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The Sony Alpha SLT-A57, The Good, The Bad, and Everything in Between

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The Sony Alpha SLT-A57 brings a lot of punch, without breaking your wallet. When searching for a new camera to purchase, there are plenty of competitive brands out there, and many with different aspects and things to weigh in. The A57 is a great camera for people looking for a beginning camera that can last them a long time before looking to get a new camera.

With a couple years around its belt, the A-57 is definitely a solid and easy to use camera that’s perfect for anyone getting into photography. Released in 2012, the A57 has stayed a staple to the Sony camera brand, and for good reason.

When looking for an inexpensive yet capable camera, you may look towards the Canon T3i, T4i or a Nikon D5200. But the one thing the rest do not have is Translucent Mirror Technology.

 

Translucent Mirror Technology

 

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Most cameras are a SLR, or Single Lens Reflect, which requires a mirror to be moved for images to be captured, and the photographer to see through the view finder. Unfortunately, since there is a physical element moving, while the camera is taking a picture the viewer cannot see through the view finder. That’s where Translucent Mirror Technology comes in hand.

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While SLT cameras in general do contain a mirror just like a regular SLR, this mirror does not move. Translucent Mirror Technology allows light photons to travel directly to the sensor, while also reflecting a portion of that to the Pentaprism simultaneously so the you can still see through the view finder, unlike traditional SLRs.

 THE GOOD

The first thing to note when purchasing the Sony Alpha SLT-A57 is the body is very similar to those of the professional models. Its multi-angle 3″ LCD screen isn’t OLED like the A65 but with 921k color dots, the screen is still on the large end and has great detail. On the other hands, the Electronic Viewfinder has 1.44 millions dots.

The Single-lens Translucent Technology: Since the mirror does not move, so there is no flipping, and no vibration so its really quiet. It also allows continuous focus during recording and distortion correction for still image. This is a great feature for anyone doing sports photography or capturing fast moving objects. The full time auto-focus system can lock object within a fractions of a second (Object Tracking is also a great tool as it follows the target if it moves). The drawback arguably is, there is less light to the sensor because part of it has been redirected to the pentaprism.

The  SLT-A57 does a great job limiting noise at high ISO levels, and can be cranked well up to 3200 ISO before seeing detrimental affects, which is better than the A65 even. The Sony SteadyShot (also known as image stabilization) gives users the advantage of 2.x more light. That roughly translates to 1/3 stop better than Nikon’s.

Speedy System : The camera is quick to start up and has huge buffer for continuous shots : up to 21 RAW+JPEG. That gives plenty of room for the 12 FPS at 8MP (class-leading), or 8 FPS at 16MP (same as D7000). You will agree that this camera is fast, probably twice as fast as anything in its tier or some above. Great for any high capacity card such as the SanDisk Extreme 32GB Class 10

LCD and Electronic viewfinder (EVF) An extremely useful feature when taking pictures in hard to reach places or in bright light. Also, as stated above the camera features a multi-angle 3″ LCD screen with 921k color dots and the Electronic Viewfinder has 1.44 millions dots.SonyA57Back-300x210

The Sensor : Sony improves the A57 APS-C sensor which are also found in the D7000A580NEX-5RX1, EOS 6D5D Mark III and other high-end expensive cameras. The result is a excellent dynamic range image with rich color.

Durability : No overheating like A55 (older model are reported overheated when recording a movie for extended periods of time). The battery life is also much longer than the A55. The case is strong and sturdy.

Movie : It can record Full HD 1080p at 60fps or cinematic-like 24fps movie clips. The fixed Translucent Mirror Tech allows the auto-focus system to keep sharp and accurate track on the object without too much effort on the users. This is a huge advantage over traditional DSLR. Some user notes that the A57 performs on par or even better than the HF-S100 camcorder.

Take a look at this user-made promo for the A57, it was done using only the A57 camera! (with different lens of course)

Here is another cinematic looking video using the DT 35mm f1.8 Lens on Sony A57

Level Indicator : This is another cool bonus from Sony. The system can display a digital horizontal line ruler that verify the balance level of the camera for a leveled picture.

Sony also packs a healthy dose of features into this camera such as :

  1. Clear Image Zoom : The system automatically calculates sample surrounding pixels when in max zoom and reproduce them for a really great detail image. No gimmick.
  2. Focus Peaking : Highlights the focused object with a different tone of color during manual zoom. A valuable option for photographers.
  3. Multi-noise Reduction : The camera takes several pictures and combine them into one to reduce noise level. Great for low light scenarios.
  4. Live Special Effects : Tilt Lens, Pop Color, B/W, Retro, Soft High-Key, Black & White & Highlight Red, Contrast Mono, Soft Focus, HDR Painting, Rich-tone Mono, and Miniature.
  5. Sweep Panorama : Take panoramic images with ease.
  6. Auto HDR : Multiple images at different exposures will be taken at the same time and merge into one.
  7. Built-in Help : If you are not sure about any option you see on the screen, hit the [?] button. Sony does a good job of implementing a helpful guide system into this camera.

