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Just Posted: Sony SLT-A37 16MP entry-level fixed-mirror DSLR preview

By dpreview staff on May 17, 2012 at 04:00 GMT

Just Posted: Our Sony SLT-A37 hands-on preview. The A37 is Sony's latest entry-level SLT camera - offering DSLR capability in a full-time live view camera. The A37 retains the small body of the original SLT cameras and helps create an easy-to-understand four-model lineup. It gains 1080p24 HD video shooting and features such as lens correction and focus peaking from the more recent SLT models, offering a strong feature set. And, with a recommeded price of $599 with 18-55mm zoom, it's $150 cheaper than the A33 was. Read our hands-on preview to discover more.

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Total comments: 46
lilia24
By lilia24 (May 22, 2012)

i'd rather see a35 filmware upgrade...

0 upvotes
Heather Protz
By Heather Protz (May 21, 2012)

Good for those that want a good shooter at a cheap rate.

1 upvote
zos xavius
By zos xavius (May 18, 2012)

I gotta admit it. Maybe a sony fanboy can clue me in. Why pick slt over dslr? Most of us want an ovf. I've used evfs and even when the refresh rate keeps up they feel slow. Also most evfs only give you what was shot during burst, making leading a moving target almost impossible. With a mirror it at least gives you a glimpse of the next frame. Then there is the 20% light loss. That's huge. Also there is the fact that fine details are lost at roughly 5-10%. This combined with an aa filter an bayer array doesn't really help image quality does it? Also does dust just collect on the mirror? At least my camera shakes dust from the sensor. I still have to clean every few months, but it helps a lot. I mean I change lenses all the time in outside conditions. Usually I have little choice. If there was just a mirror there it would be a mess. My mirror is a mess as it is and my focusing screen looks pretty awful, but my sensor is pretty clean. That says a lot. Mirror boxes get filthy. I saw shots with the mirror pulled and they were clearly sharper, and the article was written by a sony fan, so it doesn't seem like he wanted to fake it to smear sony. It just has so many drawbacks. The only thing it gains for all the compromises is phase detection. Surely you could implement phase detection a bit more gracefully. What gets me is that it still uses a mirror but has no ovf. That just seems kind of...well...odd.... Someone tell me what I'm missing. It seems like slt is the future for sony in the dslr space. I would much rather see them do more cameras like the a900. I'm no sony fan, I'm just trying to get why they would bet so much on a design that offers few advantages over a traditional dslr. Are they that convinced that evf is superior or that's what they think the market wants? I shoot pentax and the k-01 as odd as it is, makes more sense than slt. Isn't that funny? A k-01 with an evf would be superior to this except that it wouldn't have phase detection, but contrast detection is catching up fast. Look at the olympus om-d or the panny g3. They are just poor at panning with moving objects. To me that's a software problem. Cdaf will certainly pass pdaf by in the long run. So if you ask me in 5 years this whole system will seem kind of pointless. Am I wrong? I'm not trolling or anything. I've read a lot about slt to try to understand why anyone would find it superior. Maybe I'm just too much of a traditionalist. I like innovation, but only when it comes with real benefits.

1 upvote
meanwhile
By meanwhile (May 19, 2012)

If you think the viewfinderless K-01 makes more sense than any camera, there's not really much to say.

2 upvotes
meanwhile
By meanwhile (May 19, 2012)

No moving mirror means no mirror-slap, so details will likely end up similar at slower shutter speeds. Less shutter lag. Quieter. Your approximations for light and details lost are kind of high. Quality constant autofocus and tracking in video. The mirror on the SLT doesn't get as dirty as a traditional mirrorbox, as it doesn't move. Inbody stabilization works really well too, just as on Pentax bodies. I'm not saying you are totally wrong, but I find it to be a good compromise, and I'm happy with my output from my SLT. I think it will move a step forward in years to come, once the obsession with having an AA filter is gone, or Sony implement their organic-based sensor tech. Maybe the K-01 makes sense to you because you have a bunch of Pentax lenses?

3 upvotes
meanwhile
By meanwhile (May 19, 2012)

Plus, the viewfinder size is significantly larger in the SLT range vs those in comparable budget cameras.

3 upvotes
aliquis
By aliquis (May 19, 2012)

You get to see how the final picture will look?

0 upvotes
twenty200
By twenty200 (May 19, 2012)

Here's why shooting with an SLT can be amazing. A DSLR viewfinder shows you what your lens sees. With an SLT, you're seeing what the sensor sees. It's a different way of working but it makes more sense. EXAMPLE: Let's say you want to boost ISO. Does your DSLR viewfinder get brighter? Of course not. But the electronic viewfinder in an SLT does, just as your shot would, because you're seeing it as the sensor sees it (just like the sensor would capture it). This comes in handy in so many ways. Here's something else an SLT can do: Let's say you're taking a group portrait. You can set your viewfinder up to give you a 2 second review after each shot IN THE VIEWFINDER. So, the moment you take the shot, you see it in the viewfinder while you're still holding the camera at your eye. Did somebody blink? You'll see it while you're still set up to take the shot again, so... take it again before anybody moves! It's a better workflow. I switched from a D7000 to an a77 and I love it.

