The Sony Alpha SLT-A57 is the latest single-lens translucent camera to join the company's line of DSLR models. It replaces the A55, picking up some of the features of the A77 and A65 models above it.
Sitting at the core of the system is the 16.1-megapixel APS-C Exmor R CMOS sensor, with the latest generation of Bionz processor. The unique feature, the translucent mirror, allows access to some fairly individual options.
Headlining in the new Alpha A57 is 12fps shooting with continuous autofocus. This uses a new Tele-zoom Continuous Advance Priority AE mode, which is a bit of a mouthful. According to Sony, the new mode crops the sensor by 1.4x, so we'll be interested to see how the results come out. Alternatively you get regular 10fps shooting.
One of the advantages of the SLT is focusing in movie shooting, which is much faster than traditional DSLR systems. You'll get 1080p AVCHD or MPEG4 capture at up to 50fps, as well as a full platter of manual control options.
The Alpha A57 is pitched as an entry-to-mid-level model and comes with a couple of features to appeal to those who want great results, but want the camera to lend a hand. Claiming a world first, the A57 offers a new Auto Portrait Framing mode. This will combine face detection with the rule of thirds, trimming your shot to produce the perfect portrait.
Elsewhere you get 16-point AF, with three cross type sensor, the same as the A65, which is impressive for this level of camera. The ISO range runs from 100-16000, extendable up to 25600. The body has also been slimmed down slightly, looking less boxy than the predecessor.
The viewfinder, or Tru-Finder as Sony calls it, has a 1440k-dot resolution and 100 per cent field of view. It offers a digital level to keep things straight. Alternatively there is a 3-inch articulated display around the back with a 921k-dot resolution, again fairly respectable.
Compact and lightweight, there is no word on pricing for the new model, but we expect it to launch at the same price as the A55, so that's £699. It will be available from early April 2012.