The 20.1MP alpha 58, which was announced in April, is the latest offering in Sony’s DSLT range. It replaces both the alpha 57 and alpha 37, and its features and price are a kind of hybrid of the two. DSLTs differ slightly from DSLRs because they have a fixed mirror, meaning they have to use electronic viewfinders (EVFs) rather than optical. The 1440k-dot EVF that features on the alpha 58 is fairly sharp in the corners, and has an eye sensor so that it turns on and off automatically, though it’s hard to feel as connected to the subject as when using an optical viewfinder.
The alpha 58’s slightly disappointing 461k-dot LCD screen isn’t touch-controlled, and doesn’t flip out, though it does tilt, so it is still well-suited to shooting from unusual angles. At under £400, the alpha 58 has a competitive set of features, and outperforms many of its competitors in terms of picture quality, with a lens that produces sharp images even in the corners when shooting wide open. Chromatic aberration is also virtually non-existent. The alpha 58’s maximum shooting speed of 5fps is less than on the alpha 57, but in telephoto mode it will shoot cropped images at 8fps. This, the incredible battery life of 690 shots, and the accurate and fast 15-point AF system, make the alpha 58 a perfect low-cost option for photographers who like to shoot action and wildlife.
The alpha 58 sits fairly comfortably in the hand and has a rubber coating around the grip. On the back of the camera, the thumb grip is coated with plastic rather than rubber, so is slightly less comfortable. The build quality seems reasonable.
The mode dial sits on the left-hand side of the body, leaving plenty of room on the right for all the most important controls like ISO, exposure compensation and drive mode. The shutter button feels slightly ill-placed as the finger has to stretch to press it, though the other buttons are user-friendly.
The menu system is basic, but easy to navigate, and there is a smaller quick menu. The alpha 58 has a 100% viewfinder coverage, so you can frame up images very accurately.
- Body price £255 (Secondhand price as of June 2016)
- Effective resolution 20.1MP
- Sensor type 23.2x15.4mm CMOS
- Lens 18-55mm
- ISO range 100-16,000
- LCD 2.7in 461k-dot tilt
- Viewfinder 1440k-dot EVF
- Viewfinder coverage 100%
- Shooting speed 5fps (8fps with crop)
- AF points 15
- Video Full HD (1080p)
- Flash power GN10
- Battery life 690 shots
- Card type SD, SDHC, SDXC, Memory Stick
- Body size (wxhxd) 129x96x78mm
- Total weight 786g
- Visit: www.sony.co.uk
This review was first published in the July 2013 issue of Practical Photography - download back issues here.