Sony SLT-A58 and NEX-3N Announced

Following Nikon’s announcement of the D7100 DSLR, Sony introduced a new SLT camera, called A58, along with their newest entry-level mirrorless offering, NEX-3N. As before, Sony is pushing a lot of innovative, consumer-friendly features into both cameras to attract customers. Not having all that much pedigree as a camera maker (at least when it comes to DSLR or, in their case, DSLT), features and numbers is their surest way of shifting attention of a potential buyer away from better-known camera manufacturers, such as Canon, Nikon and, perhaps, even Pentax.

1) Sony SLT-A58

The new SLT-A58 is a replacement for two older Sony cameras, A37 and A57, which is a good thing – I’ve always found they had too many models not that different in their positioning. Luckily for current Sony users and temptingly for potential new ones, however, the camera fitted with the usual 18-55mm kit lens will cost around $600, which is on par with Nikon’s lowest-end D3200 camera (while on $100 rebate program). Mind you, on paper, SLT-A58 is no slouch against its competitors.

Sony-SAL-A58-Top

As all previous SLT cameras – hence the naming – it features a translucent fixed mirror and a new high-quality OLED EVF with 1.44 million dots and 100% coverage. The screen, while rather small and of low-resolution (2.7″ and 460k dots), is fully articulated. Both that and sensor-based image stabilization should be of interest for many beginner photographers. Native ISO range starts at 100 and goes all the way to 16000. Any possible performance gain should be very welcome as SLT cameras, due to their fixed mirror design, generally require more sensor sensitivity all else being equal (translucent mirror reflects some of the light). Specifications are rounded up with 5 frames per second continuous shooting (and up to 8 frames per second with limitations), which is slower than that of A57. Then again, A58 has more resolution (a new 20.1 megapixel sensor) and a lower price.

Sony-SAL-A58-Top

Competitive specs are not all you get with A58. As with A57, the camera aims to do everything for you if you’re a beginner who just wants “better pictures”. There are the usual panorama, artistic filter and a range of auto modes to help you with your exposure settings, but also something Sony calls Auto Object Framing. As the name suggest, this feature will frame the scene for you by cropping the image and then enlarging it back to original size. Any aspiring photographer is sure to take this feature with skepticism, but for beginners, it may actually be of some use.

Here are Sony SLT-A58 camera specification highlights:

  • New 20.1 megapixel CMOS sensor
  • Native 100-16000 ISO range
  • 15-point AF system (phase-detect) with 3 cross-type sensors
  • 5 frames per second continuous shooting (up to 8 in some modes)
  • 2.7″ 460k dot fully articulated LCD screen
  • 1.44 million dot electronic OLED viewfinder
  • Battery good for around 690 shots
  • In-body image stabilization
  • Body-only weight (with battery) 492g (1.08 lb/17.35 oz)
  • Expected price with 18-55mm kit lens around $600

2) Sony NEX-3N

Sony NEX-F3 has been around for less than a year, yet already we see it replaced with the new NEX-3N. Sony takes pride in saying this is the smallest and lightest interchangeable lens camera with APS-C sensor. It is targeted squarely at previous compact camera owners and even has a point-and-shoot standard zoom lever around the shutter release. It carries the same 16.1 megapixel CMOS sensor found in its predecessor and ISO sensitivity range of 100-16000. Similarly to the previously mentioned SLT-A58, it features Auto Object Framing feature. There’s also a 460k dot tilting 3″ LCD screen on the back.

Sony-NEX-3N

Coupled to Sony’s 16-50mm kit zoom lens, the package is very compact and versatile at the same time. The features available as well as control and design choices are likely to make this camera a natural step-up for point-and-shoot users wanting more image quality. Priced at around $500 with the kit 16-50mm lens, it is also rather affordable and fares well on paper against the Canon EOS M (read our review). The only slight reservation I have with Sony is about their timing. Why couldn’t they have launched this last year, instead of the NEX-F3? No serious leaps have been made with this camera over its predecessor, yet only a few months later the NEX-F3 is replaced. It would seem Sony is using its compact camera production policy – update as often as possible and flood the market with slightly revised products. I, for one, am getting tired of all the new cameras as of late… Especially those that aren’t really all that different from previous models.

Sony-NEX-3N-Rear

Here are Sony NEX-3N camera specification highlights:

  • 16.1 megapixel CMOS sensor
  • 100-16000 ISO range
  • 25-point contrast-detect AF system
  • 4 frames per second continuous shooting
  • 3″ 460k dot tiltable LCD screen
  • Very small and lightweight for an interchangeable-lens APS-C camera
  • Expected price with 16-50mm kit power-zoom lens around $500

3) Pre-Order Links

As always, here are pre-order links from our most trusted reseller, B&H.

