Sony A37 vs A57 – SLT Camera Comparison

May 25, 2012

Sony SLT-A37 and A57 SLR cameras

In this comparison I want to help you choose between the Sony SLT-A37 and SLT-A57. Both utilize the same translucent-mirror technology that makes them very favorite among enthusiast photographer.  Luckily for us, Sony makes our decision a bit more easier because the differences between each model is very obvious.  The differences in price is around $100 where the A37 is being the less expensive of the two.  Even so, the debate whether to invest more in a camera body or spend more on lenses still remains. You need to know which camera fits your photography habits needs and whether the extra features on the A57 worth paying extra for. In this buying buid I hope that you will get a definitive answer and finally decide which one will be your next DSLR camera.

 

Mid-Range vs Entry-level DSLR

Before we dive into the comparison itself, let’s talk about the differences between DSLR in general, those in the lower-middle range.  Every company, whether it’s Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Olympus, Panaosnic.. everyone of them have a large selection of DSLR cameras, starting from cheaper models and up to more expensive models  The reason for that is that their are customers with different budget and specific needs. In order to answer that need and budget, camera makes come up with a relatively wide selection of cameras to choose from.

Each camera suppose to add more advanced features over the one it sits above. However, MORE features doesn’t necessarily mean USEFUL features, because this is subjective and each one and one of you might find a specific feature useful or a completely waste of money. I know that sometimes you feel an urge to buy the more expensive model, but this is not how you make a smart buying decision.

Sony A37 and A57 have their differences, and if you didn’t have a budget problem, I guess that you might have picked the A57 and didn’t even spend one minute reading this buying guide. If you do have a tight budget or also want to purchase a second lens or other useful photography great together with your camera, you should understand the key differences between the Sony A37 and A57 to make a smart decision.

Now that we understand that we should understand the differences and how they implicate our buying decision, let’s dive into the comparison itself. I’m pretty sure that after reading this A37 vs A57 camera comparison, you will have a good understanding about the differences between them and you will able to make a decision. Let’s continue..

 

Sony A37

Sony A37

The Sony SLT-A37 is an entry-level camera which replaces the A35 model. Sony have both DSLR and SLT cameras. The differences between them is that the later utilize a translucent mirror technology, that gives SLT cameras advanced features that you can only found on more expensive models; Features like: higher continuous shooting speed, accurate, fast and reliable AF during burst and when shooting videos.

The A37 features a 16.1MP CMOS sensor, has sensor-shift image stabilization (SteadyShot Inside), comes with a tilting 2.6-inch 230K-dots LCD, 7 fps in burst mode, Automatic Exposure Bracketing (features that usually omitted in some entry-level DSLR cameras), 1080i60,29.97p fps and all in a relatively compact DSLR body.

The Sony A37 is a beginner’s DSLR/SLT camera that suppose to answer the demands of those who moved from P&S and those who want to get their photography skills to a new level without breaking their wallet.

We can see that although the A37 features a tilting LCD, it’s only a 2.6-inch low-resolution LCD. Most of today’s latest DSLRs have 3-inch LCDs for quite a long time now. It became a standard and you I personally wasn’t expecting to ever see a DSLR camera with a screen less than 3-inch. Oh well, we just can’t get it all in an entry-level camera couldn’t we?

If the screen itself doesn’t hold you back (and it shouldn’t because you need to see the whole package), their are some very interesting features in this camera. If we compare the Sony A37 vs Nikon most basic DSLR camera, the D3100, we can see that the A37 features a higher ISO range (25600 vs 12800), comes with in-camera image stabilization, has more AF points (15 vs 11), has faster burst (7 vs 3 fps), offers AE bracketing that the D3100 doesn’t, support automatic Panorama stitching and 3D Panorama. So even thought that the Sony is around $50 more expensive, it certainly looks like a more robust camera.

So you actually need to look at the whole picture to understand that the A37 is actually a very good all-around entry-level DSLR camera.  Yes, you might lose a specific feature or two, but you get a lot of return – and that’s thanks to the translucent-mirror technology that makes it cheaper to add those features to this camera.

