Jul 182012
 

 

The Sony A57 Digital Camera Quick Review  – Super BANG for the BUCK

By Steve Huff

Well it’s about damn time! I have been sitting on this camera for weeks and weeks mainly because I have been so damn busy with everything else on this site every day. With the hot weather in Phoenix right now I really have not been able to get out anywhere to shoot, so the A57 DSLR from Sony has been sitting on my desk unused with some random bits of me taking it out for some shooting here and there and getting to know it better. Still, I did not get to take it out and shoot anything exciting with it so what you will see here are buy thoughts after taking it with me a few times and shooting it around the house some as well.

Yes, I know that this Sony A57 came out a while ago but I was asked if I wanted to check it out so I could not pass it up. I loved the previous Sony translucent mirror DSLR’s and reviewed the A33 here on this site back in November of 2010 (MAN, I can not believe it has been THAT long) so I knew I would like the newer A57 and I wasn’t disappointed in the least when it came to image quality, especially when using the amazing 16-50 2.8 Zoom, which is one of the best Zoom lenses I have ever shot with, ever. The other lens I was using with the camera was the 18-135 which also did VERY well as you can see in the shot below:

Shot with the A57 and 18-135 this shot is sharp with bold color and great detail.

small vs BIG

Since most of you reading this have been readers of this website for a while you already know that I am a tried and true fan of small cameras that are of very high quality. That is why I am a fan of the Sony NEX series as well as all of the other amazing and small cameras out today like the Olympus OM-D, Leica X2, Fuji X100…the list grows every few months it seems . My favorite right now may just be the Olympus OM-D but the Sony NEX-7 is also FANTASTIC and one of their best efforts to date. So why would I want to lug around a DSLR like the Sony A57 and a heavy ass fast aperture zoom lens? Well, I was curious more than anything. After testing out the Nikon D800 and getting a taste of the exquisite quality I was curious if this A57 would give me better quality than the small fries I have been toting around.

The NEX-7 has been with me for quite a while now and it still gets use at least every couple of weeks. I find it works well with Leica glass like a 35mm, 50mm or even 90mm and it’s a joy to shoot this way. As you can see, the NEX-7 with a Leica 50 Summitar is tiny compared to the A57, which is a typical DSLR styled camera. To me, that NEX-7 just looks like it is begging to be picked up and taken out to shoot! I still love the 7 and it is a camera that grew on me more and more over time, mainly using M mount glass on it.

A57 next to the NEX-7

Speaking of BIG

The Nikon D800 was and is  a monster to me (and I also have a Nikon D4 here now as well) but damn, the IQ was beautiful when I paired it with that Zeiss 35 1.4 lens. But the A57 is MUCH cheaper, MUCH smaller, MUCH lighter and probably just as capable in many ways. No the A57 is not full frame, it is APS-C but still, can it beat out the NEX-7 or NEX-5 seeing as that they have the same sensor? Well, using native glass, YES it can. Notice I said “Native Glass”. The Sony ALPHA line has some amazing glass available and man I have to tell you, this zoom lens, the 16-50 is something I would own in a nano second if I owned one of these cameras. It has the build, the feel and the image quality of fine pro glass. The IQ is prime like.

Shot with the 16-50 and A57 at 2.8 in my home, mid day

I shot with the A57  for 2-3 weeks but it felt almost like a bigger version of the A55 to me and it should as it basically is a souped up bigger version of that revolutionary camera. This one is basically a “refresh” but these are always welcome because past quirks usually get fixed or taken care of. Therefore, this will be one of my quicker reviews. I like to save my long winded excitement for REVOLUTIONARY products that excite me and get my passion flowing (like the upcoming Sony RX100). While the A57 is a superb camera and highly capable of professional results, the older A55 was as well. The A57 just does things a little bit better AND it is quite a bit bigger. Let us take a look at the improvements of the A57 over the A55:

A57 Specs:

