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Sony SLT-A37 Hands-on Preview

May 2012 | By Richard Butler


Preview based on a pre-production SLT-A37 with firmware v1.01

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.

  SLT-A37 SLT-A57 SLT-A65 SLT-A77
MSRP (US) $599 (with 18-55mm) $799 (with 18-55mm) $999 (with 18-55mm) $1999 (with 16-50mm F2.8)
Body Size Small Medium Medium Large
Pixel Count 16.1MP 16.1MP 24MP 24MP
Control dials 1 1

1

2
Viewfinder 1.44m dot equiv. LCD 1.44m dot equiv. LCD 2.36m dot
OLED
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

16:9

16:9
Virtual Horizon No Yes

Yes

Yes
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)
Video rate 1080i60 1080p60 1080p60 1080p60
Remote shutter release option No Yes Yes Yes
GPS No No Yes Yes
Battery NP-FW50 NP-FM500H NP-FM500H NP-FM500H
Battery life (EVF) 450 shots 550 shots 510 shots 470 shots
Battery life (LCD) 500 shots 590 shots 560 shots 530 shots


If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

Images which can be viewed at a larger size have a small magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of the image, clicking on the image will display a larger (typically VGA) image in a new window.

To navigate the review simply use the next / previous page buttons, to jump to a particular section either pick the section from the drop down or select it from the navigation bar at the top.

DPReview calibrate their monitors using Color Vision OptiCal at the (fairly well accepted) PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the (computer generated) grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally A,B and C.

This article is Copyright 2012 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

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Comments

Total comments: 49
LuW
By LuW (7 months ago)

The a37 does not overheat. At least mine does not. I owned a a33 and I know what overheating is.

1 upvote
newfiebella
By newfiebella (Jul 17, 2013)

Can someone please advise me on how to place my settings so I can take black and white photos ?

0 upvotes
David zzzzzzzzzz
By David zzzzzzzzzz (Jun 20, 2013)

I caution against this camera, have the A35 and am totally underwhelmed by the exposure and color balance. Autofocus is superb and speed is fine, just not happy with white balance.

0 upvotes
manishsharma0604
By manishsharma0604 (Feb 17, 2013)

Can we use external GPS with it?

0 upvotes
Fadhil Parewangi
By Fadhil Parewangi (Dec 2, 2012)

hey, I own this camera too.
well, I was in depth, I bought it 3 days ago.
I felt lucky to get a bonus like "ACC-FW1" and a 50mm f/1.8 SAM.
so far I think this camera is pretty good, and and instead chose A57, I can save $ 200 for an extra lens. Great Save!

0 upvotes
Sumedh Gudur
By Sumedh Gudur (Aug 30, 2012)

Got this thin from one of the store in Banglore(India), this has amazing features and much better performance than nikon D3200, canon 600D....Tried all of them live....most important is print quality....its amazing....!!!!go for it.....

0 upvotes
Francis Sawyer
By Francis Sawyer (Sep 9, 2012)

The camera has a printer built in?

4 upvotes
karlitoz
By karlitoz (Aug 23, 2012)

dpreview wont review this camera till 2013.... we are still waiting for the a57 review which was released in march.......sighhh

0 upvotes
Alfmeister
By Alfmeister (Jun 16, 2012)

I'm with you Swede. I ordered the first day Sony had it available on their site and I received it yesterday. All I can say is wow! It totally exceeds my expectations. I use the LCD screen for high or low shots and it's resolution is just fine. It's actually a better match to the original 3:2 aspect ratio. Today I shot with my Minolta 100 f2.8 macro and the results were stellar. The handgrip fits me like a glove and all of the controls are easy to access. I formally owned an A100 and so this is a big step up. Smaller is better!

1 upvote
Albert Ng
By Albert Ng (May 23, 2012)

Does the A37 really not support the RMT-DSLR1 infrared remote control? As I see in the specifications that one of the Drive modes supports the RMT-DSLR1. Also, there is a visible infrared window on the grip, below the shutter.

However, it may be possible for Sony to leave it out as they did with the NEX-3/C3/F3.

1 upvote
Sumedh Gudur
By Sumedh Gudur (Aug 30, 2012)

It does support that remote...I bought it...

1 upvote
sportbiker_kev
By sportbiker_kev (Nov 27, 2012)

It DOES NOT support that remote!!!! I bought the camera, and The Sony Store sold me that remote, and it DOES NOT work. Sony tech support verified this for me. It only supports the wired remote, which has a 5m long cord. NOT HAPPY!

1 upvote
mannyr
By mannyr (May 21, 2012)

But does it have overheating problems??
I had to sell my A33 because it would overheat after about 30 minutes of being continuously on - not even video, just stills.
No good when you are shooting a concert or performance for business.
If that's fixed, I would reconsider an SLT - very good camera except for that deal killer.

0 upvotes
CTaylorTX
By CTaylorTX (May 22, 2012)

Why were you using their entry-level camera for "business" in the first place? It was probably never designed to be used that way, and thus the overheating problem.

0 upvotes
twmcnulty
By twmcnulty (May 30, 2012)

"never designed to be used that way, and thus the overheating problem".What doest that statement mean? Taking pictures? I also own a A33, while it has many good features, The overheating is a definate drawback, especiality in video mode.
It also has a problem bringing up the image after a wait while shooting, have to turn off and on to get the image back in the viewfinder or live view, causing many problems. Have always been a Nikon user and I guess I have to return to Nikon.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
iHedo
By iHedo (May 31, 2012)

it should not overheat within 30mins of shooting pictures. even at entry level overheating is a troublesome, even when not used in business and concerts...why o why...

