Sony A57: New Translucent Mirror camera launched, previewed UPDATED
posted Tuesday, March 13, 2012 at 12:00 AM EDT
Eighteen months ago, Sony launched two new cameras with a shared industry first: a translucent mirror design that allowed full-time phase detect AF during shooting and video capture. The concept has since spread to almost all of the company's Alpha-mount lineup, and only one of those original duo continued as a current product. Today, it meets its successor, in the form of the Sony Alpha SLT-A57.
The Sony A57 moves beyond its predecessor with a redesigned body similar to that of the A65, and incorporates a number of features we've seen in more recent Translucent Mirror cameras. It also brings a few firsts for the series, and in some cases, for the camera market as a whole.
At its heart, the Sony SLT-A57 is based around the same image sensor featured in the NEX-5N compact system camera, coupled to the BIONZ image processor seen in last year's Alpha-series cameras. Burst shooting performance is increased noticeably from the A55 to eight frames per second without limitations, and there's still a 10 fps mode if you're willing to lock the aperture near the open position. With a switch to JPEG-only shooting and by discarding a third of the sensor data, this can be increased to an impressive 12 fps, however. ISO sensitivity varies from 100 to 16,000 equivalents.
The AF sensor is unchanged from the A55, but is said to have refined tracking algorithms. There's also an updated variant of the electronic viewfinder from the A55, which is based around the same LCD panel as in that camera, but now has an adjustable eyepoint (which also affects magnification and effective resolution.) The A55's bottom mounted, tilt-swivel three inch LCD panel is retained.
Some other noteworthy changes include AVCHD 2.0 video capture, a new Auto Portrait Framing function that recrops your images according to rule-of-thirds principles, and the By Pixel Super Resolution pattern-matching digital zoom function seen previously in Sony's Cyber-shot fixed-lens cameras.
The Sony Alpha SLT-A57 goes on sale in the US market next month, priced at around US$700 body-only. A kit version including an 18-55mm zoom lens will also be offered, priced at about US$800. More details on Sony's latest Translucent Mirror camera can be found in our hands-on Sony A57 preview.
Alongside the announcement, Sony also launched a new battery-powered LED video light model, the HVL-LE1. Priced at around US$250, it will ship later this month.
UPDATE 03/14/2012: Added more Gallery shots, including an HDR series, panoramas, and a Clear Image Zoom series to show the effects of image enhancement in zoomed images. We'll be covering and commenting on these items in the main review later today.
Sony Alpha SLT-A57
|Model Number||North America: SLT-A57|
5.2 x 3.8 x 3.2 in.
(132 x 98 x 81 mm)
|Weight||21.8 oz (618 g)|
|Planned Availability||April 2012|
APS-C (approx. 1.12 in. diagonal)
16.70 megapixels (total)
16.20 megapixels (effective)
|Focal Length Multiplier||1.50|
|Aspect Ratio||16:9, 4:3|
4912 x 3264 (16.0 megapixels)
4912 x 2760 (13.6 megapixels)
3568 x 2368 (8.4 megapixels)
3568 x 2000 (7.1 megapixels)
2448 x 1624 (4.0 megapixels)
2448 x 1376 (3.4 megapixels)
12416 x 1856 (23.0 megapixels)
5536 x 2160 (12.0 megapixels)
8192 x 1856 (15.2 megapixels)
3872 x 2160 (8.4 megapixels)
7152 x 1080 (7.7 megapixels)
4912 x 1080 (5.3 megapixels)
1920 x 1080 (2.1 megapixels)
|Capture Speed||Continuous: 10.0 frames per second for 25 frames|
|Image Quality||2 levels|
|Image Preview / Review|
|Viewfinder||Yes, EVF type; 1.44M/1.25M-dot LCD, 100% coverage, 1.04x/0.97x magnification, 23.1/25.2mm eyepoint, -4 to +3 diopter|
|LCD||3.0 in. diagonal921,600 dots (307,200 px)|
|Playback Zoom||13.6x max|
3x optical zoom
55mm lens thread
|Lens Mount||Sony Alpha (Minolta A) mount|
18.0 - 55.0mm (actual)
27 - 83mm (35mm equivalent)
|Aperture Range||f/3.5 - 22 (W), f/5.6 - 36 (T)|
Phase Detection: 15 points (3 points cross type); Wide (auto, 15 points), Zone, Spot, Local; Enhanced Object Tracking
Has AF assist lamp
Manual focus possible
