Sony a6000 Review
Conclusion - Pros
- 24 megapixel APS-C sensor is one of the best in its class
- Small body with generally well placed controls
- Very fast continuous shooting
- Class-leading continuous autofocus
- Excellent level of control over video (including manual exposure)
- High quality, responsive viewfinder
- Electronic first-curtain option
- Good JPEGs with well-judged sharpening
- Extensive feature set, including sweep panorama and auto-object framing
- Wi-Fi with plenty of options
- USB charging offers convenience
Conclusion - Cons
- Flash exposures often misjudged
- No In-camera Raw conversion option
- Noise reduction can be a bit heavy-handed
- No touchscreen
- No electronic level gauge
- Battery life feels low (though provided charge percentage info helps judge remaining life)
- Specifying an autofocus point can be cumbersome
- Lens range not as well developed as rival systems
- Movie record button can lead to shaken footage at start and end of clips
- Lack of included external charger makes keeping a second battery charged awkward
The a6000 is one of Sony's first E-mount cameras to eschew the NEX branding that first introduced the company's range of mirrorless cameras around four years ago. And, while it may look very similar to the NEX-6 that preceded it, the cumulative effect of the changes means it's a very different camera. In part that's because of the rate of technological progress at Sony, but it's also because Sony has finally decided to pair a fully photographer-focused user interface with its impressive image makers.
So, while the a6000 may see its viewfinder downgraded compared to the NEX-6, just about everything else is a step forward. And this isn't just a step forward for Sony: we've not before seen a camera at this price able shoot so fast and track focus so well, nor one that offers such complete control over its movie shooting. And, for that matter, it's not just a step forward for mirrorless cameras: we'd struggle to think of another camera in this price bracket that offers so much in the way of stills and video capability in such a coherent package.
It's not perfect, of course: I personally find the Olympus E-M10 more fun to shoot with, thanks to the layout of its control dials that can be operated with different digits, and the a6000's kit lens can't hold a candle to the Fujifilm X-E2's excellent XF 18-55mm F2.8-4R LM OIS. Fujifilm's X-T1 offers further ergonomic and build-quality advantages. But in terms of image quality per size and per dollar, the a6000 is hard to beat. While some people will never step away from a DSLR, the a6000 makes a very strong case for being able to do everything a Nikon D5300 or EOS 700D/Rebel T5i can do, even in terms of autofocus.
The a6000 fits in the hand nicely and then makes it easy to bring most of the camera's key settings near to hand. This combination of button customization and the user-configurable Fn menu make the a6000 that bit nicer and more straightforward to operate than its NEX predecessors.
The a6000 has two control dials, which offer a little control over their function. We'd have liked to see two full control dials (ideally designed for operation with different fingers), but the reasonably solid detents on the four-way/ rear dial mean that it can be controlled with a good degree of precision. It's not as good as the likes of the Olympus E-M10 or Fujifilm in this respect, but still offers a good degree of control - and more than the Canon or Nikon DSLRs at this price.
As a video camera the a6000 isn't quite so well worked out: you can still change all the key settings during movie shooting, but having to turn click dials and navigate Fn menus isn't optimal, if you're trying to keep your footage smooth and responsive. That said, it's a hard balance to strike and we'd rather the a6000 worked well as a stills camera while still offering all this video control, rather than compromising either the stills handling or the level of video control offered.
Image Quality and Video
The a6000's image quality is very good, both in JPEG and Raw. The improved sharpening in the latest generation of Sony camera brings a significant improvement to the JPEG quality, though we'd recommend turning down the High ISO noise reduction as its claims to be context-sensitive seem to have emboldened Sony's engineers to push its intensity up a bit too high. The DRO+ algorithm allows the camera to incorporate lots of dynamic range into JPEGs without them looking too 'flat.' Sadly you have to all but guess what level of DRO to apply, since it's hard to see that sort of tonal subtlety on the rear screen and there's no in-camera Raw processing option to let you select it after shooting.
The camera's Raw files have plenty of flexibility - whether in terms of the extensive DR that's there to be taken advantage of at low ISOs, or the scope for applying more subtle noise reduction at the other end of the sensitivity scale. You don't have to shoot Raw with the a6000, but if gives you more options if you do.
Video quality is pretty good, too. It's not in the class of Sony's own RX10 or Panasonic's GH4, in terms of detail, but for a consumer-grade camera it's more than acceptable. Combined with the high level of control the camera provides, the a6000 is the best all-rounder for shooting stills and video under $1,000 we've tested.
The final word
The a6000 is a really solid camera and is better than its predecessor in almost every respect - anyone worried about Sony cutting corners to hit a lower price point should be reassured that it has done so intelligently. The result is a really capable camera, offering impressive image quality in both Raw and JPEG modes, plus class-leading video features. That it then does so in a small, convenient, well featured and competitively priced package is what really seals the deal for us. It's strong in all areas and outstanding in some.
If you plan to shoot video as well as stills, this is the camera to buy in this class. If your focus is purely stills, things are a little less clear-cut, and the decision should probably come down to lenses: Sony's approach to its E-mount lens lineup doesn't seem as enthusiast orientated as those of Olympus or Fujifilm (with a bit more focus on consumer zooms than accessible primes), and the power zoom included here offers lots in terms of convenience and flexibility, but falls short on ultimate image quality. As such, more than usual, the a6000's full potential isn't truly realized without buying additional lenses but, if you're willing to make that commitment or can appreciate the a6000 kit as a really canny all-rounder, then you'll end up with a camera that's difficult to beat.
