The Sony Alpha 3000 features the Sony E-mount system, allowing you to use all of the same lenses as the NEX line of cameras as well as the A-mount lenses with an optional adapter.
Capturing light data is an Exmor APS HD 20.1-Megapixel, APS-C sized CMOS imaging sensor. Compared to the sensors that you will find on compact cameras in the same price range, this sensor is much larger and more sensitive. This will provide you with better low-light performance and overall image quality. Assisting with the low-light performance is Sony's BIONZ image processor. In addition to noise reduction, the processor also provides burst shooting of up to 3.5fps and full HD video recording.
Included with the a3000 is the Sony E-mount, 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens with Optical Steady Shot. This is a standard zoom lens, very similar to most kit lenses, but with the added benefit of optical image stabilization. It makes a great starting lens for the first-time dSLR/ILC owner. Sony's other E-mount lenses, made mostly for the NEX line, are much lighter and more compact than the A-mount lenses. Smaller does not mean lower quality though, as Sony offers some fantastic E-mount lenses.
Assisting you with your low-light images is this small and compact pop-up flash unit. With a range of approx. 20ft. at ISO 200, this incredibly compact flash unit does pack a little bit of a punch. If you would like a more powerful light source, Sony offers a variety of external flash units that will work with this camera.
Above you can see the hot shoe for external flash units on top of the camera. In front of the hot shoe is the built-in stereo microphone, providing the audio for your home movies. At the bottom of the image is the camera's EVF (electronic viewfinder) with dioptic adjustment. Showing approx. 100% field of view, the small EVF is not the highest resolution, but it provides you with the ability to shoot eye-level like a standard dSLR, but also provides the information and abilities of a compact camera's LCD screen.
If you are upgrading from a compact camera, you may prefer to shoot via the LCD screen. The a3000 sports a 3.0-inch, 240,000 dot LCD screen. This lower resolution screen will show all of the information that you could ever want while shooting, but you will not see the sharpest or highest quality images on the screen. To assure that you can see it in any lighting conditions, the camera offers 5 levels of brightness plus a Sunny Weather setting for very bright situations.
As an entry-level dSLR, Sony has kept the camera body as simple as possible. On top you will only find a few controls. From left you right you have the LCD/EVF button, mode dial, playback button and the shutter release coupled by the power switch on top.
On the back of the camera there are just a few controls as well. At the top is the dedicated video recording button. Next are two buttons, one above and one below the 4-way controller. These two buttons are controlled and assigned by labels on the LCD screen. The 4-way controller acts as shortcuts to the DISP, ISO, exposure compensation and burst settings. The outside of the controller acts as the camera's only command dial.
Under the door on the left side of the camera you will find the camera's USB port. This is the camera's only input/output port for connecting to a computer or printer.
Below the USB port is the memory card slot, supporting Memory Stick: PRO Duo/Pro-HG Duo/PRO-HG HX Duo or SD/SDHC/SDXC media types. The camera is shown here with the SanDisk Extreme Pro UHS-1 8GB SDHC memory card that was used in its tests.
Powering the a3000 is a 7.2V, 1080mAh rechargeable Li-Ion battery. This battery is capable of providing up to 480 images on a single charge, which is an excellent battery life. Not shown is the AC adaptor (AC-UB10), which was not shipped with our sample unit. The camera does also charge via USB by plugging it into your computer.