Sony A6000 Review

With the mirrorless Alpha 6000 system camera, Sony not only replaces the NEX-6, it also replaces the previous top model, the NEX-7. This seems daring, as Sony is only calling for half the price for the A6000 that was once due for the NEX-7. On paper, however, the Alpha 6000 can stand up to its older, bigger sister: Its sensor has a resolution of 24 megapixels, and the A6000 also promises a continuous shooting rate of eleven photos per second with full focus tracking. Sony must have started the red pencil somewhere in order to be able to offer the Alpha 6000 at such a lower price. Our test report not only clarifies where Sony has saved on the Alpha 6000, but also shows how the A6000 has proven itself in photographic practice.

Short evaluation

Pros

  • Great price-performance ratio
  • Good ergonomics
  • Extremely high continuous shooting speed including tracking AF
  • Excellent image quality

Cons

  • Setting wheel too smooth-running, danger of incorrect operation
  • SELP 1650 lens with pronounced resolution edge weakness
  • Elimination of the artificial horizon
  • Somewhat simple plastic housing

Sony Alpha 6000Ergonomics and workmanship Even though the NEX cameras were always part of the Alpha family at Sony, the mirror-less cameras were largely perceived as independent. This is now over, Sony says goodbye to the name NEX, and the system cameras now only carry the Alpha logo. And so the NEX-6 is followed by the Alpha 6000, which also replaces the previous top model NEX-7. OK, maybe not quite, because the A7 or A7R, the first system camera with a 35mm sensor, can also be considered the successor of the NEX-7. But back to the A6000, which is what this is about. Sony’s latest offspring largely takes over the housing of the NEX-6, the design is reminiscent of a large compact camera. This impression is reinforced by the fact that Sony has lowered the mode dial, which is now flush with the top plate. The Alpha 6000 is available in classic black and now for the first time also in black/silver. This bright version gives the A6000 a touch of retro-look, but makes it even clearer than the black version where Sony has saved money: The housing of the camera is noticeably made of plastic. It looks quite robust, but metal isn’t what shines seductively on the silver camera.

Sony has also saved on the electronic viewfinder, which is located on the far left outside. The EVF resolution of 1.44 million pixels is much lower than that of the NEX-6 and NEX-7. Fortunately, you don’t notice anything of this saving measure, on the contrary: The EVF of the Alpha 6000, which is based on OLED technology, differentiates contrasts much better than its counterpart in the NEX-6, and there’s nothing wrong with the color rendering either. The fact that Sony has redesigned the eyepiece with a total of five lenses and quite elaborately constructed it certainly also contributes to the good detail reproduction. For some spectacle wearers, however, the distance between the eyes is still somewhat tight, but thanks to the generous dioptric correction, it is possible to look into the viewfinder without visual aids.

Thanks to its handle which is pulled far forward, the Alpha 6000 lies like a glove in your hand. The leather-like cover and a small hollow for the thumb provide further support. Sony has attached the video trigger to the far right of this recess so that you don’t accidentally start a film recording. At the back there are a lot of Sony Alpha 6000control elements, but they are just big enough. The problem remains, however, that the rear dial rotates far too easily, unintentionally changing the ISO number or an individually assigned setting.

Sony has thoroughly renovated the operation of the Alpha 6000, it now basically follows the concept introduced with the A7/A7R. This means that there are seven buttons that can be assigned one of 44 functions. In addition, there is a quick menu whose ten memory locations can also be assigned according to taste. Once you have set up the A6000 as you wish, you will usually be able to leave the main menu on the left. By the way, this main menu breaks with the NEX tradition in a particularly radical way: it is now clearly divided into tabs, no command list reaches beyond one screen page, there is no annoying scrolling in lists of miscellaneous positions with the A6000.

