Sony A6000 Review

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Basic Specifications
Full model name: Sony Alpha ILCE-A6000
Resolution: 24.30 Megapixels
Sensor size: APS-C
Kit Lens: 3.13x zoom
(24-75mm eq.)
Viewfinder: EVF / LCD
ISO: 100-25600
Shutter: 30-1/4000
Max Aperture: 3.5
Dimensions: 4.7 x 2.6 x 1.8 in.
(120 x 67 x 45 mm)
Weight: 16.2 oz (460 g)
includes batteries, kit lens
MSRP: $800
Availability: 04/2014
Manufacturer: Sony
Sony E-mount APS-C
size sensor
image of Sony Alpha ILCE-A6000
Front side of Sony Alpha ILCE-A6000 digital camera Back side of Sony Alpha ILCE-A6000 digital camera Top side of Sony Alpha ILCE-A6000 digital camera Left side of Sony Alpha ILCE-A6000 digital camera Right side of Sony Alpha ILCE-A6000 digital camera

Sony A6000 Review -- Now Shooting


04/11/2014: Image Quality Comparison and Print Quality Analysis

Sony A6000 Review -- Beauty shot

The well-received Sony NEX-6 not only gets refreshed with the NEX "de-branding" we expected, but also upgraded with some very significant performance enhancements in the new Sony Alpha 6000 (from here on out called the A6000). Looking like a blend of three cameras -- the NEX-6, NEX-7 and Alpha 7 -- the new A6000 sits squarely in Sony's compact system camera lineup aimed at step-up users, advanced hobbyists and enthusiasts looking for DSLR quality and performance in a much smaller, lighter package.

Although were not sure of the fate of the Sony NEX-7, for which users have been aching for an update, it seems all but replaced by the introduction of the Sony A7. However, for those who aren't ready to jump to full-frame or want a smaller, lighter camera and for a significantly lower price, the A6000 offers photographers a number of improvements, inside and out, over both the NEX-6 and NEX-7 that should satisfy users just stepping up to a more advanced camera as well as seasoned photographers demanding advanced performance and control.

Sony A6000 Review -- On hand

What's New. On the inside, the Sony A6000 features a big sensor upgrade over the NEX-6 with a newly developed 24.3-megapixel EXMOR APS HD CMOS sensor coupled with Sony's BIONZ X image processor which was borrowed from the A7/A7R lineup. This pairing increases the ISO range of 100-25,600 (up to 51,200 equivalent with Multi-Frame Noise Reduction and up to 12,800 for video), and the processor aims to increase detail and improve noise reduction performance as well as reduce the effects of diffraction when shooting at smaller apertures.

Not only does the A6000 aim for stellar image quality, but it also knocks the ball out of the park in terms of autofocus performance -- performance that Sony claims beats even mid-level DSLRs. Thanks to improvements to their Fast Hybrid AF system, the Sony A6000 is claimed to unseat the briefly-reigning king of AF, the Fujifilm X-T1 with its 0.08 sec AF speed, with the ability to autofocus in only 0.06 seconds! Sony says the A6000 also provides a performance boost for Fast Hybrid AF in movie recording.

Sony A6000 Review -- Front view

The Sony A6000 also has another trick up its proverbial sleeve that fans of fast action will enjoy: 11fps continuous shooting with AF tracking. This is a significant upgrade to the NEX-6's solid 10fps continuous shooting via the use of Speed Priority Continuous mode, which locked focus on the first frame of shooting. If your subject's distance moved at all, you may have been out of luck to get an in-focus shot during the burst.

Sony A6000 Review -- Right 3/4 view with flash deployed

The A6000 provides a significant increase in the AF coverage on the sensor for both contrast-detect and phase-detect AF compared to the NEX-6. Now, AF coverage spans approximately 91% of the height and 92% of the width of the sensor (up from 47% x 52% on the NEX-6). The sensor is nearly covered by AF points: there are now 179 phase-detect AF points within that coverage area as well as 25 contrast-detect points. This delivers tons of flexibility in composition by allowing you a lot of freedom to place the focus point where you need it.

The A6000 also features a variety of other AF enhancements such as lock-on AF for tracking moving subjects, Eye-AF for quick focusing on the subjects' eyes, as well as Flexible Spot AF with adjustable "spot" sizing.

