Sony Alpha A580 review
Review Date : Wed, 16 Mar 2011
Author : Matt Tuffin
A DSLR with an impressive 7fps burst rate, the Sony Alpha a580 looks to offer the aspiring photographer a well-featured alternative to Nikon and Canon
|Pros:||Quick AF Live View, fast burst mode, decent movie|
|Cons:||Lack of movie controls, burst mode exceeds focus potential|
Sony's A55 launch justifiably grabbed all the headlines on its release, offering the ground-breaking translucent mirror technology and all the benefits that came with it. Sitting somewhat in the shadows, and launched around the same time, was the traditional mirror assembly DSLR equivalent model, the a580. Where the a55 was the undoubted star turn, the a580 is still impressively-specced enough to challenge the likes of the Canon EOS 550D.
Sony Alpha A580 Review - Features
The A55, thanks to its translucent mirror, gained the likes of a constant AF in Movie mode and during its 10fps burst rate, but the a580's construction means autofocus is less swift when recording video and during its 7fps burst mode. Although this may be a step down from it's attention-grabbing sibling the comparison to the majority of the competition is more favourable. Even the likes of the Canon EOS 600D offers only a 3.7fps rate, making the jump somewhat enticing. This isn't the only major benefit the a580 has over its similarly priced rivals, however, as a tilt-angle screen is also on offer. Although the amount of movement is restricted to that of the vertical axis it's still a helpful extra for shooting at a low or high angle. The LCD is 3inches in size and offers 921k-dots ofresolution, which results in an impressively detailed preview when utilising the Quick AF Live View mode.
The A580's viewfinder offers a 95% field of view, which is about the norm for the price range, and a 3D Sweep Panorama mode that can display on compatible 3DTVs. Also included is a Focus Check Live View, which allows the LCD screen to be used for a quick preview prior to taking the image. This addition is a slightly strange one, as a full Live View mode can be accessed via a switch on the top of the body, but the focus mode being restricted to Spot or Selectable Spot means it has little use outside checking the sharpness. ISO can be bumped up to 12800 at full resolution, and the AF system has an impressive 15 selectable points with 3 cross sensors.
The A580's movie mode has two distinct options: the Full HD 1080i AVCHD format (which needs to be decoded to edit on a computer), or a lower-resolution MP4 format that can be read straight from camera. Making both quality settings available is a huge bonus, as the often laborious process of converting the footage can be bypassed at the user's decision.
Another fairly significant feature is the decision of Sony to include both their own Memory Stick Duo format and SD in separate slots, selectable by a switch. This gives any photographer stepping up from a compact a fairly reasonable chance of having at least one usable memory card, though it's not possible to use both simultaneously.
As per most current DSLR cameras, the A580 also offers a D-Range mode that brightens shadowed areas, plus there's an in-camera HDR mode that can capture two shots and fuse them together in-camera.