Sony Alpha a6000 review: Excellent performance for the price

Sony Alpha a6000 is the latest mirrorless camera from Sony after it stopped using the NEX name, It comes with a BIONZ X image processor and 11fps burst rate

₹42,999

tech2 rating

4/5

avg. user rating

1.1/5




The mirrorless interchangeable lens camera segment is heating up. We have seen some really good mirrorless cameras across price segments this year. There’s certainly more action happening in this segment and the advanced point and shoot segment, than the DSLRs which are just iterating on set design specifications and features. Sony seems to be on a roll on that front. Although the current mirrorless camera we are testing - Sony Alpha a6000 - would also be an iterative upgrade considering it retains most of the design elements and features of the yesteryear NEX 6 (the naming convention since discontinued), one has to hand it to Sony for prolifically coming out with cameras across categories.

 

Build and Design

Sony Alpha a6000 review: Excellent performance for the price

Sony a6000 has a design which looks similar to NEX-6 in some ways. The a6000 has a flat top portion though

In terms of design, it is safe to say that the Sony a6000 takes more than an inspiration from the yesteryear Sony NEX 6. You have almost similar dimensions, the same moulded chunky palm grip with the textured rubber surface continuing all the way behind the a6000. It also takes some inspiration from the Alpha 7 in terms of the dial placement. In the NEX 6, you had the mode dial placed atop the control dial, but with the a6000, you have separate dials. But while the Alpha 7 had dials on top of the top plate, the a6000 has recessed dials. The shutter button surrounded by the switch is present on the top of the palm grip and you also have a custom button on the side. Barring the AF LED, there’s nothing much on the front portion of the a6000. The top plate has the electronic viewfinder on the extreme left hand side, followed by the accessory port, a pop-up flash menu, a mode dial and control dial on the extreme right hand side.

 

On the rear side you have a non-touch sensitive tilting 3-inch LCD screen

On the rear side you have a non-touch sensitive tilting 3-inch LCD screen

On the rear side, you have the non-touch 3-inch tilting LCD screen which is ideal for low angle as well as over-the-shoulder shots. The circular dial also acts as the directional pad which is surrounded by buttons. The buttons though recessed have a good feedback. Movie record button in particular is placed around the edge and it prevents accidental clicks, but it is a bit too recessed.

 

There is a flat-topped top portion with the control dial and mode dial neatly recessed

There is a flat-topped top portion with the control dial and mode dial neatly recessed

The metallic build on the dials as well as on the camera body is quite sturdy. Mode dial requires slight amount of force to rotate unlike the control dial beside it. The two custom buttons can be customised according to your preference. The electronic viewfinder comes with an eye-sensor and a dedicated eye-cap which makes it seem like it’s protruding out. The bundled Sony 16-50mm lens also comes with a metallic build and an electric power zoom spring-loaded slider as well.

Features

Sony a6000 features a 24.2 MP APS-C CMOS sensor which is paired with the BIONZ X image processor, also seen on the Alpha 7 mirrorless and the Alpha 77 DSLT camera. There are 179 AF points and it sports hybrid AF, meaning it supports both contrast detect as well as phase detect AF. It combines the two methods of AF to acquire a quick focus. Of the 179 phase detect points, 25 are contrast detect AF points.

 

The Sony a6000 comes with a Sony 16-50mm lens which has a power zoom lever

The Sony a6000 comes with a Sony 16-50mm lens which has a power zoom lever

The 1.44 million dot OLED electronic viewfinder is impressive providing 0.7x magnification. It is bright enough and has a dioptre adjustment dial just beside the viewfinder to help those with near/far sightedness see a sharper image while composing the shot.

 

The Sony a6000 comes with an OLED electronic viewfinder which is covered by an eye-cup

The Sony a6000 comes with an OLED electronic viewfinder which is covered by an eye-cup

Navigation is quite easy to get a grip on and the menu arrangement is similar to that one seen on NEX cameras as well as the Sony DSLTs. There are six main sections under which you have multiple pages with many different kinds of settings. There are over 100 options you can tweak to your liking. While getting in the menu may not seem practical at all occasions, you have the Fn button, which brings up 11 most frequently used settings. You can even put your own 11 most used settings if you are not too keen on using the ones provided by default. Other than this, you have two customisable buttons which can bring up two other settings with a single click. As far as possible we kept the directional button one-click menus on default, but you have the option to change it as well.

