This is the latest in our series of new 'Quick Reviews.' We will be using this format for cameras that are operationally similar and identical in terms of output to models we've already reviewed. We test to confirm the image quality is identical, then concentrate the review on the differences between the two cameras. To learn everything about the camera you are interested in we recommend reading not only the Quick Review but also the full review of the camera that it replaces - in this case the Sony Alpha 380.
The A390 is the replacement to the A380 - itself an upgrade of the A350, launched in 2008. All three cameras share a near-identical feature set, including Sony's still unique Fast AF Live View system.
The A390 is essentially an A380 with some subtle ergonomic changes, specifically a new, more substantial grip, and a reshaped top plate. As a relatively minor upgrade, the A390 was never going to warrant a full, in-depth review, but we're curious to see what Sony has changed in its latest midrange DSLR. When we reviewed the A380, one of our main criticisms of the camera's handling was Sony's change from the bulbous, almost oversized grip of the A350 to the more minimal, somewhat sharp lines of its predecessor. Has Sony taken a welcome step back in the right direction? Read on to find out.
A brief history; Sony/Konica Minolta entry level digital SLR series
- 15/07/05: Konica Minolta Maxxum 5D (6 mp)
- 05/06/06: Sony DSLR-A100 (10 mp)
- 07/01/08: Sony DSLR-A200 (10.2 mp)
- 30/01/08: Sony DSLR-A350 (14.2 mp) / Sony DSLR-A300 (10.2 mp)
- 18/05/09: Sony DSLR-A380 (14.2 mp) / Sony DSLR-A330 (10.2 mp) / Sony DSLR-A230 (10.2 mp)
- 09/07/10: Sony DSLR-A390 (14.2 mp) / Sony DSLR-A290 (14.2 mp)
Compared to Alpha 380 - key differences
There are very few differences between the A390 and its predecessor, but if you can summon the energy, here's a complete list.
- Approximately 6g heavier
- New, more substantial handgrip
- Re-positioned shutter release/on-off switch and control dial
- New texture and color to the top-plate (closer to original A350)