Conclusion

What we like What we don't
  • Excellent JPEG and Raw image quality
  • Class-leading AF tracking is especially good for photographing people
  • Good video quality
  • Unmatched battery life
  • In-body image stabilization
  • Headphone and mic sockets
  • Good burst shooting speed
  • Comfortable grip
  • Tilting touchscreen flips up 180 degrees, down 90 degrees
  • Extensive customization options
  • NFC makes image transfer simple
  • USB charging is convenient
  • Ergonomics lacking - both command dials must be operated with thumb
  • Lengthy menu is difficult to navigate
  • Single UHS-I card slot means buffer takes a long time to clear
  • Cannot switch to video or exit burst mode while buffer is clearing
  • Most buttons and controls are cramped, fiddly, or offer little travel and feedback
  • No in-camera Raw conversion
  • Bluetooth can't be used to speed up Wi-Fi connection for image transfer
  • Significant 'jello' effect in 4K/24p mode or significant crop in 30p mode
  • Touchscreen behavior needs to be switched between stills and video

On the whole, the Sony a6600 is a rather successful refinement of its predecessor. And as image quality becomes almost universally good across the camera market, there has been a developing pattern of manufacturers releasing more incremental, rather than revolutionary updates. The problem is that, as the a6600 is Sony's tip-top crop-sensor camera model, we think there was room for further improvements on the a6600 than Sony has bestowed upon it.

The a6600 sees Sony ceding ground to other manufacturers in some key areas

That's not to say that the a6600 is anything but a very capable camera. Sony's autofocus tracking is still industry leading. The a6600 has unbeatable battery life, in-body image stabilization, churns out attractive images in both JPEG and Raw, and captures very detailed 4K video. The grip is deeper and more comfortable than older models, and on the whole, this is a very customizable camera.

Out-of-camera JPEG.
Sony E 16-55mm F2.8 G | ISO 125 | 1/100 sec | F2.8
Photo by Richard Butler
Sample photoSample photoSample photoSample photoSample photo

But Sony has ceded ground to other manufacturers in some key areas, particularly when you look at other high-end models. The single, slow card slot isn't well-suited for action shooters or hybrid stills/video shooters needing to switch over to video after shooting a burst of stills. The ergonomics just don't suit a camera of this caliber; most controls are small and fiddly, and this camera is just begging for a front control dial. Interface lag persists, leading to a feeling that you're waiting for the camera to keep up with you, rather than vice-versa. And lastly, though the a6600's video is detailed, competitors have surpassed it in both quality and feature set.

It's not enough these days for a camera to simply be capable of capturing good photos and video. To stand out, it's become increasingly important for a camera to offer something more; whether that's a striking design, pushing boundaries in terms of speed or features, or offering a high level of polish in terms of user experience and interface. In these ever-more-significant respects, the a6600 falls short, and thus it misses out on our highest award.


Compared to its peers

The Fujifilm X-T3 is the company's range-topping APS-C mirrorless camera. We're big fans of its retro design (though not everyone will be), and you can operate it using its retro controls or twin customizable control dials. Its more modern sensor allows for faster burst speeds than the Sony and 4K/60p video with low rolling shutter. Twin UHS-II card slots, an AF joystick and robust customization round out the package. The X-T3's autofocus isn't up to the Sony's standard, it lacks IBIS and it has much shorter battery life, but it is absolutely worth a look if you're considering a camera of this price and capability.

We've also chosen to compare the a6600 against Panasonic's G9, which is that company's flagship stills-focused Micro Four Thirds camera. The Panasonic is quite a bit bigger, but that also helps make room for an abundance of direct controls as well as a top-plate LCD. The touchscreen interface is more responsive and polished than the Sony's, and the image stabilization system can be used to create pixel-shift high resolution images. Low light and dynamic range performance from the G9's smaller sensor are less impressive and its autofocus is less reliable than the Sony's, but the G9 has an edge with dual UHS-II card slots, 4K/60p video, and very fast burst shooting.

Let's also take a look at Canon's EOS M6 Mark II. Although the Canon is a good bit cheaper than the Sony, it remains Canon's most advanced APS-C mirrorless camera yet. And despite its lower price of entry, the Canon has a similar viewfinder (if you get the kit), faster burst shooting, more resolution and comparable dynamic range. Video quality is softer (though with less rolling shutter), there's no in-body stabilizer and the battery life is so-so. But it's a friendlier and, we daresay, more enjoyable camera to use than the Sony.

Lastly, let's not forget the predecessor to this camera, the Sony a6500. You may be tempted to save some money and get the older model, and there's not so much wrong with that - you still get in-body stabilization, identical image and video quality, and the same sort of burst-shooting capability. The differences really come down to the greatly improved autofocus tracking as well as the larger battery - if those are of value to you, then the a6600 is an easy pick.


Scoring

Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category. Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.

Sony a6600
Category: Mid Range Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
Build quality
Ergonomics & handling
Features
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Performance
Movie / video mode
Connectivity
Value
PoorExcellent
Conclusion
The Sony a6600 has an industry-leading autofocus system, is capable of excellent images and video, comes with very useful in-body image stabilization and has the best battery life of any mirrorless camera on the market at this time. However, its sensor is getting a bit long-in-the-tooth, and competitors have caught up or surpassed it regarding video quality and features, resolution and handling. But for family photography and even some sports and action, it's easily worth your consideration.
Good for
Family and people photographers, most sports and action shooters, general and travel photography.
Not so good for
Those who frequently take control over their camera and those who need a highly responsive camera for the most demanding action shooting.
83%
Overall score