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Sony a6000 First Impressions Review

February 2014 | By Jeff Keller
Buy on GearShopFrom $648.006 deals


Preview based on pre-production Sony a6000

Sony's NEX-6 was a departure from the company's usual lineup of mirrorless cameras when it was introduced in the Fall of 2012. It slotted in between the NEX-5 models and the NEX-7, and offered two things that were yet to appear on any Sony mirrorless camera: a mode dial and ISO-standard hot shoe.

The new a6000 sits in the same place in Sony's mirrorless lineup, but adds a number of significant new features (while also losing the NEX moniker of its predecessor). While the resolution and processor have been bumped up, the most notable feature on the a6000 is its updated Hybrid AF system.

Where the NEX-6 had 99 phase-detect points covering approximately 50% of the sensor, the a6000 has 179, with 92% coverage. This, combined with the new Bionz X processor, allows the camera to shoot continuously at 11 fps with subject tracking, according to Sony. The company also claims that the a6000 has the fastest AF performance on the market, though those statements should always be taken with a grain of salt.

Sony a6000 key features

  • 24.3 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
  • Bionz X image processor
  • Hybrid AF system with 25 contrast-detect and 179 phase-detect points
  • Built-in flash + Multi-Interface Shoe
  • 11 fps continuous shooting with subject-tracking
  • 3-inch tilting LCD with 921,600 dots
  • OLED electronic viewfinder with 1.44M dots
  • Diffraction correction, area-specific noise reduction, and detail reproduction technology
  • Full HD video recording at 1080/60p and 24p; clean HDMI output
  • Wi-Fi with NFC capability and downloadable apps

The major changes here are related to the sensor. The new 24 megapixel 'Exmor APS HD' CMOS sensor has on-chip phase detection like its predecessor, but covers a much larger area of the frame. Sony promises better AF tracking, especially when shooting continuously. The a6000 uses Sony's latest image processor - Bionz X - which touts improved detail and smarter noise reduction as improvements.

While the specs of the a6000's movie mode aren't a whole lot different from the NEX-6, users now have access to a zebra pattern, and can output 'clean' video over HDMI. The menus have switched to the new 'Alpha' style found on the a7 and a7R (for better or for worse), and the camera can now be controlled via a Mac or PC over a USB connection. The Wi-Fi feature is about the same as on the NEX-6, with even more apps available for download.

Hybrid AF System

If there's one area that makes the a6000 stand out from the crowd, it's the camera's improved AF system. While the 25-point contrast detect part of the system remains the same, the number of phase-detect points has increased from 99 to 179 since the NEX-6. All of those extra phase detect points give you a much wider coverage area: roughly 92% of the frame, compared to around 50%. The benefit? A wider area that lets phase detection autofocus do what it does best: track moving subjects.

Bionz X Processor

The company's latest processor, dubbed Bionz X for reasons that presumably made sense to someone, is considerably more powerful than the previous generation, allowing what the company says will be more sophisticated processing.

Sony is being a little vague on specifics, but is touting the new processor as offering 'Detail Reproduction Technology' which appears to be a more subtle and sophisticated sharpening system. The company promises less apparent emphasis on edges, giving a more convincing representation of fine detail.

Another function promised by the Bionz X processor is 'Diffraction Reduction', in which the camera's processing attempts to correct for the softness caused by diffraction as you stop a lens' aperture down. This processing is presumably aperture-dependent and sounds similar to an element of Fujifilm's Lens Modulation Optimization system (introduced on the X100S), suggesting it's something we should expect to see become more common across brands in the coming months.

Finally, Sony says the Bionz X chip offers a more advanced version of its context-sensitive, 'area-specific noise reduction', which attempts to identify whether each area of an image represents smooth tone, textured detail or subject edges and apply different amounts of noise reduction accordingly.

