Sony A58 review

New ‘SLT’ camera offers big resolution, small price tag yet EVF plus tilting LCD

Though outwardly resembling a digital SLR, the inner workings of the entry-level A58 has Sony classifying it as an ‘SLT’ (Single Lens Translucent) camera. As with its Alpha series predecessors, the internal mirror mechanism of a traditional DSLR has been made translucent, which says its manufacturer provides faster auto focus plus instant video recording. By contrast, on a regular DSLR there’s always a pause whilst the mirror mechanism flips out of the way and the rear LCD shows the image to be recorded before filming actually commences. Here you just hit the red record button to commit 1920x1080 pixels footage to SD media card. When most actual DSLRS still make do with mono sound, here there’s a stereo microphone sitting just forward of the pop-up flash too.

It would be hard to find a better value first DSLR than Sony’s A58 ‘SLT’ camera that resembles a DSLR in every way except its translucent internal mirror

The A58 offers a best of both worlds in that further good news comes in the shape of a 20.1 effective megapixel resolution from a traditional APS-C sized sensor found in all consumer DSLRs. We also get both an eye-level electronic viewfinder with automatic eye sensor-controlled activation plus a LCD screen which can be tilted up or down (but not swung outwards from the body) for additional framing opportunities. Add in an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom lens, all for a mere £419 at the time of writing. If that reach isn’t long enough for you, a double lens kit with a 55-200mm zoom is a still affordable £569.

Whilst the A58 seems to be missing little from its feature set when compared with rivals such as the Canon EOS 700D or Pentax K-50 – indeed in several respects, as above, it betters them – the build of the camera is similarly impressive. If budget Sony Alphas are sometimes a little plastic-y feeling when gripped, the matt black finish here disguises it well and the handgrip is chunkily substantial enough to squeeze four fingers around if required. We also get a standard-issue shooting mode dial with a full range of manual and auto options plus front-located command dial for scrolling through menus. The only thing that slightly disappointed us was the fact that the LCD is just 2.7-inches and has a now modest-reading resolution of 460k dots, compared with 3-inches or 3.2-inches and over a million dots of pricier rivals. That said, here this spec feels merely like a way of differentiating the A58 from models higher up Sony’s own range, rather than a ‘fail’.

OUR VERDICT

Sharp and well-saturated images from the camera as well as ultra smooth video clips confirm this cheaper than average model as a jack of all trades too. So if you don’t mind an electronic viewfinder as opposed to the traditional optical version supplied by a regular DSLR, and don’t notice a slightly smaller than average back screen, the Sony A58 can currently be considered a steal.

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