Sony Alpha 6000In practice, a further savings measure has proven to be cumbersome: The Alpha 6000 has omitted the artificial horizon, which can be placed over the viewfinder image on the NEX-6 but also on the compact RX100 II. The grid lines, which can still be displayed, more than compensate for this abandonment. Apart from that, much has remained the same: The rear display has a fine resolution of 921,600 points and can be folded up or down. The two interfaces for HDMI and USB connection disappear under a plastic flap, which is hinged with a spring hinge. Battery compartment and memory card compartment are accessible from the underside of the camera, the tripod thread is correctly seated in the optical axis. One battery charge is sufficient for a maximum of 360 shots (according to CIPA), after which the camera must be connected to the charger. A separate charging cradle for the battery is only available as an optional accessory, with the included charger the battery can only be charged in the camera via USB connection.

Sony Alpha 6000

Equipment: There are few innovations in the equipment of the Alpha 6000. After all, the NEX-6 already scored well with a wide range of features. Like its predecessor, the A6000 is designed for experienced photographers as well as those who want to take impressive pictures without reading the pen. Two fully automatic systems should fix it. While the “intelligent automatic” selects a suitable scene program in the classic way depending on the scene, the “superior automatic” goes one step further: If necessary, it switches to a “compound program” that visibly improves the image quality by combining several shots. Then, for example, the HDR automatic tames motifs with very high contrasts. Or multi-shot noise reduction ensures that multiple shots with a high ISO number are combined to produce a much quieter image. It is also nice that the fully automatic modes can be overridden, the settings for white balance and aperture (depth of field) can be changed, and the exposure can also be corrected.

With so many adjustment possibilities it hardly matters that the Alpha 6000 is somewhat stingy with freely selectable motif programs. Instead, Sony relies more on helpful assistance functions. This includes, for example, the automatic panorama function, which works really simply: Just keep your finger on the shutter release button and pan the camera over the scenery. Face recognition is also practical, as it still does its job even if a face that has been captured has left the viewfinder image in the meantime. A new addition is the eye AF introduced with the A7. This focus assistant focuses reliably on the pupil of a portrait, a really practical function.

The Alpha 6000 gives photographers who don’t want to be patronized by automatic systems and assistants a lot of freedom. It goes without saying that it offers automatic program, aperture and aperture control and also allows manual exposure control. However, it is not a matter of course that the ISO automatic also works with manual exposure control. In this case, the photographer sets the aperture and exposure time, and the A6000 adjusts the exposure using ISO sensitivity. A fine thing, especially since the upper and lower limits of the ISO automatic can also be set. A great help for correct exposure is the Zebra function, which comes from video cameras. It hatches image areas with a pre-defined brightness value, making it incredibly easy to expose exactly to the lights or a portrait.

When fast image series are required, the Alpha 6000 is in top form. Not because she really shoots fast series – others can now do the same, too. But above all because the A6000 can track the focus even at the highest continuous shooting rate – read more about this in the “Lens” section. The A6000 has three continuous shooting modes; in High mode, it races off at a record 10.9 frames per second (fps), whether recorded in raw or JPEG. With JPEG recordings, she can sustain the very high tempo for about four seconds or 43 shots, with raw recording the spurt ends after half the time or 21 shots. Then the camera falls into a comfortable endurance run with 0.85 fps for JPEG shots and 1.44 fps for raw shots. In practice, however, the high continuous shooting performance suffers from a shortcoming: The sensor does not switch from recording mode to Live View mode; instead of the current viewfinder image, the A6000 always displays the last shot. This is particularly problematic with pullers, where the motif threatens to emigrate as the duration of the series increases. If you also want to see the current viewfinder image in serial images, you have to switch to the lowest level with about 2.5 fps. In practice, the fact that the A6000 takes quite a long time to write the contents of its buffer memory to the memory card has also proven to be a nuisance. A 3-second burst with 11 fps takes about 14 seconds. Meanwhile many camera functions are blocked, at least more photos can be taken.

Like its predecessor, the Alpha 6000 also benefits from a sophisticated flash system. Although the on-board flash is quite weak on the chest with a guide number of 5.2, the A6000 can easily take on more powerful flash units via its ISO shoe. The small camera can handle all types of flash exposure, including the possibility to trigger unleashed flash devices wirelessly. It is a pity, however, that the small on-board flash cannot be used as a control unit, for a wireless flash setup an independent master flash is necessary.

