- 16.2MP (effective) APS HD CMOS sensor.
- Maximum ISO 12,800 (with a quasi-ISO 25,600 'Multi-frame NR' option).
- 15-point AF system with 3 cross-type AF points.
- Contrast-detect AF in focus check live view mode.
- Electronic level in LCD with pitch/roll indicator.
- Switchable Memory Stick/SD card slots (only one in use at any time).
- As many as 7 frames per second (fps) continuous shooting rate.
- 1080p AVCHD movie mode with continuous AF.
- Hinged 3-inch LCD with 921k dots.
- 3D sweep-panorama.
- External microphone connector.
- Face-detection AF (focus via nearest phase-detection AF point).
- 2013 Photographer's Market: The Most Trusted Guide to Selling Your Photography
- Best Business Practices for Photographers
- The Fast Track Photographer Business Plan: Build a Successful Photography Venture from the Ground Up
- Group Portrait Photography Handbook
- The Best of Family Portrait Photography: Professional Techniques and Images
- 500 Poses for Photographing Group PortraitsSelling Your Photography: How to Make Money in New and Traditional Markets
- Starting Your Career as a Freelance Photographer
- Photographer's Survival Manual: A Legal Guide for Artists in the Digital Age
- Legal Handbook for Photographers: The Rights and Liabilities of Making Images
- Taking Stock: Make money in microstock creating photos that sell
- Going Pro: How to Make the Leap from Aspiring to Professional Photographer
Digital photography appeals to so many different kinds of hobbyists, enthusiasts and professionals that some camera manufacturers purposely carve more of a unique niche in the marketplace than many of their competitors. Sony is one of those manufacturers; and its Sony DSLR-A580 camera is an example of that special uniqueness similar to Sony A58. Part 1 of this PhotographyTalk.com article provides a general overview of this camera, while Part 2 focuses on its video capabilities.
The Sony DSLR-A580 is designed, manufactured, marketed and priced to be a mid-level DSLR, in the same category as the Canon EOS 600D/Rebel T3i and Nikon D5100. With a “typical” moving mirror the A580 compares more accurately to standard DSLRs, unlike the Sony SLT-A55 that was introduced at the same time. It has a translucent fixed mirror and electronic viewfinder, which means it isn’t an SLR, by definition. The SLT-A55 clearly defines Sony’s drive to be a bit unique.
Although the A580 may be a true DSLR, it also retains some of the unique features of its predecessor, the Sony DSLR-A550. Both the earlier model and its replacement sport a second live-view mode. In a sense, the A580 has two live-view modes: The conventional higher-resolution, main-sensor live-view system found on most of its competitors and a small secondary sensor in the viewfinder that creates a live view with fast phase-detection AF (auto-focus). This is an advantage over the conventional system, which has a slower contrast-detect AF.
Where the A580 improves on its predecessors are the new features that complement the new sensor. These include 1080p full-HD video, a sweep-panorama mode and a multi-frame ISO 25600 model. The sweep panorama and HDR modes eliminate the need to stitch and blend manually, especially if you can live with less than the best image quality. You’ll also be able to use these modes while handholding your camera. When you are shooting static subjects, the multi-frame noise reduction will produce acceptable images, even under acutely low-light conditions.
The Sony DSLR-A580, therefore, is specifically targeted to those digital photographers who want a conventional DSLR with an optical viewfinder (which the A550 does not have) and the image quality of Sony’s 16.2-megapixel (MP) sensor (which the A550 also has).
The camera’s two live-view modes could be the determining factor of buying the A580 or one of its competitors. There are a few other specific points that should be part of your decision. The dual live-view feature is an advantage worth buying if most of your photography will be shot in live-view. You’ll also benefit if you shoot a significant amount of video. For some digital photographers, live-view is simply a trick to convert more people from a compact to a DSLR, and spend more money. If that is your point of view, then the Sony DSLR-A580 is probably not your best choice. You’ll enjoy a more conventional DSLR.
Keep in mind, too, that the Nikon, Canon and other DSLR cameras that compare to the Sony A580 all produce the same above-average image quality. In fact, three cameras in this group use the same sensor system.
Priced in the $800 range (body only), the Sony DSLR-A580 is worth any digital photographer’s consideration if he or she wants to buy at this price point and with these features.
Key Features of the Sony DSLR-A580:
Remember to read Part 2 of this PhotographyTalk.com article for specific details of the Sony DSLR-A580 video system.