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The Sony Alpha A290 is based around a Sony Bionz image processor, and an APS-C sized (23.5 x 15.7mm), 14.2 effective megapixel image sensor. The sensor is mounted on a moveable platter, allowing it to provide for in-body SteadyShot image stabilization, and resides behind a Sony A lens mount that's also compatible with Minolta and Konica Minolta-branded AF lenses. The Alpha A290 is capable of shooting at 2.5 frames per second when using the optical viewfinder. The A290 also includes Sony's anti dust system, consisting of a low-charge coating over the sensor, and dust removal achieved using the sensor shift mechanism.

The Sony Alpha A290 has a body similar to that of the Alpha A230, but with a more traditional grip which should prove more comfortable. As with the previous model, the A290 has clearly been designed with simplicity in mind, with an interface that reduces the number of rear-panel buttons, plus a GUI design with extensive settings help available through the LCD display, and a clearer display of the camera's status. this includes Sony's distinctive shutter / aperture gauges, which show the effect of each variable on images in terms of blur / sharpness. The Alpha 290 features a penta dach-mirror TTL optical viewfinder with 95% coverage, 0.83x magnification, -2.5 to +1.0m-1 diopter correction and a 16.5mm eyepoint. On its rear panel, the Sony A290 includes a smaller than average 2.7" LCD display with 230,400 dots of resolution. The Alpha A290's display is fixed in position and offers five-step manual brightness control. Like the A230, the Sony A290 doesn't include live view capability.

The Sony A290 uses a nine-point autofocus system. Sensitivities range from a minimum of ISO 100 to a maximum of ISO 3,200 equivalent, while shutter speeds are from 1/4000 to 30 seconds plus bulb. Metering is achieved courtesy of a 40-segment honeycomb SPC, and Sony has included Dynamic Range Optimization, a built-in auto popup flash, and a hot shoe for external flash strobes. A self-timer function captures three or five shots after a 10-second delay.

Power comes from an NP-FH50 rechargeable battery, which includes Sony's ActiForce technology, allowing faster charging during the initial 80% of the charge process, as well as improved battery gauge accuracy. Images are stored in either Raw or JPEG formats separately or simultaneously, on either SD / SDHC cards or Sony's own MemoryStick PRO Duo cards. Connectivity options include USB 2.0 High-Speed, as well as HDMI for connection to high-definition displays. Note that there's no standard-definition video connectivity, though.

The Sony Alpha DSLR-A290 is priced at $499.99 with an 18-55mm kit lens, and ships in the USA from July 2010.