Sony A3000 full review

Sony has been concentrating its photographic efforts of late on clip-on optics for smartphones, or very high-end compacts with full frame sensors, so this latest DSLR-type camera - the Sony A3000 -  has slipped out with slightly less fanfare than afforded predecessors, despite being newsworthy for adopting the E lens mount of Sony’s NEX compact system cameras rather than the traditional A mount of its Alpha DSLR range. However, incredibly, it was being offered at a bargain £249.99 at the time of writing via Sony’s own site, making it cheaper than owning the vast majority of interchangeable lens compact system cameras.

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The unfussy A3000 suggests a good entry point for anyone considering their first ever DSLR – or rather ‘SLT’ – interchangeable lens camera

Its maker isn’t refering to the 20.1 effective megapixel A3000 as a DSLR in the strictest sense but rather an ‘SLT’ – or Single Lens Translucent camera. To avoid a brief wait whilst the internal mirror mechanism of a standard DSLR flips out of the way before video recording can begin, Sony has simply made its own see-through. Thus, shooting video is as swift and unfussy a process with the A3000 as on a pocket point and shoot; indeed there is a large button marked ‘movie’ on the backplate. However with the A3000 we do get all of the usual bells and whistles otherwise found on a DSLR ‘proper’, save for the omission of any Wi-Fi compatibility, plus, whilst its LCD is the standard issue 3-inches it does offer a fairly low 230K resolution in present company. The small-ish eye level viewfinder is also of the electronic variety rather than the optical, which may upset purists but nevertheless provides the same 100% frame coverage as the best of ‘em.

Handling wise, the Sony A3000 comes across like a bridge camera upon which its maker has provided the opportunity to change the lens in use, meaning that it’s a little more approachable in its layout than your regular DSLR. The handgrip is big and broad, controls are kept to the essentials, so that if you don’t want to choose program, aperture priority, shutter priority or manual modes then it’s point and shoot all the way, and buttons and shooting mode dial are big and chunky enough that you can’t miss ‘em. If we’ve a moan it would be that auto focus could be quicker than it is, and an eye sensor that automatically activates the viewfinder, rather than just a manual button for doing so, would have sped up operation. The screen is also fixed rather than angle adjustable, and there’s no touch screen facility, when a camera at this level is begging for it, and its inclusion would have provided a more seamless step up for the smartphone user. Still, results are as colourful straight out of the camera as one would expect from a Sony and much sharper at that than we would get from a  standard pocket point and shoot that could alternatively be bought at this price. If you don’t mind the bridge camera-like bulk then this Sony is a very sensible consideration.

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