Sony A6600 Review
|Full model name:||Sony Alpha ILCE-A6600|
(23.5mm x 15.6mm)
|Viewfinder:||EVF / LCD|
|Native ISO:||100 - 32,000|
|Extended ISO:||50 - 102,400|
|Shutter:||1/4000 - 30 sec|
4.7 x 2.6 x 2.7 in.
(120 x 67 x 69 mm)
includes batteries, kit lens
|Full specs:||Sony A6600 specifications|
Sony A6600 Review -- Hands-On Preview
08/30/2019: Gallery Images added
Sony has long been saying that they will continue to support their APS-C mirrorless cameras and at an event last week in New York City, the company showcased their commitment to the format. Sony announced two new APS-C cameras, including the flagship A6600 camera. Plus, a pair of new APS-C lenses, a 16-55mm f/2.8 standard zoom and a 70-350mm telephoto zoom lens, were also announced.
The Sony A6600 blends many aspects of the Sony A6400 and A6500 cameras while also adding some new features. At the core of its imaging pipeline, the A6600 includes a 24.2-megapixel CMOS image sensor and Sony's latest Bionz X image processor. This allows for improved image processing, speed and overall performance. The A6600 also incorporates Sony's latest real-time eye AF and real-time tracking autofocus features. Let's take a closer look at the A6600 and see what it offers.
Key Features and Specs
- Sony's new flagship APS-C E-mount mirrorless camera
- Weather-resistant construction
- Improved ergonomics, including a larger front grip
- Tilting 3-inch touchscreen
- XGA OLED electronic viewfinder
- 24.2-megapixel Exmor CMOS APS-C image sensor
- Latest-generation Bionz X image processor
- 14-bit raw file output
- Native ISO range of 100-32,000
- Extended ISO range of 50-102,400
- Up to 11 frames per second continuous shooting
- Hybrid autofocus system
- 425 phase-detect autofocus points covering around 84 percent of the image area
- Real-time eye-AF and real-time AF tracking
- 4K/30p video recording with eye-AF, HLD HDR recording and more
- 5-axis image stabilization
- Built-in microphone and headphone jacks
- High-capacity Z battery for up to 2.2x more battery life than A6500
Camera Body and Design: Weather-resistant camera body with improved ergonomics
As Sony's flagship APS-C camera, the A6600 offers quite a few physical controls and customizable buttons. While it may look very similar to the A6400 and A6500, the new A6600 does add a fourth custom button to the camera body. Further, it offers improved ergonomics via a larger front grip. Having gone hands-on with the A6600 in New York, the front grip does feel better and more comfortable.
The Sony A6600 in-hand mounted with the new E 16-55mm f/2.8 G zoom lens.
On the top of the camera, there are a pair of custom buttons, a dedicated mode dial (with two custom mode slots) and a rear command dial. There is no front command dial, so when shooting in manual mode, the rear control wheel acts as a command dial in conjunction with the traditional dial above the thumb grip. The A6600 has Sony's Multi Interface hot shoe on the top as well, but it does not include the digital audio interface found on the A7R Mark IV. Notice that the A6600 no longer has a built-in flash, a first for Sony's 6000-series.
The rear of the camera looks quite similar to the A6400 and A6500, including a variety of buttons, control dial and select button. The 3-inch touchscreen, which has only 921k dots, has an increased tilting range. It tilts 180 degrees upward and 74 degrees downward. Like prior tilting Sony displays, the A6600's display does not tilt to the side. When using it as a selfie display, there is a slight bit of the display which is obscured by the top plate of the camera, but it's a very small portion of the screen. As for the viewfinder, it is an XGA OLED EVF with 2.36M dots and 0.7x magnification.
The A6600 is dust- and moisture-resistant, and the top cover, front cover, internal frame and rear cover are all constructed using lightweight magnesium alloy. In total, the A6600 weighs 1.11 pounds (503 grams) with the larger Z battery inserted (more on that later) and with an SD memory card. The A6600 has a single SD/MSDuo card slot, which supports UHS-I. The camera is 4.72 inches (120 millimeters) wide, 2.63 in. (66.9mm) tall and has a maximum depth of 2.73 in. (69.3mm). In terms of shutter reliability, Sony states that the A6600's shutter is rated for 200,000 cycles.
Image Sensor and Shooting Features: 24.2-megapixel APS-S sensor with improved processing
While the A6600's 24.2-megapixel APS-C Exmor CMOS image sensor is not new, with their latest Bionz X image processor and additional improvements, the sensor behaves a bit differently in the A6600. For starters, the native ISO range is now 100-32,000, whereas the A6500's native range topped out at ISO 25,600. Further, the A6600 processes images in 16-bit before outputting a final 14-bit raw file, which Sony states results in improved texture detail, shadow detail and tonal gradation. The image processor and improved LSI were first seen in the Sony A9, so it's interesting to see how Sony's latest and greatest tech improvements trickle down to their more affordable, and in this case smaller-sensored, cameras.
In terms of additional shooting features, the A6600 retains its predecessors' same 1/160s maximum flash sync. The camera also includes touch focus and touch shutter functionality. For stabilization, the A6600 includes SteadyShot Inside 5-axis in-body image stabilization, a feature present in the A6500 but missing from the A6400. The stabilization is rated for up to five stops of shake correction. When you are using an OSS-equipped lens, the lens handles two axes of correction while the camera corrects shake on the other three.
