Sony A6000 Conclusion

Pro: Con:
  • Amazing amount of quality for the price
  • Crisp JPEG images with few sharpening artifacts at low ISOs
  • Excellent high ISO performance (from RAW) for a 24MP APS-C sensor
  • Very good dynamic range
  • Very high resolution
  • Increased ISO range
  • Blazing fast Hybrid AF
  • 179 phase-detect points covering ~84% of the frame (91% height and 92% width)
  • Very low shutter lag
  • 11fps full-res burst mode with continuous AF
  • Generous buffer depths
  • Compact kit lens
  • Useful and fun multi-shot modes
  • DRO helps with high-contrast scenes
  • Good battery life with LCD (so-so with EVF)
  • Multi Interface hot shoe
  • Electronic first curtain shutter option
  • Focus peaking and Zebra patterns
  • Sharp, built-in EVF
  • Tiling high-res LCD
  • Built-in Wi-Fi with NFC
  • Full HD videos at up 60p with stereo audio (but see video related Cons)
  • Supports remote control via infrared, cable or Wi-Fi
  • Improved UI
  • Solves most issues found in its predecessor the NEX-6
  • Good control over settings in movie mode
  • Dual media (SD/MS Duo) card slot
  • Convenient in-camera charging via USB
  • Sluggish startup
  • Soft corners from the kit lens at wide angle
  • Kit lens produces strong barrel distortion and C.A. at wide angle in uncorrected images
  • Larger than average minimum macro area
  • Default chroma noise reduction is a little heavy-handed
  • Revised area-specific noise reduction can make high ISO JPEGs look "overprocessed"
  • Fairly weak internal flash with narrow coverage
  • Slow X-Sync speed (1/160s)
  • LCD is not a touchscreen
  • Continuous AF does not keep up with fast moving subjects at 11fps, but AF tracking is still better than most cameras in this price range
  • Wi-Fi connectivity a bit disappointing and somewhat difficult to use (at least with an iPhone 5)
  • Limited video recording time due to thermal overheat, particularly in 60p mode
  • No standard microphone jack (but can use Sony's proprietary external mic in Multi Interface shoe)

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.

Perhaps the biggest advance in the Sony A6000 is its improved Fast Hybrid AF system. It boasts 179 phase-detect and 25 contrast-detect AF points, which together cover upwards of 90% of the full height and width of the frame. The camera focuses nearly instantaneously on stationary subjects and does a good job following moving subjects and sports action. While the system functions at 11 frames-per-second, we consistently got about 4-6 sharp frames-per-second in our test shoots of runners, bicycling, soccer, football, and more.

As we expect from Sony, the Alpha 6000 offers excellent movie recording features, including unusually extensive control over exposure parameters as well as good AF in movie mode. We were less impressed with the camera's Wi-Fi connectivity features and its PlayMemories apps, which are not well explained and which don't work anywhere near as seamlessly as we've come to expect from our lowly smartphone cameras.

All told, the Sony A6000 is a very versatile mid-level to advanced camera, able to handle everything from high-resolution landscape shooting to family vacations and fast-moving sports. It's easy to carry, a strong performer, a pleasure to use, and, best of all, at around US$800 with a lens, it's a pretty fantastic value.

You bet it's a bona fide Dave's Pick.

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In our most recent Best Mirrorless Camera for Under $1,000 article, we chose the Sony A6000 as one of our top picks. At the time it was on an incredible sale, but even at list it's a fantastic choice. Read the article now to see how it compares in the 'under $1,000' bracket. We also featured the A6000 in a primer for capturing good indoor sports shots on a budget. Click here to see how it fared!

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