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 Alpha a6000
Category: Mid Range Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
Ergonomics & handling
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Movie / video mode
The a6000 brings Sony's latest interface improvements and enhanced JPEG processing to a well-featured, competitively-priced mid-range camera. Its stand-out features are its comprehensive video controls and continuous autofocus performance unprecedented at this price. The flexible but optically average power zoom make this a highly capable and compact package.
A rising number of multi-camera designs means that sensor suppliers are struggling to meet increased demand.
Panasonic's Lumix DC-GX9 is a 20MP rangefinder-style mirrorless camera that aims to do a bit of everything. It borrows features from both the GX8 and the smaller GX80 / GX85, but does it strike the right balance?
Apparently, Huawei hasn't learned its lesson. Two years after passing off a DSLR image as a smartphone image, it's once again misleading consumers in a new, 30-second advertisement for its Novi 3 and 3i smartphones.
Nikon has posted teaser number five for its full-frame mirrorless system being announced in just three days. In this one, early users of the camera share their first impressions, and there's also a quick glimpse of an F-mount adapter.
It's not just the Seattle team celebrating ten years since the announcement of the first mirrorless system. Chris and Jordan have also been looking back at the camera that started it all: the Panasonic Lumix DMC G1.
On a hot and hazy afternoon, DPR staffer Carey Rose took the Panasonic Lumix GX9 and Lumix G Vario 35-100mm F2.8 lens to a neighborhood music festival to gather some impressions of the autofocus system. Here's what he found.
The European Imaging and Sound Association has announced the winners of its 2018-19 awards, with Sony doing particularly well and coming away with five of the eighteen prizes.
When it was introduced earlier this year, Google's new cloud storage service wasn't available to new customers. Now, anyone in the US can sign up for a Google One plan, starting at $2/month for 100GB of storage.
DJI has launched a new video teasing its upcoming launch event. The August 23 date is more than a month later than the original July 18 event date given by DJI back in June.
A veteran wildlife photographer and typically a Nikon shooter, Aaron Baggenstos took the Sony a9 on a recent trip to the Alaskan Wilderness. Find out his impressions of the camera and see some of the incredible images he was able to capture.
Parent company Longsys has announced that Lexar will be back "in full production" and shipping globally this fall.
Owners of V-mount Hasselblad lenses will now be able to use their modern and historic glass on the front of the Hasselblad X1D. The XV adapter hinted at late last year has now been officially announced and will cost €199 / $249 / £179.
Scottish whisky producer Macallen has teamed up with photographic cooperative Magnum Photos to create a single malt whisky in collaboration with Steve McCurry, Martin Parr, Paolo Pellegrin, Mark Power, Gueorgui Pinkhassov and Alec Soth.
The photography competition seeks "pictures that show the importance of health in society and the impact health issues have on people and communities worldwide."
Nikon has posted another teaser video for its upcoming full-frame mirrorless system featuring some classic Nikkor lenses. Perhaps the most notable thing about the video is the lens that's shown first...
Following the CES 2017 announcement of its revival, Kodak Alaris has started shipping test rolls of its new Ektachrome to photographers for beta testing.
Take an inside look at the work that goes into testing Nikon cameras from drops, dust, water and debris. There were definitely cameras harmed in the making of this video.
In a press release issued this morning, Sony announced it has sold more full-frame cameras than any other brand in the US over the past six months, measured both by units sold and by value.
Yuneec has introduced the Mantis Q, a consumer drone with an integrated 4K camera, electronic image stabilization and voice control.
The new 3 Legged Thing Patti is a compact tripod that doesn't break the bank.
Alex and Kathryn are photographers, friends and Tokyo residents who love exploring Japan's hidden cultural treasures. They each brought a Canon EOS M50 on a recent trip starting in bustling Tokyo and ending in the peaceful riverside town of Gujo Hachiman.
The triple-camera in Samsung's 2019 Galaxy S10 smartphone is expected to use three sensors with varying pixel counts.
Net SE, the parent company behind the likes of Oprema Jena, Meyer Optik Görlitz, Emil Busch, C.P. Goerz, Ihagee and A. Schacht products has filed for bankruptcy and removed itself from the German stock exchange.
Canon's latest 70-200mm F4L comes with a five stops of image stabilization, a new coat of paint and impressive sharpness. We've been shooting with our copy for several weeks now - see how it stacks up in our sample gallery.
Special 4K and 6K Photo modes may be one of the most under-appreciated features on recent cameras. In this week's episode, Chris and Jordan take a closer look at these modes and explain why – and when – you'll be glad to have them on your camera.
Ten years ago this month Panasonic and Olympus announced a new concept called Micro Four Thirds. We're now on the brink of full-frame mirrorless from at least one major player, so perhaps it's a good time to take a look back at where it all started – and how far we've come.
Ted Forbes of The Art of Photography breaks down five 'hacks' for organizing your camera equipment.
The City of Redding has published a series of aerial images showing the devastation caused by the ongoing Carr Fire in Shasta County, California.