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Sony Alpha A57 SLT Digital SLR Review

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Category: Digital SLRs
Product: Sony Alpha A57
Price: £999.99
Rating: 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5

Sony Alpha A57 SLT Digital SLR Review - Sony's latest camera is the A57 and looks more like the A65 than the model it's replacing, the A55, find out how it performs in our review.

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Features
Handling
Performance
Verdict
Specification

Sony Alpha A57 Lens On Front
Sony Alpha A57 Lens On Front

The Sony Alpha A57 is the replacement for the A55, and features a 16.2 megapixel sensor, 1.44 million dot electronic viewfinder, full HD video and 12fps continuous shooting. Alternatively it can be seen as the little version of the A65, and shares the same size body and design as the A65 but doesn't feature GPS.

Sony Alpha A57 Front Lens On
Sony Alpha A57 Front Lens On

Sony Alpha A57 Features


Sony Alpha A57 Front Sensor Angle
Sony Alpha A57 Front Sensor Angle

Compared to the A55, it's much larger, yet features the same resolution 16.2 megapixel sensor and improves on the A55 with 12fps continuous shooting, although at a reduced / cropped resolution of 8.4 megapixels. (Two steps forward, one step back?)

Compared to the A65, they both share the same 3inch 921k screen, same ISO range, yet the A65 features a 24.3 megapixel sensor, a 2.44million dot OLED EVF (compared to the 1.44 million on the A57). Yet they're also around the same price.

Key Features

  • 16.2mp APS-C sensor
  • Sony Alpha Lens mount
  • 3inch tilting / rotating screen, 921k dots
  • Full HD Video, microphone socket
  • ISO100 to ISO16000 (slightly improved over A55)
  • Dust removal
  • Image stabilisation sensor
  • 550 shot CIPA rating
  • SDXC/MS Memory Card support
  • +/- 3 EV (compared to +/-2 on A55)
  • 12fps continuous shooting at 8.4mp (1.4x) (vs 10fps on A65, full frame)

Sony Alpha A57 Handling

Sony Alpha A57 Top
Sony Alpha A57 Top

Handling - With a rubber hand grip that is contoured to the shape of your hand and a large thumb grip on the back, the A57 feels good to hold and it's possible to get a firm one or two handed grip of the camera. The A57 feels solidly built and has the same buttons and layout as the A65

Sony Alpha A57 Rear
Sony Alpha A57 Rear

Menus - The menu system is well laid out with the menus starting with photo options and then spread over a number of pages are the playback, setup and more advanced options. As the camera has a number of external controls you rarely needed to access the menus, but when you do it is easy to find the settings you want. The A57 provides good access to the majority of controls, making it easy to set ISO, exposure and other settings, with the Fn button providing access to a large number of controls on the back live view screen.

Sony Alpha A57 Bottom
Sony Alpha A57 Bottom

Battery Life - Battery life is rated at 550 shots according to CIPA standard / Sony testing. We were able to take over 560 shots before the battery went flat. This is good battery life and in addition, the Sony uses an InfoLithium battery, so you always know how much battery life is left as the camera will tell you i.e: 93%.

Sony Alpha A57 Rear Screen Up
Sony Alpha A57 Rear Screen

Speed - We tested each camera's performance at focusing, shutter response, shot to shot time, continuous shooting etc and have posted the results below. To test this we took 6 or more shots and calculated the average, so that consistent results were produced, we also made sure to test all the cameras at the same time to ensure the cameras were being tested under the same conditions.

  Sony A57 Sony A65
Shutter Reponse <0.05 <0.05
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.1 0.1
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response 0.15 0.15
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 1.0 1.3
Shot to Shot (without flash) 0.5 0.5
Shot to Shot with Flash 0.8 0.8
Continuous Shooting (JPEG) 7-8fps (27 shots)
12-13fps (22 shots)**
7.5fps (17 shots)
10fps* (17 shots)
Continuous Shooting (with Flash) 0.7 0.7
Continuous Shooting (RAW) 7-8fps (22 shots)
N/A
7.5fps (14 shots)
10fps* (14 shots)

In brackets is how many shots can be taken before the camera stops shooting or slows down.

