Picture Quality - 95%
Video Quality - 100%
Price - 90%
Summary : Solid SLT technology camera for the novice photographer. Great price point and quality images that will make anyone look like a pro.
I recently purchased a brand new Sony A57 SLT camera from the Sony Store. Since I have been busy working building the foundation for my European car forum, Euro Forum, I wanted something better than my Nikon Coolpix P1 to be able to take great shots at the car meets I start organizing come Spring time.
I did a lot of research before purchasing my camera and was tossed up between it, the Canon EOS Rebel T3i and the Nikon D5100. All the cameras came with the basic 18-55mm lens however the Sony Alpha A57 was going to be $79 more than the other two. Price wasn’t really the selling point for me though.
The main difference between the Sony A57, Canon EOS Rebel T3i and Nikon D5100 is that the Sony is what’s called an SLT camera which stands for Single Lens Translucent. The Nikon and Canon are digital SLR cameras. SLR stands for Single Lens Reflex. The best way to show you how the two technologies differ would be to show a comparison picture of the internal mirror setup inside each camera.
So as you can see, the traditional SLR uses a series of mirrors to redirect the incoming image from the sensor right into the optical view finder (OVF). The SLT uses one translucent lens and from there the image is split partially to the sensor and to the electronic view finder (EVF).
The main advantage for the SLT is that its auto focusing capabilities are next to instant. Whereas the SLR takes a bit of time while the mirror adjust accordingly. I’ve already mentioned that the two cameras types use different view finders. The OVF on the SLR cameras displays the image exactly how it is seen by the naked eye. However you must take your photos first and review them to find out if you have your settings adjusted to your liking. The EVF on the SLT provides an already processed image at a larger magnification so that you can immediately see your adjustments. You will also be able to view your white balance information, exposure comp, ISO and other settings all within the EVF. I also found that the EVF makes it easier to look at what you’re focusing on. Once you look through the EVF, you’ll think OVF’s look dark and small.
Another nice jump in technological advancement is the continuous drive feature. The Sony A57 can shoot photos continuously at 12 frames per second. Even your higher end $3000 SLR’s will only be able to reach 4 frames per second. This is great in terms of action photography.
All 3 cameras were really hard to choose between but the final selling point for me was the video capabilities of the Sony Alpha A57. Since it’s an SLT camera the image auto focuses instantly when taking video. It can be an annoying thing watching an SLR camera auto focus when filming. It almost ruins the video if you ask me! On top of that, the A57 will shoot full 1080p at 60 frames per second.
|Canon EOS Rebel T3i||Nikon D5100||Sony SLT A57|
|Body Type||Compact SLR||Compact SLR||Compact SLR|
|Max resolution||5184 x 3456||4928 x 3264||4912 x 3264|
|Other resolutions||5184 x 2912, 4608 x 3456,3456 x 3456, 3456 x 2304, 3456 x 1944, 3072 x 2304, 2592 x 1728, 2592 x 1456, 2304 x 1728, 2304 x 2304, 1920 x 1280, 1920 x 1080, 1728 x 1728, 1696 x 1280, 1280 x 1280, 720 x 480, 720 x 400, 640 x 480, 480 x 480||3696 x 2448, 2464 x 1632||4912 x 2760, 3568 x 2368, 3568 x 2000, 2448 x 1624, 2448 x 1376|
|Image ratio w:h||1:1, 4:3, 3:2, 16:9||98||3:2, 16:9|
|Effective pixels||18.0 megapixels||16.2 megapixels||16.1 megapixels|
|Sensor photo detectors||18.7 megapixels||16.7 megapixels|
|Processor||Digic 4||Expeed 2|
|Color space||sRGB, Adobe RGB|
|Color filter array||Primary color filters|
|White balance presets||6||12||9|
|Custom white balance||Yes||Yes (5)||Yes (1)|
|JPEG quality levels||Fine, Normal||Fine, Normal, Basic||Fine, Normal|
|RAW + JPEG|
|Optics & Focus|
|Autofocus||Contrast Detect (sensor)||Contrast Detect (sensor)||Phase Detect|
|Phase Detect||Phase Detect||Multi-area|
|Face Detection||Single||Face Detection|
|Live View||Continuous||Live View|
|Autofocus assist lamp||Built-in Flash type|
|Digital zoom||Yes (3-10x )||No||Yes (2x Clear Image Zoom)|
|Number of focus points||9||11||15|
