March 13, 2012 at 3:33 PM ET
Sony's first 2012 camera to have a transculent mirror is the Alpha A57, successor to the two-year-old A55 and available in stores in April.
Shooting at 12 frames per second, it's a speedy model with continuous auto-focus and continuous auto-exposure with fixed aperture. It's the first with a clear image zoom, the same as the Cyber-shots that were released at the end of 2011.
As with many cameras nowadays, the A57 has in-camera picture special effects, including auto portrait framing, "pop color" and a "miniature mode."
This camera also shoots movies in full HD video at 60p, 60i and 24p frame rates with responsive full-time continuous phase detection AF, which means that it counters the blurring that usually happens with moving figures or objects and captures the scene in sharp focus.
The camera contains an E-mount lens, with plans for 15 models with those lens by 2013.
The A57's new processing engine also increases shutter performance and in-camera image stabilization, up to 16,000 ISO capability -- and also aims to lower the noise on images. It yields a second photo with improved composition, while allowing users to keep the original. (Users can turn this option off.) It also allows for a sweep panorama.
The resolution on the A57 jumps to 16 megapixels and increases the viewing angle to 32 degrees.
For those who don't want to carry around bulky lens, the A57 has an alternative: a 2x Clear Image Zoom that doubles the effective magnification of the lens. Cropped and zoomed images retain full pixel resolution.
The A57 will come with an 18-55mm kit zoom lens for $800 (model SLT-A57K), or body-only for about $700 (model SLT-A57).