In terms of image quality the Sony Alpha 380 is a mixed bag. First impressions are encouraging, and straight out of the camera, images taken in decent light look great, - really punchy, with plenty of contrast.

The A380's metering system is very good at getting the exposure right, too, even when subjects are relatively small in the frame.

Likewise, the automatic white balance system can be relied upon in most situations, although like virtually all AWB systems it tends to remove some of the natural warmth from sunlit scenes.

Too much noise

Where the A380 falls down is in detail capture, and noise. Specifically, not enough of one, and too much of the other.

Even at low ISO settings and in good light, the A380's sensor delivers JPEG files that require quite a lot of sharpening before they appear properly crisp.

Coloured noise is visible in shadows and neutral midtones at ISO 200, getting much worse as the ISO sensitivity is increased.

Raw files from the A380 are much better than JPEGs, and a lot more detail can be coaxed out of them using the supplied Image Data Converter software, but I'm surprised that the JPEGs aren't more polished.

High ISO performance is very poor compared to competitive cameras like the Canon EOS 500D and Nikon D5000, but arguably, these settings are unlikely to be used all that regularly.