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Design

The A580's body remains virtually unchanged from its predecessor, the DSLR-A550. Only a few, very minor, changes have been made to the control layout, partly necessitated by the inclusion of a video mode on the new model. The camera is immediately identifiable as a member of the Sony DSLR line-up, with consistent design cues such as the vertical stripe on the handgrip and the shape of the prism. The plastic surfaces do not quite have a premium feel to them but the camera is comfortably weighty and comes with a rubberized handgrip that is more substantial than on the smaller A2XX and A3XX models. There is a good number of external controls, quite a few of which are located on the top plate where they are within reach of the 'shutter finger'.

Body elements

The A580 uses the same battery as the A550. The NP-FM500H offers a battery life of approximately 1050 images when using the viewfinder and 560 images when using the LCD monitor to frame your shots (CIPA standard).

The A580 comes with the same tilting 920,000 dot LCD as its predecessor. Its high resolution means it's great for reviewing images or work in live view mode but we found it a little more prone to fingerprint-smearing than we would like. The hinge construction is very sturdy but the partly exposed cable connections don't inspire too much confidence. That said we've never had a problem with a Sony screen while working on our reviews.

With its movie mode the A580 has gained a connector for an external microphone. It can be found under the same rubber flap as the remote control socket. Under a second flap to the right you find HDMI and USB connectors.
The movie button lets you start and stop recording a movie from any shooting mode you are in. It has been prominently placed to the right of the viewfinder which on the A550 used to be the location of the (now abandoned) digital zoom button.
On the left of the A580's top plate is the exposure mode dial. As well as the standard PASM modes this dial also provides access to the sweep panorama function (which is new on the A580), auto mode, flash-off auto mode and scene modes.
Compared to its predecessor the top plate has been slightly modified. The drive mode and ISO buttons have moved forward and are now within better reach of your 'shutter finger' - a very welcome change. Since the A580 now features a contrast detect AF-system the MF Check LV button has been relabeled Focus Check LV.
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