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Sony Alpha 380 | Digital Camera Review | Control
The Sony Alpha 380 responds swiftly to activating the camera. Within no-time, the LCD monitor will display information about the setting the A380 is in at that moment. At first, a general description will be given of the setting concerned, but by pressing the shutter release halfway down, more technical details will become available. This is an inventive way of gradually teaching the user the basic knowledge of photography.
Sony Alpha 380 | Digital Camera Sony Alpha 380 | Digital Camera
Sony Alpha 380 pro-consumer SLR
The Sony DSLR-A380 aims at the entry-level market, yet at the same time queues up with the pro-consumer for now, DSLR A700. This model is expected to be replaced soon (by the A500 / A550?). This means the A380 finds itself in a segment representing a large group of potential users, namely those who already have some experience with an entry-level DSLR, as well as those who want to enter on a slightly higher level. The presentation of the Sony Alpha 380 and its ‘on the side’ yet quite direct visual explanation about the technical part of photography will in my opinion really appeal to the photographer.

Sony Alpha 380 command dial
In addition to AUTO mode, the Sony A380 DLSR camera provides direct access to a number of preset scenes and, naturally, the P/S/A/M modes through the command dial. The command dial, placed right above the handgrip on the front of the camera, serves to select shutter speed and/or aperture, among other things. The camera does not come with a second command dial, which means you have to press the button for exposure compensation in the M mode slightly inconveniently in order to be able to adjust aperture. Other than that, all the basic settings are easy to find, as well as easy to use according to your own wishes.

A380

Live View on the Sony A380 DSLR
The absolute star when it comes to Live View and focus is Sony with its integrated Quick AF mode. This is simply how Live View should always be: directly accessible and fast. There is still a difference in speed with Live View activated or deactivated, however, this is not disturbing at all and won't make you decide against using Live View. It simply provides ease, and even the luxury to compose your picture on a large-sized monitor. In addition; if you prefer the viewfinder, this belongs to the possibilities too.
The advantage of the viewfinder is its approximate 95% coverage, whereas the monitor in Live View provides 90%. This was also the case for the A350 DSLR.

Smart Tele converter mode
There is not much to moan about when it comes to the operation of the Sony Alpha 380. That said, there is still one item that is quite illogical if you think about it, and perhaps it could even be called sloppy. And that is the button on top of the camera for the Smart Tele converter mode; a function that is only available with Live View activated. However; I find it ridiculous to apply this kind of 'gimmick' function to a dedicated button that is placed in a much too luxurious spot, occupying this valuable surface and space. In fact, I find it completely insane. There are many other functions that we find much more appropriate for this button in this handy location. What about an additional programmable button? Or rather; an AE lock!

Sony A380 does not feature a video function
Some find it remarkable that Sony still does not offer video capture with the new range of Alpha DSLR cameras. Especially for a manufacturer with a rich camcorder history, this step would have made perfect sense. Yet, one can also believe that not applying it is the best option, if we consider that Sony is not yet ready to be able to provide an AF function (automatic focus) which can be activated during filming. Nikon and Canon, direct rivals of the Sony A380, both offer video capture functions, however, both still without AF. This means you have to focus manually, which is a deadly sin in my opinion, if you keep in mind the consumer these products aim at. It is only Panasonic who got the message, and provides a DSLR with fully settable AF in video capture mode. However; you do pay for it! Perhaps the future Alpha DSLR (Sony DSLR-A550 or A500?) will provide a video capture function including AF.

Sony A380 test
Sony Alpha 380 Sony Alpha 380
   
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