The Alpha 580 replaces our Alpha 700 in everyday use for 2011. When the A700 is compared with it, the shortfall is more than clear; no high speed shutter running to 1/8,000th with flash at 1/250th, no glass prism, no CF card slot, no mirror lockup in Focus Check LV mode, and the whole build quality.
But against this, the AF is faster and more accurate despite there being no f/2.8 double-cross central sensor, just three single cross f/5.6 points. The resolution is higher, the ISO range is extended and is usable at higher settings, the sequence shooting in all modes except JPEG-only offers more frames and a higher maximum rate, it has true live view, and it shoots HD video.
I’m writing this one month after the A580 arrived. It’s never all that good a time of year to try out a new camera; the last vestiges of autumn colour and sunshine disappeared within a day of unpacking the camera, and since then we have been solidly snowed in with one single car journey in four weeks. The snow has been a good subject, but almost the only subject! No doubt with a more varied range of subjects some time later in 2011 we’ll be able to judge the A580 better. In the meantime, there is no better APS-C DSLR available from Sony.
And if you would like to see a complete real-world 28mm f/2 Minolta RS shot at ISO 3200 (1/60th at f/2.8 hand held with stabilisation, optical finder, AF) carefully processed from raw but not using any third-party noise-busting add-ons just the built in ACR NR, this one can also be downloaded as a full size file by subscribers
A better APS-C DSLR is possible, and needed. It should have the sensor of the A580, or better; the build of the A700, or better. It should have CF, SD and MS card slots but we’ll settle for any two. It should have built-in GPS, and it should allow CDAF focusing during video with SSM and/or SAM lenses. No feature found in any APS-C Sony to date should be omitted, and any fault or shortcoming identified with any APS-C Sony to date should be corrected.
Ask any ancient Mayan and they’ll tell you the world could end before we ever see that!
– David Kilpatrick