Compared to a5000 and NEX-6

While most of the changes on the a6000 are for the better, there are a few things that have gone the other way compared to the NEX-6. For the sake of comparison we've also thrown in the a6000's step-down model, the a5000.

 
a5000
NEX-6
a6000
Resolution
20.1MP
16.1MP
24.3MP
Processor
Bionz X
Bionz
Bionz X
AF system (contrast/phase)
25 / 0 point
25 / 99 point
25 / 179 point
ISO range
100-16000
100-25600
100-25600
LCD design (tilt up/down)
Tilting (180° up)
Tilting (90°/45°)
Tilting (90°/45°)
EVF type / resolution
None
OLED / 2.36M dot
OLED / 1.44M dot
EVF magnification (equiv.)
N/A
0.73x
0.70x
Max burst rate
4 fps
10 fps
11 fps
Video resolution
1080/60i/24p
1080/60p/24p
1080/60p/24p
Zebra pattern
Yes
No
Yes
Clean HDMI output
No
No
Yes
PC remote
No
No
Yes
Battery life (CIPA)
420 shots
360 shots
420 shots

In most respects, the Alpha 6000 is a big step up from the NEX-6. The only way in which the a6000 falls short compared to that camera is with regard to the EVF, which is smaller and lower resolution.

As you'd expect, the a6000 is considerably more capable than the lower-cost a5000, unless you want a 180 degree flip-up screen. The trade-off for that feature is the lack of an EVF.

Kit options and pricing

The a6000 will be available in silver or black, at a price of $650 for the body and $800 for a kit including the 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 power zoom lens.

The a6000 is available in silver or black

Accessories of note include an 'active sling bag', screen protector, and body case. Some users may also be interested in the BC-VW1 external charger, as Sony only includes a USB charger in the box.


If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

Images which can be viewed at a larger size have a small magnifying glass icon in the bottom right corner of the image, clicking on the image will display a larger (typically VGA) image in a new window.

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DPReview calibrate their monitors using Color Vision OptiCal at the (fairly well accepted) PC normal gamma 2.2, this means that on our monitors we can make out the difference between all of the (computer generated) grayscale blocks below. We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X,Y and Z and ideally A,B and C.

This article is Copyright 2013 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

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Comments

Total comments: 604
1234
Richt2000
By Richt2000 (2 months ago)

That is a LOT of camera for $650. Lets just hope the AF is as good as it is claimed, and the IQ is as good as the Nex7 at base ISO.

"First impressions" is missingany first impressions so its a wait and see I guess.

11 upvotes
SDF
By SDF (2 months ago)

I agree. $650? that's cheaper than a month old OM10.

10 upvotes
undergrounddigga
By undergrounddigga (2 months ago)

And there is a reason for it. Have you had the chance to hold a 1 year old NEX and a one year old OMD in your hand?

Just my experience. One of my very good friends bought a NEX - it was disintegrating within a year. It also felt/feels very plasticky. (NEX-5) Also the Sony lenses, were scratching all the time. You just couldn't put down your camera on the table/floor. t have also had the chance to play with the Sony RX1 - which is supposedly a much better built camera. In quality of build neither comes nowhere close to the OMD.

I'm not here to start an argument, each with their own. In my opinion however, the build quality of OMDs is a completely different level. It also feels like a camera, not like a smartphone. Gives you much much more pleasure. Gives you inspiration to go out and take pictures. The thing is, if OMD would have APSC/FF sensor nobody would question the price difference - Lets face it, this the primary factor in the eye of photography forum posters..

2 upvotes
new boyz
By new boyz (2 months ago)

Sony is an electronic company. Its electronic products naturally are cheaper. Just like Canikon, their lenses are cheaper(relative to Sony btw) because of their expertise in making cheap glass. Maybe Sony should be making camera body, licenses its e-mount lens production to Sigma.

Comment edited 5 minutes after posting
2 upvotes
SDF
By SDF (2 months ago)

Build quality is one thing but IQ is another. Have you had a chance to compare APS-C sensor to m4/3? and please don't tell me they're the same. I'm not here to start a fight either. :)

4 upvotes
undergrounddigga
By undergrounddigga (2 months ago)

SDF, hey, I have nothing against the Sony :)
In matter of fact, I very much welcome their innovation, and they also bring new stuff/perspective to the market.
But none should be surprised that a magnesium body is more expensive than plastic ..
interestingly, nobody questions why a carbon fibre sport car is more expensive than a van? The van has bigger room, but it is made out of cheaper materials, etc .. easy as.

lets be honest if Olympus would make a FF OMD .. pretty much all of us would be all over it :)

1 upvote
claratvt
By claratvt (2 months ago)

I have the Sony NEX-5N for more than a year and I had with me all over the world. It works and looks like new. Don't know about "disintegrating" at all :-)

3 upvotes
headofdestiny
By headofdestiny (2 months ago)

I can't believe the poster above actually said the build of the OMD is better than the RX1. That is laughable. The RX1 is more solid than anything this side of a Leica M. It makes my x100s feel like a toy.

