The Sony Alpha A290 is the most simple and less sophisticated entry level digital SLR available. This camera includes essential features, such as drive mode, ISO, exposure compensation, flash mode, metering modes etc. however the range features is limited. The other entry level digital SLR cameras on the market, such as the Canon EOS1000D, the Nikon D3100 and the Pentax K-x offers so much more to the user, so the lack of features is something that is likely to make potential buyers of this camera look elsewhere.

The Sony Alpha A290 boasts an impressive 14.2Mp CCD sensor although the image quality is not as good as entry level digital SLR cameras with small sensors, such as the Canon EOS1000D. Overall, the image quality is acceptable, with fairly accurate colour rendition however the Canon EOS1000D and the Nikon D3100 is much better.

The Sony Alpha A290 doesn’t have live view (unlike other entry level digital SLR cameras), doesn’t have video capture mode (but then this shouldn’t really be top of the priority list when buying a stills camera) and has a pitiful 2.5 frames per second burst rate, which is the worst amongst all other entry level digital SLR cameras. The poor frame burst rate makes the Sony Alpha A290 unsuitable for action photography, sports photography and other situations where it is necessary in firing off multiple shots in rapid succession.

The Sony Alpha A290 may be the least sophisticated entry level digital SLR camera however it does have an internal image stabilisation feature which is known as SteadyShot sensor-shift stabilisation. This is very effective and offers a two to three stop advantage in eliminating camera shake, and works with all Alpha series lenses. In addition to the stabilisation system the Sony Alpha A290 also has Sony’s D-range optimiser which controls the dynamic range.

The Sony Alpha A290 has two different memory card slots, which is unusual for an entry level digital SLR camera. One is for the Sony memory stick, which is great if you use other Sony entertainment systems, and the other is for the more standard SD/SDHC card.

The build quality of the Sony Alpha A290 isn’t brilliant but then it isn’t shockingly bad either. That said, Sony could have done an awful lot more to produce something a bit more durable. However, if you look after it the Sony Alpha A290 should provide many months of trouble free use.

The price of the Sony Alpha A290 is at the lower end of the entry level digital SLR camera market, but given the lack of features, the mediocre image quality and the mediocre build quality this is to be expected. The Sony Alpha A290 is another entry level digital SLR camera that I would not recommend as there is very little going for it. It is very simple to use, making it ideal for complete beginners however there is a serious lack of features which gives beginners little opportunity to hone and develop their photographic skills. Rather than buying this camera I would dismiss it totally, save up a bit more money and then look at the Canon EOS1000D and the Nikon D31000. I think anyone that buys this will end up disappointed and feel cheated in a very short time.