Test Review: Sony SLT-A58

July 11, 2013 at 10:30 am  •  Posted in New Products, Review by

Sony SLT-A58

Sony SLT-A58

The Sony SLT-A58 is an SLR-like camera with an APS-C-sized CMOS sensor. It has a resolution of 20 MP and is very fast because it uses a phase detection AF system just like “real” SLR systems.

Comments on Image Quality

The standard test box shot shows a little shift into the yellowish direction. The image is detail rich but has a softer character than images taken by Canon SLRs, for example. The differentiation of colours is very good; some red nuances have a slightly high yellow rate.

The standard test box shot shows a little shift into the yellowish direction. The image is detail rich but has a softer character than images taken by Canon SLRs, for example. The differentiation of colours is very good; some red nuances have a slightly high yellow rate.

Colour: The automatic white-balance system of the A58 worked well and showed only minor shifts in our test images. Brighter nuances tend to be shifted into the yellow and green area, but most gray patterns are located nearly in the centre of the image. There is only a minor over saturation observable; only the red nuances are boosted by a very high orange/yellow rate. The differentiation of red colours is good, as you can see, in the red spool in the upper right of the standard test box shot.

Sharpness: The camera created soft-looking images. They are smoothened by the intense anti-noise filtering (see “Noise”), so that the ISO 12233 chart was reproduced with only 2606 of nominal 3632 lines per picture height. The overshot effect is low, which is a good result for an SLR system because it helps to use a systematic and targeted USM sharpening in Adobe Photoshop or other imaging software. The image of the standard test box, for instance, should be sharpened by USM filtering with 80 percent/1.5 pixels to achieve nearly the same crisp look created by Canon SLRs, for example.

Noise: The camera performed well in lower ISO speed settings up to ISO 3200 to 6400. The luminance noise factor is very high for a camera with and APS-C-sized sensor but remains below 1.0 percent due to an increasing anti-noise filtering.

Images taken with both higher ISO speed settings show noise artefacts and the typical anti-noise filtering Impressionist look. In particular, images taken with ISO 16000 are “destroyed” because the extreme filtering causes nearly a total loss of image details. The gray patterns of the Stouffer 4110 gray pattern test chart lose their differentiation and the gray patterns are nearly transformed into a gray gradient.

The results of the dynamic range tests are a little bit low for an APS-C camera (maximum 10.3 f-stops), but remain on a more than 10 f-stop level up to ISO 1600, which is quite good. Using higher ISO speed settings will reduce the dynamic range dramatically.

Comments on Handling

The digital zoom function has a dedicated button on the top to get direct access to it. The camera uses a large mode dial to set up exposure modes or special modes like panorama shots or the T8 mode for shooting up to 8 frames per second.

The digital zoom function has a dedicated button on the top to get direct access to it. The camera uses a large mode dial to set up exposure modes or special modes like panorama shots or the T8 mode for shooting up to 8 frames per second.

The design of the Sony A58 is based on classic SLR systems, even though the camera uses an electronic viewfinder system. Due to its fixed semi-translucent mirror, it is able to generate an electronic viewfinder image to use a phase detection AF system at the same time. This AF system is used by standard SLR cameras and isn’t just very fast, it is also able to work continuously when shooting in Burst mode and even when recording video. Standard SLR systems have to use a contrast-metering AF system when recording videos or when the mirror is flipped up to generate the electronic view finder image with the image sensor because the additional phase-detection AF sensor is covered/screened when the mirror is in its up position.

The swivel LCD can be flipped up- and downward, which helps, especially when shooting video. The card slot on the left-hand side of the body can be used for Memory Stick media or SD/SDHC/SDXC cards.

The swivel LCD can be flipped up- and downward, which helps, especially when shooting video. The card slot on the left-hand side of the body can be used for Memory Stick media or SD/SDHC/SDXC cards.

The Sony has a large mode dial on the top that has the standard exposure modes (P, S, A and M), scene modes, automatic modes that can detect the required scene modes by analyzing the viewfinder image, Panorama mode, effect modes and the special Burst Rate mode. In this mode, the camera is able to shoot up to 8 frames per second (with a sequence of 16 images max.), but doesn’t allow manual exposure settings.

The Sony can record full HD video and uses a stereo microphone on the top of the body (directly in front of the flash/accessory shoe). It offers a 3.5-mm jack to use external microphones for better sound quality.


Pros

+ Very fast AF system because the camera uses a phase-detection system like SLR cameras
+ High-resolution OLED viewfinder, but low-resolution and small LCD screen
+ Massive and robust body
+ Handy body and SLR-like handling
+ Video recording with full HD resolution

Cons
– Swivel monitor allows only up- and downward movement
– Very soft image reproduction in JPEG mode
– Missing current comfort features like touch-sensitive screen, WLAN, GPS, NFC and more
– Video recording only with 50i or 25p mode instead of 50/60 progressive frames per second (which is offered by many other Sony still cameras)

This review is based on precise lab tests conducted by BetterNet GmbH and provided by the Technical Imaging Press Association (TIPA). TIPA is the largest family of independent photo and imaging magazines worldwide. Photo Life is an active member of TIPA.

SPEC SHEET: Sony SLT-A58
BASIC TECHNICAL DATA:
Resolution 5456 x 3632
Resolution sensor 20.0
Size of sensor (in inches) 0/0.00
Size of sensor (in mm) 23.2 x 15.4
LENSES:
Focal length (wide angle; 35-mm equivalent; in mm) 27
Focal length (tele; 35 mm equivalent, KB in mm) 82
Focal length (wide angle, real; in mm) 18.0
Focal length (tele, real; KB in mm) 55.0
Speed 3.5 – 5.6
Macro 25 – 100
Manual focus, controlled by function elements no
Manual focus, controlled with lens ring yes
TAKING PICTURES:
Start-up time (in sec) 0.90
Shutter delay (in sec) without pre-focusing 0.15
Shutter delay (in sec) with pre-focusing 0.02
Continuous shooting speed (frames per second) 8.0
Max. burst during continuous shooting speed 16.0
Fastest shutter speed in sec 1/4000
Long time exposure/shutter speed in sec 30
Self timer yes
Exposure Settings:
Aperture pre-setting, shutter speed pre-setting, manual exposure settings
Automatic bracketing
Exposure programs 8
White balance:
Auto yes
White balance settings 6
Individual white balance yes
ISO:
ISO min 100
ISO max 16000
ISO steps 23
Manual ISO control yes
FLASH:
Integrated flash yes
Flash Mode:
On, off, automatic-flash, slow-sync, anti-red-eye, rear curtain sync
External Flash:
X-Sync no
Accessory shoe yes
FILE FORMATS:
Standard file formats JPEG, RAW, DCF
JPEG compression grades 3
LCD AND PREVIEW:
Size (in inches) 2.7
Resolution of LCD (in pixels) 460800
Zoom mode during preview yes
Index during preview yes
Slideshow during preview yes
VIDEO:
Video available yes
Max. width 0
Max. height 0
Picture frequency 25
POWER SOURCE:
Rechargeable battery yes
Battery type Li-Ion
Battery charger included yes
Power connector yes
Power supply unit no
STORAGE SYSTEM:
Supported memory cards Memory stick, SD card, SDHC card, SDXC card
PC CONNECTION:
PC connection USB, HDMI
TV out HDMI
DIMENSIONS:
Dimensions (width x height x depth; in mm) 128 x 95 x 77
Weight (body without battery and memory card; in g) 492
ACCESSORIES:
Docking station no
Printed manual yes
Manual on CD yes
Bag no
Remote control no
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