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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
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Sony SLT-A37
Author Rating
4

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Barrie Smith
Barrie Smith

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

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