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Sony Alpha A380 review

Sony's new DSLR takes on recent efforts from Canon and Nikon

Our Verdict

For

  • Great Live View system
  • Easy to use
  • Great metering system
  • Fantastic image stabilisation

Against

  • Poor quality at medium-high ISO
  • JPEGs look mushy
  • Plasticky build

In terms of image quality the Sony Alpha 380 is a mixed bag. First impressions are encouraging, and straight out of the camera, images taken in decent light look great, - really punchy, with plenty of contrast.

The A380's metering system is very good at getting the exposure right, too, even when subjects are relatively small in the frame.

Likewise, the automatic white balance system can be relied upon in most situations, although like virtually all AWB systems it tends to remove some of the natural warmth from sunlit scenes.

Too much noise

Where the A380 falls down is in detail capture, and noise. Specifically, not enough of one, and too much of the other.

Even at low ISO settings and in good light, the A380's sensor delivers JPEG files that require quite a lot of sharpening before they appear properly crisp.

Coloured noise is visible in shadows and neutral midtones at ISO 200, getting much worse as the ISO sensitivity is increased.

Raw files from the A380 are much better than JPEGs, and a lot more detail can be coaxed out of them using the supplied Image Data Converter software, but I'm surprised that the JPEGs aren't more polished.

High ISO performance is very poor compared to competitive cameras like the Canon EOS 500D and Nikon D5000, but arguably, these settings are unlikely to be used all that regularly.

Tech Specs

Product TypeDigital SLR Camera
Battery Size SupportedProprietary Battery Size
Effective Camera Resolution14.2 Megapixel
USBYes
Product Familyalpha A
Optical Zoom3.1x, 3.1x (Lens 1) - 3.6x (Lens 2)
Brand NameSony
Screen Size6.9 cm (2.7")
Viewfinder TypeSLR
Weight (Approximate)489 g
Maximum Image Resolution4592 x 3056
Number of Batteries Supported1
Battery Built-inNo
Battery RechargeableYes
Battery IncludedYes
Display Screen TypeLCD
Total Camera Resolution14.9 Megapixel
HDMIYes
Camera AssemblyBody Only
Memory Card SupportedMemory Stick PRO Duo, Secure Digital (SD) Card, Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC) Card
Height97 mm
Width128 mm
Depth71.4 mm
Autofocus Points9
Product SeriesA
Focal Length18 mm to 55 mm (Lens 1) - 55 mm to 200 mm (Lens 2)
Image FormatsJPEG, RAW
Flash ModesAuto Flash, Flash ON, Flash OFF, Red-eye Reduction
Focus ModesAuto
ManufacturerSony Corporation
Product ModelDSLR-A380
Product Namealpha DSLR-A380 Digital SLR Camera
Product Linealpha
Aspect Ratio16:9
Manufacturer Part NumberDSLRA380Y
Manufacturer Website Addresshttp://www.sony.co.uk
Marketing Information

Blending breathtaking photography with easy-to-use operation, the lightweight and stylish Sony α DSLR-A380Y DSLR camera is ideal for step-up digital photographers. The α A380 brings you the freedom of Live View, which lets you compose and shoot photos using a tiltable 2.7" LCD screen.

Battery Life510 Shot
Package Contents
  • alpha DSLR-A380 Digital SLR Camera
  • Lens 18 to 55
  • Lens 55 to 200
Display Resolution230400 Pixel