*10fps mode dial. ** 12fps cropped 8.4 megapixel mode, JPEG only.

The camera has extremely fast focusing and shutter response and combined with the extremely quick continuous shooting mode this camera is extremely rapid in operation, only slowing down when you want to use the flash.

Sony Alpha A57 Performance

Click to view larger or click "Hi-Res" to view full size sample photos. Additional photos and product shots can be found in the Equipment Database for the Sony Alpha A57 - where you can add your own review and photos.

Sony Alpha A57 Sample Photos

1/160 sec | f/13.0 | 55.0 mm | ISO 100

1/160 sec | f/13.0 | 55.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res

1/160 sec | f/13.0 | 50.0 mm | ISO 100

1/160 sec | f/13.0 | 50.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res

Portrait with flash | 1/125 sec | f/5.6 | 40.0 mm | ISO 800

Portrait with flash | 1/125 sec | f/5.6 | 40.0 mm | ISO 800
High-Res

1/400 sec | f/8.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 100

1/400 sec | f/8.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res

1/250 sec | f/8.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 100

1/250 sec | f/8.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res

1/100 sec | f/11.0 | 35.0 mm | ISO 100

1/100 sec | f/11.0 | 35.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res


Sample photos - Here you can see the camera's built in flash performance for portrait shots, as well as some shots with our studio lighting. Detail and colour are good.

Sony Alpha A57 Lens test images

1/250 sec | f/8.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 100

1/250 sec | f/8.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res

1/250 sec | f/9.0 | 55.0 mm | ISO 100

1/250 sec | f/9.0 | 55.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res

8.4mp 1/1000 sec | f/5.6 | 55.0 mm | ISO 125

8.4mp 1/1000 sec | f/5.6 | 55.0 mm | ISO 125
High-Res

1/125 sec | f/5.6 | 18.0 mm | ISO 100

1/125 sec | f/5.6 | 18.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res


Lens test images - Wide and zoom photos are good and additional digital zoom is available which is quite rare for a Digital SLR camera.

Sony Alpha A57 ISO test images

1/8 sec | f/5.6 | 55.0 mm | ISO 100

1/8 sec | f/5.6 | 55.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res

1/15 sec | f/5.6 | 55.0 mm | ISO 200

1/15 sec | f/5.6 | 55.0 mm | ISO 200
High-Res

1/30 sec | f/5.6 | 55.0 mm | ISO 400

1/30 sec | f/5.6 | 55.0 mm | ISO 400
High-Res

1/60 sec | f/5.6 | 55.0 mm | ISO 800

1/60 sec | f/5.6 | 55.0 mm | ISO 800
High-Res

1/100 sec | f/5.6 | 55.0 mm | ISO 1600

1/100 sec | f/5.6 | 55.0 mm | ISO 1600
High-Res

1/160 sec | f/7.1 | 55.0 mm | ISO 3200

1/160 sec | f/7.1 | 55.0 mm | ISO 3200
High-Res

1/200 sec | f/8.0 | 55.0 mm | ISO 6400

1/200 sec | f/8.0 | 55.0 mm | ISO 6400
High-Res

1/320 sec | f/9.0 | 55.0 mm | ISO 12800

1/320 sec | f/9.0 | 55.0 mm | ISO 12800
High-Res

1/400 sec | f/9.0 | 55.0 mm | ISO 16000

1/400 sec | f/9.0 | 55.0 mm | ISO 16000
High-Res


ISO Noise Performance - Tested on default settings, with Long exposure NR: On, and High ISO noise reduction set to Normal (options: Low, Normal, High). Some noise is visible in ISO100 and ISO200 shots in dark blues and blacks. ISO noise performance is good up to ISO6400 and above where noise starts to negatively effect detail and colour.

