Sony Alpha a390 review

The A390 features a 14.2 megapixel CCD sensor, a 2.7-inch TFT-LCD swivelling screen, there are also two lens options available.The dimensions of the camera are pretty average to be honest, it is 128.1mm wide, 97.1mm high and 83.5mm deep, also it weighs just 549 grams (taking into consideration the battery and memory card…….

Released alongside the $100-cheaper a290, the Sony a390 includes the unique and supremely useful fast-focusing live view. It also has a tilt-swivel LCD that makes the live view that much more useful. The 14.2 megapixel sensor has been steadily improving as well but still isn’t quite up there with the best of the 12 and 15 megapixel sensors by Sony and Canon. Still, the a390’s name brand and its high usability make it a charmer.

It might sit at the budget end of the market, but the A390 packs in plenty of features. In particular, the Quick AF Live View mode deserves closer inspection. Other dSLRs use the main sensor to form the live image on the LCD display, which means flipping up the mirror and opening the shutter for viewing. The A390 does none of this.

Even DSLR camera novices will find it brilliantly simple to explore the generous creative features of both new cameras. The intuitive Graphic Display makes it easy to understand the relation between shutter speed and aperture, plus the effects of your chosen exposure settings on the final picture. The Help Guide offers clear, concise explanations of camera functions, illustrated by a sample image to show the results you’ll achieve. Quick access to shooting and playback function menus is streamlined by colourful on-screen icons.

Instead, it uses a second, smaller ‘viewing’ sensor in the pentaprism. It delivers perfectly adequate quality for viewing and doesn’t require all that mirror flipping. It’s activated by a simple switch on the top of the camera. The main autofocus sensor is still active, so the A390 focuses much faster in live-view mode than other dSLRs — hence ‘Quick AF’.

It’s quick and simple to activate the live-view mode, and it works well. This mode is all the more useful thanks to the tilting, 69mm (2.7-inch) LCD on the back of the camera. Low-level and macro shots are much easier as a result.

With a resolution of 14.2 effective megapixels for flawless, low-noise images, both cameras offer the speedy shooting responses that are prized by DSLR users. The α390 adds the extra benefit of Quick AF Live View. This unique system teams the convenience of live image preview on the tilt-angle Clear Photo LCD with speedy, accurate phase-detection autofocus.

The A390 delivers vivid, saturated colours and good exposure accuracy in all sorts of lighting, whereas previous beginner-orientated Sony dSLRs have had a tendency to overexpose, particularly when it comes to backlit shots. If you want to shoot raw files instead of JPEGs, you can use the bundled Image Data Converter SR software to convert them. It’s not Photoshop, but it’s not bad.

Like other Alpha bodies, the A390 includes Sony’s ‘SteadyShot Inside’ anti-shake system. This moves the sensor to counter camera movement during the exposure and, in theory, should work with all lenses. The only downside is that the image isn’t stabilised in the viewfinder, so long-range telephoto shots can still be tricky.

You can also bring distant objects closer still with the ‘smart teleconverter’ button. This offers two magnifications — 1.4x and 2x — which correspond to those of real optical teleconverters. What you’re getting here, though, is just a digital zoom, so Sony’s being slightly cheeky with its naming.

The α390 and α290 include a mini-HDMI terminal for direct connection to any HD Ready TV (requires optional cable). Support for PhotoTV HD ensures even better-looking still image reproduction on compatible BRAVIA models. BRAVIA Sync allows control of slideshow and other camera playback functions in comfort using your TV remote.

While Sony might have done some work on the handling, it’s not enough. The grip is too close to the lens flange, leaving little space for your fingertips, and the tilting LCD mechanism leaves scant room for the navigational buttons on the back. The left button is particularly difficult to press because it’s right up against the raised edge of the screen.

The Alpha DSLR-A390 isn’t a bad entry-level dSLR, but it has a real budget feel and it’s so similar to the old A380 that you wonder why Sony bothered. If you’re a cynical sort, you might observe that Sony’s found a way of launching a new camera without actually having to make one.


  • 14.2 megapixels
  • Tilt-and-swivel LCD


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