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The Complete Sony a580 Review

by Julius Motal on 03/28/2011

Sony a580

As 2011 rushed to a close, so did my opportunity to get a new camera. When I purchased a580, B&H had one left in stock. I pounced on the opportunity, and from there, my photographic career took a new turn. The a580 packs a 16.2 MP sensor with 95% OVF coverage – 100% in Focus Check Live View mode. The camera is also Sony’s first traditional DSLR with video functionality.

Mara Levi of The Pushovers

The Tests

Day 1 – First impressions An exploration of the general specs, ergonomics, and autofocus.

Day 2 – A concert The a580 tackles a concert with difficult lighting.

Day 3 – Thailand A photographic journey through Thailand.

Day 4 – Wildlife The a580 meets some Thai locals.

Day 5 – Video The a580′s video functionality is given a test run.

Giant tears

When coupled with the BlackRapid RS-7, the a580 performs wonderfully. The camera has a solid, and has great weight distribution. It’s a joy to hold and shoot with, and it survived an elephant ride.

Elephant ride!

The image was shot in Program mode with the AF enabled. This make sense because I’m seated on the top right in the photo. The AF was fast and smooth, and the 7-fps burst rate was a huge hit with Thai locals.

Images taken with the a580 were quite crisp, though as I had seen in previous postings, there was a tendency towards the slightly unsaturated for a good number of the images. I’m still exploring this camera, and will be working through this kink.

It’s worth mentioning the immense family of Minolta lenses that the a580 has access to. I’ve got five – 28mm AF f/2.8, 50mm AF f/1.7, 135mm AF f/2.8, 35-70mm AF f/4 Macro, and my beloved 70-210mm AF f/4 beercan beauty. The a580 does not need an adapter for the Minolta’s AF line, but it does need one for the Minolta MD line. Adapters do exist, and are worth the investment if you’ve got a cache of vintage Minolta glass.

The a580 is a stellar choice for photographers across genres; wedding, sports, concert, street, event, etc. The camera sports stellar AF, an impressive burst capacity, crisp video, and solid performance at high ISOs, among other things. And it’s a traditional SLR, none of that wonky EVF. The EVF just isn’t my bag. It’s been a powerful ally, and an excellent camera all around.

Unfortunately, I can’t offer anything about the a580 and Lightroom yet because I acquired a copy of Lightroom fairly recently, and fortunately, I discovered that in the latest update, a580 RAW files are now supported. I’ve been using paint.net to handle my post-processing.

The a580 has performed masterfully in a variety of situations. It handled the hot, hot heat of Thailand and the confusing lighting of a concert in Brooklyn. It did well with sweaty hands and it recorded a number of videos in radically different locations with ease. The a580 is a prime choice, especially if you’ve got a bevy of great Minolta glass and if you’re not quite partial to the two SLTs, the a33 or a55.

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