Like many budget dSLRs, the viewfinder isn't great -- it's small and it's hard to see the focus dots blink red, especially against dark objects -- but it's better than the A330's and many other competitors', with a larger, effective magnification and the focus-lock indicator close to the middle of the bottom read-out. There's also a SteadyShot scale, which helpfully tells you when you're at your least shakiest. A digital level, which other manufacturers have started providing, would be a welcome complement.
Fairly fast performance
Overall, the A230 is reasonably fast, with a surprisingly zippy autofocus. It powers on and shoots in just 0.4 seconds, and can focus and shoot in a mere 0.3 seconds in good light and 0.6 seconds in dim. The latter is a big improvement over its predecessor. Usually, raw shot-to-shot time is virtually the same as for JPEG, but the A230's 0.7 seconds for raw is slower than its 0.5 seconds for JPEG.
(Shorter bars indicate better performance)
|Time to first shot||Raw shot-to-shot time||Shutter lag (dim light)||Shutter lag (typical)|
(Longer bars indicate better performance)
Flash-recycle time is pretty slow for its class, pushing flash shot-to-shot time to 1.5 seconds. That's almost twice that of the Nikon D60 and Canon EOS 1000D, and just slightly slower than the Pentax K-m. And, while its continuous-shooting speed of 2.4 frames per second is only fractionally slower than that of the D60 and 1000D -- and, oddly, slower than the earlier model -- in practice, it still feels too slow to keep up with kids and pets. The LCD also seems to be the same one as on the previous generation of cameras, because we had the same difficulty viewing it in direct sunlight. The image stabilisation works okay, testing out to a saving of about 2 1/3 stops when zoomed out to 200mm.
We're on the fence regarding the photo quality. Part of the problem is Sony's choice of default values, especially in its 'creative styles'. As Pentax does with its K-m, Sony's attempt to provide more 'consumer-friendly' images with its default creative style settings results instead in poor colour rendering -- too cool outdoors and too warm indoors -- which makes you think the white balance is off.