Skip to navigation

Sony Alpha DSLR-A580L review

  • Sony Alpha DSLR-A580L
  • Sony Alpha DSLR-A580L top
  • Sony Alpha DSLR-A580L LCD
  • Sony Alpha DSLR-A580L front
  • Sony Alpha DSLR-A580L back
  • Sony Alpha DSLR-A580L sample 5
  • Sony Alpha DSLR-A580L sample 4
  • Sony Alpha DSLR-A580L sample 3
  • Sony Alpha DSLR-A580L sample 2
  • Sony Alpha DSLR-A580L sample 1


Feature-packed and capable of high quality photos, but automatic exposures could be better.

Review Date: 23 Feb 2011

Price when reviewed: £600


Reviewed By: Ben Pitt

Our Rating 4 stars out of 5

User Rating 5 stars out of 5

Powered by Reevoo

Sony’s recent A33 and A55 cameras are packed with innovative features, not least of which being their translucent mirrors and electronic viewfinders. As such, they’re not technically SLR cameras, even though they’re designed to compete in that arena.

The A580 reviewed here bears many similarities with both, but it’s a true SLR with a flip-up mirror and optical viewfinder. Considering that we found the A55’s translucent mirror technology to be somewhat flawed, the prospect of Sony’s other recent innovations in a more conventional package shows a lot of promise.

Sony Alpha DSLR-A580L front

The A580 is a much bulkier camera, weighing in at 809g with its 18-55mm kit lens. Its detailed 3in screen articulates up and down, although it doesn’t flip right around for self-portraits. There’s a reasonable number of single-function buttons covering ISO speed, drive mode, dynamic-range processing and exposure compensation and lock. The navigation pad is dedicated to controlling the autofocus point when not browsing menus.

Sony Alpha DSLR-A580L LCD

A big problem for most SLRs is that live view disables their phase-detect autofocus systems. Instead, autofocus is via the contrast-detect technique used by compact cameras, but this is often extremely slow and cumbersome on an SLR. Sony’s solution in the A580 isn’t as groundbreaking as in the A55, but it’s just as effective. There are two imaging sensors – one for capturing 16-megapixel photos and another just for live view. The latter’s position inside the camera means it doesn’t interfere with the 15-point phase-detect autofocus system, which continued to work just as effectively as when using the optical viewfinder. The live view sensor is more cropped than the captured image and looks noisy in low light, but these are limitations we’d happily live with. It’s also possible to switch to live view from the main sensor and apply a digital magnify function when fine-tuning manual focus.

We’ve seen the same technique used in the A550, but this time around there’s a snag. The A580 is the first Sony DSLR to record video, but to do so it must switch to its main imaging sensor. That means – unlike on the A55 – there’s no autofocus while recording. We’ll not hold it against Sony that it doesn’t attempt contrast-detect autofocus while recording, as rival cameras from Canon and Nikon make such a hash of it that it’s not worth using.

Prev Next

User Reviews

< Previous   Reviews : Digital cameras Next >
Sponsored Links


Award-winning Digital cameras
Best Buy
Canon EOS 70D
Best Budget Buy
Sony Alpha A3000
Fujifilm X-T1

Canon EOS 70D review

Canon EOS 70D

Category: Digital cameras
Rating: 5 out of 5
Price: £999
Samsung NX30 review

Samsung NX30

Category: Digital cameras
Rating: 4 out of 5
Price: £900
Canon PowerShot SX600 HS review

Canon PowerShot SX600 HS

Category: Digital cameras
Rating: 3 out of 5
Price: £199
Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ60 review

Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ60

Category: Digital cameras
Rating: 4 out of 5
Price: £339
Fujifilm X-E2 review

Fujifilm X-E2

Category: Digital cameras
Rating: 4 out of 5
Price: £1,149
Sponsored Links


Also in this category...




Expert Reviews Printed from

Register to receive our regular email newsletter at

The newsletter contains links to our latest PC news, product reviews, features and how-to guides, plus special offers and competitions.