Sony's managed to duplicate mid-range DSLR functionality in its NEX series of mirrorless cameras, but while experienced photographers recognize the value of such a device, amateurs looking to step up from a point-and-shoot often opt for a full-size DSLR. The reason, according to Sony reps, is that these users simply assume that a larger camera with a familiar design offers better image quality and performance. So, to suit these misinformed customers, Sony's created a mirrorless camera that looks like a DSLR, but offers the feature set -- and price tag -- of an entry-level compact ILC. The company's first attempt at winning over this broad demographic is the Alpha A3000. Internally, it's very similar to the NEX-3N, featuring a 20.1-megapixel APS-C sensor and E-mount lens compatibility. There's a mode dial, Multi Interface Shoe, pop-up flash and an eye-level electronic viewfinder. It also ships with a black version of Sony's standard 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 kit lens, all for the low, low price of $399.
We spent a few minutes with the A3000, and while this model wouldn't be the best fit for photographers who understand the appeal of mirrorless cameras, it will likely appeal to the users Sony's aiming at here. It's a nice camera for sure, and a great value at $399 with a lens. While small and light for a DSLR, it feels bulky for a mirrorless camera, but that's kind of the point. It's a reasonable choice for shooting sports, with a 3.5 fps consecutive shooting mode, and it can snap 1080/24p video clips (with autofocus). There's a 0.5-inch color viewfinder that's adequate but not particularly fantastic, a 230k-dot 3-inch fixed LCD and Sony's typical NEX user interface for adjusting capture and WiFi settings. Finally, the company's also launching three new E-mount lenses, including a very nice 16-70mm f/4 fixed-aperture optic that's expected later this month for $999, a black version of last year's 50mm f/1.8 that'll ship this month for $299, and a power-zoom 18-105mm f/4 lens that's due in December for $599. The A3000, for is part, should hit stores beginning next week, but you can take a quick look right now in our hands-on video after the break.
Sony Alpha A3000 hands-on
Sony Introduces New α3000 DSLR-Style Interchangeable Lens Camera
New Entry-Level ILC Features Large 20.1 MP APS-C Sensor, Electronic Viewfinder and Comfortable Shooting Design
SAN DIEGO, August 27, 2013 – Designed to bring the benefits of large-sensor imaging to a variety of new customers, Sony's α3000 interchangeable lens camera combines DSLR capabilities with a comfortable, easy-to-use package.
The new camera features a large, high-resolution 20.1 MP Exmor™ APS-C HD CMOS sensor, a bright electronic viewfinder and the same lens mount as Sony's popular line of E-mount cameras, making it compatible with the system's ever-growing assortment of high-quality lenses ranging from telephotos, wide angles and macros to versatile zoom and portrait lenses.
"The new a3000 represents the ultimate combination of performance and value in an interchangeable lens camera," said Mike Kahn, director of the interchangeable lens camera business group at Sony. "With a familiar, comfortable shooting design, impressive imaging capabilities and an outstanding price, it's the ideal choice for customers looking to experience the vast benefits of large sensor, interchangeable lens imaging for the very first time."The powerful 20.1 MP APS-C sized image sensor in the α3000 is the same size sensor found in most traditional DSLRs, and is the key to capturing crisp, highly-detailed still images and Full HD videos (1080/60i or 1080/24p). The large sensor also boosts sensitivity, grabbing more light and cutting image noise to produce better quality content in low-light conditions, where a smartphone or point-and-shoot camera typically struggles.
The new camera features a clear, bright electronic Tru-Finder viewfinder with generous 100% field coverage allowing for an effortless framing experience. The viewfinder can also display a variety of key shooting information and shows a live preview of the composed image to illustrate the effect of any setting adjustments. This same "Live View" shooting experience is also available through the bright rear LCD screen for those that prefer to frame and compose at arm's length.
The new α3000 model features a classic DSLR-style design with a standard P/A/S/M mode dial and several customizable control buttons for making common adjustments to settings. The grip is stable yet lightweight, giving shooters a strong, comfortable grasp of the camera.
Creatively, the new α3000 camera offers a total of 15 different Picture Effect settings including Retro Photo, Miniature Camera, Partial Color and much more. The camera also has Auto Object Framing, which neatly trims portraits, close-ups and even moving subjects for tighter, more professional results. When this feature is engaged, the camera saves both the original and cropped images for review, making it yet another practical learning and teaching tool for beginning photographers.
With the α3000's Multi Interface Shoe terminal, users can broaden their shooting experience by adding external accessories like flash, video lights, or microphones. Compatible accessories include the HVL-F43M flash with Sony's unique Quick Shift bounce system for eliminating shadows as well an LED light for video, the HVL-LEIR1 Video IR light for brightening up dimly lit parties and indoor scenes, the ECM-XYST1M Stereo Microphone for capturing clearer dialogue and sound and much more.
Pricing and Availability
The new α3000 interchangeable lens camera will be available in early September for about $400, paired with a black 18-55mm zoom kit lens (model SEL1855).
The new camera is compatible with Sony's ever-growing assortment of E-mount interchangeable lenses. In total, 16 different lenses are now available including several premium models from Zeiss ™ and G™ Lenses.
The new camera and all compatible accessories will be available for purchase at Sony retail stores (www.store.sony.com) and other authorized dealers nationwide.
Please visit www.blog.sony.com for a full video preview of the new α3000 compact system camera and follow #SonyAlpha on twitter for the latest α camera news.