Sony Alpha DSLR-A380 Review
Like the A350 but unlike every other current DSLR, the A380's live view system does not show the output from the main imaging sensor. Instead there is a second, smaller sensor placed up in the viewfinder tunnel.
The advantage of this layout is that, unlike any other current Live View system, the camera can offer live view with the reflex mirror down. This means it behaves just like a conventional DSLR when in Live view mode, only flipping the mirror out of the way when you press the shutter button to take the photograph. The result is a more responsive Live View mode that essentially offers the convenience of a compact camera with the speed of focus of a conventional DSLR.
Of course there are a few disadvantages as well. Using a dedicated live view sensor does not allow the use of the potentially more accurate and flexible contrast-detection autofocus system. Also the Sony system does not offer live view magnification or depth-of-field preview and only covers 90% of the frame which renders it virtually useless for some of the 'typical' live view applications such as macro or some types of studio photography.
Live view display modes
Pressing the DISP button while in Live View toggles between the three available display modes, each with differing levels of overlaid information.
|1: Live view with basic shooting information||2: Live view with detailed shooting information|
|3: Live view with basic shooting information and live histogram|
Live view AF video clip
You can see the camera auto-focusing (from infinity) in live view. Unlike every other DSLR currently on the market, the Sony A350 and A380 are able to perform this without flipping the reflex mirror down (because it's not had to flip it up to display live view). The first time the mirror has to move is when you press the shutter button. After the image has been taken you see the review image appear, this is also where the video ends.
Also, after the image has been recorded the camera jumps briefly back to the live view image, then the screen blacks out for a moment before the review image appears.
Overall handling and operation comments
The Sony DSLR-A380 has clearly been designed with those users in mind who want to upgrade from a digital compact camera and would like to use their DSLR in almost the same fashion as they used their compact. Therefore it makes sense to distinguish between 'traditional' viewfinder and live-view use when speaking about the A380's operation and handling.
The camera is smaller and lighter than its predecessor which is certainly good from a portability point of view but the camera's ergonomics seem to have suffered somehow. The hand grip is very small and almost everyone in the office, no matter the size of their hands, found it difficult to hold the camera in a comfortable way, especially with longer and/or heavier lenses. The viewfinder is the smallest one on any APS-C DSLR on the market and is simply not suitable for anything that requires manual focusing or precise framing. The protruding screen also makes it difficult to get your eye close to the viewfinder, especially if you wear glasses.
Presumably as a result of the reduced dimensions there are now also fewer external controls and their location is, at least in some cases, questionable. It's quite difficult to use the exposure compensation button for example while you've got your eye to the viewfinder. The A380 is now also the only camera in the current crop of entry-level cameras that does not come with an on-screen interface that let's you change settings on the LCD like on many compact cameras. All in all changing the settings is usually just slightly more time-consuming than on most of its direct competitors.
However, If you mainly use the A380 in Auto mode and live-view, the camera's ergonomics work much better. The Sony's live-view AF is fast and holding the camera away from your eye in live-view mode is more comfortable, especially when you tilt the screen up and hold the camera in a lower position, almost like a waist-level viewfinder on a medium-format camera. There are some limitations to this kind of use though that you should keep in mind. The screen can only be tilted on one axis and therefore waist-level or overhead framing does not work if you intend to take a photograph in portrait orientation. The screen is also quite prone to reflections which makes live-view shooting more difficult in sunny conditions. Most importantly the live image on the LCD only shows approximately 90 percent of the frame and cannot be magnified which makes very precise framing and focusing almost impossible.
All in all the A380's design is most suited for a live-view point-and-shoot style of photography. For photographers who change settings frequently and like to frame and focus their shots with precision there are better alternatives available.
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Specifications
- 3 Body & Design
- 4 Body & Design
- 5 Body & Design
- 6 Operation & Controls
- 7 Operation & Controls
- 8 Operation (Live View)
- 9 Displays
- 10 Menus
- 11 Menus
- 12 Performance & IS
- 13 Photographic tests (RAW)
- 14 Photographic tests (Noise)
- 15 Photographic tests (Noise)
- 16 Photographic tests (DR)
- 17 Photographic tests (Kit Lens)
- 18 Photographic tests
- 19 Compared to
- 20 Compared to (JPEG)
- 21 Compared to (JPEG)
- 22 Compared to (JPEG)
- 23 Compared to (JPEG)
- 24 Compared to (RAW)
- 25 Compared to (RAW)
- 26 Compared to (RAW)
- 27 Compared to (RAW)
- 28 Compared to (Higher ISO)
- 29 Compared to (Resolution)
- 30 Compared to (Resolution)
- 31 Conclusion
- 32 Samples
Aug 24, 2009
May 18, 2009
Aug 20, 2012
Aug 20, 2012
|2014_1211_140657AA by old shutter bugger|
from The Bride
|Overloaded by NZ Scott|
from Your City - Delivery Boy
|Barley by Will B Milner|
|APPLE & ROACH by TX Photo Doc|
from Delicious - Unpalatable
Try your hand at this blind portrait shootout between the Canon 1DX Mark II, Nikon D5 and Sony a9. With all bias removed, you might just rank your favorite camera brand worst.
