The Sony Alpha A290 is based on the Sony BIONZ image processor, and an APS-C (23.5 x 15.7mm), 14.2 effective megapixel image sensor. The sensor is mounted on movable plates for effective SteadyShot image stabilization and is housed behind a lens mount that is also compatible with Minolta and Konica Minolta AF lenses. The Alpha A290 is capable of shooting at 2.5 frames per second, with 6 RAW buffers or unlimited JPEGs. The A290 also contains SONY's proprietary anti-dust system, with dust removal achieved by a sensor shift mechanism.
The Sony Alpha A290 has bodies similar to the Alpha A230, but with a more traditional layout of controls that should be more comfortable. As with the previous model, the A290 has a clearly designed and simple-in-mind interface that reduces the number of buttons on the rear panel, as well as a graphical interface design with extensive customization via the LCD display, and a clear display of the current settings. The screen displays the maximum set of useful information from the sensors, which show the effect of each variable on the images in different conditions. The Alpha 290 features a penta-DACH mirror TTL optical viewfinder with 95% coverage, 0.83x magnification, -2.5 to +1.0 m-1 diopter correction and a 16.5mm Eyepoint. On the back, the Sony A290 includes a 2.7 "230k-dot QVGA LCD display. The Alpha A290 display is fixed in place and offers five levels of manual brightness control. Like the A230, the Sony A290 does not have a Live View function. therefore, only the optical video finder can be used with this camera.
The Sony A290 uses a nine-point autofocus system. ISO sensitivity starts at 100 and reaches a maximum value of 3200, and shutter speeds from 1/4000 to 30 seconds plus hold. Measured by a 40-segment cellular SPC, this model also features dynamic range optimization, built-in auto flash, and a hot shoe for external flash. The self-timer takes three or five pictures after a 10-second delay. Connection to a PC is carried out via USB 2.0 High-Speed, as well as HDMI for connection to high-definition screens.
The camera is powered by an NP-FH50 battery, which incorporates Sony's ActiFORCE technology to charge the battery faster and improve the accuracy of charge information.