Sony A3000 Review - Digital Photography School

Sony A3000 Review

Sony A3000 Review.jpg

If you hanker for a DSLR and don’t have the budget for a high end full frame camera nor even enough $$$ for an APS-C sized sensor job, look this way… the news suddenly has suddenly got brighter.

Most of the early action in mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras was in the area of models that offered viewing only via a rear screen, sometimes with an add on turret finder.

But they just didn’t look like a DSLR!

ILCE3000_Phantom01.jpg

Now Sony has come up with an appealing answer to a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera that has the appeal of a DSLR … with maybe a few less bells and whistles.

The A3000 indeed has a traditional DSLR look and feel with a simple user interface.

For one thing, you know you’re holding a DSLR with a traditional DSLR body shape and speed grip.

To whet your appetite further, you can choose from 16 interchangeable E-mount lenses from Sony and Zeiss for a range of shooting options.

The camera can shoot a maximum image size of 5456×3632 pixels, sufficient to make a 46x31cm print.

Video can be shot in MPEG4 or AVCHD, with the latter offering Full HD 1920×1080 pixels.

I was unable to shoot stills while recording video.

Handling

The camera is surprisingly small, easy to hold and well-balanced, at least it felt well-balanced with the f3.5-5.6/18-55mm OSS kit lens that was supplied with the review camera. Bear in mind that this is the package that is usually offered: body and 18-55mm lens.

One Sony exec made the statement that ‘newcomers are often daunted by the complex settings found in traditional DSLR products … The 3000 user interface has been inspired by our easy to use NEX range of cameras.’

There are many key DSLR features in the camera, including a hot shoe and an eye level viewfinder. I ventured out in bright sun and at first found the viewfinder to be a dim alternative to the LCD screen, but then managed to successfully lift the brightness of both via a menu helper.

To minimise total size and weight the A3000 accepts existing E-Mount lenses from the NEX family of products.

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Sony A3000 Controls

At this point I have to disagree with the Sony spokesman. Firing up the camera with nary a glance at the instruction manual (thankfully available online) I found my early hours a mess of confusion.

You can find the PDF of the full manual here.

Confusion? For one thing there was no menu button, at least there was no button labelled ‘menu’.

But let’s look it over.

Scene selection.jpg

Top deck: familiar territory, with the mode dial housing positions for intelligent and superior auto exposure, PASM, movie, sweep panorama and scene selection (presets for portrait, sports, macro, fireworks etc).

Forward are the power and shutter buttons. At one corner is the replay button.

Rear: just over the edge is the movie record button, which I feel could have been better placed at the camera’s far right corner.

Then there are three unlabelled ‘soft keys’ — A, B and C — which take care of menu choices. Here’s how Sony describes the functions of these keys:

‘The soft keys have different roles, depending on the context. The assigned role (function) of each soft key is shown on the screen. To use the function shown at the upper right corner of the screen, press soft key A. To use the function shown at the lower right corner of the screen, press soft key B. To use the function shown at the center, press the center of the control wheel (soft key C). You can assign the functions to the soft key B.’

By careful inspection of the manual you can eventually suss out the functions of these three buttons but I found them to be a bit bewildering at first.

Anyway … the control wheel has positions for burst shooting and the self timer, ISO setting, display options plus exposure correction and AF options.

Menu.jpg

Menu 2.jpg

Fifteen picture effects are accessible from the menu (soft key A). These include ‘artistic treatments’, like retro photo, miniature and partial colour.

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Sony’s sweep panorama feature is included that can shoot panos up to 12,416 x 1856 pixels in size.

One note: unlike most interchangeable lens digicams, you need to manually blow away any dust on the sensor. Like this: ‘After turning off the camera, remove the lens and blow off dust on and around the image sensor surface using a blower.’ Careful!

