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We reviewed three of the more popular 'pocket printers,' the Canon Ivy, Fujifilm Instax Share and Polaroid ZIP. Here's the one we recommend...
The Sony SLT-A57 has the unenviable task of replacing the SLT-A55, which generated huge interest by introducing a ground-breaking translucent fixed-mirror design to the entry-level DSLR market. If you place a premium on the introduction of brand new features and functionality, the A57 contains only two that we haven't already seen in recent NEX and SLT models; an auto portrait cropping feature and a Clear Image Zoom upsampling technology. The 16MP sensor gives the same output resolution as the A55, although it is re-engineered and powered by the latest iteration of Sony's BIONZ processor, offering improved JPEG noise performance.
Despite the similarities though, the A57 is far from being a warmed over A55. In the two years since the introduction of the A55, Sony has rolled out a number of useful technologies in its subsequent NEX and SLT models and a large majority of these have worked their way into the A57. For starters, the A57 sheds the A55's 'mini-DSLR' form factor, for a camera body that is essentially identical to the higher-spec'd SLT-A65. The A57's video specification is identical to more expensive SLT models as well, with 1080p60 output and built-in stereo microphones. A quick look at the pros list at the top of this page will attest to the fact that simply by updating the A57 with features like focus peaking, customizeable AEL and ISO buttons and a high capacity battery, Sony has created a camera with substantial improvements over its predecessor - lacking only the A55's GPS module - and one that is extremely competitive in its class.
One feature that has not, regrettably, trickled down to the A57 is the brilliant OLED EVF seen in the A65. The LCD viewfinder does offer a higher magnification view than any of its competitors but is prone to color tearing which can detract from an otherwise seamless transition from rear LCD to EVF. And, in perhaps the only area in which the A57 is lacking compared to its predecessor, the A55's built-in GPS has been dropped.
While there are certain to be those disappointed that the A57 still offers 'only' 16MP resolution, it's only fair to ask just how many novice-oriented DSLR uses actually need more pixels than that. It's also worth noting that the 16MP sensor Sony introduced with the A55 and which has been re-engineered for inclusion in the NEX-C3, NEX-5N and SLT-A57 is one of the best performing APS-C chips on the market.
The A57 delivers images with pleasing colors, contrast and saturation. White balance is generally well-judged and metering is very reliable, with only more difficult lighting scenarios requiring the use of exposure compensation. JPEG dynamic range performance is class-leading, providing roughly 9 stops EV from highlights to shadows. And Sony continues to offer a number of creative effects for easy image manipulation, as well as features like Sweep Panorama which are just plain fun to use.
We find Sony's JPEG processing leaves a little to be desired, with default results that are slightly softer than we'd like and prone to artifacts at even mid-range ISO sensitivities. Users willing to invest the time in processing raw files, however, will find results that meet and often exceed anything its competitors can offer in terms of detail and noise performance.
Video quality of the A57 is outstanding, delivering crisp, detailed footage at 1080p60 with manual exposure control. The phase-detection AF does an admirable job of locking focus quickly on subjects in a central area of the frame, and only on very rare occasions does focus shift become a noticeable distraction during playback. The AE system also does an impressive job of smoothly adjusting to large changes in scene brightness.
In terms of its handling the A57 behaves almost identically to its bigger sibling, the A65. A comfortably deep hand grip provides a secure hold of the camera. The body is large enough to offer well-spaced control points and the exposure compensation and ISO buttons fall easily to hand while you're in the shooting position. Yet the camera is still light enough to carry around on your shoulder for a full day of shooting.
While the preference for an optical versus electronic viewfinder is clearly a personal one, there's no dispute that shooting with an EVF that offers detailed and customizeable information overlays provides a significantly different handling experience compared to a conventional DSLR. The A57 also provides an equivalent viewing experience whether using the EVF or rear LCD. This means you can not only frame a composition with as much or as little information as you like, but you can even navigate the menu system without removing your eye from the viewfinder.
