Sony A6000 First Impressions Review

Discussion in 'Sony Alpha E-Mount Lenses' started by napilopez, May 24, 2014.

  1. napilopez

    napilopez Contributing Editor

    Dec 14, 2013
    Sony A6000 First Impressions Review


    Sony's A6000 was met with a good deal of excitement thanks to its promise to provide one of the best price-to-performance ratio cameras out there. The successor to the very popular NEX-6, it adds some new features while providing a lower starting price of just $648 (and dropping the NEX moniker). But does it live up to those expectations? Here are my impressions after shooting with the A6000 for a couple of weeks.

    Build and Design


    There's not too much new to report here, and I’d say that's a good thing. I've always thought E-Mount bodies managed a good balance between size and comfort, and the A6000 continues that tradition. The body is very similar to that of the NEX-6, with the main changes being the positions of the mode and control dials, as well as a larger and overall more comfortable grip. It feels great in hand.

    More notably and to the chagrin of many, the viewfinder on the A6000 features both a lower magnification and a lower resolution than its predecessor's. It's not all bad though. The A6000's viewfinder is only slightly smaller than that on the NEX-6 (and noticeably bigger than that on the E-M5 or E-M10), while the resolution cut comes with some advantages. For one, colors are more accurate on the new display--the old one was often hypersaturated and crushed shadows--and the lag time is slightly improved. Refresh rate also seems to remain higher in low light. Still, it's still not as responsive as the GH4 or X-T1's EVF, nor the X-E2’s after its most recent firmware update.


    Otherwise, it's the same NEX-6 body you’re probably already fond of. I'd rather have two dials placed so I could access them at the same time, the rear screen is still too wide for stills, and there isn't a microphone or headphone port for video users, but the A6000 still has one of my preferred designs out there.



    It feels faster than the NEX-6. That’s apparent as soon as you turn on the camera.

    Firstly, there's the new interface. Navigating through it felt swifter than it did in the previous NEX cameras, though not as instantaneous as I like (I tend to make a lot of changes on the fly). Still, with several customizable buttons, you shouldn’t feel the need to go into the menus that often. Zooming in during playback is disappointingly slow though, especially if you try to scroll through photos while zoomed in. I generally prefer deleting rejected photos right from the camera, so I found this delay quite annoying.

    The 11fps full-time AF burst rate is one of the highlight specs of the camera, and indeed it feels like a machine gun to use the A6000 at its maximum burst rate. The buffer is okay—if you’re shooting RAW+JPEG at the maximum speed, don’t expect to get more than a second or two (I was using a UHS-I card) of shooting time, but it expectedly lasts a good while longer if you’re just shooting jpegs. You should also be wary that you can’t perform many changes, enter the menu, or go into playback mode while the buffer clears. I’d recommend using the medium FPS rate if you’re going to be taking long bursts.


    As for the actual focusing performance? Suffice to say it’s handily the best of any E-Mount camera to date. In fact, I’d say it’s very likely the quickest APS-C camera out there, mirrorless or DSLR. Although I currently only have the kit 16-50, focusing overall felt much quicker than the D7000 I compared it to, similar to the X-T1 with its kit lens, but slower than the GH4, which is quite possibly the quickest camera of any kind I’ve ever tried. In all, the A6000 features impressive AFS speed, with great accuracy and good low light performance (AF lamp off). Also, while I don’t tend to like multi-area AF, I found the A6000 to generally do a stand up job of detecting what I wanted to focus on, with face detection working great and focusing on the nearest eye consistently as well.


    Now, I know most of you are probably most interested in AFC performance… Unfortunately, I don’t want to make any conclusive claims so far, as I only have a slow kit lens on me with which anything at typical AFC distances will be quite in focus anyway. As such, it’s hard to say yet whether it beats out the newest mirrorless competitors like the X-T1 and the GH4 (the latter, despite being CDAF only, works extremely well). Right now, I’d say it probably doesn't. But it’s no question that AFC performance is better than almost every other PDAF mirrorless camera like the Samsung NX30 or the Fuji X-E2, let alone any previous NEX camera or CDAF only systems.


    The keeper rate overall seems to be decent, but I also got several slightly missed shots even with the deep DoF kit lens. That's why it's hard to test with such a lens: you don't know what the camera deems to be "acceptable" focus. It’s worth nothing that unlike the X-T1 and GH4, the A6000 doesn’t seem to ever slow down its burst for the sake of accuracy, which may explain my getting better hit ratios from those cameras overall. So that being said, while this means you may get a higher percentage of out of focus shots on the A6000, the pure number of ‘keepers’ could potentially be comparable overall given the A6000’s ridiculous burst rate. The A6000 also has a significant advantage over the X-T1 in that it can follow subjects around 92% of the frame with PDAF, instead of just a tiny 9 point region in the center of the frame. The X-T1 definitely appears to be more accurate within this region, though.

