Sony just made the α3000 (alpha 3000) official. As previous web rumors indicated, it is an entry-level “DSLR-style” (design-wise) camera which is built for those who like the “feel” of DSLR cameras, without diving into complex image capture settings. Basically, the goal is to marry DSLR-like image quality and lens options flexibility, with the ease of use of a point and shoot. In short, the Sony a3000 could satisfy a large consumer base which plans to upgrade from a point and shoot to something much better, without having to become “photography enthusiast”. “Point and shoot” simplicity remains a priority here.
From a technical point of view, the Sony alpha 3000 comes equipped with a 20.1 Megapixel EXMOR image sensor which is as big as what is found in most DSLR (APS-C size). The logic is simple: better sensor means more light, which usually translates into higher image quality and better low-light capabilities. This is a very valid argument in that segment of the market.
The Sony α3000 uses the E-mount interchangeable lens system that was popularized by the Sony NEX line of mirrorless cameras. E-Mount is different from the A-mount system normally found in the Sony Alpha DSLR series. E-mount allows a more compact design, but it comes at the expense of a wider variety in the A-mount ecosystem.
Since the E-mount system is built from the ground up to work with an electronic viewfinder (EVF), that’s what you will be getting in the α3000. There are a couple of reasons for this. First, the internal design of the α3000 is a mirrorless system, so an optical viewfinder is not really an option. Secondly, Sony studies show that customers upgrading from a compact camera prefer using an EVF. Here, the EVF has a QVGA resolution, so it’s not really high-end, but on a sunny day, it will allow the user to frame properly when the LCD readability is low.
The auto-focus system is based on a Contrast AF system (25 points), which is quite common, but not as fast as a hybrid Phase Detection +Contrast present on other Sony cameras. Video can be recorded in full HD (1080/60i or 1080/24p).
Overall, this is a very interesting new product, especially considering that it is in the $400 price range. As I said earlier, this is typically for someone who wants to upgrade from a point and shoot, and I suspect that seasoned photographers may go for an NEX (light camera), or full-on DSLR cameras. Finally, there is a shoe that is compatible with a number of flash and other accessories, and that is something that we really would love to see on the NEX series one day.
Sony Alpha 3000 Specifications
20.1 Megapixel camera
Sony E-mount lens system
SD/SDHC/SDXC, Memory Stick PRO Duo/Pro-HG Duo flash memory
Max still image size (16:9): 5456 x 3064
Max still image size (3:2): 5456 x 3632
Video recording in MPEG4 (H.264) 1080p/60i max
Audio recording: Dolby AC3 / Mpeg-4 AAC-LC