Like the Sony A200, the A350's user interface is among the simplest on the market, which makes it easy to recommend to most beginners. Anyone familiar with the A200 will feel right at home, as the interface is identical except for the addition of Live View mode, and Smart Telephoto digital zoom.
The Sony A350's external dials and buttons access most of the main camera settings, reserving the LCD menu system for less commonly-used functions. The Control dial accesses shutter speed and aperture settings, in addition to a wide range of functions when used with other control buttons. In Manual mode, pressing and holding the EV compensation button on the camera's back shifts the Control dial to adjusting the Aperture value. Most of the camera adjustments are made by pressing a button, and turning the Control dial. Menus are navigated with the eight-way Controller on the back of the A350, and all nine AF points can be selected when in Local AF selection mode. The major functions not accessed by an external control are clustered under the Function menu, which you activate by pressing the Function button.
Sony A350 Record Mode Displays
The Sony A350's rear-panel, 2.7-inch, TFT color LCD monitor is for image review, image preview, status display, and menu display. Unlike the lower-end Sony A200 and higher-end A700, and A350 and A300 DSLRs offer a Live View mode, so the LCD can be used to frame shots. The A350's LCD (as well as the A300's) tilts down almost 45° for high-angle shots, and tilts up over 90° for low-angle shots. It unfortunately doesn't swivel left, right, or forward.
Since the A350 does not have a top status LCD panel, the color LCD is put to good use to display various camera settings. While the Sony A350's battery life is quite good, using the LCD as a Status LCD can drain the battery more quickly than expected. But it does lower the cost, and the display offers a good array of information. Pressing the DISP button adds even more information to the display.
11 - Aperture Value
12 - Exposure
13 - AE Lock
14 - ISO (Sensitivity)
15 - EV Scale
16 - Metering Mode
17 - AF Area
18 - D-Range Optimizer
19 - White Balance
20 - Remaining Shots
21 - Image Size
Display Rotation Here's a nice ergonomic touch, carried over from previous Sony SLR models: The Sony A350 has an orientation sensor inside, and uses it to keep the display oriented in the right direction so the information will appear right-side up when viewed by the photographer, whether shooting horizontally, or in either vertical orientation. (For those who might be wondering though: No, it won't turn completely upside-down.)
Large- and Small-Type Options Sometimes you don't need to see every last detail about the camera's operation, but rather prefer to concentrate on just the most important settings. The Sony A350 has two different display options that apply to both the horizontal and vertical formatted data screens. The large-type/low-density option drops the details on metering mode, AF mode, Creative Style, White Balance, and the EV scale.
Sony A350 Live View
As mentioned above, the Sony A350 has a Live View mode, where a real-time preview of your subject can be seen live, on the LCD. Live View mode is enabled by sliding the LiveView/OVF switch on the top of the camera forward. The LCD display looks similar to the viewfinder in this mode, but with added information available. You can cycle through the A350's three Live View mode displays using the DISP button. Live View Screens available are:Indicators On (info overlay shown below), Histogram On (no info overlay, but a small, live luminance histogram is shown in the bottom left), and Indicators Off (no info overlay, but there is still basic shooting info shown at the bottom, similar to the optical viewfinder display).
Sony A350 LCD Live View Screen Info
1 - Battery Status 2 - Wide AF Area Bracket 3 - Local AF Area (1 of 9) 4 - Spot Metering Area 5 - Spot AF Area
6 - Drive Mode 7 - Flash Mode / Flash Exposure Compensation 8 - Exposure Mode 9 - Focus Indicator 10 - Shutter Speed
11 - Aperture Value
12 - Image Quality 13 - Image Size / Aspect Ratio 14 - Remaining Shots 15 - White Balance 16 - D-Range Optimizer Mode 17 - Creative Style 18 - Focus Mode 19 - AF Area Mode 20 - Metering Mode 21 - ISO Sensitivity 22 - Super SteadyShot Scale 23 - Camera Shake Warning 24 - AE Lock
25 - EV Scale
Sony A350 Playback Mode Displays
In Playback mode, the LCD monitor's default mode shows the most recently captured image, with a limited information overlay reporting the resolution and quality, date and time, folder, file number, frame number, the total number of images, and a small selection of other exposure settings including shutter speed, aperture and ISO value. Pressing the Display enables a histogram display, which also shows expanded exposure information for the image. Just above the information is a thumbnail of the image that alternately flashes any under and overexposed areas in the frame. (This function can sometimes be more helpful than the histogram, in that you can directly see what parts of the image are too dark or light.) Four histograms line the right side of the frame, one each for the red, green, and blue channels, and one representing the luminance of the image as a whole. Pressing the Display button again pulls up a type of index display, with a series of thumbnails of the other images on the card lining the top of the display. You can use the left and right arrows to change the main image display while keeping the thumbnails at the top of the frame. A fourth press of the Display button brings the image full-screen, with no information.
Pressing the Function/Rotate button lets you rotate the image. You can zoom in on captured images in Playback mode, by pressing the AE Lock button with the magnifying-glass icon. When zoomed in, the Front Control dial cycles through the other images on the card at the same enlargement, and pressing the center button of the multi-controller toggles between the magnified view and a full-frame view with the current magnified area outlined in yellow. The Exposure Compensation button zooms back out to the normal display. Once in normal display mode, another press of the Exposure Compensation button pulls up the index display mode.