Sony Alpha DSLR-A380 review: Sony Alpha DSLR-A380

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CNET Editors' Rating

3 stars Good

Average User Rating

3.5 stars 1 user review
Review Date:
Updated on:

The Good Quick and simple live-view mode; quieter and smoother autofocus than its predecessor, the DSLR-A350; decent kit lens.

The Bad Small and gloomy viewfinder; cheap-feeling finish; very similar to its predecessor; expensive.

The Bottom Line The Sony Alpha DSLR-A380's pictures and specs are decent, but, apart from its better kit lens, it doesn't improve significantly on the DSLR-A350. It also costs more and feels cheaper. Maybe Sony thinks there's plenty of mileage left in the old tech yet, but, as upgrades go, this is pretty thin

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Sony's just revamped its entire 'starter' digital SLR range. The Alpha DSLR-A230, DSLR-A330 and DSLR-A380 replace the old DSLR-A200, DSLR-A300 and DSLR-A350 models. They look different, thanks to a complete restyle, and they sound different too, with a new, quieter 18-55mm kit lens. The top model, the Alpha DSLR-A380, comes with a 14.2-megapixel sensor, an innovative live-view mode and a £600 price tag.

Positives
On paper, the A380 looks pretty convincing. Canon has upped the ante for APS-C-sized sensors with the 15-megapixel CMOS chip in the EOS 500D and EOS 50D, but, with 14.2 million pixels, the A380 is only a whisker behind.

The A380's new 18-55mm kit lens is much better than the old 18-70mm lens. There's still plenty of barrel distortion at the wideangle end of the range, but the corner sharpness is better, there's less chromatic aberration and the autofocus is quieter (click image to enlarge)

Besides, it has something other dSLRs don't -- a full-time live-view mode that doesn't need the mirror locked up and the shutter open. You can change from viewfinder to live view by flicking a simple sliding switch on the top of the camera. That's something you'd expect from most cameras, but, unusually, the A380 has a second, lower-resolution sensor inside that's dedicated to composing images on the flip-out LCD at the back. Because the mirror doesn't have to flip up, the swap-over is instant, and the autofocus in live view is just as fast as it is when using the optical viewfinder.

Inside, Sony's recently renamed SteadyShot Inside feature helps reduce camera shake at slow shutter speeds, and there's an improved D-Range Optimizer that's designed to hold onto extreme shadow and highlight detail in high-contrast lighting.

Sony's redesigned the body to make it smaller and more user-friendly, reducing the number of buttons and redesigning the interface to include a graphical representation of how shutter speed and aperture interact, together with help screens that tell you what's going on as you shoot.

The A380 sports a flip-out, 69mm (2.7-inch) LCD display

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Where to Buy

Sony Alpha DSLR-A380

Part Number: CNETSony Alpha DSLR-A380

Typical Price: £600.00

See manufacturer website for availability.