  • 16.1 MP APS-C CMOS Sensor
  • Translucent Mirror Technology
  • 12 fps with Continuous Autofocus
  • 15-Point Autofocus with 3 Cross Points
  • Full HD 1080p with AVCHD 2.0
  • 3.0″ 921,600-dot Tiltable LCD
  • Auto Portrait Framing
  • Clear Image Zoom
  • ISO 100-16000
  • Tru-Finder EVF

Previous Model A55 specs:

  • 16.2MP High Resolution
  • Translucent Mirror for Fast Focus
  • 921K Dot 3″ Tiltable LCD screen
  • Built-In GPS
  • Full HD 1080/60i Video
  • 3D Sweep Panorama Mode
  • Quick AF for Full HD Movie Capture
  • 10 Frames Per Second Continuous Shooting
  • Up to ISO 12800 Sensitivity

So looking at the specs the A57 gives us 2 more FPS and 16000 ISO capability where the A55 topped out at 12800. But that is not the whole picture of course. Sony actually made the A57 larger than the old A55 and gone are the video overheating issues that plagued the A55.

The amazing thing about all of this is that the A57 has 1080P video (that I experimented with and it looked beautiful, as I expected), stereo sound, steady shot built in the body and it comes in at just over $600! That is CHEAP for a serious camera such as this as the Olympus E-M5 comes in at double that with a kit lens, and the Sony is actually the more capable of the two when it comes to all out IQ due to the hearty APS-C sensor inside, and it is a beauty. But again, it is LARGER than an OM-D, much larger!

SIDE BY SIDE WITH OM-D

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Then again, it is MUCH smaller  than a Nikon D4 which is a BEAST meant for PROS..I love the D4 but man, I couldn’t image daily photography with one of these! For pros, it’s AMAZING and drool worthy.

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Here is a shot with the 18-135 – love the tones here – the sensor in this A57 is fantastic, and I kept telling myself..”yea, I hate lugging DSLR’s but this guy comes in at just over $600″ – This is a major steal of a deal guys!

Translucent Mirror Technology

This Sony camera continues the tradition with this tech that allows the camera to be called “mirrorless”. Yes, technically this is not a DSLR as it does not have a mirror so it is referred to as an SLT camera and this allows full time phase detect AF, and let me tell you, this camera is blazing fast to AF and shoot. Unfortunately I did not run into any situations where I needed to shoot action but just by messing around with the AF speed and settings I can say that this camera can AF with the best of them.

Sony says that the AF performance of the A57 has improved and I believe it, I had no issues with AF at all and it blazed past my Sony NEX-7 in AF speed tests. It was no contest. My NEX-7 seemed like a turtle and the A57 was the rabbit.

I really like this tech and hope to see Sony use it in future models, maybe even a new full frame model.

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Build and Feel

The build of the A57 is nice but it is plastic feeling, mainly because it is plastic. But we can’t bitch and moan about that because like I said, this is a $600-ish camera for the body and just over $700 for a body and lens. For this kind of cash, this is a solid medium sized DSLR and WELL worth the cost of admission if Sony is your thing. When I hold it in my hand it feels a little hollow but at the same time, it feels good. It is much lighter than the Nikon D800 so if you want a camera you can pound nails with, this will not be it.

The layout of buttons is nice but I feel the movie button is a but far from my thumb. It makes it tough to push it in if you wanted to grab a quick movie, but I see why Sony placed it here. Many times with other cameras I have accidentally pushed the movie button because it was near the shutter button. This eliminates that possibility. The LCD is fantastic. Bright, sharp, colorful and puts the LCD on the $2000 Leica X2 to shame. It also swivels out in all kinds of ways so you can shoot from the hip, waist, foot or over your head and still see what is happening.

Usability & Menus

The menus are typical Sony DSLR styled. Not GREAT but not bad. I feel most camera menus are easy to navigate once you learn them so someone who has shot with a Sony Alpha before will easily find their way around them. I never complain much about menus unless they are just horrible because they can be learned in a day.

 

Image Quality

This is what it is all about right? The image quality! One thing is for sure, the image quality that comes from this camera and sensor is outstanding. If I didn’t mind lugging a DSLR I could be 100% happy with the Sony A57 and just the 16-50 Zoom. That is saying a lot right there because most everyone knows I love my primes! But this is the only Zoom lens I have ever felt warranted a purchase. If you own a Sony DSLR, the 16-50 has some Mojo going on and I highly recommend it! Below are a few snaps showing the IQ and keep in mind, these are all right out of the camera!