Sony Alpha A57 White-balance test images

AWB Tungsten Light | 1/15 sec | f/4.0 | 26.0 mm | ISO 100

AWB Tungsten Light | 1/15 sec | f/4.0 | 26.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res

Tungsten Preset | 1/15 sec | f/4.0 | 26.0 mm | ISO 100

Tungsten Preset | 1/15 sec | f/4.0 | 26.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res

AWB Fluorescent Light | 1/8 sec | f/4.0 | 26.0 mm | ISO 100

AWB Fluorescent Light | 1/8 sec | f/4.0 | 26.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res

Fluorescent Preset | 1/8 sec | f/4.0 | 26.0 mm | ISO 100

Fluorescent Preset | 1/8 sec | f/4.0 | 26.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res


White Balance Performance - Auto white balance performance is good under fluorescent lighting, with the fluorescent preset giving a magenta image. Under tungsten lighting the auto white balance produces a warm image and using the tungsten preset gives a better result.

1/200 sec | f/10.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 100
1/200 sec | f/10.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 100 - The camera will automatically stitch together panoramic photos and has a 3D panoramic mode for viewing on a compatible 3DTV.

Sony Alpha A57 Digital filters

Vivid | 1/250 sec | f/8.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 100

Vivid | 1/250 sec | f/8.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res

Landscape | 1/250 sec | f/8.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 100

Landscape | 1/250 sec | f/8.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res

Mono | 1/250 sec | f/8.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 100

Mono | 1/250 sec | f/8.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res

Portrait | 1/250 sec | f/8.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 100

Portrait | 1/250 sec | f/8.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res

Standard | 1/250 sec | f/8.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 100

Standard | 1/250 sec | f/8.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res

Sunset | 1/250 sec | f/8.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 100

Sunset | 1/250 sec | f/8.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res

DR-off | 1/200 sec | f/8.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 100

DR-off | 1/200 sec | f/8.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res

DR-auto | 1/250 sec | f/8.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 100

DR-auto | 1/250 sec | f/8.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res

HDR 6EV | 1/200 sec | f/8.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 100

HDR 6EV | 1/200 sec | f/8.0 | 18.0 mm | ISO 100
High-Res


Digital Filters - The camera offers a wide range of picture effects and creative styles, a number of the picture effects are shown above. The creative styles let you setup and customise contrast, saturation, sharpness.

Video Sample - The camera records Full HD video, with continuous auto focus available while recording. Wind noise reduction and optical steady shot is available as well as a number of compression options, including AVCHD, MP4, 50i, 50p, 25p. ISO can be set to a maximum of ISO3200 for video recording.


Value For Money

Compared to some of the alternative cameras from Sony, the A57 doesn't see to offer very good value for money, as the Sony Alpha A55 is a more compact alternative (available for less), other options include the A65 with much higher specification and just over £50 more. Other Digital SLRs to look at include the Nikon D5100, Canon EOS 600D, and Pentax K-5. You'll also need to buy a memory card and a case or bag to keep your camera safe and protected - have a look at our complete guide to camera bags.

Sony Alpha A57 Verdict

The Sony Alpha A57 is the latest DSLR / SLT from Sony, and is a cut down version of the Sony Alpha A65, with a 16.2 megapixel sensor, lower resolution EVF and cropped high speed shooting mode, it offers a more affordable entry into high speed photography, with extremely quick focus, shutter response and continuous shooting. However, as it's currently available for just £50 less the A65 and is the same size, we would recommend you look at the higher specification A65 instead. Also, the A55 has the added benefit of being much smaller, cheaper, with 10fps continuous shooting at full resolution. The Sony A57 is an excellent camera, capable of taking great photos, with low noise and bright saturated colour, however it just seems that the camera it replaces (the A55) was just as good, if not better? Similarly, the next model up, is clearly of a higher specification, and is currently only a few pounds more.

 
  The Sony Alpha A57 is a capable and quick camera and is worth looking at particularly if the price drops.

