Sony SLT-A37 Hands-on Preview
With its usual alacrity, Sony has managed to release seven SLT models since it first launched the concept in August 2010. In that time, the range has expanded from two models to four and the A37 has a role to play in ensuring the line-up makes sense. Most consumers (understandably) care little about product differentiation but the A37 helps make Sony's lineup more coherent than it's been in a while - making it easier to work out which product is for you.
The A37 replaces the entry-level A35 and uses essentially the same body that it shared with the original A33 and A55. The hand grip has been modified - making the finger grip slightly deeper and more comfortable. Beyond that, Sony has added the second-generation version of Sony's 16MP sensor. It also adds a series of features from recent, higher-end SLT models, such as lens correction, focus peaking and the lag-reducing 'electronic first curtain' option.
These changes mean the four-model SLT range are all based on the same generation of technology, with logical increases in features and capabilities as you move up the range. In order to make the A37 even more distinct, its rear screen has been downgraded, compared to the A35. It gains a tilt up/down mechanism but shrinks down to a low-resolution 2.6" 230k dot panel, rather than the 920k dot, 3" version the A35 shared with the more expensive A57. The benefit to the user is another $100 taken off the MSRP - meaning the A37 is being launched at a price $150 lower than the original A33.
Beyond this, the changes are subtle - the A37 gains the A57's improved viewfinder optics, and it becomes the only SLT not to shoot 60p video - instead offering 60i and 24p as its highest frame rate options, both at 24Mbps. The A35's continuous shooting rates are unchanged, with the camera offering 7 frame-per-second bursts at reduced resolution (8.4MP) in a mainly automated mode.
The A37 gains the A57's 'By Pixel Super Resolution' intelligent interpolation, with the 'Clear Image Zoom' it brings. It also allows the introduction of the 'Auto Portrait Framing' feature that looks for a good portrait crop in images with a face in them and saves an upsized crop alongside your original image.
The other area the A37 is impressive is the degree to which it accommodates video shooters. It features built-in stereo microphones, a wind-cut filter and the ability to autofocus during movie shooting (with phase-detection AF that should minimize over-shoot). There's also a stereo mic input for more committed shooting. And, if you're willing to use manual focus, you gain more manual control over exposure can use the focus peaking contrast highlighting to help with manual focus following.
Sony SLT-A37 specification highlights
- Revised 16.1MP CMOS sensor
- ISO 100-16000 (Auto 100-3200)
- By pixel super resolution intelligent up-scaling
- Picture Effects processing options
- 1080p24 / 60i HD movies in AVCHD format
- Focus peaking manual focus aid
- Stereo microphones and mic input socket
|The A37 uses an very slightly modified version of the original A33 body - making it considerably smaller and lighter than the A57 that sits above it in the mode range.|
The arrival of the A37 leaves the Sony SLT lineup looking more coherent than it has in some time, with an obvious separation of features between each model.
|MSRP (US)||$599 (with 18-55mm)||$799 (with 18-55mm)||$999 (with 18-55mm)||$1999 (with 16-50mm F2.8)|
|Viewfinder||1.44m dot equiv. LCD||1.44m dot equiv. LCD||2.36m dot
|2.36m dot OLED|
|Rear LCD||2.6" 230k dot tilting||3" 920k dot bottom hinged||3" 920k dot bottom hinged||3" 920k dot multi-hinged and tilting|
|Rear LCD Aspect Ratio||4:3||16:9||
|Autofocus sensor||15 area (3 cross type)||15 area (3 cross type)||15 area (3 cross type)
||19 area (11 cross type)|
|Continuous shooting rate (with AF)||5.5 fps (18 JPEG, 6 RAW)||8 fps (25 JPEG, 21 RAW)||8 fps (14 JPEG, 13 RAW)
||8 fps (14 JPEG, 13 RAW)|
|Speed priority mode (limited exposure control)||7 fps (8.4MP crop)||10 fps (16MP)
12 fps (8.4MP crop)
|10 fps (24MP)
||12 fps (24MP)|
|Remote shutter release option||No||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Battery life (EVF)||450 shots||550 shots||510 shots||470 shots|
|Battery life (LCD)||500 shots||590 shots||560 shots||530 shots|