Sony A380 Viewfinder

The Sony A380 features a digital SLR design, so the optical viewfinder offers a true, through-the-lens (TTL) display. A dioptric adjustment dial to the right of the eyepiece accommodates eyeglass wearers, letting them adjust the viewfinder optics between -3.0 to +1.0 diopters. The viewfinder eyepiece has a fairly typical eyepoint (specified at 19.7mm from the eyepiece, 14.1mm from the eyepiece frame with the dioptric adjustment set to -1 diopter). Magnification is pretty low at only 0.74x for a 50mm lens and -1 diopter of dioptric correction. This is likely due to the room needed for the Live View sensor. Coverage is specified at 95%, typical for non-pro SLRs.

Like the Sony A330, the A380's viewfinder uses a pentamirror design. The advantage of a pentamirror is it's lighter and less expensive; however an all-glass pentaprism design delivers more light to the viewfinder eyepiece, thanks to its more efficient internal reflection. A solid pentaprism isn't compatible with Sony's tilting-mirror Live View mechanism, though.

The Sony A380's extensive information display features a series of focus target marks in the center of the view that highlight briefly when the AF system is activated. Note that the line-type AF-Point displays from previous generations of Sony SLRs have been replaced by boxes, however only the center AF sensor is a cross-type. Markers are provided for 16:9 shooting area, as well as the general AF area.

Camera information appears beneath the image area in a small strip, and reports all of the major camera settings, such as shutter speed, aperture, flash mode, EV compensation, etc. To the far right side of the strip is the Super SteadyShot (anti-shake) scale, indicating the degree of stabilization whenever anti-shake mode is activated. The information readout in the viewfinder activates whenever you half-press the Shutter button, and remains active for a few seconds afterward.

A pair of horizontal infrared sensors just below the viewfinder detect your eye as it approaches the viewfinder, and deactivates the LCD information display if you have the Auto Off w/ VF option enabled in the Custom menu. (Note: our camera picked-up the IR beam in the image at right. The beam is invisible to the naked eye.) You can also set these sensors to initiate autofocus whenever your eye is in range of the eyepiece (Eye-Start AF), which makes the A380's autofocus seem even more responsive.


Viewfinder Test Results

Good accuracy from the optical viewfinder, but Live View on the LCD was less accurate.

70mm, Optical
70mm, LCD (Live View)

The Sony Alpha 380's optical viewfinder showed about 95 percent coverage accuracy with our Sigma 70mm f/2.8 prime lens, matching Sony's specification. The image does however appear slightly tilted and shifted relative to the imaging sensor, which we're unfortunately seeing more and more frequently in consumer SLRs these days. The amount of tilt and shift on the Sony A380's finder isn't as bad as many we've seen. Live View mode had slightly less coverage at about 92%, but was also tilted and shifted very slightly. We're used to seeing close to 100% coverage from cameras' LCDs in Live View mode, but Sony's approach of using a secondary image sensor for Live View rather than the main imager means that lower coverage and minor misalignments like this can occur. (The upside, of course, is much faster shutter response than most Live-View SLRs that use the main image sensor for the Live View viewfinder display.)


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