A6000 First Impressions

Discussion in 'Sony Alpha E-Mount Cameras' started by dbmiller, Apr 26, 2014.

  1. dbmiller

    dbmiller TalkEmount Top Veteran

    778
    Mar 2, 2012
    New England
    My A6000 arrived at the local camera store on Thursday. It's an upgrade from my 5n, so I had all my lenses with me, and could put a charged battery in the camera to test it out before leaving the store. I also took it to a local pool hall this evening for some low light shooting. So here are a few quick initial impressions...

    Auto Focus

    In the good light of the store, the PDAF is very fast. At the pool hall under low light, the camera was forced to switch to CDAF and things slow down quite a bit. It's no worse than the 5n, and may be slightly faster, but the hunting is obvious. Combine that with the continuous AF mode of the A6000, and you end up with the lens constantly breathing. If you find yourself in low light with the A6000, I recommend not using AF-C mode.

    Update: I had not updated the firmware on any of my lenses. I tried to do it with the 5n long before I ordered the A6000, but the 5n was not able to perform the update since it could only be done on a camera that had PDAF. My SEL2418CZ when purchased was already at the latest firmware. But the SEL50F18 that I used at the pool hall was not. So I do not know if the 50mm could have used PDAF at the pool hall. We only go once a month, so it will be a while before I can test it out.

    Side gripe: Sony's web site does not make it easy to find the firmware updates. I though they would be with the camera, and the A6000 doesn't have it's own support page yet. I happened to find the SEL50F18 this evening just by searching for the model number, because it was not obvious that for lenses you should go through the "Camcorder & Camera Accessories" table to get to lenses.

    So... The SEL2418CZ was up to date, and that's why it worked great in the camera store when I picked up the A6000. I had also tried my SEL55210, which wasn't updated for PDAF, so no wonder it had trouble tracking. Retests are definitely in order all around. Updated the SEL1855, SEL55210, and SEL50F18 - So now I'm good to go. The Sigma lenses are out of luck as far as I know.

    Viewfinder
    I keep hearing that the EVF is a downgrade (Lower resolution). But I find it just as good, if not better than the external EVF I use on the 5n. I'm a right-eyed shooter, so the side placement for me is great. Left-eyed shooters (like my daughter) will not be happy.

    I love the EVF and absolutely hate the "dirty diaper" holding of the camera when using the rear screen. The rear screen does come in handy from time to time, but I much prefer using the EVF.

    Touch Screen (Or lack, thereof)
    I have one on the 5n. But you know what? I turned it off the first week I owned it because I was always accidentally hitting it. So I don't miss having one on the A6000 one little bit. If that kept the cost down and I paid less because of it, them I am all for it. On a side note, I managed to get my smart phone connected to the camera, and found I could use the smart phone interface to set a focus point. I foresee the possibility of of using the camera/smartphone combination set up to monitor the bird feeder outside my window. By watching the screen on my smart phone, I would not be in the window to scare the birds. I could change the focus point if needed, and get the shot.

    Frame Burst Rate (11 FPS)
    Pretty damn awesome. Thought I had a problem when the camera was only shooting 3-4 frames per second at the pool hall. Thought it was because I had switched to RAW+JPG mode. Turns out, I was shooting at 1/13th or 1/15th shutter speeds, and you're not going to be able to shoot 11 FPS at those speeds. A switch to auto ISO, or just manually turning up the ISO, and I was good to go.

    SD card location
    It's crammed in there pretty tight against near the door hinge, which indeed can make it difficult to remove the card. I don't have thick fingers, just long fingers - So I'm okay with it, but I can understand why some people have had complaints. With a 32Gb card, I won't have to remove it often, and can leave the card in to transfer files to the computer (Or just use WiFi?). Not something I'm particularly worried about.

    Customization
    I've been able to find things in the menus to change settings without too much difficulty. The only thing I'm struggling to understand is how the custom settings for the three memory recall slot are set up. The manual that comes with the camera is very basic and doesn't cover anything in depth. I found a "Help Guide" online, which went into a little more detail, but the custom Memory Recall settings still weren't clear.

    Tri-Navi versus the A6000 mode dial
    Honestly, I can't see the need for the mode dial. I'd have rather it been a third dial like the NEX-7. I have been fine with going through the menus on the 5n to change modes. But if you're a shooter that changes modes often, I can see the advantage of having a separate mode dial. Too bad they couldn't leave the stacked dials from the NEX6 and still add the extra dial. I haven't yet delved deeply into customizations yet, so don't know if I really would need that third dial or not.

    I think that about covers it for now. Pictures and more thoughts to come.
     
