Consumer SLR Camera Roundup (2014)
20MP APS-C CMOS sensor | 5 fps continuous shooting | Electronic viewfinder
What we like:
- Quiet shutter
- 5 fps frame rate
- Good high ISO image quality
What we don't like:
- EVF harder to use in bright light
- Slow menus
- Overzealous noise suppression
While not technically an SLR, the Sony A58 is aimed at the same market. Its non-moving 'Translucent Mirror' enables its high frame rate without a lot of noise, which is good for sports, along with focus while shooting movies. Like most SLRs in this range, the Sony A58 is bundled with an 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 lens of reasonable quality.
"Overall, the Sony A58 is a good-quality substitute for an entry-level DSLR"
Image quality in good light is very good, offering a little more detail than the competition at high ISO. As sensitivity rises, Sony's aggressive noise processing comes into play, creating something like a brushstroke effect. The sensor's high resolution, though, makes that matter less, allowing the A58's detail to rival more expensive cameras.
The Sony A58 has a good grip and handles well, and its tilting LCD allows easier off-angle shots from above and below; however, the interface is a little slower than its predecessor, and the build quality has been reduced to entry-level standards. Using the electronic viewfinder in bright sunlight often requires blocking the light to see the viewfinder, something that happens less with a true optical viewfinder.
Its 15 AF points arrayed in a rough diamond pattern cover the center of the frame, and look and work identically in both the EVF and rear LCD, something a DSLR generally doesn't do. Full HD (60i) movie mode includes stereo audio mics built-in, as well as a stereo mic jack. We previously reported that the A58 was capable of 8 fps at 20MP, but that speed is only possible when shooting at 5MP, cropping from the center of the 20MP sensor. While that's still good for sports shooting, automatically extending the effective zoom of whatever lens is attached, it's not as impressive.
Overall, the Sony A58 is a good-quality substitute for an entry-level DSLR, with a fast frame-rate, an optional 8 fps zoomed continuous rate, a quiet shutter, and a good set of controls that would serve most amateur photographers. Its slow menus and viewfinder difficulties in bright light are only occasionally frustrating.