The A6600 now includes a built-in intervalometer, but it drops Sony's in-camera Sweep Panorama support.
Autofocus and Performance: Real-time tracking, 84 percent frame coverage and more
The Sony A6600 is built around the concept of speed and that is evident when considering the camera's autofocus and overall performance. The A6600 utilizes a 4D Focus hybrid autofocus system, which incorporates 425 phase-detect autofocus points and 425 contrast-detect AF points. Further, the autofocus points cover about 84 percent of the image area, which should make it easier to track moving subjects throughout the frame. With its Fast Hybrid AF, Sony claims that the A6600 can achieve focus in as little as 0.02 seconds. When shooting in low light, the A6600 is rated to focus from around -2 EV to 20 EV (ISO 100 at f/2.0), so it should prove fairly capable in low light.
It is not purely about specs when thinking about autofocus, features matter too. The A6600 includes persistent real-time tracking and real-time eye AF. In addition to the usual eye AF for humans, you can also enable eye AF for animals in the camera's menus, which is designed for photographing typical pets, like dogs and cats, but can work for some wildlife as well. The camera also allows you to select between prioritizing the left or right eye.
Turning our attention toward continuous shooting performance, powered by the latest-generation Bionz X image processor, the A6600 is about 1.9 times faster at processing data than the A6500. The A6600, like the A6XXX series cameras, can shoot at up to 11 frames per second continuously with full AF/AE. At this continuous high shooting mode, the camera does not offer live view, but instead shows the most recently-shot image. If you'd like a real-time viewfinder, you can slow the camera down to 8 frames per second.
In terms of buffer depths, Sony rates the camera for 46 raw images at 11 fps and 116 JPEG images before the buffer fills, but we will verify these specs in our lab testing. With respect to the camera's operability while writing to the card, which has long been a sore spot with Sony cameras, the A6600 promises improved performance here, although during our hands-on time with the camera there were still some issues, which we will investigate further when we get extended time with the camera.
Video Features: 4K UHD video, HDR support, slow and quick motion recording and more
The A6600 includes quite a few video features for its class, including 4K/30p video recording plus support for HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) video. The camera's 4K UHD video recording derives from a 6K oversampled recording for improved quality. The A6600 can record at up to 100 Mbps bit rates in the XAVC S format. Internal video is recorded at 4:2:0, although 4:2:2 video recording is possible via clean HDMI output.
In terms of high speed video recording, the A6600 can record Full HD video at up to 120 frames per second and also includes a "Slow & Quick Motion" mode. This allows the user to capture Full HD video at 24, 30 or 60 fps but change the playback speed ranging from 1 frame per second to 120 fps, which results in up to a 60x quick motion effect or down to a 5x slow motion effect.
When considering features, the A6600 includes both microphone and headphone jacks, a first for Sony's A6XXX series. Further, the camera includes real-time tracking and real-time eye AF during video recording. For customizing the autofocus performance, the user can adjust the AF drive speed and AF tracking sensitivity for recording video. The A6600 includes focus peaking, time code, user bit (user-selectable data, such as date, time and scene number, which helps when editing video from multiple cameras) and zebra functionality as well, which should please more serious video users.
Ports and Power: Larger battery offers much improved battery life
The A6600 includes a single SD/MSDuo card slot, which supports UHS-I rather than UHS-II. In addition to the aforementioned mic and headphone jacks, the camera also includes Micro HDMI (Type D) and USB 2.0 (Micro-B) ports. In terms of wireless connectivity, the camera includes Wi-Fi , NFC and Bluetooth. Considering its power supply, the A6600 uses a different type of battery than its predecessors, Sony's NP-FZ100 rechargeable lithium-ion battery. This larger battery offers up to approximately 810 shots, which is about 2.2x better than the battery life of the A6400 and A6500 cameras, which use Sony's smaller W-type battery.
Sony A6600 versus A6500 and A6400
At this point it's reasonable to wonder how much of the A6600 is really new, as many features are shared between the A6400, A6500 and A6600 cameras. When compared to the A6500, the A6600 includes a higher extended ISO (102,400 versus 51,200). Further, its autofocus system is improved, with the A6600 offering 425 PDAF and 425 CDAF points compared to the A6500's 425 PDAF and only 169 CDAF points. Further, the A6600 includes real-time tracking focus functionality, including real-time eye AF and real-time animal eye AF. Considering video features, the A6600 offers HLG video, whereas the A6500 does not. In terms of body design, the A6600 has an extended tilting range for its touchscreen and includes a headphone jack.
The Sony A6600 shown here with the new E 16-55mm f/2.8 G zoom lens.
Sony A6600 Pricing and Availability
The new Sony A6600 will go on sale in November and will be sold both body-only and as a kit with the Sony E 18-135mm lens. The body-only price is set at $1,400 US ($1,900 CAD), while the kit configuration is priced at $1,800 US ($2,400 CAD).
Buy the Sony A6600
$849.33 (65% less)
32.5 MP (26% more)