Sony SLT-A57 Review - Digital Photography School
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Sony SLT-A57 Review

As I recall, this camera’s big brother — SLT-A65 — led me to make these comments:

“It would be a tragedy if this baby ended up shooting family pics and snapshots. It’s too good! … my prediction is that this one will fly off the shelves …”

Sony SLT-A57.jpg

At first glance this model rang many of the same bells and, before starting the review, I took the A57 on a run around a local marketplace, full of colour and life, to shoot some pictures and a length or two of video. With nary a glance at the manual!

Underwear mannikin 3.JPG

Sony-SLT-A57-1.jpg

The Sony SLT-A57 is a bit de-speccd in comparison with the A65, with a body price about a third less. The review camera was supplied with the f3.5/18-55mm kit lens, a decent lens with a useable zoom ratio for out-and-about shooting. But the reality is that you will not milk the max in quality with the A57 unless you invest in some serious glass and this is where the men get parted from the boys at the checkout!

Girl and T shirts.jpg

Sony SLT-A57 Features

The model ID SLT signifies the use of a translucent mirror. This mirror is placed in the light path to give an uninterrupted — and continuously live — view of the subject … so no flipping mirror! This gives you a view with no ‘tween shot blackout for the mirror to go up and down.
Some may find the SLT view is a bit ‘murky’ (I did) but the big plus is that you can shoot in bright light and have the advantage of being able to read all the ‘shoot data’ you need: f stop, shutter speed, ISO setting, image size and even enjoy a picture level gauge (this shows on the LCD as well).

Sony-SLT-A57_tilt_lcd.jpg

sony-SLT-A57_rear2.jpg

The body shape and control layout is identical to the A65. The LCD screen tilts vertically through 180 degrees and can be rotated leftward 270 degrees from the position in which the LCD monitor faces forward. An eye sensor switches the view between the turret finder and the LCD screen.

The external controls will handle most of your needs.

The mode dial of course leads to the various exposure modes. White balance, image size, colour space etc are found through the finder menus. A quicker route is via the Fn button. There are eight scene modes, including sports action, sunset, handheld twilight etc.

Nuts 3.JPG

Menu 1.jpg

Menu 2.jpg

Menu 3.jpg

Menu 4.jpg

Plus, a number of picture effects, such as pop colour, posterisation, soft high key etc. All of these can be used in still shooting or video capture.

The flip-up onboard flash can be useful as fill or you can trigger an off-camera wireless flash.

For your money you get a camera with 16.1 million pixel capture to an APS-C size CMOS sensor, so your lens focal lengths have to undergo a 1.5x factor to make a comparison with 35 SLR optics.

Maximum image size is 4912×2760 pixels or, as a print at 300 dpi, 42x23cm.

Movies are captured in AVCHD at 1920×1080 pixels or a lesser res in MPEG4.

Continuous capture is on tap at rates up to 12 fps.

The AF system uses 15 areas and three cross sensors to determine sharp focus: in practice I found this to be useful, when using both the top finder and the rear LCD, although the outlines for the 15 sensitive areas are a little hard to see. Practice needed, maybe …

auto-portrait.jpg

A useful helper for newbies is the auto portrait framing in the finder that detects and shoots a face, then the captured image is automatically trimmed into an agreeable composition: both original and trimmed images are saved. Note: ‘agreeable’ means the composition chosen by the camera accords to the Rule of Thirds.

Sweep panorama and 3D panos? Yes. And, IMHO, Sony does it best of all: swing in a horizontal or vertical direction to capture panos up to 12,416×1856 pixels in size.

Movies

This was great fun and I quickly came to the opinion that the A57 was one of the best still video cameras around: the auto focus and auto exposure tracked accurately, no matter where I pointed the camera. If I needed to ‘kick’ the AF a gentle jab on the shutter button was all that was needed. The stabilising action was first class, thanks to the in-body stabiliser.

What threw me at first was that, when you stop recording the movie, the finder displays the text ‘Recording …’ Which I guess means it is committing the video to the memory card. But a little off-putting!

To see my test video clip, go to

Unfortunately, you cannot shoot stills while recording video. Oh well.

Sony SLT-A57 ISO Tests

Sony SLT-A57 ISO 100.JPG

Sony SLT-A57 ISO 400.JPG

Sony SLT-A57 ISO 800.JPG

Sony SLT-A57 ISO 1600.JPG

Sony SLT-A57 ISO 3200.JPG

Sony SLT-A57 ISO 6400.JPG

Sony SLT-A57 ISO 12800.JPG

Sony SLT-A57 ISO 16000.JPG
Although there’s a slight rise in noise at ISO 1600, I figure you could use the camera for most shots at ISO 3200. Only when ISO 6400 is reached is noise very evident.