ISO Tests

Sony Cyber-shot A3000 ISO 100.JPG

Sony Cyber-shot A3000 ISO 400.JPG

Sony Cyber-shot A3000 ISO 800.JPG

Sony Cyber-shot A3000 ISO 1600.JPG

Sony Cyber-shot A3000 ISO 3200.JPG

Sony Cyber-shot A3000 ISO 6400.JPG

Sony Cyber-shot A3000 ISO 12800.JPG

Sony Cyber-shot A3000 ISO 16000.JPG

Only at ISO 3200 was noise beginning to rise. At ISO 6400 noise up slightly but sharpness acceptable. At ISO 12800 noise up further, sharpness noticeably down and ugly artefacts evident.

At ISO 16000 the show was over: noise up, sharpness down and ugly artefacts worse.

Sony A3000 Review Verdict

Quality: above average. Accurate colour.

Why you’d buy the Sony A3000: small DSLR-like camera; access to lots of lenses.

Why you wouldn’t buy the Sony A3000: menu access confusing.
An attractive camera for the newcomer. Lots to like. Especially the price.

Sony A3000 Review Rating: 4 stars

Sony A3000 Specifications

Image Sensor: 20 million effective pixels.Metering: Multi segment, centre-weighted, spot.
Lens Mount: Sony E-mount.
Exposure Modes: iAuto, Superior Auto, Program AE, shutter and aperture priority, manual.
Effective Sensor Size: 23.5×15.6mm APS-C CMOS.
35 SLR Lens Factor: 1.5x.
Shutter Speed (stills): 30 to 1/84000 second and Bulb.
Continuous Shooting: 3.5 fps.
Memory: SD/SDHC/SDXC, Memory Stick Pro Duo/Pro-HG Duo cards.
Image Sizes (pixels): Stills: 5456×3632 to 2736×1824.
Movies: 1920×1080, 1440×1080, 640×480.
Viewfinder: Turret electronic plus 7.5cm LCD screen (230,400 pixels).
File Formats: JPEG, RAW (Sony ARW), JPEG+RAW, MPEG4, AVCHD.
Colour Space: sRGB, Adobe RGB.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 16,000.
Interface: USB 2.0, HDMI mini, remote.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, DC input.
Dimensions: 128x91x85 WHDmm.
Weight: 411 g (inc battery).
Price: Get a price on the Sony A3000 with 18-55mm Lens or the Sony Alpha A3000 with 18-55mm Lens and 55-210mm Lens + 32GB Card + Battery + Case + Flash + 3 Filters + Tripod + Tele/Wide Lenses Kit.

Summary
Reviewer
Barrie Smith
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Sony A3000
Author Rating
3.5

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Barrie Smith is an experienced writer/photographer currently published in Australian Macworld, Auscam and other magazines in Australia and overseas.

  • gradyphilpott

    For less than $30 more anyone can buy a Nikon D3100 with kit lens on Amazon. I think the street price of the Sony will have to drop quite a bit for it to compete against the Nikon.

  • knurd

    This isn’t in competition with a 3 year old Nikon. This is competing with the Canon Rebel SL1. Plus, it’s a mirrorless camera. The D3100 is a great unit but it’s apples to oranges.

  • Dave Melges

    What a bizarre comment. The street price of the Sony is as low as it’s going…it doesn’t need to come in cheaper than stuff that’s been out of production for two years.

    I don’t recommend this camera, but that’s because it’s sole purpose is to appeal to bargain hunters, not to appeal to shooters…and bargain hunters should by point and shoots, they’re almost always just as happy, save the one feature they THINK they want…they want people to SEE them change lenses and look like a pro.

    In fact this whole review seemed to teeter on the idea that people want to LOOK like a pro more than they want a good camera.

  • gradyphilpott

    Regardless of what you say, the camera will compete with similarly priced, but more functional cameras, at least for those who do their homework, especially since the D3100 is still in the Nikon catalog.

  • gradyphilpott

    I think your comment is bizarre.

  • knurd

    Obviously you’ve never owned an SLT or NEX camera. It’s not about doing homework and looking at specs as it is actually using the product. I switched to Sony (from Nikon) when the SLT tech came out and have not looked back. They are extremely fun, fast and easy to use and have more functionality than a traditional DSLR. This camera is aimed toward people that want to move from a point and shoot or cel phone camera to a DSLR-type and still have a proper full time live view. The D3100 is not a real bridge camera for 2013. I’d say the Nikon V2 represents this category well but is twice the price of the a3000.
    As of today, the A3000 is $349 vs $400 for a 3 year old entry level Nikon with half the bells and whistles.

