The Sony A290: the perfect DSLR for those on a small budget? The What Digital Camera Sony A290 review tests it out...

Product Overview

Overall rating:


Sony Alpha A290

Overall score:84%
Image Quality:85%


  • Ultra-affordable


  • Limited features


Sony Alpha A290 Review


Price as reviewed:


Value & Verdict

Sony Alpha A290 review – Value

Sony Alpha A290 product image rear backThe official Sony Store lists the A290 at £410, however if you shop around it’s possible to pick one up from a reputable retailer for around £330. For that price there are few other DSLRs on the market. The 10.1MP Canon 1000D is perhaps the nearest competitor in terms of price, and for the extra £30 it costs, you will gain live view functionality but at the expense of a smaller screen and a lower overall resolution. It’s also worth pointing out that the 1000D was released in 2008, which in digital camera terms at least makes it something of al old model. If live view is a must then the next Sony model up from the A290 – the Sony A390 – does include this, along with a tilting LCD screen. Expect to pay at least a £50 premium for one though. Overall, there can be few grumbles about the cost of an A290 – it does represent good value for money.

Sony Alpha A290 review – Verdict

Sony Alpha A290 product image front onFor the first-time DSLR user, the A290 is a solid performer that offers good value for money. Simple to use, and offering good image quality, there’s really not much to criticise. Yes, it does lack advanced features, and its construction errs on the side of plasticky, but for a first-time DSLR user it offers a solid entry point to the ever-expanding Sony DSLR system. While the supplied 18-55mm kit lens is a bit flimsy, the addition of a better quality lens would make this a solid performer. If you are looking for a first DSLR on a tight budget then the A290’s current sub-£330 pricing is definitely its strong point and is likely to find its way onto your budget DSLR shortlist.


PC Socket:No
Cable Release:Remote release
AF Points:Nine (with one central cross-type sensor)
Max Flash Sync:1/160th sec
Built-in Flash:Yes, GN10 (at ISO 100)
DoF Prview:No
Colour Temp Control:No
White Balance Bracket:No
Colour Space:sRGB, Adobe RGB
Exposure Comp:Yes, ±2.0EV (in 0.3 steps)
Focusing Modes:Single shot, Continuous, Automatic, Manual
Built-in Image Stabilisation:Yes, Super SteadyShot sensor-based stabilisation
Dust Reduction:Yes, anti-static coating and CCD shift mechanism
Weight:508g (inc battery and card)
Dimensions:128.1 x 97.1 x 79.6mm
Movie Mode:No
Live Mode:No
Power:Rechargeable li-ion battery
Memory Card:SD/SDHC
Connectivity:HDMI (type C), USB 2.0 (standard mini connection)
Field of View:95%
Viewfinder Type:Fixed eye-level system with roof mirror
White Balance:Auto, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Tungsten, Florescent, Flash, Custom
Drive Mode:Single, Continuous, 10sec and 2sec timer, Self-timer continuous, Continuous advance AE bracketing, Remote commander
Exposure Modes:P, A, S, M, Auto, Scene, Flash off, Macro
Compression:JPEG Fine or Standard, Large (14MP), Medium (7.7MP), Small (3.5MP) - all sizes approximate
Metering System:40-segment honeycomb-pattern SPC
File Format:Raw (Sony .ARW), JPEG, Raw + JPEG
Shutter Speeds:1/4000–30secs, bulb
Lens Mount:Sony A-Mount (Minolta/Konica A-Mount compatible)
Focal Length Mag:1.5x
LCD:2.7in, 230k-dot
Output Size:4592 x 3056 pixels
Sensor:14.1 megapixels APS-C CCD sensor, 23.5 x 15.7mm
  1. 1. Sony Alpha A290 review - Features
  2. 2. Design & Performance
  3. 3. Image Quality
  4. 4. Value & Verdict
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