Sony DSLR-A350 Review

Sony DSLR-A350

Review posted 6/24/2008

Click to take a QTVR tour of the A350

Sony has brought Live View shooting to their digital SLR camera line with the release of a 14.2-megapixel (alpha) DSLR-A350 camera and 10.2-megapixel (alpha) DSLR-A300 model. Both cameras feature a wealth of new "cool" technologies, which will help make these dSLRs faster and easier to use for first-time users.

They both offer Sony's new "Quick AF Live View" technology so you can frame photos on the camera's LCD without sacrificing auto-focusing speed common to other live-view systems. Sony's innovative Penta-mirror Tilt mechanism directs light to a dedicated live view image sensor, enabling fast and responsive TTL phase-detection auto-focusing, even during live view. Eliminating the focus delay of other systems, the new models are equally responsive whether using live view or the optical viewfinder.

With its two sensor design, Quick AF Live View can even continuously focus-track the subject and provide live view during burst shooting, helping you capture that special moment. Taking further advantage of Quick AF Live View is the models' variable angle 2.7-inch Clear Photo LCD screen. This makes it easy to frame scenes from high or low positions, which are almost impossible when using an eye-level viewfinder.

The new models produce images with fine detail, rich tonality and vibrant color due to their APS-C CCD image sensors and BIONZ® processing engine. To aid shooting in low light, Super SteadyShot® image stabilization enables shutter speeds 2.5 to 3.5 steps slower than otherwise possible, with every compatible Minolta Maxxum® and Sony (alpha) lens attached to the camera. High sensitivity operation at ISO 1600 and 3200 and very low noise are made possible by the user-selectable high-ISO noise reduction features. Sony's D-Range Optimizer delivers suitable tonality and exposures with rich shadow and highlight detail, even under high contrast situations.

The DSLR-A300 model can shoot about three continuous frames per second, while the DSLR-A350 model can shoot up to two-and-a-half continuous frames per second (using the optical viewfinder). Both are powered by the Bionz processing engine and supplied InfoLITHIUMTM battery for fast start-up times, quick response and long battery life - up to 730 shots per full charge when using the optical viewfinder and up to 410 shots per full charge in Live View mode.

These new models feature lighter, slimmer bodies for easy handling; an improved user interface; automatic pop-up flash; a comfortable camera grip with an easily accessible mode dial; an anti-dust system to keep the CCD image sensor clean for spot-free pictures; and JPEG and RAW file format support. Both have a slot for CompactFlash Type I/II media cards (including Microdrives).

DSLR-A350 Features

  • 14.2-megapixel APS CCD sensor with 14M/7.7M/3.5M image size choices
  • Sony Alpha/Minolta-A bayonet lens mount
  • Recording choice of JPEG, RAW, or RAW+JPEG
  • Shoot at normal 3:2 or 16:9 (HDTV) aspect ratios
  • Super SteadyShot anti-shake system with viewfinder indicator
  • D-Range Optimizer for greater highlight and shadow detail
  • Anti-dust system automatically shakes dust off the imager
  • Large variable angle 2.7-inch TFT color Clear Photo LCD Plus screen
  • Live View function allows you to use the LCD to frame your pictures
  • Penta-Dach-mirror viewfinder with 95% coverage and Eye Start AF
  • 9-point AF with Wide, Spot and Local Area Selection
  • Eye-start Auto Focus, starts the focus process when you put your eye up to the viewfinder
  • Shooting modes: Full-auto, Programmed AE with program shift, Aperture priority, Shutter priority, Manual and Scenes
  • TTL metering: 40-segment honeycomb-pattern, Center-weighted or Spot
  • White Balance: Auto, 8 presets and Manual color temperature
  • Unlimited Continuous 2.5fps shooting Large/Fine JPEG images, up to 4 RAW or 3 RAW+JPEG
  • Shutter speeds: 30 to 1/4,000 seconds, 1/160 sec. flash sync
  • ISO Range: 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200 equivalent
  • Built-in TTL popup flash with red-eye reduction (auto popup when using full Auto)
  • Hot shoe for Sony/Minolta Program Flash units
  • CompactFlash I/II card slot, Microdrive and MSDuo/MSDuo Pro compatible (with optional adapter)
  • Video Out with selectable NTSC or PAL timing
  • High capacity (1600 mAh) lithium-ion battery pack and charger included
  • Exif Print, PRINT Image Matching III, PictBridge compatible

The DSLR-A350 comes as a camera body only kit for about US$799, with the DT 18-70mm f3.5-5.6 3.9x for about US$899 or with both the DT 18-70mm f3.5-5.6 3.9x and DT 55-200mm f4-f5.6 3.6x lenses for US$999. This model is available now, and ships with: SAL-1870 DT 18-70mm f3.5 Zoom lens (kit only), NP- FM500H rechargeable battery, BC-VM10 battery charger, Video and USB cables, Shoulder strap with eyepiece cap and Remote Commander clip, Body cap, Software/USB Driver CD-ROM.

