Sony Alpha 580 at a glance:

  • 16.2-million-effective-pixel CMOS sensor
  • Seven frames per second
  • ISO 100-12,800 (expandable to 25,600)
  • 1080i HD video
  • Folding LCD screen
  • Street price around £640 with 18-55mm lens

Sony Alpha 580 review – Introduction

When Sony announced the launch of four new Alpha cameras in August last year, it was the single lens translucent (SLT) technology that grabbed most of the attention. This old idea that had revolutionised autofocus was made more usable through the inclusion of an electronic viewfinder. Yet almost as a fail-safe, the company created an alternative for those who might not be taken by SLT technology, in the form of a ‘conventional’ DSLR.

The Sony Alpha 580 is one of those alternatives, and one of two new models that replace the year-old Alpha 500 and 550 DSLRs. The lesser specified Alpha 500 has been superseded by the Alpha 560, with the Alpha 580 replacing the Alpha 550.

The older two cameras had little to separate them, and now there is even less to discern between the two newcomers. The Sony Alpha 580 does have two million more pixels than the Alpha 560, housing as it does a 16.2-million-pixel sensor, but all other key features are identical, including body size and weight. So, with the exception of the sensor and resolution, all that is written in this review can also be applied to the Alpha 560.

Sony’s Alpha 580 logically sits in its DSLR range between the Alpha 390 and Alpha 700, but the four new models crowd one particular area of the market, offering comparable features and commanding similar price tags. It becomes a challenge for any entry- or enthusiast-level DSLR user to discern just who each camera is aimed at, because aside from the SLT technology in two of the models, each camera incorporates many of the same refinements.

It will be interesting to see whether the Alpha 580 would best be viewed as a back-up to the SLT models, or if it offers enough improvement over its predecessor and its lesser counterpart (the Alpha 560) to make it worthwhile splashing a little extra cash.

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