Sony A330 Review

August 14, 2009 | Zoltan Arva-Toth | |


It is not uncommon for a camera manufacturer to release an incremental upgrade to an existing model - we have seen this in the past from basically all the major players. Sometimes the new camera will lose some of its predecessor's functionality while adding new features. It is, however, quite unusual to see a new camera that is a clear step back from the previous iteration without offering any novelties or improvements worth mentioning.

The Sony A330 appears to be one such camera. Its immediate forebear the Alpha A300 was a somewhat chunky but generally well designed DSLR that offered good handling and ease of use thanks to its sensible user interface and fairly good ergonomics. With the arrival of the Alpha A330, it has been replaced by an undeniably smaller but at the same time much less conveniently designed camera that is frankly uncomfortable to hold and sometimes frustrating to use. And that's a problem especially if we consider that the key word in the A330 announcement was 'ease-of-use'.

During our test of the new camera we got the strange feeling that the - new? - design team either had very little idea of what ease-of-use means to a photographer, or was explicitly instructed to design the A330 for non-photographers. That you need some half a dozen button presses to change the active AF point or enter a menu to pop up the flash when it's not in auto mode pretty much says it all. At the same time, certain things the camera could be expected to do automatically, such as switch to the second memory card when the first one fills up (provided there are two cards inserted, of course), must be done manually - again, not in the spirit of user friendliness.

Comparing a camera to its immediate predecessor is one thing, but what the Sony A330 will be measured against is its competition - and here the new offering still has the same advantages as the older A300; namely, fast Live View autofocus and no extra shutter lag or unnecessary mirror slapping. This alone earns it an 'Above Average' rating. Our recommendation, however, still goes to its predecessor the Alpha A300 or its higher-resolution sibling the A350, which offer the same advantage in a much better designed and ultimately easier-to-use body - so grab one until stocks last.

3.5 stars

Ratings (out of 5)
Design 3.5
Features 4
Ease-of-use 4
Image quality 4
Value for money 3.5
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