Estimated Street Price: $699 (body only)
Part of the secret is Sony's Translucent Mirror Technology, in which the SLR mirror doesn't have to flip up out of the light path to make an exposure. Instead, it transmits most of the light to the image sensor, while directing a portion up to the phase-detection AF sensor. Thus, you get full-time phase-detection AF with eye-level (or LCD monitor) viewing, even for video. The eye-level viewing is provided by a very good 1,440K-dot Tru-Finder electronic viewfinder.
Of course, action isn't all the A57 is good at. It's a fine general-purpose camera, with excellent image quality, SteadyShot INSIDE sensor-shift image stabilization that works with all lenses, Sweep and 3D Sweep Panorama, Auto HDR, Hand-held Twilight and Multi-frame Noise Reduction modes (which use data from six quick shots to minimize camera shake and noise) and a variety of Picture Effects. There's also a new Auto Portrait Framing Mode, which saves an additional frame cropped "optimally."
Like the A37, the A57 can do video in two formats: 1080 full HD at 60p, 60i and 24p in AVCHD, and 1440x1080 and 640x480 in MP4, both at 30p. A built-in mic provides stereo sound.
The A57 can use all Sony A-mount and legacy Konica Minolta Maxxum lenses, like all Sony DSLRs. Focal lengths from the 11-18mm zoom to 600mm supertele are available in the Sony line, plus 1.4X and 2X teleconverters.
STANDOUT FEATURE: 12 fps with full-time continuous phase-detection AF.