By way of comparison here we have a standard DSLR from Sony. The A580 comes without GPS but with traditional internal mirror mechanism, fielding the same core sensor as the A55 with 16.2-megapixel effective resolution plus 15-point auto-focus system. Unsurprisingly the control layout and positioning is very similar, yet the A580 is noticeably chunkier and weightier, and its thicker ‘bezel’ flip-out-and-twist 3in LCD is presented in 3:2 aspect ratio rather than the A55’s 16:9. There’s the option to shoot in 16:9, of course – the screen is just cropped with familiar black bands top and bottom.
With an optical viewfinder too this doesn’t feel so obviously geared at shooting AVCHD or MPEG-4 video, though there’s the option for both plus a dedicated movie record button and Live View. If you alter the zoom/focal range while recording or switch to filming a different subject, then manual focus adjustment is required; the camera won’t automatically readjust.
There are nifty eye sensors here again, however, which switch off the onscreen info if you bring an eyeball level with the optical viewfinder. There’s also a chunky switch for swapping between using screen or viewfinder if you don’t already have the former enabled. This camera would suit those with larger hands.
A fraction of a second after flicking the on/off switch the A580 is ready for action. Recording is to Sony’s own Memory Stick Pro Duo format and/or the more common SD, which have parallel slots at the side. The reassuringly stiff shooting mode dial keeps things simple by offering just eight options, with auto, scene and 3D Sweep Panorama modes nestled alongside the creative quartet of program, aperture priority, shutter priority and manual. Maximum shooting speed – if not quite a match for the translucent mirrored A55 – is still a respectable 7fps. Like the A55, the A580 comes as a bundle option with an 18-55mm standard zoom, supported by SteadyShot Inside image stabilisation.
The A580 has many of the same core features as the smaller A55 for £100 less, though shooting video isn’t quite as fluid or intuitive
This may be a bulkier option than the A55 but with many of the same features for £100 less – including a top whack light sensitivity setting of ISO 12800 – those on a tighter budget or who prefer its more robust proportions, may consider it the better buy.