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
Sony A580 Review – Design
Sony’s purchase of Minolta has meant the Alpha range has grown out of the previous company’s traditions. This means the hotshoe isn’t a standard fitting, instead the standalone Minolta fit (though other standard hotshoe flashguns can fit via an adaptor).
The A580’s vari-angle screen takes up the majority of the rear of the camera, with the frame forcing it to sit slightly away from the camera. The d-pad, which is recessed into the body, sits next to the screen alongside the playback and delete buttons below, and Fn button just above. All three are in close proximity to the pad but still offer enough of a surrounding area to be straightforward to operate.
Unlike a number of similar models the A580 doesn’t beset the buttons with numerous secondary functions, instead opting to place the lesser-used controls within the menu system.
The A580’s top panel offers a large finger space to allow for a comfortable grip without accidentally hitting a button to accompany the thumb space at the rear. The top panel offers the drive mode and ISO controls alongside the D-range and Focus Check LV buttons.
Changing between the optical viewfinder and LCD display is performed via a rather industrial feeling switch which blocks the viewfinder when the live view is in operation. A button would certainly be more convenient, and allow for faster switching between the two modes. Since the viewfinder and screen are given such different degrees of potential use it seems more logical to have the ability to change between modes in a faster manner, which is the functionality provided by the Focus Check LV button.
The A580’s LCD screen requires a fair amount of effort to manoeuver, and locks into position without being overly affected by gravity. This seems, in the most part, to be due to the spring-loaded panel sitting behind the LCD screen and preventing it from moving a huge amount.
Both the memory card slots sit under a protective flap to the A580’s side. The cards can’t be used simultaneously, instead there’s a physical switch to change between the two. This may seem a touch archaic when a menu-based incarnation is present in a number of other models.
Weight-wise the A580 comes in at a sensible 600g, the majority of which is aimed toward the rear of the camera. In spite of this the balance is perfect for a larger lens, and the body feels sturdy without being overly bulky. The textured metal shell is simple to hold in all weather conditions, including when moisture lands on it, and the rubberized grip especially helpful in damper climates. It’s also worth noting that the body-based AF/MF switch is overridden by the attached lens, so even if the A580 is left in manual focus a change of lens could negate the setting.