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Sony Bets on First-Time DSLR Users

Sony alpha DSLR-A380

Sony alpha DSLR-A380

Sony’s new DSLR entry-level models target first-time DSLR users: point-and-shoot digicam users who are ready to move up to a DSLR that can give them better image quality, faster performance and versatility without the challenges that traditionally accompany the move to a DSLR.


Sony alpha DSLR-A380 Graphic Display

Sony alpha DSLR-A380 Graphic Display

The 3 new models — the alpha DSLR-A380, A330 and A230 — feature a built-in on-screen Help Guide that offers clear and concise explanations of the various modes and settings available. In addition, Sony has revamped the display of exposure settings with a unique Graphic Display that presents the relationship between aperture and shutter speed, as well as the effect each has on photographic results. That’s quite clever, though it’s not as clearly illustrated as it could be.

Sony alpha DSLR-A230 with optional Flash HVL-F20AM

Sony alpha DSLR-A230 with optional Flash HVL-F20AM

The Sony alpha DSLR-A230 is the most basic of the three models and features 10.2 megapixel resolution. It does not offer Live View and it does not have a tiltable LCD. It does offer Sensor-shift Image Stabilization which is effective no matter what lens you attach to the body. At US $550, you get the camera plus the kit DT 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 standard zoom lens. For US $200 more, add a DT 55-200mm F/4-5.6 telephoto zoom lens.

Sony alpha DSLR-A380 and A330 have a tiltable LCD

Sony alpha DSLR-A380 and A330 have a tiltable LCD

The Sony alpha A-330 is similar in specs to the A-230 and adds Live View and a tiltable 2.7-in. LCD. Sony claims its Live View offers the “rapid response of a DSLR [refering to the lighing fast phase detection AF], while avoiding the focus delay common to other live view systems [refering to the painfully slow Contrast-Detect focus we have seen so far on DSLRs offering Live View].”

The tiltable LCD is of the type that tilts up and down. It does not rotate to face forward. In fact, this tiltable LCD is the most practically useful since most of the time you will be using it tilted up as you move in to take a close-up or to get a better [usually lower] angle. Rarely, if ever will you use it overhead [unless, you are a paparazzi] or take shots sureptitiously at right angles. Keep it simple. Tilt up and your’re ready for a shot instantly. No pulling out, rotating, adjusting and then peering at the LCD that is not inline with the lens — which makes it difficult to compose your scene quickly.

All the 3 models use the SD/SDHC memory card, so that’s good news. Additionally, you can also use a Memory Stick Pro-Duo or Pro-HG Duo.

The Sony alpha DSLR-A330 costs US $650 with the kit DT 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 standard zoom lens. For US $200 more, add a DT 55-200mm F/4-5.6 telephoto zoom lens.

The Sony alpha DSLR-A380 is similar as the A-330 in features but has 14.2 megapixel resolution. It costs US $850 with the kit DT 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 standard zoom lens. For US $200 more, add a DT 55-200mm F/4-5.6 telephoto zoom lens.

Sony alpha DSLR-A330 with optional Flash HVL-F20AM

Sony alpha DSLR-A330 with optional Flash HVL-F20AM

Smartly, Sony has come out with a few optional accessories to make the new DSLRs even more versatile. A new compact flash, the HVL-F20AM, can be rotated so it can bounce its light off the ceiling to eliminate harsh shadows and achieve more even illumination when shooting indoors. There’s no better way to ensure flash pictures indoors that look like they are lighted by natural light. The use of a powerful flash also ensures that you can use a shutter speed fast enough to freeze action — no more blurred shots of little Johnny or Susan scampering around. The use of a flash also ensures the camera uses a low ISO for the best image quality. It’s worth the US $130.

Lastly, Sony has also come out with a new DT 50mm F/1.8 portrait lens (US $150) and a new DT 30mm F/2.8 macro lens. There you go, all this set ensures you can take all kinds of pictures, from close-ups to portrait to tele, indoors and outdoors.