Like the NEX-6, the new A6000 includes built-in Wi-Fi connectivity for use with Sony's PlayMemories Mobile app for iOS and Android devices. However, like Sony's other recent cameras, the A6000 also includes NFC support for quick and easy pairing of smartphones -- Android-only for the foreseeable future, however.

Hands-On: Design and Build. Users of the NEX-6 and NEX-7 should feel right at home with the new A6000, as Sony's kept with many of the same design concepts that advanced users enjoy such as the built-in EVF, Multi-Interface Shoe, pop-up flash, and a dedicated PASM mode dial.

Sony A6000 Review -- In hand

In the hand, the Sony A6000 feels noticeably chunkier and beefier than the NEX-6, though, it's actually a bit lighter at 285 grams compared to 287 grams (body-only). The A6000's solidness is very reminiscent of the Sony A7 and A7R with its more angular, sharp-edged design. In fact, the A6000 looks and feels like an A7 with the pentaprism-shaped EVF hump chopped off. The NEX-6 was comprised of a metal and polycarbonate plastic design, and the A6000 follows suit, however the new model feels more metallic, in a way, with a smooth, black paint job that lacks any sort of texture or speckled finish like the NEX-6.

Sony A6000 Review -- NEX-6 Comparison
The Sony Alpha 6000 (left) is closely resembles the Sony Alpha 7 (right) and 7R in terms of both exterior finish and styling as well as in size.

Looking at a side-by-side top-down comparison of the A6000 and the NEX-6, you can easily see that the A6000 is quite a bit thicker than its predecessor, however it's practically the same height and length, and therefore the sheer portability isn't really affected. With the Sony 16-50mm kit lens, it's a nice, lightweight and compact package with easy to reach controls and a rubberized covering on the handgrip.

Sony A6000 Review -- NEX-6 Comparison
Sony A6000 Review -- NEX-6 Comparison
The Sony Alpha 6000 (left) is noticeably thicker than the NEX-6 (right), but overall very similar in size and weight.

EVF & LCD. Like the NEX-6 before it, the Sony A6000 features a built-in EVF and tilting LCD screen. The specs for the EVF in the A6000, however, are different from its predecessor with a smaller, seemingly lower-resolution OLED display. Carrying the Tru-Finder branding, the 0.39-inch 1,440K-dot OLED EVF does looking noticeably smaller than the 0.5-inch 2,359K-dot OLED EVF of the NEX-6 on the outside.  

Sony A6000 Review -- back view

However, comparing the two side-by-side, the A6000's EVF is the clear winner as it produces much more accurate colors and easy to discern details. Both cameras' EVFs provide 100% coverage, but the A6000's offers slightly lower magnification at 1.07x versus 1.09x for the NEX-6. Still, the view inside the A6000's EVF is bright and large.

The LCD, however, is a holdover from the NEX-6, with a 3-inch tilting TFT LCD display with 921,600-dot resolution and similar angles of articulation (up 90-degrees, down 45-degrees), making it easier to take shots from difficult or awkward angles. The A6000 does provide peaking for critical focus as well as zebras overlays for over-exposed areas.


Sony A6000 Review --A7  menu Sony A6000 Review -- NEX-6  menu
Out with the new, in with the old. The icon-based main menu of the NEX-6 (right) has been replaced with a tabbed menu similar to the A7/R cameras (left).

Menus. With the Sony A6000, gone are the bright, colorful, icon- and scrolling-heavy menus of the NEX line of cameras. Instead, Sony's brought over the same user interface from the A7/R and RX-series cameras. Just like with the A7 line, the A6000 provides a simpler, easier-to-navigate menu system that features all the button, dial and on-screen "Quick Navi" configuration you could want -- to help you avoid digging into said menus while you're out shooting.

Sony A6000 Review -- Controls

Controls. Like we mentioned above, users of the NEX-6 and NEX-7 should feel right at home with the A6000's control layout. Particularly on the rear of the camera, the button layout is nearly identical to the NEX-6, but with the labeling scheme straight from the A7. The A6000 does add an additional custom function (C2) button at the lower right corner, and switches the playback button for the menu button.

Sony A6000 Review -- Controls

Also gone are the two unlabeled buttons that change function corresponding to on-screen options. They've now been replaced by a dedicated Function (Fn) button, which brings us a table of settings and options for quick adjustments, and the playback mode button.

