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Sony Alpha A58 Digital Camera Review$599.99
By The Numbers
Rarely were we blown away by any of the A58's test results, but the numbers do continue to echo what we've been saying for the duration of this review. While clearly outpaced by more expensive models, this is a solid, capable camera that earns every penny of its low price point.
The A58's sensor was capable of as many as 7.78 stops of high quality (signal to noise ratio above 10:1) dynamic range in our lab test, but what's really impressive is that it held steady above 7 stops even at ISO 400. From there, range fell off very slowly: 6 stops at ISO 800, 5 at 1600 and 3200, 4 at 6400, and so on.
Color & White Balance
When shooting in the A58's most accurate color mode (that would be Standard), the ∆C average color error was a respectable 2.68, which is fairly typical for a DSLR of this caliber. We've penalized a bit for oversaturation, which came in a tad high at 113%.
If you aren't the type of person to shoot in RAW, you'll find the A58's white balance system more than adequate. Automatic white balance will produce color temperature errors that average 300 K (which is nothing special for fluorescent and daylight, but quite amazing for incandescent). Taking the time to perform a custom white balance reading beforehand will result in average color temperature errors below 130 K under all light sources.
If you're not shooting in RAW, it's impossible to turn off the A58's noise reduction algorithm completely. Your only options are Low, Normal, and High. Yet even on the lowest setting, shots were remarkably clean. Base noise in JPEG was a modest 0.53%, and—again, even at Low—this figure didn't cross 1.00% until all the way up at ISO 3200.
You may also notice a rare dip in image noise occurring at ISO 400. This indicates the point at which noise reduction gets more aggressive, but whatever Sony's strategy is they should keep it up, these noise levels are very impressive.
We found the 18-55mm kit lens to be a solid performer, but nothing to write home about. Average sharpness throughout all zones, apertures, and focal lengths was 1542 lw/ph at MTF50. There were few peaks or valleys in this data, except for a resolution spike up to 1784 lw/ph at f/9 on the telephoto end.
Chromatic aberration levels were tolerable, but the lens was subject to very severe barrel distortion (in excess of 3%) when shooting at full wide angle.
The highest bit rate videos are still only 1080/60i, and while interlacing is never a great thing, this camera's is some of the worst we've seen. Moving object trailing is extremely severe, frequency interference is very noticeable, and the footage is choppy.
Video sharpness isn't great either. This sensor and lens combination was capable of 625 lp/ph when shooting video under studio illumination, and 600 lp/ph in dim light. The sensor was, at least, quite sensitive, requiring only 4 lux of ambient illumination to record a video of adequate brightness.