on June 26, 2011
I previously was using a Pentax K20d body and owned a Nikon D70 and still own a Lumix G1. If you are not familiar with the K20d, it's an excellent enthusiast level camera with pretty much every feature and control you could want. But it is a 2008 model so I wanted to upgrade into the ever changing new technology. The Pentax, like other older cameras is not quite as good at high ISO, low light shots as I would like so I took the chance and made the switch.
The Sony arrived quickly with pretty much what I expected in the box. In looking it over and initial testing, the first thing I noticed was the things that were missing as compared to the K20. I won't try to list the physical differences other than to say the A580 vs the Pentax K20d differences are fairly typical of the differences between many enthusiast cameras when compared to mid-level models (Canon d50 vs T3i, Nikon D7000 vs D5100, etc). The Sony A580 has some of the frequently used functions tucked into the menu rather than having physical controls such as white balance, drive mode, raw, etc. as the Pentax has. At first I was horrified. I told myself, relax, it's Amazon, you can send it back. I then decided to give the Sony a chance and took a look at the manual. I found that Sony has at least put a quick menu button on the back which brings up pretty much all the things you need to the top level of that menu. I thought, ok, it's better than my pocket cam. Another thing I noticed is that some features that the Pentax has buried in menus are brought to the surface with buttons ... ie..a Normal/DRO/HDR button, and a movie record button. It was starting to get interesting.
The final straw came when I took the camera outside for a night shot test (it was late night now). It just happens that there was an opportunity for a shot that I've been trying unsuccessfully to get for months with the K20. Its my cat walking on the landing rail in low light. The poor Pentax K20 just isn't fast enough .. even with my f1.8 50mm lens at ISO 1600 .. the moving cat was blurred and the level of noise was unacceptable. Well here I had that same shot in front of me. The A580 was set to the "Night View" scene mode. I aimed using live view and shot .. I was shocked! The result was exactly what I wanted. I exhaled and told myself, there is no way I am sending this baby back to Amazon. I uploaded the photo to the item description area.
Here I am a month later having dedicated some time to learning the camera. I am extremely pleased with it. It is certainly a different animal than your standard XSi, D80, K7 camera .. you have to learn to take advantage of the mind blowing features like the super DRO mode, HDR, and scene modes but this camera will take photos that are very difficult to get with previous cameras. It is especially good with low light photos with high tech features only Sony offers. The image quality is excellent even at high ISOs. (it's the same 16MP sensor that the Nikon D7000 uses). I am not really big on movies but the HD movie quality is excellent in my view. Even the PMB software that comes with it is very nice.
I give this camera my full recommendation for a camera under $1000 ... and actually I had been considering the Nikon D7000 but now I am glad I bought the Sony A580 instead for half the price. I'll spend the savings on a nice lens.
on February 17, 2011
This is a great camera for the money. The new sensor has great low light performance and is a significant step forward. Combine this with a wide dynamic range and the week link is the photographer not the camera. How well it meets your needs you must decide. Great live view. So so ovf. Fast shooting with 7 fps. In body stabilization. My 100 -300 APO is image stabilized along with all my lens. HD movies. The camera is the wireless flash controller, no addition flash required other than the remotes. When friends compare their images with this new sensor, the results are pretty impressive. A good place to compare is at image-resource.com. You can compare differnt cameras with the same scene and lighting. Speaks for itself. Perfect no, but a giant step forward compared to even 2 year old sensors at any price. Enjoy.
on July 31, 2011
Fantastic camera! I compared three different cameras: Nikon D5000, Sony A700 and the Sony A580. One of my main considerations was taking photographs of my daughters playing sports, which narrowed down my choices for a sub $1k camera with a high FPS to two camera lines, Nikon and Sony.
The Nikon had very realistic pictures, good coloring but not oversaturated. The issue with the Nikon is the cost of good quality lenses. The Sony A700 felt very solid in the hands which I really liked and took great pictures as well. The issue with it was I need a higher ISO to photograph my daughter playing indoor volleyball (thought I plan to buy the Sony A700 later down the road as a second camera).
The Sony A580 ended up being for me the perfect camera for many reasons. It has a high ISO, a great high-quality sensor (it won Dpreview's Silver Award), a range of great quality lenses, many at very affordable prices and the latest technology . See the Dpreview website for an in-depth review of the camera and its sensor. The range of lenses includes Sony, Carl-Zeiss, Minolta Maxxum lenses as well as third party. Minolta Maxxum is a great source of high quality lenses at a steal. They were built solidly with high-quality glass and metal mounts. Many can be found on used on the web in great condition and there are quite a few articles on which are the better lenses. (Also take a look at the Minolta Maxxum Flashes).
In addition, the camera takes HD video, does HDR and Panorama. Pair the camera with the Maxxum lenses and flashes, buy a good caselogic case and you've quite a great setup at an unbelievable price. If you want to take it up another notch, get a high quality photo printer like the Epson R2000 or R3000 with the money you saved buying a Sony/Maxxum setup. If you take a lot of photographs, look into Adobe Lightroom.
If you want to see what this camera is capable of producing, search Flickr for "A580".
What takes great photographs is the photographer, not the camera. This camera is more than capable of turning out great photographs.
on December 24, 2012
The camera now a few years old and discontinued. Very impressed with the camera, but was not pleased at all with the kit lens that came with it. Color and exposure not correct. I bought a Tamron 24-50mm to replace the kit lens. Night and day difference. Highly recomend the camera but buy the Tamron lens. Nice thing about all the Sony dslr cameras is the stabilization is built into the cameras. They own the patent from Minolta (Sony cameras actually Minolta cameras). No other camera maker can do this so they have to build into the lens which makes them heavier and bulkier. A huge advantage if you want a little less weight to carry around.
on May 19, 2011
I can tell a lot of wonderful things about this camera (image quality, quick autofocus even in live view, low-light performance, in-body stabilization etc) and have only 1 complain: it's the only DSLR that I know in this price range that does not automatically correct lens geometrical distortion, I can't really understand why. I had to buy a software to do that and added 1 step more (wasted time) to my flow every time I transfer photos to the computer, since not even the provided software does that.
On the top of it, its kit lens presents a lot of geometric distortion.
Sony, please consider that for future firmware revisions!!!
on March 17, 2011
For far too long Sony has released a series of watered down DSLR's in the midrange until now. The Sony a580 is the camera many Sony/Minolta users have been waiting for, an APS-C camera that can compete with Nikon and Canon. Not since the release of the a700 has Sony put so many features and image quality together in an APS-C camera. Great fast AF, great high ISO performance and stunning image quality. Grab one before they are gone because this may be the last optical viewfinder APS-C DSLR that Sony makes (they seem to be smitten with the SLT design).
on June 28, 2011
This camera has visibly better photographs then its contemporaries in the same range. The different is apparent at low light and high ISO conditions. I like many of its features HDR, Panaroma, in camera stabilization and its well laid menu. One thing that also impresses me is its personality, its certainly more beautiful than d5100. I compared its photographs with rebel xt(old but great camer) and d3100 after 30sec exposure. The photographs for sony were far better.
Things that dont like its not straightforward to delete photograph, there is auto focus for movie(which is absent because it can shoot 7fps, it shoots like some one is firing machine gun).
Overall I am extremely happy with this camera. When I am tired from my studies, I just pick it up and play with it for a while.