 

Ergonomics help with handling the camera well. The rear side is easily operable using just one hand as well

Ergonomics help with handling the camera well. The rear side is easily operable using just one hand as well

Barring the regular PASM modes, you have the intelligent auto modes, SCN mode, easy panorama, video and memory recall modes. Video shooting can be triggered by hitting the red-dotted record button in any mode. There are 9 scene selection modes, 19 Creative styles, 13 picture effects and so on.

Remote shooting interface on your smartphone is simplistic

Remote shooting interface on your smartphone is simplistic

The Sony a6000 also supports wireless functionality. It has an in-built wireless adapter which allows you to not only transfer photos from the camera to the cellphone, tablet or laptops, but also lets you remotely shoot. For remote shooting, you will need to go to the Application menu, and select the Smart Remote app. On your mobile device you will need the Play Memories app to communicate with the camera. The camera interface on the smartphone for remote shooting is quite simple, allowing you to change exposure and zoom only. The transferred images can be stored at original, 2MP or at VGA resolutions.

Performance

Studio ISO Performance

Our studio ISO test comprises a setup which has a healthy mix of colours, textures, materials, fine text and so on. We affixed the Sony a6000 on a tripod and kept it in the Aperture priority mode at f/6.3. We proceeded to take images across the ISO range. To ensure minimal camera shake we had a 2-second timer enabled to click the pictures.

 

Sample studio shot

Sample studio shot

Advantages of the BIONZ X image processor start showing in the ISO performance. From ISO 100 to ISO 1600 there is barely any noticeable noise in the image. In our sample image, we could clearly see the text on the bottle, the fine lines on the board, the definition in the threads till ISO 1600. Even at ISO 3200, although you will notice some amount of noise creeping in, the image is still usable. At ISO 6400, you will start to see a waxy appearance of the image at 100 per cent crop. Under emergency situations, ISO 6400 is still usable. ISO 12800 and ISO 25600 are best avoided. Needless to say, we were thoroughly impressed with the ISO performance of the a6000.

 Note: Images below have been resized. To see the full sized images, please click on them. Additionally, visit our Sony Alpha a6000 album on Flickr to see more high resolution images.

 

ISO 100

ISO 100

 

ISO 200

ISO 200

 

ISO 400

ISO 400

 

ISO 800

ISO 800

 

ISO 1600

ISO 1600

 

ISO 3200

ISO 3200

 

ISO 6400

ISO 6400

 

ISO 12800

ISO 12800

 

ISO 25600

ISO 25600

 

Focus

With as many as 179 AF points, locking focus quickly was par for the course. You can choose between single point AF, automatic AF, continuous AF, manual focus and direct manual focus. Focus area selection can be zone, wide area, centre and flexible spot - which offers three sizes. In the single point AF, the focus acquisition was quick, although we wouldn’t put it as a world’s fastest AF. Under low light (dusk or indoors), the focus hunting is noticeable but it is still quick. When surroundings get darker, then the focus hunting gets more pronounced.

Note: Images below have been resized. To see the full sized images, please click on them. Additionally, visit our Sony Alpha a6000 album on Flickr to see more high resolution images.

 

ISO 500, f/5.6, 1/80th sec

ISO 500, f/5.6, 1/80th sec

 

The real impressive part though is the continuous AF. The focus points track the object throughout the frame and not just in the central portion of the frame as is the case with Zone focus area selection. This turned out to be quite good when we were shooting fast moving objects such as animals in the burst mode.

 

ISO 160, f/5.6, 1/80th sec

ISO 160, f/5.6, 1/80th sec

The flexible point AF allows you to select the AF point size between large, medium and small. You can select the position of the focus point using the control dial on the top and the rotary dial around the d-pad. It would have been great to have a touchscreen as that would have quickened the focus selection time. On the manual focussing front, you have options such as focus peaking and zooming in on the region to be focussed. Focus ring around the lens which generally functions as a zoom ring in the non MF mode, helps with quick focus selection.

