In this article I will compare the Sony NEX-5T vs Sony A3000. The A3000 looks like a DSLR camera, but underneath its case its a NEX camera, which means that its a Compact System Camera for all tense and purposes. I am personally a fan of Sony NEX camera. I like the design, features, image quality and performance that you get with Sony NEX cameras — each on with its own cons and pros of course. If you are searching to buy a nex-generation mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, you should certainly take a look at those two cameras.
I will start with a short introduction to each caemra and continue to the comparison itself.
Announced On August 27, 2013 — The Sony Alpha NEX-5T is the latest addition to Sony’s NEX Compact System Camera’s lineup. The NEX-5T replaces the excellent NEX-5R. The camera features a 16.1 MP Exmor APS HD CMOS Sensor, the same sensor size that you find on many DSLR cameras, larger than the one found on the Micro Four Thirds cameras. The NEX-5T was designed from the ground up to please the enthusiast photographer, those who want to enjoy the advantages of ILC cameras, but not in the expense of image quality.
The NEX-5T is much smaller than a DSLR camera, much smaller in size. Take a look at the next image and see it alongside the Canon EOS 100D, which is the smallest DSLR camera on the market.
Although its more compact in size, it’s not a compact camera that you can just slide in your pocket. Unless you are using a pancake lens and having a large pockets, you’ll need a small camera bag to carry it around with you, especially if you are going to take additional lenses with you.
The NEX-6 is identical to the NEX-5R in its external design. Sony didn’t make any significant changes and kept the same size and design that everyone liked on the NEX-5R — and it’s a good thing. Regardless its small size, this camera has relatively a large grip and its easy to hold and operate.
The NEX-5T is the first Sony ILC to comes with Near Field Communication (NFC) plus Wi-Fi wireless connectivity. This is a must have feature for nex-gen cameras that are aimed to the enthusiast market. We are living at times that everyone has a mobile phone, and everyone wants to have an option to share images everywhere they go. Using this NFC and Wi-Fi functionality, you can quickly bind your NEX-5T with your Android or iPhone smartphone by touching the two devices together.
This will initialize a Wi-Fi connectivity, allowing the NEX-5T to send image and videos to your smartphone or tablet devices and then share them with your friends and family via all the sharing facilities available on your phone via apps. The NFC features take the burden out of managing the wireless connection yourself and settings credentials on both the sender devices and the receiver device. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to install the Sony PlayMemories mobile app on your mobile device prior to being able to bind the two devices together. This app is free and can be downloaded from either Google Play for the Android version or from Apple app store for the iOS-based NFC-enabled devices.
In addition to that, this wireless connectivity also allows photographers to remotely control the camera using your mobile device. A Live video feed is sent from your NEX-5T to your mobile device, allowing you to see what the camera sees and trigger the shutter release to capture an image. This is useful at time where you don’t want to be very close to your subject or just act as a remote wireless trigger, so you don’t need to buy one separately.
The NEX-5T also comes with Sony’s fast Hybrid Autofocus which takes advantage of both contrast-detect AF and phase-detect AF for excellent AF performance for both stills and videos. Using phase-detect AF sensors on the sensor itself, allows the NEX-5T a more accurate and faster subject tracking AF performance, which is super useful when shooting fast moving subjects (e.g. running kids, your kid riding on a bicycle, car racing event, etc.).
At the back of the camera you can find a 3-inch 921,600 dots tiltable (180 degrees up for self portrait shots / selfshots, 50 degrees down) touch-sensitive display. This gorgeous display allows you to easily check focus and sharpness of your images, giving you the flexibility you need for taking overhead shots and just enhances the overall user-experience with the camera. The NEX-5T can shoot 1080p60, 1080i60 and 1080p24 ghigh quality videos — and yes, it’s 60p progressive frames, not like some other cameras that offers 60 interlaced frames video recording. With interlaced frames the camera capture the video at 30 frames per second, but split the odd and even fields into separate frames. This reduce the video file size, but produce a lower quality video and less video-editing friendly compare to 60p.
