Previous page Next page

Sony SLT-A57 In-Depth Review

September 2012 | By Amadou Diallo, Richard Butler, Lars Rehm
Buy on From $849.80

Review based on a production Sony SLT-A57 with firmware 1.02

The Sony SLT-A57 shares the majority of its specs and features with the SLT-A65, NEX-5N and other recent Sony cameras for which we have provided in-depth reviews and analysis. Sections of text are therefore adapted from those earlier reviews and where appropriate we've included links to relevant sections of previous reviews.

In 2010, Sony debuted its ground-breaking SLT technology with the beginner-friendly SLT-A55 and SLT-A33 models. The sheer ambition of a translucent fixed-mirror design using an electronic, rather than optical viewfinder reaffirmed the company's commitment to competing with Canon and Nikon in the entry-level DSLR market. With the Sony SLT-A57, the company updates the A55 without the fanfare that accompanies game-changing technology. In fact, there is precious little in the way of features or handling here that does not currently exist elsewhere in Sony's SLT lineup.

But that's not to say that the A57 should be dismissed simply as an iterative release. In the two years since the launch of the original SLT, we have seen a number of improvements to the Alpha lineup, and simply by bringing the A57 up to date with current SLT models, Sony is offering novice DLSR users a significantly enhanced user experience compared to that offered by the first-generation A55. One feature that did not make the cut in the upgrade, however, is the A55's built-in GPS module, meaning that you will need an optional external unit if geo-tagging plays a role in your workflow.

The most obvious change is that the A57 has a larger form factor and an external design that is virtually identical to the 24MP SLT-A65. The maximum shooting rate for still images has increased to 12fps (albeit with the camera set to a lower resolution 8.4MP crop mode). The video spec has been upgraded, with the ability to shoot 1080p video at 60 or 24 fps (50 or 25 on European models). The popular high-contrast edge-enhancing 'peaking' feature is available as a manual focus aid in both stills and video modes, but the A57 features the same 15-point AF system as the A55 (also used in the A65).

The A57 brings Sony's 'Clear Image Zoom' digital zoom function to its SLT range - this function was seen previously in Cyber-Shot models. Clear Image Zoom uses an image database to interpolate between captured pixels for what Sony claims to be full resolution output without noticeable quality loss. Making further use of this ability, the A57 also has a mode that will re-process your people pictures with what it thinks is a better composition. In Auto Portrait Framing mode the camera searches for faces and re-crops the image into a portrait orientation with the subject's eyes positioned along a rule-of-thirds grid. The crop is then 'intelligently' upsampled back to 16MP, using Clear Image Zoom scaling.

Despite all this high technology the A57's viewfinder is still a 1.4 million-dot LCD - the same unit that we saw in the original A55 - rather than the high-resolution OLED finder used in the higher-end A65 and A77. Some tweaks have been made though. The magnifying optics in front of the LCD panel have been redesigned to allow more of the screen to be seen. There are also two magnification modes within the viewfinder, designed to change the eyepoint (viewing distance) of the finder to make life easier for users with glasses.

While the A57 doesn't offer the same resolution as its high-end cousins, Sony's current 16MP CMOS chip ranks among the best-performing sensors in the entry to mid-range APS-C market. And the A57 features the latest iteration of the company's BIONZ processor.

Key Specifications:

  • 16.1MP CMOS sensor
  • Latest Bionz processor
  • Larger, FM500H battery (same as A65 and A77)
  • ISO 100-16000
  • Auto ISO 100-3200
  • 1,440,000 dot LCD electronic viewfinder
  • 920,000 dot bottom-hinged rear LCD
  • 10 frame per second continuous shooting mode with AF (12fps at 8.4MP crop)
  • Picture Effects processing options
  • Clear Image Zoom up-sizing digital zoom
  • Peaking manual focus guide overlay
  • 1080p AVCHD 2.0 movies at 60 or 24 fps (50 or 25 in Europe)

Compared to the SLT-A55

The Sony SLT-A57 is a noticeably larger camera than its nominal predecessor, the SLT-A55. In fact, it is virtually indistinguishable in appearance from the model sitting above it in Sony's lineup, the SLT-A65. While the amount of external control points has changed little in this upgrade, their layout has been altered to make use of the A57's greater surface area and revised contours.

Compared to the A55, the A57 is bigger all round, and offers a pleasantly deep, contoured hand-grip and a higher 'shoulder' than the earlier model.
The A57's larger body provides more room for more buttons on the camera's top-plate. It also means there's room for a more powerful battery (the same as used in the A65 and A77). The only thing the A57 loses when compared to the A55 is its predecessor's built-in GPS module; functionality which will now require an optional external unit.

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.

Previous page Next page
I own it
I want it
I had it
Discuss in the forums


Total comments: 4

recently got a sony a57 when shooting with a minulta lens the image on the display is crystal clear for about 2 seconds and then goes blurry. does anybody know how to stop this?


As I know a lesser lens might introduce coloured fringing around sharp, fine contrasts in an image such as this -- particularly in the upper-left corner where the branches overlay the sky -- but the SAL1855 passed with flying colours

1 upvote
m Anthony

My friend has a Sony A 57, he uses the Fast frame mode, I think the "T" setting to take pictures of his daugher's sports activities, but the images are blulrred, I advised him to set a shutter speed of 1/800 or even higher, but I do not see how to do that with the "T" setting. Can this be done?
Sorry I do not own a Sony camera, this seems like a nice feature and I'm just trying to help a friend.

Thanks Much
m Anthony

Comment edited 3 times, last edit 1 minute after posting

Tell your friend to force the camera to shoot at higher shutter speed by raising the ISO, which you can control while in the T mode :)
good luck,

Total comments: 4