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. Performance 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.