    Speaking of tracking an object around a frame, the A6000 does this really cool looking trick where you see the object you are targeting surrounded either by a green rectangle (which changes shape as your object moves around), or a series of green squares denoting PDAF points. It did seem to get confused a little too easily sometimes, while in others it would hold on to it even if it temporarily moved out of the frame. There's an option to change the duration of how long the camera will track a subject, but it appears to only affect video.

    One big caveat: like almost every other mirrorless cameras, the A6000 doesn’t present you a live view feed when shooting a rapid burst, instead opting to just show you the last image taken. This can make it very difficult to follow objects that move around erratically, like my two small dogs. The only way to get around this is setting the A6000 to the lowest burst, which is approximately 3fps. Again, the lack of live view during burst shooting affects X-T1, E-M5, and almost every other mirrorless camera, but the GH4 is able to maintain live view at up to approximately 7.5fps.


    Following my two small dogs around without liveview was a lost cause, but even with live view, that's a difficult task for any camera

    In all, I’d say the A6000s AFC performance will give you more keepers than an entry level DSLR, at the least, but don't expect every shot to be in focus. I hope to do more conclusive testing once I can get my hands on a faster and/or longer lens.

    Oh, and image quality? No surprises; it’s very good in RAW. Qualitatively speaking, it’s a higher resolution version of the NEX-6’s performance. Its raw files might just be the most malleable of any APS-C camera I've used, and it’s probably the best APS-C sensor out there, along with Fuji’s X-Trans. Conversely, there’s nothing to indicate a quantum performance leap here either. As has been the case for a while now, chances are you need FF if you want a significant IQ jump from M4/3 or APS-C.


    A6000 RAW files are incredibly malleable. SooC Import into Lightroom followed by 5 second adjustment.

    On the other hand, I do think Sony could do better with its JPEGs, particularly when the A6000 is being billed as more of an action camera than any E-Mount camera before it. Perhaps I haven’t played around with the settings enough, but while I wouldn’t say the jpegs are bad, I feel almost all of its modern competitors do better here. Subjective, though.

    Preliminary Thoughts

    My impressions might seem somewhat mixed, but that shouldn’t be your takeaway. I’ve been comparing the A6000 primarily to the X-T1 and GH4 because those are the other cameras I’ve been using the most the past few weeks, and because they are possibly the two best mirrorless cameras at continuous autofocus. The thing is, those two devices were designed to be semi-pro bodies/pro bodies, while the A6000 is strictly a consumer camera—a mighty fine one at that. Yes, the A6000 isn’t weather sealed, its buffer isn’t as good, its interface is a bit slower, and its viewfinder is noticeably worse, but on the whole it gives you most of the performance (let alone RAW image quality) at less than half the price of either of the other two cameras. The A6000 doesn’t give me that semi-pro vibe when using it, but it also wasn't built for that. That these cameras are even comparable at all says something about what Sony has achieved with the A6000.


    $650 for the A6000 vs $1300 for the X-T1 or $1700 for the GH4 is not just an insignificant difference. If you take the A6000 at its MSRP and compare it against anything else in its price bracket, it’s hard to think of a better new camera for your money. The Olympus E-M10 would be the most comparable option, and it does have its advantages here and there, but it also won’t have continuous autofocus performance in the same league. In all, I think Sony has created one of the strongest cases for a relatively affordable mirrorless camera than can perform admirably in almost any situation, while also making it harder and harder to recommend a DSLR to a new camera user now that mirrorless cameras can handle action too.

    The A6000 is available for $648 body only, or $798 with the kit 16-50 (from B&H, Adorama link here). Please note that product links in this post are affiliate links and that we get a small commission every time you buy a product by following a link here. Your help is appreciated, and your price remains the same.

    Feel free to let me know any questions you may have about the camera in the replies.

    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 21, 2016
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  2. alaios

    alaios TalkEmount All-Pro

    Jan 11, 2013
    Thanks for your great review. I would just wish to have more external controls. I wish in the future we have a slightly bulkier body that would fit more controls on it.
    Otherwise happy man
  3. davect01

    davect01 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 20, 2011
    Fountain Hills, AZ
    Well written and a nicely balanced review.
  4. BruPri

    BruPri TalkEmount Regular

    Aug 7, 2011
    Loving this camera! A few with the FE 1.8/55 ZA







    • Like Like x 10
  5. Skipperjonce

    Skipperjonce TalkEmount Regular

    Dec 27, 2012
    Thanks for the review. I've just ordered mine from Sony Norway. Open box from the outlet store for 600 euros delivered (very good price for Norway!) I'm very happy and can't wait to get my hands on it!

