Sony has added the Alpha 57 (A57) to its growing list of Single Lens Translucent (SLT) digital cameras. The new model replaces the A55 and will sit in the middle of the Sony SLT range. It is expected to retail for around £690 when it goes on sale in April.
The new model’s standout feature is undoubtedly its ability to shoot full-resolution images at 10fps in Continuous Advance Priority AE (whereby AF is only active for the first frame of the sequence), or indeed 12fps at reduced resolution with the Tele-zoom engaged. With full-time continuous autofocus engaged these speeds drop down to a still very respectable 8fps.
Another headline feature that is all-new for the A57 is Auto Portrait Framing. This uses the camera’s built-in Face Detection technology alongside the photographic ‘rule of thirds’ to crop and reposition subjects for a professional portrait look irrespective of whether the camera is being held in portrait or landscape mode. Furthermore, Sony claims that its Pixel Super Resolution Technology allows the camera to crop in this way and still maintain full resolution.
Internally, the new model is built around a 16.1MP APS-C Exmor HD CMOS sensor and Sony’s latest generation of BIONZ image processor. Sensitivity ranges from ISO 100 to 3200, with extended settings up to ISO 160,000. In addition to capturing JPEGs at various resolution and quality settings the A57 will also allow lossless Raw capture for more effective digital darkroom processing.
The new model will offer the regular creative quartet of exposure modes – Program, Aperture-priority, Shutter-priority and Manual – alongside an iAuto Scene Recognition mode, eight individually selectable Scene modes, a Sweep Panorama mode, and the aforementioned Continuous Advance Priority AE burst-shooting modes. As is the fashion these days, the A57 will also get a selection of digital filters that can be used to add fun effects to your images.
In addition to its still shooting abilities, the A57 can record a maximum quality of 1080/50p Full HD movies, with sound recorded in stereo by default and files saved in the AVCHD format. In addition, it’s also possible to shoot at VGA quality and save the resultant files saved as computer-friendly MP4s.
On the back, Sony has equipped the A57 with a 3in, 921k-dot Xtra Fine LCD monitor that is attached to the camera via a rotating hinge on the bottom of the camera body. This allows the monitor to be pulled away from the body and rotated for easier use at ground level and also overhead. Those who prefer to hold the camera to their eye will be able to take advantage of the 100% field of view offered by the 1.4m-dot electronic viewfinder (EVF).