The Sony NEX-5T was designed to be a great alternative to a DSLR camera. If you are searching for a high-quality large-sensor interchangeable lens camera, you should certainly put the NEX-5T at the top of your list. the NEX-5T doesn’t bring new prominent changes over its predecessor, but the NFC and Wi-Fi are certainly a welcome features in this model.
I know that many photographers have been expecting this camera to be more than a refined NEX-5R — and honestly, it seems that Sony is cutting some funds here do to the decrease in demand of digital cameras since mobile phone took the market by storm. I”ve seen this on Canon side, and now on Sony’s. I’ve read many comments of people who were disappointed with the specs, hoping for better improvements, but let’s not forget that Sony did introduce the A3000, which is unique in its kind and of course I’ll cover the differences between those two in this comparison article.
Among the other feature, the NEX-5T comes with Auto object framing, Dynamic Range optimizer, Auto HDR mode, 11 types of picture effect moded, UDB charging, Face registration technology (can register up to eight faces), Sweep Panorama, Clear Image Zoom (higher quality 2x digital zoom) and multi-interface terminal for attaching accessories.
I have to admit that I was totally surprised that Sony has release a camera like the A3000, but I understand the fact that are many photographers who want to enjoy the benefits of mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras but prefer the ergonomics and handling of DSLR cameras. That might some odd because the idea behind a mirrorless camera was to create a camera that can take DSLR-like high quality images, but have a smaller size.
One good example, is for some photographers getting more serious about photography and want to enjoy the benefits of a DSLR camera, but don’t want to sell all their current E-mount lenses that they already bought. For example, one might want to shoot photos with a high-quality external flash, and this would be much easier to handle on a larger camera because it balanced the weight better, it’s also true when using large telephoto zoom lenses or big and heavy fast prime lenses — let alone using those two together.
So how big the A3000 really is? — Let’s take a look hot it compares in size to the NEX-5T.
Nice, but the big WOW will come when you see the two cameras from the top.
Of course it’s worth mentioning that I compared only the body without any interchangeable lenses. Depends on the lens you add to the NEX-5T, it will gain more depth obviously — but the difference in camera size cannot be ignored.
For a MSRP price of $399, Sony aimed this camera for the entry-level segment. The A3000 features a 20.1 MP Exmor APS-C HD CMOS sensor. At the back of the camera you find a 201.6K dot 0.2type electronic viewfinder with 100% coverage. This is a low-resolution viewfinder, unlike the one on the NEX-6 and NEX-7 that is a super high-resolution EVF. Of course this is an entry-level camera, and I wasn’t expecting Sony to use an EVF that alone costs like this camera body itself.
The A3000 was designed with simplicity in mind. You won’t find all those tons of buttons that you see on mid-range or high-end DSLR cameras. This camera was designed to attract new comers to the mirrorless camera’s world, and to allow beginners to feel comfortable handling the camera and not intimidated with its external button layout look. You get a top mode dial wheel at the top with preview button and a button to switch between the LCD and the EVF. At the back you get the navigation buttons, customizable button, and a movie mode button. The A3000 features a very comfortable large grip, perfectly fits those of you who have big hands and found NEX cameras to be less convenient to use.
The A3000 features a pop-up flash and also Sony’s multi-interface shoe, so you can mount various camera accessories to extend your the photographic capabilities of the camera. The A3000 however features a slow continuous shooting speed of 2.5 fps and 3.5 fps when the camera is set to Speed Priority Continuous Shooting mode, when the camera is set to lock the focus and exposure on the first shot. The A3000 is slightly smaller than Nikon’s D3100 in height and 4mm wider.
The A3000 is an entry-level Mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, and don’t confuse it with a DSLR camera that uses a reflex mirror and an optical viewfinder. An optical viewfinder will give you much better viewing experience than this low-resolution EVF, much better. However, this EVF is useful at times when you want to take shots in bright daylight where the back LCD isn’t the best option for that. The A3000 can shoot Full HD videos at 24p and 60i (interlaced).
