Sony Alpha A380 digital SLR camera
A mid-range DSLR for enthusiastic amateurs
- Good image quality in optimal settings, plenty of inbuilt features, user-friendly interface
- Cheap plastic body, slightly overpriced, no video/movie mode
The Sony Alpha A380 delivers evenly exposed images with natural colours when left on its default settings. There are further pre-optimised Creative Style settings for those who prefer the more vivid look. We weren't convinced, however, that the supplied kit lens made the best of the sensor's high pixel count, with detail softer than we expected. Couple this with disappointment about the plastic build and lack of video and Sony gets a 'good, but could do better' this time around.
Price$ 1,799.00 (AUD)
Thinking about upgrading from a compact to a digital SLR for the first time, or simply want a relatively lightweight and compact model as a backup? Though Canon and Nikon have long dominated the world of digital SLRs, Sony is fast gaining ground as a viable alternative.
The 14.2-megapixel Sony Alpha A380 digital SLR camera does battle with its competitors' similarly priced and pitched Canon 500D and Nikon D5000 cameras, although it omits those two models' HD video functionality. Neither bottom-of-the-range DSLR nor semi-professional tool, the Sony Alpha A380 is aimed squarely at family users and enthusiastic amateurs; the electronics manufacturer delivering a fairly compact model that is at once easy to use yet feature packed.
Chunky controls, well-labelled buttons and a comfortably lightweight body ensure that the Sony Alpha A380 digital camera will appear less threatening to anyone picking up a more ‘serious' camera for the first time. However, despite the overall feeling of robustness, the plastic nature of the finish is an initial disappointment. It's not quite what we expected from a camera retailing for a suggested $1799, though that figure does include an 18-55mm zoom lens that we'd recommend absolute beginners plumping for. For $1499 you can get just the camera alone.
Unusually for a DSLR, the Sony Alpha A380 features a tilting LCD screen at the rear that can be angled up or down, for either low or high angle shooting, a feature shared with its D5000 rival. Unfortunately for Sony, the Nikon has the edge by virtue of the greater flexibility of its own screen, which can also rotate left or right, and fold inwards to the body for added protection. By contrast, while welcome as a useful extra, the Sony Alpha A380's screen can't help feel a bit stiff and awkward.
On a positive note, the Sony Alpha A380's LCD displays a graphical interface showing key shooting information, and, as the user tabs through the features on display, an on-screen guide explains, by way of a brief text ‘speech bubble', what the different settings do. Thus, this is a camera that you can familiarise yourself with without constant recourse to the manual — and such help can be deactivated via the menu system once experience grows.
The info display also cleverly flips 90 degrees if the DSLR is turned on its side in order to shoot portrait fashion, while an eye-level sensor switches it off if the optical viewfinder directly above is in use. Additionally, the camera will automatically determine focus for the user when it detects their eye is level with the viewfinder, so the shutter release is ready to be fired immediately. Fast, responsive and reliable appears to be the Sony Alpha A380's mantra.
Its Live View feature — where the rear screen can be used for shot composition as you would on a compact camera — is also impressive as an alternative to the slightly murky optical viewfinder above. And, with a single press of the ‘AF' button at the rear, in this mode the Sony Alpha A380 will continue to automatically determine focus for the user if required.
Inevitably, constant use of the LCD use sucks up power, delivering just 230 images from a full charge of the Sony Alpha A380's battery as opposed to 500 shots if using the viewfinder instead. Standard JPEG, better quality Raw, or a combination of both file formats are written to either Sony's own Memory Stick media or the more widely used SD or SDHC. There are slots for both; with a sliding switch to specify which one you want to record to, as the camera doesn't automatically choose.
Along with the innovative, Sony has also included some odd features on its flagship consumer model. A case in point is the dedicated button for a ‘smart teleconverter' that digitally crops into an image when your own lens won't stretch that far. Since this is utilising only a portion of the image, overall resolution inevitably drops. Strange, as the Sony Alpha A380's otherwise higher-than-average resolution is surely one of its greatest selling points. Incorporating some form of video capture, Full HD or otherwise, might have been a better bet by way of an additional attention grabber.
Join the PC World newsletter!
Epson WorkForce ET-4550
Smart LED Bulb LB130
Linksys AC5400 MU-MIMO Gigabit router
Epson EcoTank Expression ET-2500
Samsung portable 1TB T3 drive
Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive
Everki ContemPRO Roll Top Laptop Backpack
UE Boom 2 Bluetooth speaker
Lexar® Portable SSD
Huawei Mate 9
Logitech G403 Prodigy mouse
Google Daydream VR headset
3SIXT Ultra HD Sports Action Camera
Belkin MIXIT Metallic Lightning to USB Cable
Acer Swift 7
Epson WorkForce DS-360W
Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive
HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450
HP Pavilion x360 13”
Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive
Surface Pro 4
Dell XPS 13 laptop
Blade 28 backpack by Arc’teryx
Garmin Fenix Chronos smartwatch
Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards
Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones
Dell Inspiron 5000 series 2-in-1
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Huawei Mate 9 full in-depth smartphone review
- 2 ZTE Axon 7 review: Is ZTE dumping old stock on Australia?
- 3 Oppo R9s smartphone full review
- 4 Huawei Nova Plus smartphone review
- 5 Google Pixel XL full, in-depth smartphone review: Phones just got smarter
Latest News Articles
- Samsung's UHD Monitor covers 99.5 per cent of Adobe colour spectrum
- HP settles cases with inkjet cartridge vendors
- Study predicts PS3 will win the console war
- Samsung wave makes a splash at Mobile World Congress
- Sony returns to profit, cuts full-year loss forecast
PCW Evaluation Team
I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.
Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!
For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.
First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.
- How to quit Pokemon Go (or to start enjoying it again)
- Huawei Mate 9 full in-depth smartphone review
- Time to ditch Foxtel and the iQ3: How to replace Foxtel packages with cheaper alternatives
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- TPPerformance Test Analyst - Perth BasedQLD
- TPSenior Business AnalystVIC
- FTSolutions Software DeveloperVIC
- TPICT Contracts Compliance ManagerWA
- TPSenior Analyst Programmer - ContractQLD
- FTSenior Business Project ManagerNSW
- TPDrupal Developer - Immediate startQLD
- FTERP ConsultantQLD
- TPSenior Java Developer - ContractQLD
- FTPart Time - IT Service Desk AnalystVIC
- CCWicked Front-End DeveloperNSW
- TPMicrosoft Dynamics DeveloperNSW
- CCDesktop Engineer l WollongongNSW
- TPIT Project CoordinatorVIC
- CCSQL Server BI DeveloperQLD
- TPDesktop Support OfficerQLD
- TPAgile Business AnalystQLD
- CCDesktop Engineer l WollongongNSW
- CCService ManagerACT
- FTIT Information Security AdvisorNSW
- FTSenior Project Manager - PERMANENTACT
- CCFinance Analyst/ Project SpecialistVIC
- FTFull Stack Developer (Front and Back end)QLD
- TPProject Manager to manage two concurrent ProjectsQLD
- CCTest AnalystQLD