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Sony today announced two important new cameras for the entry-level and amateur photography market, the Sony a3000, and the Sony NEX-5T The a3000 represents a new approach to DSLR-type interchangeable-lens camera design for the surprisingly low price of $398, while the NEX-5T offers several improvements over last year's midrange MILC, the NEX-5R, adding wireless communication and a sophisticated new kit lens. Sony also introduced three new E-Mount lenses, the Sony Vario-Tessar T E 16-70mm f/4 ZA OSS and E PZ 18-105mm f/4 G OSS, and a black version of the 50mm f/1.8 OSS SEL50F18. The announcement is notable also for the fact that Sony seems to have taken a step away from its legacy Alpha/Minolta lensmount system—at least as far as its consumer-level interchangeable-lens cameras are concerned.
The Sony a3000 and Sony NEX-5T and related products introduced today can be pre-ordered now from Adorama. Orders will be shipped on a first-come, first-served basis; Adorama will not charge your credit card until your order ships.
Let's take a closer first look at both of the new Sony cameras.
Sony a3000 Interchangeable Lens Camera
Hybrid DSLR/MILC Takes E-Mount Lenses
Sony was careful to label the a3000 an "Interchangeable Lens Camera" rather than a DSLR, despite the fact that it looks just like one. The camera is actually a hybrid of DSLR and MILC. It's the first E-Mount camera to have a DSLR form factor; while Alpha-mount lenses can be used via an adapter, this camera is fully compatible with Sony's NEX system of lenses, which are smaller and lighter. Unlike most NEX cameras, it houses a high-definition, eye-level electronic viewfinder. Sony found that while its MILCs are cool, many shooters want eye-level viewing, a larger contoured grip, and a slightly bigger body.
Sony a3000 Key Features
- 20.1 MP APS-C sensor
- ISO Range 100-16,000
- Full HD movies at 60i and 24p
- Claimed quick AF in live view
- Burst rate up to 3.5fps
- Lightweight body, generous-sized grip
- 200k dot resolution eye-level viewfinder
- Multi-interface shoe holds flash, external mic
- Sony E-Mount Lens Mount
- Auto Object Framing Face Detection, Sweep Panorama
- Auto HDR
- Photo Creativity Interface
- Claimed 470 shots per battery charge
Let's take a closer look at some of this camera's key features:
Build and mount
The a3000 is said to be lighter and smaller than most DSLRs, and a new grip is said to provide a secure hold. The first DSLR-style camera to accommodate smaller, lighter E-mount lenses, which are designed primarily for Sony's mirrorless compact interchangeable lens (MILC) cameras, the a3000 is also narrower than a typical DSLR because it design requires a shorter flangeback.
Viewfinder and LCD
The eye-level viewfinder is modest by today's standards, with 100% coverage but approximately 200k dot resolution—sufficient for composition and reference, but clearly Sony downgraded the EVF to keep the camera's price low. The 3-inch LCD monitor uses live view and Sony claims that in live view mode, autofocus is mighty fast.
The a3000 uses the same sensor format that Sony builds into its full-sized α DSLR cameras. The APS-C is said to deliver an exceptional combination of high resolution, high sensitivity and gorgeous, blurred backgrounds. The sensor is also able to capture HD movies in standard 60i or cinematic 24p, all at Full HD 1920x1080 resolution.1 Sony says the AVCHD™ codec delivers Blu-ray™ HD picture quality. Also included is the MP4 codec. which offers smaller file size for easier upload to the web for sharing.
A new Exmor® sensor features the same adaptive noise reduction used in Sony’s flagship A99, and the A3000 easily offers a wide range of sensitivity from ISO 100 to ISO 16000.
Picture Effect Modes
As one might expect in a consumer-level camera, the Sony a3000 offers 11 types (15 variations) of Picture Effects to choose from: Posterization (Color, B/W), Pop Color, Retro Photo, Partial Color (R,G,B,Y), High Contrast Mono, Toy Camera, Soft High-key, Soft Focus, HDR Painting, Rich-tone Mono, Miniature.
Other creative features
Sony uses intelligent programming to make it easy for inexperienced photographers to get good shots. Auto Object framing automatically recognizes a scene and subjects in your photos and crops a photo accordingly, allowing you to have your original photo and a second cropped photo. Auto HDR combines three shots, highlighting the best elements from each shot (details, mid-tones and shadows) to create one photograph with detail in both shadows and highlights (up to 6 EV stops).
Face detection and face registration recognizes not only that there are faces in the scene (and adjusts focus, exposure, and white balance) but it can also prioritize children and adults and recognize familiar faces. Sweep Panorama—a standard Sony feature—lets you pan a scene and the camera automatically stitches together a vertical or horizontal panorama.