3 upvotes
twenty200
By twenty200 (May 19, 2012)

I'm not a fanboy, by the way. I was just as skeptical as you are, but I got a chance to play with an a77 for a while because the camera shop I was at was dead at the time, and they had two of them in stock (this was last October when it was just starting to arrive at shops in the U.S.)

You really have to shoot with an SLT (a good one! Not an entry level model) to understand the difference between a viewfinder that shows a reflection of what's coming in your lens, and a viewfinder that shows what the sensor is receiving.

An electronic viewfinder on a film camera would be ridiculous. But an electronic viewfinder on a digital camera makes a LOT of sense. I've owned an a77 since last fall and I'm still blown away by what this kind of viewfinder can help me do.

Photography is about the photographer. An electronic viewfinder gives the photographer so much more (and so much faster) feedback. As I said, it's a much better workflow.

0 upvotes
ntsan
By ntsan (May 18, 2012)

No one bothered by the fact it got 230K LCD screen? I thought it went extinct few years ago, that is a huge downgrade from previous 920K LCD

1 upvote
Plastek
By Plastek (May 19, 2012)

Huge downgrade? For me even 100k LCD screen would be ok. It's just an LCD. Why would I care about it? It's suppose to display parameters and let me preview shots, nothing more. 230k screen is perfectly fine for that. If you are looking for quality preview than don't fool yourself that 700k pixels more will give it to you. It won't!
Especially when this 230k LCD has better color accuracy than some of screens in Nikon pro DSLRs with their green or red cast. Sony actually knows how to make quality screens.

0 upvotes
meanwhile
By meanwhile (May 20, 2012)

It depends on your usage of it. A 920K screen you can't see isn't as good as a 230K screen that you can.

0 upvotes
wkay
By wkay (May 18, 2012)

Article is useless waste of time if you're not going to take a picture. Just a sales pitch for Sony. Not suprising as the majority of DPreview articles are just press releases.

0 upvotes
tesch
By tesch (May 17, 2012)

Looks like a great camera for a beginner! Sony has a little something for everyone.

0 upvotes
Manic Tuesday
By Manic Tuesday (May 17, 2012)

Each page of the review ends with "Buy the Sony SLT-A37 from Amazon" banner. If I am not mistaken, Amazon also owns this website.

My question is how can it be taken seriously? I mean really?

0 upvotes
dylanbarnhart
By dylanbarnhart (May 17, 2012)

You should pay for subscription on Consumer Reports, so that you can get unbiased opinions. Stop visiting this website and any other review sites having ads. There are alternatives out there and you have a choice. It's not like dpreview would stop displaying ads because you complained.

2 upvotes
Marty4650
By Marty4650 (May 18, 2012)

The conspiracy theory that "Amazon wants to sell things so this means the Dpreview content will be biased" just doesn't hold water.

You see, Amazon is happy to sell you any camera you want. Any brand, or any model. They will make a profit on every single transaction. They really don't have much incentive to steer you towards one brand or another.

But these theories aren't new. Long before Amazon purchased Dpreview, some folks were convinced that Canon cameras got good reviews because they bought a lot of advertising here.

Of course, it is also possible that Canon buys a lot of advertising everywhere because they are the market leader. And their DSLRs got good reviews from everyone, not just Dpreview. So maybe they make good cameras?

8 upvotes
snovs
By snovs (May 17, 2012)

A little help?

Nex 5N, Nex f3, A37-- what to do??

Been taking pics on my iphone for years. Love the image quality of DSLRs and recognize when pics are shot with them. In the market for a new camera particularly to take on my honeymoon (leaving June 26th, very important) and also for future use with children etc..

Seems like I should eliminate the 5N no? What features would I miss with the f3? Any help would be much appreciated. Will probably post in multiple spots.

0 upvotes
DaytonR
By DaytonR (May 17, 2012)

The 5N is a better choice because its compact and gorgeeous and you will be getting very good image quality considerig the pictures you are taking are going to looked at for decades to come. The portability of the 5N is the winner as dont want bulky cameras o your honeymoon when you will be having many things to get down do !

0 upvotes
snovs
By snovs (May 17, 2012)

Thank you very much. So you think image quality could suffer with the f3? Same sensor no?

0 upvotes
Caprice Raw
By Caprice Raw (May 17, 2012)

I would not buy this camera simply by the fact that it has a very small screen and low resolution (although I know perfectly well that this has nothing to do with the end result of the image).

