Sony ICLE-A6000 review: Wow its been a long time since I have done a review. Life got busy but not really- blogging kind of comes and goes I guess. Anyways- I picked up the Sony A6000 about a 9 months ago last September and its been my daily driver since. After holding off mirrorless cameras for years, I finally was absolutely convinced that the Sony A6000 had completely met my needs for a large sensor compact and would give me a serious kick in image quality and general shooting compared to my then Nikon P7700 and D90 combo. The following is my IRL (In Real Life) review of the Sony A6000.
Design– What I really love about the Sony A6000 is its design- its both modern, aggressive and petite at the same time- despite being a much smaller body than most DSLRs, it holds a nice professional/slightly intimidating look. I like it- it fits in well with my love for compact professional bodies. You can see here its got an array of glass and light and yet its a fraction of the size of my Nikon setup.
Side by side with my nikon P7700 that has now been passed on to my dad. Again, it holds onto the big black imposing yet petite design that I love. What I do miss is the side flipping LCD that the Nikon P7700 had- I used to hate it, but now I realize its absolutely perfect for both selfies and group shots- the big LCD lets you frame better for selfies (yes I take them) and the screen blinks after the shot has been taken- the only indication I get the shot being taken when using remote shutter is hearing the shutter in the Sony and sometimes its really faint.
Handling and Build Quality : The grip isn’t as good as I’ve had in other cameras- that goes to the Nikon P5100 and the Sony A700/A77. However, its of substantial size and its good for a smaller handed guy like me. I find most of the controls are within good reach of my fingers and don’t have any glaring concerns. What I do know is that manual control is quite simple here and there are two control dials to use here- a touch down from the Nikon P7700’s three dial but nothing that I can’t handle (I actually felt that the third dial wasn’t as useful as I thought it would be in the Nikon). What I don’t like is that the camera doesn’t feel as substantial as the Nikon P7700 and P5100 that I had- those were solid magnesium beasts – this Sony feels more like an aluminum can- good but not great. Not something I would feel comfortable dropping. Aside from that, over build and handling is great- its a prosumer focused camera and it reflects that mostly.
I actually got to try the model below it, the A5000 and it was a pretty big difference in build quality. The A5000 is a plastic build and it just felt like a toy compared to the A6000. Not that there were creaking parts or anything-just nothing very substantial. Made me appreciate the A6000 much more. The LCD on the A5000 is also washed out compared to the A6000. One thing that I really wish teh A6000 had though was the flip LCD that would have helped with selfies and remote shots – I mentioned that on the Nikon P7700 and you can see it here on the A5000. I see that most models with EVFs don’t have that feature, but it would have been possible if they had a side opening LCD instead. I can’t complain- I’d still rather have the movable LCD on the A6000 than a fixed LCD.
I like that there are a range of accessories that fit the small body system concept like the HVLF20m flash- so far I haven’t really used it a lot because I’ve been pretty happy with the flashless shots I am able to take with the A6000 so far.
The built in flash is able to be held vertically with a finger to get bounce flash. That’s nice.
This is probably one of my favorite features- the built in WiFi means that I can immediately share photos from the A6000 to social networks- meaning that I don’t have to wait till I get home to upload everything. What tended to happen more often than not, was that the images would be stuck at home on my computer and never get shared. So this is an excellent feature. It also means that I can use the PlayMemories app on my phone and use it as a remote shutter/framing device. I think that’s actually pretty mind blowing. Another one of my faves is that this charges through microUSB- I just charge it with my external battery when I am out and about- very useful when you don’t have a spare battery.
I love the EVF- but I find that I don’t use it as much as I thought I would. For sure I use it when shooting telephoto or in bright light or in low light when I want to keep it stable. Most of the time I shoot like a traditional point and shoot at arms length. But its really nice to have two different shooting modalities, something I missed on my old Nikon P7700.
I honestly don’t shoot a lot of movies so I can’t comment on that- although its quite nice having that movie button so easily accessible.
Image Quality- Its awesome- I shoot regularly upto ISO 6400 with no concerns about noise or detail loss. It really mitigates the lack of fast lenses in the e-mount lens line up, at least for low light shooting. Of course that means that having a fast lens plus the high ISO ability of this camera would be absolutely stellar and it definitely is- shooting with the 35mm F1.8 with OSS and ISO 25,600 is an unreal experience. I can capture shots in near darkness that I could never even think about with my old Nikon D90 and Nikkor 35mm F1.8. I would at most press for ISO 1600 on that DSLR but only if desperate. ISO 800 was kind of the max I would go on the D90, so the A6000 just really opens up doors. Teh biggest improvement for me is that most of my indoor shots where lighting tends to suck or be unpredictable, is no longer a problem. Compared to my Nikon P7700, the shots are much more cleaner. I certainly miss the 28-200mm F2-4 lens on the P7700, but the huge sensor on the A6000 just makes it a big upgrade for me. I have no issues with image quality – in fact I have minimal incentive/itch to upgrade to full frame on the A7 (that will definitely come one day, but I don’t feel the need for it to be so soon). The image quality is just that good, compared to my old regular shooters in the Nikon P5100, P7700 and D90.
I will have to have a separate write up for the pieces of glass I have for the e-mount- I’m really happy so far despite the small line up.
Conclusion- Its a solid camera for what I shoot- its not so much a solid camera for the professional. I love its compact size, huge APS-C sensor in a tight body, small lenses (esp the 16-50 power zoom), fast AF speeds, good handling and manual control, overall design and look, microUSB charging and WiFi sharing and havign enough glass to cover my current needs. What it lacks though, is serious glass- I tried to shoot a wedding this past weekend with this and I realized how limited the glass available for this camera system was- in particular, there is a lack of fast zooms that would have really made the shots better- I’d love a 24-70mm or 70-200mm F2.8 equivalent. While I am sure that Sony will be bringing some new glass for the e-mount, the full frame e-mount will likely get the most attention and that’s a shame really. There is still plenty of love for APS-C sensor sized shooters out there, Sony or not and having good glass available for these bodies would be nice. It seems that the same story goes out for other brands too- I remember that with Nikon. Will I upgrade to full frame? Absolutely. But not at the moment- the A6000 is more than good enough for 90% of my shooting needs right now, as a day to day camera.
TLDR: Pros- good size, nice design, EVF, WiFi sharing, microUSB charging, image quality, AF speed. Cons- moderate/limited glass selection