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First Impressions: Sony A37 DSLR

by Chris Gampat on 05/17/2012

Sony’s A35 is today being replaced with the A37 DSLR. Being their new entry-level kid, it also sports many features that make it seem very entry level, but also make it extremely versatile for different types of users. Due to just how much power is really packed into here, it could very well win over the hearts of various Nikon and Canon users.

Take a look at how our hands on experience with the Sony A37 went.

Editor’s Note: Don’t call this a review at all. However, Sony has told us that the image quality that we got from the units at the event was final, though the camera’s firmware was not.

Update: B&H Photo has the A37 listed with the 18-135mm and 18-55mm lenses.

Tech Specs

- 16.1 MP sensor

- ISO from 100-16,000

- Steadyshot offers 2 and a half  to 4 stops of stabilization

- 7fps

- 15 pt autofocus system with 3 cross sensors

- Quick AF Full HD Movie mode

- Auto Portrait Framing (from the A57) takes a landscape photo and crops it.

- Tiltable LCD

- Tru-finder = 100% coverage

- 1080 24p HD video with face detection plus there is also 60i

- Available in June  $599 with 18-55mm $799 with the 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 SAM. $500 for Body Only.

But Wait, There’s More!

The 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 SAM is also coming

Ergonomics

The Sony A37 is Sony’s latest addition to Sony’s entry into the world of consumer-targeted DSLR cameras. Holding true to their recent shifts, the camera features a translucent mirror and therefore gives the camera an electronic TruFinder.

The top of the camera is characterized by an on/off switch right around the shutter release. Not too far back, you’ll notice various buttons on the right side with the mode dial on the left side of the top of the camera. In between all the buttons and dials is Sony’ proprietary hot shoe for accessories and their flashes. Those buttons up top are designated controls for the digital zoom functionality and a toggle between the LCD screen and the viewfinder.

The back of the camera features a full LCD screen that tilts and swivels. But that’s not all, there is also a menu button, movie mode recording function, exposure adjustment button and an auto exposure lock button. Further back are all the control buttons that one would expect, a function and info/delete button.

Autofocus

Sony’s A37 was tested alongside their also announced F3. For the most part, the A37′s autofocusing kept up with fast moving objects such as skaters. In fact, it blew the pants off of the F3: once again proving that phase detection is much better than contrast detection.

The focusing overall was pretty darn quick when I used some of Sony’s zoom lenses and their 16-50mm f2.8 lens.

I would go as far as to say that I would use the new autofocus system with any professional sports I may shoot. The burst rate however, that’s a different story. The card and processor could not keep up with writing all the information needed for me to keep shooting without having the camera need to stop for a bit.

For the dad photographing his teenager in high school basketball, that can be an issue.

It was also pretty at figuring out what I was trying to focus on; though when it came to tracking the camera needed to readjust itself at times to ensure that it was locking onto the subject.

Image Quality

The A37 and F3 have the same sensor: and therefore the image quality is really quite excellent and gets even better when paired with fast glass. In fact, I would only shoot this camera with fast glass to get the absolute most of the sensor. The colors in the images seemed to really pop more with fast glass vs consumer-grade zooms.

I’m going to let my image samples speak for themselves in this case.

Here's a demo of the crop portrait feature at full size

Here is the crop it gave me

First Impressions

Though the A37 seems like it is an extremely capable DSLR, I have yet to put it through its full paces. For me personally, I wasn’t a fan of the ergonomic build and at this point, I’m also personally getting a bit sick of DSLRs over mirrorless cameras. However, this camera seems more than capable enough for its intended target audience. Also consider the fantastic image quality one gets from it.

We will have to save our final judgements for the official test unit to come in with a couple of their best lenses.

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