Sony A6000 Field Test
Sony A6000 Field Tests
Sony A6000 Field Test Part I
Getting Things Fixed and Heavenly Light
When I reviewed the Sony NEX-6 last year, I liked a lot of things about its performance and image quality, but I had some pointed criticisms of its usability. Those usability faults were important enough to me that when I decided to buy a mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera a few months later, I left the NEX-6 off my shopping list. I ended up buying its older brother, a Sony NEX-7, which I've used with reasonable happiness for the last six months or so.
Now comes the Sony Alpha 6000 to my doorstep, and the first question I had was: did Sony fix what I thought was broken in the NEX-6? I'll tackle that issue in this first installment of my shooter's report, and then explore the camera's performance upgrades in later installments.
The fixes. My Sony A6000 came with a standard kit lens, the E PZ 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS. I also got the new FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS lens, which I'll put through its paces in later installments. I've taken them on walks in the New York Botanical Garden, in Washington Square Park, and along the shore of Eastchester Bay.
One of my major complaints about the NEX-6 was that it did not allow you to separate autofocus activation from the shutter-release button. In fact, this by itself disqualified the NEX-6 from my shopping list last year.
Read on to find out about the changes and improvements to the Sony A6000.
Sony A6000 Field Test Part II
Focusing on a world in motion
In this shooter's report installment I'll backtrack a little and talk about the Sony A6000's feel and handling, and then move on to a deeper discussion and real world testing of the highly touted AF performance.
Handling. When I first unpacked the Sony Alpha 6000, it felt immediately familiar. To me, its shape, size, and weight seem similar to the NEX-6 and NEX-7. That's also true of the way it feels in my hand, and that's a good thing. I find all three models very easy to hold securely, even with just a couple of fingers. I've now carried the A6000 for more than 15 hours on 12 different outings, and I have no complaints at all about its portability and comfort. As we noted above, it feels reasonably solid, but I felt a little cautious about torquing it too much when the large Sony FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS lens was mounted. [Note: Image comparisons beside the NEX-6 can be seen in our A6000 overview.]
In my first hour with the Sony Alpha 6000, I spent a fair bit of time checking out the buttons, dials, and menus. The control placement works very well for me. I can quite easily reach the AEL button (which I use for autofocus) and both control dials with my thumb, and the custom and function buttons are also readily accessible, meaning I can make fast settings changes. We mentioned the new menu system in our overview, and I'll just add that it's as big an improvement in use as you would hope. I'd give a lot to get my NEX-7 updated to the new menu layout.
Is the Sony A6000 the best mirrorless camera for action sports? Read on to find out.
Sony A6000 Field Test Part III
Completing the picture
Performance (other than AF). I spent a lot of time talking about autofocus performance in Part 2 of this report, but I wanted to add a few thoughts on the overall performance of the Sony A6000. The slow-ish wake-from-sleep time that I already mentioned has continued to annoy me a little, but it's something you can mostly learn to work around. In all my normal shooting with the camera, performance has otherwise been crisp -- controls respond immediately; there's practically no shot-to-shot delay; scrolling through menus or reviewing images is fast.
There is, however, one modest fly in the ointment: when the A6000's buffer fills up, it can take a long while to clear. And until it does, burst rate is greatly reduced and many of the camera's features are inaccessible. I ran into this a lot when shooting my long AF test bursts, especially when shooting in raw format. When I hit the buffer limit, I could still change certain settings like shutter speed and aperture, but I had to wait as long as a minute before I could access the menus. I was using a Class 10 SDHC card rated at only 15MB/s for writes, though. A faster one should reduce this time considerably, so buy the fastest card you can afford.
Read Field Test Part III for additional thoughts on real-world performance and handling.
Buy the Sony A6000
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