The front of the Sony Alpha 380 stands out because of its bright orange Alpha logo on a matte black/grey colored housing. The material the housing is made of is obviously plastic, and this is also what the camera feels like. It are just the handgrip and the left side of the camera that have a different feel to it, thanks to the soft rubber coating. The handgrip is short and feels stiff, yet provides enough hand-fit and support to hold the Sony A380 stable in your hand. The other items of the housing feel somewhat cheap, due to the plastic used. The buttons, command dials and switches, however, are solid and prove a joy to operate.
Sony Alpha 380 bayonet mount
If we look at the Sony DSLR-A380 from the front, the metal bayonet mount is the most striking. The orange line around the mount puts even more emphasis on the Alpha logo. The button to unlock the lens is placed right of the mount with next to it, the switch for focus. The logo 'SteadyShot INSIDE' shows that Sony has integrated an image stabilization system in the housing. On top of the handgrip, a small command dial is positioned to select aperture, among other things.
Sony DSLR-A380 command dial
The top side of the Sony A380 DSLR is entirely grey. The camera lacks a small LCD monitor, the functionality of which is mainly taken over by the monitor on the back of the camera. Entirely on the left, the famous command dial is positioned, with on it the main programs such as P/S/A/M, AUTO and several preset scenes. The dial can be rotated fully to the left and the right, and every program has an audible click. The shutter release button is placed on the most logical, standard spot, and is fairly large. The on/off switch feels somewhat cheap and consists of a ring placed around the shutter release button. The button to activate Live View is placed a bit higher up, along the mirror housing. The button for the so-called Smart Teleconverter (image is in fact 'cropped' in JPEG) is inherited from the A350. On top of it, we find the hot shoe for an external flash. Remarkably, the button to fold up the flash has disappeared.
Sony A380 memory card support
The side of the handgrip provides room for the A/C interface. The other side hides an array of interfaces behind a cover. There is an HDMI out interface, as well as a Hi-Speed USB 2.0 interface. The Sony Alpha 380 also features a dual card slot with support for the Memory Stick Duo format and SD/SDHC memory cards. CompactFlash seems to play a lesser role as a storage medium. A switch will let you select one of the two card slots. The bottom of the camera features a compartment with room for the NP-FH50 Li-Ion battery.
Sony Alpha 380 vari-angle monitor
The vari-angle monitor on the back of the camera is the most striking item, although the flexibility is not optimal. We prefer the monitors of Olympus, for example. However; these flexible screens will offer the solution for pictures taken from difficult angles. The number of buttons on the back side has been kept to a minimum. The viewfinder above the monitor provides the possibility to adjust the ocular. Furthermore, you can have the AF automatically activated the moment an eye appears in front of the viewfinder. However, if this action makes you somewhat nervous, you can simply deactivate this function through the menu.