 

So what is this “Translucent Mirror Technology”? – This video will give you a good understanding about the pros of this amazing technology.

Now for a Sony SLT-A37 introduction video:

 

OK, you got a basic understanding about what kind of camera is the A37, what makes it special and what are the trade-offs.  Now let’s do the same thing to the Sony A57.

 

Sony A57

Sony A57 front

 

Sony SLT-A57 is a mid-range SLT camera intended for intermediate photographers. It sits above the A37, but below the A65 and A77 top-of-the-line SLT cameras.  The A65 costs approximately $300 more than the A57 and the A77 $1000 more than the A57. So the price differences between those cameras are quite steep like in other companies. That’s why some companies can add more models into the lineup, feeling out this gap.

So if your budget is around $700 (maximum) for the camera body, their is not need to spent time dreaming about the A65 and A77. You can read our Sony A65 vs A77 comparison to understand the differences between those two cameras and our other Sony A65 vs A57 comparison if you are interested to know more about those more expensive SLT camera models.

The Sony SLT-A57 is a 16.1-megapixels camera, features 12 fps burst (!), Full HD video recording at 60p (progressive!) and 24p, has AE bracketing, 3-inch 921K-dots Full-articulated display. It certainly looks like a beast compared to the A37,  there is a big difference in terms of the design of the camera when you jump from the Alpha A37 to the Alpha A57.

Sony A37 and A57 size comparison

Sony A37 and A57 size comparison (via camerasize.com)

 

You can compare digital cameras on camerasize.com

I can imagine that some of you are shocked by the look of the A57. In fact, I guess many P&S shooters will find the A57 quite unattractive when it comes to its external design. The A37 is smaller, weight less and doesn’t look like  beasty camera. Some people may like it, others won’t even care a bit.

Let’s take a look at an intorudction video of the Sony Alpha 57 (yes, look similar to the A37 video, but different, cheap Sony, couldn’t make a completely different video?!)

 

One of the most attractive features of this camera is its 12 fps continuous shooting. Add this to the continuous and accurate AF of the translucent mirror technology, and you get an amazing sports camera, one that can capture a precise moment when shooting fast moving subjects. The full time continuous Autofocus compliments the burst speed incredibly well. You have probably seen some pro photographers shoot at amazing burst speed, and now you can enjoy the same performance, even with much better continuous AF!

In comparison:

Sony A77 – 12 fps
Canon EOS 7D: 8 fps
Nikon D7000: 6 fps
Canon EOS 60DL 5.3 fps
Nikon D4  ($6000 camera): 11 fps
Canon EOS-1D X ($6800 camera): 14 fps

I personally think that the main advantages of buying a Sony SLT camera is for the FULL TIME CONTINUOUS AUTOFOCUS and the VERY FAST CONTINUOUS SHOOTING SPEED.

No other camera comes close to that brilliant combination and the coexistence of those two can yield incredible results and without limiting the creative space of enthusiast photographers.

 

A37 vs A57 Comparison Table

Now that you became familiar with the two cameras, let’s take a look at a side by side comparison table to clearly see the differences.

A37A57
AnnouncedMay 17, 2012March 13, 2012
Sensor16.1MP

+ Dual anti-dust system
161.MP

+ Dual anti-dust system
ISO
(inc. boost)
100 - 16000
(ISO 25,600 in Multi-frame NR mode)
100 - 16000
(ISO 25,600 in Multi-frame NR mode)
Sensor-shift Image StabilizationYes

up to -4.0 EV steps in shutter speeds
Yes

up to -4.5 EV steps in shutter speeds
White Balance Presets69
Number of Focus Points15 (3 cross sensors)15 (3 cross sensors)
LCD2.6-inch
Tilting
230K-dots
3-inch
Full Articulated
921K-dots
Viewfinder1,440,000 dot LCD electronic viewfinder

