Sony Alpha A230 review

£330
Price when reviewed

The Sony Alpha A230 sits at the low end of its latest range of digital SLRs, but compare the specifications with its bigger brother – the Sony Alpha A330 – and you could be forgiven for thinking there was some mistake. Both cameras look very similar and each boasts a 10.2-megapixel sensor for creating 3,872 x 2,592 images.

Further similarities include Sony’s in-body image stabilisation, the unusual ability to accept either SD or Memory Stick Pro Duo cards via twin memory card slots, as well as a rather fussy sliding plastic screen to cover them. The layout of the controls is also nearly identical.

Both cameras feel the same, which is to say slightly too small for our hands; cameras from Canon and Nikon feel slightly more natural and less likely to get away. And the viewfinders are similarly slightly small: hold your eye to them at anything other than dead-on and it’s difficult to see the whole frame.

There’s little difference in image quality, too. Both the A230 and the A330 come with a sharp 18-55mm lens, which performed well in our tests. Chromatic aberration is kept to a minimum, although the results at high ISO levels are not the best we’ve seen in a budget DLSR.

There are a few differences between the two models. The A230 lacks the A330’s extendable screen, for instance. This isn’t a feature we’d describe as a must-have on a DSLR just yet, but it’s handy for beginners and handier still if you want to get a stranger to snap a picture of you, as is the live view mode – another feature missing from the A230.

Sony Alpha A230

The 2.7in, 230,000-pixel screen is good, although the menu system doesn’t compete with the established excellence of either Nikon’s or Canon’s menus. Its orange-on-white colour scheme isn’t particularly high contrast either and can be tricky to see in bright sunlight.

The A230 doesn’t lack much, which is impressive considering its price, but it’s a little too close in value to its big brother, the A330, for a recommendation. There’s no arguing with the A230’s value, but the race at the budget end of the DSLR market is incredibly tight, and at this price the A230 is a little slow off the mark.

Details

Image quality 5

Basic specifications

Camera megapixel rating 10.2mp
Camera screen size 2.7in
Camera optical zoom range 3x
Camera maximum resolution 3,872 x 2,592

Weight and dimensions

Weight 750g
Dimensions 128 x 68 x 97mm (WDH)

Battery

Battery type included Lithium-ion
Battery life (CIPA standard) 510 shots
Charger included? yes

Other specifications

Built-in flash? yes
Aperture range f5.6 - f3.5
Camera minimum focus distance 0.25m
Shortest focal length (35mm equivalent) 27
Longest focal length (35mm equivalent) 83
Minimum (fastest) shutter speed 1/4,000
Bulb exposure mode? yes
RAW recording mode? yes
Exposure compensation range +/- 2EV
ISO range 100 - 3200
Selectable white balance settings? yes
Manual/user preset white balane? yes
Progam auto mode? yes
Shutter priority mode? yes
Aperture priority mode? yes
Fully auto mode? yes
Burst frame rate 2.5fps
Exposure bracketing? yes
White-balance bracketing? no
Memory-card type Memory Stick Duo, SDHC
Viewfinder coverage 95%
LCD resolution 230k
Secondary LCD display? no
Video/TV output? yes
Body construction Plastic
Tripod mounting thread? yes
Data connector type Mini-USB

Manual, software and accessories

Full printed manual? yes
Software supplied Sony Data Converter SR 3, Image Data Lightbox SR
Accessories supplied Shoulder strap, USB cable

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