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Sony Alpha DSLR-A330

Quick Take for the Sony Alpha DSLR-A330

Sony announced its three new entry-level dSLRs for 2009, the Alpha DLSR-A230, A330, and A380, which replace the A200, A300 and A350 respectively. The products preserve Sony's three-tier strategy for its low-end SLRs. The cheap A230 differs from the slightly-less-cheap A330 by the viewfinder and the tiltable LCD, plus the A330 will be available in brown. But perhaps most notably, these models have dual-memory slots, one of which takes SDHC cards and the other Sony's proprietary Memory Stick Duo.

Canon and Nikon don't even seem to participate in the $650-ish price segment the A330 inhabits. Nevertheless, it can't compete on size against Olympus' amazing shrinking dSLRs; its viewfinder will look a bit smaller than both thanks to the lower magnification factor and it has a slower burst frame rate. But that 9-point AF has the potential for faster focus.

Sony Alpha DSLR-A330 Olympus E-450 Pentax K2000
Sensor 10-megapixel CCD 10-megapixel Live MOS 10-megapixel CCD
Sensitivity range ISO 100 - ISO 3,200 ISO 100 - ISO 1,600 ISO 100 - ISO 3,200
Viewfinder 95 percent coverage
0.74x magnification
95 percent coverage
0.92x magnification
96 percent coverage
0.85x magnification
LCD 2.7-inch tiltable 2.7-inch fixed 2.7-inch fixed
Live View Yes Yes No
Video No No No
Continuous shooting 2.5fps 3.5fps n/a
Autofocus 9 points 3 points 5 points
Dimensions (WHD, inches) 5.0x3.8x2.8 5.1x3.6x2.1 4.8x3.6x2.7
Weight
ounces; add about 1.8 ounces for battery and card
17.3 13.4 18.5
Price $649 (with 18-55mm lens)
$849 (with 18-55mm and 55-200mm lenses)
$699.99 (with 14-42mm and 40-150mm lenses) $699.95(with 18-55mm lens and flash)
Sony Electronics

Sony's research shows that most people stepping up to these classes of dSLRs are looking for better photo quality and performance but want to retain the simplicity of the point-and-shoot experience (a premise I agree with). Of course, there's always the green Auto mode on every dSLR, but the big challenge is moving people from that to using a lot of the features that make dSLRs a lot better than their old snapshot cameras. For instance, Canon has its Creative Auto mode, described in the review of the EOS 50D. With these cameras, Sony has added online guides to describe the different features, and provides more contextual displays for the settings like shutter speed and aperture.

The Sony Alpha DSLR-A330 will be available in black in July; the brown version will ship later this year.