Sony has announced the A57, a 16-megapixel SLT (single lens translucent) camera. It's the followup to 2010's well-received A55, the first camera to employ Sony's translucent mirror technology. Body-wise it looks extremely similar to last year's A65, which had the same 24-megapixel sensor as the A77 and NEX-7, but the A57 seems to use the NEX-5n's 16-megapixel sensor (also found in the Nikon D7000) and a lower resolution, Tru-Finder LCD electronic viewfinder — no OLED here, unfortunately. The EVF is a product of the translucent mirror system that sends light directly to the main sensor without a traditional prism. The upshot is that you get very fast shooting speeds and flawless live view performance with phase detection autofocus, with the tradeoff (or benefit, depending on your point of view) being the loss of the optical viewfinder.

It maintains the A55's full resolution shooting speed of 10 to 12 frames per second with continual autofocus, and shares the 15-point AF system with the A65. Shooting speeds are also upped to 12fps in a new Telezoom Continuous Advance Priority AE mode, which crops the sensor for an 8.4-megapixel image with 1.4x zoom — we'll have to hold our judgement on this for now. In addition to the blazing speed, Sony's also promoting the A57's Automatic Portrait Framing mode, as well as its 2.0x digital zoom. The company says it can double focal length digitally without losing any quality, thanks to the A57's BIONZ processor; doubling the zoom length of all your lenses would be pretty remarkable, but we're always skeptical of digital zoom.

The camera will be released this April for $699.99 in body-only form, or $799.99 with an 18-55mm kit lens.

DPReview has a hands-on preview complete with sample images from a pre-production model — Sony says the image quality is representative of the final camera.

See how it stacks up against other Sony Alpha cameras and competitors here.