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
1 upvote
cxsparc
By cxsparc (May 18, 2012)

Are you kidding? This is the same size and resolution as the one of an Leica M9 :-)
Seriously, it is a big drop compared to Sony Standard.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (May 17, 2012)

D3200 killer :)
Better high ISOs, tiltable LCD, much bigger viewfinder with 100% coverage, AF motor, better continuous shooting mode, immersely better video (one that's usable by people who don't have entire rig set up for filming with manual focus or strugglig with contrast detection which doesn't work more often than does) including stereo sound (! lol nikon Mono mode), stabilization for all lenses including Primes, lighter, smaller, 100$ cheaper! (for 100$ you can get 50mm prime in addition to kit lens which is something must-have for beginners IMO).

Nikon gets nicer accessories and +-5 EV exposure compensation which is good feature in did, but... on the other hand you get crapload of fun-features in Alpha: panoramas (including 3D), build-in teleconverter, and god-knows-what-else (cause I don't care about them).

IMO: Now there's no reason to get Nikon besides being proud of Nikon sticker at the front of camera.

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
5 upvotes
Rocker44
By Rocker44 (May 17, 2012)

I'm sure they will both co-exist happily!

1 upvote
FTW
By FTW (May 17, 2012)

It is a longer time that I took distance from Nikon. Pricing for the good material is the main reason. I have friends who have the D700, 3x and the 800. The 800 has an impossible picture size for the common use and downsizing often results in bad picture quality. I use a Nex 7, mainly for the weight, and d700 and 3x do not make for a cent better shots. I would have preferred the 16mpix in the body of the NEX 7 and I hope that Sony will upgrade the 5N to the 7 body in close future. 16 mpix is even too big but still a reasonable size for a common use. I am not willed to pay 3000 $ for a gear when I can get the same good picture for 1200$ anyway. I leave that expensive things to those who need a heavy duty stuff for to work with it. What Nikon makes in the low end is often questionable.

2 upvotes
FTW
By FTW (May 17, 2012)

I ow a D40 and a Fuji S5 and in counter light situations, none of all the other can challenge the Fuji anyway. She is and remains my preferred DSLR. A pity we could not get a continuation of that sensor in larger format. But, life goes on, with good and less good things, it's just a choice to make.

1 upvote
Guidenet
By Guidenet (May 17, 2012)

There's a lot of good reasons for Nikon as well as good reasons for any other brand. One might be a huge legacy of lenses and accessories as well as probably the best world wide support in existence. Buying into the F mount provides a gateway into this treasure trove from the 1950s until present.

We all know it's the photographer more than the camera. If one can't get a better image from a D700 then one need only look in the mirror. Obviously that camera is not for you.

If downsizing is a bad thing, then I suppose there's just about not a camera made today that produces good prints most of the time. If you can see no advantages in a 36 mp $3000 camera, obviously a D800/e is not for you.

Nikon has coexisted with Canon, Pentax, Minolta and others for over fifty years. I guess they can do so with Sony. They are an optical glass company and that's what they do. They don't spend R&D on televisions or office copiers. They do cameras and lenses and yes, Nikon owners are proud of that.

1 upvote
Plastek
By Plastek (May 17, 2012)

"Buying into the F mount provides a gateway into this treasure trove from the 1950s until present. " - With D3200 or any other low or mid range Nikon it's as much "treasure trove" as M42 lenses on A37 with adapter.
LOL
But see this! M42 legacy reaches 1949 when Zeiss Contax introduced it! Now... who has nicer "treasure trove" again?

"probably the best world wide support in existence." - you should hear all the arguments and scandals Nikon had related to it's "best world wide support" in central europe. Even Pantax got more realaible and fair support. Not even to remind you that Nikon warranty is worth world-wide as much as Sony's - region limitations apply everywhere.

"f you can see no advantages in a 36 mp $3000 camera, obviously a D800/e is not for you. " - What does it have to deal with A37 being far superior to D3200?! OMG...

Comment edited 2 minutes after posting
3 upvotes
King Penguin
By King Penguin (May 17, 2012)

Why the comparisons with Nikon......if you have a lot of Nikon glass even if this cam had record breaking features it would be useless to a Nikon user....ditto Canon users.

Only of interest of you have Sony glass or are a newbie.

0 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (May 17, 2012)

Well, it's the newbies buying D3200 or A37 or C1100. Hence the comparison with Nikon. :) Thought it's quite straightforward.

1 upvote
HowaboutRAW
By HowaboutRAW (May 17, 2012)

King Penguin:

But there are plenty of adapters which allow you to mount all sorts of lenses on the Nex system.

No the adapters don't communicate focus and lens settings to the Sony, but that's not terribly important for many uses. Oh and you have to know how to focus manually.

