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Sony Alpha A300 - Sony Alpha A300

By Cliff Smith

Reviewed:

Summary

Our Score:

8

In terms of build quality and design, the A300 is, not too surprisingly, pretty much identical to the A200 and A350. The body is made of plastic, and while it is well made with good fit and finish, it has to be said that in places it feels like it could be a bit stronger. It's not going to fall to bits in your hand, but I wouldn't want to drop it. Then again, there aren't many DSLRs that I would want to drop. The A300 is larger and heavier than average for an entry-level DSLR, but it is by no means bulky. It measures 130.8 x 98.5 x 74.7mm and 582g body only, not including battery or card. For comparison the Nikon D60 weighs 495g and the Pentax K-m weighs 525g.

The body design is derived from the Minolta Dynax 5D by way of the Alpha A100, and is very pleasant to handle. The big rubberised handgrip is comfortable and secure. The controls are mostly sensibly positioned, although the row of four buttons on the left of the monitor are a little hard to access due to the raised edge of the monitor.

The A300 is aimed at much the same entry-level market as the A200. It has a relatively simple control interface, with a large main mode dial on the left of the top panel that carries the usual exposure modes (program auto, aperture and shutter priority, and manual) as well as full auto and six commonly-used scene modes. Most of the frequently-used options have their own buttons, including ISO setting, self-timer/drive mode, exposure compensation and exposure lock. Adjustments to exposure settings are made using a control wheel located just in front of the shutter button. A Function button on the back accesses a brief menu with six adjustable shooting parameters, including flash mode, metering mode, autofocus mode, autofocus area, white balance and the D-Range Optimiser (which boosts shadow detail in high-contrast shots). Other options are relegated to the main menu, including the Creative Style option, which provides a range of contrast, saturation and sharpness control.

Sony's live view mode differs from that offered by most other manufacturers in that the full nine-point phase-detection AF system (with cross-type centre spot) is available while using the monitor. This is much faster and more accurate than the contrast-detection live view AF systems used by Canon and Olympus. The same wide-area, centre zone or selectable AF point modes are available in both live view and viewfinder modes. The autofocus system is the same as the A350, and is fast and accurate, with good low light performance.

On the subject of the viewfinder, it's hard to say definitively without having an A200 or A350 side-by-side for comparison, but it seems to me that the A300's viewfinder is slightly smaller with lower magnification than either of its siblings, giving it a rather tunnel-like appearance.

ArthurX

February 7, 2009, 3:31 pm

In a200 tests you used Carl Zeiss 16-80mm f/3.5-4.5 lens but in here the kit lens was used.


Shouldn't the image quality be the same in these two cameras(a200 and a300) because these are basically the same camera but a300 has couple more options. So doesn't the Carl Zeiss lens give a bit advantage for the a200? and please correct if im wrong.

Cliff Smith

February 7, 2009, 11:15 pm

The sample photos were actually taken using the same Carl Zeiss 16-80mm lens, apart from the wide/telephoto shots which were taken using the 18-70mm kit lens. It has the kit lens fitted in the product shots because it was supplied to me as a kit, and also because the Zeiss lens was on the camera I was using to take the product shots (Sony A100).

Wilfried

February 8, 2009, 6:35 pm

How does the Sony Alpha A300 compare with the Panasonic G1, if I may ask. I'm not very skilled when it comes to camera linguo but I recently bought the G1 at a rather hefty price tag and I just wondered if I did the right choice. Thanks TR

DaveG

February 9, 2009, 12:22 am

I've owned the A100 & A200, and now have the A300, I have to say that this is easily the better camera, simply because of the live view which provides simple but effective tweaks that enable me to get better shots; the live view Histogram (good exposures), the ability to use live view to correctly dial in white balance , the ability to shot over other peoples heads, etc. The review seemed to give the impression that the A300 is inferior to the A350, not helped by the 9/10 score that that camera receives. A350 files sizes are larger, images are slightly noiser at higher iso settings, burst speed is slower and to get the best out of it you really need to spend big on a decent lens. I had the choice of the A300 and A350 and I feel I made the right choice & if the Salesman in Jessops was telling the truth, they've shipped "a lot" more A300's than A350's. For the price & spec there is no other camera that can touch the A300.

aaron88

February 9, 2009, 7:23 pm

II've had this camera for a few months now and I think the 2 frames per second shutter speed you got was because you wer using liveview. When using the viewfinder with the shutter mode set to "continuous" you get a consistant 3.5 fames per second

DaveG

February 9, 2009, 10:44 pm

Having looked at the rating for the A300's sister cameras I do wonder if Trusted Reviews has either got something against the A300 or have just under scored it. A200 scored 9/10 getting a 10/10 for IQ, the A350 got 9/10 and 9/10 for I/Q and yet the A300 only managed an 8 in both, does'nt it have the same sensor as the A200 & does'nt it have more features ?. As a "kit lens" purchase which of the 3 would be considered the best option ?.





Ref 3.5 fps (from aaron88) was'nt aware that either of the 3 could burst that fast, the Canon 450d can.

scott donaldson

February 10, 2009, 7:42 am

"On the subject of the viewfinder, it’s hard to say definitively without having an A200 or A350 side-by-side for comparison, but it seems to me that the A300’s viewfinder is slightly smaller with lower magnification than either of its siblings"





The A300 & A350 viewfinders are the same & both are worse than the A200's - it's the penalty paid for Sony's particular LiveView implementation.

DaveG

February 11, 2009, 12:07 am

The viewfinder conumdrum (it's smaller than the A200's / is like a tunnel etc,etc) can be seen in many a review, Personally I find the A300/A350 viewfinder better & prefer it to the A200's, and I wear glasses, it also seems to have better dioptre adjustment, the trade off to a slightly smaller viewfinder is a very good live view system, if you are interested in any camera & not just the A200,A300& A350 try for yourself, what some don't like, others will.

Mike 21

June 19, 2009, 11:51 pm

Reviews like this are helpful but I bought one because it felt "right" (my hands are big for a compact or small DSLR)and was at a good price. It's REALLY nice to use and the tilted screen live-view is worth the extra if you can afford it. It's easy to use straight from the box. I took a couple of pics and enlarged them a LOT. They looked just fine and, like most people, I don't usually enlarge much anyway. The kit lens has bad comments but is fine for what 99% of people need, I don't see the problem, some people worry too much.

Greener

May 17, 2010, 5:09 am

I've owned this camera now for about 2 years and it been great nad very easy to use .i love the features it poses and over all it is the best camera that i have owned.the view finder is a great option and the clarity is awsome.

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