Sony a6000 Review
Body & Design
The a6000 is a rangefinder-style camera with a solid-feeling body, despite being made of composite materials. It's by no means the smallest mirrorless camera on the market, but it still travels well in a small camera case, especially with the 16-50mm power zoom attached.
On the front is the AF-assist lamp, with the IR receiver (for an optional wireless remote) to its left. On the back of the camera is an electronic viewfinder (which is less impressive than the one on the NEX-6) with a good-sized eyecup and a sensor for automatically switching between it and the LCD. Speaking of which, the LCD has a 16:9 ratio which is great for movies, but not so great for shooting 3:2 stills, as it leaves black bars on either side of the frame.
On the right side of the frame is the contact area for 'tapping' your NFC-enabled smartphone, while you'll find the camera's I/O ports on the opposite side. These ports include the Multi-Terminal (which handles USB, charging, and a wired remote) and micro-HDMI. The a6000 does not have built-in microphone or headphone ports (but it can accept the hot-shoe mounted Sony ECM-XYSTM1 mic).
|Versus NEX-6||Versus NEX-7|
The a6000 is pretty much a dead ringer for the NEX-6 that came before it. The only major changes are the larger grip, which is welcomed by those with big hands, and the separation of the mode and control dials on the top plate, which will be welcomed by everybody. The new arrangement makes it much easier to operate just the control you want to, with the two dials featuring distinct textures, to ensure you can distinguish between them by touch, when your eye is to the viewfinder. The a6000 also resembles the NEX-7, with the major difference being the latter's Tri-Navi triple-dial interface.
In your hand
|The new, larger grip makes the a6000 even easier to hold than the NEX-6. Controls on the rear of the camera are all on the right side, which means that you'll have to watch where you place your thumb.|
Top of camera
Toward the center of the photo you'll spot the 'Multi-Interface Shoe', which combines an ISO standard hot shoe with extra pins for attaching a microphone. Next to that is the built-in flash, followed by the mode dial, which was a big deal when it first appeared on the NEX-6. The dial has the usual shooting modes (including two Auto modes and Sweep Panorama), plus a spot for custom settings (MR). It features a knurled texture so that it can be easily distinguished from the control dial, which has a ridged finish.
At the far right is the a6000's top control dial, with the other being on the back of the camera. Above the dials is the shutter release button - with the power switch around it - and one of two customizable buttons.
LCD and Viewfinder
The Alpha 6000 features a tilting LCD that's become pretty standard in its class. It can tilt upward ninety degrees, and down by about forty-five. The resolution is 921,600 dots which, again, is typical for a mid-range mirrorless camera.
One downside of this LCD is that its aspect ratio is 16:9, which, while great for video recording, isn't as well suited for still shooting, as black bars will be placed on both sides of the frame. Something else that may bother some folks is that the camera does not sit flat while the LCD is tilted downward - meaning it can't be opened downwards when mounted on a tripod.
The a6000 uses a lower resolution OLED electronic viewfinder (when compared to its predecessor). It's smaller and features 1.44m dots instead of 2.36m. This equates to a 22% drop in linear resoltion, since it now offers an 800 x 600 pixel (SVGA) view, rather than 1024 x 768 (XGA), but the real world difference isn't as great as you'd expect. This SVGA resolution puts it on par with the Olympus E-M10, though behind the more expensive Fujifilm X-E2, which offers XGA.
By far the bigger concern is the fine detail of the viewfinder's operation: the eye sensor is very sensitive and isn't disabled by you flipping the screen out (something its brighter rivals do). This means it's common to find the rear screen suddenly going blank, if you're trying to operate it in a confined space, as the eye sensor has detected you hand or some other obstacle. The viewfinder eyecup can also block the screen, when the LCD panel is flipped up, but this is a lesser concern, compared to the camera frequently switching to use the finder.
Wi-Fi, Apps, Remote Capture
The a6000's Wi-Fi system is the same as on other modern Sony mirrorless cameras. The camera can be remotely controlled from a smartphone, and photos can be transferred just as easily. If you have a smartphone with NFC, then you can just 'tap' the devices together to speed up the process - otherwise you'll have to manually be on the same network as the a6000.
The a6000 inherits support for the PlayMemories Apps that debuted on the NEX-6. of which sixteen are available, not including the Smart Remote app that is embedded in the camera. Some apps that were announced alongside the a6000 include Star Trail, Liveview Grading, and Smooth Reflection, which range in price from $5 to $10 (some other apps are free).
One new feature on the a6000 is the ability to control the camera from your Mac or PC. You can adjust the majority of camera functions from your computer, though the one thing that's not available is a live view of whatever you're about to photograph.
For more details on Wi-Fi, apps, and PC control, check out our Sony a7 review.
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