Sony changes form and future of mirrorless cameras plus three new lenses

Sony_A3000-1

A New Sony DSLR camera was announced today – but hold on, it only “looks” like a DSLR.  The Sony A3000 is actually an E-mount mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera cloaked as a DSLR.  If you want a mirrorless that has a wrap-your-fingers-around proper DSLR-type handgrip, this might be an interesting choice.  The specs look pretty good, but definitely shout strictly entry-level lightweight body.  One of the biggest advantages I see for this Sony is the remarkably low price tag of $399.  Yep, $399.  If the image quality pans out, Sony could make a real dent in the entry level DSLR market.

Notably it does carry 25 contrast detect focus points and Sony’s excellent focus peaking aid for manual focusing.  It has HD 1080 60i video recording with built-in stereo microphones and optical image stabilization from the included 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS kit lens.  The Sony website reports continuous shooting speeds at up to 3.5 fps in speed-priority shooting mode.  Its ISO range of 100-16000 is impressive.  The A3000 also takes advantage of a 20.1MP APS-C CMOS Sony sensor, and early pre-production sample images are looking very good indeed.   (See image samples by Gustav Kiburg below; used with his permission.  All were shot with the Carl Zeis 16-70mm F4 OSS  as .jpg’s lightly processed in Lightroom 5.)

The downsides include the fixed 3” 230K LCD screen and the low resolution 200K EVF.  This is an obvious attempt to lower cost.  It also lacks a proximity sensor to switch between EVF and LCD when your eye leaves one or the other.  Sony’s in-body “Steady Shot” image stabilization is not included.  Stabilization will come from the newly announced OSS lenses (see below) and/or the kit lens.

All current Sony E-mount NEX lenses can be used natively on this body and Alpha mount lenses can be used with a LA-EA1 adapter.  The A3000 takes advantage of the current NEX menu system, which should be very familiar to any current NEX user.

Along with the A3000 camera, Sony is introducing two new high-quality optically-stabilized E-mount zoom lenses and a new color treatment for their current 50mm F/1.8 fixed focal length lens.  A Sony “G level” lens, the 18-105mm OSS constant F/4 power zoom, is ideal for video at $600.  It’s equivalent to a full frame 25-157.5mm range.  The priciest lens, an update to the ever popular mid-range zoom, is a Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T, 16-70mm OSS constant F/4 with a full frame range of 24-105mm for $1000.  Lastly, Sony has the fast fixed focal length E-mount 50mm OSS F/1.8 in a new black color for $300.  The zooms look to be optically superb lenses and will likely be the envy of Nikon and Canon mount users.  The 16-70mm and 50mm will be available in late September, with the 18-105mm due in December.

The Sony A3000 mirrorless camera is available for pre-order now, with shipping slated for early September from the Sony Store and other national retailers.  Competing cameras would be in line with the Canon SL1, the Nikon D3200 or Sony’s own Alpha SLT-A58.

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Settings ISO 400, F4, 1/500 Sony_A3000-3

ISO 400, F5, 1/160 Sony_A3000_Crop-4

ISO 400, F4, 1/640 Sony_A3000-5

ISO 800, F4, 1/1250

Posted in: Audio, Video, TV Gear, Camera Gear, News

{ 4 comments… add one }

  • Dmitriy August 28, 2013, 1:16 pm

    strange name of the article.

    this model is not the “future” of ilc. new camera aimed at point and shoot upgraders who believes that big-and-black camera always take a good pictures. thats why this model have relatively low specs.

    other nex models will remain in the current form factor. i.e. new 5t.

    sorry for poor english =)

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  • Orlando J August 28, 2013, 2:46 pm

    Agree with Dmitriy — the A3000 is a step down the ladder for compact ILC / mirrorless. I hope, at least, that 16000 ISO and low-res EVF is not “the future” for mirrorless, although it may be the future for step-ups from nice point-and-shoots. Certainly it is not targeted at entry-level DSLR purchashers, or if so, it’s going to miss the mark.

    I frankly wonder where this product will fit in — shaped like a compact superzoom, but without any lenses capable of that much telephoto, with mirrorless specs that fall far short of most similar systems. Maybe it’s intended as a point-and-shoot backup for people with other Sony mirrorless glass?

    Regardless, most people picking a mirrorless system over DSLR are more likely interested in Sony’s superior NEX equipment, or in the micro four-thirds offerings from Olympus and Panasonic, which still offer a far better selection of lenses than Sony’s proprietary setup.

    I’ll most likely be grabbing a much more DSLR-competitive Panasonic GX7 when they roll out in the next month or so.

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  • Erik August 28, 2013, 4:34 pm

    The sensor on this camera is the same size as on the Sony NEX series, that is, APS-C size. Sure, the LCD and the EVF is not too good, but that does not impact the image quality. At 399$ with the kit lens it is quite a bit cheaper than any other camera with an APS-C size sensor. Also, since it takes E-mount lenses there are quite a few telephoto lenses avilable, from about the same number of lens manufacturers as on the micro four-thirds system.

    While the 20 mpix sensor on the A3000 is 23.5 X 15.6mm, the sensor on the Panasonic GX7 is 17.3 x 13.0mm. The GX7 is priced at 999$.

    Personally I buy cheap cameras and go on vacation for extended periods in exotic locations. If I couldn’t go on vacation as much as I do I would still buy the cheaper camera, as I wouldn’t have as much use for it.

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  • Leah Hallett August 29, 2013, 2:17 pm

    @Dmitriy and Orlando J

    Maybe my headline was a tad over dramatic. I didn’t mean it was the only future of mirrorless cameras. It has created an alternative for the future of mirrorless cameras.

    The A3000 has altered/changed the form and future of mirrorless cameras by offering an incredibly priced ($399 with stabilized lens!) and much more traditional DSLR style large handgrip. I don’t think this will be the last of its kind in the future. For fast live-view autofocus, mirrorless is the way to go.

    In the words of Leo DiCaprio in The Aviator…in the future…in the future…in the future…

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