, etc.
    The web site address is:- www.dyxum.com

  • Gary

    June 13, 2013 09:16 pm

    Liked all of the reviews, they helped my decision to purchase the A37Y (18-50 & 55-200) brand new for $360.00 AU at auction. Not much more than I paid for my 10Mp Cybershot a couple of years ago! See http://www.graysonline.com/computers-and-electronics/cameras/product-group/digital-slr-cameras
    It is my first DSLR and I am only now becoming comfortable while using the A and S settings rather than full auto. The results are stunning and I have bought a bunch of batteries, double battery charger and memory cards for my camping / fishing expeditions next spring. Thanks to you all for helping me make the right choice.

  • kevfinger

    April 10, 2013 03:09 am

    charlie fowlds certainly got real value for money.
    About 6 months ago I bought my A37 body and I thought I got a very good bargain for €399 (£332) from Sony.ie. This was followed up when I bought the 18-55mm lens (which was split from a kit), plus lens filter and P&P to Ireland for £78 from a shop in the UK. This was topped-up by €60 (£50) Cash-back from Sony. All in all, the A37 complete with lens and filter cost a total of €430 (£360). In short, the A37 is one great little camera for for that price tag.
    The only negative point is the short battery life, and the cost involved in purchasing the very important spare.

  • Charlie Fowlds

    April 9, 2013 05:49 am

    I bought one a few weeks ago and I have never looked back, the tiltable LCD screen is excellent as I am mostly taking photos when I'm low down, the image quality is spectacular, and I was amaized with the amount of spec that I got for only spending £249.99, I got a bag, lens, and a 8gb memory card included, amaisingly cheap and amaisingly good

  • kevfinger

    January 26, 2013 12:53 am

    Everyone is getting hung up on technical terms. One minute it has a translucent mirror according to Sony, and to some reviewers it has a semi-transparent mirror. Who is right ? Who cares ?
    I got caught up in the Sony Alpha camera system through buying a KonicaMinolta DSLR, later to be joined by the Sony A450, and now by the A37. All 3 cameras have different learning curves.
    The A37 has lots of features to meet my current needs. Funny enough I am coming to grips with the EVF and I find now that I like it. It takes time to adjust to it. The LCD is sufficient for my needs..
    What's more important I am very happy with the images that I am getting.
    My first gripe is the location of the memory card slots, and my second gripe is that the handgrip is a little bit on the small size, especially after being used to the heavier A450. Mind you the A37 is only a little bit smaller but a lot lighter than the KonicaMinolta 5D.
    To sum it up, It's a very good camera.

  • Andi

    December 11, 2012 01:13 am

    I have SLT A37. what i love about sony is surge technology that enables many new features in the camera. No Like Others.

  • alfmeister

    August 8, 2012 05:28 pm

    The critique by Mandeno Moments is entirely correct.
    In addition though I would like to point out that the entire review is missing the point of a review of a new piece of gear. Namely the latest technology now available in the A37.
    1) 3rd generation Bionz processor. There are certain lenses that can utilize the new lens correction processor. These lenses also benefit from the electronic first curtain shutter that increases the shot to shot speed.
    2) By Pixel Super Resolution. The clear image zoom is superb in digitally doubling the length of the lens by interpolating the image data from image samples programmed into the processor.
    3) EVF. The 1.44 mp high resolution electronic viewfinder allows you to see 100% of the image and also displays all setup and adjustments including image preview and quick review, all from the viewfinder.
    The ISO tests aren't labeled so these tests are pointless. Of all the reviews I've read this one needs the the most revision. Until then it's nearly useless.
    I own an A37 and it's a great camera.

  • Geren

    August 8, 2012 07:17 am

    Frank:

    1) Mandeno is correct.
    3) SLTs do split. Some light is sent up to the full-time autofocus in the top of the "mirror box", the rest passes through to the sensor. What you see in the viewfinder and LCD panel is what the sensor is seeing. This is how your SLT-A55 works.

    I am a Sony user (SLT-A35). I find it important to know how my camera works to get the best out of it.

  • Frank

    August 7, 2012 05:04 am

    OK, don't have a A37, I have a A350 & a SLT-A55 ... so similar to the A37 ...

    Some comments ...

    1) That's a bit like saying every DSLR isn't a real SLR as it doesn't use 'film' ... irrelevant!
    2) No reflex but an EVF ... So What, what you see is what you shoot!
    3) SLT's don't 'split' I think ... it's an opaque reflective surface to the viewfinder sensor till you press the release, then it becomes clear and allows the light to the primary sensor ...
    4) True ...

    I am obviously a 'Sony Fanboy' ... primarily because I think they give people what they want without the usual hang ups about 'names' ... after all it's the photographers eye that's important & it's a bad workman who blames his tools!

  • Frankwick

    August 7, 2012 01:51 am

    How about a review of its bigger brothers, like the a77?

  • Frank A

    August 6, 2012 06:37 pm

    @Mandeno: Your points are absolutely spot-on! And you make the writer look like a bit of an amateur. :)

  • Mandeno Moments

    August 6, 2012 09:34 am

    With all due respect, there are some significant errors in this review:

    1) The SLT cameras are not DLSRs (although they are functionally equivalent to DSLRs).

    2) SLT cameras do not have a "reflex viewfinder", rather they have an EVF (electronic viewfinder).

    3) The "shared arrangement" has nothing to do with the viewfinder. The SLT mirror splits ("shares") the light that enters the camera so that some goes to the sensor and some goes to the auto focus system.

    4) perhaps the f numbers are fiddled with No, not at all. The f-number is a measure of how much light the lens admits into the camera, and the light loss occurs after the light has passed through the lens.

    No, I'm not a Sony fanboy.

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