A6000 - AF, Color casting, ISO...

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verybiglebowski
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A6000 - AF, Color casting, ISO...
3 months ago

Working on my A6000 review, I just wanted to share few things till I don't finish it.

Autofocus

From my initial AF test, I was not amazed with focus tracking, but I am still not sure if it is camera or me. Sony doesn't really help me, because there are no comprehensive information about different focus behavior and interaction of different settings, as well as with compatibility with lenses. I tried SEL 55210 (fw 1.02) and FE 55/1.8 Z.

On the lens firmware upgrade page, A6000 is still not listed (at least it wasn't when I performed fw upgrade few days ago) as compatible, and for some lenses including FE 55/1.8, there is a note related to NEX 6 (and 5r I think), that PDAF will work only in center. Does that apply to A6000 too?

It is also not clear (to me at least) if hybrid AF works also at 11 f/s, or only PDAF is engaged at that drive speed.

I thought that difference between "AF Lock-on" and "lock-on - start w/shutter" mode is only in pre-focus activity. (with AF lock-on AF is permanently acquired and with start w/shutter it starts tracking with half press of shutter button), and to certain extent it is so, but when you look at the focus confirmation animation (green squares and rectangles) while tracking is performed, they look and behave differently.

All in all, more support from Sony (and better structured) would be I believe appreciated by many.

(You can take a look at my brief AF test results here - http://verybiglobo.blogspot.cz/2014/04/sony-alpha-a6000-world-fastest-af.html

UI

It is better than on NEX 7, but far from great. I still don't understand many of the settings conditioning and interactivity with other settings, and than there is strange Sony structure and menu items grouping that are...

e.g. In the camera set-up menu, there are several AF related settings. While AF mode, AF area, AF Illuminator, (video related) AF drive speed and AF tracking Duration are listed in order next to each other, focus tracking (that unlike "AF tracking duration" is named "Lock-on AF") and focus related - Smile/Face detection are listed two menu pages later.

Already mentioned - Smile/Face detection is in camera set-up menu, but face registration is in shooting settings menu, several pages further, together with AF Micro Adj. and Lens comp!?

When you confirm some settings change, camera exits menu, so to change something else, you have to enter menu again. It does remember where you were, but it is still annoying to enter menu as many times as many settings you want to adjust.

There are many similar, non intuitive (at least for me) issues, including well known C2 magnification non sense in a review/playback mode and complicated magnification zooming in shooting mode.

Image quality

We need to wait for more professional reviews for sure, but so far I am very pleasantly surprised. While AF for me is of least importance and I can somehow learn to live with Sony UI mass, I am always keen to see improvements in sensor and processing.

In that respect, with the new gap-less design, new micro-lenses and new processor, in direct comparison with NEX 7, A6000 seems to improve in two important aspects - edge color casting and edge smearing with some RF lenses.

Here are few comparative shots to illustrate my findings so far:

As you can see from those sample images and crops, A6000 made a huge step from NEX 7 (I have to admit that my NEX 7 still has original firmware 1.00) in terms of color casting and small step in terms of less corner smearing too. Big bravo from me!

High ISO seems to be even more impressive at least from my first field tests. Following sample is comparative illustration of 6400 ISO, 100% crop from 4 different cameras. Images were taken in RAW with High ISO noise reduction set to off (or low, where off wasn't option). All images were downsized to the size of Olympus image - 4608 px width. (I am planning to publish more comparison methods - original size crops, up-sized and down-sized, but that will take some time to finish editing...)

As expected, at same exposure settings, image from Olympus OM-D EM5 was almost 1 stop darker than from Sony cameras, but take this example with a big grain of salt, because I didn't have kit lens for Oly, only exotic Pen f 42/1.2 (set at f/8 though). 1 stop under exposure at same ISO settings by Oly, reflects also my own "real life" experience, when shooting with those cameras.

You'll need to open original file to see differences better.

If you have any suggestions, tips and tricks, especially when it comes to UI or/and best AF settings for AF tracking in the less than ideal situations (such as dark person in light background, red dressed person on gray background etc.), I will really appreciate them and with your permission, will include them in my final review.

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Sony a6000 Sony Alpha NEX-7
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