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Sony A57 Review: Camera Details & My Thoughts

Sony A57 Review: Camera Details & My Thoughts

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 ...

Review Overview

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
Sensor size APS-C (22.3 x
Sensor type CMOS CMOS CMOS
Processor Digic 4 Expeed 2
Color space sRGB, Adobe RGB
Color filter array Primary color filters
ISO Auto, 100, 200,
White balance presets 6 12 9
Custom white balance Yes Yes (5) Yes (1)
Image stabilization No No Sensor-shift
Uncompressed format RAW RAW RAW
JPEG quality levels Fine, Normal Fine, Normal, Basic Fine, Normal
File format RAW
JPEG Standard
Optics & Focus
Autofocus Contrast Detect (sensor) Contrast Detect (sensor) Phase Detect
Phase Detect Phase Detect Multi-area
Multi-area Multi-area Selective single-point
Selective single-point Center Tracking
Single Selective single-point Single
Continuous Tracking Continuous
Face Detection Single Face Detection
Live View Continuous Live View
Face Detection
Live View
Autofocus assist lamp Built-in Flash type
Digital zoom Yes (3-10x ) No Yes (2x Clear Image Zoom)
Manual focus Yes Yes Yes
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 size 3″ 3″ 3″
Screen dots 1040000 921000 921000
Touch screen No No No
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
Viewfinder coverage 0.95 0.95 1
Viewfinder magnification 0.85× 0.78× 1.04×
Viewfinder resolution 1440000
Photography Features
Minimum shutter speed 30 sec 30 sec 30 sec
Maximum shutter speed 1/4000 sec 1/4000 sec 1/4000 sec
Aperture priority Yes Yes Yes
Shutter priority Yes Yes Yes
Manual exposure mode Yes Yes Yes
Subject / scene modes Yes Yes Yes
Exposure modes iAUTO
Flash Off
Superior Auto
Scene Selection
Sweep Panorama
3D Sweep Panorama
Continuous Advance Priority AE
Movie, Programmed AE (P)
Aperture priority (A)
Shutter-speed priority (S)
Manual (M)
Scene modes Portrait
Sports Action
Night Portrait
Night View
Hand-held Twilight
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
Continuous (Hi/Lo)
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)
Metering modes Multi Multi Multi
Center-weighted Center-weighted Center-weighted
Spot Spot Spot
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)
Videography Features
Format MPEG-4 MPEG-4 MPEG-4
Microphone Mono Mono Stereo
Speaker Mono Mono
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
Storage included None
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)
Environmentally sealed No No No
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″)
Other Features
Orientation sensor Yes Yes Yes
Timelapse recording Yes (by USB cable and PC) Yes
GPS None Optional None
GPS notes GP-1


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.

About JT

I am a chronic blogger. I've enjoyed blogging in the internet marketing niche ever since 2005. I consider myself an SEO expert and I enjoy making money online.

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