Sony A6000 Optics


Below are the results of our optical tests with the Sony A6000 and the bundled Sony E PZ 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS kit lens. The test images shown on most other pages of these test results were taken with very sharp references lenses, so we use this page to explore kit lens performance.

Kit Lens Test Results

Optical Zoom
A typical zoom ratio of ~3.1x for a kit lens, with decent performance.

[email protected]/8 [email protected]/8
[email protected]/8 2x Clear Image Digital Zoom

The Sony A6000 is available bundled with the PZ 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 OSS E-mount "kit" lens. This lens possesses a typical optical zoom ratio for a kit lens of about 3.1x with a 35mm-equivalent focal range of about 24-75mm.

Sharpness and contrast at full wide angle (16mm) are decent at f/8 over most of the frame, and chromatic aberration isn't an issue (the camera suppresses), however some flare is slightly visible around the building's white surfaces. It's difficult to judge corner performance here because of the depth in this scene so we'll do that in more detail below, but extreme corners are soft at f/8. At medium focal length (32mm), the lens performs quite well at f/8 with good sharpness and contrast, though some corner softness can still be seen. At full telephoto (50mm), overall performance is quite good with very good sharpness in the center and only minor softness in the extreme corners.

The Sony A6000's 2x Clear Image digital zoom actually worked fairly well, better than just standard digital zoom (which goes up to 4x), but still produces some loss in fine detail, as well as some interpolation artifacts and more visible noise.

See sections below for comments on macro performance, geometric distortion, corner softness, performance wide open, chromatic aberration, etc.

Macro
Slightly larger than average minimum coverage area, with good detail. Flash throttled down well.

Macro with 16-50mm
kit lens ([email protected]/8)
Macro with Flash

As with zoom performance, the Sony A6000's macro performance will depend entirely on the lens mounted. However with the E-mount 16-50mm kit lens set to 50mm, the A6000 captures a minimum area measuring 3.62 x 2.41 inches (92 x 61 millimeters), which is slightly larger than average for a kit lens. Sharpness is quite good in the center at f/8, though the corners and edges of the frame are softer. (Most lenses have some softening in the corners at macro distances.) Some corner shading is also noticeable. The flash did a very good job throttling down at minimum distance, resulting in a good exposure. The flash also had no trouble clearing the lens as there is no detectable shadow, though coverage is slightly uneven and narrow.

Geometric Distortion
Much lower than average geometric distortion at wide angle and telephoto in JPEGs, but the A6000 always applies distortion correction to JPEGs when the 16-50mm kit lens is mounted.

Barrel distortion at 16mm is ~0.2 percent
Pincushion distortion at 50mm is negligible

In-camera JPEGs taken with 16-50mm kit lens show only about 0.2 percent complex barrel distortion at wide angle, which is much lower than average and only slightly noticeable. At the telephoto end, there's hardly a pixel's worth of pincushion distortion. This is the tendency for the lens to bend straight lines outward (like a barrel -- usually at wide-angle) or inward (like a pincushion -- usually at telephoto).

Chromatic Aberration, Corner Sharpness & Vignetting
Low levels of C.A. (the camera suppresses it). The lens produces some soft corners.

Aperture: maximum
[email protected]/3.5: Lower left
C.A.: Low
Softness: Quite soft
[email protected]/3.5: Center
C.A.: Very low
Softness: Sharp
[email protected]/5.6: Upper left
C.A.: Moderately low
Softness: Fairly sharp, but hazy
[email protected]/5.6: Center
C.A.: Low
Softness: Fairly sharp

Chromatic Aberration. Chromatic aberration in the corners with the A6000's 16-50mm kit lens at wide angle (16mm) is fairly low, and the center of the image shows very little C.A. The camera does a pretty good job at suppressing much of the lateral C.A. produced by the lens (see below). At full telephoto (50mm), C.A. is moderately low in the corners, though the center shows a bit more than at wide angle (possibly the result of a slight focus difference), however it's still quite low.

