a57. My initial impressions.

Started Apr 25, 2012 | Discussions
Joe Przybylski
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a57. My initial impressions.
Apr 25, 2012

I'm no expert, but my friends call me a camera snob because i'm always trading up cameras to try out the next one. I swear I should start my OWN blog...

I just bought an a57 last night. So I've been playing around with it. Last year I had a d5100, Sony NEX5n and an a55. Recently, I've tried the Pentax K-5, Canon 60d and a t3i. I just sold my K-5 to get the Olympus OM-D when it comes out but thought I'd give the a57 a try in the mean time. All of the camera's i've tried were kept in my home for a trial period of 1 week to several months before I sold them on eBay or other means.

a57: My initial reactions: Nice body style. I like how it feels in my hands, but doesn't feel overly strong like the Pentax K-5 and I would NOT trust this thing in even the most mild rainfall or mist.

The camera is blazingly fast and super responsive. Shots appear almost instantly in the preview window, which is wonderful compared to the K-5 - that was a great camera but slow as hell to preview and write to cards. Focus is plenty fast... especially with the 1.02 firmware upgrade available now.

The options on the a57 are mind boggling. There's literally nothing you CAN'T do on it. It's one of the few cameras I thought "Man, it would be great if it only had... (FOR EXAMPLE: in body stabilization... got it! focus peaking... got it! manual video control... got it! 60p progressive for slow motion... got it! microphone input... got it! high burst rate... got it! the gimmicky but sometimes helpful digital zoom for video... got it! EVF... got it! tillable screen... got it!... and the list goes on and on.) I've yet to find something on another camera that this one doesn't have. The only one I can think of is a higher quality EVF like the NEX or a65/77.

I've done the usual around the house shots, and all of them were quite good. It hunts a bit in low light, but honestly - don't they all? This is something even the highly praised K-5 did.

Another thing I'd like to mention is the built-in flash. Impressive. This is one flash that bested all of the camera's built-in units that I've owned over the past year. They all seemed very weak - and while this is no powerhouse, it certainly gets the job done and I'm surprised me by it's reach.

JPG rendering seems to leave me wanting a bit, so I'll have to wait a while before the RAW update is released for Aperture. But from what I'm seeing in the image previews, detail is pretty great. Low light performance is not as good as the K5 but the a57 has SO many tricks up it's sleeve (multi frame exposures, handheld twilight) that anything that needs to be shot in challenging low lights situations could easily be resolved.

As a previous NEX 5n and a55 owner, I'd say any Sony fan's sitting on the fence for this camera can make the plunge. I've had it for less than a day and I'm already impressed.
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pittguy53178
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Same here
In reply to Joe Przybylski, Apr 25, 2012

I don't have it in hand, but I took a memory card into Best Buy yesterday and played with it for 15 minutes. I was really impressed by its feature set and how responsive it is. I have been on the fence between this camera and the D5100..I can get the D5100 with two lenses (refurb) for $700. This would be my first DSLR so maybe I am overthinking it.

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Joe Przybylski
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Re: Same here
In reply to pittguy53178, Apr 25, 2012

You're not over thinking it. It's a huge investment. The Nikon d5100 takes wonderful pictures but I wasn't crazy about the video mode. Also, the body was a little small for me.

If I had to say why I returned the 5100 it was because it lacked in body stabilization for some of the more inexpensive Nikon prime lenses (I do a fair amount of video and hand-held is sometimes necessary. IBS is nice to have).

Lack of manual video control on the 5100 is another big one.

The frame rate on the 5100 was a little slow and I like the ability to have 10fps (or 12 at a reduced rate) on the Sony models.

One area the 5100 has the edge is overall still image quality. The 5100 takes beautiful photo's, but with tweaking the RAW files i'm sure the a57 is no slouch. Again, have to wait for the RAW release for Aperture to make a final decision.
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EdwinB
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Re: a57. My initial impressions.
In reply to Joe Przybylski, Apr 25, 2012

Can you tell how big the difference is of the EVF's A55 vs A57?