Price. This camera does not cost you an arm and a leg to get the job done. It does all the works for you seamlessly and the result is outstanding, compared to anything in this league. For around $600, this camera is unbeatable.

THE BAD

While the A57 does have a lot of pros, there are a couple drawbacks that you should be aware of :

  1. Sony JPEG engine is not impressive. The A57 can capture pretty shots in RAW but if you tell it to compress to jpg, you lose some sharp details. Try to play around with RAW for best output.
  2. Live Effects, Panorama and some HDR features do not work with RAW.
  3. The microphone records noise from the auto-focus system in Recording mode. It’s best to get an additional microphone for better sound capture if doing video work.
  4. Panorama is not as sharp as normal shot.
  5. Viewing through the EVF is a bit off in color depth and hard to justify the outcome. You will find yourself using the LCD more.
The Best Lenses for The A57

Great lens are essential to any great camera. Using a great lens with an amazing sensor will produce the most vibrant and sharp pictures. It’s nice to see that the A57 uses A-mount Lenses and is compatible with a variety of the famous and inexpensive Japanese-made Minolta Lenses. Minolta lenses are known for their ability to delivers beautiful and excellent images.

If you do not have any old Minolta lens laying around, consider these sweet upgrades for the A57. They essentially make your A57 worth as much as, and does as good as some of the $2k-$4k pro DSLR cameras in the current market.

Sony 85mm f1.4 Carl Zeiss Planar T Coated Telephoto Lens $1,289.00 – $1,698.00

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Sony 24 -70mm f/2.8 Carl Zeiss Vario Sonnar T Zoom Lens  $903.12 – $1,998.00

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Sony 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T DT Zoom Lens $460.00 – $998.00

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Sony Alpha 35mm f/1.8 A-mount Wide Angle Lens $189.00 – $218.00

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Sony 30mm f/2.8 Lens $139.99 – $198.00

35mm

Sony 18-250mm f/3.5-6.3 Zoom Lens $330.00 – $648.00

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EVERYTHING ELSE

With your new camera and lens, you’re going to need these extra things to keep your gear clean and in top shape.

 

SanDick Extreme 32GB Class 10 Speed $27.99 – $24.04
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Sony NPFM500H Li-Ion Rechargeable Battery Pack $25.99 – $42.95

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Giotto’s Rocket-Air Blower  +Lens Pen Cleaning System + Lenspen Digi-Klear LCD Monitor Pen Digital Display Cleaning System $29.95
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Sony LCSBP3 DSLR System Backpack with Laptop Storage, (Black) $121.44

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OTHER REVIEWS

In closing, if you’re looking to get a new camera, and thought about getting the A-57, don’t hesitate any longer. Or if you’re a beginner and looking to get into photography, this lens is also perfect with its helpful hints and easy to use interface.

Also make sure to check out some example photographs taken with the A-57 here. (Via Custom PC Guide)

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Top 10 Canon DSLR Lenses Available on Amazon

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Telephoto Zoom Lens $2,359.00

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The Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Telephoto Zoom Lens increases the speed, performance and optical quality of the EF 70-200 f/2.8L IS USM ($2,050.00) while maintaining all of the characteristics that have made it a legend for professionals and advanced amateurs alike. This lens features one fluorite and five UD elements for increased optical quality and reduced chromatic aberration.

It has a minimum focusing distance of 1.2m/3.9 ft. at all zoom settings, which is useful for photographers in smaller spaces trying to get closer to a subject. A next-generation Optical Image Stabilizer, provides up to 4 stops of correction at all focal lengths. Plus the EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM is dust- and moisture-resistant and designed for use in the challenging environments typical of rigorous professional use.

Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM Wide Angle Lens $1,329.00

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The Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L wide-angle lens is a terrific standard lens for casual photographers and photojournalists who value low-light capability and high performance. The lens–which hails from Canon’s L series–is equipped with an aspherical lens element that helps correct aberrations and improve contrast and sharpness.

The lens’s floating focusing system, meanwhile, lets you enjoy sharp images throughout the entire focus range. Other details include a ring Ultra Sonic Motor (USM) that ensures quick and quiet autofocusing, a manual focusing option, and a 1-foot close focusing distance.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L USM Lens $1,619.00

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The Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens is a peerless standard lens for Canon digital SLR cameras. The lens is suitable for any shooting situation, with a lens coating and construction type that are optimized to minimize the ghosting and flare that frequently occurs when lenses are used with digital cameras. The lens also offers an ultra-large aperture that produces a narrow depth of field and the type of soft background blur so loved by photographers everywhere.

The high-performance, weather-resistant lens delivers all the superb image resolution and contrast you expect in a Canon L Series lens.

Canon EF 24-105mm f/4 L IS USM Lens $1,099.00

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Dust and moisture resistant and incorporating Canon’s very finest standards of precision optics, the EF 24-105mm f4L IS USM is designed for reportage, event, travel, and celebrity photographers looking for a lightweight and maneuverable lens with minimal image quality compromise. Complementing the EF 17-40mm f4L USM and EF 70-200mm f4L USM, the lens completes Canon’s f4L-series zoom lens range.

