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SONY DSLR-A290

We haven't had a chance to fully test this product yet, but we've assembled this helpful overview of relevant information on it.

For those who want an easy step into SLR cameras Sony offers the A290. The 290 has a 14.2 megapixel resolution for fine detailed photos and a CCD sensor. Using the 2.7 inch LCD screen you can view Sony’s helpful on-screen Help Guide if you need pointers on how to take SLR images. It has an optical zoom of three times and an aperture range of F/3.5 to 5.6. The ISO range is standard at 100 to 3200 and the camera does have a built-in pop-up flash. It can take JPEG images or RAW. The 290 is also a fairly light camera coming at just over a pound in weight.

Features List:

- 14.2 megapixels

- CCD sensor

- 2.7 inch LCD screen

- Help Guide

- Optical Zoom 3x

- Aperture F/3.5 – 5.6

- ISO 100 – 3200

- Built-in pop-up flash

- JPEG or RAW images

- Light Weight 1 lbs

Digital Trends’ digital camera buying tips:

What are my options?

There are two basic types of digital cameras-point-and-shoot and D-SLRs (Digital Single Lens Reflex). Point and shoot digicams-or as we like to call them “aim and forget”-make up the vast majority of models sold (over 90 percent). The reason is simple: in a single gadget you have everything you need to take good photos. Just aim, zoom in on your subject, press the shutter and the camera does all the work. More sophisticated D-SLRs have interchangeable lenses that let you unleash your inner Annie Leibovitz-they offer higher quality, faster response time and more flexibility. They also are a lot heavier and cost much more. Your decision between the two is purely personal and totally dependent on your level of commitment to photography. No matter which way you go there are basics that hold true for all cameras. Learning them will help you make the right decision.

Flexibility and Options: SLR or Point-n-Shoot?

Lens Flexibility: Point-and-shoot cameras offer a wide variety of zoom lenses from the basic 3x up to 26x. If you’re thinking compact, you have many options, but we recommend starting out with a basic wide-angle view (28mm or so) then multiplying that to your heart’s content. A 24x model like the Nikon Coolpix P90 even offers 28-624mm options so you can take nice group shots and zoom into subjects you can barely recognize. There are many small cameras with wide focal ranges that are easily toted around-a huge plus for point-and-shoots.

Contrastingly, DSLRs are far from compact and typically are supplied with a 3x kit lens. From there you can go crazy, spending a small fortune on interchangeable lenses. Canon and Nikon, the two biggest DSLR sellers by far, each have over 65 to choose from. And these lenses use finer glass than point-and-shoots, adding to overall quality advantage of DSLRs. The downside is that they are much heavier, bulkier and require at least a backpack to lug everything around. Still, for the professional or prosumer, DSLR is the natural fit.

Options: Most point-and-shoot digital cameras offer limited manual options for adjusting aperture (f/stops) and shutter speeds. Granted, the vast majority of amateur paparazzi out there couldn’t care less about this small range of potential adjustments, and will be perfectly happy firing away in Auto mode. But while DSLRs have Auto settings too, they also let you unleash your inner Annie Leibovitz by adjusting depth of field, blurring subjects and going wherever the creative muse takes you. If you’re looking to get more creative with photos, a DSLR is the right choice.

What about memory cards?

There is no universal memory card to fit all digital cameras – not yet, anyway. Based on internal politics, design considerations and financial reasons, individual camera manufacturers typically adopt a particular style of Flash Memory card for their cameras. Some manufacturers will even split their alliances – one type of memory card for professional-level cameras, and another type of memory card for consumer level cameras. When buying a new Flash Memory card, remember which camera you have and the type of card it requires. Some camera snobs (like your humble writer) will even selectively buy a digital camera based on the type of Flash Memory card they prefer to use!

The most common types of Flash Memory cards are:

Compact Flash, or CF – Roughly the size of a silver dollar (though not round), the CF card is one of the earliest types of Flash Memory cards and is most often used in professional or semi-pro digital cameras.

Secure Digital, or SD – Roughly the size of a postage stamp, the SD Card is available in a wide range of storage capacities. It’s inexpensive, durable and amazingly lightweight.

Memory Stick or Memory Stick Pro – About the size of a small stick of gum, the Memory Stick is meant for Sony Digital cameras.

XD-Picture, or XD Card – Typically found in Fuji and Olympus cameras, the XD Card is about 40% smaller than the SD card.

How many megapixels do I need?

In 2000, the answer to this question was “more is always better.” In 2010, the answer is more likely “if you have to ask, you have enough.” Even the cheapest cameras these days typically pack eight or more megapixels onto a sensor, which produces superb 4 x 6 prints, all the way up to 8 x 10, and sometimes more. The physical size and quality of the image sensor along with the corresponding optics play a much bigger role in image quality than megapixels alone, so don’t be fooled into thinking more megapixels will produce better photographs. Unless you’re planning to blow up shots to poster or billboard size, any modern camera has enough resolution.
When you’re researching different cameras, manufacturers will state the maximum file (or picture) size you can take. In the case of a 6 megapixel (MP) camera, it’s 2816 horizontal pixels x 2112 vertical pixels, with 7MP it’s 3072 x 2304 and so on. Simply multiply the numbers and you get the effective resolution of the imaging device. We suggest you avoid anything less than 6 or 7MP at this point unless you’re looking for an inexpensive camera for the kids.
Pros have access to 21-megapixel imagers in very expensive D-SLRs. You don’t have to go this route or spend that much money for great everyday photos. However, 6MP should be your minimum and if you plan on making very large prints, such as 13x19s, or you feel you’re going to experiment cropping photos with imaging software, consider 8- or more megapixels. There are no hard and fast rules since so much depends on your final end use