Anyone considering upgrading from a snapshot camera to a digital SLR may like to consider the user-friendly alternative of Sony’s 16.1 megapixel SLT-A37. See all camera reviews.

In many respects, including large APS-C sensor size and Sony A-mount lens, it resembles one of the brand’s Alpha DSLRs. But the backplate controls are as simple as you’ll find on a compact while the internal mirror mechanism that powers a regular SLR has been made see through. Hence this isn’t technically an SLR, but what Sony refers to as a ‘SLT’ (Single Lens Translucent) camera. See Nikon D800 review.

This internal tweak has a couple of advantages. Shooting 1920x1080 pixels Full HD video is as instant as pressing the red record button on the top plate. On a normal DSLR we’d first have to wait while Live View mode is selected and its mirror mechanism flips up before recording commences. Secondly, Sony claims the see-through mirror has improved auto focus speed. Certainly we found the SLT-A37 nigh instantly locked on target with a half press of the shutter release button. Take a look at Group test: what's the best interchangeable lens camera?

A couple of other things we don’t yet find on most DSLRs: a tilting rear LCD screen, albeit here a modest 2.7-inches in size and ok-ish 230,400 dot resolution, plus a large 1.44 million dot electronic viewfinder (EVF) immediately above as an alternative for purists. See also Nikon 1 J1 review

Sony SLT-A37 review

The SLT-A37 offers good value for money bought with 18-55mm zoom and offers a more user friendly alternative to an SLR with identical quality.

Sony SLT-A37: Specs

  • Total sensor Pixels (megapixels): Approx. 16.5
  • Image sensor type: CMOS Sensor
  • ISO Sensitivity Setting: ISO100 - 16000 equivalent
  • Automatic White Balance: YES
  • Shutter Speed Range (seconds): 1/4000 - 30 and bulb
  • Screen Size: 6.7cm (2.7type)
  • Stamina (battery life in CIPA condition): Approx.450 shots (Viewfinder) / approx.500 shots (LCD monitor) (CIPA measurement)
  • Size: 124.4 x 92 x 84.7mm
  • Weight (Body only): Approx. 506g
  • Total sensor Pixels (megapixels): Approx. 16.5
  • Image sensor type: CMOS Sensor
  • ISO Sensitivity Setting: ISO100 - 16000 equivalent
  • Automatic White Balance: YES
  • Shutter Speed Range (seconds): 1/4000 - 30 and bulb
  • Screen Size: 6.7cm (2.7type)
  • Stamina (battery life in CIPA condition): Approx.450 shots (Viewfinder) / approx.500 shots (LCD monitor) (CIPA measurement)
  • Size: 124.4 x 92 x 84.7mm
  • Weight (Body only): Approx. 506g

OUR VERDICT

As this a budget model costing a very reasonable £499 with the 18-55mm standard zoom supplied on test, we don’t get the top plate function window found on semi pro models, but we are provided with a shooting mode dial crammed with 12 manual and automatic picture enhancing controls, including panorama and 3D stills option. Again this is more than we’d normally expect at this price point. Add in colour-rich, well-defined images and smooth 50fps video capture and you can’t go wrong.

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