Sony hasn’t been ambitious about the video functions of the Alpha 6000. Filming is possible in practically all modes, which are also available for photos. The A6000 films in full HD resolution (1,920 x 1,080 pixels) at a maximum frame rate of 60 fps. A new feature of the A6000 is the ability to output the uncompressed video signal via the HDMI interface. In video practice, the Alpha 6000 convinces above all with its tracking AF, which tracks the sharpness gently and without any pumping. If necessary, the AF speed can be increased, which is also new with the A6000. The set lens E 16-50 mm 3.5-5.6 OSS PZ with motorized zoom drive is ideal for video recording. This makes it possible to zoom smoothly without blurring the film shots.

 

Sony Alpha 6000Spartan is the Alpha 6000 – as usual with Sony – with the post-processing options in playback mode. Quickly convert a raw file into a JPEG image? No way! Even the creative effects cannot be applied to an image afterwards – a pity. The A6000 offers an option that compensates for this shortcoming: its range of functions can be extended via “Camera Apps”. In the partially even free offer is for example the App photo Retusche , which retrofits painfully missing treatment possibilities. The A6000 connects to a smartphone or tablet via WiFi, then it can be remotely controlled or transfers current recordings to the mobile device.

Lens Like the NEX-6, the Alpha 6000 is also available as a set with the Powerzoom E PZ 16-50/F3.5-5.6 OSS. When not in use, the lens folds up to save space and covers a focal length range of 24 to 75 millimetres for 35mm images. The fact that it zooms motorically with the help of a rocker will not only appeal to climbers of a compact camera – the motor zoom also clearly proves to be an advantage when shooting video.

Sony Alpha 6000We also tested the quite new Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar E 16-70/4 ZA OSS, also with this lens the A6000 is available as a set. In practice, its wide zoom range of 24 to 105 millimetres (relative to 35mm) and the higher luminous intensity have proved to be particularly welcome. By the way, both zoom lenses are equipped with an optical image stabilizer, there is no Stabi per sensor shift with Sony’s mirror-less lenses.

So far, the Alpha 6000 offers only plain fare. But when it comes to fast image series, it becomes a gourmet: the A6000 can even track the focus at more than 10 fps! By the way, this even works well when a dog brings the stick back and races directly towards the camera. Among other things, this is made possible by a new hybrid AF, whose 179 phase comparison sensors now cover practically the entire viewfinder field. With such action scenes it is not only important that the autofocus can follow the object fast enough, it must first capture this object safely. And that’s exactly what the new “Lock-on-AF” does brilliantly: As soon as the A6000 has detected a moving object, it frames it in the viewfinder. This gives the photographer maximum control over which part of the image the autofocus focuses on.

Image Quality Although the Alpha 6000 carries many genes of the NEX-6, its image sensor is closely related to that of the NEX-7. It has a very high resolution of 24 megapixels for an APS-C camera and therefore places high demands on both the lenses and the internal image processing. Whether the two set lenses (each of which is also available separately) can meet these high requirements had to be shown in practice as well as in the hard test in the laboratory of digitalkamera.de. It was also a question of Sony Alpha 6000how well the A6000’s image processing works. As always, the detailed and extensively commented laboratory protocol is available for a small fee and as a PDF download.

The fact that Sony has mastered sensor design and image processing can be seen at first glance in the laboratory protocol of the Alpha 6000: The luminance noise remains uncritical up to ISO 12,800, up to this ISO level colour noise plays no role. However, these good values are somewhat at the expense of texture sharpness. Nevertheless, it remains high up to ISO 6,400, even very high up to ISO 1,600. ISO 6.400 is also the value at which the signal-to-noise ratio falls just below the critical limit of 35 dB. If there is anything at all to criticize about the noise behavior of the A6000, it is the rather high grain size of the noise in the red channel. Overall, the grain size remains pleasingly small, so that the A6000 is able to convince with small reductions up to ISO 6,400 in terms of image noise.