The top dial controls display a hybrid of NEX-6 and NEX-7 designs. The full PASM dial is carried over from the NEX-6, with the inclusion of Memory Recall and Movie Mode options. This dial feels nice and stiff, and while it's not a locking mode dial, as we've seen introduced on more cameras lately, it doesn't feel as if it could be easily bumped and rotated unintentionally.

From the NEX-7, we have a secondary label-less dial that serves as the aperture control (by default), as well as a way to scroll through menus. This dial is easier to rotate than the mode dial -- as it should be -- but resists rotation enough to avoid an accidental light bump or brush. You can also customize the function of this dial to serve as the shutter speed adjustment, with the rear 4-way scroll dial on the back of the camera being used for aperture adjustment. (As expected, this dial serves as shutter control by default in Manual Exposure mode.)

HD Video Recording. The Sony A6000 features the same basic set of Full HD video recording features including 1,920 x 1,080 resolution video with both 60p and 24p frame rate options in AVCHD format along with lower resolutions in MP4 format, and provides support for full PASM exposure modes. The dedicated video recording button allows for motion picture capture in any exposure mode for quick, one-press video recording, although there is a dedicated Movie Mode.

Despite lots of advanced video recording amenities for the image side of things like focus peaking, zebras and an adjustable AF drive speed, there are only basic audio recording features. Like the NEX-6, audio levels are not adjustable nor is there a 3.5mm mic jack input for external microphones. NEX-6 users had the option of an external hot-shoe-mounted stereo mic (the Sony ECM-XYST1M), which includes adjustable recording directions, a low-cut filter, fuzzy windscreen cover and a mic-out jack for monitoring with headphones. There's no word yet if this microphone will work with the A6000, however. Videographers wanting more professional-level audio quality will hopefully have the option of going with the Sony external mic or they must resort to external audio recorders and synchronize the audio in post production.

Sony A6000 Review -- Battery

Power, Storage and Connectivity. Users upgrading from an NEX-series camera or looking to add the A6000 to their stable beside the A7/R will be pleased to hear that Sony has kept the same battery format for this new model. The NP-FW50 InfoLithium rechargeable battery pack is CIPA-rated to provide around 420 shots when using the LCD monitor, which is a significant improvement over the 360 shots the NEX-6 provided with LCD. Like its predecessor the Sony A6000's battery is charged in-camera via USB, with an AC adapter and USB cable provided in the bundle.

Sony A6000 Review -- Ports

As with previous Sony models, the A6000 uses a dual-format card slot that accepts both Secure Digital cards (SD, SDHC and SDXC) and MemoryStick cards (PRO Duo, Pro-HG Duo and PRO-HG HX Duo).

As mentioned above, the A6000 features both Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity for smart device pairing and control. For wired connection, the A6000 includes an HDMI connection (Micro HDMI, Type-D) -- which can provide clean HDMI output for video recording -- and a multi-use Micro USB port for file transfer or for use with remotes, like the optional Sony RM-VPR1 controller.

Also mentioned previously is the A6000's Multi Interface Shoe which not only supports standard flashes, it integrates 21 additional pins for adding accessories to the camera, however we don't have a list of compatible accessories yet.

Sony A6000 Review -- Silver version

Pricing and Availability. The Sony A6000 looks to be a stellar upgrade to not only the NEX-6, but also the NEX-7 with its high-resolution 24.3MP sensor, blazingly-fast AF and much-improved burst shooting with AF tracking. The A6000 is set to launch in April 2014 in both a kit configuration with the Sony 16-50mm Power Zoom lens for around US$800, and as a body-only option for around US$650, in both an all-black color and a silver version (with corresponding silver 16-50 kit lens).

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Sony A6000 -- Image Quality Comparison

Sony has made it clear that the A6000 is their logical successor to the popular NEX-6, but they equipped it with a 24-megapixel sensor similar to the NEX-7, and have yet to announce whether or not that model will get a successor, so we've included both cameras here for direct comparison. We also included two worthy APS-C sensored cameras and one highly popular Micro Four Thirds model, the Panasonic GX7.

Thus, below are our Still Life test target crops comparing the Sony A6000 to the Fujifilm X-M1, Nikon D5300, Panasonic GX7, Sony NEX-6 and Sony NEX-7.

NOTE: These images are best quality JPEGs straight out of the camera, at default settings including noise reduction and using the camera's actual base ISO (not extended ISO settings). All cameras in this comparison were shot with our very sharp reference lenses. Clicking any crop will take you to a carrier page where you can click once again to access the full resolution image as delivered straight from the camera. And remember, you can always go to our world-renowned Comparometer to compare the Sony A6000 to any camera we've ever tested.