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  2. Poki

    Poki TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 30, 2011
    Austria
    Nice review, thanks for sharing.

    By the way, I am left eyed too and use a NEX-7 (same EVF placement) and that's not really a problem once you're used to it. You just have to clean the screen a little more often.

    I personally couldn't live without the Tri-Navi or something similar, so no camera for me. Also, did you have a chance to directly compare the build quality of the A6000 vs the NEX-7? Because the NEX-6 was built far worse than the 7.
     
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  3. dbmiller

    dbmiller TalkEmount Top Veteran

    778
    Mar 2, 2012
    New England
    I haven't used a NEX-7 that much. Maybe once or twice over the years since I bought my 5n. And I haven't used a NEX-6 at all. So I can't comment on build quality. If it weren't for the floods back when the NEX-7 was supposed to ship, I'd have a NEX-7 instead of the 5n and probably would not have upgraded... Or maybe I would have gotten the A6000 for the wife and to use as a backup :)

    The A6000 does have a nice feel in my hands - As I said earlier, I have long, but not thick, fingers - So the larger grip was a welcome change from the 5n. But build quality? Unless it's real chintzy, I don't seem to notice.
     
  4. davect01

    davect01 Super Moderator

    Aug 20, 2011
    Fountain Hills, AZ
    Dave
    Great report, honest feelings and impressions.
     
  5. dbmiller

    dbmiller TalkEmount Top Veteran

    778
    Mar 2, 2012
    New England
    Gotta love 11 fps

    A quick edit made from the 11 fps images shot with the SEL50F18. Each frame was at 1/30th, f/2, ISO-400

    [​IMG]
     
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  6. Bimjo

    Bimjo Super Moderator

    Oct 28, 2011
    Washington State
    Jim
    Remind me to never play pool with you. :p
     
  7. WestOkid

    WestOkid TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 25, 2014
    New Jersey, USA
    Gary
    Don't have either, but I compared them last week while checking out the a6000. The a6000 ergonomics feels really good, but the NEX 7 definitely feels more premium.
     
  8. izzikiorage

    izzikiorage TalkEmount Veteran

    323
    Jul 30, 2013
    that is a really cool review, one that's really tempting me to upgrade my NEX 6. I also liked your idea of using the smartphone trigger to capture birds at a feeder, specially since they seem to run away if I am anywhere near it
     
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  9. tommyrot

    tommyrot TalkEmount Rookie

    23
    Feb 4, 2014
    Chicago
    After Amazon told me I'd have to wait 3-4 weeks for my A6000, they suddenly emailed me last Thursday that I'd be getting it Friday, which was a nice surprise.

    I was a little disappointed that the US version of the downloadable manual is not ready yet, so I was unable to figure out how to get Eye AF to work before I went to the cat shelter to photograph kitties. But I've since found a pdf of the European version of the manual in English: http://download.sony-europe.com/pub/manuals/consumer/ILCE6000_HG_EN.pdf

    So far I'm loving the A6000. I haven't used a camera with a viewfinder in at least 15 years, and the viewfinder is so much better than using the screen. I played around with the various AF settings, trying to find the best settings for photographing cats with a very shallow depth of field. Despite my inability to get the Eye AF working on the cats, my hit rate was better than my NEX-5T. (My biggest problem with both cameras is trying to focus on the cats' eyes, not their noses.)
     
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  10. José De Bardi

    José De Bardi Assistant in Virtue

    Aug 31, 2013
    Dorset, UK
    José
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  11. alaios

    alaios TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 11, 2013
    Düsseldorf
    Alex
    looks good camera and thanks for the review..too pricey for me. I am might be buying nex-7 second hand one day... :p
     
  12. dbmiller

    dbmiller TalkEmount Top Veteran

    778
    Mar 2, 2012
    New England
    Update:

    1) When I first got the camera, I was having trouble finding out how the memory settings worked. Found the same question asked in the Sony Community Forum with a good explanation given on how to save the current camera settings to one of the three custom memory slots. Not sure what best to do, but I'm thinking something along the lines of:

    a) Landscape setting. Aperture preferred at f/8, ISO-100, DMF focus mode.
    b) High speed shooting mode. Program mode, Auto-ISO, AF-C focus mode, Zone focus, AF lock on
    c) Manual legacy lens mode. Shutter preferred at 1/125th? (To reduce camera shake), Auto-ISO

    2) On the first days of shooting, I was having trouble getting the camera to do the AF-C mode like I had seen in various online videos - All the little AF boxes bouncing around all over the place. Finally found the correct group of setting although I am not sure what the final trigger was. But at least I can reproduce it now. And all the SEL lenses are working with it. When I switch to one of the Sigma's, the camera switches into the contrast AF area only. I have some more thoughts on PDAF for non-SEL lenses, but maybe I'll open a new thread for that discussion.
     