1 upvote
danjaria
By danjaria (Jun 7, 2012)

I think the overheating problem was fixed with the A-35, my A-35 does not overheat, I have used it to shoot concerts and weddings.

3 upvotes
kushal raj patnaik
By kushal raj patnaik (May 18, 2012)

hell! this model is so close to the sony slt a57!! gosh!
i was going to buy the a57, but here comes a37 which has again confused me to which model ii should buy!

evn the cost difference is a 100 bucks and the difference between their features is not worth the price change!

really!! sony, the a57 was a drastic change...but, yet another model!

0 upvotes
peevee1
By peevee1 (May 18, 2012)

IMHO, A57 is SIGNIFICANTLY better camera. The diff is well-worth $200 if you ever going to shoot sports, for example.

0 upvotes
aliquis
By aliquis (May 19, 2012)

In what ways?

1 upvote
Donald B
By Donald B (May 18, 2012)

what is wrong with DPR cant you put the resolution of the Vf ? same as the g3 no figures. also would be nice if you could tell us weather the hdmi is playback only ? or live view !

don

0 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (May 18, 2012)

The database didn't have a category for viewfinder resolution. One has now been added. I shall look forward to populating it.

3 upvotes
CodySLC
By CodySLC (May 17, 2012)

Very disappointing. I was looking for an A55 replacement with focus peaking and electronic first curtain shutter but still in the awesome small sized body since A57 got much bigger vs A55. Too many downgrades here to consider it, though.

2 upvotes
Dodge_Rock
By Dodge_Rock (May 17, 2012)

Is it just me or do the sample images of auto portrait framing look washed out? Is this the best that could be produced for the preview?

0 upvotes
tkpenalty
By tkpenalty (May 17, 2012)

Sony, just how many bodies do we need?

2 upvotes
Wally626
By Wally626 (May 17, 2012)

4

5 upvotes
Babya
By Babya (May 17, 2012)

The A390' which I own has the same 230k res LCD as the just-announced A36 is 2.7" compared to 2.6" on A37, not too much of a difference and tilts just like the A33 and last entry-level OVF Alpha, my A390.

The grip design is A33 or A390 like, a nice change-with a small black strip part (a bit like my A390's grip-though that one accepts a RM-DSLR1 remote so the black strip for remote sensor is a larger).

Comment edited 10 minutes after posting
0 upvotes
abortabort
By abortabort (May 17, 2012)

The screen aspect ratios are wrong for the A65 and A77 (and presumably A57). The A33/55/35 all had 16:9 screens, the newer SLTs are 4:3.

3 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (May 18, 2012)

You're absolutely right - I should have checked, rather than trusting the spec list I was given.

2 upvotes
kushal raj patnaik
By kushal raj patnaik (May 18, 2012)

for a57 it is 4:3

1 upvote
perry rhodan
By perry rhodan (Sep 9, 2012)

still incorrect figures for the screens. Come on Richard, takes a minute.
But thanks for the fast and nice previews! That's great!
regards perry

1 upvote
Jim in AZ
By Jim in AZ (May 17, 2012)

I like the A57 better :-)

5 upvotes
Rooru S
By Rooru S (May 17, 2012)

Sigh...7fps but with cropped picture? What the heck?! A33 and A35 were better. 2.6" screen? A33 and A35 were better, Although some will appreciate the tilting screen (although it tilts only, not swing)

Sony..you can do better.

2 upvotes
Aleo Veuliah
By Aleo Veuliah (May 17, 2012)

It seems a good camera, the Sony sensors are good they have to make more lenses

0 upvotes
Rmano
By Rmano (May 17, 2012)

...and again, they did not change the crippled AE bracketing. I bought an A55 hoping they will fix such a stupid thing in firmware, but no... so if you like HDR, stay away.

0 upvotes
AmaturFotografer
By AmaturFotografer (May 17, 2012)

Doesn't A55 have built in HDR function?

0 upvotes
Marty4650
By Marty4650 (May 17, 2012)

Yes, it does.

0 upvotes
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
tkpenalty
By tkpenalty (May 17, 2012)

wait what?

0 upvotes
tbcass
By tbcass (May 17, 2012)

What 18-135? I've heard rumors but nothing concrete.

0 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (May 17, 2012)

http://www.dpreview.com/news/2012/05/17/Sony-launches-SLT-A37-16MP-DSLR

0 upvotes
Gesture
By Gesture (May 17, 2012)

Great overview.

0 upvotes
ybizzle
By ybizzle (May 17, 2012)

What a downgrade from the 33 and 35 models...Come on Sony!

2 upvotes
ET2
By ET2 (May 17, 2012)

In the intro page's comparison, you list , "Continuous shooting rate (no AF)" That's not true. A77/A65/A57 all do continuous AF in 12//10/12 fps mode.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
3 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (May 17, 2012)

Sorry, I mis-described speed priority mode in the table. It's now been fixed. We're still waiting for clarification on the number of effective dots in the viewfinder - the specs on our page are consistent with the latest information provided by Sony.

0 upvotes
Richard Lewis Ireland
By Richard Lewis Ireland (May 17, 2012)

Any idea when the full review is going to be done on the sony a57 and this camera the a37 ?

0 upvotes
seachicken2000
By seachicken2000 (May 17, 2012)

The finder is 1.44M dots on the Japanese Sony website spec sheet.
http://www.sony.jp/ichigan/products/SLT-A37Y/spec.html

2 upvotes
Richard Butler
By Richard Butler (May 17, 2012)

We've seen a series of different specs from Sony on this. We're waiting for clarification.

0 upvotes
Bernie M
By Bernie M (Jul 5, 2012)

I was looking for the article to help me decide between a Sony A65 and a Nikon D5100. I will also include an additional prime and tele lens.

0 upvotes
Total comments: 49