I’m incredibly late to write this post as everyone has accepted the Sony Alpha 6000 as an awesome camera for starters and enthusiasts about two years ago. In fact I wanted to buy it then, but it was well out of my price range. Instead I bought an entry level DSLR and wish I hadn’t, it is so bulky that I never did much with it.
That was one of my main reasons for finally getting the A6000, when I purchased my Samsung A5 – that takes some pretty great pictures on its own – I wanted to get a real camera again. Sure, we have a waterproof Olympus TG 870 for our YouTube channel, but even though I love it the picture quality is more ‚action camera‘ than the high detail you could expect out of a DSLR or the decent APS-C cameras like the A6000.
After I saved up for a while I finally purchased it on the first day of a two-week vacation, giving me a lot of spare time to play with it and come to a good conclusion.
There are many things I really like about this camera, in fact it is about what I would call perfect for my application with a few slight concerns that do not matter much for me.
- Picture quality is amazing. I have seen some of the photo snobs complain about the kit lense, but honestly I don’t see it as a valid concern. The image quality is perfect in my eyes and whatever benefit one might get from more expensive lenses is going to be a case of quickly diminishing returns. The kit lense is a great choice and does a great job for anyone starting out or becoming more serious. I’d say it takes a long time of learning before your skills outrun the lens.
- The autofocus apparently is among the fastest in the world (0.06 seconds), which sounds like advertising bla bla until you try it. All I can say is that it is amazing. I tried a couple of shots on moving leaves and plants which is a surprisingly daunting task for most smartphone and entry level cameras. This is a big plus in my book, you can easily use it for street photography if you like or shoot moving targets like animals. In fact I have yet to shoot an unusable picture due to motion blurring, the autofocus and image stabilisation do a mighty fine job of countering and hand shake you might have while ’shooting from the hip‘.
- Many of the buttons are customizable, for example I have mapped the C1 button to toggle between autofocus and manual focus which I find does a great job to switch between snapshots and more artistic shots.
- The size factor plays a huge role, I have always loved the small form factor of point-and-shoot cameras and the A6000 is just one step bigger. You won’t fit it into your jeans pocket, but a jacket or my 5.11 Push Pack both work fine for transportation. Unlike my DSLR I see no reason not to bring the A6000 everywhere I go, I have enough space for it in my bag. This is the same benefit as smartphone cameras have, they are with you when you stumble over a great photo opportunity while the big bulky DSLR sits at home on the shelf.
- It’s also small enough to hide. I don’t know about you, but personally I find myself in some places that make walking around with an expensive looking camera with a huge telezoom seem like a risk. Actually the A6000 doesn’t look all that expensive to anyone who is not interested in photography, a DSLR for half the price easily looks more valuable in that regard. That might be a soft factor but a nice added benefit regardless.
- It has a viewfinder. For some reason many small cameras (including the smaller brothers A5000 and A5100) don’t have one and I find that annoying. Half the time I use the display, but using the viewfinder is incredibly fun and often useful when the sun makes the display hard to use.
- Quality-wise it’s really well made. Everything feels sturdy, the grip is not slippery like many point-and-shoots and even more expensive cameras I’ve held in my hands. To be fair the camera is a bit small for big hands, but if that really bothers you there is the option to buy a battery grip for additional height. Personally I only notice the fact it’s small but it doesn’t get the slightest bit annoying.
- It has every of the small details you come to expect from cameras like a wristband mount, tripod mount, hotshoe and even a little flip-up flash that serves great as a way to pass time. Press the button, it flicks up, push it back in, press button again. 10/10 right there, even works when the camera is turned off.
- The sensor is great with its 24 MP and the images show that amount of detail. We truly live in a golden age for amateur photography with this kind of image quality accessible to most anyone.
- Speaking of which: The price is another factor that makes me like this camera. It sure is nothing cheap at 600€ at the time of this writing, but not only are you getting a lot for your money, but also the competition is so slim it feels nonexistent. There are good entry-entry level cameras at around 300€ that might compare on a price/value comparison level, but even if you are willing to spend the 600€ there is little else that makes sense to get.
- The Sony apps for smartphones are probably the best on the market for the simple reason that they work and actually do what you expect them to. It took a bit of fiddling around but I can now share pictures to my phone at the touch of a button, use it as a remote for timelapses and probably a whole bunch of other things I will never need. The phone apps from other cameras I own or have tested through friends seem like an insult in comparison, especially the action camera ones I’ve used.
Before I get to the bad aspects I want to say that the camera has this inexplicable feel of ‚feeling right‘, the features are easy to use and intuitive and the weight in the hand is the perfect balance between finicky smartphone that is always on the brink of slipping and DSLR with telezoom that makes you want to bring a tripod all the time. This is a factor that is both hard to explain and highly individual, but at least for me this is a camera I enjoy using which means it will get used – a lot.
For the bad parts there are – mostly small – complaints I have, my biggest being that they seem so avoidable and are in fact avoided in the next higher model A6300. This makes me think that Sony was packing a great package and then suddenly figured they had little incentive for people to spend twice as much on the A6300, and in fact I think the A6000 is the almost perfect camera.
- The main complaint I have is the missing microphone jack. Depending on how you use your camera an external microphone can be a huge benefit and time saver if you don’t have to spend time on synchronizing audio and video because you were forced to use an external recorder.
Personally I’m okay with the audio quality – both inside and outside – but it’s confusing me how something that can’t cost more than 50 cents to include was left out as a ‚pro feature‘ of sorts. I can see this as a potential major problem for some.
- The price of spare batteries. Holy moly, they want 59€ for a single spare battery, that is 10% of the camera’s price. On my waterproof camera I always bring spare batteries because we use it for filming, but this is one of the cases where I resort to using a powerbank. The battery itself easily lasts through a day of taking pictures if you don’t have it on all the time and shoot like crazy, certainly long enough to find time to charge in between.
- Whoever designed the menu has spent a lot of time on figuring out how to make it less intuitive. All the settings are there, but as someone who likes to figure things out without a manual I still haven’t figured out how to switch off the shutter sound, and other options are not where I had expected them. For example to use the focus wheel on the lens to actually focus and not zoom you have to change a setting called ‚manual focus assist‘ to off, which makes no sense as the lense has another zoom-thingie so it should be turned off as default.
- And lastly the record button for videos is a bit awkward to reach, but again that’s not a big deal.
But that’s all the quibbles I have with an otherwise great camera, in fact it is just as good as I had hoped before my purchase.
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