When it comes to making between-shot adjustments, a well-placed exposure compensation and ISO button make quick work of two of the more common changes you're apt to make. Sony's Function menu provides easy access to nearly any other parameters you'd need such as AF mode, object tracking, creative styles and picture effects, limiting your trips to the more tedious-to-navigate main menu. The 4-way controller also provides direct access to drive mode and white balance settings.
In nearly all instances, whether using the rear LCD at arm's length or shooting in the traditional through-the-viewfinder position, configuring the more common shooting settings to the task at hand is not a complicated affair. Adjusting aperture when shooting in manual mode is a bit less intuitive than we'd like, and requiring a non-obvious button press in addition to rotating the front dial. Yet once you've figured it out, it works perfectly well.
The SLT-A57 is a camera that is straightforward in operation with good handling ergonomics. It does many things well and boasts a feature set that rivals its stiffest DSLR competitors. A tried and true 16MP APS-C sensor delivers pleasing images across most of its ISO range, with pixel-level Raw image quality that ranks among the best of its class. The A57's high-end video specification is backed up by a strong AF system and very good AE algorithms which produce great-looking video with minimal user input. A full-resolution 10fps shooting rate is well beyond most of its peers, and the camera tracks focus reasonably well for subjects moving towards the camera at a moderate pace.
Outside of our wish for JPEG output that more closely matches the potential of its 16MP sensor, our complaints with the A57 fall largely along issues of improved efficiency in operation and a higher quality EVF. These are hardly make or break issues for those in the market for a beginner-friendly DSLR. And at a street price of around US $800 with the 18-55mm kit lens, the A57 fits well into most any novice DSLR user's budget.
At its core, the A57 is a well put-together compendium of Sony's technology advances since the introduction of the A55 two years ago. This makes it a solid and proven performer for anyone stepping up to a DSLR from a compact camera or ILC, and one that concedes little in terms of either value or performance to its competitors from Canon, Nikon and Pentax. We'd love a touch-sensitive screen and a more sensibly articulated LCD (and the OLED EVF from the A65/77 would be lovely) but the A57 is an excellent camera at a compelling price, and as such it earns our top honor, the Gold Award.
Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category.
Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.
Category: Entry Level Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
Ergonomics & handling
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Movie / video mode
The A57 combines a high-quality 16 MP sensor, easy access to shooting parameters, and class-leading video performance. And does this while providing an equivalent shooting experience, whether composing images via the EVF or rear LCD.
We reviewed three of the more popular 'pocket printers,' the Canon Ivy, Fujifilm Instax Share and Polaroid ZIP. Here's the one we recommend...
Following testing of the Panasonic Lumix DC-LX100 II, we've added it to our Pocketable Enthusiast Compact Cameras buying guide as joint-winner, alongside Sony's Cyber-shot RX100 VA.
If you're looking for a high-quality camera, you don't need to spend a ton of cash, nor do you need to buy the latest and greatest new product on the market. In our latest buying guide we've selected some cameras that while they're a bit older, still offer a lot of bang for the buck.
What's the best camera for under $500? These entry level cameras should be easy to use, offer good image quality and easily connect with a smartphone for sharing. In this buying guide we've rounded up all the current interchangeable lens cameras costing less than $500 and recommended the best.
Whether you've grown tired of what came with your DSLR, or want to start photographing different subjects, a new lens is probably in order. We've selected our favorite lenses for Sony mirrorlses cameras in several categories to make your decisions easier.
|Precious Past Dreams by Domenick Creaco|
from Your City - Industrial Landmark (rerun)
|Cold rock by jr|
Tamron has announced three new full-frame lenses slated to launch in the middle of 2019: an SP 35mm F1.4 Di USD and 35-150mm F2.8-4 Di VC OSD for DSLRs, as well as an ultra-wide 17-28mm F2.8 Di III RXD for Sony E-mount cameras.
Roger and his team at Lensrentals have switched things up and decided to build a lens rather than tearing it apart.
George Mendonsa, the gentleman kissing a woman believed to be Greta Zimmer Friedman in Alfred Eisenstaedt's iconic image titled 'V-J Day in Times Square,' has passed away at the age of 95.