Sony SLT-A57 Review Verdict

Quality: top of the class, excellent definition, accurate colour.

Why you’d buy the Sony SLT-A57: great quality at a decent price; to shoot top video.

Why you wouldn’t: you still want the optical view given by a DSLR.

Another win for Sony!

Sony SLT-A57 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: 3-12 fps.
Memory: SD/SDHC/SDXC, Memory Stick Pro Duo cards.
Image Sizes (pixels): Stills: 4912×2760 to 2448×1376.
Movies: 1920×1080, 1440×1080, 640×480 at 25/50p.
Viewfinder: Turret 1.2cm (1.44 million); 7.6cm LCD screen (921,600 pixels).
File Formats: JPEG, RAW (Sony ARW), JPEG+RAW, MPEG4, AVCHD.
Colour Space: sRGB, Adobe RGB.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 25,600.
Interface: USB 2.0, HDMI mini, EyeFi.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, DC input.
Dimensions: 132x98x81 WHDmm.
Weight: 618 g (inc batteries).
Get a Price: Sony Alpha SLT-A57 (Body Only) or Sony Alpha SLT-A57 with a 18-55mm Zoom Lens.

Summary
Reviewer
Barrie Smith
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Sony SLT-A57
Author Rating
3

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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://www.steveGphotography.com Steve

    FYI, typo in the title.

  • http://funmommie.blogspot.com Elizabeth

    Sounds like a good camera and thanks for the review. I have never owned a Sony and I am stuck loving Canon and DSLRs. The panorama and 3D panos are a plus to me and the videos. Thanks!

    http://funmommie.blogspot.com/2012/04/photographs-of-week-430-56-2012.html
    http://www.explore-disney-resorts.com/index.html

  • http://www.paulinehillphotography.com.au Pauline

    Thanks for the review. I own the Sony a33 & Sony a77 and think they’re amazing cameras, especially considering the price. Anyone looking at purchasing their first SLR, I strongly recommend taking a look at the Sony cameras. They’re the best value for money on offer for someone starting up. The features and ease-of-use are second to none. I use mine professionally for equestrian sports.

    I was curious to see how the Sony a57 would be and am glad to hear it’s a winner as well!

    Can’t wait to see the Sony a99 when it comes out.

  • George

    I will be receiving mine tomorrow have two Minolta lenses 50 1.7 and the beercan already so no need for kit lens. Anticipation

  • lionnet

    Hello
    could you please tell me what in your opinion are the main differences between sony A 65 and the new SLT A57? In your opinion, what is the best ?
    It would really help if tio have your point of view on this! thnaks

  • Jason

    Lionet,

    The 65 is more robust…has the 24mp sensor, has a much much better EVF and is weather-sealed (I believe).

  • Barrie Smith

    The main difference A57: A65 is 16.1 vs 24.3 million pixels.

    A65’s higher shutter speed: 1/8000 sec

    As far as I recall these are main differences.

  • Higgins

    A65?s higher shutter speed?? : it has the same 1/4000 sec as A57
    A65 isn’t weather sealed only A77 is.

    Main diff: the A65 has GPS, 24mp sensor and more resolution in the viewfinder

  • JT

    It looks like a good camera, but how is the image quality (especially the night shots without using the flash) when compared to Nikon 5100? if we ignore the panoramic and 3d feature and just compare the image quality using the kit lens supplied with the camera itself, is the A57 still the way to go or would you go with Nikon 5100?
    I am in 2 minds on what to buy..any inputs would be appreciated.

