Price: $640 (street price with lens)
Good where it counts
THE LOW-DOWN: This 16mp camera comes with an 18–55mm kit lens. It is the latest iteration of Sony’s translucent mirror technology where 70 per cent of the light passes through the fixed mirror to the sensor and 30 per cent is redirected into the auto-focus sensor. (There is an explanatory video at tinyurl.com/6q3qh7c) The EVF is a high resolution 1.4m dot device but the LCD, the alternative viewfinder, is a mere 230k dots – not enough for a clear, crisp image. Construction quality is fair but the camera has the feel of being made down to a price. An advantage of the SLT system is full time auto focus for video and that works well as long as there are no dramatic shifts of focus needed. The 88 page printed manual is better than most companies provide these days.
LIKE: The part that counts is the image quality and on that score there are no complaints. Images are sharp with accurate colour and almost always correct exposure without adjustment. Our standard subjective tests showed excellent detail rendering and RAW files produce splendid results. Video quality is fine.
DISLIKE: The kit lens is optically good but mechanically a little crude in operation. The swivelling 65mm LCD is awful. Even with the adjustable brightness turned down to minimum the image is washed out, colourless and lacking in contrast.
VERDICT: This camera is certainly a mixed bag. In the hand it feels cheap, but there is no getting away from the fact that the image quality is very good. The excellent Sony NEX-C3 compact system camera in our opinion is a better buy for around $50 more. But the a37 does have the significant advantage of the eye level viewfinder, so try them both before deciding.