Sony Alpha A380 review

Sony's new DSLR takes on recent efforts from Canon and Nikon

Sony Alpha A380
The Sony Alpha A380 is Sony's answer to the Canon 500D and the Nikon D5000 - but does it measure up?

Speaking of breaking, the Sony Alpha 380 leaves a little to be desired as far as build quality is concerned.

Despite being a fairly chunky camera, Sony has managed to shave almost 100g off its weight compared to the A350, and unfortunately it shows.

The A380 feels plasticky in a way that very few of its competitors do, and the drastically downsized, angular handgrip is remarkably uncomfortable.

Sony alpha a380 grip

GRIP: it's uncomfortable to hold

I thought it was just me and my banana fingers, but no-one that I've shown the A380 to enjoys holding it. The flip-out LCD screen is stiff, too, and doesn't feel very solid, and our test sample has some rather rough moulding around the frame.

It's not a big deal, but it makes the camera feel cheaper than it is.

New, tastier menu

One of the changes that is very good to see, however, is a newly updated, greatly clarified menu system and onscreen interface compared to earlier Alpha DSLRs.

This includes a useful display illustrating the effects of different shutter and aperture settings, which will no doubt appeal to novice photographers that are still getting their heads around how DSLRs work.

Sony alpha a380 screen display

DISPLAY: beginners will love the helpful display

Something that compact cameras don't have is a through-the-lens viewfinder. Unfortunately, the A380's viewfinder is pretty poor compared to other similar DSLRs, and is noticeably smaller and dimmer than most.

However, the unique selling point of the A380 is its performance in Live View mode, and, naturally, the viewfinder is of the A380 is still superior to any compact or bridge type camera, so its shortcomings are unlikely to bother Sony's target market.