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PhotoCycler
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Re: a57. My initial impressions.
In reply to EdwinB, Apr 25, 2012

Is the A65 as responsive as the A57? I was thinking of spending the $200 extra for the better viewfinder, GPS, & 24 MP. The jpegs don't look as overly processed in the review samples either.

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Todd3608
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Re: a57. My initial impressions.
In reply to Joe Przybylski, Apr 25, 2012

Great first impressions...I am a camera junkie too and just ordered the A57 today. The thing about JPEG rendering is that it can be tweaked to one's liking. Some may not like the default but can change options such as sharpness, noise reduction settings, pictures styles (natural, vivid),etc. Plus, like you said, there is always RAW if needed.

I have always found the white balance of the Sonys a little warm in indoor lighting - kind of like the Canons. How is the white balance of the A57 indoors? I guess I will find out soon.

Some people might want the 24mp of the A65/A77 but I would MUCH prefer the 16mp of the A57, if only for file sizes if nothing else...

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Joe Przybylski
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Re: a57. My initial impressions.
In reply to EdwinB, Apr 25, 2012

EdwinB wrote:

Can you tell how big the difference is of the EVF's A55 vs A57?

If you look at them right away you can tell that the display is a bit larger. I don't much other than that. It doesn't look much more detailed. I still notice a slight amount of RGB tearing as well.

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Todd3608
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Re: a57. My initial impressions.
In reply to Todd3608, Apr 25, 2012

Forgot to mention that 2 things that I wish the A57 had were microfocus adjustment and greater control of auto ISO settings...I also had the K5 and used both of these features.

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Joe Przybylski
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Re: a57. My initial impressions.
In reply to PhotoCycler, Apr 25, 2012

PhotoCycler wrote:

Is the A65 as responsive as the A57? I was thinking of spending the $200 extra for the better viewfinder, GPS, & 24 MP. The jpegs don't look as overly processed in the review samples either.

Unfortunately I can't comment on this as I haven't played with the a65 as much. I've heard and read that the write speeds of the a65 for RAW are pretty long - and I've already dealt with that with with the K-5 so I wanted something faster. Also, I just simply do not need a 24mp camera. For what I use it for i was fine with 10-12 mb cameras.

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Joe Przybylski
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Re: a57. My initial impressions.
In reply to Todd3608, Apr 25, 2012

Todd3608 wrote:

Great first impressions...I am a camera junkie too and just ordered the A57 today. The thing about JPEG rendering is that it can be tweaked to one's liking. Some may not like the default but can change options such as sharpness, noise reduction settings, pictures styles (natural, vivid),etc. Plus, like you said, there is always RAW if needed.

I have always found the white balance of the Sonys a little warm in indoor lighting - kind of like the Canons. How is the white balance of the A57 indoors? I guess I will find out soon.

Some people might want the 24mp of the A65/A77 but I would MUCH prefer the 16mp of the A57, if only for file sizes if nothing else...

I'm with you 100%. I have a MacBook Air and I have to use an external drive for storing my photo's. 25mb RAW files would eat up my space far too fast. Also, the rendering times for such large files would be downright offensive for me.

Ya know, great point about the JPG customizations, too - I don't usually think of that and it's something I should play around with more.

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Ed at Ridersite
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Re: a57. My initial impressions.
In reply to Joe Przybylski, Apr 25, 2012

Joe Przybylski wrote:

Some people might want the 24mp of the A65/A77 but I would MUCH prefer the 16mp of the A57, if only for file sizes if nothing else...

I'm with you 100%. I have a MacBook Air and I have to use an external drive for storing my photo's. 25mb RAW files would eat up my space far too fast. Also, the rendering times for such large files would be downright offensive for me.

