The a3000 marks a bit of a departure from Sony’s traditional E-mount NEX cameras, dropping the NEX name and featuring a chunky, DSLR style design, although it feels a bit like a bridge camera.
This grip here makes it easy to use the camera, even though it is supplied with an 18-55mm lens, which is significantly larger than the 16-50mm kit lens found on cameras such as the NEX-3N.
On the top of the camera is an elevated mode dial for accessing different exposure modes, including fully automatic, scene modes, fully manual and semi-automatic modes. There’s also a panoramic mode accessed from here.
There are relatively few buttons on the camera, an indicator of the beginner market that this camera is aimed at. On top of the camera, you’ll only find the shutter release, EVF/LCD button and the playback button. On the back of the camera, as is common with Sony cameras, a lot of these buttons are are customizable, depending on which settings you want to use most often.
By default, one of the buttons accesses the main menu, which is the standard NEX menu system, which we’ve found can be a little frustrating to use at times.
Another default option is for the right directional key to access ISO, but you can change this to access a kind of quick menu, which also includes sensitivity. It’s a useful menu which can customised to include the settings you find yourself changing most often.
This scrolling dial here is used for navigating through settings while in the menu, or altering aperture or shutter speed when in standard shooting mode. Unlike most A-mount cameras, there is no dial on the grip for changing these settings.
Changing the AF point requires some effort as there’s no touchscreen. First of all, you’ll need to set the autofocus area to flexible spot in the main menu. This will make this soft key the access button for changing the focus point. Press this and then scroll around the frame using either the dial or the directional keys. It’s not the quickest, so you may find setting the AF point to the centre and focusing and recomposing less frustrating when capturing quick moving action.
The screen has a pretty low resolution by modern standards, at just 2222 dots. It displays a fair amount of noise, especially when shooting in lower light conditions, which can be a little distracting. This screen is joined by an electronic viewfinder. It’s a nice addition for an E-mount camera. Unfortunately though, there’s no sensor on the eye-piece for detecting when the camera is lifted to the eye, meaning you’ll need to press this button here to switch between the two, which is a little disjointed. The button’s position is also a little awkward to reach.
In terms of build quality, the a3000 is a fairly cheap and cheerful camera, which is reflected by its current retail price. Image quality however is very impressive, as we’ve come to expect from Sony sensors, so you get good value for money.