The overall build quality is about average for an entry-level DSLR, which is to say adequate but not brilliant. Admittedly I have spent a lot of time over the past few weeks using a variety of very expensive professional-quality DSLRs, but even so the A330 feels quite toy-like compared to many other APS-C DSLRs. The body shell is plastic and does feel a bit thin in places, although it’s well finished and the controls are solidly and sensibly placed. A 490g body-only it’s 40g heavier than the Canon EOS 1000D, one of its main competitors, but I wasn’t too impressed by the build quality of that camera either.
The external hardware is also a bit on the average side. The monitor is no better than one would find on a good compact, with a diagonal size of 2.7 inches, 230,400-dot resolution and a viewing angle of about 160 degrees. The viewfinder is not so good. It is distinctly tunnel-like, with a very small viewing area even compared to previous Sony models.
One novelty is the unusual sliding hatch over the card slots and connector sockets, which include HDMI output. The A330 has dual card slots for both Sony’s proprietary Memory Stick Duo cards and the more popular SD cards.
As with most current consumer DSLRs the controls bear more resemblance to those of a high-end compact than a traditional DSLR, no doubt intended to accommodate first time DLSR owners. The on-screen data panel offers tips for novices, as well as a useful chart showing the relationship between aperture, shutter speed and depth of field. The main shooting mode dial has the usual Auto and P/A/S/M manual modes, but also includes six scene programs. The Function button on the back brings up a brief menu with some creative options, but again they are no more sophisticated than one would find on a good compact. AF mode and area, metering mode, D-Range Optimiser setting and White Balance can be adjusted on screen, and there is some limited tonal control, with a range of presets that can be customised for contrast, saturation and sharpness. Adobe RGB and sRGB colour spaces are available, and the camera can shoot in Raw and Raw + JPEG modes, as well as Fine or Standard JPEG.
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