The input dynamics of the Alpha 6000 are also very high, falling below the critical limit of 10 EV only at ISO 12.800. The camera can always convert the high dynamics into a corresponding tonal value richness, which even remains close to the theoretical maximum of 256 tonal value levels per color/brightness channel up to ISO 400. This makes the A6000 suitable for demanding studio productions at low ISO levels.

Sony Alpha 6000However, there is something to the contrary that the Alpha 6000 doesn’t take the colour rendering so exactly. Orange and red tones saturate it vigorously, magenta tones shift it towards cyan. Fortunately, in practice, these colour deviations do not carry so much weight. However, when it comes to reproducing colours as faithfully as possible, the raw format should be preferred.

As soon as the Powerzoom E PZ 16-50 comes into play, the Alpha 6000 shows the resolution potential of its 24 megapixel sensor. At optimum aperture F5.6, it resolves well over 60 line pairs per millimetre (lp/mm) – an outstanding value for a camera with APS-C sensor! However, this very good result is clouded by a pronounced resolution weakness of the inexpensive set lens at the edge of the picture and in the telephoto range. In the wide-angle position, the loss of resolution towards the edges of the image is almost two thirds, and the power zoom on the A6000 doesn’t resolve the corners any better than a good compact camera. In the telephoto range, the resolution across the entire image field is weaker but more even and reaches acceptable values with almost 50 lp/mm.

The E T* 16-70/F4 ZA OSS Vario-Tessar leaves a much better impression. It doesn’t swing up to quite as high resolution values as the Powerzoom, but the mark of 60 lp/mm also cracks it. Much more important, however, is the fact that

Sony Alpha 6000

the Zeiss lens does not lose its resolution towards the edges so much – especially not in the wide-angle range. The only thing that disturbs here is a rather high barrel distortion, which the A6000 can correct electronically if desired. Also in terms of “chromatic aberration”, the Zeiss is much more good-natured than the small zoom, color fringes at contrasting edges disturb the outer image areas at most.

The bottom line is that the Alpha 6000 delivers image quality at such a high level that one can confidently ask whether it still has to be full format at all. Apart from very slight weaknesses in the input dynamics and the attention to detail in conjunction with very high ISO values, this question can confidently be answered in the negative. This is all the more true as Sony’s Zeiss 16-70/F4 is a really adequate (but also expensive) partner for the A6000.

The A6000 can clearly outperform its predecessor NEX-6 and even the former top model NEX-7. Your autofocus performance in continuous shooting is impressive, and the 24 megapixel sensor delivers prick-clean results. In addition, there is a significantly improved user guidance compared to the faded NEX family as well as some smart innovations, such as the zebra pattern and the eye AF. The fact that the A6000 wears a rather simple plastic dress is easy to see in view of its low entry price, as is the fact that the electronic viewfinder does not have the same high resolution as its predecessors. But the fact that even the artificial horizon had to fall victim to the austerity dictate is too much. If you can do without this alignment aid, you won’t get a comparable system camera that combines snapshot suitability with professional functions as convincingly as the Sony A6000.

