The Alpha 380 has a lot of tricks up its sleeve in addition to its unique Live View system.

Amongst other key settings there's a high-resolution 14 million-pixel sensor with a wide ISO range of 100-3200, built-in Steady Shot INSIDE image stabilisation, and eye-start AF. The latter two functions are ported over from older Konica Minolta technology, but both have been adapted and improved by Sony.

Exposure is handled by the standard 'PASM' exposure modes (programme, aperture priority, shutter priority and manual, for those of you that don't speak geek) plus the usual range of automatic scene presets to cover pretty much any shooting situation.

Images from the A380's sensor are recorded either in the standard JPEG mode or in Sony's own ARW. Raw format, with a raw+JPEG simultaneous recording option is also available.

Sony alpha a380

PORTS: a panel slides across to reveal card slots as well as USB and HDMI connectors

This is great in terms of ultimate flexibility, but it will burn through memory cards very quickly.

On the subject of memory cards, Sony has done away with CompactFlash media support in the A380, opting instead for dual slots for its own Memory Stick Duo cards and – finally - long-overdue support for the ubiquitous SecureDigital format.

We don't normally get excited about memory card covers, but the A380 features a cool sliding door to protect the memory card bays and HDMI connections, which cries out to be played with until it breaks…