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
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 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 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.
+ 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
– 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|
|Size of sensor (in inches)||0/0.00|
|Size of sensor (in mm)||23.2 x 15.4|
|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|
|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|
|Aperture pre-setting, shutter speed pre-setting, manual exposure settings|
|White balance settings||6|
|Individual white balance||yes|
|Manual ISO control||yes|
|On, off, automatic-flash, slow-sync, anti-red-eye, rear curtain sync|
|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|
|Battery charger included||yes|
|Power supply unit||no|
|Supported memory cards||Memory stick, SD card, SDHC card, SDXC card|
|PC connection||USB, HDMI|
|Dimensions (width x height x depth; in mm)||128 x 95 x 77|
|Weight (body without battery and memory card; in g)||492|
|Manual on CD||yes|