4 upvotes
plasnu
By plasnu (2 months ago)

Gapless microlens is nice.

Comment edited 14 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
bobbarber
By bobbarber (2 months ago)

Where are the "first impressions"? This is just ticking off the specs...

0 upvotes
Jeff Keller
By Jeff Keller (2 months ago)

We should have some impressions written up tomorrow. Thanks for your patience.

1 upvote
bobbarber
By bobbarber (2 months ago)

Well, thank you. I know this is a technically oriented site, but I prefer to read what people's opinions are of the equipment--the subjective stuff. That's why I tend to click on these "first impressions" articles rather than the "just released" versions.

1 upvote
davidstock
By davidstock (2 months ago)

Thanks, Jeff. I would love to know if there's a way to customize back-button autofocus. Maybe with that AE Lock button...?

0 upvotes
Jeff Keller
By Jeff Keller (2 months ago)

@davidstock: there are lots of options for those buttons, but I don't see one for focusing, sorry.

0 upvotes
Droidie69b
By Droidie69b (2 months ago)

Why no weather sealing or tilting EVF? The expensive lens line up is still a pain in the butt. Imagine if Canon, with all thier lenses and third party supporters launched a GX7 style APS camera with standard lens mount. What a Sony killer.

0 upvotes
RichRMA
By RichRMA (2 months ago)

Canon and Nikon HATE mirror-less.

8 upvotes
HelloToe
By HelloToe (2 months ago)

News flash: Canon already launched their mirrorless camera, and it uses a unique lens mount.

7 upvotes
Anfernee Cheang
By Anfernee Cheang (2 months ago)

1. You have mentioned "imagine"
2. If that's real, it must be pretty laggy

0 upvotes
captura
By captura (2 months ago)

Why the smaller less capable EVF, compared to the NEX-6?

0 upvotes
dlkeller
By dlkeller (2 months ago)

I didn't realize these things were using power zoom,. My experience with this on other cameras has been very bad compared to manual zoom. What is the general feeling concerning this?

1 upvote
mactheweb
By mactheweb (2 months ago)

You're right, the power zoom is not that great. The zoom is hard to use with precision. I prefer Sony's original kit zoom.

0 upvotes
EinsteinsGhost
By EinsteinsGhost (2 months ago)

Power zoom only if you choose power zoom lenses (three at the moment: 16-50, 18-105 and 18-200). Of course you can manually zoom as well.

3 upvotes
jeremyclarke
By jeremyclarke (2 months ago)

The power zoom is much smaller and optically (apparently) pretty close to the older non-power-zoom.

Personally I hated how it felt to use. Slowed down startup and reminded me how annoying that was on my old compact cameras compared to DSLR.

More important flaw of this lens is the completely uncorrected distortion and ruined black corners in RAW files when you shoot at 16mm. JPGs are fixed in-camera but every single RAW file at 16mm will need to be cropped to fix the corners (or "distortion correctted" to simultaneously downplay the barrel distortion and crop the corners in the process).

0 upvotes
Simon jackson
By Simon jackson (1 month ago)

how bad is this distortion problem at 16mm will it kill my photo? and will it still appear after 17mm and what will happen if i get the 10-18 wide angle emount lens?

0 upvotes
SteveY80
By SteveY80 (2 months ago)

I'm surprised that the EVF has been downgraded compared with the NEX 6...

I guess it's probably the same 1.4mp model that's in the RX10, and by all accounts there's nothing wrong with that, but I'd have thought that they'd be showing off their best technology in this camera.

1 upvote
plasnu
By plasnu (2 months ago)

They say refresh rate is MUCH higher and much easier to see the moving object. This is the FAST camera, I think.

5 upvotes
Robert Morris
By Robert Morris (2 months ago)

Their saving the best for the a7000.

4 upvotes
tanmancs
By tanmancs (2 months ago)

$650 for body is a great price to start.

3 upvotes
SteveY80
By SteveY80 (2 months ago)

That seems strange to me. I've played with an NEX 6 and used an A77 and didn't notice any problems with refresh rate or lag. Plenty of people use higher resolution EVF cameras like the A65 and A77 for shooting sport or birds in flight.