 

Image Quality

We tested the camera using the Sony 16-50mm lens with power zoom with a maximum aperture range from f/3.5 - f/5.6. While shooting in daylight conditions, we faced no issues. We shot using the Standard setting which keeps the colours balanced. The camera is able to resolve details in a frame which is quite densely filled, which is a good thing. Around sunset and in low lighting situations, we noticed some smearing in some images, most likely the noise algorithms kicking in. Shooting in RAW allows you to recover these finer details. While shooting at the widest end at close quarters, barrel distortion is noticeable.

  Note: Images below have been resized. To see the full sized images, please click on them. Additionally, visit our Sony Alpha a6000 album on Flickr to see more high resolution images.

 

ISO 100, f/6.3. 1/80th sec

ISO 100, f/6.3. 1/80th sec

 

ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/250th sec

ISO 100, f/5.6, 1/250th sec

 

ISO 3200, f/5.6, 1/60th sec

ISO 3200, f/5.6, 1/60th sec

 

ISO 125, f/4.5, 1/60th sec

ISO 125, f/4.5, 1/60th sec

 

ISO 640, f/4, 1/60th sec

ISO 640, f/4, 1/60th sec

 

ISO 1250, f/4, 1/60th sec

ISO 1250, f/4, 1/60th sec

 

Features such as Dynamic Range Optimiser (DRO) and high dynamic range (HDR) further let you compensate for tricky lighting situations. We liked the flexibility offered with DRO which lets you set the level from 1 to 5 whereas the HDR mode, lets you go from +/- 6.0EV to allow you to select how much of an exposure compensation you are looking to dial in.

 

Dynamic Range Optimiser allows you to get more shadow details. Starting from left: Without DRO, With DRO Lvl 1, With DRO Lvl 5

Dynamic Range Optimiser allows you to get more shadow details. Starting from left: Without DRO, With DRO Lvl 1, With DRO Lvl 5

 

Left: Using Fill Flash; Right: Using Slow Sync Flash

Left: Using Fill Flash; Right: Using Slow Sync Flash

 

Handling and Performance

Sony Alpha 6000 is quite ergonomically designed and we had no issues with even single handed operation. Yes, we would have liked it if the screen was touch-sensitive as when you have the flexible point focus selection activated, it can be quite slow to set the point at the exact spot you want using the rotary dial around the Dpad. Also the start up time is not the fastest with time to first shot being around 3-4 secs. That’s a lot of time specially if you want to capture that decisive moment and your camera is not on. The battery lock on the unit we had got was not the best, in the sense that it used to get stuck despite unlocking. Only on subsequent tapping did it open up.

 

Ergonomics help with handling the camera well. The rear side is easily operable using just one hand as well

Ergonomics help with handling the camera well. The rear side is easily operable using just one hand as well

 

The 11fps burst mode for both JPEG and RAW with AF on is one of the USPs of this camera. The continuous AF tends to keep things in focus and we only faced issues when we were panning and the subject under focus was overlapped by another object - which tends to confuse the cameras AF. But shooting hyperactive kids, your pet cat or dog running around is taken care of with ample ease. It takes quite a while to write the images to the card when shot using the burst mode. The silver lining to this is that you can continue shooting as the images are being written to the card, you only can’t review them till the camera is done writing. The status indicator is located below the camera body.

Battery life

We really liked the numerical indication of the battery life in percentage on the right hand corner. It uses NP-FW50 Li-ion battery which is rated for around 310 shots. We could easily manage around 300 plus shots with videos as well. But the annoying part is that you need to charge the battery while it is inside the battery compartment. This means forget using the camera to make images while the battery is charging. An external adapter needs to be bought separately which we think should have been bundled.

 

Video Performance

Continuous auto focus works quite well indoors as well as outdoors, although it isn’t as quick as the one we had seen on the Canon EOS 70D. We really liked the complete manual control while you are shooting. You can change shutter speed, ISO, aperture on the fly - although make sure you have a tripod handy. The on-board microphones are good enough to record audio and we did not hear any AF motor or zoom motor noise while shooting. It also features the Zebra feature to keep the overexposed  areas under check.

