Costing £700 in the UK or $800 in the US, with a kit lens, the launch price of the Sony Alpha a57 seems a little steep, particularly given that you can pick up the 24.3MP, GPS-enabled Sony Alpha SLT-a65 for roughly the same price, or even less if you shop around online.

That said, once the newcomer has been on the market a short while, the street price will no doubt settle at a more realistic point, bringing it more into line with its DSLR rivals such as the Nikon D5100 and Canon EOS 600D.

When it comes to features, however, we don't feel at all short changed. The Sony Alpha a57 boasts a number of upgrades - as well as a few impressive new additions - that elevate it above the older Sony a55 that it replaces, while maintaining the same ethos for making the shooting process as streamlined and simple as possible.

We liked

Generally, the Sony Alpha a57 is simple to operate, with a decent array of dedicated controls and shortcuts spread across the camera body. The versatile swivelling LCD screen encourages creativity when it comes to framing stills and videos, the EVF is great and image quality is very pleasing - particularly when it comes to noise control.

We disliked

A menu system that's in need of a face lift and some potentially confusing operational quirks keep this camera from scoring top marks for ease of use. The loss of the GPS module found in the Sony Alpha a57's predecessor may also be a point of contention for some potential purchasers.

Final verdict

In spite of a few handling quirks and an ageing menu system that could do with ironing out, the Sony Alpha a57 delivers an overall very favourable impression. With a strong feature set and the ability to deliver high quality images, this camera can certainly hold its own when put up against its equivalent DSLR rivals.

With unique features such as its 12fps burst mode and the new interpolation-based technologies, the Sony Alpha a57 has a number of interesting features that elevate it above rivals.

There's also plenty of diverse exposure and scene modes, Picture Effects, 3D shooting capability and manual exposure control to be explored, meaning that beginners can start with the automatic functions and naturally progress into the more hands-on modes as their skills advance.

This makes the Sony Alpha a57 into a longer-term investment that has the potential to grow with you as your confidence develops.

There's a lot to like about this responsive camera. The Sony Alpha a57 boasts a robust body, an accessible control layout, versatile and high-resolution articulated LCD, plus a respectable range of automatic and manual exposure modes - including 3D and Sweep Panorama options.

Throw in a fast, highly-accurate full-time Phase Detection AF system and great image quality, and it's not difficult to see why we have plenty of praise for Sony's latest innovation.