    Thanks,
    JT

  • Gordon

    I have only had the camera a few weeks and I am very impressed and think the upgrade from the a55 is very good. I think the Sony SLT cameras offer an excellent feature set. I am a fan of the EVF technology. Much of my photography is done shooting stage events where the lights vary greatly across the stage. I love being able to see the adjustments of the camera setting in the EVF and shoot without needing to refer to the output on the LCD screen. What you see is what you get. I can concentrate on the subjects and wait for just the right moment in the action. I prefer to compose the scene through a VF anyway. I no longer take an OVF camera to stage events. Getting the right exposure is so easy with an SLT camera. The exposure on stage can easily vary from 1/30 to 1/640 sec at F4 depending upon the subject position relative to the lighting, especially spotlights. I no longer do any exposure bracketing. I also enjoyed the continuous focus during video recording (DLSR AF during zooming while video recording is poor), and in camera HDR feature that works very well. I do prefer an OVF camera for studio work with strobes. I have been very impressed with two other features of the SLT-a57 already. The first one is focus peaking during manually focusing. I have poor eyesight and could no longer manually focus a scene. But with the focus peaking feature my manual focusing that been restored. It is like a part of my vision has been restored. I now would buy a Sony SLT or NEX camera just for this feature alone. The other feature that appears very impressive is the clear zoom feature where the picture quality is processed and improved over what one usually gets from a digital zoom which degrades the IQ. You can zoom up to 2.8x on any lens attached to the camera. I now will have a very nice combination with my a77 for event photography with some SSM lens. I want to thank the engineers at Sony for this feature set. In the past I felt that Sony offered some excellent lens but that each of their camera models was lacking an important feature. Now I feel that Sony has produced two excellent cameras in the SLT a77 (I bought it for its AF system and the ability to micro adjust lens focus) and the SLT-57 model. They are very fun to use with a super feature set. They are fast, feel good in the the hand and produce very nice pictures indeed.

  • suresh

    Does Manual focus and aperture control is available while recording video

    And what is the battery life approx shots

  • http://smilingfacestravelphotos.com Nomadic Samuel

    I’m a proud owner of the Sony SLT a65 and it’s been a massive upgrade over the a500 I was previously using. I’m happy to see Sony is updating their lower end models with some of their higher end features.

  • AG

    Anyone knows how the Sony A57 does with taking sports action shots…outdooors and indoors? Just got one and will need it for athletics. Thanks.

  • Ryan

    AG, i have the a57 with kit lens and it works very very well with action shooting. I was out shooting my sister on her horse at a fast run and it shoots very fast and focuses very very quick! I was able to use at the very least 8 out of 10 shots. One thing to keep in mind is that your card will fill up very fast so use a large card. Also while the buffer is recorder around 20 shots you can still go back to shooting pictures. Work so well I am very impressed. Also it has 3 cross type focus points. I actually found that it works just as well in live view.
    Awesome camera!

  • mark c

    I have a sony a57 and tried it in a studio environment, set the camera to manual, iso 100, white balance cloudy, apperture to 125th. looked through the view finder an saw blackness and the same through the screen.

    I had to go back to my a200, what am I doing wrong?

    Help!!

  • andy

    help ….i have a A57 and finding it a brilliant camera,i want to get the live veiw to work on a laptop i can do it on a tv by using a HDMI lead…i have tried this on my laptop but i dont have a capture programme …wot programme do i need ?

Some older comments

  • andy

    July 6, 2013 08:37 am

    help ....i have a A57 and finding it a brilliant camera,i want to get the live veiw to work on a laptop i can do it on a tv by using a HDMI lead...i have tried this on my laptop but i dont have a capture programme ...wot programme do i need ?

  • mark c

    September 4, 2012 06:02 am

    I have a sony a57 and tried it in a studio environment, set the camera to manual, iso 100, white balance cloudy, apperture to 125th. looked through the view finder an saw blackness and the same through the screen.

    I had to go back to my a200, what am I doing wrong?

    Help!!

  • Ryan

    August 7, 2012 07:08 am

    AG, i have the a57 with kit lens and it works very very well with action shooting. I was out shooting my sister on her horse at a fast run and it shoots very fast and focuses very very quick! I was able to use at the very least 8 out of 10 shots. One thing to keep in mind is that your card will fill up very fast so use a large card. Also while the buffer is recorder around 20 shots you can still go back to shooting pictures. Work so well I am very impressed. Also it has 3 cross type focus points. I actually found that it works just as well in live view.
    Awesome camera!

  • AG

    July 29, 2012 09:32 am

    Anyone knows how the Sony A57 does with taking sports action shots...outdooors and indoors? Just got one and will need it for athletics. Thanks.

  • Nomadic Samuel

    May 16, 2012 02:30 pm

    I'm a proud owner of the Sony SLT a65 and it's been a massive upgrade over the a500 I was previously using. I'm happy to see Sony is updating their lower end models with some of their higher end features.