Sony A6000 versus Fujifilm X-M1 at base ISO

Sony A6000 at ISO 100
Fujifilm X-M1 at ISO 200

The increased resolution of the A6000's 24 megapixels certainly helps in comparison to the X-M1's 16, but it's also interesting to note how poorly the X-M1 handles the fabric swatches in comparison here at base ISO, losing a lot of contrast in the red and fine detail in the pink, while the A6000 delivers crisp detail in the fabrics as well as the mosaic tiles crop.

Sony A6000 versus Nikon D5300 at ISO 100

Sony A6000 at ISO 100
Nikon D5300 at ISO 100

At identical resolutions, these turn in similar performances here at base ISO, with the A6000 taking a slight nod for nice detail in the pink fabric, which the D5300 seems to miss a bit. The D5300 also shows a touch of moiré in the red-leaf swatch which isn't evident from the A6000.

Sony A6000 versus Panasonic GX7 at base ISO

Sony A6000 at ISO 100
Panasonic GX7 at ISO 200

The GX7 has the only Four Thirds sensor of the bunch here, and combined with its lower resolution of 16 mp, it can't quite compete at base ISO with the A6000 for fine detail and sharpness, taking a noticeable backseat in most of the target crop areas.

Sony A6000 versus Sony NEX-6 at ISO 100

Sony A6000 at ISO 100
Sony NEX-6 at ISO 100

Ah, we finally get to the heart of the matter, as the NEX-6 is the predecessor in the line to the A6000 despite having 8 more megapixels than the NEX-6. Other than the obvious difference in size when viewed at 100% though, the NEX-6 looks surprisingly good here. The A6000 is better in the pink fabric, but the NEX-6 looks great in most all other areas and holds its own.

Sony A6000 versus Sony NEX-7 at ISO 100

Sony A6000 at ISO 100
Sony NEX-7 at ISO 100

Another interesting comparison, as the NEX-7 is the flagship of this storied line, and from these comparisons you can certainly see why. There's better clarity and crispness from the NEX-7 in the first two crops, and slightly better reproduction of the difficult red fabric swatch. The A6000 does take the nod in the pink fabric swatch, but a slight nod to the NEX-7 all around. It will be interesting to see what happens below as ISO rises.


ISO 1600 has become a much more prominent low light setting over the past few years as cameras have gotten better at dealing with noise reduction and other contributing factors, so these should prove particularly useful.

Sony A6000 versus Fujifilm X-M1 at ISO 1600

Sony A6000 at ISO 1600
Fujifilm X-M1 at ISO 1600

Fairly similar results here, with the X-M1 doing a good job at retaining clarity in the mosaic tiles of the bottle label, but losing contrast in the red fabric, and not doing a good job with the pink fabric.

Sony A6000 versus Nikon D5300 at ISO 1600

Sony A6000 at ISO 1600
Nikon D5300 at ISO 1600

The D5300 introduces quite a bit of grainy noise here, which could be OK for a film grain type look, but in general the A6000 images are preferable with lower noise and better clarity, though they do have a more "processed" look.

Sony A6000 versus Panasonic GX7 at ISO 1600

Sony A6000 at ISO 1600
Panasonic GX7 at ISO 1600

The smaller sensor of the GX7 starts to take its toll here, and displays more apparent noise and less clarity in finer detailed areas than the A6000, as well as beginning to entirely lose all detail in the red fabric swatch.

Sony A6000 versus Sony NEX-6 at ISO 1600

Sony A6000 at ISO 1600
Sony NEX-6 at ISO 1600

The NEX-6 does a remarkable job handling noise here in comparison, being a full generation older. It's a close call between these two here, though the A6000's higher resolution is still evident.

Sony A6000 versus Sony NEX-7 at ISO 1600

Sony A6000 at ISO 1600
Sony NEX-7 at ISO 1600

The NEX-7 shows its mettle here, and stands up quite well given it's from 2011. The A6000 performs slightly better in a few areas like the pink fabric swatch, but the NEX-7 takes the nod with better clarity in the mosaic tile area.

ISO 3200 was once a bit on the high side for APS-C cameras, but that's beginning to change these days, so it merits close examination.