Click this for a larger view – Taken with the 16-50 at 2.8, wide open. When you click the image you can see a full 100% crop. Taken full zoom at 50mm.

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This orangutan was up on a pole. This was taken just days after her grandmother passed away at the Zoo. It’s almost as she is looking out in the distance trying to see if she is coming back. 16-50 at 2.8

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Another you can click on to see the 100% crop. Again, the 16-50 but at f/3.2 so stopped down a pinch. Lovely tines, dynamic range and color.

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The 16-50 Wide open – I love the tones and the way this combo captures the light!

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This time the 18-135 at f/5.6 – again, click for larger version. This camera never failed to deliver in speed, usability, AF or IQ. This was set to VIVID mode.

HIGH ISO

The high ISO of the A57 is also superb. Then again, almost all cameras I have been shooting with lately have been. It seems the days of awful noise at ISO 1600 are long gone and just about any camera released in the past year or two will do an admirable job at high ISO. In other words, this camera will not hold you back if you have to shoot in some low light and high ISO situations.

The A57 and 12-50 at ISO 2500 indoors in low light. The iPad was shining light onto her face to illuminate the scene. 

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Just relaxing after 11 hours at my desk…ISO 1600, straight from camera

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High ISO Crops – ISO 1600 through 16,000!

Meet BAB (Big Ass Bear) The  ISO TEST BEAR 

As you can see at ISO 6400 it starts to break apart and by 16000 it is pretty nasty but man, this is iso 16,000! Not HORRIBLE compared to what we had just 3 years ago. Then again, the Nikon D3s is still the high ISO champion of all time. Id use this up to 3200 without a blink of an eye.

PROS and CONS of the A57

My Final Thoughts – Best bang for the buck DSLR available? I think so! Take a look at this list…13 Pros and only 2 cons! I’d say that makes this a GREAT but=y!

PROS:

  • It is light!
  • It is fast!
  • Swivel LCD is very useful!
  • Great HD video (I know I did not talk about but I did test it on my own)
  • Superb built in EVF that rocks
  • Nice button layout
  • Superb image quality and low light performance
  • Built in flash
  • AF is FAST
  • Can plug in a stereo external mic for video use
  • Price is AMAZINGLY right!
  • Face recognition that works well
  • Great lenses available for this mount

 

CONS:

  • Larger than the older and also excellent A55
  • They took OUT the GPS function that was in the A55 (though I never would use it, many enjoy it)

My Final Take on the Sony A57:

I told you this would be short and it came in at under 3000 words, which is less  than half of my usual length for a review. But again, this is a refresh camera of the A55 so instead of rehashing all of the specs and technicalities I just wanted to talk about how I felt when shooting it and how it delivered the goods with what it was designed to do.

The best way to put this is that if you are in the market for a DSLR under $700, this Sony A57 should be on your list because I am not sure there are others I would rather have in this price range, in fact, I know it. Yea, you can go Nikon but I actually prefer this A57 to the cheaper Nikon DSLR’s as I feel the translucent mirror technology and EVF are slicker and I also prefer the rendering of the A57 to the Nikon colors that come from the D5100, etc. But that is MY preference, everyone differs. All I can do is spout out what I feel, what I like… and what I enjoy.

When shooting this camera I was reminded of my time with the Pentax K5 that I loved so much. The K5 is smaller and better built with some amazing primes but this Sony sort of won me over after a few weeks. I will not buy one because I have too many cameras and have sort of decided I do not want more DSLR’s but if I did want a DSLR, this one would maybe make it to my bag. The price is incredibly right for this. Hell, it’s cheaper than almost any of the current popular mirrorless cameras! If a DSLR is tempting to you..and you are in the market for one then I feel this Sony is a GREAT buy. Add to this the fact that I did not even mention the superb quality video it takes (as do most Sony cameras) and you have yourself a bang for the buck souped up speedy powerhouse of a camera.

