* Prices may differ from that shown
I am personally a wildlife photographer and have been using mostly this body for around a year and a half. I was previously using the a230 and a200. I have personally managed to produce some punchy images and had some great looking Jpeg files straight out of the camera, examples of which have certainly turned a few heads. The Raw files aren't as good as Canon or Nikon alternatives but certainly look good enough. The hand grip is much more comfortable than the a230 which I tended to find slipped. It is akin to the a200 in terms of ergonomics with a smaller size. I find that shots are very usable at iso 100 and 200 and just about usable at 400 but past that the results become pretty hard to look at! The camera is very plastic and although not technically weather sealed, I have taken it round nature reserves in very heavy rain before and after a quick wipe down it was perfect. As for the lens - Not great! Terrible focus ring, 15mm shorter than the original Sony kit lenses they used to make and not a huge surface area to the zoom ring. I would recommend this camera to someone starting out! I have personally had some brilliant results from it although the terrible motordrive speed is a rather big setback for me!
We brought this camera just to take random photos of our children on our numerous day trips with them. We were not looking for a professional quality camera, but did not want a little digital camera with limited options. We wanted a camera which would take great photos of our kids with out being too heavy to carry around like our DSLR. Thats exactly what we got with this camera, a middle of the road everyday use camera.
So technical info
This camera comes with 14MP, which is pretty standard nowadays with most compact cameras having the same amount. The number of MP are not what defines how good a picture you get though.
It has a BIONZ processor inside it which makes it a fast camera to work and which reduces noise in your pictures.
The 7cm LCD screen on the back for viewing your pictures has an auto brightness feature which makes it easy to view even when it is sunny out (we even used it at the top of Pen-Y-Fan with no problems) it also makes it easy to navigate the menus.
It has Steadyshot built in which makes it great for shooting on the spur of the moment with your children, basically helping eliminate camera shake.
It has a responsive autofocus with Eyestart which helps you acheive the best shot possible. Again good if you haven't got time to concentrate too much on all the settings but still want a great picture.
This camera has no internal memory though, which means you do need an SD card to store any images on.
We found this camera performed well in most situations and got some great shots out of it, but there are better versions on the market. The optical zoom is only 3x which is pretty bad considering our small compact has 5x zoom. This can easily be rectified by purchasing an extra lens for the camera though. You get what you pay for though and for £329 it is a good camera. It is lightweight, easy to use and produces great photos.
I would recommend it to anyone who is starting out in photography and doesn't want to commit to a full spec DSLR
I bought one of these as a gift for my partner, I've got a fair few cameras of varying levels of complexity, and so I picked this one out for her.
It's fair to say that this is a Mid-range camera, Realisitically, as sold, the Alpha is certainly not a professional choice. That said, I've seen some suberb photo's taken from it, and the actual features on the camera are second to none.
*Megapixels- the 14MP that the alpha has is quite modest, there are plenty of compacts packing this these days, however, its not neccesarily the megapixels that determine the image quality. In the case of DSLR's, they will often produce a far superior picture than a compact purely because of their lenses and processors etc.
*Optical zoom- this was the one feature I found to be quite disappointing, 3x optical zoom is frankly a bit pathetic, i've got digital cameras 5 years old that pack 5x optical zoom. It does the trick. Just.....Certainly no nice wildlife shots from a distance with this one
*Inbuilt help- my main attraction to buying this as a present is that Sony has incorporated "assistance" as they call it into the camera, It helps out with choosing the right settings dor your photo, quite similar to the "smart auto" feature many cameras have except with much more features
*Size (weight)- some of the professional D-SLRs are STUPIDLY heavy, they actually hurt to carry round, this one is nice and light in comparison.