  • Click here to pre-order Sony Alpha SLT-A58 body + 18-55mm kit lens for $598
  • Click here to pre-order a white Sony NEX-3N body + 16-50mm power-zoom kit lens for $498. Follow this link if you would prefer it in black

Comments

  1. February 27, 2013 at 7:44 am

    Marketing GIANTS ,both Canon and Sony :)

  2. 2
    ) Vipul Kapadia
    February 27, 2013 at 8:23 am

    Thanks for the update Romanas! I was actually looking around for a small yet affordable mirrorless for some time. This Sony NEX-3N is timely for me and I think replacing my point & shoot with this one makes perfect sense for me. As a dSLR user wanting some control over the camera settings, etc. Although it’s missing PASM mode dial, WiFi, fn button, OLED, phase detect, etc. I think I can still get very good IQ without paying so much extra for those missing items. I will pair this with Nikon D7100 (ordered as well) and I think I will have an affordable kit for travel, portrait and landscape photography that I mostly do.

  3. 3
    ) Max
    February 27, 2013 at 8:45 am

    Roman, thank you for your answer. It’s much appreciated. In fact you did answered the question for me. If there would be a big differnce in image quality from this one more bit color depth and this one more EV in dynamic range, then you would certainly know it. So the differnce seems to be small what I anticipated. The big proges in PC graphic history were steps of 8 bit, not only of 1 bit. First 8 bit for EGA, then 16 bit for VGA, then 32 bit.

    One of the things you wrote was ” … if I were to shoot them with a D600 the results were much more to my liking because of the *aesthetics* brought by a larger sensor…”

    Here I would like to ask you what exactly is producing that *more aesthetic*?

    Since its not the image quality (color depth, dynamic range) then it must be the ability to better isolate a subject, is it that what you mean here? Or is there anything else beyond less depth of field what makes the picture more aesthetic with the big sensor? (we talk here about a situation with enough light and a situation which is easy to focus on)

    Roman I’m really interested in your answer.

    P.S. I was surfing a little bit in your photo gallery. You have really some very nice portraits there :)

    Read more: http://photographylife.com/which-nikon-dslr-to-buy-first#ixzz2M7B1naU6

    • Profile photo of Romanas Naryškin
      4
      ) Romanas Naryškin
      February 27, 2013 at 9:20 am

      Hello, Max. I am sorry I was unable to answer your comment up until this point – been very busy with the new PC I just had to buy and catching up with latest news.

      A one-stop increase in dynamic range may be very much worth it for certain types of photography. So, the advantages are quite subjective – they can be as minor as they can be great. Then there is the added advantage of better noise handling. Again, it can be either important or not for what you do. In the end, you’re the photographer. It’s not your client who needs to see improvement. They won’t. It’s you who needs to see the improvement for them and see if it’s worth the added cost or not.

      As for the aesthetics, I meant mostly depth of field. A larger sensor will usually render shallower depth of field at a given focal length, focus distance and aperture setting. I also prefer to use FX lenses on FX cameras as they give wider angle of view than when put on DX body, where they somehow lose their versatility. Nikon doesn’t have too many good DX lenses, and especially primes. I find FX cameras easier to work with while a bigger viewfinder is a much needed bonus, too.

      I hope that answers your question.

      Thank you so much for your compliments. I was never very good at judging my own work, so someone else’s opinion is always welcome. Which gallery in particular did you visit?

  4. 5
    ) Dvir
    February 27, 2013 at 11:11 am

    Is there any chance you are going to do a review of the Sony A99 since you did D800 and 5d mrkIII?

    • Profile photo of Romanas Naryškin
      6
      ) Romanas Naryškin
      February 27, 2013 at 11:12 am

      We certainly hope to, Dvir. A77 left us with very positive impression.

      • 7
        ) Dvir
        February 27, 2013 at 12:23 pm

        Ok awesome! You have great reviews on this site, and one of the only three I bother to listen too with Dpreview and Imaging resource, hopefully since you have a lot of readers be able to dispel the stupid notion that the A99 should be priced like the D600, when in fact it is really very similar to the 5d mrk III. I never get comparisons like that, you shouldn’t need a reviewer to tell you that, just look at the specs, but I guess people are too lazy. Anyhow, will really look forward to a review!!! Also you seem like the only people that aren’t unhappy that the A58 isn’t a continuation of the A57, but a mix of A37 and 57.

  5. 8
    ) Maxfield Stanton
    February 27, 2013 at 5:18 pm

    Sonyalpharumors posted photos of the A58 without the lens and it is a plastic lens mount.

    I think cost cutting and heavy competition at this segment caused Sony to make this decision. Might not affect buyers who never take the kit 18-55mm lens off. But this plastic lens mount will affect potential users who want to buy heavier lens for this camera.

    • 9
      ) Dvir
      February 27, 2013 at 6:32 pm

      I have to tell you that the mount that supports the lens is underneath the plastic one and it is metal. The plastic although not pretty shouldn’t be a major factor, although it is still yet to be determined what strength of plastic was used.

  6. 10
    ) Tim Riley
    March 11, 2013 at 5:27 pm

    No that’s not correct the “metal part” is the aperture ring which changes the lens aperture. It is not a load bearing part at all.
    Must also be a reason Canon and NIkon won’t follow Sony with plastic mounts. I suspect that alone will put quite a few people off.

    The spec is also cut down in other areas 10fps full res to a mere 5fps full res, body is using lower grade plastic than the A57, and the proprietary new hot shoe won’t fit standard hot shoe stuff either like radio triggers (unless you file them down, the problem is the new contacts at the front of the shoe)

    • 11
      ) Dvir
      March 11, 2013 at 11:50 pm

      whos comment are you addressing?

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