on December 11, 2013
I'm not going to bore you with repeating statistics and features many contributors do. I needed this camera for my trip to Germany in the fall, I have two other SONY Cameras the A77 and the A99 which are the full size DSLR's with two pieces of Carl Zeiss glass and lots of toys. Since we will be in Europe for 21 days, weight became an issue.
My full frame and full size SONY's with additional battery holders, and glass were just too big. Great cameras for what I do here in the states. 21 Days, one suitcase, I go light. Besides I have an adapter that allows alpha lenses on the NEX size bodies.
Trudging through castles and churches, Photokina and Octoberfest, I wanted small with interchangeable lenses, the whole kit with the 12mm, 16mm, 18-55, 55-200 weighs less than one unit of the larger size. This type of trip is wide angle country.
I have owned a camera store, a full house lab, and still the CEO of the "Black Box Company". I was and still am at times been a professional photographer owning Nikon, Canon and Bronica systems for the past 50 years. When I retired, finally, I became interested in SONY and retired all my other gear. I had a lot, it got me a new car.
People are not aware SONY makes the chips and motherboards for the others mentioned and the results in tests we ran with the camera and optics especially in the wides with incredible low light and little or no distortion. Color rendition showed no red or blue fringing, I noticed with other products, even pushing 20-30's in our lab from a sub 400.00 dollar camera. So far we have been blown away by the results, fit and finish, but the pictures we processed and blew up were outstanding.
One of the magazine writers commented about the viewfinder not being exact enough (pixel count) but I had no problems whatsoever. If thats their main con, they had to look awful hard to find it. Most critics even in the magazines (ad buckets, we call them) shill for either Canon or Nikon and I ignore many of their comments. 50 years of handling repairs, none of the makers mentioned attained sainthood, they all had their quirks and we did a robust repair business.
This is an incredible price point camera that delivers, and four of us going to Germany already switched because of the weight situation.
on February 27, 2014
I have come to the conclusion that most of the reviewers of this camera do not own any other cameras with which to make a competent and accurate comparison! Unless you are looking at a review from a professional site that does nothing but camera reviews, most consumer reviews have to be taken with a grain of salt! You have to keep in mind that for a review to have meaning, you must know what camera(s) the consumer is comparing the A3000 to and if the photos are being taken under similar conditions. Comparing the A3000 to a 6MP Canon is useless and so is comparing photos that are shot under different lighting conditions or using different ISO settings or different lenses (zoom versus wide angle).
I am not going to go into all of the details as to which camera has what features since my primary concern is picture quality followed by video quality. Features are great but would rather have fewer features but better photos and videos!
I took all four cameras, put them on a tripod and shot photos using the standard 18-55mm kit lens that came bundled with the camera. I took photos of a house on the side of a hill that is located about 500 yards away and then enlarged the resulting JPEG files on my computer using a 23" HP LCD screen. I did not print them out but viewed them at 200-300% to check out every bit of detail. I used ISO speed from 100 to 3200 to get an idea of how well the noise reduction worked on each camera without sacrificing image quality,
RESULTS: The best camera from ISO 100 to 1600 - Sony A3000. The second best - Canon T3i ( not as good as the Sony from ISO 100-1600, but just a little better than the Sony at 3200), third place goes to to the Olympus E-PL1 which did very well when you consider that it has a 12mp sensor versus the others that range from 14.2MP to 20.1MP. In LAST place is the Nikon D3100.
The D3100 is better than my old Nikon D40x for sure but not as good as any of the other cameras I used in this comparison. You could say that it is not fair since the Nikon has 14.2MP and the others that rated better have 18-20MP. But then, the Olympus with 12.3MP also did better than the D3100!
In terms of Video quality, the Canon T3i and Sony A3000 are pretty close with the T3i being slightly better. The Olympus PL1 fell to last place because the output is in 720p when all the others are 1080p. Nikon D3100 took third place in video quality.
Hope that helps a little in clearing up some of the picture quality issues between at least this batch of cameras.
on September 15, 2013
I won't go into all the features because you can find that information elsewhere.
Upon picking up the camera, the first thing I liked was the feel. It's the perfect sized travel camera for someone used to a bigger DSLR while having a comfortable, deep recessed, rubberized grip. The included 18-55 zoom feels mechanically solid for a kit lens, and it's also fairly sharp corner to corner. There's very little geometric distortion or chromatic aberration.
