It’s a deceiptive little camera. From specs and pictures you think it’s tiny. But it makes up for its small height and width by an unexpected depth, it’s actually well thicker than my Nikon D90, a better specified and overall bigger cam, placed higher in the food chain.
It performs reasonably well, given its entry line-up positioning. For the price paid, there is little to flaw. That being said, I’m not overly fond of it, and don’t intend to keep it. Why ? Because in my household it has two very serious contenders, and it can’t seem to top either in any critical area.
The Nikon D90, despite being 5 years old, which is a pretty long time in digital technology, remains a fine camera that does everything pretty darn well, and offers much better performance than the NEX for any action/fast autofocus needs. I don’t think the A37 would beat it here, though I yet have to test them side by side with similar lenses…
So after that boatload of pictures, a few thoughts on the camera. I find it too thick for it’s small footprint, and therefore weirdly proportioned. The low res screen actually is really crappy. It is hinged and does tilt, but the resolution is so bad it’s useless because it’s bad enough to look at flat, let alone at any angle. It’s also smaller than any competition these days. The grip of the camera is comfortable and the whole thing feels plasticky, but solid. The EVF is ok, it’s subtle enough and not over contrasty, allowing fine judgement of manual exposure. The shutter sound is ugly and wheezy, dragging on for what seems a full second. It sounds cheaply electronic and is very unpleasant. The menus make solid sense, once you’ve used them for a few days I guess you intuitively know where to find what. There is a Fn buttong that conveniently gives access to frequently needed options. The Tamron 17-50/2.8 zoom I’m using on the camera has a reputation of great optical quality, which is rather justified, but I find it a big, ugly and awfuly loud squeaking lens that makes me ears cringe.Output wise the files are pleasantly contrasted with beautiful color reproduction, though nailing proper white balance is not the easiest. Sharpness is excellent with that specific lens, and I left the Creative Style at the unalterated Standard setting.
So here’s my opinion so far on the A37, it’s a low priced and lower feeling entry level body that gives better output that it has the right to, but will give you a discounted shooting experience, with a lot of things feeling a bit “cheap”. The size/weight gain is marginal at best compared to a better specified DSLR like a D90, and I have yet to test but I’d be very surprised it the Sony beat the Nikon for action shots. The answer, next week. Stay tuned 😉