Expert Recommendation

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Best Sony Digital SLR Camera Overall Under $800
Expert (53 Recommendations and 31 Compliments)
Send a ComplimentComplimented (Change)
November 14, 2009 Updated: November 17, 2009
Overview

If you are a big fan of Sony cameras and already have lenses and accessories, or if you are just now getting started looking for an easy to use digital SLR with Live View, shake reduction technology and lots of available accessories and support, then the Sony Alpha A380 is the camera for you.

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My Best In Class Pick
Sony Alpha DSLR-A380 (with 18-55mm Lens)

As a beginner, One of the good things about purchasing the A380 is how easy Sony has made it to expect quality digital photographs from their camera systems.

First of all, for questions out in the field, there is a Graphical User Interface (GUI) that provides an onscreen help guide to get you your answers quickly without having to carry the manual or a laptop out there with you.

And then, in addition to a 14.2mp sensor, Steady Shot INSIDE shake reduction, Live View with a Quick AF feature, a 2.7” tiltable LCD screen and the ability to shoot at 2.5fps, the A380 has an intuitive control layout that helps make decision making easy and fast. And if you have Minolta, Konica or Minolta AF lenses, you are already one step ahead of the game.

Plus, if you’ve already got a collection of Pro Duo or SD image cards, either one will fit in the A380’s card slot. Add a flash attachment and double your coverage for low light situations.

And finally, just visit Sony’s website for a wide variety of tutorial videos to enhance your learning. With their free Digital Photography 101 classes, it’s easy to get started shooting great photos right out of the box.

Comparison with Sony Alpha DSLR-A330 (with 18-55mm and 55-200mm Lenses)

These two cameras share all of the same great attributes, except for the larger, 14.2mp sensor on the A380.

Comparison with Sony Alpha DSLR-A230 (with 18-55mm and 55-200mm Lenses)

These two cameras share all of the same great attributes, except the A380 has a larger (14.2) imaging sensor compared to the A230 (10.2), the A380 has Live View, the A230 does not, and the A230 doesn’t have a swivel LCD.

Pros
  • +
    GUI with onscreen help guide
  • +
    Intuitive controls
  • +
    Lightweight
  • +
    Sony support
  • +
    Anti dust technology
Sony Alpha DSLR-A380 (with 18-55mm Lens) is the Best Sony Digital SLR Camera Overall Under $800
Where to buy
Sony Alpha DSLR-A380 (with 18-55mm Lens)
  • Best Price: $679
    Amazon See It »
Recommended with
  • Sony HVLF20AM TTL Digital Flash for Sony Alpha Digital SLR Cameras
    $103.99 @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Zoom: 3.1x
  • Wide-Angle Lens: 27mm (30% wider)
  • Resolution: 14.2MP
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (3 reviews)
  • Recommended at DPReview.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

Comparing My Best In Class Pick with Other Good Choices

Product
Best badge
Sony Alpha DSLR-A380 (with 18-55mm Lens)
2
Sony Alpha DSLR-A330 (with 18-55mm and 55-200mm Lenses)
3
Sony Alpha DSLR-A230 (with 18-55mm and 55-200mm Lenses)
Customer Rating
Price $679.95 $749.95 $729.00
Size (W x H x D) 5.0 x 3.8 x 2.8 in. 5.0 x 3.8 x 2.8 in. 5.0 x 3.8 x 2.7 in.
Weight (without batteries) 17.2 oz 17.3 oz 15.9 oz
Easy to Use No No No
?
Sensor Type
CCD Super HAD CCD CCD
Anti-Dust Available Yes Yes Yes
Max Shooting Speed (continuous) 1.7 frames/sec 2.4 frames/sec 1.9 frames/sec
Video Available No No No
?
Image Stabilization Available
Yes Yes Yes
Max ISO Setting 3200 3200 3200
?
Viewfinder Available
Yes Yes Yes
?
LCD Screen Size
2.7 in. 2.7 in. 2.7 in.
Storage Media SDHC Memory Card, Memory Stick Duo, Memory Stick PRO Duo SDHC Memory Card, Memory Stick Duo, Memory Stick PRO Duo SDHC Memory Card, Memory Stick Duo, Memory Stick PRO Duo
Battery Type Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable Proprietary Lithium Ion Rechargeable
2
Sony Alpha DSLR-A330 (with 18-55mm and 55-200mm Lenses)

If 10.2mp is enough resolution for your needs, and you want to add a 55-200mm lens, then the Sony Alpha A330 is the right choice (and price) for you.

Packing the same 2.7” tiltable LCD screen, the Steady Shot INSIDE shake reduction feature, Live View with Quick AF, and the ability to shoot at 2.5fps that’s inside the A380, into the A330, Sony is making a statement that they got it right this time around.

And having both the 18-55mm lens and the 55-200mm lens gives you the versatility of capturing wide angle group shots or landscapes with the advantage of zooming in close to pick out subjects that are further away.

Add the HVLF20AM TTl flash for double the coverage of the in-camera flash.

Comparison with Sony Alpha DSLR-A230 (with 18-55mm and 55-200mm Lenses)

These two cameras share all of the same great attributes, except the A330 has Live View and the A230 does not.

Pros
  • +
    GUI with onscreen help guice
  • +
    Intuitive controls
  • +
    Lightweight
  • +
    Sony support
  • +
    Anti dust technology
Cons
  • -
    Smaller sensor than the A380
Sony Alpha DSLR-A330 (with 18-55mm and 55-200mm Lenses) is one of the Best Sony Digital SLR Cameras Overall Under $800
Where to buy
Sony Alpha DSLR-A330 (with 18-55mm and 55-200mm Lenses)
  • Best Price: $749
    Amazon See It »
Recommended with
  • Sony HVLF20AM TTL Digital Flash for Sony Alpha Digital SLR Cameras
    $103.99 @ Amazon.com
Specifications
  • Zoom: 11.1x
  • Wide-Angle Lens: 27mm (30% wider)
  • Resolution: 10.2MP
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Dave's Pick at Imaging-Resource.com
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com
3
Sony Alpha DSLR-A230 (with 18-55mm and 55-200mm Lenses)

As the baby of the bunch, the A230 still gives you a 10.2mp imaging sensor, a 2.7” LCD screen, the Steady Shot INSIDE shake reduction feature, and the ability to shoot at 2.5fps, but inside a slightly smaller package.

And when considering the smaller A230, don’t forget about the useful Graphical User Interface (GUI) that provides an onscreen help guide, and the wide variety of tutorial videos featured on the Sony website. With free Digital Photography 101 classes, it’s easy to start shooting magazine quality images that you can be proud of.

Pros
  • +
    GUI with onscreen help guice
  • +
    Intuitive controls
  • +
    Lightweight
  • +
    Sony support
  • +
    Anti dust technology
Cons
  • -
    No Live View
  • -
    No tilting LCD
Sony Alpha DSLR-A230 (with 18-55mm and 55-200mm Lenses) is one of the Best Sony Digital SLR Cameras Overall Under $800
Where to buy
Sony Alpha DSLR-A230 (with 18-55mm and 55-200mm Lenses)
  • Best Price: $729
    Amazon See It »
Specifications
  • Zoom: 11.1x
  • Wide-Angle Lens: 27mm (30% wider)
  • Resolution: 10.2MP
More
Want More Opinions? See:
Website Reviews (2 reviews)
  • Rated Very Good by CNET.com

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