Shooting stills in low light, the shots are amazingly clear with very little noise. In decent light or with flash, the photo quality is amazing for a 400 dollar camera. Pretty much in the top ten list in this price range. It's also quick to turn on and shoot the first shots. If you're buying this to shoot primarily stills, you'll be very happy. It's good enough and fast enough for anyone but a hard core pro. You'll have the usual gamut of full auto, full manual and many combinations in between.
The first videos I shot were at night in a well lit downtown open air mall. What I observed through the view screen was stunning. The stabilizer isn't very good at damping out motion from walking, but it's fine for stabilizing shots while you're standing still. Looking at the well lit video shots on a computer at 1920x1080, I was impressed. The autofocus tracked accurately and silently, and the auto white balance always kept the colors true. Depth of field, while not film-like, was better than most video cameras. Edge sharpness was better than my Alpha 57, but saturation looked more video-like than film-like. Again, you can use full auto, full manual or several combinations in between. Your outdoor vacation shots will simply be amazing. It shoots video better than most cameras under 1000 dollars, especially if you go through the menu and turn off some of the automatic features. So why the three stars?
When I shot some indoor footage at home, I was expecting decent results, and a first quick look didn't disappoint. But as I looked with a practiced eye, I saw blue vertical lines throughout the image on all my indoor footage. Granted, they are very subtle and in very soft focus, but they are there regardless of the camera settings. I noticed them particularly when slowly panning against solid colored areas like a plain wall. At fist, I thought it might be an interaction with my LED room lights, but this was dispelled when I saw the blue bars in the outdoor footage as well, just not as prevalent. This may be a subtle problem, and many viewers may never notice it or be bothered by it unless it's brought to their attention. But to me, it means I could never use this camera for footage I intend to use in a project. The blue bars are caused by what is known as fixed pattern noise in the image sensor. It's not something you can solve by a firmware upgrade or by replacing it with another camera of the same model. While fixed pattern noise exists to some extent in any image sensor, it is usually mistaken for grain and not visible as a pattern of vertical lines.
Another huge disappointment is there is no HDMI port. I like to hook the camera to a TV to set up various parameters and see the live results as I make changes. No can do with this camera. It also means you can't immediately play back footage from the camera on a TV until you edit it and put it on a disk or an SD card if your TV has a slot. There is also no external mike jack, so you are relegated to using only the built in mikes.
Sound quality is clear, but there is no means of making any adjustments to the volume or turning off the AGC. However, the AGC does a good job bringing down the levels of loud music without distortion.
In conclusion, the image quality is excellent on this camera aside from the aforementioned sensor noise. That may not be noticed in outdoor shots, and may not be objectionable enough to most users on indoor shots.
on November 24, 2014
This camera fits 3 types of photographers: 1. If you are learning about photography you need a good camera with a PASM mode dial that includes full manual plus aperture priority and shutter speed priority. You also need an interchangeable lens camera so as you progress and grow in the photography hobby you can buy better lenses.
2. You are on a very strict budget but you are serious about image quality.
3. You are serious about image quality but you are very value driven, know your way around cameras, do not want to overpay and perhaps just need a second or third body to go along with your more expensive stuff.
The A3000 is a home run for all 3 types of buyers. This camera is seriously UNDER priced given its image quality and capabilities. To get a better camera you will have to pay a lot more. There is no other camera at this price point with comparable image quality and if you spend more money in the future for better lenses for this body then image quality gets even better. If you are not serious about photography then stick with your smartphone or point-and-shoot with a tiny sensor. If you care about image quality but only want to spend around three hundred or so dollars right now - there is no other alternative out there to this camera.
on January 8, 2015
For the price of this camera and the quality of the images, it is a very hard deal to beat. Photos are crisp and clear. I have had this camera since May of 2014. Used it for everything from landscape photography to using it to get the Christmas card shot that I sent out. The only knock that I have about it is some of the in camera art filters are not great, but, it is a great camera for under $300.00. All of these photos were taken with the 18-55mm lens that is included. Take a look at the photos, no enhancements were made except for a crop on one.
on March 23, 2014
I now have two of these A3000's....Unfortunately AMAZON is selling this camera for 60 to 70 dollars more than they should. This A3000 camera has several in-camera HDR options....again all in-camera...that create dramatic effects you would work your rear end off doing on the computer sandwiching a series of bracketed photos.