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Physical Views

Sony DSLR-A350

Sony DSLR-A350

Sony DSLR-A350Sony DSLR-A350

Sony DSLR-A350

Sony DSLR-A350

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Sony DSLR-A350 Specifications

Imager 14.2 (effective) APS CCD Sensor; 23.5 x 15.7 mm; RGB primary color filter
Lens Mount Sony a Alpha/Minolta A-type bayonet
1.5x focal length multiplier
File format RAW, JPEG (DCF2.0 compliant, DPOF (ver. 1.1), Exif 2.2)
Number of recorded pixels 14M Large
7.7M Medium
3.5M Small
Image quality Standard, Fine, RAW, RAW+JPEG (Fine)
Autofocus system Through-the-lens (TTL) phase-detection system, CCD line sensors (9 points, 8 lines with center cross-hair sensor)
Autofocus area 9-Point Wide Focus Area
Focus area is selectable between Wide, Spot, and Local
Focus modes Single-shot AF, Continuous AF (with predictive focus control), Automatic AF
Focusing sensitivity 0 - 18 EV (at ISO 100 equivalent)
AF illuminator Range: Approx 3.3 - 16 ft. (1 - 5 m)
White-balance control Auto plus 8 Modes (Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten, Fluorescent, Flash, Color temperature/Color filter, Custom), each with +/-3 adjustable step.
Exposure metering TTL metering using 40-segment honeycomb-pattern SPC (40-segment Honeycomb-pattern/Center-weighted/Spot metering)
Metering range: 2 - 20 EV (4 - 20 with spot metering)
* at ISO100 with f/1.4 lens
Exposure Compensation ±2EV (1/3 EV increments)
D-Range Optimizer Advanced, Standard, Off
Shutter Type: Electronically-controlled, vertical-traverse, focal-plane type
Shutter Range: 30-1/4000 second, Bulb (1/3 EV step)
Flash sync speed: 1/160 second
Super SteadyShot Image sensor-Shift mechanism with indicator in viewfinder
Super SteadyShot Compensation capability: Approx. 2.5 to 3.5 EV decrease in Shutter speed (varies according to shooting conditions and lens used.)
Anti-Dust System: Charge protection coating on Low-Pass Filter and image sensor shift mechanism.
Exposure mode Auto, P (Programmed AE with program shift), A (Aperture priority), S (Shutter priority), M (Manual)
Scene mode Night Portrait, Beach, Sports, Close-up, Landscape, Portrait, No Flash
Drive modes Single, Continuous Advance (approx. 2.5fps), 10/2 second self-timer, Single bracket, Continuous bracket, WB bracket
Continuous Shooting Up to 2.5 fps
JPEG: Unlimited number of frames
RAW: 4 frames
RAW+JPEG: 3 frames
Sensitivity AUTO, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600 and 3200 ISO equivalents
Creative Style modes Standard, Vivid, Portrait, Landscape, Night view, Sunset, B&W, Adobe RGB (Except for Adobe RGB, all other color modes use the sRGB color space)
Exposure bracketing 0.3/0.7 Ev increments; Number of brackets: 3 frames
Flash Flash metering: ADI, Pre-flash TTL
Guide number: 12 at ISO 100 (39 feet/12 meters)
Coverage: 18mm
Recycling time: Approximately 4 seconds
Flash modes: Auto (Built-in Auto Pop-up), Fill-flash, Rear flash sync, Slow Sync, High Speed Sync, Wireless off camera flash (with Flash HVL-F56AM, F42AM)
Viewfinder Type: Eye-level system with penta-Dach-mirror
Focusing screen: Spherical Acute Matte
Field of view: Approximately 95%
Magnification: 0.74x (with 50mm lens focused on infinity)
Diopter control: -3.0 to + 1.0 m-1
Eye-relief: 20.8mm from the eyepiece, 16.7mm from the eyepiece frame at -1 diopter (-1 m-1)
LCD monitor 2.7-inch TFT color LCD with Clear Photo design and tilt option
Total pixels: 230,000 (approx.)
Live View Penta-mirror tilt mechanism
Image Format:Exclusive image sensor for Live view
Metering method: 1200-zone evaluative
Metering Range: 2 to 17EV (Multi segment, Center weighted, Spot) at ISO 100 with F1.4 lens
Recording media CompactFlash Type I and Type II, Microdrives and Memory Stick Duo/PRO Duo with adapter.
Self-timer Approx. 10 seconds / 2 seconds
Printing output control Exif Print, PRINT Image Matching III, PictBridge
Interface USB: High-Speed with a USB 2.0 compatible computer, Video output NTSC / PAL (selected on the camera)
Power Sony NP-FM500H 7.2V 1600 mAh Li-ion rechargeable battery
Condition indication: 4-stage indicator when camera is turned on
Life using CIPA standard: Approx. 730 pictures (Viewfinder mode) or Approx. 410 images (Live view mode)
Dimensions (W x H x D) 5.15 x 4 x 3 inches (130.8 x 98.5 x 74.7 mm)
Weight 1 lb 4.5 oz (582g) (without battery, lens and recording media)
Operating temperature 32-104 °F (0 - 40 °C)
Standard Accessories SAL-1870 DT 18-70mm f3.5 Zoom lens (27 - 105 35mm eq), NP-FM500H rechargeable battery, BC-VM10 battery charger, Video and USB cables, Shoulder strap with eyepiece cap and Remote Commander clip, Body cap, Software/USB Driver CD-ROM
NOTE: No Memory Stick media nor adaptors are included.
(Specifications as provided by the manufacturer)

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