These lenses are designed for professional photographers requiring a light zoom lens with a fixed aperture throughout the zoom range. For outstanding camera-shake reduction, Image Stabilizer allows shutter speeds of 3 stops slower than would otherwise be possible, with no perceptible increase in image blur.

Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM Telephoto Zoom Lens $1,549.00

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Equipped with an Image Stabilizer, the Canon EF 100-400mm telephoto zoom lens makes it easy to capture the far-off action of fast-paced sports or zoom in for an intimate portrait with a blurred background.

The lens offer such features as fluorite and Super UD-glass elements that largely eliminate secondary spectrum; a floating system that ensures high picture quality at all focal lengths; two Image Stabilizer modes; and compatibility with extenders 1.4x II and 2x II.

Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM SLR Lens $628.99

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The Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 USM Ultra-Wide Zoom Lens provides ultra wide-angle coverage to the EOS 20D, 30D, 40D, 50D and Digital Rebel SLRs. Equivalent to a 16-35mm zoom, it offers excellent performance and optics designed from the ground-up for digital SLR use. Three Aspherical lens elements, plus a Super-UD element, assure image quality. Its ring-type USM means fast and silent AF along with full-time manual focus. It focuses as close as 9.5 inches.

Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM Medium Telephoto Lens $359.00

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A highly practical medium telephoto lens with superb delineation and portability, the Canon EF 85mm lens produces sharp and clear images at all apertures. Through computer simulations, the lens has been designed to give beautiful background blur, thereby bringing your subject into crisp view. The ring-type ultra-sonic monitor (USM) and fast f/1.8 aperture, meanwhile, helps the subject zip into focus in the viewfinder. And because the front lens group does not rotate during focusing, special filter effects are not affected.

Best of all, the standard zoom lens–with its natural angle of view and perspective–captures the subject plainly, making it excellent for portraits and images that require a natural depth of field.

Canon EF 16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Ultra Wide Angle Zoom Lens $1,548.00

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Broaden your perspective with the Canon EF 16-35mm ultra-wide-angle zoom lens. Specifically designed for improved edge-to-edge image quality that meets the strict requirements of professional and high-end amateur photographers alike, the lens lets you bring more area into focus while providing greater depth of field. The lens features three high-precision aspherical lens elements–ground, replica, and GMo–that produce even better image quality than the original Canon EF 16-35mm USM lens. The circular aperture, meanwhile, produces a beautiful and natural background blur when shooting at wider apertures.

Other details include internal focusing, a ring-type ultra-sonic monitor (USM), and new AF algorithms for fast and quiet autofocusing.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.4 USM $339.00

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The 50mm f/1.4 standard lens is a terrific choice for both casual and professional photographers. The lens is outfitted with two high-refraction lens elements and new Gaussian optics, which combine to eliminate astigmatism and suppress astigmatic difference. As a result, the lens obtains crisp images with little flare even at the maximum aperture. The lens’s f/1.4 speed, meanwhile, is perfect for available-light shooting.

And as a bonus, this lens is the only lens in the EF system to offer an extra-small Micro Ultra Sonic Motor (USM) while still providing a full-time manual focusing option. Other features include a close focusing distance of 1.5 feet, and a 58mm filter size.

Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II $99.00

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The EF 50mm f/1.8 II Lens from Canon is a standard length prime lens with a fast maximum aperture of f/1.8. It is effective in low light situations and offers shallow depth of field focus. At just 4.6 oz it is a particularly lightweight lens ideal for everyday use. Gaussian optics provide sharp delineation throughout the focus range down to its minimum focus distance is 17.8″.

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Beautiful Agravic Stone Table by Tokujin Yoshioka

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Designed by Japanese artist and designer Tokujin Yoshioka, this agravic table stands between two prisms, defying gravity.

“The installation sees the past, present and future interact in a dialogue through marble, conveying a tangible expression of the fluidity and elusiveness of time.”

For more installations and designs by Tokujin Yoshioka, take a look at his gallery. (Via Design Boom)

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Office Zzz’s

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Are you working to many hours? Feel like your falling asleep because it’s been 10 hours and you’re still fixing shadows in photoshop? Well, go ahead and take a nap! With all these cool sleeping arsenals at your side, falling asleep will be as easy as cmd+opt+eject. Starting with the Ostrich, this nifty head-wrap-pillow creates an enclosed sleeping paradise for one, and feel free to take a look at your phone in privacy as well! Previously posted on our blog, this item is a must for any traveling designer.

Next is the Verbandkammer, an all in one study-sleep-study-work fortress made to keep you close to what you need most, all the time. Featuring steps, shelves, desks, meeting areas, and even pull out sleep quarters, this thing is a beast. And if this Verbandkammer is too big for your taste, you can always slim down to a 1.6 SM, a compact desk boasting 17 square feet of wiggle room, hidden sleeping quarters, and a sleek design.

Lastly, if you ever just want to cocoon yourself in your own little introvert-universe, the Hush is the perfect beanbag-chair-cocoon to dwell in your own thoughts for a while. (via Architizer)

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