It's been a little over four years since Sony entered the digital SLR market with the launch of the Alpha A100. It did have something of a head start by taking over all of Konica-Minolta's existing technology, but the current success of the Sony Alpha DSLR range is due to Sony's innovation, design and clever marketing strategy. Sony now occupies third place in the DSLR market, behind Canon and Nikon, having surpassed industry veterans such as Pentax, Olympus and Fujifilm.
The Sony alpha range currently consists of eight models, ranging from the entry-level A290 to the full-frame professional A900. Launched in January this year the Alpha A450 sits in the middle of the range, and is aimed at intermediate-level photographers, or those who are upgrading from and older entry-level model such as the A230.
Like most of Sony's APS-C range the A450 has a 14.2 megapixel sensor, in this case Sony's own Exmor CMOS chip measuring 23.4 x 15.6mm. It's the same sensor as Sony's current top-of-the-range APS-C model the A550. Other key features include a 6.7cm (2.7 inch) Clear Photo LCD monitor with a resolution of 230,400 dots, a large bright viewfinder with a proximity sensor, and Sony's SteadyShot sensor-shift image stabilisation system.
However it is what the A450 lacks that is more likely to concern potential buyers. It faces some very strong competition from cameras such as the 15-megapixel Canon EOS 500D (£510) and the 12.3-megapixel Nikon D5000 (£490). While it is the cheaper alternative, both of these rivals feature HD video recording, in fact the 500D can shoot in 1920 x 1080 full HD format. The A450 has no video recoding mode at all, putting it more on a par with entry level cameras such as the EOS 1000D or D3000, both of which are over £100 cheaper.
Another feature notable by its absence is Sony's usual highly effective live view autofocus system, one of the highlights of other models in the Alpha range. The A450 does have live view, but to use autofocus in this mode the mirror has to flip down and then up again, which blanks out the display and also takes a couple of seconds. Obviously this limits the usefulness of the live view mode as a whole, and again is an area where it is surpassed by its main rivals