Sony has announced the Sony A3000, a new entry-level model of compact system camera. That's right - the Alpha name is venturing into CSC territory.
The Sony A3000 forges a new category of camera for Sony. It uses the E-mount lens system from the NEX line in a body that's more like the design of a traditional DSLR.
With a launch price of £370, the Sony A3000 is more budget than the likes of the NEX-3, so it certainly has budget appeal.
The body of the Sony A3000 is designed to be easy to handle, with a pronounced grip and integrated electronic viewfinder, rather like Panasonic's Lumix G and GH models. The viewfinder offers a 100 per cent field of view, so what you see in preview is what you get in the final image.
With a 20.1-megapixel APS-C sensor positioned behind that E-mount lens - offering ISO 100-16,000 sensitivity - Sony promises that it will deliver plenty of quality. It's a different sensor to the NEX models - but the performance remains to be seen.
With conventional styling, the Sony A3000 also offers equally conventional DSLR-like controls: a top-mounted control dial for switching through shooting modes, and all the features you'd expect from an entry-level system camera. That means you'll get things like artistic effects and 1080p HD video capture in addition to full auto and manual controls.
On the rear there's a 3-inch LCD, but unlike many other Sony cameras, this is fixed flat to the body. It's also relatively low resolution at a mere 230k-dots - an indicator of where Sony has made cuts to hit the affordable price point.
Sony says the A3000 is designed to appeal to those who want to take better pictures and and step-up to a more sophisticated camera, emphasising that it will be a better performer than a compact camera or smartphone.
The Sony A3000 will cost around £370 and be available from September 2013.