  13. tommyrot

    tommyrot TalkEmount Rookie

    23
    Feb 4, 2014
    Chicago
    I ran into a problem--one set of photos with the A6000 ended up with the date and time metadata for each photo being wrong. One picture had a date/time metadata of 10 hours later than it should have, and all the other photos from that set had date/time metadata about 10 hours earlier than they should have. Both the date/time metadata on the photo info and the file date/times were wrong (but the metadata and file date/times agreed with each other).

    The next two sets of photos had correct date/time stamps.

    So I guess I'll have to double-check date/times on each import. Anyone else see this with the A6000 or other Sony cameras?
     
  14. José De Bardi

    José De Bardi Assistant in Virtue

    Aug 31, 2013
    Dorset, UK
    José
    No, but I did discover a handy batch date change in iPhoto the other day which I used to sync photos from 3 cameras so they all ran in chronological order.

    If you are using iPhoto you can easily fix your issue this way.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
     
  15. rdfisch

    rdfisch TalkEmount Regular

    182
    Nov 13, 2013
    Northern NJ
    Rick
    Sounds like a time zone issue to me. Check the time zone setting on both the camera and computer.

    I have experienced lots of screwy stuff with time zone info in Windows not working the way it should, sometimes reporting universal time even though set to use local settings. And I have also watched the times "change" when moving files on/off some implementations of Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices on a Windows network.

    If that isn't the culprit, I would look at:

    Does problem exist if looking at files on mem card directly from your operating system, or only after transferring ? VERY IMPORTANT TO DETERMINE, and it might be worth write-protecting the memory card immediately after shooting, just to be sure no other software can monkey with it.

    Are you Windows or Mac ? How do you import and into what ? If you use Lightroom to import, don't forget there are settings that will modify metadata upon import, and I assume other softwares have that option too.
     
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  16. tommyrot

    tommyrot TalkEmount Rookie

    23
    Feb 4, 2014
    Chicago
    I double-checked the timezone settings and both the camera and my Mac have the correct time and Central Time timezone settings.

    I'll check the times on the memory card on my next set of pictures--protecting the memory card is a good idea.

    I switched to Lightroom recently, but I haven't gotten around to setting iPhoto to not automatically open when I plug in a memory card full of pictures. (I just close iPhoto.) To import pictures into Lightroom I copy the files to a local directory which I've previously set up as a folder in Lightroom. I right-click on the folder in Lightroom and select "import this folder." I haven't played around yet with Lightroom's settings on modifying metadata--I'll have to check that out.
     
  17. rdfisch

    rdfisch TalkEmount Regular

    182
    Nov 13, 2013
    Northern NJ
    Rick
    You will get an error message if any program is trying to write to the card, but that will be good info.
     
  18. tommyrot

    tommyrot TalkEmount Rookie

    23
    Feb 4, 2014
    Chicago
    After playing with my NEX-5T last night, I realized the A6000 feels much nicer shooting one-handed than the NEX-5T. A one-handed grip on the NEX-5T always feels a little precarious to me, but the A6000 feels nice and secure one-handed, letting me relax that hand more. Pushing various buttons one-handed is easier on the A6000 too.

    I think it's the larger hand-grip on the A6000 that helps--it fits my hand better. I do have long, narrow fingers so this might not be true for everyone.

    The EVF also makes one-handed shooting easier.
     
  19. conchuot

    conchuot New to TalkEmount

    5
    May 2, 2014
    San Jose, CA
    Great review! I owned the first version of Sony NEX C3. Could you share your impression with the kit lens 16-50. I'm planning to buy the a6000 mainly for still image. Want to save some money for buying better lenses. Thanks
     
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  20. dbmiller

    dbmiller TalkEmount Top Veteran

    778
    Mar 2, 2012
    New England
    I don't have the 16-50. When I bought the 5n, the kit lens was the 18-55. I have plently of SEL lenses, so the A6000 was purchased body only.

    I can't give you a good review of it, but I never liked the feel of it when I tried it in the store. To me, had a very flimsy feel to it. And the power zoom was much slower that you could obtain manually with the 18-55. So I just couldn't see paying the extra money for the kit lens which I had no intention of ever using.

    The only good thing the 16-50 has going for it is it's size. Nice and compact, and the short distance means it can focus really fast because the elements don't have to move as far. So it's not surprising that the Sony numbers for the "fastest AF" come from using the 16-50 lens.