|Focusing Range||Normal: 10" - infinity (25 cm - infinity)|
|ISO Sensitivity||Auto (100-3200), 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200, 6400, 12800, 16000; (Multi-frame NR mode up to ISO 25600)|
|Shutter Speed||30 - 1/4000 second|
|Exposure Modes||Aperture, Shutter, Manual|
|Metering Modes||1200-zone Evaluative, Center-weighted, Spot|
|Exposure Compensation||+/- 3.0EV in 1/3EV increments|
|White Balance||Image Sensor - Auto, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Incandescent, Fluorescent (4), Flash, Custom, Color Temp./ Filter (2500 ï¿½ 9900K with 15-step Magenta/Green compensation)|
Guide Number: 10
Modes: Auto, Off, Fill-flash, Rear sync, Wireless, High-Speed sync, Slow sync, Red-eye reduction: On/Off
Range: Lens dependent
|Flash Exposure Compensation||+/- 2.0EV in 1/3EV increments|
|Scene Modes||Portrait, SportsAction, Macro, Landscape, Sunset, Night scene, Hand-held Twilight (6 shot layering), Night Portrait; Sweep Panorama, 3D Sweep Panorama, Auto Portrait Framing, Picture Effect (Posterization (Color, B/W), Pop Color, Retro Photo, Partial Color (R,G,B,Y), High Contrast Monochrome, Toy Camera, Soft High-key, Soft Focus, HDR Painting, Rich-tone Monochrome, Miniature), Dynamic Range Optimizer (Off/Auto/Level),|
|Digital Zoom||Up to 4x Precision, Up to 2x Clear Image Zoom, 1.4x (8.4MP) or 2.0x (4MP) Smart Zoom|
|Self Timer||Yes, 2 or 10 seconds|
|Movie Format||AVCHD 2.0/MP4 (Audio: Dolby Digital (AC-3)/MPEG-4 AAC-LC) with audio|
|Recording Medium||Memory Stick PRO Duo, SD/MMC including SDHC, SDXC|
|File System||Complies with Design Rule for Camera File System (DCF)|
|File Format||RAW (12-bit ARW 2.3), RAW+JPEG, JPEG, MPO|
High definition: Yes (HDMI)
Standard definition: No
|Computer||USB 2.0 High Speed|
|Other||Type-C Mini HDMI (BRAVIA Sync, PhotoTV HD); Wired Remote Terminal, 3.5mm External Stereo Micophone Jack, DC Input|
|Battery Type||NP-FM500H Lithium-ion rechargeable|
|Battery Form Factor||Proprietary|
|Software||Sony Software CD-ROM|
|Battery / Charger||1 x Proprietary NP-FM500H Lithium-ion rechargeable battery and charger|
|Digital Print Order Format (DPOF) compliant||Yes|
|Remote Control||Yes, Optional Wireless or Wired|
|Notes||SteadyShot INSIDE Sensor-shift Image Stabilization (up to 4.5 EV correction), Full HD 1080p60 Video, Up to 12 fps Burst Mode (Tele-zoom Continuous Advance Priority AE), Enhanced Object Tracking AF, 2x Clear Image Digital Zoom, New Auto Portrait Framing, Tilting 921K-dot LCD, 1.44M-dot EVF.|
Sony Brings Pro-level Performance to Mainstream SLR Users with New High-Speed α57 Camera Featuring Translucent Mirror Technology
Advanced Feature Set Includes 12 fps Shooting, Full HD (60p) Video Capture, New Auto Portrait Framing and more
SAN DIEGO, March 12, 2012 -- A wider palette of creative options is now accessible to more shooters with the α57 camera, the newest addition to Sony’s popular line of A-mount cameras employing Translucent Mirror Technology.
The innovative Translucent Mirror design directs incoming light to the CMOS image sensor and the AF sensor at the same time, allowing full-time continuous AF during both still and video shooting. Users can also frame, focus and preview shots in real-time on the high-resolution Tru-Finder™ electronic viewfinder, which offers a wide viewing angle and 100% field of view. This allows photographers to capture exactly what they see on the screen.
A natural successor to Sony’s acclaimed α55 camera, the α57 is positioned for a wide audience of DSLR users. It can shoot still images at up to 12 frames per second, capture full HD video at 60p, 60i or 24p frame rates and has a variety of creative modes including Auto Portrait Framing, a world’s first technology
“Today’s DSLR consumer is looking for a higher level of control and flexibility in their camera,” said Mike Kahn, director of the Alpha camera business group for Sony Electronics. “With the introduction of the new α57, we’re bringing blazing fast response rates, enhanced artistic capabilities and other advanced features to the mainstream DSLR marketplace, offering professional-grade performance at affordable prices.”
