Joining the translucent mirror club is the Alpha SLT-A57, updating the A55 with a faster burst rate mode, higher ISO sensitivity and new automatic shooting features like Auto Portrait Framing.
The A57 is a Frankenstein's monster of updated (but not brand new) alpha parts. It uses the same APS-C 16.1 megapixel CMOS sensor offered in the NEX-5N and a BIONZ image processor introduced in 2011 Alphas. This boosts the camera's native ISO range up to 16000 and adds a second-generation 1080 AVCHD video with 60 and 24p framerate options. A 3.0-inch vari-angle LCD is offered with 921k-dot resolution, as is a 1.44 million-dot EVF.
There's a 15-point AF system at work with 3 cross-type sensors, updated to maintain focus on the subject even if it's obscured momentarily. All of the comforts of a Sony DSLR are included, from in-body SteadyShot stabilization to a total of 11 picture effect modes. Shutter speeds top out at 1/4000 second and a built-in anti-dust system strives to keep the sensor clear of foreign particles.
The A55 offers a couple of new options for shooters, including some choices in continuous shooting. With exposure locked in, the A57 will offer a burst shooting rate of 10 fps. In a new Tele-Zoom Continuous mode, the camera will crop to zoom in on a subject and produce a maximum framerate of 12 fps at reduced resolutions. A new Clear Image Zoom feature offers a 2x digital zoom at full resolution.
Another quirky new addition is an Auto Portrait Framing mode that will crop photos identified as portraits to follow the Rule of Thirds. The idea is to give beginning photographers a hand with composition, many of which are likely to frame faces in portraits directly in the center. Superior Auto, a mode able to engage continuous shooting multiple frame modes like Auto HDR, is available as well.
Pricing and Availability
Priced evenly with the A55 it replaces, the Sony Alpha SLT-A57 will arrive in April for $799.99 with an 18-55mm kit lens or $699.99 body-only. A new HVL-LE1 battery-powered LED video light is introduced as well; it will set you back $249.99.