|Lens mount||Canon EF/EF-S mount||Nikon F mount||Sony/Minolta Alpha mount|
|Focal length multiplier||1.6×||1.5×||1.5×|
|Screen / Viewfinder|
|Articulated LCD||Fully articulated||Fully articulated||Fully articulated|
|Screen type||TFT color LCD, liquid-crystal monitor||TFT LCD monitor||Xtra Fine TFT drive with TruBlack technology|
|Live view||Yes||Yes (With contrast-detect AF, face detection and subject tracking)||Yes|
|Viewfinder type||Optical (pentamirror)||Optical (pentamirror)||Electronic|
|Minimum shutter speed||30 sec||30 sec||30 sec|
|Maximum shutter speed||1/4000 sec||1/4000 sec||1/4000 sec|
|Manual exposure mode||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Subject / scene modes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|3D Sweep Panorama|
|Continuous Advance Priority AE|
|Movie, Programmed AE (P)|
|Aperture priority (A)|
|Shutter-speed priority (S)|
|Built-in flash||Yes (Pop-up)||Yes (Pop-up)||Yes (Pop-up)|
|Flash range||13 m||12 m (at ISO 100)||10 m (@ ISO 100)|
|External flash||Yes (Hot-shoe, Wireless plus Sync connector)||Yes (Hot-shoe)||Yes (Hot-shoe, Wireless)|
|Flash modes||Auto, On, Off, Red-eye||Auto, On, Off, Red-eye, Slow sync, Rear curtain||Auto, On, Off, Red-Eye, Slow Sync, High Speed Sync, Rear Curtain, Fill-in, Wireless|
|Flash X sync speed||1/160 sec|
|Drive modes||Single Shot|
|Self-timer (10/2 sec. delay)|
|Bracketing (Cont., Single, White Balance), Remote Control (with optional RM-DSLR1)|
|Continuous drive||Yes (3.7 fps)||Yes (4 fps)||Yes (12 fps)|
|Self-timer||Yes (2 sec or 10 sec)||Yes (2, 5, 10 or 20 sec)||Yes (2 or 10 sec)|
|Exposure compensation||±5 EV (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)||±5 EV (at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)||±3 EV (at 1/3 EV steps)|
|AE Bracketing||±2 (3 frames at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)||±2 (3 frames at 1/3 EV, 1/2 EV steps)||(3 frames at 1/3 EV, 2/3 EV steps)|
|WB Bracketing||Yes (3 frames in either blue/amber or magenta/green axis)||Yes (3 frames in either blue/amber or magenta/green axis)||Yes (3 frames, H/L selectable)|
|Resolutions||1920 x 1080 (30, 25, 24 fps), 1280 x 720 (60, 50 fps), 640 x 480 (60, 50 fps)||1920 x 1080 (30, 25, 24 fps), 1280 x 720 (30, 25, 24 fps), 640 x 424 (30, 25 fps)||1920 x 1080 (60p, 24p), 1440 x 1080 (30p), 640 x 480 (30 fps)|
|Videography notes||1080p60 or 24 on NTSC models, 50p or 25p in PAL countries|
|Storage types||SD/SDHC/SDXC||SD/SDHC/SDXC||SD/SDHC/SDXC/Memory Stick Pro Duo/ Pro-HG Duo|
|USB||USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)||USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)||USB 2.0 (480 Mbit/sec)|
|HDMI||Yes (HDMI mini)||Yes (Mini Type C)||Yes (Mini Type C)|
|Wireless||Eye-Fi Connected||Eye-Fi Connected||Eye-Fi Connected|
|Remote control||Yes (E3 connector, InfraRed)||Yes (Optional ML-L3)||Yes (Optional)|
|Battery||Battery Pack||Battery Pack||Battery Pack|
|Battery description||Lithium-Ion LP-E8 rechargeable battery & charger||Lithium-Ion EN-EL14 rechargeable battery & charger||Rechargeable NP-FM500H battery & charger|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||440||550|
|Weight (inc. batteries)||570 g (1.26 lb / 20.11 oz)||560 g (1.23 lb / 19.75 oz)||618 g (1.36 lb / 21.80 oz)|
|Dimensions||133 x 100 x 80 mm (5.24 x 3.94 x 3.15″)||128 x 97 x 79 mm (5.04 x 3.82 x 3.11″)||132 x 98 x 81 mm (5.2 x 3.86 x 3.19″)|
|Timelapse recording||Yes (by USB cable and PC)||Yes|
If you’re looking for a camera that will give you more than enough in terms of features yet can also simplify itself so that even the most novice of users can achieve great results, this is the camera for you. Like I said earlier, I had a tough choice to make when it came to the Sony Alpha A57, Nikon D5100 and Canon Rebel EOS T3i. However now I couldn’t be happier with my Sony. It’s miles ahead in terms of video shooting, auto focusing and convenience within the electronic view finder. The image quality in normal and low light is equal to that of the other cameras from what I found when doing comparisons.
For those lens fanatics out there, do not despair, you are able to purchase compatible Carl Zeiss lenses if you’re not content with the Sony lenses.
Right now the Sony SLT A57 is only $699 on Amazon for the body only or $799 for the body and a 18-55mm zoom lens.