The Photo Creativity interface enables you to easily enjoy the creative expression of SLR-quality digital imaging without the complicated settings. Changes can be easily made using the control dial with results seen in real time on the LCD. Settings include; Background Defocus, Brightness, Color, Vividness and most Picture Effects. The camera also offers six creative style settings: Standard, Vivid, Portrait, Landscape, Sunset and B&W. You can also fine-tune contrast, saturation, and sharpness to your personal taste.
The Sony a3000 will be available from Adorama in late September for a surprisingly low price of $398.
Popular MILC Goes Wireless
With a 16MP APS-C sensor and built-in Wi-Fi (for direct uploads) and Near-Field Communications (for uploads via smart phones and tablets), the Sony NEX-5T replaces the 5R and adds the ability to post DSLR-quality images directly to Facebook and other social networks and image-sharing sites. Designed as an introduction to interchangeable-lens photography geared towards compact camera users, the NEX-5T is said to offer fast hybrid autofocus (and therefore minimal lag time) and sports-friendly 10fps shooting. It is the latest in Sony's popular mid-range NEX-5 series; besides the addition of Wi-Fi and pumped up autofocus, the feature set is similar to its predecessor.
Sony NEX-5T key features:
• 16.1-megapixel APS-C sensor
• Ultra-Compact Body
• ISO to 25600
• Fast Hybrid AF
• AF tracking
• 10 fps burst mode
• Touch-screen 180° tiltable LCD
• Wi-FI and NFC wireless communication with one-touch sharing
• One-touch remote control via Tablet or Smart Phone
Let's take a closer look at the Sony NEX-5T's features
The NEX-5T's 16MP APS-C sensor promises an ISO range of 100-25,600. With a new Exmor® sensor that features the same adaptive noise reduction technology found in Sony’s flagship SLT-A99V this particular sensor has received high marks for its outstanding low-light image quality, and so users can expect virtually noise free images in most low-light shooting. The camera captures HD Movies in 60p, standard 60i or cinematic 24p, all at Full HD 1920x1080 resolution.
The NEX-5T uses Sony's recently-developed, Fast Hybrid AF, which combines two technologies for outstanding performance: Phase detection auto focus for quick response that is ideal when tracking fast-moving subjects and contrast-detection auto focus for added precision. This is said to deliver optimal Auto Focus for fast, precise focusing in any scene.
Wireless Connectivity and Hackability
The NEX-5T offers connectivity with smartphones for One-touch sharing/One-touch remote via its Wi-Fi®/NFC control. Simply tap the camera to another NFC-enabled device like a tablet or smartphone and photos are transferred with just one touch. Users need only touch devices to connect; no complex set-up is required. Moreover, when using Smart Remote Control, the camera’s shutter can be controlled by your smartphone’s touchscreen.
You can also hack your camera by adding new features of your choice with PlayMemories Camera Apps. Find apps to fit your shooting style from portraits, detailed close-ups, sports, time lapse, motion shot and much more. Use apps that shoot, share and save photos using Wi-Fi that make it easy to control and view your camera from smartphone, and post photos directly to Facebook or backup images to the cloud without connecting to a computer.
Size and weight
The NEX-5T is extremely small—one of the smallest interchangeable-lens cameras on the market. And yet, it offers a full 3-inch LCD monitor that flips up to 180 degrees—ideal for self-portrait photography. The NEX-5T accepts Sony's growing lineup of lightweight E-Mount lenses.
Smart Photo Features
Like the a3000, the NEX-5T offers Auto HDR, Face Detection and registration, Sweep Panorama, Six creative style modes, and a touch interface for adjusting brightness, background defocus, color, and vividness.
The NEX-5T will be available in early September from Adorama for $698 with the a 24-77mm kit lens, and $548 body only. It can be pre-ordered now.
New E-Mount Lenses
In addition to its two new E-mount cameras, Sony unveiled two new kit zoom lenses as well as a black version of its 50mm f/1.8 lens. The Sony Vario-Tessar T E16-70mm f/4 ZAS OSS is a premium Carl Zeiss branded midrange zoom with Optical SteadyShot and a constant maximum aperture of f/4. It will be available at Adorama for $999.99. The Sony E-PZ 18-105mm f/4 G OSS is a general-use mid-range zoom that offers quiet operation, making it well-suited for shooting movies. It is Sony's first G-series lens for E-Mount cameras. Finally, Sony introduced a black version of its E 50mm f/1.8 OSS lens, using the same optical formula as before.