A6600 Is a Great Wildlife Shooter's APS-C Rig

Started Dec 30, 2019 | User reviews thread
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zackiedawg Forum Pro • Posts: 35,217
A6600 Is a Great Wildlife Shooter's APS-C Rig

I purchased my A6600 for the $1,198 price, bundled with a Sony 64GB SD card and a Billingham medium sized camera bag.

I really like the grip - very solid, large, well fit to my hand...it will help when attached to larger lenses. The build quality is more solid than my A6300, and general weather sealing efforts seem to be stepped up over my previous A6300 body.  I was already very comfortable with A6xxx ergonomics and preferred them to my previous DSLRs - but the larger grip has improved overall ergonomics of the body while keeping the form factor of the A6xxx series that I like.

Battery life is stellar - in the world of mirrorless cameras, it's in a league of its own - DSLR territory for sure.  While the full-frame bodies share the same battery, the APS-C body gets the longest CIPA rating in the mirrorless world at 810.  I shoot a lot of wildlife and birding, and usually far exceed any Cipa ratings due to very little image reviewing and lots of burst shooting...my first few shoots with this camera have shown that the battery life will exceed 3,000 frames in heavy use.  On my first day of wildlife shooting, I took 1,320 frames total on the A6600, and battery remaining at the end of the day was 75%.

Customizations of the menus and buttons is also excellent.  With 4 direct 'C' custom buttons on the body, programmable 4-way pad buttons, and AE/AF button, 9 direct access controls can be programmed to the body along with the two dials.  The Fn menu continues from past bodies, adding 12 more quick-access custom settings to be added without going into the main menu, and the My Menu has been added to the main menu as well, allowing two pages (30 items) of frequently used settings to be put in any preferred order so oft-used controls that don't fit or can't be put in Fn can be quickly accessed without going through the extensive menu pages.

Focus tracking is the big advertising point of these new bodies - as someone who shoots extensive wildlife, bird, and bird-in-flight (BIF) photography with e-mount bodies for many years now, I have never previously considered the A6xxx bodies' tracking modes to be usable.  While these cameras have always been quite good for BIF shooting, it was generally using the wide focus area and AF-C focus mode, and just letting the continuous focus acquire and try to stay with the subject most obvious in the frame.  Hit rate was always good - but there was no tracking, so a different subject might be picked up halfway through following a subject, or the subject could be lost if passing behind a tree or obstruction as you panned.  The new Tracking AF system so far seems to live up to the hype, in being able to lock-on to a subject and stick with it while panning, and even stay with or return to it if partially obstructed.  Unlike the prior Lock-on AF mode in past bodies, which couldn't reliably stick with any form of fast motion, the A6600's tracking focus is been able to stay with a bird closing head-on to the camera at 20-25MPH, even when moving side to side as it approaches.

My personal preference so far has been to use the Tracking AF mode in a way very similar to my A6300 - I use AF-C focus mode, with the Focus area set to Tracking - Wide.  Initially, the acquisition of a target works the same as with my previous camera - the 'dancing dots' of active focus points cluster over the initial subject that the camera has found...but where previously I just let AF-C and those focus dots try to stay with the subject, now with Tracking engaged, the 'dancing dots' convert to a tracking rectangle around the subject, and that box stays with the subject as long as you keep focus engaged.  For BIF work, it made an already very good camera system just that much better, and easier, and more reliable.

For high ISO shooting, I feel there's a roughly 1/2 stop improvement over the A6300 - which was already pretty good.  While I was comfortable up to ISO 6,400 for JPG output and most uses, I find myself comfortable up to 8,000 to 10,000 on the A6600 - with a good exposure, ISO 12,800 can render surprisingly clean.  Happily, the camera keeps the MFNR (Multi-frame noise reduction) ISO mode, which is an excellent tool for shooting handheld low light for scenics, landscapes, architecture, and slow movement scenes.  Also useful in nighttime scenics handheld is the DRO/HDR's HDR option - also using image-stacking in camera to reduce noise but also in exposing shadows, mids, and highlights separately and blending.  Both modes allow going up to 2 stops of ISO higher than whatever your main comfort levels are.

