Sony A3000 Optics

Below are the results of our optical tests with the Sony A3000 and the bundled Sony E 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS kit lens. The test images shown on most other pages of these test results were taken with very sharp references lenses, so we use this page to explore kit lens performance.

Kit Lens Test Results

Optical Zoom
A typical zoom ratio of ~3.1x for a kit lens, with average performance.

[email protected]/8 [email protected]/8
[email protected]/8 2x Digital Zoom

The Sony A3000 is available bundled with an 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS "kit" E-mount lens. This lens possesses a typical optical zoom ratio for a kit lens of about 3.1x with a 35mm equivalent focal range of about 28-82mm.

Sharpness and contrast at full wide angle (18mm) are decent at f/8 over most of the frame, and chromatic aberration isn't an issue (the camera suppresses), however some flare is slightly visible around the building's white surfaces. It's difficult to judge corner performance here because of the depth in this scene, so we'll do that below. At medium focal length (31mm), the lens performs quite well at f/8 with good sharpness and contrast, though some corner softness can bee seen. At full telephoto (55mm), overall performance is fair, with decent sharpness in the center but soft corners, as well as some flare. The A3000's 2x Clear Image digital zoom works reasonably well, but still produces a loss in fine detail as well as interpolation artifacts.

See sections below for comments on macro, geometric distortion, corner softness, performance wide open, chromatic aberration, etc.

Macro
A slightly larger than average minimum coverage area, with good detail. Flash throttled down well.

Macro with 18-55mm
kit lens ([email protected]/8)
Macro with Flash

As with zoom performance, the Sony A3000's macro performance will depend entirely on the lens mounted. With the 18-55mm kit lens set to 55mm, the A3000 captures a minimum area measuring 2.96 x 1.97 inches (75 x 50 millimeters), which is slightly larger than average for a kit lens. Performance is very good in the center at f/8 with strong detail, though the corners and edges of the frame are quite soft. (Most lenses have some softening in the corners at macro distances.) The flash did a good job throttling down at minimum distance resulting in a good exposure. The flash also had no trouble clearing the lens as there is no detectable shadow.

Geometric Distortion
Higher than average geometric distortion at wide angle, but about average distortion at telephoto.

Barrel distortion at 18mm is ~1.2 percent
Pincushion distortion at 55mm is ~0.4 percent

The 18-55mm kit lens produces about 1.2 percent barrel distortion at wide angle, which is higher than average and quite noticeable. At the telephoto end, there's about 0.4 percent of pincushion distortion, which is about average and somewhat noticeable. This is the tendency for the lens to bend straight lines outward (like a barrel -- usually at wide-angle) or inward (like a pincushion -- usually at telephoto).

Chromatic Aberration, Corner Sharpness & Vignetting
Low levels of C.A. in JPEGs (the camera suppresses it). The lens produces some soft corners.

Aperture: maximum
[email protected]/3.5: Lower left
C.A.: Low
Softness: Slightly soft
[email protected]/3.5: Center
C.A.: Very low
Softness: Sharp
[email protected]/5.6: Lower right
C.A.: Low
Softness: Soft
[email protected]/5.6: Center
C.A.: Low
Softness: Fairly sharp

Chromatic Aberration. Chromatic aberration in the corners with the A3000's 18-55mm kit lens at wide angle (18mm) is fairly low, and the center of the image shows very little C.A. The camera does a pretty good job at suppressing much of the lateral C.A. produced by the lens (see below for uncorrected results). At full telephoto (55mm), C.A. is lower in the corners, though the center shows a bit more than at wide angle (possibly the result of a slight focus difference), however it's still quite low.

Corner Softness. Wide open at full wide angle, the 18-55mm lens that came with our A3000 has decent corner performance, with good sharpness in right-hand side corners, and slightly soft corners on the left. What little softness there is extends fairly deep into the frame, though, however the center is pretty sharp and contrasty. At full telephoto, the right-hand corners are softer with the lower-right the softest, though blurring doesn't extend very far into the frame. Oddly, while the top left corner is fairly sharp, as you move toward to the center the image suffers from some doubling which extends fairly deep into the frame. The center exhibits good sharpness, though with slightly lower contrast than at wide angle.

Vignetting. Moderate vignetting (corner shading) is noticeable at full wide angle, as indicated by the darker corner crop. Vignetting is not as noticeable at full telephoto.

Aperture: f/8
[email protected]/8: Lower left
C.A.: Low
Softness: Minor blurring
[email protected]/8: Center
C.A.: Very low
Softness: Sharp
[email protected]/8: Lower right
C.A.: Low
Softness: Soft
[email protected]/8: Center
C.A.: Very low
Softness: Sharp

F8. "Stopped-down" to f/8, all four corners exhibit good sharpness and improved contrast at wide angle. At full telephoto, corner sharpness and contrast improved only slightly compared to f/5.6. Vignetting is also improved but still noticeable at wide angle.

Lens Corrections

When shooting JPEGs, the Sony A3000 includes the ability to automatically compensate for geometric distortion, chromatic aberration, and lens shading (vignetting), as images are captured.

Geometric Distortion

Barrel distortion at 18mm is <0.2 percent
Pincushion distortion at 55mm is <0.1 percent

Above, you can see the corrected geometric distortion from the 18-55mm kit lens is very low, with less than 0.2 percent barrel distortion at wide angle, and less than 0.1 percent pincushion at telephoto. Note however than some of the wide-angle shot is cropped away during the correction process. The default setting for this compensation is Off (at least with the 18-55mm lens).

Chromatic Aberration

CA Correction Auto CA Correction Off
[email protected]/8: Upper left
C.A.: Low
[email protected]/8: Upper left
C.A.: High and bright
[email protected]/8: Upper left
C.A.: Very low
[email protected]/8: Upper left
C.A.: Very low

Above, you can see fairly high and bright lateral chromatic aberration at wide angle with Chromatic Aberration Compensation disabled, though the difference at telephoto is minimal because C.A. is quite low at telephoto to begin with. The default for this setting is Auto.

Lens Shading

[email protected]/3.5 [email protected]/5.6
Lens Shading Correction: Off

Mouse-over the links above to see the difference Lens Shading Compensation makes when wide open (the worst-case scenario for most lenses). As you can see, at wide angle, corners are brightened significantly without affecting brightness at the center, though some fall-off is still left behind in the corrected image. There's however very little difference at full telephoto as there wasn't much lens shading to begin with. The default setting is also Auto.

Note that the A3000 like other Sonys applies Shading Compensation to ARW files as well as JPEGs, so if you'd rather correct for it yourself when shooting RAW, make sure to turn Shading Compensation off before shooting. As far as we can tell, Shading Compensation is the only lens correction the A3000 bakes into RAW image data (the other corrections are just tags in metadata).

Overall, a fairly typical performance for an inexpensive kit lens (which is to say decent but not great). It's a good start and a great value when bought as part of a kit, but to get the most out of the Sony A3000's 20-megapixel resolution, you'll likely want to invest in some better glass.

 


Sony A3000 Viewfinder Accuracy

Viewfinder Test Results

Coverage
Very good accuracy from the EVF and LCD monitor.

EVF
LCD Monitor

The Sony A3000's electronic viewfinder and LCD monitor both show slightly over 100% coverage in record mode. This is very good performance, though not a surprise given the preview image is derived from the main imaging sensor.

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Sony Alpha ILCE-A3000 Photo Gallery .



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