  • gradyphilpott

    I didn’t say that the D3100 is a bridge camera. It’s an entry-level dSLR that is still a worthy camera after three whole years and it is all the camera most will ever need. But, if it chaps your behind that I’m comparing a Sony to a Nikon, pick any brand you like and you can still bypass the a3000 for something more refined for not much more money.

    Is there a market for the a3000? Of course, there is, but that’s not the issue I was addressing.

    If you like the camera, buy a case of them for all I care.

  • knurd

    It’s not a battle of the brands. Your comment is implying these cameras are in the same category. They are not. If the D3100 is still too intimidating for a person on a budget then that’s where the Sony seems attractive. It’s an easier camera to use with the same image quality. I know you weren’t calling the D3100 a bridge camera because it’s not (and because I doubt you know what you’re talking about). But you are comparing it to a bridge camera – not an entry level camera like the a58, Rebel, etc. Personally, I think the a3000 is useless because it’s basically a fat NEX-3. But it’s a much cheaper NEX-3. Compare it to the NEX, EOS-M, V1, e-pen, etc… Otherwise you do sound bizarre.

  • gradyphilpott

    You sound like a classic case of OCD.

  • knurd

    And you obviously don’t know anything except how to troll and look at price comparisons on Amazon.

  • Dave Melges

    At least you took a sec to explain why, lol.

    C’mon, it’s pretty obvious you have a D3100 and you think it’s amazing…..you’ll defend your camera irrationally no matter what.

    Truth is, it’s a good camera that got passed by a couple years ago, and the Sony’s are significantly more functional for artistic shooters than anything Nikon has, even stuff that costs 4 times what your 3100 did.

    The exception would be this particular Sony, which is aimed specifically at bargain hunters…..but then, in a world full of GREAT cameras, anyone buying an “ok” camera like the d3100 would constitute a bargain hunter…NOT a shooter.

    People who bargain hunt almost universally buy crap lenses, and they would have been at least as well off with a good point and shoot.

  • Dhopper

    FYI, the street price of the Sony just dropped from $399 to $349 (re: Amazon and BH).

  • Dave Melges

    Actually all of the Alphas are on sale. And $349 for a camera and kit lens is ridiculously low, especially considering the image quality the 3000 produces.

    But that model is SEVERELY hobbled. You could even guess that some features have been intentionally witheld just to create the gap between this and the more serious cameras.

    This model is designed specially to net people who only look at price.

  • ravi

    Well..I bought this camera 15 days back and its really good. I went to store to by either a Nikon or Cannon either ultra zoom or entry level DSLR. But I landed up buying this stuff for its stunning performance in photo and video department at the my budget. I don’t want to get into any debates or comparisons as every brand and every model has its own loyal customers and they are hell bent to argue out that their brand or model is best. For me it is the quality of images, videos and user interface matters. All three are quite good in this. Low light performance and video quality is also very good. Since it is built on mirror less technology I definitely recommend a try here. If you think you are a great armature or professional photographer, you should just try it for your self. But for me (there are millions like me out there) its good.

  • ravi

    Please note that I reduced the size of images by 70% for easy upload.

  • riktakhatun001

    There was Super 800TVL Free shipping Big Discount Surveillance Wired CCTV COLOR DOME CAMERA at cheap rate in Nice-Also-Cheap.com.
    I am really satisfied to get it.

  • iphoto27

    You buy the A3000 and then get the ATG A1 Adapter so the camera can become a 1/1 with ATG/Carl Zeiss/Leica/Nikon/Samyang lenses.

    This sensor is actually larger than Canon EOS-7D.
    You can’t use many lenses as you can with the A3000.

    A3000 has what is calls, ATG Focus Peaking for using to focus the lenses manually with all lenses that can fit on the body.
    Think of think as like the Split-Image viewfinder from the film cameras.

    Now, your old film camera lenses can be used again.