    Will try and put together a first impressions of my own with a few different lenses compared to the 5R.

    Sent from my iPhone using TalkNEX mobile app
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  6. unlo

    unlo Sony ******

    Jan 19, 2014
    look forward to your comparison. I also have the 5r and am very curious how much of a difference i'd be getting upgrading.
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  7. Believer

    Believer TalkEmount Regular

    Nov 28, 2012
    New Jersey, US
    Great read and very informative, thanks!
  8. Skipperjonce

    Skipperjonce TalkEmount Regular

    Dec 27, 2012
    Well, my A6000 is finally here! TNT decided to wait until the 15 minutes of the whole day I had to nip out to pick up my daughter before slipping a card through my door, then of course the next day was a bank holiday, but finally got it last night.

    <a href="[email protected]/14288514606" title="DSC00004 by Skipperjonce, on Flickr"> 14288514606_2a406d0ac4_z.jpg "640" height="425" alt="DSC00004"></a>

    I'm not going to review it as that has already been done by the OP but I will give a very brief first impression comparative to the 5R...

    <a href="[email protected]/14125137537" title="DSC00006 by Skipperjonce, on Flickr"> 14125137537_066c4e6baf_z.jpg "640" height="425" alt="DSC00006"></a>

    Nicer 'feel' in the hand
    EVF (never used one before and didn't feel I needed one, but I love it!)
    Menus so much simpler
    Speed of use (i.e. start-up, menu transition, etc.)
    Focus speed and accuracy

    Bit heavier and tends to pull my shorts down while on my capture clip

    I have taken a few photos, just general snaps around my living room and all in jpeg OOC, no PP. I have tried to take the same pic from the same perspective with both the 5R and the A6000, but I am not a professional tester and have probably got slightly different angles and maybe not always nailed focus correctly, etc. so take these with a pinch of salt. I used either the SEL35F18 and the SEL50F18 for all shots. Sadly I noticed half hour after posting this that the 5R was at f5.6 and the A6000 at f2.8. Doh, (head slap). Of course, all my models have moved on now so cannot reframe, but I guess this only goes to exacerbate the positive sharpness of the A6000 even stopped down to f2.8.

    <a href="[email protected]/14331725293" title="DSC00003 by Skipperjonce, on Flickr"> 14331725293_0f7389b5d8_z.jpg "640" height="425" alt="DSC00003"></a>

    <a href="[email protected]/14331735613" title="DSC05382 by Skipperjonce, on Flickr"> 14331735613_7e8be39189_z.jpg "640" height="427" alt="DSC05382"></a>

    NEX5R Crop
    <a href="[email protected]/14288441516" title="DSC00003 by Skipperjonce, on Flickr"> 14288441516_8fd38f36ef_z.jpg "640" height="425" alt="DSC00003"></a>

    A6000 Crop
    <a href="[email protected]/14311583935" title="DSC05382 by Skipperjonce, on Flickr"> 14311583935_b19957e528_z.jpg "640" height="427" alt="DSC05382"></a>

    <a href="[email protected]/14124875559" title="DSC00008 by Skipperjonce, on Flickr"> 14124875559_8cbeac0721_z.jpg "640" height="425" alt="DSC00008"></a>

    <a href="[email protected]/14124879388" title="DSC05386 by Skipperjonce, on Flickr"> 14124879388_57975a0c76_z.jpg "640" height="427" alt="DSC05386"></a>

    NEX5R Crop
    <a href="[email protected]/14331784703" title="DSC00008 by Skipperjonce, on Flickr"> 14331784703_25065c1368_z.jpg "640" height="425" alt="DSC00008"></a>

    A6000 Crop
    <a href="[email protected]/14124970060" title="DSC05386 by Skipperjonce, on Flickr"> 14124970060_d05b3acf5d_z.jpg "640" height="427" alt="DSC05386"></a>

    <a href="[email protected]/14309668472" title="DSC00012 by Skipperjonce, on Flickr"> 14309668472_ce5b1fc69f_z.jpg "640" height="425" alt="DSC00012"></a>

    <a href="[email protected]/14124923450" title="DSC05390 by Skipperjonce, on Flickr"> 14124923450_9f79fc5b78_z.jpg "640" height="427" alt="DSC05390"></a>

    Nex5R Crop
    <a href="[email protected]/14308252111" title="DSC00012 by Skipperjonce, on Flickr"> 14308252111_75b4aecf11.jpg "293" height="195" alt="DSC00012"></a>

    A6000 Crop
    <a href="[email protected]/14310991464" title="DSC05390 by Skipperjonce, on Flickr"> 14310991464_6ef53ba952.jpg "379" height="253" alt="DSC05390"></a>

    I am happy that the IQ is a good step up from the 5R :)

    On a final note, even though I have only had the A6000 for one day I know it's a keeper - the 5R will be on eBay tonight. To me it just feels more like a proper camera and less like a toy. Something else that surprised me is how well the A6000 plays with the SEL35F18. I've had this lens for about 6 months now but it never really gave me the results I felt it should on the 5R. I'm not sure why it should be different but I am getting much nicer pictures out of the same lens on the A6000. Maybe just the honeymoon effect but I don't think so.