I have used it in Sedona ...just stunning, jaw dropping HDR effects and hand held and easily done.......it is like the Sony A37 and others in the Alpha series re the HDR capabilities and the A3000 has an APS-C sensor ...so it immediately separates itself from so called fixed lens bridge cameras since they all have tiny sensors.
How Sony can price a version of an SLR like this at this price (again Amazon is totally out of line in their price currently) is beyond me....even their small CYBER shots are more expensive and their NEX line doesn't offer built in view finders like this one which uses the same E mount lenses. The A3000 is kind of odd in that it is more in the Alpha series but then again it has a big foot in the NEX series because of the lens mount.. It is sort of like an A37 that uses E mount lenses instead of Sony/Minolta auto focus mount lenses!!!
The A3000 differs from the A37 in other ways as well since a lot more of its functions are in the menu..So you MUST know the menu to be able to really get the most out of the A3000. It is much lighter and smaller than the A37. But it is just as capable giving on pause why they would pay almost double for the A58 which is commonly known as the A37's evolutionary offspring...This A3000 came to earth out of nowhere since it is an E mount camera but looks nothing like an NEX line of camera...
It has been mentioned here that you can use old glass by using very cheap and easily found lens adapters like Canon EOS or Nikon to E mount...These sell from 12 dollars to 25 dollars on Amazon and EBAY.....Yes you lose the auto focus ability...but the vibration technology is in the body not the lens on Sony cameras. The meter system of course will still work by you setting the aperture on the lens and then the camera will automatically set the shutter speed. You have to tell the camera when you do this manual operation telling it that there is no lens on the camera which is an odd way of telling it to recognize the manual adapter...or a T mount adapter....You have to find that entry in the menu or else the camera will not work under these conditions unlike most other DSLR's in which you just mount these adapters and that's it... Not so with Sony.
I have used this camera extensively at Joshua Tree and Sedona...re the HDR effects...
I have used it with people in a patio setting with high contrast problems abounding and it does a spectacular job. The slats in the patio cover with the sun (yes we have had lots of sun in SOCAL this winter) created lines of high contrast areas but with the HDR working, it automatically resolved/mitigated that issue without the use of fill flash.....though of course that too is available with the A3000.
I own a lot of Nikon pro models but carry these Sony cameras with me as well due to the sensor size and the HDR capabilities..
Again this is the best SLR-like value in the history of digital cameras bar none since you can pick this up between 248-279 dollars pretty commonly right now.. This is stupidly under priced ...
The 18-55mmm kit lens is perfect for most shooting situations....The only drawback is the LCD and EVF are not eye controlled like on the A37.....you have to push a button to switch between the two....
the same FW50 battery is also used on the A37/A33 and others in the Alpha line.... (the A58 does NOT use the FW50 battery). You can pick up external 3rd party dual battery chargers as well for around 20 dollars on EBAY and possibly AMAZON since AMAZON has now caught on big time to making lots of camera accessories that you used to find only on EBAY...Amazon rocks in this regard from lens mount adapters to 3rd party batteries and battery chargers...
One of the nicest features on this A3000 camera is that in manual mode, the EVF or LCD will show you EXACTLY what the the image will look like! You can let in more or less light by adjusting the shutter and/or aperture depending on the situation and you can see exactly what the final image will look like if not using HDR..... So you don't have to take a photo and then review it and then make adjustments....
This Sony A3000 is kind of what you see is what you get...the A37 operates the same way.. Being able to see real time your adjustments taking place is just great......for example if you have the lens wide open and you reach too slow of a shutter speed, you can just change the ISO and it will then give you some more parameters to play with .......and the raising of the ISO number will brighten the image instantly on the EVF/LCD so you can start looking at grain issues though this camera is capable of mitigating that as well..automatically!
Again...the in-camera HDR abilities of this camera scream out "BUY ME" ..and at this price who can resist?...The HDR can show up in automatic ways on some of the auto settings and low light settings...but you have control of it in the DRIVE mode .and Sony has an HDR painterly effect in another menu that that gives you a choice of low, medium, and high painterly effect.which can give a rich almost Van Gogh effect.