With the α57 camera, shooting speeds of up to 12 frames per second are achieved in new Tele-zoom Continuous Advance Priority AE mode, maintaining continuous auto focus and auto exposure with fixed aperture. Magnifying the central portion of the sensor’s image by 1.4x, it’s perfect for capturing split-second action close-ups with a burst of sharply focused images, even when the subject is moving. In this shooting mode, aperture is fixed at either f/3.5 or the maximum aperture of lens in use (whichever is smaller) and image size of photos is about 8.4 megapixels.
Additionally, the α57 camera lets people create powerfully expressive Full HD movies. Responsive full-time continuous phase detection AF ensures that moving subjects stay sharply focused, just like with still shooting. Support for the AVCHD™ Ver. 2.0 (Progressive) format means that Full HD resolution movies can be captured with 60p frame rate: ideal for capturing smooth, blur-free action. Shooting in 24p is also available to give footage a rich, cinematic look. Movie-making options are enhanced further with full control over P/A/S/M shooting modes for virtually limitless creative expression.
The α57 model shares the α65’s 15-point AF system with three cross sensors delivering fast, accurate TTL phase detection autofocus. Newly enhanced Object Tracking AF keeps faces or other selected objects in sharp focus – even if a target is obscured momentarily by another passing object.
Even the novice photographers can now easily create pro-style portraits with the α57 thanks to new Auto Portrait Framing, a world’s first technology. Using face detection and the compositional ‘rule of thirds,’ the camera identifies a subject’s position, trimming the scene to create tightly framed, professional-looking pictures in portrait or landscape orientation while maintaining a copy of the original image. Saving both the original photo plus the adjusted version allows for easy comparison between the two images, offering photographers inspiration to refine their portrait skills.
To get closer to the subject, 2x Clear Image Zoom digital zoom technology doubles the effective magnification of your lens and is a highly practical alternative to travelling with a bigger, bulkier telephoto lens. The camera uses Sony’s “By Pixel Super Resolution Technology” to ensure that cropped and zoomed images retain full pixel resolution.
Additionally, the model’s range of popular in-camera Picture Effect modes includes 11 different effects and 15 total variations – offering a generous palette of ‘PC-free’ artistic treatments, including Pop Color, HDR Painting, Miniature Mode and much more. Results can be previewed directly in live view mode on the LCD screen or in the new Tru-Finder™ electronic viewfinder while shooting either Full HD video or stills.
Still and video shooting, framing, focusing and real-time preview of exposure adjustments are a pleasure with the new Tru-Finder™ electronic viewfinder. With ultra-detailed 1440k dot resolution and a 100% field of view, it rivals quality optical viewfinders. There’s a choice of selectable high-resolution information displays with a wide viewing-angle to help consumers shoot with confidence, including a digital level gauge and framing grid. Information can be displayed either directly in the viewfinder or on the angle-adjustable 7.5 cm (3.0-type) Xtra Fine LCD™ display.
Ensuring detail-packed images, the 16.1 effective megapixel Exmor® APS HD CMOS sensor is teamed with a latest-generation BIONZ® engine. Refined by Sony during the development of its flagship α77 and high-end α65 cameras, this powerful processor effortlessly handles large amounts of image data for flawless, low-noise images and Full HD video.
Thanks to the BIONZ processor, creative shooting opportunities are boosted by an outstanding sensitivity range of ISO 100-16,000. Users will experience consistently natural, low-noise images – whether shooting at fast shutter speeds to freeze dynamic action or handheld without flash in low light.
Pricing and Availability
The new α57 interchangeable lens camera will be available this April with an 18-55mm kit zoom lens for $800 (model SLT-A57K). It will also be offered as body-only for about $700 (model SLT-A57).
Sony will also be introducing a new battery-powered LED video light, model HVL-LE1, which broadens options for recording video indoors or in low light. This new accessory will be available this month for about $250.
The camera, camera kit and a wide variety of Alpha accessories are sold at Sony retail stores (www.store.sony.com) and other authorized dealers nationwide.
***For a full video preview of the new α57 camera, please visit http://blog.sony.com/alphavideo
***The SLT-A57 is manufactured using recycled plastics. The camera chassis contains 10% recycled material.