Thoughts on the A3000

Sony A3000

I’ll think this will do well. Capability-wise, it is probably not more than a NEX-3 level body with the addition of a viewfinder and hotshoe with a new 20MP sensor. The lack of controls and eye switch, the low resolution LCD, and the build screams entry-level. However at the price point at which it sits (introductory price is lower than that of the NEX-3N in the UK), I don’t think it will be a problem. Seen through the lens of the prospective market, the specifications and design are appropriate.

Considering that I see lots of people using liveview and the dirty diaper stance with conventional SLRs for taking everyday photos (defeats the whole purpose of having an SLR with its phase-detect AF), I doubt that most people will actually be using the EVF on the A3000. The Canon 70D will be perfect for these people.

The market demographic to which the A3000 will appeal are people who like the whole DSLR look, but will use the camera just like any other point and shoot. If I hand my DSLR to a non-photographer, often they look confused when the back LCD is blank. I have to point to the viewfinder and encourage them to put it to their eye.

But my interpretation of the continued strength of the DLSR market, especially the low end against the onslaught of mirrorless cameras, is that they are about image, not image quality. Having a Canon or Nikon DSLR, even if it a100D or D3200, is a statement about the photographic pretensions of the user irrespective of whether they know how to use it or not. A NEX, NX, or even micro 4/3rd camera would be eminently more practical for the majority of low end DSLR users but having a DSLR-shaped lump around their neck is preferable because it looks more professional.

In this context, I think the A3000 will be reasonably successful. It looks like little more than a rehoused NEX-3N with updated sensor so hopefully the manufacturing costs will be low. The 18-55mm kit lens is actually quite reasonable as a kit lens and balances the rest of the body better than would the 16-50mm PZ lens. The simplified and contextual interface will be natural to someone coming up from a P&S camera. And the size is small enough to be a noticeable improvement on a DSLR but still has the shape and enough bulk to project the right impression.

I am curious about the new 20MP sensor, rumour has that it is not the same as on the A58. Tests may reveal any signficant differences (SLT notwithstanding). Hopefully there will be sensitivity and dynamics range improvements that will bode well for upcoming higher range models.