4 upvotes
captura
By captura (2 months ago)

Will the hot-shoe adapt to the excellent EVF from the NEX-5R/T, product # FDA-NEV1S ? That specs. out much higher, the same as the EVF on the NEX-6 & 7.

0 upvotes
Bart Hickman
By Bart Hickman (2 months ago)

Wow. Built in wireless flash control and big boost in AF performance (hopefully). My two biggest complaints of the NEX 6. Only downer is the lower res EVF. Maybe that was needed to hit the relatively low price point.

7 upvotes
lyricalmotion
By lyricalmotion (2 months ago)

Silver model?
wow NEX -6 costed like 850~1000 when it first announced..
this cost 650... amazing price....

17 upvotes
jeremyclarke
By jeremyclarke (2 months ago)

Am I the only one who finds the silver variant uniquely worse than the black one? They should have at least added more black in it than just the grip, as is it looks unbalanced and like they just made all the metal parts silver without asking if the result was any good.

0 upvotes
HelloToe
By HelloToe (2 months ago)

And it doesn't really match the silver lenses.

Comment edited 9 seconds after posting
0 upvotes
DVT80111
By DVT80111 (2 months ago)

EVF downgraded from 2.36M to 1.44M.
No new sensor technology for low light.

Boy, talking about customer satisfaction. Any NEX-6 owners out there should be very happy that your camera has not been obsoleted yet.

Comment edited 3 minutes after posting
5 upvotes
mactheweb
By mactheweb (2 months ago)

I guess we all want something different. I'm not happy about the lower res EVF, but I've already place my pre-order to B&H. The faster AF and NEX-7 quality images are more important. Anyway, I've shot both the NEX-6 and 7. If you down res the images from 24MP to 16 the ISO performance is equivalent.

3 upvotes
plasnu
By plasnu (2 months ago)

The refresh rate is higher and suitable to the fast moving object, according to the source.

3 upvotes
RichRMA
By RichRMA (2 months ago)

I'm sure they look into cost-cutting when any new "improved" model is released. Or, they are planning on a wider price division between it and the new 7. The lower rez EVF is probably because they need to differentiate more from the 7 and giving it the highest resolution EVF made it too close to what they are going to offer in the 7. It already has the highest resolution APS sensor, they can't go up from there.

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
1 upvote
EinsteinsGhost
By EinsteinsGhost (2 months ago)

"EVF downgraded from 2.36M to 1.44M"

Not if you consider this NEX-5?R/T replacement which is where this one is priced at. NEX-6 was more expensive camera.

2 upvotes
binauralbeats
By binauralbeats (2 months ago)

If a camera is useable, it's not obsolete. Nothing sony could've put into this camera would make the NEX6 obsolete.

4 upvotes
jeremyclarke
By jeremyclarke (2 months ago)

No one complained about the EVF in the OM-D EM-5, which had the same resolution as this new camera. The high rez EVF in the NEX 6 looked great on paper, but really we have no evidence it actually improved the experience of using the camera over a 1.4.

I kind of hated the EVF in the NEX 6, though my biggest annoyance was the lag between raising it to my eye and the EVF lighting up. I hope they improved that!

0 upvotes
fabozzi
By fabozzi (2 months ago)

Just for your info: I am am old Nikon guy changed to Nex-6 then to a57 (because of the disappointing AF of he Nex-6) and pre ordered the A6000 today Will get a Sony CZ 16-70 and be (probably) happy.
The only thing which I did not enjoy with the Nex-6 was the slow AF with moving objects, mostly trailing dogs in my case.
So I am quite excited to experience the improvement, if existing. What nobodies talking about: The Nex-product line (or now: A-Line) weights 30-40% less then comparable DSLRs , the physical size is 30-40 less and the quality is comparable to bulky DSLRs. Think about other other industries. To shrink electronic devices by 10% may increase the price by a multiple. I am excited and wish Sony, with their innovative approach the best. I am bored by the inferior Canon sensors.
and by the old-fashioned Nikon interface. (Tried a friends D5200, at least 2 clicks more compared to Sony or Canon to change settings).
So, to cut a long story short: I will give it a try

0 upvotes
Total comments: 604
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