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A230, A330 and A380

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New Sony Alpha DSLRs

Sony yesterday formally announced three new models for its Alpha digital SLR camera range, as well as a handful of new lenses and other accessories.

The three new APS-C cameras will comprise the bottom end of Sony's DSLR range, replacing existing models the Alpha α200, A300 and A350. All three new cameras share the same newly revised body design as well as most of their main features, differing primarily in sensor resolution and monitor type.

The entry-level model is the A230, featuring a 10.2-megapixel sensor and 2.7-inch fixed monitor. The A330 is in the middle with a 10.2MP sensor and 2.7-inch tilting monitor, while the A380 features a 14.2MP sensor and 2.7-inch tilting monitor. Both the A330 and A380 feature Quick AF Live View.

All three cameras feature a newly simplified control layout, with fewer buttons but more scene modes and graphical menu interfaces, including a rather neat-looking screen that helps users understand and visualise the relationship between shutter speed and aperture, which sounds like a pretty good idea for an entry-level camera as long as it doesn't handicap more experienced users.

Other common features include Sony's SteadyShot sensor-shift image stabilisation system, 2.5fps continuous shooting, improved D-Range Optimiser and HDMI connection with Sony Bravia TV synchronisation, so you can plug the camera into a Sony Bravia HDTV and control a slideshow of images using the TV remote control, which is probably pretty nifty if you happen to have a Sony Bravia TV.

The body-only pricing for the new models reportedly has the A230 going for £530, the A330 at £610 and the A380 at an unconfirmed £720. Kit prices are yet to be confirmed, and knowing Sony you can probably expect some retailers to have some heavy discounts on those prices.

Jon McGovern

May 19, 2009, 8:05 pm

I don't know much about the technical side of cameras but these look great. I think Sony is slowly becoming a real competitor to Canon and Nikon...

Philepo

May 19, 2009, 8:26 pm

They have not improved anything!


Yes the Sony SLRs are looking good but that&#8217s because the old ones they are meant to be replacing were good. There is nothing new on these cameras worth buying. Where is the Movie Mode? Where is the High-Res Screen? Where is the step up from 10mp?





You don't get anything new except a massive price increase from A200 = £250 to A230 = £530. This is ridiculous!!

smc8788

May 19, 2009, 9:28 pm

I can't help feel that this is a bit of step backwards really. Well, perhaps not backwards, but to the side.





I picked up an A200 w/kit lens for £260 last week. This week its replacement was announced - the A230 - and is priced at £530 for the body only, yet I don't see ANY improvements over the two-year old model that I've just bought for half the price. What they have done is make the grip smaller (and more uncomfortable from the looks of it) and put the command dial and shutter release in more awkward positions, which was only enabled by replacing the battery with a smaller version, hence removing the class-leading battery life of the old model. They've also got rid of CF, and although I'm glad that they haven't gone down the proprietary MS DUO route, SDHC is still a bit of a downgrade (though Sony aren't alone in this regard as other manufacturers have been replacing CF with SD in their budget models).





The main concern is pricing, as they've just released exactly the same camera in a slightly revised body and jacked up the price. These prices make the slightly higher end (yet still entry-level) a330 and a380 models more expensive than mid-range models from Canon and Nikon, which offer video recording (amongst other features) over the Sony models. To put it another way, the price was pretty much the deciding factor when I bought the A200, and had the price been anywhere near what Sony are asking for the A230 then I'd have a 450D in my hands right now. I thought I might have regretted my purchase when I heard this announcement, yet thanks to Sony's utter stupidity I'm glad that I got my hands on one while I still could.





It does beg the question whether this will be the strategy they will adopt from now on. Sony's mid-range cameras are in far greater need of updating/expanding than their entry-level ones, but it doesn't bode well for when the time comes that I want to upgrade if they just re-release the a700 with an inflated price tag. Right now Sony's biggest selling point for their DSLR system is value for money given the pedigree of their rivals in this market, who - rightly or wrongly - are able to charge more for their products. This means that they really need to focus on keeping those prices low to draw people in, then offering them worthwhile and reasonably priced upgrades for the future to get them to stay with in their system, as well as maintaining a decent lens selection (which, to their credit, they are constantly expanding). Otherwise they will never have a chance to expand their market share and will always trail behind Canikon.





Sorry for the lengthy assessment, but I have lots of time to procrastinate this afternoon and at least this looks like I'm typing something ;)

lensmann

May 20, 2009, 3:15 am

smc8788: Blame the weak pound. In the US, it's only a $50 price bump. The A300 has a list price of $599; the A330's list price is $649. The figures are similar for the A230.

MrGodfrey

May 21, 2009, 5:08 am

In theory I have to agree there doesn't seem to be much in the way of 'upgrades'. In practice, I still believe 10mp is good enough and I don't care about movie mode; image processing is vital however and I hope they have improved in that area. But I admit that won't sell cameras; they need bigger numbers on the specs and fancier features (along with competitive pricing).





One thing I have to disagree with though: While it may be annoying if you have several CF cards, a move to SDHC is not really a downgrade (unless you believe the fact that it's still the standard for professional-level cameras somehow makes it inherently better).

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