Sony Alpha a6000 Review – When it came out in the fall of 2012, the NEX-6 was different from the company’s other mirrorless cameras. It fit between the different NEX-5 models and the NEX-7 and was meant to be a middle ground between the two, giving photographers an easy-to-use camera with a good set of features.
So you got a small camera with an electronic viewfinder and some direct control. The NEX-6 had two features that no other Sony mirrorless camera had: a dial for setting the exposure mode and an ISO-standard hot shoe.
The new a6000 is in the same place in Sony’s mirrorless lineup and has a lot of the same features as the old one. However, it has a number of important new features that make it a better camera (while also losing the NEX moniker of its predecessor). The a6000 has a better resolution and a faster processor, but its updated Hybrid AF system is what makes it stand out.
The NEX-6 had 99 phase-detection points that covered about half of the sensor. The a6000 has 179 points that cover 92% of the sensor, which is by far the most of any modern camera.
Sony says that this, along with the new Bionz X processor, lets the camera shoot continuously at 11 fps while following the subject. The company also says that the a6000 has the fastest autofocus (AF) speed on the market, but you should always take these claims with a grain of salt.
The only big downside is that the a6000 uses Sony’s lower-resolution SVGA viewfinder instead of the company’s top-of-the-line XGA panel. It also doesn’t have the level gauge that the NEX-6 did, which seems like an odd thing to leave out just to get the price down. But it looks like those steps to cut costs worked, because the a6000’s list price of $649 is $100 less than the NEX-6’s price when it came out.
Key parts of the Sony a6000 – Sony Alpha a6000 Review
24.3 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
Bionz X image processor
Hybrid autofocus system with 179 phase-detect points and 25 contrast-detect points
Flash already built in + Multi-Interface Shoe
11 fps of continuous shooting with subject tracking and a 3-inch LCD that can be tilted and has 921,600 dots.
1.44 million dots are on the OLED electronic viewfinder.
Technology for diffraction correction, noise reduction in certain areas, and detail reproduction
Full HD video can be recorded at 1080/60p and 24p, and the HDMI output is clean.
Wi-Fi with NFC and apps that can be downloaded
The sensor is the most important change here. The new “Exmor APS HD” CMOS sensor has 24 megapixels and, like its predecessor, has on-chip phase detection. However, it covers a much larger area of the frame. Sony says that the AF will follow the subject better, especially when shooting continuously. Sony’s newest image processor, Bionz X, is used in the a6000. It is said to have better detail and smarter noise reduction.
The a6000’s movie mode isn’t all that different from the NEX-6’s, but users now have access to a zebra pattern, which is a live exposure warning that can be set to show a chosen level of brightness, and they can send “clean” video over HDMI. The menus now look like the ones on the a7 and a7R, which could be good or bad, and the camera can now be controlled by a Mac or PC through a USB connection.
The Wi-Fi feature is similar to the one on the NEX-6. It lets you control the camera from a smart device, transfer photos from the camera, and upload them to the cloud over Wi-Fi networks. There are also more and more “Playmemories Apps” from Sony that can be downloaded and run on the camera.
The a6000 stands out from other cameras because it has an improved autofocus (AF) system. Since the NEX-6, the number of phase-detect points has gone from 99 to 179. The number of contrast-detect points has stayed the same at 25. With all of these extra phase detect points, you can cover about 92% of the frame instead of only about 50%. The good thing? A larger area so that phase detection autofocus can do what it does best, which is to follow moving subjects.
Bionz X Processor
The company’s latest “Bionz X” processor is a lot more powerful than its predecessors. This, the company says, will allow for more complex processing.
Sony isn’t very clear about the details, but they say that the new processor has “Detail Reproduction Technology,” which sounds like a more subtle and sophisticated way to sharpen images. The company says there will be less of an emphasis on edges, which will make fine details look more real.
The Bionz X processor also promises a feature called “Diffraction Reduction.” This is when the camera’s processing tries to fix the softness caused by diffraction when you close down a lens’ aperture.
This processing seems to depend on the aperture and sounds like a part of Fujifilm’s Lens Modulation Optimization system, which was first seen on the X100S. As we predicted when we first saw it here, it has since been used by other brands, including Olympus.
Lastly, Sony says that the Bionz X chip has a more advanced version of its “area-specific noise reduction,” which tries to figure out if each part of an image is a smooth tone, textured detail, or the edge of a subject and then reduces noise in different amounts depending on what it is.
Kit choices and costs
The a6000 comes in black or silver.
A “active sling bag,” a screen protector, and a body case are some of the accessories that stand out. Sony only includes a USB charger in the box, so some users may also be interested in the BC-VW1 external charger.
If you’re new to digital photography, you might want to start by reading the Digital Photography Glossary (it may help you understand some of the terms used).
Conclusions, recommendations, and ratings are based on the reviewer’s opinion, so you should read the review in its entirety before making your own decisions.
We think that to get the most out of this review, you should be able to tell the difference between (at least) X, Y, and Z, and ideally A, B, and C as well.
Read more: Learn how to do Camera Vignetting here!