Corner Softness. Wide open at full wide angle, the 16-50mm lens that came with our A6000 is soft in all four corners, with the bottom left being the softest. Some softness extends fairly deep into the frame, however the center is quite sharp and contrasty. At full telephoto, resolution in the corners is actually pretty good, but they suffer from reduced contrast and haze which makes them look a bit soft. Contrast improves as you move toward the center, which is fairly sharp.

Vignetting. Moderate vignetting (corner shading) is noticeable at full wide angle, as indicated by the darker corner crop. Vignetting is not as noticeable at full telephoto.

Aperture: f/8
[email protected]/8: Lower left
C.A.: Low
Softness: Soft
[email protected]/8: Center
C.A.: Very low
Softness: Sharp
[email protected]/8: Upper left
C.A.: Low
Softness: Minor blurring
[email protected]/8: Center
C.A.: Very low
Softness: Sharp

F8. "Stopped-down" to f/8, some corners got a little sharper while others got softer at wide angle, but in general they are still on the soft side, while the center remained sharp. At full telephoto, corner sharpness and especially contrast improved compared to f/5.6, and the center became sharp. Chromatic aberration and vignetting also improved.

Lens Corrections

The Sony A6000 includes the ability to automatically compensate for geometric distortion, chromatic aberration, and lens shading (vignetting), as images are captured.

Geometric Distortion

Uncorrected barrel distortion at 16mm is ~3.1 percent
Pincushion distortion at 50mm is ~0.3 percent

Above, you can see the uncorrected geometric distortion from the 16-50mm kit lens is very high at wide angle, with about 3.1% barrel distortion. Very high barrel distortion at wide angle is common for Micro Four Thirds lenses, but the 16-50mm is the first E-mount lens we've seen with it this high, and the amount of correction required explains some of the corner softness we see at wide angle. At the telephoto end, pincushion is fairly low at 0.3%, but still higher than the corrected JPEG image.

The default Distortion Correction setting is normally Off for the A6000, but is forced to Auto when the 16-50mm lens is mounted, so we used RawDigger to convert the RAW file without corrections applied. Thus, like most Micro Four Thirds lenses, it appears that Sony designed this lens with higher geometric distortion at wide angle to make it more compact, and is correcting it in firmware.

Chromatic Aberration

CA Correction Auto CA Correction Off
[email protected]/3.5: Upper left
C.A.: Low
[email protected]/3.5: Upper left
C.A.: High and bright
[email protected]/5.6: Upper left
C.A.: Very low
[email protected]/5.6: Upper left
C.A.: Very low

Above, you can see fairly high and bright lateral chromatic aberration at wide angle with Chromatic Aberration Compensation disabled, though the difference at telephoto is minimal because C.A. is low at telephoto to begin with. The default for this setting is Auto.

Lens Shading

[email protected]/3.5 [email protected]/5.6
Lens Shading Correction: Off

Mouse-over the links above to see the difference Lens Shading Compensation makes when wide open (the worst-case scenario for most lenses). As you can see, particularly at wide angle, corners are brightened without affecting brightness in the center when enabled, though some fall-off is still left behind in the corrected images. The default setting is also Auto. Please note that like other Sony models, the A6000 "bakes" shading correction into RAW files, so be sure to turn Lens Shading Compensation off if you plan to correct your RAW files in a converter or editor.

Overall, not a bad performance for an inexpensive kit lens. It's a good start and a great value when bought as part of a kit, but to get the most out of the Sony A6000's 24-megapixel resolution, enthusiasts will likely want to invest in some better glass. See our full review of another copy of Sony E 16-50mm PZ lens on SLRgear.com.

 


Sony A6000 Viewfinder Accuracy

Viewfinder Test Results

Coverage
Excellent accuracy from the EVF and LCD monitor.

Click to see A3000hVFAO.JPG Click to see A3000hVFAL.JPG
EVF
LCD Monitor

The Sony A6000's electronic viewfinder and LCD monitor both show slightly over 100% coverage in record mode in our tests. This is excellent performance, though not a surprise given the image is derived from the main imaging sensor.

 

The images above were taken from our standardized test shots. For a collection of more pictorial photos, see our Sony Alpha ILCE-A6000 Photo Gallery .



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