Sony's translucent mirror technology - which directs incoming light to the image sensor and the AF sensor simultaneously - continues to advance with the introduction of the company's new SLT-A57 digital camera. The new camera trumps the α55 it replaces in a number ways, most notable of which is the 12 images per second continuous shooting with full-time continuous autofocus in Tele-zoom Continuous Advanced Priority AE mode. The new, faster, more powerful image processor that makes such an impressive performance boost possible also ramps up the sensitivity to a very low-light-friendly ISO16000, and the camera is fit to bursting with creative photography options.

Sony's new α57 DSLR camera doesn't offer an improvement in the sensor department over its predecessor, featuring a 16.1 megapixel APS-C type (23.5 x 15.6 mm) Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor using RGB primary color filters, but joining forces with the newest BIONZ image processor allows the camera to offer a similar low noise performance to the company's more expensive α65 and α77 models. It also gains the same 15-point, TTL phase detection autofocus system with three cross sensors as used in the α65, with faces and other selected objects promised to remain in sharp focus thanks to enhancements made to the Object Tracking AF.

The α57 features the same tilting 3-inch, 921,600 dot resolution TruBlack LCD display (albeit at a different aspect) as the α55 before it and also benefits from a 0.46-inch TruFinder electronic viewfinder with 1,440,000 dot resolution and 100 percent frame coverage. It's been given a taller α65-like body for improved comfort, which also makes room for a bigger InfoLITHIUM battery than its predecessor - giving around 550 frames using the EVF or 590 with the LCD display. The new alpha camera is compatible with all Sony A-mount lenses, too, as well as Minolta and Konica Minolta AF lenses.

Creative photography options include 15 Picture Effects (including HDR Painting and Rich-tone monochrome) for computer-free, in-camera artistic image manipulation, sweep panorama, auto HDR, and the new Auto Portrait Framing technology. This feature identifies the position of the subject and then trims away scene excess to leave a tightly-framed portrait in either portrait or landscape orientation. Sony says that the feature takes advantage of something called By Pixel Super Resolution Technology, that allows the α57 to retain the new cropped frame at 16 megapixels.

The α57 is capable of full 1980 x 1080 High Definition movie recording at a frame rate of up to 60p, and videographers can of course take full advantage of the camera's continuous autofocus capabilities while shooting a Cannes hopeful.

The new alpha family member has a body-only weight of 539 g (19 oz), dimensions of 132.1 x 97.5 x 80.7 mm (5.2 x 3.83 x 3.17-inches), and benefits from SD/SDHC/SDXC media card support, a built-in flash, and both HDMI and Bravia Sync connectivity.

The α57 will be available from next month for a body-only price of US$700, or with an 18-55mm kit zoom lens for $800.

View gallery - 9 images