I was very content with my Pentium 4 when using my A-100 jpg files and Paint Shop Pro. But, I knew if I got the A-77 and moved to RAW I would need lots more horsepower. I now have a Win-7 I-7 machine and use LR4. Rendering is nearly instantaneous. Processing is actually quite a bit faster than it was processing jpgs on my old computer.
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konradsa
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Re: a57. My initial impressions.
In reply to Todd3608, Apr 25, 2012

Todd3608 wrote:

Great first impressions...I am a camera junkie too and just ordered the A57 today. The thing about JPEG rendering is that it can be tweaked to one's liking. Some may not like the default but can change options such as sharpness, noise reduction settings, pictures styles (natural, vivid),etc. Plus, like you said, there is always RAW if needed.

I have always found the white balance of the Sonys a little warm in indoor lighting - kind of like the Canons. How is the white balance of the A57 indoors? I guess I will find out soon.

Some people might want the 24mp of the A65/A77 but I would MUCH prefer the 16mp of the A57, if only for file sizes if nothing else...

How can you tweak the jpeg rendering of the A57?

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konradsa
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Re: a57. My initial impressions.
In reply to Todd3608, Apr 25, 2012

Todd3608 wrote:

Forgot to mention that 2 things that I wish the A57 had were microfocus adjustment and greater control of auto ISO settings...I also had the K5 and used both of these features.

Yes, the missing Auto ISO control also bugs me, I think 3200 as auto ISO max is too high.

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EXX
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Re: a57. My initial impressions.
In reply to Joe Przybylski, Apr 25, 2012

One question: does it also support electronic first curtain (like the A77)?

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pittguy53178
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Hate to ask, but can you post a couple of low light samples?
In reply to Joe Przybylski, Apr 25, 2012

Just want to see how the camera deals with low light with a standard mode (no twilight mode).

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zackiedawg
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Re: a57. My initial impressions.
In reply to konradsa, Apr 25, 2012

It should be in your picture settings area - I don't have the A57, but on most Sony DSLRs and SLTs, it should be accessible in your Fn menu. Default is 'standard', and can be switched to 'vivid', 'potrait', etc. Then within each of those settings, you can individually access and change the saturation, contrast, and sharpness settings. Once set, they'll stay that way until you decide to change them again.

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konradsa
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Re: a57. My initial impressions.
In reply to EXX, Apr 25, 2012

Yes.

EXX wrote:

One question: does it also support electronic first curtain (like the A77)?

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helps
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Re: a57. My initial impressions.
In reply to konradsa, Apr 25, 2012

Nice lilttle review..... I also think with all its features and speed, a57 is pretty awesome for its price.

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Shield3
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Re: a57. My initial impressions.
In reply to konradsa, Apr 25, 2012

You will find there are NO other cameras out there that do 60p AND have IBIS (Othe than other Sony models). None. Hell the Canon's don't even have full time AF in video mode; even the new 5DMark III. Only thing that would make me get rid of my A57 is a GH3 that had IBIS and 60p video (AVCHD ver 2).

I feel exactly the way you do about your A57. People complain about the AF video and being stuck to F/3.5 (or the fastest you lens opens up) but have you seen how quickly it focuses in video mode? All I have to worry about now is the framing, and I get nice semi-shallow DOF in full manual mode or super shallow with a 1.8/1.4 lens and focus peaking.

Also I sold my 5n due to the overheating in video mode. The A57 doesn't, and you'll get the full 29:50 recording time. I took my 5n to hot Florida and it would overeheat in about 2 minutes in the 93 degree weather.

Also, if you like to shoot video, I cannot recommend the SAL1650 F/2.8 lens enough. It is super quiet focusing due to the SSM, and the focus and zoom rings are silky smooth and have plenty of range. It's a tad heavy and expensive, but it's great. Ignore the naysayers who complain about CA with this lens @ 16mm; it's fine.

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Shield3
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Re: a57. My initial impressions.
In reply to Shield3, Apr 25, 2012

To the OP - Did the Canon 60d do full time AF in video mode? I've heard very good things about that camera; I know it's not as big as the 7d and has the articulating screen. I doubt it has focus peaking either, and probably gets hot and shuts off after a while. What did you not like about it?
Shawn

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