A Sony A3000 Experience By Bill Spencer

A Sony A3000 Experience

By Bill Spencer

This is about an unintentional photographic journey resulting from a failed GAS adventure. Some time ago I attended a Sony event where the A7 and A7R were available for customers to try out. I went with the intention of buying either one or the other, to sample the ‘full frame’ experience and hopefully use with some of the very good old lenses I have. Disaster – after an hour of messing with the cameras I found I could not counter the shutter slap problem and get a sharp image out of either camera. The A7R was absolutely impossible even using the ‘Hasselblad death grip’ technique learned many years ago. Almost in frustration I came away with an A3000 kit (£220 or just a little more than a RX1 lens hood costs here) as when in GAS mode you have to get something.

Most people who read Steve and Brandon’s blog will know the A3000 is almost universally ridiculed by most photographers who have tried it because of its strange specifications. To summarise it has a superb 20 megapixel sensor married to dreadful viewfinder, screen and electronics. It does have a very good handgrip, all metal E lens mount, a rigidly mounted sensor and is light as a feather. The reason for the purchase was to use it with a collection of older lens with appropriate adapters. Strange as it may seem I quickly bonded with it as a hobby camera (I have other kit for work – I am an Architect and use photography a lot professionally). It is a super simple camera basically usable in Aperture priority or manual mode with older lens and is all the better for that. It is not particularly suited to sports photography and is not much good at ambush photography (sorry – street photography). Focus peaking and the magnified fine focus function are good although the viewfinder and screen give only an idea of the framing of the image to be taken , loads of tech stuff around the screens but very little textural and quality image information. ie a bit limited for pimping. As I have said it has many minuses and a few key pluses.

The 3 photos below give an idea what it can do. The lens for these is a Canon 200mm macro lens. The lens has been renovated by the lens doctor http://www.thelensdoctor.co.uk/ (Steve will know about his previous life as a drummer in the 80s with famous bands including Thin Lizzy, Creed, Pilot and many more). Even before renovation it is almost as sharp as the Canon 180mm EF macro but with far superior colour and out of focus transitions. Now it is fabulous

As with all Sony products I have there seems to be a spoiler built-in. In my A3000s case it will only work with an official Sony branded battery and not any of the 3rd party ‘compatible’ units I have tried so far that do work in my Nex3. The official batteries cost a fortune so unless you have other Sony batteries it is an expensive business to get spares. However with old lenses attached you get about 500 exposures per charge so lack of a spare is not a deal breaker.

It occurred to me whilst writing this that I have never used the kit lens although being so light I usually have it in the bag. Other lens that work really well on this are most fast 50s (F1.2/4 Yashinons, Pentax and Rokkor) in fact any from an SLR background. I don’t know about M39 stuff or short back focus Leica lens as I do not have any.

Please keep up the good work on the site and keep the reviews and user experiences coming and I hope you enjoy the pics

Modified by CombineZP

Coot with Chick 200mm F8

High summer on our local canal 200mm F11

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14 Comments

  1. Addenum, i wanted to note only something: Perhaps into early/mid 2018, Sigma would introduce (new designed & calculated) APS-C eMount Lenses, so i do hope for a great new “Kitzoom”, a 16-50/1.8-2.8 or 16-55/2.8-4 perhaps would be really a phantastic Lens, into the terms of the Sigma ART Series….

    The best thing onto the A3000 is it’s 20 MP APS-C sensor, if one thinks, this Sensor stinks, you should really see & check samples onto the web, made with the A3000 and the Zeiss 23/1.8 Lens….to see what the sensor can do with a decent prime lens.

    If it wouldn’t be that pricy, i’d have bought off this Sonnar right away…but instead, i’ve bought vintage C/Y lenses for my Sony A7…and having much fun with focus peaking and this old, decent glass, which i am already collecting for >25 years….

  2. I do have bought my A3000 exactly for the same fun into Summer 2014 – for it’s known-to-be-great 20 MP APS-C sensor, for a decent handgrip & program dial (before, only the NEX-6 & NEX-7 featured one on Sony APS-C eMount DSLM) and lots of fun playing with old MF lenses (mostly prime, but also few zooms via adapter (focal reducer, here: Lens Turbo II) Body-wise, one can’t beat 80 EUR for a mint-condition Body, with that Sensor. Yes, the EVF is being time-based multiplexed, which gives rainbow-like color shimmers, and also unsharp edges from the very low quality optics – even my 2005 DSC-R1 featured a much better EVF – albeit for the view of each of it’s own 235.000 Pixels..you can count it by looking through the R1 EVF…

    Nevermind, it’s rear LCD is also way lowfi, but good enough for Setup that A3000. 🙂

    I like to use the 5D also much more…or my trusty D7000….but the A3000 gets the job done – fine.

    Good Light !

    Marc

  3. Thanks for all the supportive comments. I think I can answer a couple of questions raised. First for Minster a remote is available which plugs into the usb port but it is a wired unit. The one I use is off ebay. I find you need to push the connector fully home into the usb socket for it to work properly – it had me foxed for a while

    http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/JJC-Shutter-Release-Remote-Sony-RX100III-A7S-A5000-A6000-A7-A7R-A3000-A58-/261521794543?pt=UK_Photography_DigitalCamAccess_RL&hash=item3ce3e9e5ef

    To hopefully answer Bjorn The Nex3 has a 14 megapixel sensor and I think records 12bit colour as opposed to the 11bit of the 3000. The difference is only seen in my experience in light blue sky’s where a slight tone stepping is visible on tif or png outputs that needs to be addressed in post if it is a bother to you. The Nex3 is very good at low light video as in wedding videos at the alter in available light. It is also very fast delivering about 11 images in around a second before stuttering, whereas the 3000 can only do 4 or 5 in a couple of seconds. Of course the 3000 has 20 megapixels and the Nex3 14 rather bigger ones. The articulated screen on the Nex3 is a major plus – i use the body of an old slide viewer held on by magnets to get a tennis court size image as a makeshift evf. It is as light as a feather and works very well. That is great news about batteries – thanks.

