Published: February 20, 2013 3:23 PM
By Bruno Labarbere
Translated by: Catherine Barraclough
Entry-level SLRs are facing tough competition from mirrorless cameras (including Sony's NEX range) and seem to be gripped by the same general moroseness as the rest of the SLR market, which has been declining steadily over the last three years and is likely to continue its downward trend this year. Still, that hasn't stopped Sony outing the Alpha 58, a replacement for the Alpha 57 that fits into the firm's DSLR range between the Alpha 37 and the Alpha 65. So what's new for 2013?

Sony Alpha 58
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Like the Cyber-shot compacts Sony also unveiled today, the Alpha 58 has had an injection of pixels— 4 million of them, to be precise—bringing the resolution up to 20 Megapixels. That gives the A58 a more modest pixel-count than the 24-Megapixel Nikon D5200, but still brings this Sony Alpha ahead of the 18-Megapixel Canon 650D and the 16-Megapixel Pentax K-30. Add to that some image processing tricks inherited from the Alpha 99 and a new BIONZ image processor, and we should see improved picture quality from this SLR, from 100 ISO to 16000 ISO.
Sony Alpha 58  facejpg
Like all Sony's latest digital SLRs, the Alpha 58 isn't actually an SLR—technically, it's an SLT (Single Lens Translucent) camera because it uses a fixed, semi-transparent mirror. This in turn means that the camera uses an electronic viewfinder rather than an optical viewfinder. The good news here is that the old LCD-based sequential EVF has been ditched in favour of the OLED EVF seen in the Alpha 65, 77 and NEX-7! Although that's a logical addition to this entry-level Alpha, it's still very welcome indeed, as it should seriously boost the quality and comfort of the EVF, improving sharpness levels, colours and reducing ghosting.

The autofocus has been upgraded too. You still get 15 AF points, including three cross-type focus points, but the new AF system boasts a predictive subject tracking function that helps the camera anticipate which AF points to use, even if the subject falls outside of the camera's standard focusing zone. Plus, the tracking function carries on working when you switch to burst mode.

This enhanced autofocus also brings Sony's new Automatic Object Framing mode to the Alpha 58. This analyses the scene—the subject of your shot, its direction of movement, how many people there are, where they’re looking etc.—then automatically crops the picture to give a more effective, harmonious composition (based on layout techniques like the rule of thirds). Note that the original photo is stored alongside the crop (or should be) and can be retrieved if you don't like the camera's version.

The Alpha 58 gets the same 2.7" 460,000-dot tilt screen as the previous model.
Sony Alpha 58  screen
 

The Sony Alpha 58 will be available from mid-April with an 18-55 mm kit lens. The body only will set you back around £450.

> Digital Cameras: SLR, Micro 4/3 and Interchangeable Lens Reviews

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