Sony A230 Review

3.5
September 14, 2009 | Mark Goldstein |

Image Quality


All of the sample images in this Review were taken using the 10 megapixel Fine JPEG setting, which gives an average image size of around 4Mb.

During the review the Sony A230 produced images of very good quality. The pictures exhibit a pleasing combination of nice colours and wide dynamic range. Noise is not a real problem up to ISO 800, though it does become rather noticeable at ISO 1600 in the form of blotchy chroma noise that the in-camera noise reduction cannot remove well. Loss of overall saturation is not a problem though, even at the highest setting of ISO 3200. Sharpness, while not bad, is only so-so with the 18.55mm kit lens, meaning you will be wise to save up for better optics, but it did handle chromatic aberrations very well. General exposure accuracy with matrix metering is good though not outstanding. Flash exposure accuracy - and consistency - was, on the other hand, best in class with the pop-up flash; thanks to the Advanced Distance Integration (ADI) system inherited from Minolta. Another Minolta legacy is the sensor-shift anti shake technology, called SteadyShot Inside by Sony, which really helps with shutter speeds that are critically slow for the focal length used. The D-Range (Dynamic Range) Optimiser is quite effective for revealing more detail in high contrast, backlit scenes.

Noise

There are 6 ISO settings available on the Sony A230. Here are some 100% crops which show the noise levels for each ISO setting:

JPEG

RAW

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

ISO 100 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

ISO 200 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

ISO 400 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

ISO 800 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

ISO 1600 (100% Crop)

   

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

ISO 3200 (100% Crop)

File Quality

The Sony A230 has 2 different JPEG image quality settings available, with Fine being the highest quality option. Here are some 100% crops which show the quality of the various options.

10M Fine (100% Crop) 10M Standard (100% Crop)
   
10M RAW (100% Crop)  
 

Sharpening

Here are two 100% crops which have been Saved as Web - Quality 50 in Photoshop. The right-hand image has had some sharpening applied in Photoshop. The out-of-the camera images are a little soft at the default sharpening setting. You can change the in-camera sharpening level if you don't like the default look.

Original (100% Crop)

Sharpened (100% Crop)

   

Chromatic Aberrations

The Sony A230's 18-55mm kit lens handled chromatic aberrations very well during the review. There's slight purple fringing between areas of high contrast, but it's only noticeable on really close inspection, as shown in the example below.

Example 1 (100% Crop)

Example 2 (100% Crop)

Flash

The flash settings on the Sony A230 are Off, Auto, Fill, Slow Sync and Rear-curtain Sync. Red-eye Reduction is also available in the main menu. These shots of a white coloured wall were taken at a distance of 1.5m.

Flash Off - Wide Angle (27mm)

Flash On - Wide Angle (27mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64
   

Flash Off - Telephoto (82.5mm)

Flash On - Telephoto (82.5mm)

ISO 64 ISO 64

And here are a couple of portrait shots. As you can see, neither the Forced On setting or the Auto/Red-eye Reduction option caused any amount of red-eye.

Fill

Fill (100% Crop)
   

Auto/Red-eye Reduction

Auto/Red-eye Reduction (100% Crop)

Night

The Sony A230's maximum shutter speed is 30 seconds and there's also a Bulb mode for longer exposures, which is great news if you're seriously interested in night photography. The shot below was taken using a shutter speed of 20 seconds at ISO 100. I've included a 100% crop of the image to show what the quality is like.

Night Shot

Night Shot (100% Crop)

Anti Shake

The Sony A230 has an anti-shake mechanism, which allows you to take sharp photos at slower shutter speeds than other digital cameras. To test this, I took 2 handheld shots of the same subject with the same settings. The first shot was taken with anti-shake turned off, the second with it turned on. Here is a 100% crop of the image to show the results. As you can see, with anti-shake turned on, the images are much sharper than with anti-shake turned off. This feature really does seem to make a difference and could mean capturing a successful, sharp shot or missing the opportunity altogether.

Shutter Speed / Focal Length Anti-Shake Off (100% Crop) Anti-Shake On (100% Crop)
1/8th sec / 27mm
1/10th sec / 82mm

Dynamic Range Optimizer

Sony's D-Range (Dynamic Range) Optimiser adjusts brightness or contrast across the whole scene and is claimed to be particularly effective for high contrast, backlit scenes. When shooting in either JPEG or RAW, this mode improves shadow detail using standard gamma curves. The A230 has a simpler system than its big brother, the A700, offering 3 different DR settings (Off, Standard and Advanced).

Off

Standard

Advanced

Entry Tags

beginner, sony, DSLR, 10 megapixel, alpha, entry, 2.7inch LCD, dslr-230, a 230, a230, Sony A230 Review

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