Sony has announced three new digital SLR cameras, the Alpha A230, A330 and A380, which are aimed at users interested in moving from compact cameras.

Priced at $550 in the US, the Alpha DSLR-A230 replaces the A200 as Sony's entry-level DSLR. The $650 Alpha DLSR-A330 replaces the A300. Both the A230 and the A330 feature a 10.1-megapixel resolution. UK pricing hasn't been announced.

The Sony Alpha A230.

On the higher end of the spectrum, the Alpha DSLR-A380 replaces the A350. Priced at $850, the A380 has a 14.2-megapixel resolution. Again, UK pricing hasn't been announced.

All three cameras have APS-C size CCD sensors, Bionz image processors, lens mounts for Sony, Minolta, and Konica Minolta autofocus lenses, a built-in pop-up flash, a hot shoe, image stabilization built into the body, and a 2.7-inch LCD (the A330 and the A380 each have pull-out LCDs, while the A230 does not).

The Sony Alpha A330

In a first for Sony, the new cameras also offer two memory card slots -- both the proprietary Sony Memory Stick format and the more widespread SD/SDHC format.

The cameras feature a new software interface that aims to make it easier for inexperienced SLR users to understand and adjust camera settings. For example, the aperture and shutter speed settings each use a horizontal scale with iconic representations of the effect that a setting will have on a picture. Moving toward, say, the running-man icon on the shutter speed scale increases the shutter speed and lets the user know that the camera is being set to photograph action shots.

Each camera comes with an 18mm-to-55mm lens; the cameras are not available as body only. Sony also offers each camera in a two-lens kit, which includes the 18mm-to-55mm lens and a 55mm-to-200mm telephoto lens.



The Sony Alpha A380

The cameras have HDMI video-out for previewing images on an HDTV. However, running counter to a trend we've seen among new SLRs, the three new Sony cameras do not have the capability to record video.

The A330 will come in black or brown. The A230 and A380 will be available in black only. The cameras will be on sale starting in mid-June.