Sony ILC A3000

List Price: $399 (with 18-55mm ƒ/3.5-5.6 lens)

INTRODUCED 8/2013

All of Sony’s mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras until now have been in the very compact "flat" style of the compact digital camera. Now comes the company’s first "mini-DSLR"-style mirrorless camera, the entry-level Alpha 3000. While it features the E lens mount of the NEX cameras and uses their lenses (and the LA-EA1 and LA-EA2 adapters that let you mount Sony A-mount and Konica Minolta DSLR lenses), the A3000 isn’t a NEX: It’s the first Alpha ILC. It looks and handles like a very small DSLR, but contains no mirror (not even a fixed one à la the SLT series). Viewing is done via built-in eye-level EVF or fixed external 3-inch LCD monitor.

To put the A3000’s tiny 4.0×2.3×1.5-inch, 7.8-ounce size into perspective, it’s less than one-third the volume of the smallest DSLR, and just over half the volume of the next-smallest DSLR-style mirrorless camera—and that one has a much smaller sensor.

Inside, there’s a 20.1-megapixel Sony Exmor APS-C sensor with Bionz processor, providing a standard ISO range of 100-16,000 and the ability to shoot at 3.5 fps (2.5 fps with continuous AF). AF is 25-point contrast-detect with predictive control in AF-A and AF-C modes.

Shooting features include Sony’s simple-to-use Sweep panorama, DRO (Dynamic Range Optimizer), 11 Picture Effect modes and Clear Image Zoom, which effectively doubles lens focal length with minimal adverse effects on image quality.

A high-capacity battery provides 480 shots per charge (per CIPA standard tests), despite the camera always being in Live View mode. (Charging is done in-camera via USB.) Video capabilities include 1080i at 60 fps or 1080p at 24 fps in AVCHD, and 1080p at 30 fps in MP4, with stereo sound via built-in mic.

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