    Anyway, if you have an older 5 or 6 series NEX and can afford it I would say go for the A6000 and i'm confident you won't be disappointed.

    Attached Files:

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  9. Fischmann

    Fischmann New to TalkEmount

    May 26, 2014
    Amin..great review..I am thinking to built an "semi-advanced" macro sys based on the A6000 + Sigma 150mm 2.8 macro....what do you think about that mix..Rgds.
  10. LightCentric

    LightCentric TalkEmount Regular

    Mar 17, 2013
    Saginaw, MI
    Andy Richards
    You may just be seeing the result of a better, higher mp sensor with that lens. That lens is what sold me on my NEX6
  11. OldNoob

    OldNoob TalkEmount Veteran

    Oct 30, 2014
    Thank you for the writing the review.
    I just purchased a used a6000 on ebay waiting for it to arrive.

    My niece is getting marred and asked me to take the photos for her wedding. It has been sometime since i was into photography and had all my Minolta, Sony and Pentax gear Stolen or sold. So i advised her to hire a professional wedding photographer. But their financial situation would not allow for it.
    So,, i will be trying to do her wedding, i hope this old fat man can do it.
    I've always been fond of Minolta and actually some time ago was getting some very nice images from my Sony a100 coupled with Minolta glass, then it was stolen out of my car. Over 1500 dollars in lenses and equipment gone. I tried to replace it with a newer nikon d3200 kit and then a pentax k-30, both great cameras but i just could not get into it again.

    So here i am present day really needing to get back into photography.
    After a lot of research I decided that the a6000 would be my best choice.
    I really like the image quality in the reviews. even the 16-50mm kit lens seemed to be miles above other base kit lenses.
    However the cost new was a bit much so for two hundred dollars less then new, i went ahead and bought it used. And now i sit waiting for it to arrive. I will probably rent some good lenses for the wedding utilizing the time up to the wedding to get familiarized with the a6000.
    However last night i watched a 40 some minute presentation by Gary Fong on using the a6000. Now I have to say i was feeling a bit overwhelmed at all the functions presented in the camera.
    In the past i always relied on aperture priority and a fast telephoto with a shallow depth of field. But now i have a ton of creative options and even functions working in the background while im using it that i don't even understand. Another thing worrying is flash sync compatibility and TTL . Suppose i'll rent a compatible Sony flash as well for the wedding.
    Anyway, it's going to be a challenge. :crying:
  12. José De Bardi

    José De Bardi Assistant in Virtue Subscribing Member

    Aug 31, 2013
    Dorset, UK
    I also bought my A6000 to shoot a friends wedding and it didn't disappoint. It also happens to be the first wedding I've ever shot! I used a manual flash (Nikon SB) which was fun as I don't shoot with a flash - ever, as well as a couple of manual lenses.
    The A6000 with the kit lens and superfast AF was great for capturing the important bits where you didn't have time to fiddle. For the more relaxed moments I could play with a few more of the options you mention and manual focus etc to get some more arty and candid shots.

    I had my Nex5 as a second shooter which was a god send, it pretty much lived with the OM50 on it, and the A6000 I swapped between kit and 55210.

    Make sure you get a couple of extra batteries! I got through 3 batteries, 1 in the 5 and 2 in the A6000. If you are taking just the one camera you'll likely get through 3 in it.

    The outcome I was really pleased with, as were the happy couple (which is the main thing). The A6000 is very forgiving so you should be OK, especially as you have some historical experience!

    Good luck and have fun! Let us know how it goes!
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  13. OldNoob

    OldNoob TalkEmount Veteran

    Oct 30, 2014
    Thanks for the input Jose.
    Now that you mention it.,, im going to have to also finsd a backup camera,, along with a young assistant LOL
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  14. gmutt26

    gmutt26 TalkEmount Regular

    May 14, 2013
    I have the a6000 and it's great. Very quick and I prefer it to my old nex 5/6 it's really good. Menu is great also. Just waiting for my zeiss 24 to come and i will have the perfect couple

    Sent from my D6603 using TalkEmount mobile app