I can not say enough about the 16-50 f/2.8 lens though. This thing just oozes quality and pride of ownership. IT’S A MUST OWN FOR any Sony ALPHA DSLR user and comes in at $798. Check out the reviews of this lens at B&H Photo! An A57 and this lens would run you about $1400, or about the same cost as a Olympus OM-D and a 12-50 Zoom and extra battery. Or $600 less than a Leica X2. You gain size but this is a quality kit that gives up nothing to any APS-C sized camera available today.

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Where To Buy the A57?

Well, as always my fave shop for Sony cameras is B&H Photo. They have amazing service, ship same day, you always know what is in stock and was is not and you can track your order online and even do returns online, much like Amazon. B&H Photo sells the A57 body only for $618 (at the time of this writing) and you can also buy the kit with the 18-55 kit zoom for $718. The superb 16-50 2.8 constant aperture Zoom is $798 and well worth it. 

 

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  49 Responses to “The Sony A57 Digital Camera Quick Review – Super BANG for the BUCK!”

  1. Steve, the photo of the bird on the fence has weird “crunchy” bokeh and almost double-image qualities in the our of focus areas. I blame the lens, but this isn’t good, let alone great. I think the OM-D would do a much better job there. The high ISO shots all have distortion, smearing of details and lots and lots of noise.

    I think you need to recalibrate your subjective scale of “great image quality” by shooting some of the best cameras side by side under the same conditions with the same subject. Granted, all modern cameras can produce acceptable images, but help us out and give us a scale (maybe from 0-100) that you come up with to judge different camera IQ – just saying “great” doesn’t give us enough guidance. We can all evaluate the images ourselves but we trust you and value your opinion.

    • Hey Brad,

      The lens is fantastic. Period. Don’t take my word for it, read the countless reviews online. I review cameras and lenses from a user standpoint and have for over 3 years. I do not do it from a “tech/geek/gearhead” standpoint where I study and examine every microscopic detail as this is not how one should look at a photo. Many lenses have off or odd bokeh in one way or another as no lne is perfect in that area, many Leica lenses have odd bokeh, even the 35 Lux. I just look at what I see as a whole. If I were to print a photo with this lens and 100 people saw it, not one would say “look at that bokeh”. That is not what photography is about but so many camera buyers seem to stress over it. I admit, even I have done so in the past but lately, not so much. Some lenses have awful bokeh but this one is not one of them. As for a 0-100 scale, that has never been my style as i am not a technical reviewer. If I start giving numbers those numbers would need to be changed as time goes on and new cameras come out that are better. This A57 and 16-50 lens make a “great” combo. One I would own if I were in to DSLR’s, but I am not. It’s just as capable as any other DSLR but it is up to the buyer/user as to what fits their style, budget and use! Thanks!

  2. Well, the question was: How worse is the EVF compared to OLED EVF in Nex-7?

  3. Thanks Steve! This has been the review I’ve been waiting for from you. In large part thanks to your review of the a33 I went and bought that little beauty. I’ve been debating between jumping on a used a55 as a second alpha body or saving up for an a57. This is a big help in weighing the scales. I also love that your reviews are real-world and user based. Its all about the images with you and not some insane criterion of ultra zoomed 10000% percent pixel silliness. My hats off.
    What would you say is the ergonomics comparison between the a33 and the a57? I like smaller cameras but I wonder if a larger grip like the one one the a57 would truly be benificial. I also ask what do you think of the evf compared to the a33? And the high ISO? LOL. Sorry about so many questions.
    Thanks!

    • Don’t forget that the a33 was recently upgraded to the a37 and the kept the a33 and a55 body. I moved from an a55 to the a77, but I still miss that a55 body and I’ve been thinking about getting the a37 (as a second body) to get that sexy-back.

      • I’ve also been considering saving up for the a77 but I’m not sure I need or want that much resolution. It would mostly be forbthe build and evf improvements. Also ive held it and it is a beast. But almost in a good way.

