Compared to...

The Nikon D40 may have dominated the entry-level SLR charts for several years but the other manufacturers haven't been standing still, with Sony in particular aggressively pursuing the 'first DSLR' dollar. The Alpha 230 has a slightly different feature mix (for one thing you get in-body stabilization) for a similar price, so let's see how it compares in the studio.

Studio scene comparison (JPEG)

This is our standard studio scene comparison shot taken from exactly the same tripod position. Lighting: daylight simulation, >98% CRI. Crops are 100%. Ambient temperature was approximately 22°C (~72°F).

Nikon D3000 vs. Sony Alpha 230

Camera settings:

  • Nikon D3000: Nikkor 50 mm F1.4 lens, Aperture Priority, ISO 100, JPEG Large/Fine, Manual WB, Default Parameters (Standard), Self-Timer, ADL off
  • Sony Alpha 230: Konica Minolta AF 50 mm F1.4 lens, Aperture Priority, ISO 100
    JPEG Large/Fine, Manual WB, Default Parameters, Self-Timer, D-Range optimizer disabled
Nikon D3000
Sony Alpha 230
4.1 MB JPEG (3872 x 2592)
3MB JPEG (3872 x 2592)

The Sony A230's files are a touch softer than those created by the D3000 at default settings, despite slightly higher in-camera sharpening (just visible here as faint halos around the golden crests in the top crop, and the fence posts in the scene at the bottom). It is very likely that the Nikon D3000 and Sony Alpha 230 share the same 10 million pixel CCD sensor, but it looks like the anti-aliasing filter of the Sony camera is stronger, which results in lower pixel-level sharpness. On the plus side, files from the Alpha 230 don't show the same moire patterning that is visible in some areas of the image from the Nikon D3000. Viewed at a more sensible magnification (on-screen or in a print) you'd be hard-pressed to tell these two apart.