I was able to use this HDR painterly effect in near darkness in Sedona of Cathedral Rock while at Crescent Moon Ranch Park with just a faint afterglow illuminating this striking feature while the sun had gone down behind the mountain in the distance on which Jerome is located . The reflective ambient light of the western horizon afterglow was picked up reflected on Cathedral Rock using the high painterly HDR effect and it looked like 4 in the afternoon! Utterly amazing....and by using manual exposure, I could see right there exactly the middle exposure for the HDR....so you don't get predictive HDR like I think the new Samsung Galaxy 5 will have....
So the technique with the Sony in-camera HDR is to play with that the center photo exposure of the three that will be taken...since this is what in real time the LCD/EVF is revealing ..if you make that middle exposure too underexposed then everything will shift in the 3 exposures to greatly underexpose what you are shooting... So for example when it got very dark at Cathedral Rock, I let in as much light as I could so that the underexposure exposure of the three shots was able to bring up enough shadow areas ..At some point you may need to then use a tripod but you will be shocked what you can get away with using the A3000 handheld...
It is hard to explain but there is no rocket science to it....you just have to play with it to get the best HDR effect in very low light situations. But the beauty of it is you see the results instantly and can make adjustments rather than waiting to get to a computer to process a series of bracketed photos....and of course this camera lets you bracket exposures in a traditional sense as well. Also, you can use other PSAM settings if you think the camera will do better than your own eyes using the manual control setting.
If you get this camera...you MUST make a point of understanding where these HDR options are in the menu. It is kind of lame of Sony to not explain how to use these incredible features BETTER in their promo literature or in the expanded camera manual ...you sort of have to figure this out on your own when (for my purposes) this is the very most important feature of the camera...the ONLY reason why I bought it (them).
Why Sony doesn't elaborate on their astounding in-camera totally automatic HDR processing is beyond me...I have taken thousands of images with the A3000 and A37 which both have exactly the same HDR functions. I can attest to the fact that this is a revolutionary tool to have at your disposal while doing photography of all sorts.
HDR is not meant to do a good job of subject matter in motion since there is a time span required to take three images of varying EV values. In low light situations, you might want to use a tripod if you wish to avoid noise at high ISOs since the over exposure shot in the sequence could be considerably slower than the under exposure at the other end of the EV spectrum...
When you take an HDR photo in low light it has been my experience that it takes longer ..much longer...for the camera to process the final image...The camera seems to be really thinking things out under those low light conditions....it is not instantaneous....
This is the best value EVER in a digital SLR-like removable lens camera.....EVER!! Selling for well under 300 dollars elsewhere,
I don't care if you have a 2,000 to 7,000 dollar camera, you should have one of these feather weight gems in your bag as well....
You cannot buy a new camera this cheaply with all of Sony's latest technologies inside AND an APS-C sensor to boot....heck even SONY doesn't sell such full featured cameras like this themselves but this one huge exception.. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when they had the meeting to create this model A3000 cuz it ain't an NEX and it really ain't a full on Alpha series camera either..
Dang..I think I might buy another one of these before somebody at Sony wakes up and figures out they made some kind of corporate mistake!!!! The consumer wins big time on the A3000. What a deal!!! SORRY FOR ANY TYPOS..I AM WORN OUT..
EVERYBODY SHOULD OWN ONE OF THESE A3000'S ....A CLASSIC UNDER-THE-RADAR CAMERA!!!!!! A TRUE SONY MIRACLE BOTH IN FEATURES AND PRICING....
on January 3, 2014
People keep knocking this camera for it's lower res LCD and viewfinder and other minor issues. First off, this is a $279 camera which gives you DSLR type features (interchangeable lens, comfortable grip, hot shoe) AND a fantastic 20MP sensor. To find similar resolution from another camera you'll have to pay $450 or more. So if you want to spend money go ahead but don't knock this camera for minor issues. If you're going to stare at a camera's LCD screen all day maybe this isn't the camera for you but if you want GREAT IMAGES then definitely buy this camera. The whole idea behind this camera is "magazine quality images" for as little money as possible. This camera meets that goal! BTW, it takes great video also.
