Even compared to previous Sony entry-level models the Alpha A330 lacks a few useful features. For instance the Alpha A100 had a 2-second self-timer with mirror lock-up. The mirror lock-up was dropped for the A200, but the A330 lacks even the 2-second self-timer. It also has no socket for the cheap cable remote that could be used with most of the previous models, although there is an optional £40 wireless remote control. One notable lack is a video mode, which is fast becoming the must-have feature for DSLRs this year.
One feature it does have though is Sony’s excellent live view mode. This puts most other manufacturers’ live view modes in the shade, offering as it does full nine-point phase detection autofocus without the need to flip the mirror down for focusing. It does this by using a second image sensor in the viewfinder/AF light-path to power the live view mode, rather than using the main imaging sensor. This probably accounts for the slightly bulky shape of the body, but it does produce a live view mode that works, providing fast, accurate autofocus and a faster shooting speed.
Another point worth noting is that the kit lens supplied with the A330 is Sony’s new smaller, lighter 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 standard zoom, and I have to say it’s a massive improvement on Sony’s previous 18-70mm kit lens, which suffered from poor corner sharpness and chromatic aberration. The new lens produces image quality not far short of the superb but expensive (£550) 16-80mm Carl Zeiss T* f/3.5-4.5 that is also available for Sony DSLRs. I’ve included some test shots taken with these lenses for comparison.
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