Sony has announced the latest addition to its Alpha line-up of DSLR-like cameras the Alpha A3000. But while previous devices like the A99 and A57 weren't technically DSLRs because they use translucent mirror technology, the A3000 goes one further by doing away with the mirror altogether. Also announced is the NEX-5T, another mirrorless camera from Sony which packs NFC wireless connectivity into a slim body.
Sony A3000 (α3000)
The Sony A3000 is an interesting, if slightly confusing, camera. It looks like a DSLR, but is actually a mirrorless camera. Furthermore, while it's part of the Alpha line-up, it doesn't take A-mount lenses - instead it uses E-mount glass from the NEX series. Presumably it's been designed for people who would be best served by a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, but want the look and feel (and possibly the perceived sense of professionalism) of a DSLR.
Featuring a chunky grip, a viewfinder above the LCD screen and plenty of dials and access to manual controls, the mirrorless A3000 looks every bit the mini DSLR. However, measuring just 102 x 58 x 38 mm (4 x 2.3 x 1.5 inches), the new camera is smaller than its entry-level DSLR rivals, and at an impressive US$400 with a kit lens, it's cheaper too.
With a 20 megapixel, APS-C (23.2 x 15.4 mm) CMOS sensor and a BIONZ image processor, the A3000 should still be capable of producing big camera image quality. Making the most of that large sensor, it boasts an ISO range of 100-16,000, for producing high quality images even in lower-light situations. It also has a continuous shooting speed of 3.5 frames per second.
A contrast-detection autofocus system with 25 points means the A3000 should be capable of relatively speedy focusing, and the camera can record Full HD video at 1080 60i/24p. On the rear there's a three inch LCD with 230,400 dots, but photographers also have the option of using the 100 percent coverage electronic viewfinder (with a 201,600 dot equivalent resolution) for composing shots. Because this is a mirrorless camera there's obviously no optical viewfinder.
In addition to the lack of any mirror, the A3000 also differs to Sony's other Alpha cameras in that it's designed to work with the E-mount lenses normally associated with the mirrorless NEX series. However, A-mount lenses can still be used with the optional Alpha mount adapter (LA-EA1).
The Sony Alpha A3000 is available for pre-order now at a price of $400 bundled with a 18-55-mm F3.5-5.6 OSS lens
For those who like their mirrorless cameras slimmer and less DSLR-like, Sony has also announced the release of the NEX-5T. A relatively minor upgrade to the NEX-5R, the new camera still boasts a 16 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, Wi-Fi connectivity, and Fast Hybrid AF.
However, what has changed is the addition of NFC which allows simple pairing with equally equipped smartphones for easy sharing and remote control. Users without NFC smartphone will still be able to connect via Wi-Fi and the iOS and Android apps. Other features which remain unchanged, include the ISO range of 100-25,600, the tilting three inch touchscreen with 921,600 dots and the ability to record Full HD video at 1080p 50 fps.
The Sony NEX-5T will go on sale in September for $700 with an E 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 PZ OSS lens, or $550 body-only.
New E-mount lenses
Sony also announced a couple of new E-mount lenses which will be available soon, the Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar T* E 16-70mm F4 ZA OSS and the E PZ 18-105mm F4 G OSS. The Carl Zeiss offering gives a 35-mm format focal length equivalent of 24-105-mm and a constant F4 maximum aperture. Sony’s Optical SteadyShot image stabilisation system is also on hand to counter wobbles.
The new G lens has a 27-157.5-mm focal length (35-mm format equivalent) and is said to be great for shooting video. It also has a consistent F4 maximum aperture, and a zoom lever on the lens barrel for fixed or variable-speed power zooming.
Both lenses are due to start shipping in September. The Carl Zeiss 16-70mm will set you back $1000 and the 18-105mm will be priced at around $600.