Fact sheet

Fact sheet
Manufacturer Sony
Model Alpha 6000
Price approx. 800 dollars**
Sensor Resolution 24.7 megapixels
Max. Image resolution 6.000 x 4.000
(aspect ratio) (3:2)
Lens E PZ 16-50 mm 3.5-5.6 OSS
Filter threads 40,5 mm
Viewfinder electronic
Field of vision 100 %
Enlargement 1,07-fold
Disbandment 1.44 million
Diopter compensation -4 to +3 dpt.
LCD monitor 3″
Disbandment 921.600
rotatable
swivelling yes
as seeker yes
Video output HDMI
as seeker yes
Program automation yes
Aperture priority yes
Aperture priority yes
manual exposure yes
BULB long-term exposure yes
Motif programmes
Portrait yes
Children/Babies
Countryside yes
Macro yes
Sports/Action yes
more 4
Exposure metering Multi-field, Centre-weighted Integral, Spot
Lightning bolt yes
Guide number 5.2 (measurement)
Flash connection Standard system flash shoe
Remote release Infrared (optional)
Interval shooting
Storage medium SD/SDHC/SDXC, MemoryStick
Video mode
Size AVCHD or MP4
Codec H.264/AVC
Resolution (max.) 1.920 x 1.080
at frame rate 60p
Sensitivity
automatic ISO 100-25.600 (upper and lower limit selectable)
manually ISO 100-25.600
White balance
Automatic yes
Sun yes
Clouds yes
Fluorescent lamp yes
Light bulb yes
Other Shadow, flash, manual color temperature selection
Manual yes
Autofocus
Number of measuring fields 179
AF auxiliary light orange
Speed approx. 0.3 s
Languages English and German
more 15
Switch-on time approx. 2.2 s
One-hand operation
(zoom and shutter release)
yes**
Weight
(Ready)
approx. 285 g (housing only
)approx. 460 g (with lens**)
Continuous shooting function*
Number of series images 43 (JPEG
)21 (RAW)
Frequency
(frames/s)
10.9 (JPEG
)10.9 (RAW)
Endurance run
(frames/s)
0.85 (JPEG
)1.44 (RAW)
with flash yes
Zoom
Zoom adjustment at lens
Zoom levels continuously variable
Time WW to Tele 1,8 s
Memory speeds*
JPEG 1.5 s (7.2 MByte)
RAW 2.8 s (23.8 MByte)
Triggering during
.Save as possible.
yes
Battery life approx. 360 images (according to CIPA)
– not available”
* with Panasonic 4 GByte Class 10 SDHC memory card**

with lens Sony E PZ 16-50 mm 3.5-5.6 OSS

 

Short evaluation

Pros

  • Great price-performance ratio
  • Good ergonomics
  • Extremely high continuous shooting speed including tracking AF
  • Excellent image quality

Cons

  • Setting wheel too smooth-running, danger of incorrect operation
  • SELP 1650 lens with pronounced resolution edge weakness
  • Elimination of the artificial horizon
  • Somewhat simple plastic housing

Sony Alpha 6000 Datasheet

Electronics

Sensor CMOS sensor APS-C 23.6 x 15.8 mm (crop factor 1.5
)24.7 megapixels (physical) and 24.3 megapixels (effective)
Pixel pitch 3.9 µm
Photo resolution
6.000 x 3.376 pixels (16:9)
4.240 x 2.832 pixels (3:2)
4.240 x 2.832 pixels (3:2)
4.240 x 2.400 pixels (16:9)
3.008 x 1.688 pixels (16:9)
Panorama Swivel panorama

12.416 x 1.856 pixels
5.536 x 2.160 pixels
8.192 x 1.856 pixels
3.872 x 2.160 pixels
Picture formats JPG, RAW
Metadata Exif (version 2.3), DCF standard
Video resolution
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 60 p
1.440 x 1.080 (4:3) 25 p
640 x 480 (4:3) 25 p
Video format
MP4 (Codec H.264)
AVCHD (Codec H.264)

Lens

Lens mount
Sony E

Focusing

Autofocus mode Phase comparison autofocus with 179 cross sensors, contrast autofocus with 25 measuring fields
Autofocus Functions Single AF, Continuous AF, Manual, AFL function, AF Assist Light, Focus Peaking, Focus Magnifier (12x)

Viewfinder and Monitor

Monitor 3.0″ (7.5 cm) TFT LCD monitor with 921,600 pixels, tiltable 90° up and 45° down
Video viewfinder Video viewfinder available, diopter compensation (-4.0 to 3.0 dpt)