  4. Review written with passion indeed :) But I would also love to hear your opinion on the EVF, Steve.

  5. Steve,

    Great review. I’ve only commented one time on your site (in defense of your OM-D vs X-Pro1 article). I am “newer” to photography and spend most of my photo time chasing my 2 young kids or snapping pics while we’re out on family gatherings etc. I originally had plans to get an OM-D when it became available. On a whim, I decided to pick up the A57 and 16-50mm f/2.8 Lens while I waited for the Olympus to become available.

    It’s been 3 weeks with the A57 and 16-50 lens. I can honestly say that there is very little chance that I would return this camera in favor of the OM-D. I’ve “lugged” this camera to a country fair, trip to the zoo, family get together, birthday parties and never really found it to be a burden as it hung from it’s strap around my neck / shoulder. I even carried my 2 year old around for half the time at the zoo and I didn’t have a problem doing so even as the camera dangled to my side.

    Lightroom 4 absolutely loves the RAW files put out by this camera – and the images being put out after processing are nothing short of amazing. I never thought I would be able to get such good photos without paying a pro photographer.

    The one thing I want to emphasize is the AF speed and Accuracy combined with it’s burst mode. There were a couple of times at the country fair when my kids hopped on a merry-go-round ride. Using Continuous AF and the High Speed Burst mode yielded unbelievable results!

    I’ve recorded some 1080p video as well, but haven’t had time to pull it into iMovie for any editing as of yet.

    If you have young kids, and are OK with the form factor, please do yourself a favor and at least demo this camera.

    Now I know some folks will say that I can probably get the same results with the OM-D (and it’s smaller). I will admit that I will probably test it out at a local photo store when they get stock, but, it’s going to be pretty tough to get me to sell the a57 and lens to switch. I’m pretty happy with everything this camera has to offer at the PRICE POINT which it can be purchased for.

    The only thing I didn’t do was take the camera and lens on a recent business trip to NYC. It was definitely too big to fit in my laptop bag. Had I had a carrying case / backpack for it, I probably would have taken it, and I’m not sure in all honesty that I would have left the OM-D at home if I had that camera instead.

    Take it for what it is I guess. Just a humble opinion from a newb photographer.

    • Hi ibluetooth
      I am considering this camera but I am a concern that it doesn’t have an option to set minimum shutter speed in auto ISO and I am afraid it may be setting the shutter to slow to photograph my young kids indoor. What is your experience with that? Does the inbody stabilisation help with that? (I used to have Nikon d90 which had that feature and it worked awesome, now tried several different cameras without it like Panasonic GH2, GF3 – none of which have it and I get most of the photos blurry due to too slow shutter)
      Cheers

  6. Hey Steve, great review and really nice shots!
    I own the a55 and still love it. If I would buy a DSLR right now, it would be this or the Nikon D800, depending on budget.
    Thanks for your ongoing good work!

  7. if i see some testshots on the internet with e.g. nikon Nikon AF-S Nikkor 28mm f/1.8G i regret not to have bought a used d5100 and one of this nikon primes but a new nex5n. i will upgrade next year and my choice will definitely not be sony cause of the limited choice of lenses. i do not see anything in this article that convinces me to choose the sony a-range. IMHO. meanwhile i will live with my manual glasses on the nex (olympus 2/28mm, canon fd 1,8/85, tokina 3,5/17 ….. ) .. a nice process .. that teaches me a lot! .. greetings michael

  8. Thank you Steve for another good review, but it still doesn’t convince me regarding image quality and high-iso capabilities, as well as the Sony System is still a but limited although they offer a wide range of lenses.
    I really like the fact that you are reviewing “heavy” and “large” cameras as well and comparing them to the small ones. That’s what I often miss in magazine reviews where they only do the comparisons between the same models. Thumbs-up for Crazy Comparison! ;-)
    Martin ( http://www.pholux.com/ )

  9. Hi Steve,
    Interesting how it looks huge compared to the OMD and NEX but tiny next to the D4. For me the OMD is too small and difficult to grip and the Nex series with anything but a pancake lens unbalanced. This is probably just right. What would put me off is the usual Sony fine grained noise that is present even at low ISOs. That was the reason I only kept my a350 a short while and it seems things have not moved on much despite better high ISO performance. Nikon seem to control noise better than Sony using the same sensors. You obviously love to shoot wide open but it would also be useful to see a shot with a smaller aperture such as a landscape in your reviews.