Want to know more about the Canon EOS RP? We conducted a live Q&A that you can watch here. We'll be trying to address those comments we didn't get to in the comments.
Version 3.0.2 of Skylum's Luminar software has been improved for both Windows and macOS systems.
Until now, the word 'bokeh' has been a noun. But that may very well change with the help of Apple's recent video advertisement.
The EF-M 32mm F1.4 is a welcome addition to Canon's APS-C mirrorless lens lineup. It's a good performer all-around and enjoyable to use on the EOS M50, and we hope to see more like it introduced to the EF-M range.
The data breach we reported on last week did not only affect 500px but a total of 16 websites, including mobile image sharing platform EyeEm, Animoto, Artsy and Fotolog.
Camera Rescue, a Finnish organization determined to rescue more than 100K analog, has already saved 46,000 cameras and plans to more than double that number by 2020.
Independent lens manufacturer Sigma has announced that its new 28mm T1.5 cine lens for full frame sensor cameras will be available from the middle of March.
Panasonic has announced the impending release of two new cameras, the ZS80/TZ95 compact camera and the FZ1000 II superzoom camera.
At Dubai's recent Gulf Photo Plus event, Fujifilm showed off several of its early concept mockups for GFX cameras that (sadly) never made it into production. We took a closer look.
Panasonic is well known for including impressive video features on its cameras. In this article, professional cinematographer Jack Lam explains one killer feature the company could add to its S series that would shake up the industry – and it all comes down to manual focus.
Lens manufacturer Irix has announced it's expanding its product lineup into the Japanese market.
Full-frame cameras get a lot of attention lately, but Technical Editor Richard Butler thinks that APS-C makes the most sense for a lot of people – and there's just one company consistently giving the format the support it deserves.
The 12th International Garden Photographer of the Year winners have been announced. We've gathered the top photos from each category and rounded them up into a slideshow.
Kosmo Foto has announced the release and opened pre-orders for its new Mono 120 black-and-white film.
Uber software engineer Phillip Wang has created a website that shows a portrait of a person that doesn't actually exist by using AI to merge multiple faces together.
The Atomos Shinobi is a compact, lightweight monitor that features the same display found inside the much more expensive Ninja 5 monitor/recorder.
Got a couple of minutes? Then you have all the time you need to learn about Canon's second full-frame mirrorless camera body – and why it's a compelling option for someone stepping into full-frame for the first time.
NASA's Curiosity rover captures a 360 panorama from its Vera Rubin Ridge 'Rock Hall' drill site before moving on to greener...er...redder pastures.
Xiaomi's new flagship Android smartphone is expected to be launched on February 24 at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.
A quick glance at the spec sheet doesn't make the Canon EOS RP look that exciting. But having shot with it, we've become oddly fond of this little full framer.
Pixelmator Pro has received an update with new and improved features, including support for Portrait Masks with images captured by the iPhone's Portrait Mode.
Alongside the EOS RP, Canon showed us mockups of the six lenses it says are in development for 2019. There's a distinct high-end flavor to the options in the works.
The new X-T30 may not be Fujifilm's flagship model, but it arrives with some very impressive features and specifications. Chris and Jordan have been shooting it for a few days and share their first impressions, along with a look at an iconic new building in their hometown of Calgary.
We don't often get excited about $900 cameras, but the Fujifilm X-T30 has really impressed us thus far. Find out what's new, what it's like to use and how it compares to its peers in our review in progress.
The Fujifilm X-T30 is equipped with the same 26.1MP X-Trans sensor and X-Processor 4 Quad Core CPU as the X-T3, along with some autofocus improvements. The new camera arrives in March for $900 body-only.
Fujifilm's new XF 16mm F2.8 R WR is a compact, weather-resistant lens that weighs just 155g/5.5oz. It'll be available starting in March for $399.
Fujifilm's XF 16mm F2.8 is one of the widest lenses in the company's lineup of compact primes for its X-series interchangeable lens cameras. We've been up and down the streets of snowy Seattle - a rare sight - to see just what our pre-production copy of this petite prime is capable of.