    For me the E-mount on a easy to hold body (in one hand) that can take very heavy older lenses and still be balanced in use is a major plus. The view finder dioptre corrector has a click setting that suits me but others I know need to persuade the dial to stop halfway between settings to work for them (a piece of sticky tape does the job). If you use older lenses you also forego the automatic ‘in camera’ lens corrections that is a feature of today’s cameras with kit and associated system lenses – you have to do it manually in post. best of all though you can used lenses with lead and thorium components with their super colour characteristics.

    A friend of mine calls the 3000 my ‘S & M’ camera – I have the same view of his Nikon 610 with it’s blizzard of control options. I think his camera is superb, just different to mine.

    Thanks again for your comments and to Steve and Brandon for all their work that makes this site so good

    • Thanks for your answer, in addition to my nex-3 I have a alpha a37. I feel that the old nex handles high iso better then the newer a37, and of course it is a great advantage to attach old slr lenses. For example, the canon fd 35 f2 ssc (concave, with thorium) gives excellent iq, a possibility the a37 does´t give. On the other hand, the evf and the buttons, faster af and the possibility to use minolta legacy glass (like the beer cans) without adapter makes me wanting to have both. I was just curious if the a3000 could replace both, but after reading your answer, I think it is better for me to just keep the two. BTW, I did not mention how much I like the small sigma´s on the NEX. It is with the 19 2.8 almost 90% of the time.

      • Hello Bjorn
        I also have an A65 (for work) and have Minolta legacy lens for it. A 50mm and a 28mm. Both work perfectly, have super image quality and have proper precision metal mounts unlike many newer Sony lens. The weak point of the camera is the semi translucent mirror which is so fragile and costs a lot to replace. if a bit dusty I find it causes loss of contrast in the images. The 19 is on my wish list.

  4. Thanks for the article, as an owner of the a3000 I should have done an article myself. I will leave this as an added endorsement.

    Besides my sony alpha gear (a77, a850, Minolta 7D converted to IR), I purchased an original NEX5 not long after it first came out. I did this to use my large collection of MF lenses with adapters. I did find that hand holding while trying to manual focus on the LCD was difficult with the 5, (however, it is still great on a tripod) so I started to lust for a EVF NEX. While I now mostly use my very new NEX6, I had bought an a3000 body only to fill the gap till the NEX6 came down in price.

    Today I use the a3000 almost exclusively with SLR lenses, and my Leica-M lenses on the 6. Because the a3000 has a larger body with an excellent grip, the bigger SLR lenses balance better than smaller range-finder (an exception would be the tele-elmarit-M 90/2.8 and a bokuh machine nikkor-S 8.5cm/2.0 in con tax mount).

    The EVF is small and dark when compared with the 6, but is still quite usable for focus-peaking and image magnification if set for raw/fine and display the EVF as black & white (not my discovery, read on the DYXUM site). This way the only color that appears is the peaking, but raw files are still recorded as color. Also, I turn image review off, so unless I need to menu dive, the EVF is used for shooting, and only use the LCD when I hit the review button.

    There are certainly other drawbacks to the camera: no remote capability, fixed and low-rez LCD, no Fn button when you want to change something on the fly, no eye-cup available to block more sunlight when using the hard plastic eye-piece, etc. But for the price there is little to argue with as to the quality of the image, this sensor is excellent! As to the issue of non-sony batteries: I have a total of 5, three from Sony that came with the cameras, and two from a US vendor-PROMASTER. These work fine in all my NEX bodies, though they poop out faster, only about 75-80% of what the Sony’s deliver, but are much less expensive. So there should be some battery besides Sony available in the UK that duplicates the PROMASTER value/performance.

    I really like the form factor of the a3000, there are three major improvements that I would like to see in a newer version. The most obvious is a better EVF, perhaps the one from the Sony a57. Second, one dial besides the joy-stick on the back, this would be intense using the camera strictly as a manual everything camera-the long wished for digital SRT-202 with my many Rokkor-X lenses. Finally, there is plenty of room in this body for sensor image stabilization (there is a whole lotta empty space in there!), either the tried and true minolta/sony variety or the 5-axis from Olympus.

    So right now, if there are any NEX6 cameras available, that would be preferable consider the price drop. However, taken with all its known issues, the a3000 is a heck of a bang for the buck (or pound/euro, etc).

  5. Nice pictures, but highly impossible to get sharp images with the a7r? I dont see anything here that the shutter vibration from the a7r will have cause any issues. Maybe if shoooting landscapes at very low shutter speeds… I have a D800 and also people complain about not been able to get sharp images with it at the beginning, and i honestly couldnt see how that was impossible when using the right technique.

    • He was saying how HE had problems, just like many others have reported. No mention of you or your skills.

      I am sure I can totally miss marks with the best sniper rifles that would just totally embarrass the hell out of a real pro. We are all different, I am sure this author will draw houses that looks a hell of a lot better than the ones you can, for one thing.

      Thanks for posting.

      Jan

  6. Beautiful work mate.

    I’m a ‘no camera to A6000’ guy and I love that little thing. Married with my Voigt50mm 1.5 and Leica 28mm 2.8 it’s a dream. Also, I think the kit lens produces some amazing results!

  7. LOVE old 1970s/80s SLR glass. I’m saving my pennies for an A7s for just that reason.

    Excellent shots, by the way.

  8. I’ve used a nex-c3 for a long time before upgrading to the a6000. It might not have a lot of ergonomical buttons but you make great images with it like the a3000.

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