The A3000 will please those who want to buy into Sony interchangeable lens camera system, don’t have a budget for a more expensive camera, those who prefer having a larger body for improved ergonomics and handling and those who like having a high-megapixel sensor camera. The A3000 is an attractive budget-friendly CSC camera that I’m sure will be popular among novice photographers.
What are the Differences?
The first most obvious difference is in the size of those two cameras. The Sony NEX-5T is really small and you need to hold this camera in your hand to appreciate the ingenious engineering behind this camera. The A3000 is much more bulky, but still lightweight. I think that newcomers, considering both use the same sensor size (APS-C), will prefer going with the NEX-5T. Both are compatible with the same E-mount and therefore all the lenses that are available for the NEX cameras are available for the A3000 as well.
So if you decide to pick the A3000 as your first camera, you can always upgrade to a NEX camera and keep your lenses. Talking about lenses, I already mentioned that you need to take the size and weight of the lens into consideration when comparing camera sizes. The camera body itself doesn’t reveal the whole story.
To illustrate what I mean, take a look at the image below, showing the Sony NEX-5T with the Sony E 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 (SEL-1855) lens and without (body only).
Some people are confusing the NEX for a compact camera because when they see product image, they sometime see it without the lens attached. This is understandable from marketing perspective, but this is something that you certainly should be aware about before picking up any NEX camera in the first place for its small size.
Both the NEX-5T and the A3000 have a customizable button, dedicated movie button and navigation buttons. The A3000 make it easier to access difference modes by using the top mode dial, the NEX make it easier to change settings using its top wheel dial.
Ergonomic wise, the NEX-5T will appeal to people with small hands, the Alpha A3000 will appeal to people with large hands. The A3000 weights 295 grams more than the NEX-5T, quite a big difference — so it will to carry around when going on a trip and you want to bring your camera with you. The NEX-5T can easily be carried inside a small personal bag, but again, it depends on the lens attached. For both cameras you better off buying a camera bag. If you intend to carry more than one lens, you should buy a dedicated camera bag so you can place all your photo gear inside and keep it safe.
Display and Viewfinder
Both cameras come with a 3-inch rear LCD display, but there are significant differences between the two. The A3000 features a 230,400 dots, whether the NEX-5T features a 921K-dot resolution, much higher than the A3000. I was quite disappointed to see such a low-res LCD at the back, as we are in 2013. The NEX-5T has a touch-sensitive display and can tilt up and down, the A3000 screen is not touch-sensitive nor it can tilt (aka fixed display).
On the other hand, the A3000 features a 200K-dots electronic viewfinder, which is absent on the NEX-5T. This means that when you shoot with the 5T you will be composing your shots via the rear LCD — whether with the A3000 you have the option to choose to frame your shot either using the rear LCD or the EVF. The A3000 EVF is of a low-quality, nothing that can resemble the quality of NEX-6 and NEX-7 cameras. I personally always but a camera with a viewfinder, I find it easier to frame the shot and you just feel more connected to the photographed subject. Of course it depends on the EVF quality.
Those of you who already feel comfortable using a touch-sensitive screen on your mobile phones, will find the NEX-5T to be more intuitive and straight forward, so instead using buttons to navigate through options, you can just use your fingers. You can also use the touch screen to autofocus on your subject and capture the shot, very easy and convenient for newcomers.
Both cameras can shoot Full HD video with stereo sound, but the NEX-5T can capture videos in 1080p24 and 108060, whether the A3000 can shoot at 60i and 24p. 60p on the NEX-5T will provide you with a larger video file, but one with better image quality. The reason for that is with how the camera records and outputs the video. With 60p, each frame contains the entire video resolution data, also known as progressive. This means that both the odd and even fields are recorded for each frame.
