Sony A3000 Technical Info

By Mike Tomkins | Posted: 08/27/2013

Sensor. At the heart of the Sony A3000 is an EXMOR APS HD CMOS image sensor with an effective resolution of 20.1 megapixels. Total resolution is 20.4 megapixels, and the APS-C sized chip has a 3:2 aspect ratio. Unlike Sony's DSLR and SLT models, though, the sensor is not stabilized, as the A3000 supports only lens-based optical image stabilization just like NEX models.

Performance. Sony doesn't specify the image processor used in the Alpha A3000 beyond that it's a BIONZ-branded chip, but as you'd expect in such an affordable, entry-level camera, performance is modest.

Ordinarily, the A3000 will capture just 2.5 frames per second, but if you're willing to lock exposure and focus from the first frame, this can be increased to a still-sedate 3.5 fps. Burst depth is 13 frames in JPEG mode, and drops to just five frames if you add raw files.

Sensitivity. Everything from ISO 100 to 16,000 equivalents is available from the Sony A3000. Of this range, ISO 100 to 3200 equivalents is available under automatic control. In movie mode, you'll face the a reduced upper limit on sensitivity of ISO 3200 equivalent.

Sony is using the same noise reduction algorithms as in its flagship Alpha A99. These will vary noise reduction levels adaptively across the image as needed.

Lens mount. Perhaps the biggest story of the Sony A3000 is its lens mount. It's the first Alpha A-series model to feature a Sony E-mount, and forgo the company's earlier NEX camera branding.

You'll actually get the best of both worlds, since you can mount Alpha-mount lenses via an adapter. At the same time -- and unlike other A-series cameras -- you'll be able to use E-mount lenses, which are typically smaller and lighter than their DSLR / SLT-oriented A-mount equivalents, thanks to a shorter backfocus distance.

Viewfinder. One of the key advantages of the Sony Alpha A3000 versus similarly-priced NEX-series models is its built-in electronic viewfinder. To get a built-in EVF in the NEX-series (and including a similar lens to that bundled with the A3000), you'd need to step up to the NEX-7, and you'd looking at a pricetag of US$1250 list. That's more than triple the cost of the SLR-like A3000. Admittedly, the NEX-7 is a lot more camera than is the A3000, in terms both of its electronic viewfinder, and in other respects. Still, for US$400 list, it's big news that you get a viewfinder at all.

The Sony A3000's electronic viewfinder is a 0.2-inch (0.5cm) type with 100% coverage, 0.7x magnification, and an equivalent resolution of 201,600 dots. Eyepoint is 15mm from the eyepiece frame, or 21mm from the eyepiece lens, and there's a -4.0 to +3.5m-1 built-in diopter correction.

LCD. If you want the maximum possible resolution, you'll need to use the LCD monitor. At 230,000 dots, it has approximately 320 x 240 pixels, or QVGA resolution. The display has a 3-inch diagonal, and is neither articulated, nor touch-sensitive.

Autofocus. As you'd expect in an entry-level camera, the Sony A3000 forgoes a complex hybrid autofocus system, in favor of a simpler, less expensive contrast detection system. The A3000's CDAF system provides 25 predefined autofocus points, and has a working range of EV 0 to 20 (at ISO 100 with an f/2.8 lens). Center-weighted and flexible spot AF modes are available, as are tracking and AF lock. You can also opt for manual focus, or let the camera get focus in the ballpark and then fine-tune using Direct Manual Focus.

A built-in autofocus illuminator LED has a working range of 0.5 to 3.0 meters with the kit lens attached.

Exposure. Shutter speeds on offer in the Sony A3000 range from 1/4000 to 30 seconds, plus bulb. The A3000 uses an electronically-controlled, vertical traverse focal plane shutter, as well as an electronic first curtain shutter.

Exposures are metered using the image sensor, with a 1200-zone evaluative metering system. Metering modes include multi-segment, center-weighted, and spot.

Flash. The Sony A3000 includes both a popup flash, and a hot shoe for external strobes. The internal flash has a guide number of 13 feet (4m) at ISO 100, and 16mm coverage. Flash X-sync is at 1/160 second, and the strobe recycles in 4 seconds.

The external shoe is Sony's newer Multi Interface Shoe, and can be converted to Konica Minolta-style strobes with an optional adapter. The Multi Interface Shoe also accepts certain accessories such as external microphones, video lights, and more via 21 additional pins embedded at its front.

Video. The Sony Alpha A3000 can record Full HD (1920 x 1080 pixel; 1080i) movies at a rate of 60 fields per second, although this is derived from 30 frames-per-second sensor data. (In some markets, the 60i rate is replaced with a 50i rate, derived from 25p sensor data.) You can also opt for a film-like rate of 24 progressive-scan frames per second (25p on overseas models), or for lower-res 1440 x 1080 (Anamorphic HD) and 640 x 480 (VGA) movies.

At the maximum resolution, movies are saved using AVCHD version 2.0 (MPEG-4 AVC / H.264) compression with AC-3 stereo Dolby Digital audio. At lower resolutions, movies are saved with MP4 compression and MPEG-4 AAC-LC stereo audio.

Connectivity. As well as its aforementioned Multi Interface Shoe, the Sony A3000 includes a multi-terminal USB port, compatible with the RM-VPR1 wired remote control. It also provides for USB 2.0 High Speed data transfer, but not for video output. In fact, this is one area in which budget has clearly been the overriding factor, because the A3000 also lacks a high-def video output. If you want to get your images on a TV, you'll need to do it via another device, or on a display with a built-in card reader.

Storage. Images and movies are stored on Secure Digital cards, including the higher-capacity SDHC and SDXC types. You can alternatively use Sony's proprietary Memory Stick Duo cards in the same slot, should you prefer.

Power. The Sony A3000 draws its power from a proprietary InfoLithium NP-FW50 lithium-ion rechargeable battery pack. Sony rates the camera as good for 460 shots on a charge when using the electronic viewfinder, or 470 shots with the LCD screen, to CIPA testing standards. The battery is charged in-camera via the multi-terminal USB port, and an AC-UB10 USB AC adaptor is included in the bundle. You can also charge the battery via USB from a computer.


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