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  DSLR Tips

Sony Alpha DSLR-A380 Gordon Laing, August 2009

Sony Alpha DSLR-A380 gallery

The following images were taken with a final production Sony Alpha DSLR-A380, running firmware 1.0 and equipped with the DT 18-55mm SAM kit lens.

The Sony Alpha DSLR-A380 was set to L:14 Fine JPEG quality, Auto White Balance, Multi-segment metering and the Standard Creative Style. High ISO NR and the D-Range Optimiser were set to their default On and Standard settings respectively. SteadyShot Stabilisation was enabled for all these handheld shots.

The individual exposure mode, file sizes, shutter speeds, aperture, ISO and lens focal length are listed for each image.

The crops are taken from the original files, reproduced at 100% and saved in Adobe Photoshop CS4 as JPEGs with the Very High quality preset, while the resized images were made in Photoshop CS4 and saved with the default High quality preset. The three crops are typically taken from far left, central and far right portions of each image.

Note: you may wish to open a number of galleries for direct comparison of detail and noise: Canon EOS 500D / T1i sample images, Nikon D5000 sample images, Olympus E-620 sample images, Panasonic Lumix G1 sample images.

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Landscape: 4.59MB, Program, 1/400, f10, 100 ISO, 18-55mm at 18mm (equivalent to 27mm)

  This first shot was taken with the A380 and the DT 18-55mm SAM kit lens under very bright conditions at its lowest sensitivity. As such it represents ideal conditions, and when viewed at 100%, there’s certainly lots of fine detail with minimal softening in the corners.

A good first result, although pixel-peep and you’ll see the faintest smattering of noise in shadow areas and minor coloured fringing.


Landscape: 7.96MB, Program, 1/160, f10, 100 ISO, 18-55mm at 18mm (equivalent to 27mm)

  Here’s a second shot taken under bright light at 100 ISO with the lens zoomed-out. The A380’s Live View and tilting screen made framing at almost ground level very easy here. As above, there’s lots of detail with minimal softening.

Like the A350 before it, the A380’s images are however lacking the crispness and bite of many consumer models and some may prefer to boost the internal processing.


Landscape: 5.59MB, Program, 1/320, f13, 200 ISO, 18-55mm at 55mm (equivalent to 83mm)

  This shot of the docking boat was taken with the A380’s kit lens zoomed-in and the focusing and drive set to continuous; the sensitivity was increased to 200 ISO.

In our tests the A380 shot at just under 2fps which is not suitable for fast action, although ok for the leisurely motion here. The sequence was sharp, and the frame here detailed when viewed at 100%. With the boost to 200 ISO though, noise levels have increased slightly in shadow areas. This would only concern pixel-peepers though.


Portrait: 4.36MB, Aperture Priority, 1/640, f5.6, ISO 200, 18-55mm at 55mm (equivalent to 83mm)

  For this portrait shot we kept the sensitivity at 200 ISO and the lens fully zoomed-in, although switched to Aperture Priority to select f5.6. The result here shows the minimum depth of field you can expect on portrait shots taken with the kit lens.

In the plane of focus there’s some good detail here, but as above, fine chroma noise is visible in shadow areas, and as mentioned earlier, a lack of processed crispness compared to most DSLRs at this price point.


Macro: 5.89MB, Program, 1/25, f5.6, 400 ISO, 18-55mm at 55mm (equivalent to 83mm)

  For this macro shot we increased the sensitivity to 400 ISO and positioned the camera as close at it would focus with the 18-55mm kit lens fully zoomed-in.

As seen in our High ISO Noise results page, the A380’s image quality begins to suffer at 400 ISO and above, with more apparent noise artefacts and further softening of what was already hardly crisp output. The subject matter is quite forgiving here, but there’s certainly better performers at higher sensitivities.


Indoor: 5.06MB, Program, 1/40, f4.5, 400 ISO, 18-55mm at 18mm (equivalent to 27mm)

  Our first indoor shot was taken with the Alpha A380 at 400 ISO. In well-lit areas, the A380 is still recording a good amount of detail, but fine chroma noise is apparent in shadow areas when viewed at 100%.

What’s arguably an under-exposure here hasn’t helped in this regard and the camera also struggled to get the focus spot-on for the main subject in this composition.


Indoor: 5.40MB, Program, 1/10, f3.5, 800 ISO, 18-55mm at 18mm (equivalent to 27mm)

  Our second indoor shot was taken with the sensitivity increased to 800 ISO. The A380 arguably under-exposed again a little here, selecting a shutter of 1/10, although the built-in stabilisation kept the image sharp.

As you’d expect, and also seen on our High ISO Results page, there’s an increase in visible noise artefacts at 800 ISO. Chroma noise and some splotchy noise reduction are clear when viewed at 100%, and while it’s not too bad viewed in isolation, several rivals perform better at high sensitivities.


Indoor: 4.68MB, Program, 1/40, f3.5, 1600 ISO, 18-55mm at 18mm (equivalent to 27mm)

  Our final indoor shot was taken at 1600 ISO, and once again a slight under-exposure has made noise artefacts more apparent. Like the A350 before it, the noise is also the more obtrusive chroma variety rather than a monochrome grain.

The Alpha A380 tops-out at 3200 ISO, at which point noise artefacts have significantly reduced the quality. You can see versions of this scene at all sensitivities in our High ISO Noise results, and also how the D-Range Optimiser handles it in our Features section.



All words, images, videos and layout, copyright 2005-2017 Gordon Laing. May not be used without permission.

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