In comparison, when recorded in 60 frames per second, the A3000 records the video in 60i, which means 60 interlaced frames. What the camera does is records the video in 30p, and output the result in 60 fps, by splitting the even and odd fields for each frame. So the first frame will have the odd frames, and the second frame the even frames. By splitting the data between two sequential frames, you will get smoother looking video, but at the expensive of reduced quality. If you love editing your video on your home computer using video editing software, you should prefer the progressive recording approach.
The Sony NEX-5T has a 16.1MP sensor, the A3000 has a 20.1MP sensor resolution. The difference between the two is not big. The A3000 take 5456 x 3632 pixels stills, the NEX-5T takes 4912 x 3264 pixels stills. Take a look at the image below to comprehend the differences in effective sensor resolution / image resolution between the two cameras.
So in short, I wouldn’t put the resolution even as a factor in this case, because it isn’t. The difference is very smaller as you can see.
The NEX-5T features both NFC and Wi-Fi wireless connectivity for allowing remote shooting and easy sharing of images and videos when paired with an NFC-enabled Android or iOS mobile device — The A3000 features neither. This is a big advantage for the NEX-5T for those who want to easily share images or edit their photos using their favorite photo editing / effects app. You can shoot high quality photos using your NEX-5T camera in the field, but knowing that you can immediately share them with your friends on Facebook without uploading your photos and video to your home computer first.
Pop Up Flash
The Sony A3000 comes with a built-in pop-up flash, the NEX-5T does not. Both cameras use the same accessory port and support for the same camera accessories. With the NEX-5T you have the option to attach an external flash. Good for us, SonyNEX-5T is bundled with a small HVL-F7S fold-down flash. It’s relatively small flash, but it add a bit to the size at the top, but nothing too significant. The good thing about this flash is that it can tilt up, allowing much better illumination options for your subject. I personally never use the pop up flash, maybe as a fill light, but I certainly prefer the NEX-5T option to the built-in A300 flash, although you can purchase an external flash for the A3000 as well.
Continuous Shooting Speed
The Sony NEX-5T can shoot at 10 frames per second in continuous shooting mode, the A3000 is limited to 3.5 fps max. This might limit the creative possibilities for those who love shooting sport events for example. Sometimes you just want to take a fast burst of shots to get the subject in the correct position, where a single shot is not enough. This is where the NEX-5T will provide you with a better tool for the job.
Talking about speed, the NEX-5T also features a Hybrid AF, which takes advantage of both phase-detect and contrast-detect for still and videos. This means that you get more precise and faster focusing speed with the NEX-5T, especially noticeable when shooting fast moving subjects.
So which camera is the best among the two? — taking many factors into consideration, I would certainly give my vote for the NEX-5T. Having said that, it really boils down to personal preference. Some people might prefer the A3000 ergonomics and handling, EVF and obviously the price of the A3000. The NEX-5T costs $150 more than the A3000, and for that price you can get another lens, like the Sony SEL16F28 16mm f/2.8 wide-angle pancake lens.
On the other hand, the NEX-5T is really an impressive all-around performer that already proven to be superb performer if we look at its predecessor. The NFC / Wi-Fi functionality will certainly fund itself useful when shooting outdoors. You can shoot photos and videos, upload and store them in a secured location or edit and share them with your friends online.
Whatever camera you pick, you know that you can still keep your E-mount lenses when upgrading to a new model. So if for example you bought the A3000 and in a year from now you want a NEX-6, you can use the lenses that you bought with your new camera, and this is a great advantage to have.
I personally would buy the NEX-5R. If the A3000 had a better EVF I might consider it again. The thing is that I didn’t find anything to exciting about the A3000, and for that size, I would probably prefer buying a DSLR with an optical viewfinder and better performance. But that’s just me of course, you might decide otherwise. Both cameras will provide you with excellent image quality, especially in low light. Sony is known for its amazing image quality in its NEX camera’s lineup sensors, however, I would wait for some online sample image comparison just to be sure , if low-light performance is very important for you.
If you are just starting out and you didn’t buy any E-mount lenses before, I recommend going with the 16-50mm kit offering. This will provide you with versatile focal length range, average size lens and very good performance.
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