Sony Alpha SLT-A37
23.5x15.6mm 16.0-megapixel sensor, 3.0x zoom (27-82.5mm equivalent), 716g
Prices and image quality mentioned in this review are of the Sony Alpha SLT-A37 with 18-55mm lens kit
The A37 is Sony's latest entry-level Alpha camera, but while its petite dimensions are in keeping with the low price, some of its specifications suggest otherwise. Continuous shooting is at 7fps, and the video mode captures 1080p videos with full-time autofocus – something that very few SLRs are able to do. There's even full manual control in video mode, plus a microphone input.
The key to the fast burst mode and video autofocus is the fact that this isn't technically an SLR. The SLT in the name stand for single-lens translucent. A single-lens reflex (SLR) camera uses a mirror that directs light to the viewfinder and autofocus system, and flips out of the way to let the light reach the sensor to take a picture. The A37 uses a translucent mirror that sends light to both the autofocus system and the sensor at the same time. That effectively prohibits the use of an optical viewfinder, though, so the A37 – like all the cameras in Sony's SLT range – uses an electronic viewfinder (EVF) instead.
That shouldn't be seen as a bad thing, though. An SLR's optical viewfinder may seem more upmarket but the A37's 1.44-million dot EVF is bigger than any SLR's optical viewfinder at this price, and to our eyes it's just as detailed. Its picture struggles in dimly lit scenes, but that's a reflection of the sensor rather than the screen. We find it useful to see a live preview that reflects how well the camera is coping with the current lighting conditions.
This is the third generation of Sony's SLT cameras, and it's good to see that some problems we experienced with the first-generation Sony Alpha SLT-A33 have now been ironed out. There was no sign of the sensor overheating after recording an hour of video. We're also happy to report that it's now optional whether the LCD and EVF screens reflect exposure settings in their live previews. On the A33 this caused serious problems when using off-camera flash systems, as the screens became pitch black. There's a welcome improvement to battery life, too, up from 340 shots to 450.