0 upvotes
Erik Magnuson
By Erik Magnuson (May 17, 2012)

" Buying into the F mount provides a gateway into this treasure trove from the 1950s until present."

With a D3200, you don't have metering with non-chipped lenses (pre-1988). With D7000, you can't safely mount non-AI lenses (pre-1977). You actually have more old Nikon lens compatibility with a Canon DSLR or Sony NEX!

1 upvote
peevee1
By peevee1 (May 18, 2012)

What AF motor?

0 upvotes
mbot
By mbot (May 17, 2012)

60i video at 24 mbps, yawn...Talk about a budget camera, going by the specs neither of these two new Sony's are worthy of any consideration, but at least a total amateur can have a top-notch 16 megapixel sensor at a great price. Currently the Sony a57 is in my sights, but the 16 megapixel sensor in the Pentax K01 outperforms the Sony sensor. The Pentax has lower noise, and that's what is important to me, all other things being equal. Also the Pentax has manual level audio control in the video features but the Sony does not, that is a big difference to anyone shooting video.

Don't forget the upcoming Nikon D5200 will be something to be reckoned with, Nikon isn't going to take all this commotion lying down, and the Nikon 24 megapixel sensor outperforms both the 16 and 24 megapixel Sony sensor in terms of lower noise in RAW files.
For those who are wondering, the viewfinder in the Sony a57 is big and and clear, none of that tunnel vision like a lot of other midrange SLR's, more pro-like.

1 upvote
Sordid
By Sordid (May 17, 2012)

Nikon doesn't produce sensors.

7 upvotes
FTW
By FTW (May 17, 2012)

Pentax uses the same sensor, the rework in the camera and the managing of the sensor is what does it, Nikon uses the same sensor too and the recent Sony cameras manage it in a better way than the D90 for example. What does it is the software they use, and Nikon always managed to make a better deal from the sensor than Sony. But Sony is on the good way, the Bionz gets powerful and better at every new issue. A sensor that is own made is the 20 mpix Samsung, a huge sensor, as good and in some points even better than the Sony 24.

1 upvote
FTW
By FTW (May 17, 2012)

What actually is a problem in Sony's rework is managing the highlights, here Nikon has a large advance in knowledge and doing the better job

0 upvotes
Sam147
By Sam147 (May 17, 2012)

When someone produces a sensor, and you take it and all you have to do is only tweak, then easily you can get most of the sensor than the ones who produce it! And speaking on Pentax's noise performance, they apply NR even to RAW files :/

0 upvotes
AmateurSnaps
By AmateurSnaps (May 17, 2012)

So a company who hasn't had anything to do with the design and production of a sensor will find it easier to work on it? You been mixing up your meds?

2 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (May 17, 2012)

Sam - Nikon does the same. For ages. And somehow noone seem to be unhappy because of it.
That's why Sony cameras got better colors then Nikons - there's always some trade-off.
AmateurSnaps - yep, that's how it works. Just like Apple makes better phones from Samsung components.

1 upvote
VipinJoshi
By VipinJoshi (May 17, 2012)

Finally, the Tilt LCD of A33 makes a comeback in the entry level model, the LCD Size & Resolution reduces though. Have been using the A57 for quite a while now and the low light High ISO JPEGs are mind boggling! They seem to outperform almost everything from Canon & Nikon, barring the Full Frames.

The icing on the cake is the SAM 18-135 bundle (across the range), making for a versatile kit at at amazing price. The (exceptional) EXMOR sensor finally gets a better lens to show its true colours (pun intended), as the 18-55 quality wasn't upto the sensor's potential.

Haven't been this surprised since i saw the Olympus OMD-E5 samples. The features set seems exactly the same as the (amazing) A57, which is a good thing. This one looks like a segment beater to me.

0 upvotes
cgarrard
By cgarrard (May 17, 2012)

Rubbing eyes...

Stretching....

Ah, (scratch) what's goin' on eh?

Oh, another.... nevermind.

C

0 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (May 17, 2012)

we'll see. I'm not so optimistic about 18-135mm, but... it has some chance of getting better ID than 16-105.
I wonder how big this lens is though, and how it looks on a body. Cause I guess it'd be bit stupid to buy big lens as a kit for tiny body.

0 upvotes
NowHearThis
By NowHearThis (May 17, 2012)

@ Plastek,

The lens looks to be 74x80mm (2.9" x 3.15"). Which makes it smaller than Nikon's 18-105 and Canon's 18-135, and only 4mm longer then the Pentax18-135.

FYI, this lens has 3 Aspherical Glass elements and 2 ED glass elements. Looks very promising to me.

0 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (May 18, 2012)

Well, Oly 14-150 is smaller, lighter, faster focusing.

0 upvotes
Plastek
By Plastek (May 19, 2012)

Why would I care about lens from dead system?

0 upvotes
Total comments: 46