  10. If I hadn’t already bought the NEX-7 I might look into this camera, excellent review, beautiful color and what a steal. I had the A55 and loved it, sometimes wish I still had it. But the NEX-7 works a little better for me, although at a price. I’m glad there are photographers finally looking at SONY cameras, and not just nikon and canon (who both produce wonderful cameras). Thanks Steve, always a pleasure to read your site

  11. Hi guys,

    sorry, but I am not impressed and the IQ on the web at least is nothing more than ok.

    A Nikon 5100 is 70 $ cheaper, 100 gr. lighter, same for the kit.

    If you ad the superb 18-105 your are still cheaper and even much lighter than a Sony plus lens.

    And you can buy many Nikon lenses new and second hand for small money.

    Sorry again, but the Sony is just heavy, bulky, expensive and limit (lenses).

    best regards
    heiner

    • Heiner, I agree completely. The images all have good sharpness at the focus point, but the out of focus areas are all distorted and have an over-processed feeling. The entry level SLRs from Nikon and Canon outperform here and both have vastly superior lens selections. I think Steve is being too generous with praise for the Sony alpha.

      • I’ve been looking at the D7000 but the A57 (and even the A65) have me intrigued. What would be the equivalent Nikon lens to the Sony 16-50? I don’t see a Nikon zoom F2.8 for under $800. Thanks!

        • Hey Matt,
          as far as I can tell based upon my wee bit of research no such glass exists for Nikon. I could be wrong but all I have found is the Nikkor 17-55 2.8 and that’s about $1400. I’m sure tamron has a Nikon mount version of their 17-50 2.8 which runs about 450.

      • I actually think Steve is right on with this review. I have used entry level Rebels and Nikon D3100/D5100 along with Sony A35 and A57. If you haven’t tried these Sonys, you are in for a treat. The experience of having the same speed and responsiveness whether composing through the evf or through the lcd is very satisfying. Add image stabilization in the body, and you have a combination that no other manufacturer provides for DSLRs right now. Sony’s video quality is better than Canon, Nikon, or Pentax and only surpassed by Panasonic. Sony may have fewer lenses in the lineup but the basic lenses are all there. They also have a few unique lenses like the 135mm f2.8 STF lens or the 135mm f1.8 Zeiss.

        I am glad that Steve is highlighting this superb value for money camera that many buyers tend to overlook because it is not Canon or Nikon.

        • Don’t forget all the Minolta lens options. Some amazing lenses. I use almost exclusively Minolta lenses and if I were to upgrade I would have the option of using Zeiss AF lenses. . .the only ones in the market. :D

  12. Uh oh Steve I just realized you committed a cardinal sin. . .you gave Sony a good review! LOL ;) prepare for the onslaught.

    • Lol…yea, and I stand by it as well. I’d take this over a Nikon 5100 any day of the week. Yes, I have tried a Nikon 5100 and their good lenses are MUCH more expensive. Buy a Nikon lens in the price range of the 16-50 Sony and you WILL get funky bokeh and business. The 16-50 from Sony is beautiful. Again, everyone who owns it thinks the same. At the price of this body, it’s tough to beat for those who want a nice DSLR.

  13. Thank you for the very informative review! Right now I own a NEX-5N and am very satisfied with it (ISO performance, Size, Control). The only thing that bother me is the slow focus.

    I’m making a lot of indoor pics (lightning is not ideal) of my 4- month old daughter and some times it is hard do get a sharp picture as she’s moving a lot (she’s out of the focus area before i’m able to pull the trigger). I’ve tried the V1 and the AF was amazing. But i have to go up to ISO1600 at my house as the light is never ideal and pictures with that high ISO weren’t usable from the V1 (at least from my point of view).

    I’m thinking of getting an additional DSLR with Phase Detection AF and after your review the SLT-A57 is one of my candidates.

    By the way, keep up your great work. I love your site…. Greetings from Germany!

