|Sony α3000 with E-mount 18-55mm kit zoom (via 1001 noisy cameras)|
This is Sony's way of telling Canon's Rebel and Nikon's D3x00 class entry level DSLR cameras to go and take a hike. I have heard all the critics harp about how the E-mount lenses were too large for the NEX bodies, how using their APS-C sensor somehow doomed the highly innovative NEX cameras to a lingering death. And all those reports reporting how mirrorless was doomed in general.
I guess Sony decided if you can't beat them, join them. They took their box of NEX parts, mixed in a DSLR design body, and voilà! A highly affordable faux DSLR look-alike with key critical technologies, such as the hybrid focus sensor supporting phase detect as well as contrast detect auto focus, allowing for reasonably fast and accurate low light focus capture, as well as a respectable 20.1 MP resolution sensor, sitting it in between Canon (18MP) and Nikon (24MP). Yes, Nikon has a little more. But no-one will be able to tell the difference, especially the market group at which this particular camera is aimed at.
What Sony has produced is one of the world's smallest DSLR-alike cameras, profoundly challenging even the Canon 100D in size as well as every µ4:3rds DSLR-like camera from Panasonic (primarily) and Olympus, and even Samsung. What Sony has produced shows the true strength of mirrorless, particularly in new designs. The price of this kit system is remarkably low because it has none of the mirror and pentamirror crap that Canon and Nikon put in their entry-level DSLRs. Instead of looking down a small, dark tunnel with Canon and Nikon you can look into a bright EVF with the Sony, which is going to make a lot of new owners happy. What's more, you'll see a full 100% because you'll see what the sensor is seeing. With Canon and Nikon, the view is truncated (usually around 95%), which for a small sensor is a waste. Yes, seeing 100% truly matters.
I have a feeling that this is Sony's direction now with entry-level DSLR-alike cameras. The A-mount entry levels will go the way of all flesh, with the E-mount being used to fill those slots. The A-mount will evolve on its own (probably dropping the mirror and pentaprism as well) and be repositioned as the high-end enthusiast to professional offerings. It would make a lot more product sense if APS-C were the complete domain of NEX cameras, while A-mount (a.k.a. Minolta) would evolve back to essentially its roots as a 135mm (a.k.a. "full frame 35mm") digital system. And I could see Sony producing a low-end 135mm sensor A-mount system to slot where the α77 currently sits, say for around $1,500, body only. Wouldn't that tie a knot in Canon's and Nikon's fanny? Sony could pull that off if they produced a pure mirrorless solution in A-mount, where the mirror box and pentaprism are replaced with a PDAF sensor and built-in EVF.
It will be interesting to see where Sony goes with this particular line of cameras. Very, very interesting...