on November 6, 2014
This camera takes very good photos and has lots of options to enhance your pictures. It is the first DSLR that I have purchased and really gotten to play with. I am not a professional but I would consider myself to be a hobbyist. The camera takes pretty good low light shots. It has a twilight mode where it will take 6 or 7 shots together and combine them to create a photo with very little blurring or noise, even when shooting without a tripod. The photo I uploaded of the moon and clouds was shot without a tripod and turned out great. It also has a night portrait mode using the flash to capture the close up details combined with a slow 2.5 second shutter to capture the background also. The 18-55mm lens seems to be very good. I will probably eventually get something with a little bit better zoom as I like to hike and being able to catch bears and such up close would be great. It seems to take about 2 seconds to focus when you have close up objects and ones off in the distance. It does do a great job capturing detail and makes pretty stunning professional looking photos straight from the camera with little editing. The images I uploaded all had little to no editing.
on July 8, 2015
I have been searching for a lighter camera for travel purposes to replace my beloved Canon T3i + Sigma 18-250mm lens (combined weight of around 39 ounces). Before purchasing this SONY model through the awesome Amazon.com, I tried and rejected a Panasonic G5 (rejected for poor image quality), an Olympus OM-D E-M10 (rejected for poor ergonomic design - it actually made the fleshy part of my thumb sore) and a SONY a6000 (poor ergonomic design - simply not comfortable in my right hand. EATS batteries!). Since I was unable to find an a3000 locally to hold, I took a big chance ordering it blindly from Amazon. HOWEVER, since Amazon is very responsible and responsive to customer needs - especially with respect to returns, I bought without worry about being stuck with something I did not like.
What I love about this camera -
The ergonomics - The body shape and hand grip are both well designed and perfect for my right hand. While not the lightest possible lens/body combination available (the Olympus appears to be), it is about 12 ounces lighter than what I now have AND offers a longer zoom range than the Olympus.
The images - I have tried both the 18-55 and optional 55-210 lenses. Because of my shooting style and interests, I am likely to rarely use the shorter lens. However, both performed very well on this body; especially for inexpensive "kit" lenses. Neither focused very quickly, but fast enough to catch wild life photos. I found almost no "shutter lag," a critical issue for me when buying a camera. Most of my early test shots were done in fully idiot-proof mode. I believe the ISO was automatically set to 100 (I have since over-ridden this and changed the setting to ISO 400, at the moment, for smaller apertures and faster shutter speeds, with no apparent image degradation).
Features - At least THIS SONY model offers "manual focus assist," which I find to be a WONDERFUL tool. Holding the shutter button halfway down, you let the camera autofocus. THEN, you can fine tune the plane of sharpest focus to your liking with the manual focus ring. When you do so, if you have this feature turned on in the menu*, the camera will magnify a small area of your whole image. I find this to be an enormous help IF I have the time to manually adjust the focus. Obviously, not very suitable for birds and critters that won't sit still for long! I do have a small complaint about this feature, but it may be my lack of understanding about how it works. I do not understand how the camera chooses which section of the whole image to magnify. It is NOT. necessarily, the center of the screen!
The camera has a built in panorama facility. Turn the one setting dial (ONE dial, not 2, 3 or more like some modern cameras) to Panorama mode. Aim the camera facing the left most portion of the scene you want included. Press the shutter button and keep it depressed while panning across the desired image area. Voila! A perfect panoramic image produced IN the camera. No need to use Photoshop to "stitch" together sections of a panoramic image!
Very intuitive settings. While I have glanced through the THREE manuals available in .pdf format on the SONY website, the last thing I want to do is sit and read them. I was easily able to choose various menu settings to configure the camera to my liking without lengthy research.
*Menu system - There are two menus; one for camera settings and one for photographic preferences. BOTH are easily accessed with the push of a single button on the back of the body. You can either view them in the eye level finder or on the larger view screen. As you go from one item to the next and each choice within an item, a brief explanation appears. NOTE: the explanation is in excellent English and makes sense! Once you are familiar with the settings, you can turn off the explanations if you wish.
