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Sony SLT-A58 review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £449
inc VAT

Less unusual than previous SLT cameras but still a strong contender on all fronts, particularly for value


23.2×15.4mm 20.0-megapixel sensor, 3.0x zoom (27-82.5mm equivalent), 805g

The autofocus sensor is the same as on the A37 and A57, with 15 points including three cross-type points for increased sensitivity. That’s a decent specification for the price, but the layout of points felt a little sparse when using the improved subject tracking mode. The camera accurately tracked moving subjects around the frame, but when they moved into an area that wasn’t covered by an autofocus point, the focus couldn’t be updated.


The A57’s 1080-50p video mode has been dropped, leaving a choice of 25p or 50i. It’s an odd decision but no great loss for the majority of people. It’s still one of the best video modes to be found on an SLR-like camera, with responsive autofocus and manual exposure control – although frustratingly, not at the same time. The focus motor was clearly audible on the soundtrack, but a microphone socket provides a workaround. Picture quality was generally excellent but details looked a little coarse compared to the Nikon D5200’s videos.

An Auto Object Framing mode intelligently crops photos to create what the camera deems to be better compositions. The original is saved too, and it’s easy to turn this mode off if you don’t like the results. iSweep Panorama makes another appearance, allowing users to capture a high-resolution panoramic image by slowly turning the camera. 3D panorama capture has been quietly dropped, though. A Dynamic Range Optimisation feature lifts the brightness of shadows a little, and it’s useful to see a quick before-and-after directly after capture. HDR shooting is well implemented too.


One downside of Sony’s translucent mirror technology is that less light reaches the sensor. On previous models this has meant slightly higher noise levels than in rival SLRs. It was less of a concern this time around, though. The A58 uses strong noise reduction at fast ISO speeds, resulting in low noise but also a slightly glossy sheen with suppressed subtle details. However, comparing our ISO 6400 and 12800 studio test shots with rival SLRs from Canon, Nikon and Pentax, there was no sense that the A58’s JPEGs were obviously inferior. Comparing their unprocessed raw output revealed a more discernible difference, though, with the A58 at ISO 6400 being broadly equivalent to its rivals at ISO 12800.

Sony SLT-A58 sample shot
There’s very little evidence of noise in this ISO 1000 shot, and still plenty of definition in the skin texture

Sony SLT-A58 sample shot
Shaded skin textures are still perfectly acceptable at ISO 2500 – an excellent result

Sony SLT-A58 sample shot
Comparing the unprocessed raw output at ISO 6400 with the 24-megapixel Nikon D5200 shows that the A58’s underlying noise levels are a little higher

Details in bright conditions were crisp and natural, without any halo-like artefacts of heavy digital sharpening. Developing raw files in Lightroom gave a slight improvement to the fidelity of fine details, but the 20-megapixel resolution ensured that JPEGs were far from lacking. The kit lens suffered from poor corner sharpness when photographing nearby subjects, but in most tests it performed well.

Sony SLT-A58 sample shot
The 20-megapixel resolution, reliable autofocus and natural-looking details in JPEGs mean there’s more than enough detail for big prints

Sony SLT-A58 sample shot
Macro shots with the kit lens were less successful, though – this was one of our better results


Sony’s choice of model name makes this is a slightly confusing update. In many ways it’s a downgrade from the A57, but it also costs less. Consider it as the successor to the A37, a replacement for an older Sony Alpha or a first SLR-like camera, and it looks more tempting.

Our only real complaint is that Sony isn’t making the most of its SLT technology. The viewfinder and LCD screen are smaller than they could be, and continuous performance has taken a hit with the increased resolution. However, it still compares well on paper and in practice with its rivals, with better specs than Canon and Nikon’s entry-level SLRs and a lower price than their next-tier-up models. It can’t quite match the phenomenal Pentax K-30, which now costs around £500 including VAT. However, if you want an SLR-like camera but also want live view, video autofocus and lots of novel shooting modes, the A58 is an excellent choice.

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Basic Specifications

Rating ****
CCD effective megapixels 20.0 megapixels
CCD size 23.2×15.4mm
Viewfinder Electronic (1,440,000 pixels)
Viewfinder magnification, coverage 0.88x, 100%
LCD screen size 2.7in
LCD screen resolution 460,800 pixels
Articulated screen Yes
Live view Yes
Optical zoom 3.0x
Zoom 35mm equivalent 27-82.5mm
Image stabilisation optical, sensor shift
Maximum image resolution 5,456×3,632
File formats JPEG, RAW; AVCHD, MPEG-4


Memory slot SDXC, Memory Stick Pro HG Duo
Mermory supplied none
Battery type Li-ion
Battery Life (tested) 690 shots
Connectivity USB, micro HDMI, microphone in, DC in
Body material plastic
Lens mount Sony Alpha
Focal length multiplier 1.5x
Kit lens model name Sony SAL1855-2
Accessories USB cable
Weight 805g
Size 96x129x145mm

Buying Information

Warranty one year RTB
Price £449

Camera Controls

Exposure modes program, shutter priority, aperture priority, manual
Shutter speed 30 to 1/4,000 seconds
Aperture range f/3.5-22 (wide), f/5.6-36 (tele)
ISO range (at full resolution) 100 to 16000
Exposure compensation +/-3 EV
White balance auto, 9 presets with fine tuning, manual, Kelvin
Additional image controls contrast, saturation, sharpness, noise reduction, colour space
Manual focus Yes
Closest macro focus 25cm
Auto-focus modes 15-point (3 cross type)
Metering modes multi, centre-weighted, centre
Flash auto, forced, suppressed, slow synchro, rear curtain, red-eye reduction
Drive modes single, continuous, self-timer, AE bracket, WB bracket, HDR, panorama

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Reviews | DSLRs