Great value

Started May 11, 2014 | User reviews thread
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DaPonti Contributing Member • Posts: 532
Great value

After about a year and thousands of pictures, I remain convinced the a58 was the best camera I could buy for its price.

The obvious good (shared with all SLTs I guess):

EVF, IBIS, good availability of 2nd hand lenses (paid 320$ for the 16-50), beginner friendly modes, good color rendition, good live view, autofocus is fine, focus peaking is great...

The good:

  • Well finished software: responsive UI, tethering works flawlessly, no bugs whatsoever;
  • Comfortable EVF. Unlike some previous models I had tried, the colors are good enough to fool people into thinking they're looking into an OVF (in daylight).
  • Very good JPEG output. I only felt the need to process RAW files a few times, and only kept the processed file once (I'm having a hard time matching or outperforming the camera's noise-reduction with Sony IDC);
  • Respectable low light performance. Compare it to a full frame camera from a few years ago (e.g. 5D Mark II) and you can see how sensors have progressed. I have no problems shooting at ISO 3200 when I need to;
  • Plenty of room for cropping;
  • Auto ISO in M mode makes it easier to be ready for "instant" shooting;
  • A bit of customization is allowed (you can select the function of a few buttons);
  • The standard hot-shoe means you can borrow a flash from someone when you need one on the spot. Note that for basic fill-flash, the built-in flash isn't bad;
  • The screen allows for both overhead and tripod shooting, which is really all I need;
  • Fairly good kit lens;
  • Great battery life. For small trips, I don't need to take a charger.

What could be improved in software

  • Panorama mode doesn't work that well. I usually need to take 2-3 shots to make sure I have one with no obvious stitching;
  • AF point selection requires too many button presses;
  • There are six buttons I absolutely never use while shooting: movie, ?, zoom, and finder/lcd, WB, effects. I can't assign a new function to any of them;
  • A number of modes are available in JPEG only (HDR, MFNR) and you have to manually select JPEG in the menu before using them. Why can't Sony just disable RAW automatically for those shots and re-enable it after?
  • No option to save a copy of the picture on the memory card in tethering;
  • No way to easily recall or reset to a set of parameters (although I wouldn't be surprised if they intentionally keep it for higher models);
  • I'd like an option for exposure compensation to be more obvious (different color, or flashing when it's not set to zero). I keep forgetting it on the wrong value;
  • Lock-on autofocus didn't seem to perform that well to me. It tracked the subject perfectly on the screen, but the focus wasn't spot on. Maybe I need to do more tests;
  • Bracketing is already better than some older models, but there's still room for more. I'd love to have an option where the camera takes 3 shots at ISO/2, ISO, ISOx2 and adjusts shutter speed accordingly to achieve the same exposure. This way I could easily choose the best combination of sharpness and noise.
  • Focus peaking needs the lens to be set to "MF", unlike the a77 or NEX where you can have focus highlights show up immediately after the camera stopped focusing. This means DMF (with a lens that allows it) is much harder.

What needs new hardware

  • Weather sealing would be nice;
  • I'd love a touchscreen for focus point selection;
  • More focus points? It's starting to look ridiculous compared to the a6000;
  • Focus hunts in the dark;
  • UHS-I (at least) support;
  • Bigger EVF (e.g. a65);
  • I think the tripod screw should be a bit more in front of the sensor plane, to have better balance with mid-size lenses;

A lot of room for improvement but all of it, and more, would probably be there for any entry-level camera. Now if only Sony could bother to fix some of it with a firmware update...

 DaPonti's gear list:DaPonti's gear list
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-WX5 Sony SLT-A58 Olympus OM-D E-M10 II Sony DT 55-300mm F4.5-5.6 SAM Olympus M.Zuiko Digital ED 40-150mm 1:4-5.6 R +3 more
Sony SLT-A58
20 megapixels • 2.7 screen
Announced: Feb 20, 2013
DaPonti's score
Average community score
bad for good for
Kids / pets
Action / sports
Landscapes / scenery
Low light (without flash)
Flash photography (social)
Studio / still life
= community average
Sony SLT-A58
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