Sony A6000 Review
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|Full model name:||Sony Alpha ILCE-A6000|
(23.5mm x 15.6mm)
|Viewfinder:||EVF / LCD|
|Native ISO:||100 - 25,600|
|Extended ISO:||100 - 51,200|
|Shutter:||1/4000 - 30 seconds|
|Max Aperture:||3.5 (kit lens)|
4.7 x 2.6 x 1.8 in.
(120 x 67 x 45 mm)
includes batteries, kit lens
|Full specs:||Sony A6000 specifications|
Not only does this high-res speed demon cram in plenty of desirable features, the Sony A6000 also shaves a couple of hundred dollars off its predecessor's price. That's the recipe for greatness, so it's no surprise this has been one of our most popular reviews in recent memory -- and now, it's finished! So what was our final verdict on this affordable, swift-shooting camera, and is it time you bought one for yourself? Read our in-depth Sony A6000 review, and see what we thought!Pros
Amazing image quality for the price; Blazing-fast hybrid autofocus; Swift burst shooting with generous buffer depths; Good battery life with LCD monitor; More compact than a DSLR; In-camera Wi-Fi wireless networkingCons
Continuous autofocus can't match its burst rate; High-ISO JPEGs can look overprocessed; Sluggish startup; No touch-screen display; Wi-Fi can be a bit frustrating to usePrice and availability
The Sony A6000 launched 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).Imaging Resource rating
5.0 out of 5.0
$499.33 (10% more)
16.3 MP (49% less)
Also has viewfinder
$1049.63 (57% more)
20.3 MP (20% less)
Also has viewfinder
$699.32 (36% more)
16.3 MP (49% less)
Also has viewfinder
Sony A6000 Review
Overview and Hands-on Preview by William Brawley
Field Test by Eamon Hickey
Preview posted: 02/11/2014
04/11/2014: Image Quality Comparison and Print Quality Analysis
04/25/2014: Field Test Part I: Getting Things Fixed and Heavenly Light
04/29/2014: Posted Test Results. See Optics, Image Quality, Flash, High ISO NR and Performance pages!
05/23/2014: Field Test Part II: Focusing on a world in motion
06/25/2014: Field Test Part III: Completing the picture
07/14/2014: Conclusion posted and review finalized!
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.
The A6000's AF speed is super fast, but can it handle 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.
Sony A6000 Image Quality Comparison
How does the A6000 stack up against the competition?
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, we compare the Sony A6000 with the Fujifilm X-M1, Nikon D5300, Panasonic GX7, Sony NEX-6 and Sony NEX-7 using our standard Still Life test target.
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 the Comparometer to compare the Sony A6000 to any camera we've ever tested.
See how the A6000 held up in our lab test comparison.
Sony A6000 Print Quality
Sometimes you just want to hold a print in your hand.
Print quality and image quality are similar but not identical, because what you see on a print isn't always the same as what you see on the screen. Our print quality analysis answers the important question: "Just how big can I print my photos at higher ISOs?"
Get the scoop on the A6000's print quality.
Sony A6000 Conclusion
The mirrorless for everyone?
The Sony Alpha 6000 arrived on the scene as the hotly anticipated successor to the NEX-6 (and possibly the higher-end NEX-7, as well), and it boasts a raft of upgrades and refinements. Chief among them are a new 24-megapixel sensor and a much improved hybrid CDAF/PDAF autofocus system.
The A6000 bears a close family resemblance to the NEX-6 and NEX-7. While not made to quite the premium standard of the NEX-7, it still feels solid with a high quality fit and finish. Although it's not the smallest mirrorless interchangeable-lens camera, we found the A6000 to be nicely compact and portable -- easily carried in a jacket pocket with its slim kit lens. Like its predecessors, the A6000 features both a tilting rear LCD and an electronic viewfinder (EVF), and we love the viewing and composing versatility this provides, indoors and out.
Happily, Sony has made major improvements in the usability of the Alpha A6000 compared to previous NEX cameras. There's a new, much more efficient menu system and -- finally! -- the ability to memorize and recall banks of user settings. Several important shooting functions are now much more directly accessible, including exposure compensation and toggling between autofocus and manual focus. In short, for mid-level and advanced photographers, the usability of the A6000 is now on par with other good advanced cameras.
Click here to read our final verdict on the Sony A6000!