What I hate about this camera -
I bought this camera having read MANY reviews and also after having bought and returned an a6000. I was well aware of battery life issues and bought anyway. I have used the camera 3 times, so far, to make sure I want to keep it. Each time was for about 1 hour and each use was for roughly 25 still photos without flash, 3 videos scattered over the 3 days, and 2 panoramic shots. After this one hour use, the battery was down by 20-30%. This is beyond pathetic! It is SHAMEFUL for a company like SONY.
I never had battery life issues with my early SONY a100 or with my Canon T3i. I was able to shoot with both of those cameras ALL day and never once had to change batteries mid-day.
BTW, SONY saved $5 or so per camera by NOT including an external battery charger. As noted by other reviewers, until and unless you buy an external charger you must charge the battery IN the camera. The camera is NOT usable while charging the battery. Charging can take up to "290 minutes" = 5 HOURS!!!!
I am hoping that SONY cares enough about their customers to redesign/re-engineer their batteries to remedy this problem despite the fact that people, like me, are BUYING their cameras even knowing about the horrible battery life. NOTE: 47th Street Photo, and likely others, sell compatible batteries with power capacity approximately DOUBLE that of the OEM battery!
As of today, 7/8/2015, I know that SONY has at least one employee named Mitch assigned to reading and responding to customer reviews. I am hoping that Mitch, or someone else from SONY, can respond with word of a better battery for this and other cameras using the NP-FW50 battery.
Finally, other reviewers have commented on the low resolution eye level finder. Their complaints are valid. Resolution is inadequate to tell if you are capturing a sharp image. However, it is adequate for purposes of composition. You can always review the image on the large view screen after capture. Plus, with one button push, the image is magnified and magnification can be increased with a turn of the rear wheel. I find an eye level finder to be mandatory. I am not used to holding a camera up and inches away from my eyes to compose and shoot using a large view screen. MANY newer cameras are lacking an eye level finder of any kind. The SONY a6000 has an eye level finder, but it is not well situated (at least for my taste). It is located in the upper left of the rear body and flat against the rear. Using it places your nose against the large view screen thus smearing the screen with normal nose skin oil! The eye level finder on the a3000 is centrally located at the top of the body and it protrudes rearwards a bit. My nose still touches the large view screen, but in the upper right - MUCH LESS problematic.
Today, 7/27/2015, I returned the a3000 and 55-250 lens to Amazon. This was a VERY difficult decision in view of the excellent image quality. The problem, and reason I returned the SONY, was the horrendous resolution of both the eye level finder and the rear view screen. It was like the olden days of film when you had to process the film to see what kind of results you had. I could NOT tell almost anything about my SONY images, other than composition, until I got home and opened them with Photoshop.
To quote another recent reviewer: “The thing with the screen is that more often then not, I'll get home, load up my pictures on my PC and think ‘Dang, those look so much better than I thought they were!"
I also did not like the delay upon awakening with the SONY. That does not exist with my Canon T3i. Unlike one reviewer who explained that he preserves battery life by switching his SONY ON and OFF between photos, I like to leave my camera ON so I do not miss a photo opportunity. To conserve battery, the camera “times out” and goes into sleep mode. It takes some bit of time to awaken. In that fraction of time, you have missed the photo opportunity.
Until mirrorless cameras improve their ergonomics and viewfinders (see my comments on the Olympus OM D-10), I will have to stick with a mirror and pentaprism, regardless of the added weight.
on December 15, 2013
Reviewed by Pauline's husband:
I traded in my Sony NEX-6 for the A3000 based on the positive reviews of Sony's new 20MP sensor + JPEG processing. I have the Sony a99, RX1, and RX100m2. I shoot primarily JPEGs and have never been happy with the JPEG output of the NEX-6.
The EVF on the A3000 is small and dark. The LCD screen is low res. And it's annoying to have to push a button to toggle between the two. It's not the best build quality (it's not bad, however) but, BUT, the image quality is much better than the NEX-6. And the kit 18-55 is surprisingly very sharp. It looks like a DSLR but it's pretty compact and light. I used it this weekend comfortably with a Black Rapid wrist strap. AF was fast enough for an outdoor event.
When a better spec'd A3000 comes out, I'll bite for sure. I found the image quality of the NEX-6 + 35mm f1.8 to be about half way between the RX100m2 and the RX1 but the A3000 is 75+% of the RX1! This $350 camera w/lens is a giant killer when it comes to image quality!!!