  • suresh

    May 12, 2012 12:49 am

    Does Manual focus and aperture control is available while recording video

    And what is the battery life approx shots

  • Gordon

    May 10, 2012 02:38 pm

    I have only had the camera a few weeks and I am very impressed and think the upgrade from the a55 is very good. I think the Sony SLT cameras offer an excellent feature set. I am a fan of the EVF technology. Much of my photography is done shooting stage events where the lights vary greatly across the stage. I love being able to see the adjustments of the camera setting in the EVF and shoot without needing to refer to the output on the LCD screen. What you see is what you get. I can concentrate on the subjects and wait for just the right moment in the action. I prefer to compose the scene through a VF anyway. I no longer take an OVF camera to stage events. Getting the right exposure is so easy with an SLT camera. The exposure on stage can easily vary from 1/30 to 1/640 sec at F4 depending upon the subject position relative to the lighting, especially spotlights. I no longer do any exposure bracketing. I also enjoyed the continuous focus during video recording (DLSR AF during zooming while video recording is poor), and in camera HDR feature that works very well. I do prefer an OVF camera for studio work with strobes. I have been very impressed with two other features of the SLT-a57 already. The first one is focus peaking during manually focusing. I have poor eyesight and could no longer manually focus a scene. But with the focus peaking feature my manual focusing that been restored. It is like a part of my vision has been restored. I now would buy a Sony SLT or NEX camera just for this feature alone. The other feature that appears very impressive is the clear zoom feature where the picture quality is processed and improved over what one usually gets from a digital zoom which degrades the IQ. You can zoom up to 2.8x on any lens attached to the camera. I now will have a very nice combination with my a77 for event photography with some SSM lens. I want to thank the engineers at Sony for this feature set. In the past I felt that Sony offered some excellent lens but that each of their camera models was lacking an important feature. Now I feel that Sony has produced two excellent cameras in the SLT a77 (I bought it for its AF system and the ability to micro adjust lens focus) and the SLT-57 model. They are very fun to use with a super feature set. They are fast, feel good in the the hand and produce very nice pictures indeed.

  • JT

    May 10, 2012 04:43 am

    It looks like a good camera, but how is the image quality (especially the night shots without using the flash) when compared to Nikon 5100? if we ignore the panoramic and 3d feature and just compare the image quality using the kit lens supplied with the camera itself, is the A57 still the way to go or would you go with Nikon 5100?
    I am in 2 minds on what to buy..any inputs would be appreciated.

    Thanks,
    JT

  • Higgins

    May 9, 2012 09:57 pm

    A65?s higher shutter speed?? : it has the same 1/4000 sec as A57
    A65 isn't weather sealed only A77 is.

    Main diff: the A65 has GPS, 24mp sensor and more resolution in the viewfinder

  • Barrie Smith

    May 7, 2012 07:38 am

    The main difference A57: A65 is 16.1 vs 24.3 million pixels.

    A65's higher shutter speed: 1/8000 sec

    As far as I recall these are main differences.

  • Jason

    May 6, 2012 10:21 pm

    Lionet,

    The 65 is more robust...has the 24mp sensor, has a much much better EVF and is weather-sealed (I believe).

  • lionnet

    May 5, 2012 03:13 am

    Hello
    could you please tell me what in your opinion are the main differences between sony A 65 and the new SLT A57? In your opinion, what is the best ?
    It would really help if tio have your point of view on this! thnaks

  • George

    May 4, 2012 05:01 am

    I will be receiving mine tomorrow have two Minolta lenses 50 1.7 and the beercan already so no need for kit lens. Anticipation

  • Pauline

    May 3, 2012 02:18 pm

    Thanks for the review. I own the Sony a33 & Sony a77 and think they're amazing cameras, especially considering the price. Anyone looking at purchasing their first SLR, I strongly recommend taking a look at the Sony cameras. They're the best value for money on offer for someone starting up. The features and ease-of-use are second to none. I use mine professionally for equestrian sports.

    I was curious to see how the Sony a57 would be and am glad to hear it's a winner as well!

    Can't wait to see the Sony a99 when it comes out.

  • Elizabeth

    May 3, 2012 04:39 am

    Sounds like a good camera and thanks for the review. I have never owned a Sony and I am stuck loving Canon and DSLRs. The panorama and 3D panos are a plus to me and the videos. Thanks!

    http://funmommie.blogspot.com/2012/04/photographs-of-week-430-56-2012.html
    http://www.explore-disney-resorts.com/index.html

  • Steve

    May 3, 2012 03:29 am

    FYI, typo in the title.

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