    • Andrej, I am in the same boat as you with my young son. I think you would want to buy either the 16-50 lens, or perhaps the Tamron 17-50 lens instead of the kit lens which is somewhat slow to focus. I haven’t tested the Sigma lens in that range but you might want to check that as well.

  14. Great review Steve! This real life style evaluation of the gear with great photos is the reason your site rocks over the others!

  15. Steve, was that first flamingo pix shot with the new Sony 18-135 SAM lens? I’d like to have your opinion, especially if this is the new zoom. I am among many who don’t want to swap lenses for convenience, environmental and other reasons. I’m well aware of the trade-offs and don’t expect miracles but would like to pair the best “reasonably” priced (for me, at least) body (could be the A57) with the best “reasonably” priced mid range zoom. i.e., the 16-50 isn’t long enough for my purposes. I’m hoping the new 18-135 SAM will provide the lens part of the solution.
    I’ve read reviews of all the similar range competitors and haven’t really come away very excited about any of them.

  16. My brother just bought himself one of these. I was impressed when I tried it. I’m glad he chose a good system to invest in. :D

  17. Really enjoyed your article on the a57! I have been shooting with mine since May and I have nothing but praise for this camera. It’s nice to see a review on a Sony SLR thats positive.

    By the way, I use a large selection of m42 lenses for my a57 and have noticed a few NEX shooters going to the old manual focus Takumars and “exotic” Russian lenses. Just wanted to know if you’ve tried shooting old glass on your NEX yet.

    Again, great article and happy shooting!

  18. Thanks for the review…it was very well done! I bought the A57 with kit 18-135 and I’m very impressed with everything about the camera. I have one issue, though. The lens hesitates before locking focus at the long end, say from 100-135mm. It may take anywhere from 1.5 to 3 seconds (estimated) before locking while you can hear the motor working back and forth. The lower the lighting, the worse it is, but it doesn’t take low light for this to occur. It also does this in every autofocus mode: wide, spot, etc. For comparison, shooting my D90 right side by side, the D90 locks immediately. I wouldn’t say this is a deal breaker for me, but the A57 beats my D90 in every other comparison. I wonder if my lens is defective or if this is the nature of the beast? After discovering this I bought the A77 with 16-50 lens. I switched the lenses to determine that it is the lens, not the camera with the issue. I did send the A77 back, as much as I loved it, because I just can’t justify the price difference for no better image quality. I’m still within the return period so I could return the whole A57 kit to Amazon and re-buy or I could send the lens to Sony to have it checked. Do you have any thoughts?

    • One other thing: I contacted Sony by chat on 2 occasions but I didn’t get anywhere. Each time I spent 30 minutes going over my issue and they couldn’t give me an answer as to whether the autofocus lock time fell within normal parameters. Reading other forums on the web I’ve seen a few others with the same comment but I still don’t know if there are a few bad copies out or if they’re all this way and only a few of us nit-pickers are bothered by it. I have no scientific way of measuring the time it takes (I use a one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, one-thousand-three count) but again, the Nikon with similar (18-105) lens locks instantly and the Nikon “seems” faster at all focal lengths. Of course, the Sony 16-50 also seems much faster at it’s comparable focal lengths as well, but I would expect that of the higher quality lens.

      I really appreciate any comments you may have.

    • Hi,

      Somewhat I noticed kit lens 18-55mm behaves similarly only when I try to focus my goldfish in fish tank from a distance that is shorter that minimum focusing distance. Camera hesitates, elsewhere I have no issues at all with my 30mm Sony macro lens and Tamron SP 70-300mm lens. Both lock up instantly on the subject whatever the distance is.

  19. I have this camera and it is my new best friend. What I would like to know if you do, what are all of the compatible lenses for the a57?

    • Any Sony A type mount will do, you can find mostly in online retailers like amazon, or most camera shops, tho sometimes they might not have the model you’d precisely looking for.

    • You can find plenty of reviews on Sony compatible lenses at Dyxum.com or AlphaMountWorld.com. I’m using a Sony 16-105 mm and a 70-300 mm G, both of which are excellent. Also have a vintage Minolta 70-210 mm beercan, which is a good, economical lens that I don’t use so much anymore.