  • Jill Hill

    I read on Amazon a complaint that SONY claims the a3000 had an HDMI out but that it actually does not. Now, I haven’t been able to get my hands on one, but I did downlload the a3000′s manual and it makes no mention whatsoever of HDMI and in the illustrations naming the parts of the camera I find no HDMI out, so does it have HDMI out or not?

  • Jake

    I can tell you conclusively that it does not. I wrote the Amazon review that you speak of, and I think Sony’s support of this is ridiculously bad. I’ve had 6 separate conversations with varying levels of Sony support, all the way to the highest up I could go, and they acknowledge they made a mistake but will not let me exchange it and upgrade even if I pay the difference. Don’t buy it or any other Sony product.

  • kartikjayaraman

    Can you please let me know what AEB options the A3000 has? The manual confirms bracketing mode but does not specify the EV spacing. If this camera does AEB, its got one of the best sensors, I am buying it!

  • claud

    Since you are discussing about Sony A3000 vs Nikon D3100…… I am the idiot who bought this Sony, over the D3100. I was looking for an upgrade to my 6 years old sony compact camera that had an image quality lower than lot of today’s smartphones. First I took a look at Canon S110 whose image quality was impressive for a compact camera, but it was about the same price as the entry level dslrs/mirrorless… so I started to look for mirrorless camera : Olympus PL3, Nikon S1, then Sony Nex 3N that was the only cheap mirrorless with an APS-C sensor. Then I saw an offer to A3000 that was 30% cheaper than the 3N. Then, since I was already switching to ‘big cameras’, I said that I should buy a serious one…. like the d3100. So, because of the large number of ‘fan boys’ on the internet, I bought both of them and tested for several days, and this was my conclusion :

    Reasons to buy d3100 :
    - looks more ‘pro’ because it has some rubber on the view finder and on the lens body. So, if you want to look like a pro, with a cheap camera, d3100 is the one for you…… sony looks more like a bridge camera
    - you have more lenses available.
    - it has an optical view finder, and sonys EVF has a low resolution

    Reasons to buy A3000 :
    - better image quality
    - much better image stabilization
    - better autofocus : on low light the nikons autofocus is useless, and it is also noisy
    - better video : it has continuously auto focus
    - the EVF is illuminated, so, it is more usable in very low light

    And Dave is right ….. I am not the kind of person that will pay 300$ for the kit lens ! It is almost the same I payed for the camera + lens. And since the kit lens cost 300$ I assume that a lens costing half that price, can be nothing but rubbish. So, for 30$ I bought an old m42 lens and an adapter for 6$, that gives an impressive image and video quality. The only down size is that I don’t have image stabilization with this lens.

    And my last opinion : I think that no pro photographer will buy an entry level dslr/ mirrorless. They are solely for compact upgraders …. who will consider them not cheap, but rather expensive, comparing to most compact cameras. But, why not buying a camera for 3-400 $ that will take pictures with image quality comparable to any camera under 2000 $ ?

  • v?er

    People who only look at the price will never spend 300-400$ for this large camera, there are other, smaller, better looking(depends) cameras out there with acceptable image quality for internet and home use that cost less than this combo.
    Talking about looking “pro” and being cool by changing lenses is IMHO useless hatred towards this inanimate object.
    For the price for those who know something about differences in camera tech and image quality this camera is absolute bargain, Ive seen people paying around 280$ for this kit.
    Sure, there might be clueless people who buy this camera only because it looks like DSLR and thus they might expect pro-quality, but let them be, some of them might learn something about photography and will educate those surrounding them.

  • Tony Stark

    The sentiment that it is for people that only look at price is not entirely true guys. I recently bought this camera, and was aware of it’s criticisms. When I was looking for a camera I looked at 2 things. Price, and IMAGE QUALITY. Sure the camera got bagged on for being missing features and not being a true DSLR. Fact is, it was on sale for $300 and always gets good reviews for the pictures it takes. I don’t give a fck if continuous shooting was slow, or if wifi was missing. I don’t care if I have to use NEX lenses. My photos look amazing and it was just important that I am able to get good low light shots. Mission accomplished.

Some older comments

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