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Sony's new mirrorless cameras strive for enthusiast sweet spot

Jackie Dove | Aug. 28, 2013
Sony has released a pair of midlevel compact interchangeable lens cameras designed for the consumer step-up and enthusiast market.

Scene modes include Portrait, Landscape, Macro, Sports Action, Sunset, Night Portrait, Night View, Hand-held Twilight, Anti Motion Blur, plus 15 picture effects including Mono, Toy Camera, Soft High-key, Soft Focus, HDR Painting, Rich-tone Mono, and Miniature.

The camera supports auto object framing to detect and crop human subjects, digital zoom, and the ability to use an assortment of flashes, mics, and tripods. An English-language menu system offers a set of controls that lets shooters choose what they want to do, putting the camera in charge of the actual settings. A menu system like Photo Creativity lets you specify Defocus or Crisp or Brighter or Darker in order to have the camera set the aperture or EV levels, while you see the effect in real time directly in the Live View.

The Alpha 3000 is $400, including an 18-55mm kit lens, and is available for pre-order now. It should be on the shelves in early September.

Sony has integrated the NEX-5T compact interchangeable lens camera smack in the middle of its current compact system camera lineup, beside the NEX-6 and as a replacement for the NEX-5R. The audience for this unit, in addition to step-up customers, is entry-level DSLR users who understand the advantages of large sensors and seek to downsize from the heavy DSLR beast while maintaining image quality—or use it as a second camera in addition to their DSLR. The target audience for this model tends to be a bit more geeky, technically aware, and motivated to use the new communication technologies.

The NEX-5T is similar to Sony's NEX-5R in many ways. This 16.1-megapixel model provides plenty of resolution and an ISO of up to 25600. In addition to the control dial and function button, there is a touchscreen with a 180-degree tilt for stills and video, and a new 16-50mm power zoom lens, which is about half the size of the 16-50mm lens of the previous model.

It features Fast Hybrid Auto Focus (combining phase-detection with contrast-detection AF) offering high speed AF with continuous tracking.

New NFC (near field communication) networking functionality joins the 5T feature set in addition to Wi-Fi, unlike the previous model. Many hobbyists now use NFC to control their cameras remotely from tablets and smartphones. The NEX-5T allows you to connect the camera and the smartphone by simply touching the two devices together, skipping the multipart password sign-in procedure in other devices. Sharing an image takes place in playback mode while controlling the camera via the remote device is done in shooting mode, giving you the same Live View as on the camera.

For devices without such capabilities, such as an iPhone, you can wirelessly transfer images and videos via Wi-Fi and Sony's PlayMemories Mobile app for iOS and Android.


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