2. For first-time DSLR photographers, weight and size are prime considerations, since many of them are advancing from a compact, and have enjoyed their small, slim profile. The Sony A57 is clearly larger than its A55 predecessor, which is likely to be a competitive move, so it appears equal in weight and dimensions to the Canon EOS Rebel T3i and Nikon D3200.
The Sony A57 weighs 1.36 lbs., or 21.8 oz. (618g), while the Canon tips the scale at 1.14 lbs., or 18.2 oz. (515g) and the new D3200 is 1 lb., or 16 oz. (450g).
The dimensions of the Sony A57 are 5.2 x 3.86 x 3.19" (132 x 98 x 81mm) compared to the Rebel T3i at 5.2 x 3.9 x 3.1” (133.1 x 99.5 x 79.7mm) and the new Nikon at 5.0 x 3.8 x 3.1" (127.0 x 96.55 x 78.7mm).
The advantages of Sony making the A57 larger than the A55 are more room for buttons across the top of the body and a battery with 50% more power.
3. When it comes to the often-misapplied comparison of sensor size, the Sony A57 features the outstanding 16-megapixel CMOS sensor that is found in many DSLRs. The Rebel T3i is built with an 18.0-MP sensor, while Nikon made a major upgrade from the older D3100 to the new D3200, a 14.2-MP sensor and a 24.2-MP sensor, respectively. According to the numbers, the new Nikon certainly boasts a bigger sensor, but for entry-level digital photographers, sensor size has less bearing on the quality of the images they are more likely to shoot.
4. The competitive move that has the most impact on entry-level DSLR buyers is ease of use, or convenience. Many are coming from the digital compact camera environment, so, to be marketable, a first-time DSLR can’t be too complicated or require too much of a learning curve before the user begins to experience good results.
For entry-level DSLR users, the ease with which they are able to view the subject or scene and frame an image is very important. Both the Sony A57 and Nikon D3200 have 3.0” rear displays with 921,000-dot resolution. The EOS Rebel T3i has a bit of advantage when measuring these specs only, since its 3.0” LCD monitor flips from the body and the resolution is 1,040,000 dots.
Sony’s actual competitive move is its fixed-mirror design. Unlike the “standard” DSLR, there is no moving mirror in the A57 (and many other Sony models), so more of the light entering the lens is directed to the sensor. The advantage for the first-time DSLR buyer is that the camera is capable of focusing and continuing to shoot stills and movies without pausing for the mirror to return to its original position. This Sony A57 capability is more likely to be found on much more expensive DSLRs.
5. Digital photographers new to the DSLR experience may not consciously concern themselves with the ISO sensitivity range of their camera since they are used to shooting in Auto mode with their compact model. They’ll soon recognize the value of having a digital camera with a greater ISO range when they are able to record more images with better quality in low-light situations than their compact could.
Sony has given the new A57 a maximum ISO range of 100–16,000, which compares favorably to the maximum of 12,800 on both the Nikon D3200 and the Canon Rebel T3i.
6. Of course, video recording is an important feature for the digital photographer with their first DSLR in hand. With the A57, Sony has made a big move beyond the older A55, with 1080 Full-HD at 60 fps (as well as 24 fps) in AVCHD 2.0 standard capture. The Rebel T3i video specs are 1080p Full-HD Video at 30, 24 and 25 fps. The new Nikon D3200 records 1080p Full-HD video at 24 or 30 fps.
7. For the digital photographer taking the big step from a compact to a DSLR, or directly to a DSLR, price is another important competitive comparison. B&H Photo Video lists the Canon EOS Rebel T3i body only for $624.95 and the body and 18–55mm f/3.5–5.6 lens for $799.99. The new Nikon D3200 is available only as a kit with the AF-S DX NIKKOR 18–55mm f/3.5–5.6G VR lens from B&H for $699.
The new Sony A57 DSLR can be ordered from B&H for $699.99 body only or $799.99 with the Sony 18–55mm f/3.5–5.6 DT AF lens at http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/search?Ntt=Sony+A57&N=0&InitialSearch=yes.
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