Verdict and Price in India

Sony Alpha 6000 has been impressive on all fronts and at the price of Rs 51,990 it is quite competitively priced. The only mirrorless camera which offers a slightly better performance in terms of handling, image quality and performance is the Panasonic Lumix GX7. But the Sony a6000 is Rs 4,000 cheaper, so it evens things out.

 

The BIONZ X image processor ensures that you get usable images upto ISO 6400. The burst mode of 11fps makes sure you can use the camera to capture fast moving objects with ease and ensure they are in focus as well. Even for videography enthusiasts, there is complete manual control over shooting which allows you not just to shoot casual family moments, but given the right lens, do short films as well. Addition of wireless transfer is another plus. On the whole, the Sony a6000 is a complete package for those looking to buy a camera for documentary, street, wildlife as well as sports photography on a budget around Rs 50,000. Sure, you will need to invest in lenses as the kit lens is a bit limiting.

There are definitely some things we would have loved to see such as a touch-sensitive screen which would ease up the ardous process of focus point selection in the Flexible Spot mode. The idea to charge the battery inside the camera is quite stupid as well. Instead of being purchased separately, we feel the external power adapter should be bundled with the camera and kit lens. But since the advantages overshadow the disadvantages, we would surely recommend this camera to those with a 50k budget and who plan to invest in lenses in the future.

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Sony ILCE-6000L/B Specifications

With the world’s fastest AF performance, you only need 0.06s to achieve perfect, timeless moments with the α6000. Its compact body delivers superb image quality, making this a crowdpleaser among enthusiasts and professionals. With three times the processing speed of earlier models, the new BIONZ X is able to accurately capture textures, reduce blurry details, and even suppress visual noise in specific areas to ensure sharp images. Together with the new 24.3MP APS HD CMOS sensor which improves light sensitivity, expect outstanding quality in every image. Capturing an impressive 11 photos a second wouldn\'t mean much if they were blurry. That\'s where the α6000 excels; you get a very high frames-per-second (fps) rate while the superior AF tracking ensures your selected subject is crisp and clear. The OLED Tru-Finder EVF is a new optical system with 4 double aspherical lenses with rich real-time data for planning and previewing shots. Exposure Control compensates for overly bright/dim scenes, Focus Zoom accurately enlarges a chosen detail, and Display Mode reveals histograms and more. It is also designed with a wide viewing angle, providing clear visibility from corner to corner. Share photos and MP4 movies in an instant by simply touching the camera to your friend\'s Android smartphone or tablet. This remarkably convenient wireless feature is made possible by built-in Wi-Fi and NFC (Near Field Communication) technology that also works with preinstalled Smart Remote Control Embedded*2 to enable remote control of your camera from the smartphone or tablet.

Basic

Type of CameraInterchangeable lens
Effective Resolution24.3MP
Sensor TypeExmor APS HD CMOS
Digital Zoom4x

Screen

LCD Size3.0
Resolution921,600

Shooting Specs

Imaging ProcessorBIONZ X
ISO Sensitivity RangeISO100-25600
White BalanceWarm White / Cool White / Day White / Daylight> / Flash / Underwater/ Color Temperature & Color Filter / Custom
Shutter Speed30-1/4000
Burst Mode11fps
Scene ModesPortrait|#|Sports Action|#|Macro|#|Landscape|#|Sunset|#|Night Scene|#|Hand-held Twilight|#|Night Portrait|#|Anti Motion Blur
Shooting mode (PSAM)Program AE, Shutter priority AE, Aperture priority AE, Manual Exposure

Media

StorageMemory Stick PRO Duo, Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo, Memory Stick XC-HG Duo, SD, SDHC, SDXC
File formats supportedJPEG, RAW

Connectivity

USB CableYes
HDMIYes
MicrophoneMicrophone
WiFiYes

Battery

Type of BatteryLi-Ion
Numbers of Shots360

Dimensions

Dimensions (W x D x H)120 x 45.1 x 66.9 mm
Weight285 grams

Camera Features

Digital Zoom4x

After Sales Service

Warranty Period3 Years

Price

Warranty Period3 Years




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