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!
Most Popular Reviews
- 1 Huawei P10 smartphone review
- 2 Huawei P10 Plus phone: Full, in-depth review
- 3 Motorola Moto G5 smartphone review
- 4 Oppo A57 phone: full, in-depth review
- 5 Moto G5 Plus phone: full, in-depth review
Latest News Articles
- Samsung to detail new Tizen OS for smart home appliances, IoT devices
- HPE is bringing Optane storage to Unix servers
- HP rolls out patch to fix keylogging bug in certain laptops
- Some HP PCs are recording your keystrokes
- Rumor suggests the Note8 will be a bigger S8+ that adds a missing feature
PCW Evaluation Team
A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.
I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.
As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.
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.
- LG 2017 OLED TV range full review: W7 Signature Wallpaper, G7, E7 and C7 UHD TVs
- Huawei P10 smartphone review
- Huawei P10 Plus phone: Full, in-depth review
- What's the difference between an Intel Core i3, i5 and i7?
- Laser vs. inkjet printers: which is better?
- FTSocial Media Executive / Specialist (Facebook) - online gamblingNSW
- CCBlue Prism DeveloperVIC
- CCBusiness SpecialistVIC
- FTReport Developer and Visualisation AnalystQLD
- FTBusiness Development Manager IT HealthcareQLD
- FTTest AnalystNSW
- CC.Net DeveloperNSW
- FTAnalyst ProgrammerVIC
- CCReporting System Specialist - Port MacquarieQLD
- TPDigital ProducerVIC
- CCSenior PMO AnalystNSW
- CCSalesforce Marketing CloudNSW
- FTTest Manager / Test LeadQLD
- FTUnix EngineerACT
- FTProject Manager HFC Capacity ManagementVIC
- FTProject Manager / Web DeveloperVIC
- TPMobile Application DeveloperVIC
- FTManual Test AnalystQLD
- FTSupport OfficerSA
- FTSupport Engineer Level 3QLD
- CCSharepoint DeveloperNSW
- FTSenior Solution Designer/ ConsultantVIC
- FTiOS DeveloperNSW
- FTSnr Technical Salesforce Consultant Global IT Managed Services - SydneyNSW
- CCIT Security Risk AnalystVIC