Exposure

Exposure metering Center-weighted integral measurement, matrix/multi-field measurement over 1,200 fields, spot measurement
Exposure times 1/4,000 to 30 s (automatic
) bulb function
Exposure control Fully Automatic, Program Automatic (with Program Shift), Aperture Priority, Aperture Priority, Manual
Bracketing function Bracket function with maximum 5 shots, step size from 0.3 to 0.7 EV, HDR function
Exposure compensation -5.0 to +5.0 EV with step size of 1/3 EV
Sensitivity to light ISO 100 to ISO 25.600 (automatic
)ISO 100 to ISO 25.600 (manual)
Remote access Remote control via Smartphone/Tablet
Motives Auto, Landscape, Macro, Night Scene, Night Portrait, Portrait, Sports/Action, 0 more scene modes
Picture effects HDR Effect, High Key, High Contrast Monochrome, Miniature Effect, Monochrome, Retro, Selective Color, Toy Camera, Soft Focus, Landscape, Lively, Portrait, B/W (Contrast, Saturation, Sharpness adjustable in ± 3 levels), Sunset, Standard, 5 additional image effects
White balance Auto, Cloudy, Sun, White balance bracketing, Fine tuning, Shadow, Flash, Underwater, Fluorescent lamp, Incandescent light, from 2,500 to 9,900 K, Manual
Color space Adobe RGB, sRGB
Continuous shooting Continuous shooting function max. 11.0 fps at highest resolution and max. 49 stored photos, max. 21 images RAW
Self-timer Self-timer at intervals of 2 s, special features: or 10 s (optional)
Shooting functions AEL function, AFL function, live histogram

Flashgun

Lightning bolt built-in flash (hinged
)flash shoe: Sony Multi Interface, standard center contact
Flash range Flash sync time 1/160 s
Flash number Guide number 6 (ISO 100)
Flash functions Auto, Fill Flash, Flash On, Flash Off, Slow Sync, Flash on the Second Shutter Curtain, Red-Eye Reduction, Flash Exposure Compensation

Equipment and equipment

Image stabilizer no optical image stabilizer
Memory
Memory Stick (Duo, Duo Pro)
SD
Microphone Stereo
Power supply Power supply connectionUSB charging function
Power supply 1 x Sony NP-FW50 (lithium ion (Li-Ion), 7.2 V, 1,240 mAh
)310 CIPA-standard images
Playback Functions Crop Images, Rotate Images, Protect Images, Highlight / Shadow Warning, Playback Histogram, Playback Magnifier, Image Index, Zoom Out
Face recognition Face recognition, smile recognition
Picture parameters Sharpness, Contrast, Saturation, Noise Reduction
Special functions Electronic water level, Zebra function, Orientation sensor, Live View
Ports Data interfaces: USBUSB type
:USB 2.0 High SpeedWLAN
: availableNFC
: available
AV connectors AV output: HDMI output Micro (Type D)
Supported direct printing methods PictBridge
Tripod socket 1/4″
Features and Miscellaneous BIONZ Image ProcessorSensor Cleaning Function
(Antistatic Filter and Ultrasonic)
Dynamic Range Optimizer (1-5 Steps)
Long-term Noise Reduction from 1 second selectableNoise Reduction
from ISO 1,600 and moreMulti Exposure Noise Reduction
(100-51,200)
with Priority Selection)
PtP Transmission ProtocolWhite Balance Exposure Bracket
(3 shots)

Size and weight

Dimensions W x H x D 120 x 67 x 45 mm
Weight 344 g (ready for operation)

Other

included accessories Sony BC-VW1 Charger for special rechargeable batteriesSony
NP-FW50 Special rechargeable batteryUSB connection cableRiser strapPicture editing softwarePicture Motion Browser for Windows
optional accessory Sony AC-PW20 Power SupplySony
FDA-EV1MK (electronic viewfinder) Miscellaneous AccessoriesSony
GPS-CS3KA Universal ProductSony
HVL-F20M Push-on Flash with Swivel ReflectorSony
NP-FW50 Special Battery Removable Memory CardOpticalViewfinder (FDA-SV1

)

Push-on Stereo Microphone (ECM-SST1)
Camera Case

Firmware Update 2.0 for Sony Alpha 6000, 7, 7R and 7S

With firmware updates (all 2.0) for the Alpha 6000, 7, 7R and 7S, Sony wants to significantly shorten the switch-on time of the respective cameras. The Alpha 6000 will also be able to record movies in XAVC-S format with this update. Updates can be found on the Sony support website and can be done by the user himself. If you don’t have the courage to update, you can also contact your dealer or the Sony service.

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