Photo sharing site 500px has just added support for wide-gamut color profiles such as AdobeRGB and ProPhotoRGB, even allowing users to filter their searches by color profile.
DJI just released a mandatory firmware update for the DJI Spark. If you own a Spark and don't update your firmware by September 1st, DJI will remotely ground your drone.
Affordable flash manufacturer Godox has updated its smartphone app so that it can be used to control all of its wireless X flash units, not just the A1 smartphone flash.
Western Digital's new My Book Duo external desktop storage system offers up to 20TB of storage capacity, and comes with RAID-optimized WD Red hard drives.
Version 1.04 of the Sony a6500 firmware can be downloaded from the Sony Support website now.
Not sure how to choose your first drone? In this article, the second of a 3-part series, we discuss what factors you should consider when deciding what drone is right for you.
NASA photo editor Joel Kowsky didn't just capture the solar eclipse from his vantage point in Wyoming, he also managed to capture the ISS buzzing across what remained of the sun.
In these videos, talented photographer and filmmaker Daniel DeArco breaks down several tips that will help flash photography newbies start experimenting with artificial light.
Photographer and master potter Steve Irvine makes incredibly intricate, functional ceramic pinhole cameras that look like robots and monsters.
Chinese gimbal manufacturer Gudsen has released a firmware update for its Moza Air that lets you control the direction and angle of the head remotely just by moving a small handlebar-mounted control unit.
Curious how the Sony a9 performs underwater? Our friends at Backscatter took the camera diving off the Baja California coast, to find out how it handled shooting great white sharks.
While most of the DPReview crew put away our cameras and just watched the celestial event, Rishi decided last-minute to hack together a rig and capture a few shots.
Defunct Russian camera maker Zenit is making a comeback, and they're planning to release a full-frame mirrorless camera in 2018.
The days where you're more or less locked into premium or first-party flash units has gone. They're less than $50 now, so there's one less excuse not to get one. Here's our case for adding one to your kit, and a few pointers to get you going.
If you're shooting the solar eclipse here's a hint: don't fry your camera's sensor. Use a proper solar filter that offers at least 16 stops of light filtration, along with UV and IR filtering. More important? Don't look at it unless you've got solar filters. Sensors can be replaced, your retinas can't.
Photographer Rick Wenner recently captured an odd event called the Race of the Gentlemen with a rather odd camera: The Phase One XF IQ3 Achromatic, the world's only 101MP black-and-white digital back.
Buying used is a good way to save some dough, and with the right precautions you can protect yourself from falling victim to a scam.
This two-part video series takes a deep dive into the world of dynamic symmetry and geometric composition, using iconic photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson's brilliant photographs as a guide.
Award-winning photographer Jeremy Cowart tells the moving story behind this drone photograph, captured in the aftermath of the devastating wildfire in Gatlinburg, TN in 2016.
Happy 2017 World Photo Day! We asked everyone on staff at DPReview to share one photo that they took within the last year that makes them jazzed on photography. Here's what we chose.
French President Emmanuel Macron has lodged a legal complaint against a paparazzo who snuck onto the president's private vacation property to take pictures.
Ever wonder what the difference is between compressed, uncompressed and lossless compressed Raw files? Photography Life's Nasim Mansurov breaks it down for you in this informative article.
The oldest known portrait of a US president was just discovered after over a century in storage. It's going up for auction in October, where it's expected to fetch between $150,000 and $250,000.
If you're using the popular Sigma 24-70mm F2.8 Art lens with Sigma's MC-11 converter, listen up: you'll want to update your lens and converter firmware ASAP.
If you've heard it once, you've probably heard it a thousand times: never check in your camera gear when flying. This shattered $11,000 lens is what can happen when you do.
Lensrentals just did its first Cine lens comparison, pitting five top-notch 35mm primes against each other: the Zeiss CP.2 35mm T2.1, Canon CN-E 35mm T1.5, Sigma 35mm T1.5 FF, Rokinon Xeen 35mm T1.5 and Schneider Xenon 35mm T2.1.
A team of Google researchers have found that slightly warping watermarks when embedding them into images can help prevent automatic removal.
You don't have to empty your savings account to take your photography to the next level. These cheap buys cost about $50 or less, and come with outsized benefits for your photography.
Joey L, Dani Diamond, Brandon Woelfel and Jessica Kobeissi go head-to-head in an episode of "4 photographers shoot the same model."