100% coverage
1,440,000 dot LCD electronic viewfinder

100% coverage
Shutter Speed30 - 1/4000 sec30 - 1/4000 sec
Built-in FlashYes (12m)Yes (10m)
Flash X Sync Speed1/160 sec1/160 sec
Max. Continuous Shooting Speed7 fps12 fps
Exposure Compensation±3 EV (at 1/3 EV steps)±3 EV (at 1/3 EV steps)
AE Bracketing(3 frames at 1/3 EV, 2/3 EV steps)(3 frames at 1/3 EV, 2/3 EV steps)
Video Full HD1080i60
1080p29.97
1080p60
1080p24
Battery Life (CIPA)500550
Dimensions124 x 92 x 85 mm (4.88 x 3.62 x 3.35")132 x 98 x 81 mm (5.2 x 3.86 x 3.19")
Weight506 g (1.12 lb / 17.85 oz)618 g (1.36 lb / 21.80 oz)
Light Metering Type1200-zone evaluating metering1200-zone evaluating metering
Sweep PanoramaYes (2D, 3D)Yes (2D, 3D)
Built-in-Flash Recycling Time (approx. time in seconds)43
In-camera HDRYes (Enhanced HDR Auto)Yes (Enhanced HDR Auto)

Let’s sum up the advantages that the A57 has over the A37:

  1. According to the official A37 and A57 product’s page, the A57 have a half stop better image stabilization
  2. A57 has move white balance presets
  3. The LCD of the A57 is larger LCD with significantly higher resolution
  4. A57 can shoot fast in burst mode (5 fps faster)
  5. A57 can shoot full HD 1080p60 while the A37 is 1080i60 (see interlaced vs progressive for HD videos)
  6. A57 has a slightly better battery life
  7. A57 is larger and heavier than the A37, might better ergonomically when using long and heavy lenses
  8. Recycling time of the built-in flash is 1 sec faster

 

Both sensors use the same sensor size and megapixel count, and both have announced relatively close, which suggest that this might be the exact same sensor, although I’m not 100% sure about that. The image quality of both cameras is just superb, but we can see that Sony takes that safe approach buy utilizing a less conservative noise reduction approach to keep JPEGs with minimum amount of noise.

 

Conclusion

The differences between the A37 and A57 are not as huge as I previously thought.  For many of you, especially beginners, it will be better to go with the A37 and spend more on a better lens. It’s easy to understand the differences and I personally think that the best strength of the Sony A57 is the 12 fps, 1080p60 video quality (AVCHD 2.0) and higher resolution LCD. Both cameras utilize a high-resolution EVF (electronic viewfinder), but are not in the same league as the OLED viewfinder found on the high-end SLT models. Stil, much better than previous generation EVFs.

Sports photographers might be very tempted to get the A57, and  personally think that this is a great camera for that purpose. Those who shoot and love to edit video will also love the fact that the A57 can shoot 60p, which makes more creative space for video editing. All in all the differences between those two cameras isn’t huge, but it’s all depends on your specific needs.

Both cameras don’t come with built-in GPS. The A55 has built-in GPS but that was dropped in the A57. IF you want a GPS in your camera, you’ll have to upgrade to the Sony A65.

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  • http://ThePhotoExperience.com Mike Dougherty

    The A65 and A77 set focus at the beginning of a 10 or 12 FPS burst. The A57 will continue to focus during a burst. At 12 FPS, the A57 crops the image to about 8 MP. Only at 10 FPS do you get a 16 MP capture with continuous auto focus. This is extremely important if you are shooting fast moving sports.

  • Andi

    yeah, great review!
    I bought this camera (A37) 3 days ago with Rp. 6.000.000 ($625). yeah thats Indonesia price. little expensive but much bonus like ACC-FW1 and SAM 50mm F/1.8. I like this camera, except poor LCD and without 1080 60p support ;/
    the rest is, fast camera and rich feature!

    sorry for my bad english anyway. :)

  • Gerben

    Thanks, great review