Sony A6000 versus Fujifilm X-M1 at ISO 3200

Sony A6000 at ISO 3200
Fujifilm X-M1 at ISO 3200

Similar results on display here, with both cameras performing fairly well for this sensitivity. A nod to the A6000 for being slightly crisper, but the Fuji generally looks more refined.

Sony A6000 versus Nikon D5300 at ISO 3200

Sony A6000 at ISO 3200
Nikon D5300 at ISO 3200

As with ISO 1600, fine grain noise in the D5300 yields a film grain effect. This may be usable in some situations, but not something you'd likely want every time. On the other hand, you can tell the Sony is working hard to produce a smoother looking image.

Sony A6000 versus Panasonic GX7 at ISO 3200

Sony A6000 at ISO 3200
Panasonic GX7 at ISO 3200

We've yet to see a Four Thirds sensor handle ISO 3200 as well as most APS-C sensors, and the GX7 is no exception. As a general rule, it's best to keep MFT cameras at ISO 1600 and below, at least for larger prints.

Sony A6000 versus Sony NEX-6 at ISO 3200

Sony A6000 at ISO 3200
Sony NEX-6 at ISO 3200

Once again the NEX-6 holds its own against its successor the A6000, even performing slightly better in the red swatch, though not quite as well in the pink swatch. If you're an NEX-6 owner hoping for vastly improved low light performance, you're not likely to find it with the A6000, although it has certainly improved in other areas like autofocus times.

Sony A6000 versus Sony NEX-7 at ISO 3200

Sony A6000 at ISO 3200
Sony NEX-7 at ISO 3200

Another close match here. Each are slightly better in certain areas, but a close race overall. With the A6000 being priced lower than the NEX-7, at least you know you're getting flagship quality at mid-level prices.


Detail: Sony A6000 vs. Fujifilm X-M1, Nikon D5300, Panasonic GX7, Sony NEX-6 and Sony NEX-7


ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400

ISO 200
ISO 3200
ISO 6400

ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400

ISO 200
ISO 3200
ISO 6400

ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400

ISO 100
ISO 3200
ISO 6400
Detail comparison. This is where the Sony A6000 shines the brightest in the image quality department, at wielding fine, high-contrast detail. It is superior to all but the D5300 at base ISO for incredible sharpness, and easily bests all the competition at ISO 3200 and 6400. Shooters of imagery requiring fine, high-contrast detail will certainly want to take note here.


Sony A6000 Review -- Print Quality

Excellent 30 x 40 inch prints at ISO 100/200; a nice 16 x 20 at ISO 1600; and a good 5 x 7 at ISO 12,800.

ISOs 100 and 200 deliver excellent 30 x 40 inch prints with superb detail, contrast and color. Wall display prints look great up to a whopping 40 x 60 inches.

ISO 400 prints are quite good at 24 x 36 inches, again showing nice detail with the exception of typical softening in our difficult red swatch. Wall display prints are possible here up to 36 x 48 inches.

ISO 800 images look good at 16 x 20 inches. 20 x 30s aren't bad, and are definitely usable for less critical applications, but are a bit on the soft side to merit our "good" print standard.

ISO 1600 yields a good 16 x 20 inch print as well. There is a hint of luminance noise in flatter areas, but it's not bad at all. This is a great size to achieve at ISO 1600.

ISO 3200 prints a similar 13 x 19 as the 16 x 20 at ISO 1600, with only minor noise in the shadows behind our test target.

ISO 6400 is where the A6000 starts to show strain from noise processing, requiring a reduction in print size to 8 x 10 for a good overall print.

ISO 12,800 makes a nice 5 x 7 inch print, which is still a capable feat at this ISO.

ISO 25,600 prints a nice 4 x 6, which good color reproduction for such a high ISO.

The Sony A6000 succeeds the popular NEX-6 but sports a sensor with 24-megapixel resolution in line with the flagship NEX-7. This resolution bump allows for excellent 30 x 40 inch prints at the lowest ISOs, something not achievable with sensors in the 16mp range due to the actual pixels becoming apparent beyond 24 x 36 inch prints. It also slightly outperforms the NEX-6 at ISO 400, but after that the recommended max print sizes are the same from ISO 800 through the rest of the range to ISO 25,600, indicating not much in the way of improvement in high ISO shooting performance over the NEX-6. However, two thumbs up to Sony for the ability to yet again achieve a good print at the highest ISO setting, as this is something not all manufacturers can claim due to the over-marketing of a camera's high-ISO capabilities (but we're not complaining because this is one of the reasons you count on us!).


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