Sony Alpha A57 Pros

Bright saturated colours
Good battery life
12fps shooting (at reduced resolution)
High speed focus and continuous shooting
Info-lithium battery lets you know remaining battery life
Electronic level


Sony Alpha A57 Cons

Introduction price near to higher specified A65
EVF seems small / worse view than LCD screen
Non-standard flash hot-shoe

FEATURES
HANDLING
PERFORMANCE
VALUE FOR MONEY
VERDICT

Sony Alpha A57 Specifications

ManufacturerSony
Lens
Effective Magnification 1.5x
Image Sensor
CCD pixels 16.2Mp (Megapixels)
Pixels (W) 4912
Pixels (H) 3264
Sensor Type CMOS
Sensor Size APS-C
Sensor Size (width) 23.5mm
Sensor Size (height) 15.6mm
Aspect Ratio
  • 3:2
LCD Monitor
LCD Monitor 3in
Screen resolution 921k
Touch Screen No
Focusing
Focusing modes
  • Autofocus
  • Manual
  • Face Detection
Exposure Control
Shutter speeds shortest 1/4000sec
Shutter speeds longest 30sec
Exp modes
  • Program
  • Aperture-Priority
  • Shutter-Priority
  • Manual
  • Scene modes
Metering
  • Multi Pattern
  • Spot
  • Centre-weighted - Average
ISO sensitivity 100 - 16000
White balance
  • Auto
  • Manual
  • Bracket
Exposure Comp +/-3
Shooting Options
Continuous shooting 12fps
Video
Movie mode Yes
Video Resolution
  • 1920x1080
  • 640x480 VGA
Video FPS 50p, 50i, 25p
Stereo Sound Yes
Optical Zoom with Video Yes
Other Features
Image Stabilisation Yes
Interface
HDMI Yes
USB USB 2
Storage
Card Type
  • Memory Stick
  • SD
  • SDHC
  • SDXC
File Type
  • RAW
  • JPG
  • RAW + JPG
Power Source
Battery Type NP-FW50
CIPA Rating 550
Box Contents
Box Contents No Data
Dimensions
Weight 539g
Width 132.1mm
Height 97.5mm
Depth 80.7mm

View Full Product Details





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Comments

tuareg
tuareg  2 Serbia and Montenegro
11 Apr 2012 - 7:22 PM

Hi,
something wrong with shutter speeds, typing Smile
Keep up the good work.
cy

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11 Apr 2012 - 10:53 PM

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joshwa
joshwa ePHOTOzine Staff 3583 forum postsjoshwa vcard United Kingdom
11 Apr 2012 - 10:53 PM


Quote: Hi,
something wrong with shutter speeds, typing Smile
Keep up the good work.
cy

Updated thanks

thubleau
thubleau  1
17 Jun 2012 - 3:37 PM

I am a bit bemused over your comment that the camera is too expensive compared to the A65.
I payed $689.00AU delivered for the A57 which is cheap for a camera of this quality.
My 5DMK2 set me back $2,000AU plus lenses over $6,000AU and does not do a much better job than this one.
The A65 has been dropping in price because of the noise related issues and was a full $300.00AU dearer than the A57 but now your looking at around $150.00AU as the demand for the A57 is outstripping the supply and people realise that the extra pixels of the A65 sensor is causing a noise problem which is also evident in the A77.
Average joe just does not need those extra pixels and shoot jpeg .
i hardly ever shot raw files with the 5DMK2 because the extra processing required was just a nuisance and the end result at 4x6 and 10x8 were no better than the jpeg file.
For the majority of users the extra speed and low noise is a bonus from the A57 and really how often do you shoot at 8fps ?That's the thing 3 second bursts and the buffer is full.
At 10 fps its even less and the camera will be unuseable while the buffer clears so the fast burst rates make no sense in every day shooting and I doubt that the 12fps @ 8.4 MP will ever get used.

The panorama mode alone is worth the price of the camera as I grew to love it with my humble HX100V.......man, was that camera noisy, particularly with night scenes.
The ISO above 1600 will hardly ever get used unless you are desperate and at that ISO there is very little difference between any of the DSLR's including Nikon D3x and Canon 1Ds.
In a comparo test of all the high priced DSLR's I noticed one thing.....even though there was more detail there was also more noise than the A57 and I put this down to the aggressive approach that Sony adopts with their cameras.......wish i could turn it off and deal with it in CS5.

The APS-C sensor is a bonus along with the lens correction in camera as even a $600.00 cheap zoom can match some of my L glass on a full sensor.

cheers

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