a6000 compared to NEX-6

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Bart Hickman
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a6000 compared to NEX-6
4 months ago

I got my a6000 today.  I went through a list of comparisons with the NEX-6.  Also checked on some gripes I had with the NEX-6 to see if they were fixed on the a6000 (in nearly all cases, the answer is yes.)  I also must have spent an hour going through the menu items and customizing the many buttons and function menu.  Here's the list:

On the NEX-6, you have to push a button to access the EV-comp dial.  On the a6000, you just turn the dial (once you get it configured).

I've really only tested AF-S.  In good light (from mid-day interior light to overcast day light), the a6000 blows aways the NEX-6.  My 55-210 lens is especially improved in good light.  In very low light (in the 3EV range or darker), the gap narrows--maybe the a6000 is slightly more reliable.  Near EV6 (dark overcast, late afternoon), the a6000 easily beats the NEX-6.  Even my 55-210 is feeling nearly instant even at 210 (which is most definitely not the case on the NEX-6 which will often hunt even if the focus was already close.)  I was using the medium sized focus point which is the same size as the NEX-6 focus points.

On the a6000 in AF-S mode, the AF sensor *always* opens up the lens aperture while focusing (same as a regular DSLR.)  This happens even with settings preview enabled.  This also means you always get PDAF no matter what the camera aperture setting (this is for AF-S.  AF-C is different.)  On the NEX-6, if settings-preview was enabled and the aperture was set to a large enough number, you'd lose PDAF and CDAF would be accordingly crippled as well (CDAF is always happier with smaller F-numbers.)  The latter seems like an arcane point until you shoot in pitch black conditions with the aperture not at the widest setting--then the NEX-6 fails utterly while the a6000 happily locks focus.

AF-C mode is more complicated.  I'm going to skip over that for now.  Besides, I didn't get to test it much (other than noticing it was really fast).

AF points can now be made tiny on the a6000.  I didn't try this much, but I know it'll be hugely useful when shooting flower details or bugs or other small things.

The a6000 flash is easier to pop up with my thumb.

Aside from speed, I found focus is more reliable and accurate (doesn't get fooled into focusing on the background and it very accurate--I could never improve focus manually).  I'm speaking mainly from testing AF-S.  The NEX-6 always tended to back focus my 16-50 at 50 and my 55-210 at 210.  That's no longer a problem.

AF assist lamp actually works right on the a6000 now--your focus point stays there and locks reliably even in pitch black conditions.  And because the aperture always opens during AF, the focus is quite fast with the AF assist (whereas on the NEX-6, AF could still be quite slow even with AF assist).

Customization means I can have all focus controls at the touch of a button--focus modes, AF-MF toggle, focus point selection.  Huge deal for me.

I can have flash comp in the function menu now (amazingly, this was not possible on the NEX-6--I had to dig into a list menu to set flash comp)

Can optionally have the ev-comp also control flash comp or keep them separate.  The usual behavior on most cameras is for them to be locked together for auto modes.  I like this controllability.

The lens mount is noticeably tighter.  My lenses don't wiggle nearly as much (comparable to my Canon EF mount film camera and Pentax DSLRs).  I don't see any overt design changes in the mount. It's still plastic with metal coasters/springs.  Perhaps something is slightly thicker.

In image viewing, you can zoom in on an image and then scroll to another image while still zoomed in.  This is nice for A/B comparisons of details.

EVF diopter has more near-sighted range.  It actually corrects my terrible near-sightedness (barely).  The NEX-6 didn't have enough range for me.

On screen info display layout is way better.  They centered the image and got most of the clutter off of the image.

Steady shot on/off can now be put in the function menu.  Thank goodness!  Now it's easy to turn it on off--no deep menu dives.

Remote control function is now separate from drive mode so you can, for example, do timer mode of exposure bracketing with the remote control.  Downside is *you can't put the remote control function in the function menu*.  Arrrgh.  This is the one fairly photography-related thing I'll need to root around in the menus to find when I need to use it.

Bracketing now has two modes: Continuous (one button push to shoot them all) and single shot (one button push per exposure.)

Pre AF can be shut off.  I always hated how on the NEX-6, the AF was busily changing focus all the time.  Now I can do auto-focus, then press the manual focus toggle and it'll stay put.

There's an AF micro adjust menu item, but it's disabled.  Perhaps there's a AF micro adjust feature coming to a future lens firmware update?

EVF eye relief is identical as far as I can tell.  Eye-glass wearers will see no difference in usability.  I wear smallish eye-glasses specifically because of photography.

EVF lag/update rate seems about the same between a6000 and NEX6.  I couldn't tell any difference.

In very dark conditions (nearly black), the a6000 EVF looks noticeably more grainy.  Yes, I wrote that right.  The a6000 pictures look better, but the EVF (and LCD) is more noisy if you push it to its extreme.  Might be an issue when shooting stars.  I'll have to check that.

a6000 meters about 1/2EV brighter than the NEX-6.  This is a good thing because the NEX-6 usually underexposes by about that much.

Multi-shot NR is now part of the ISO menu.  But it's fully auto ISO only.  So the the multi-shot NR app is still useful if you want to manually control ISO.  The only problem is, that app is currently not compatible with the a6000.  I assume Sony will fix that promptly.

You now have Auto ISO available in manual mode (a la Pentax TAv mode)

Apps run about twice as fast which means they've gone from really sluggish to somewhat sluggish.  A welcome improvement.  Needs another factor of 2 improvement though.

Exposure meter in the a6000 works in *much* darker conditions than the NEX-6.  I'd say at least 2 stops darker which will be nice if you're shooting in night conditions (and using the AF assist lamp).  If my calculations are correct, metering was working decently down to below -5EV which will come in handy for those really dark ND filters.

Included camera strap is thicker/beefier.  More comfy and looks less cheap.

I still wish there was a one button "ISO reset" somewhere.  Quite often I have left the ISO set to something and I want to quickly snap it back to auto ISO.

I'm also disappointed they didn't enable built-in flash wireless control or enable manual mode for the built-in flash.

Bart

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 Bart Hickman's gear list:Bart Hickman's gear list
Sony Alpha NEX-6 Sony a6000 Pentax smc FA 50mm F1.4 Sony E 55-210mm F4.5-6.3 OSS Sony E 10-18mm F4 OSS +10 more
Sony a6000 Sony Alpha NEX-6
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