With its DSLR styling, 20.1-million-pixel, APS-C-sized sensor and a street price of around £350, is the mirrorless Sony Alpha 3000 the ideal alternative to an entry-level DSLR? Read the Sony Alpha 3000 review...
Sony Alpha 3000 at a glance
- 20.1-million-pixel, APS-C-sized CMOS sensor
- ISO 100-16,000
- Street price around £350 with 18-55mm f/3.5-6.5 kit lens
Sony Alpha 3000 review – Introduction
Many people new to photography overlook compact system cameras (CSCs) simply because they don’t look like DSLRs. Commonly, there is a preference for DSLR-type cameras as some consumers assume they offer superior image quality. The small size of a CSC, on the other hand, can give the impression that it is just a step up from a compact. Of course, we know that many CSCs are capable of matching, if not bettering, similarly priced DSLRs.
Into this environment steps the Sony Alpha 3000. It is, in essence, an addition to Sony’s NEX series, but it is housed inside a lightweight, compact, DSLR-style body. As a result, the Alpha 3000 sits somewhat unconventionally in Sony’s current camera line-up as being the first and only mirrorless camera included in the Alpha range of SLT (single lens translucent) cameras. Boasting an impressive sensor, a large but lightweight body and an electronic viewfinder all for a very reasonable price, the Alpha 3000 could prove very popular.
Sony Alpha 3000 review – Features
Inside the Sony Alpha 3000 is an Exmor APS HD CMOS-type sensor with a 20.1-million-pixel resolution. The sensor is APS-C-sized and measures 23.2 x 15.4mm. Images can be captured as both raw and JPEG files, and they are processed by the speedy Bionz processor that we’ve seen in many recent cameras from Sony. The speed of the processor allows 2.5 frames per second when shooting at full resolution.
As a kit, the Sony Alpha 3000 comes with an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 zoom with built-in optical stabilisation. On an APS-C-format body (with a 1.5x crop), it is the full-frame equivalent of a 27-82.5mm lens.
Usually, cameras in Sony’s Alpha range sport the A mount, but the Alpha 3000 uses the E mount like the company’s NEX series. This allows the use of a wide range of Sony E-mount lenses, from wideangles to telephotos and everything in between. Also, like the NEX series, an LA-EA1 or LA-EA2 adapter can be added to allow the use of Alpha lenses. The LA-EA2 adapter can use phase-detection autofocus, but it costs around £260, so while it allows Alpha lens owners to their existing kit on a lighter body, it is an expensive accessory.
Following on from cameras such as the Cyber-shot DSC-HX50 and Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 II, Sony has again incorporated a multiple-interface hotshoe. This is a special hotshoe developed by Sony to allow advanced communication to the camera via special information terminals. As a result, it is compatible with many Sony accessories, including microphones, external flashes and the EV1MK electronic viewfinder.
For the creative shooter, the Sony Alpha 3000 has 11 creative modes with 15 different types of picture effects. These include retro photo, toy camera, miniature, soft focus and rich-tone mono. These can also be used when recording video.
The well-regarded sweep panorama function is featured on the Alpha 3000. By pressing the shutter button and sweeping the camera across the scene, a series of pictures is taken, which are then processed by the camera and combined into a single image.
A lithium-ion Stamina battery powers the Sony Alpha 3000, and allows for an extensive 460 shots before needing to be recharged, which is carried out via a Micro USB port. This has the advantage of being able to charge the camera from a variety of sources, including a laptop and mobile-phone chargers. The port also acts as a terminal for transferring images.
Image: Even with the 18-55mm kit lens, nice shallow depth of field can be achieved