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.