The Sony a6000 Mirrorless Camera is a versatile and advanced mirrorless camera featuring a 24.3MP APS-C-sized Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor and BIONZ X image processor to produce high-resolution still images and Full HD movies with marked low-light quality and sensitivity to ISO 25600.
Beyond notable imaging traits, the image processor also lends itself to continuous shooting up to 11 fps and an intelligent Fast Hybrid AF system that uses both phases and contrast-detection methods to quickly and accurately acquire focus.
Sony a6000: Price
Sony a6000: Design
Measuring 4.8 x 2.9 x 1.9 inches, the a6000 body is nicely compact and about half the size of an average mainstream DSLR body. Constructed of composite materials, the body is light at 12.1 ounces but feels solidly built. The a6000’s grip is comfortable to hold, even for those with bigger hands. Unlike some other mirrorless models that lack an electronic viewfinder (EVF) or onboard flash (or both), the a6000 is equipped with both.
At 800 x 600, the a6000’s OLED (organic light-emitting diode) EVF is somewhat low in resolution but still more than adequate. Camera settings are clearly visible, and the EVF doesn’t blackout during high-speed continuous shooting, so you can always see your subject. Sensors near the eyepiece trigger the camera to switch the view from the rear LCD to the EVF when you raise the digital camera to your eye. But the a6000’s mechanism is easily triggered when anything gets near it. And a slight hesitation in switching between the two viewing screens is frustrating.
The 3-inch, 640 x 480 LCD on the camera’s rear panel tilts back as far as 90 degrees and down by approximately 45 degrees. Under mild light, the LCD is bright and clear, but it’s difficult to observe in strong sun, even with the monitor brightness cranked up or the Sunny Weather mode engaged. In bright light, it’s better to use the EVF.
The a6000’s small pop-up flash has a reach of about 20 feet (shooting at ISO 100). It’s good for flash fill to illuminate backlit subjects but can sometimes overpower a shot at close distances. (You can use the flash exposure compensation setting to adjust the output.) The flash tilts back up to 90 degrees to bounce off a low, light-colored ceiling in order to soften the lighting as it falls onto the subject. You can also mount one of Sony’s three external flash units on the a6000’s multi-interface hot shoe.
Sony a6000: Image quality
The a6000 is built around a 24-megapixel APS-C-size CMOS sensor (like those in most DSLRs) and Sony’s Bionz X processor, a combination that usually delivered top-notch image quality. We tested the a6000 with a trio of lenses: the kit-option E PZ 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS Power Zoom ($350, if bought separately), the Sony Sonnar T* FE 35mm f/2.8 ZA full-frame prime lens ($800) and the Sigma 60mm f/2.8 DN/A ($350). For continuity with other camera reviews, we shot mostly with the 35mm lens, which has a 52mm full-frame-equivalent field of view. Images were captured simultaneously as JPEG and uncompressed RAW files, allowing us to compare any differences between the two. We used different light-metering modes depending on the scene.
Sony a6000: Autofocus and speed
The a6000 features both the slow contrast-detection autofocus of earlier mirrorless cameras (also found in point-and-shoot and phone cameras) but augmented with fast phase-recognition sensors like those used in DSLRs. The a6000 has an impressive 179 phase-detection points (up from 99 in the NEX-6) that cover about 92 per cent of the image sensor, resulting in above-average autofocus performance.
The a6000 sprints in continuous shooting, capturing up to 11 frames per second at its highest speed setting and applying autofocus to each photo. The Olympus E-M5 – a camera we really like for its velocity and image quality – can reach 9 fps but sets focus only at the first frame, so it’s not as useful for tracking a moving subject.
We were able to capture about 53 frames in highest-resolution JPEG format and about 20 when shooting simultaneous JPEG and RAW files before the camera had to slow down. But we could actually continue shooting, though for shorter bursts.
Sony a6000: Battery life
With a CIPA rating of 310 shots (using the viewfinder) and 360 shots (utilizing the LCD monitor), the a6000’s battery life looks decent on paper. Ratings based on the CIPA standard are generally accurate for basic shooting but don’t take into account features such as continuous autofocus, image stabilization or Wi-Fi.
As a real-world example, we drained the battery to 46 per cent one day after shooting about 220 images (captured as JPEG and RAW), using both the rear LCD and the viewfinder. We did not use Wi-Fi or shoot video, or use continuous AF or flash for any shots.
The a6000 includes a USB cable and AC adapter to charge the battery in-camera. An optional wall unit, such as the $60 or less BC-VW1, allows you to charge one electric battery while capturing with another. (An extra unit of the NP-FW50 battery costs $80 or less.)
Sony a6000: Verdict
As the mirrorless, interchangeable-lens camera market continues to grow, it’s more difficult to make a decision about which camera to purchase. Since the a6000 came out, Sony has released three newer models, the a6300, a6400, and the a6500. Both the a6300 and a6500 are also very strong (albeit more expensive) models, but for those looking for an entry-level mirrorless camera, the a6000 remains one of the best.