Unfortunately, you can't tell that's what's happening because there's no 'natural' or its equivalent, and Sony doesn't tell you what the contrast, saturation or sharpness settings are for each style -- they're all listed as 0, from which you increase or decrease. If you know enough to change the settings, or shoot only raw, you can get some very good photos out of the camera, but someone with that knowledge is not the likely buyer for this model. This is, however, probably fixable via a firmware update if Sony chooses.
By the rest of the image-quality metrics -- noise, exposure and sharpness -- the A230 renders decent photos for its class. The Dynamic Range Optimizer brings out slightly more detail in shadows and mid-tones, and brings back some clipped shadows and highlights. In general, you probably won't regret leaving it enabled.
We were slightly disappointed by the kit lenses, which don't match the sharpness of similar models from Canon and Nikon. The A230 delivers a fairly average noise-suppression profile for its class. Sharpness starts to degrade at about ISO 400 and colour noise begins to seep in at ISO 800. You really won't want to use ISO 1,600 and ISO 3,200, at which points images are both soft and noisy.
Given that the Sony Alpha DSLR-A230 has a better viewfinder than the A330, it's a better deal, unless you really want the live-view shooting. But, if you're looking for the cheapest decent dSLR available -- albeit one with similarly bad defaults -- you should consider the Pentax K-m.
Additional editing by Charles Kloet