In body stabilization so far seems to work seamlessly with in-lens stabilization, and hand-holding the 200-600mm lens at 600mm has not been difficult at all.  I've only had the chance to try a few tests with unstabilized lenses, and the IBIS definitely improved hand-holdability by at least 2 stops - maybe more...I need to try some actual shoots to really determine how much more.

Having MR settings on the dial, which I had become accustomed to on the A6300, was a big selling point for me over the A6400, which lost the separate MR1 and MR2 positions on the dial.  I use these when out shooting wildlife and birds exclusively, with MR1 set up for still/non-flying wildlife and MR2 set up for BIF shooting.  Being able to turn the dial one click and be ready to shoot with a whole different bank of settings is priceless for me...and makes fast changes in the field simple.

I haven't had any of the delay issues commented on in the main Dpreview review - which likely has to do with how I shoot and familiarity with these bodies for many years.  As I shoot exclusively with the EVF, I do not encounter issues of delayed reaction switching between EVF and LCD.  I turn off the touch-screen of my camera and do not use it, so I don't have any delay issues with that.  I shoot still exclusively, and no video - so I do not need to be concerned over any switching delays between those two modes...I have no worries of the inability to switch between video/stills while buffer is clearing.  That doesn't mean that there's anything wrong with the review on this site - all are fair observations for that reviewer - but when reading a review, one needs to take into consideration their own needs and whether any of the likes or dislikes will be relevant to their own use.  For me, looking at the 'likes' in Dpreview's review - 'good video quality', 'headphone and mic sockets', '180 degree screen' all have no relevance to me...so none of those things would be on my own list of plusses.  Similarly, going down their 'dislikes' list, 'ergonomics' is a personal thing and I very much like and prefer the A6xxx body ergo, 'lengthy menu' I disagree with as I don't find it difficult at all, especially with MyMenu customization, 'long buffer clear' isn't a concern as I've never been limited in shooting due to buffer as I don't tend to shoot dozens of frames consecutively for seconds at a time, 'cannot switch to video or change burst mode while buffer clears' again won't be something I will ever encounter, 'buttons and controls cramped etc' I disagree with as I've always found them to be very comfortable and easy to access on my 3 A6xxx bodies, 'no in-camera RAW' is a feature I will never use, 'bluetooth can't speed up wi-fi image transfer' is not a feature I will ever use, 'jello in video' not a concern as I do not shoot video, and 'touchscreen behavior' is not relevant to me as I do not use it.  I also do not use built-in flash, so that was not a loss for me...nor was the loss of Sweep Panorama which I didn't use.

Any of those things may be much more impactful for another user - which is why we shouldn't be so dismissive or critical of a review that doesn't praise everything we love on a new camera.  Just go through the list of plusses and minuses, add any of your own, eliminate any from either column that won't apply to you, and see whether you have more plusses or minuses remaining!

I consider the A6600 to be an excellent evolution of the A6xxx series, and especially a camera tuned directly for action, sports, or wildlife photographers - who can appreciate the battery life, bigger grip, extensive customization, MR settings on the dial, and market-leading continuous AF and tracking AF system.

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 zackiedawg's gear list:zackiedawg's gear list
Sony a6600 Sony FE 100-400mm F4.5-5.6 Sony FE 200-600 F5.6-6.3 Sony E 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 OSS Sony E 16mm F2.8 Pancake +21 more
Sony a6600
24 megapixels • 3 screen • APS-C sensor
Announced: Aug 28, 2019
zackiedawg's score
Average community score
bad for good for
Kids / pets
Action / sports
Landscapes / scenery
Low light (without flash)
Flash photography (social)
Studio / still life
= community average
Sony a6300 Sony a6600
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