  20. Very useful review, thanks.
    Just got a new a57 and a used 18-135.
    Seems a good combo but confused about how to operate direct manual focus – the camera has no setting for this as far as I can see, yet the advanced manual (pp116/7) refers to it.
    Can anybody explain please – I phoned Sony but despite my best endeavours for at least ten minutes the chap didn’t really understand what I was talking about (just kept going on about AF or MF) and I can’t find anything on their website about it.

  21. I got my a57 as my first DSLR (SLT) one month ago, I am really impressed by its capabilities so far. Today I ordered the amazing Sony 35mm 1.8 SAM, cant wait to see the results!

  22. I just purchased the Sony A57 which came with DT18-55.and I brought two additional lenses home to try out. I couldn’t make up my mind and the camera shop gives a couple of weeks to see what you think. I ended up coming home with the DT 55-200 and 75-300, still not sure which I wanted to keep, definitely like the size of the smaller one better. Just wanted to see if anyone has any suggestions, I am wanting to shoot my daughter’s volleyball games, she’s a hitter so I wanted something good for action but I also like to do portraits and macro shots, pretty much a little of everything. I see there are a lot of lenses available for this camera so I’m looking for some suggestions, if anyone could help me. I intended on purchasing a Nikon when I went in the shop and came out with the Sony so I’m just not sure on any of this. Thanks for your review, it makes me feel a lot better about my choice, seems like an awesome camera for the money.

  23. Steve – good review thanks. I was wondering what you thought about the all in 1 Sigma 18-250mm lens on the Sony? I can’t be bothered lugging around more than 1 lens. My needs are really to photo / video the kids – parties, concerts, holidays and my son’s soccer (where a zoom would be handy). We are not serious photographers but do value good photos and video. have been looking at the Canon EOS 650D as well but the video is poor and the fps is slow (<5). Any recommendations / comments gratefully received. Thanks

  24. Thanks for the review of the a57. I’ll probably get one. I have a whole line of Minolta lenses which sways my decision. One thing I don’t like about it is the battery situation. I swore at one time never to get a proprietary battery camera. Is there an adapter which will use AA batteries? Rechargeables always seem to be dead when I want to use them. Double a’s are available everywhere.
    Jerry

  25. Hey, I currently have the A57 and after reading this post it basically put my thoughts into words. You are really good at what you do. I bought it because pretty soon I will be moving to Australia and I wanted a nice camera (my first DSLR) to document my journey. The lens that came with it is a great way to get started but now that I’m getting more into it I realized that I wanted a lens that could be more succinct visually and that could take good pictures in low light so I was wondering if you know of any pancake lenses that are compatible with the A57? If you put a link where I could find one (decently priced) you would have yourself a sale.

  26. Sony A57 accidentally i choosn it..actually i was searching for Canon & Nikon DSLR brand within my budget.. but i could not find what Sony A57 have.

  27. Try a Tamron 17-50 on the A57 and according to Michael Hohner, its equal to the CZ 16-80 for IQ.
    I use a Konica Minolta 17-35 F/2.8 on my 37 & 57 and it is ourstanding. This is the beauty of the Sony A mount, there are some fabulous Minolta lenses out there at budget prices.

  28. Thanx for review…im new to dslr …will buy this ..but i heard when focusing it gives bad sound? Is it true?

  29. Hi Steve, I just wanted to say that I enjoyed reading your review! I actually bought myself the A57 two Christmases ago and I absolutely love it!! My family and friends all comment on my photos and think they look professionally taken (yeah right it’s only me!) and last weekend I finally went and did a photographic course to help with taking better awesome photos and get away from the old Auto setting! I cannot wait to start taking more photos of landscape and my family and friends because my dream is to make people smile!! Thank you once more x

    • Good review Teresa, The SLT range of cameras have been critisised by reviewers for rather average Jpegs. I beg to differ, because after some experiment with various settings and parameter alterations, I have in my opinion achieved excellent Jpegs from my A37 and A57. Any one interested, contact me.

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