Sony A330 vs. A300 vs. A700 Review – ISO Comparison

The Sony A330 is one of the new entry-level Sony Alpha DSLRs, replacing the revolutionary A300.  The standout feature in the A300 and A330 is the fast-autofocus Live View display.  One step behind this awesome feature is the fact that the screen articulates.  These features are solid and, frankly speaking, put Nikon and Canon’s efforts of Live View in a DSLR to shame.

However, fancy features mean nothing if image quality is not up to snuff.  In today’s digital imaging world, a big component of overall image quality focuses on low light performance – and that means clean images at high ISO.  The Sony A330 and A300′s max sensitivity setting is at ISO 3200, while the Canon Rebel T1i and Nikon D5000 cover the sensitivity range up to ISO 12800 and ISO 6400, respectively.  Sony’s A700 has a max sensitivity up to ISO 6400.

I’ve been shooting with a Sony A330 alongside the A300 and A700 for a while now.  While I am saving my overall impressions of the new camera for the full review that will be coming shortly, I put together a little ISO comparison between the A330, A300 and A700.  Here’s the rundown on the test setup:

  • The images were shot from a tripod in a tungsten lit room with auto white balance engaged.
  • The A330 was set to Program mode, while the A300 and A700, both of which underexposed as compared to the A330, were shot in manual mode to match the exposure settings of the A330.
  • The new 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 SAM kit lens was used on all cameras at a focal length of 55mm.
  • The 100% crops below were taken from the center of the frame as 100px X 600px sections.

For those of you who would like a closer inspection of the full files from each of the 100% crop samples, links are below each ISO sample to the respective original JPEG files. Simply right click the link and choose “Save as…” Please note that some of the full image files are rather large. These images are provided for personal inspection only and may not be republished elsewhere without prior written consent, which may be obtained via email correspondence. If you want to republish the images, use the contact form to get in touch.

ISO 100 Reference Shot from Sony A330

100% Crop Samples at ISO 100

Sony A330 – ISO 100 – Original File

Sony A300 – ISO 100 – Original File

Sony A700 – ISO 100 – Original File

100% Crop Samples at ISO 200

Sony A330 – ISO 200 – Original File

Sony A300 – ISO 200 – Original File

Sony A700 – ISO 200 – Original File

100% Crop Samples at ISO 400

Sony A330 – ISO 400 – Original File

Sony A300 – ISO 400 – Original File

Sony A700 – ISO 400 – Original File

100% Crop Samples at ISO 800

Sony A330 – ISO 800 – Original File

Sony A300 – ISO 800 – Original File

Sony A700 – ISO 800 – Original File

100% Crop Samples at ISO 1600

Sony A330 – ISO 1600 – Original File

Sony A300 – ISO 1600 – Original File

Sony A700 – ISO 1600 – Original File

100% Crop Samples at ISO 3200

Sony A330 – ISO 3200 – Original File

Sony A300 – ISO 3200 – Original File

Sony A700 – ISO 3200 – Original File

Sony A330 vs. A300 vs. A700 ISO Comparison Conclusions

Sony is a big mover and shaker in the DSLR world since the introduction of the A100 in 2006.  Sony has also managed to show a bit of restraint in the A330 by not pushing the ISO speed to unmanageable levels.  While it does not appear to perform at the levels of the new Canon Rebel T1i and Nikon D5000, the A330 still has respectable low light performance.  Images captured at ISO 1600 and 3200 will probably be acceptable to most consumers moving up from a point and shoot (the obvious target market) for web use and 4×6″ prints .

Currently, the Sony A330 can be had for $649.95 as a kit with the new 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 SAM lens.  Another kit that adds the 55-200mm f/4-5.6 SAM lens runs $699.99.  Not a bad deal at all.

Your Turn . . .

What conclusions do you draw on the noise performance of these cameras?

What about metering and exposure issues?

Your questions, comments and remarks are welcome. Fire away in the comments below.

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Comments

  1. says

    The A330 has better performance than the A300 in this comparison. But i don’t like the looks of the A330, looks “stupid”.
    But more than that i am very disappointed to find the quality of A700 to be very “Low”. The white balance was terrible and the CMOS sensor is not providing the “lesser noise” than the CCD model.
    Nice comparison, can’t wait to have the full review.
    Thanks for sharing bro.

  2. Chris Wendt says

    As an early adopter of the A100, I am looking to move up in the Sony line. Since SONY reduced the price to clear their A700 inventory, I have been seriously considering buying one before they disappear. But, then came the A380 (not reviewed by you) and I talked to the SONY Rep at Adorama about trading-down to that camera. I would do that, except SONY does not offer any of their new cameras without the kit lenses, and I have no need of that glass.

    Looking at your ISO test, it is immediately clear that the A700 auto white balance seems to work, and the A300 and A330 auto white balance leaves a lot to be desired. It is also really evident that the A700 noise suppression is far superior to the A300/A330. But I do not find any of the test images satisfactory above ISO400, especially having been shot on a tripod.

    I never shoot above ISO400, so that is not actually a major consideration or maybe it is not even any consideration at all, in my decision whether or not to buy one of the last remaining A700′s.

    However, I think I am going to wait until SONY decides to sell the A380 as a body only, or, until the A800 finally shows up next year. Unless I win the lottery, then I will donate all my SONY & Minolta gear to SVA and go buy a real good NIKON outfit.

  3. Sony-Canada says

    Chris Wendt Nikon Sensor is made by Sony buy a Nikon only if you have money to give away. and remember Sony is a Big Player in this DSLR Game i have own Nikon and Canon trust me it just a money game..

  4. JimC says

    “Your Turn . . .

    What conclusions do you draw on the noise performance of these cameras?”

    My conclusion is that you need to update the A700′s firmware before doing these kinds of comparisons. As most anyone familiar with these cameras knows, Sony made major changes in the way the A700 approaches noise reduction in both newer Version 3 and Version 4 Firmware versions. The EXIF shows you’re running Version 2 firmware. ;-)

    Here’s the latest firmware for it (Version 4, released September 2008):

    http://esupport.sony.com/US/perl/swu-download.pl?mdl=DSLRA700&upd_id=3757&os_id=7

    I’d also make sure to turn DRO off when testing Sony cameras (so that the shadow areas are not being “pushed”, which can lead to higher noise levels and mask exposure problems).

  5. kevin Hiatt says

    I have a A300 bought from Jessops Sutton Coldfield, first DSLR before that used 35mm SLR. Found the Sony better than I could have thought but have been caught out by the auto focus when it focusing on not what I was aiming at, but no trouble as can retake. Very useful for taking photos for the Self Help Group which I run for funding applications. Taken far more pictures than I ever did with the 35mm and dont have to wait to get the result.

  6. says

    Have owned the a100, moved to an a300 which I enjoy very much and now include a new a700 with ver.4 firmware. There is quite a difference in feel and performance between the a300 and the a700 but, I find both have their place. For my event type photography. I would love to see an a700 with live view and an articulated display. I much prefer the Sony a300 over the newer a330 for its grip. Both the a300 and a700 will be found in my camera bag for the foreseeable future. I am enjoying my High-end Minolta lenses that I have purchased used at modest prices.
    Keep up the good work “SONOLTA”

  7. says

    Just notice that the A700 from this test has the v02 firmware. I’m using one copy with v04 firmware and i must say that the high iso shots are pretty nice with good details. Because of the aggressive way to process jpegs from SONY, i recommend to all of you to shot RAW (or at least RAW+jpeg); u’ll find much more details in your pictures.
    Great & useful test!