CNET First Look
Sony Alpha DSLR-A230The Sony Alpha DSLR-A230 is a solid entry-level dSLR that will surely have its fans, and it's a better deal than its slightly higher-end sibling, the A330.
[ MUSIC ] ^M00:00:03 >> [Lori Grunin:] Hi, I'm Lori Grunin, senior editor with CNET, and this is the Sony Alpha DSLRA230. The A230 is Sony's most entry-level digital SLR, and frankly it's not a bad deal. There's a lot to like about this camera, including very speedy performance: it has fast auto-focus, which isn't terribly common in a lot of entry-level models, and it's one of the faster ones that we've tested. There are a few things at which it's slower -- including continuous shooting -- and frankly, I found that it couldn't keep up with kids and pets. Sony changed the design of the grip -- it's only about 3 quarters height, and I've found that it's not as comfortable, or it doesn't feel as secure as I'm used to with other SLRs. However, they also have this nice rubber texture on both sides, and that helps to keep it a little more secure. As you'd expect from an inexpensive model, there's not a lot in the way of features for this camera, although it does have built-in wireless flash, with a nice basic on-off implementation, as well as sensor-shift image stabilization -- "Steady Shot Inside," as Sony's calling it -- in the body. Sony updated its user interface a little bit, and it now provides a nice, entry-level-friendly read-out, which shows you the relationship between the smaller aperture and the larger aperture, and the slower shutter speed and the longer shutter speed. It also pulls up a little description of different features when you pause for a little while on that menu item. I'm not crazy about the controls. They feel a little shallow, and there's not a lot of tactile feedback -- you know, there's no travel to the button-presses. Also, to use the exposure compensation button, you pretty much have to move your whole hand. I think that's gonna discourage some people from using it at all. One of the nice aspects of the camera is, it has a very nice sliding door which covers the ports -- USB, HDMI, and -- yay! -- SD cards it supports, in addition to Sony's usual memory stick duo. The image quality is OK -- not best in its class, but not the worst either. The only problem is Sony's default settings for its creative style tend to push the colors so that you actually get some color shifts. And Sony's not very transparent about what the settings are -- everything's zeroed out -- so if you know enough and you're willing to play around with the creative style to get the results you want, you can get some pretty nice photos out of this. The A230 has a more expensive brother, the A330, which has a tilt-able LCD and supports live-view mode; however, the A230's viewfinder is actually nicer than the A330's, so if you don't want the live view or the tilt-able LCD, this is actually a better deal, because you get a better viewfinder and you're not paying extra for anything you don't need. I'm Lori Grunin, and this is the Sony Alpha DSLRA230. ^M00:02:50 [ MUSIC ]