Sony announced its three new entry-level dSLRs for 2009, the Alpha DLSR-A230, A330, and A380, which replace the A200, A300, and A350respectively. The products preserve Sony's three-tier strategy for its low-end SLRs. The cheap A230 differs from the slightly-less-cheap A330 by the viewfinder and the tiltable LCD, plus the A330 will be available in brown. But perhaps most notably, these models have dual-memory slots, one of which takes SDHC cards and the other Sony's proprietary Memory Stick Duo.
The A380 goes head to head with two of the most hyped consumer SLRs of the year so far, the Nikon D5000 and the Canon EOS Rebel T1i. And it does so with a big hole in its feature set--no video. Nor do the rest of the specifications look particularly compelling against the T1i's lighter body, the D5000's proven AF system (from the D90), and both Canon and Nikon's significantly faster burst shooting and better viewfinders.
|Sony Alpha DSLR-A380||Canon EOS Rebel T1i||Nikon D5000||Sensor||14-megapixel CCD||15-megapixel CMOS||12-megapixel CMOS|
|Sensitivity range||ISO 100 - ISO 3,200||ISO 100 - ISO 3,200/ ISO 12,800 (expanded)||ISO 100 - ISO 1,600/ ISO 6,400 (expanded)||Viewfinder||95 percent coverage
|95 percent coverage
|95 percent coverage
|LCD||2.7-inch tiltable||3-inch fixed||2.7-inch articulated|
|Autofocus||9 points||9 points||11 points|
|Dimensions (WHD, inches)||5.0x3.8x2.8||5.1x3.8x2.4||5.0x4.1x3.1|
ounces; add about 1.8 ounces for battery and card
|Price||$849 (with 18-55mm lens)
$1,049 (with 18-55mm and 55-200mm lenses)
|$899.99 (with 18-55mm lens)||$849.99(with 18-55mm lens)|
Sony's research shows that most people stepping up to these classes of dSLRs are looking for better photo quality and performance but want to retain the simplicity of the point-and-shoot experience (a premise I agree with). Of course, there's always the green Auto mode on every dSLR, but the big challenge is moving people from that to using a lot of the features that make dSLRs a lot better than their old snapshot cameras. For instance, Canon has its Creative Auto mode, described in the review of the EOS 50D. With these cameras, Sony has added online guides to describe the different features and provides more contextual displays for the settings like shutter speed and aperture.
The Sony Alpha DSLR-A380 will be available in July.