The Sony Alpha A58 was introduced, to mixed reviews, as a replacement for two other (now-discontinued) DSLR cameras: the Sony Alpha A37 and the Sony Alpha A57. Some reviewers call the A58 a poor compromise of the two previous models and say it doesn't excel in any one area; others report that the A58 mixes all the high-tech features of the A57 with the consumer-friendly A37. Either way, the Sony Alpha A58 is a solid entry-level DSLR.
Comfortable and straightforward. The Sony Alpha A58 is very similar in design to the successful Alpha A57, with the same comfortable grip and space to rest your thumb at the rear of the camera body. The Sony A58 handles very well, even for those with smallish hands. It's also straightforward to use, with buttons that allow quick access to controls including the ISO and exposure compensation. Pressing the "Fn" (function) button gains access to many other camera settings. The A58's LCD screen can be pulled out and angled for different shooting heights. It's not completely articulated, though, and has a limited range of movement, tilting down 55 degrees and up 135 degrees.
Outperforms many rivals. Its 20.1 megapixel resolution places the Sony Alpha A58 above many of its rivals in the beginner DSLR class. But with the greater level of detail comes the problem of noise, which is noticeable at higher ISO sensitivities. That aside, the Alpha A58 has impressive image quality for its class with autofocus that's "fast and decisive," even in low light. Video quality is good, and available in HD 1080p. Testers say the A58's Auto White Balance performs pretty consistently, delivering natural skin tones under a wide range of lighting conditions. Its battery outlasts those of some rivals at 690 shots per charge.
Plastic lens mount raises concerns. As with all other cameras in its price range, the Sony Alpha A58 has a plastic body. This isn't problematic, since Sony has created a slightly smaller, lighter body for the Alpha A58 than the previous A37 and A57 models. What is an issue, however, is that the A58 has a plastic lens mount instead of the usual metal mount. Reviewers note that the lenses themselves often have plastic mounts, but not the load-bearing lens mount on the camera. The concern is that anytime a lens is put on and removed from the camera, the plastic lens mount will suffer from wear and tear.
Updated sensor. One of the differences between the old Sony Alpha A57 and the new A58 is the updated 20.1 megapixel sensor. As with all Sony DSLRs, the A58 uses translucent mirror technology, giving it a Single Lens Translucent (SLT) status. The viewfinder is electronic as opposed to the optical versions in mainstream DSLRs. In addition, there's quite a range of preset settings for those who don't need complete manual control of their cameras.
1. What Digital Camera
Phil Hall reports that the Sony Alpha SLT-A58 is a "muddled compromise" between the A37 and A57 models it replaces. As such, it doesn't really do anything particularly well enough for him to recommend it over its rivals, such as the Canon EOS T3i and the Nikon 3200D.
Review: Sony A58 Review, Phil Hall, May 2, 2013
This review concludes that the Sony SLT-A58 takes a big step up in resolution, coming in at 20.1 megapixels, to produce clear and sharp photos on a par with more expensive DSLR cameras. The plastic lens mount instead of a metal one keeps the price down, but does affect the durability of the camera body.
Review: Sony A58 Review, Jason Schneider, Mike Tomkins and Dave Pardue, Aug. 20, 2013
The Sony A58 is chosen as one of the best entry-level DSLR cameras for its quiet shutter, 5 frame burst rate and high-quality photo image, especially at high ISO in good light. Shawn Barnett recommends this camera for most amateur photographers.
Review: Sony A58, Shawn Barnett, Nov. 27, 2013
As an interchangeable lens camera that uses Sony's unique Translucent Mirror Technology, the SLT-A58 isn't a true DSLR but is smaller, quieter and faster than its DSLR competitors. Mark Goldstein says the A-58 brings mid-range features and performance to the entry-level market, and its 20 megapixel resolution make it a "real bargain."
Review: Sony A58 Review, Mark Goldstein, May 20, 2013
Amy Davies reports that the major changes of the A-58 over its predecessor, the A-57, are an improved resolution to 20.1 megapixels and an improved electronic viewfinder. Her bottom line is that the Alpha A-58 is a great first DSLR camera for beginners, but it probably won't tempt loyal Canon or Nikon users away from their current favorites.
Review: Sony Alpha A58 Review, Amy Davies, May 16, 2013
In answer to the question in the title, Lori Grunin concludes that the Sony Alpha A-58 has taken a step or two back from the A-57 it replaces, and even from the lower-cost A-37 model. Even with the enhanced resolution and a few other small improvements, she says you're losing more features than you're gaining.
Review: A Step Backwards or Good Enough? , Lori Grunin, Feb. 25, 2013