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Christmas Gift Guide

Textured body

Grip

Typical mode dial

View switch

SD card slot and flip-up LCD

Simple controls

One of the nice design touches on the new entry-level Alphas is the use of a textured rubberized material not only on the grip, but also on the opposite side of the body. The manual focus ring on the new DT series of lenses also has a rubberized feel.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
Though the camera's grip is a lot lower than that of most competitors', it's still comfortable to hold because of the texture.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
There are no fancy new modes on the dial. The menu button, as well as most of the other buttons, feel a bit too flat with minimal travel.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
There's a big switch for toggling between the optical viewfinder and Live View mode, as well as a dedicated button for digital zooming/in-camera cropping.

Though mysteriously labeled AV--the manual never indicates why--as you'd expect, the +/- button handles exposure compensation.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
All the connectors and slots sit under a sliding door on the left side of the body. There are dual SD card and Memory Stick Duo slots with a physical media selection switch, a mini HDMI connector, and USB port. Having the card slots on the left side of the camera takes some getting used to; in most cameras they're either on the grip side or in the battery compartment.

The LCD can rotate up perpendicular to the body as well as tilt down by about 55 degrees. However, it seems a bit small and difficult to view in direct sunlight
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
There aren't that many direct-access controls on the body; you get to frequently used options like AF mode, AF area, metering and white balance via a multiple-choice display brought up by the the Fn button. Though the camera has a modern information display, it's not interactive.

In Live View mode you can select among a variety of focus points; this mimics the focus-point-display you see in the viewfinder.
Caption by / Photo by Sarah Tew/CNET
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