133 of 141 people found the following review helpful
This review is from: Sony A6000 Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera Body Only - Black (24.3MP) (Camera)
I've had the camera over a week now and has some opportunity to test it and also use it for genuine photos rather than just test shots.
I've got a Sony NEX 5N and last year bought a Sony RX100 - mostly for its small size.
Although I have other cameras those are my main comparison cameras.
My main reason for buying the Sony a6000 was the Sony marketing of supposedly amazing auto-focus capabilities and also for the electronic view finder - which neither the NEX 5N nor RX100 have.
As well as landscapes I do also like to take occasional action shots of my dog and also wild life - a couple of years ago I went on a sea safari and got some excellent shots of dolphins and seals with my Nikon D700.
*** Auto Focus ***
The Sony a6000 has 179 AF points which the Sony marketing implies can quickly track any moving object in the frame and get perfect focus every time.
My young Labrador never stays in one place long enough and its a challenge getting action shots of her - hence my excitement when I saw the Sony marketing of the super fast autofocus system of the a6000 and the videos I saw on the Internet of the a6000 easily tracking fast moving subjects and every shot being in focus!
It looked like all I need do was whip out the camera, switch it on and it'd be able to automatically shot rapid action shots of my fast moving dog.
If only my experience matched the marketing. Instead the Sony struggled to even spot my small brown Labrador in outside locations ( fields, muddy paths etc ). Leaving it up to the Sony camera I was lucky to get any shots in focus!
Its very good at rapidly shooting 20 or 30 shots - all out of focus as far as my dog was concerned - though the grass and path behind were nicely focused!
This certainly didn't match the marketing and I was very disappointed and almost ready to give up on the camera.
I think the issue is my dog is too low contrast and not big enough to get the Sony's attention - put her in a high visibility jacket or get a large white dog and I suspect it would work much better.
To be fair to the camera I've only tested with my dog so far and it may well work very well with more high contrast subjects.
After lots of attempts and playing with the settings I abandoned letting the camera make decisions and used central focus AF - as long as I kept her inside the spot when she was running towards me then I'd say more than 60% of the shots were in focus. Which given how fast she runs this is not too bad at all. Also a reasonable amount of depth of field helps!
I did try the tracking facility and that did notice my dog and track her but the hit rate was no better - probably worse - than me manually tracking her.
With that disappointment out the way I realised the AF system was not going to perform the miracles shown in online marketing videos.
On the plus side the AF is very fast and generally fairly accurate as long as its focused on the right thing.
The AF also appears to be able to operate in slightly lower light than the AF of the NEX 5N.
The AF is certainly a step up from the NEX 5N and RX100 in terms of focusing speed and number of frames per second.
*** Electronic View Finder ***
My other reason for the a6000 was the electronic view finder - and I have to say the a6000 EVF is excellent - bright and clear and copes well in low light.
Having said that I don't have much experience of other EVFs but I was very happy with the Sony a6000 EVF.
*** Image Quality ***
The next question I had was image quality of a6000 vs NEX 5N vs RX100.
At the lower end of the ISO scale - 800 and less - they were all pretty much the same. Very careful pixel peeping sees the a6000 and 5N being very, very slightly better than the RX100 but in reality you'd never notice the difference.
But the advantage the a6000 has is 24 mega pixels vs 20 of the RX100 and 16 of the NEX 5N.
So the a6000 wins in the sense you get bigger images ( and prints ) but with no significant loss of image quality in terms of low ISO noise. Of course 99% of the time you won't notice - you need to be creating 4 foot by 5 foot posters to start to notice!
At the high ISO end of things the RX100 - while providing excellent images at ISO 1600 - 6400 - is still a bit grainier than the other cameras. Not so bad as to be an issue though - you really have to look hard at 100% image size. But there's no doubt the NEX 5N and a6000 produce less noisy high ISO images.
On the other hand the difference between the a6000 and NEX 5N is much, much smaller. You REALLY have to look hard to notice any difference.
The in camera high ISO JPGs are slightly better on the NEX 5N. Re-sizing the a6000 images to 5N sizes improves them but I still feel the 5N has the advantage. The a6000 JPG noise reduction has a habit of making images a bit too smooth and smeary with a loss of detail.
But RAW images are slightly better from the a6000 than the 5N. I used the lastest version of the Sony Image Data Converter software to process the RAW images as well as Lightroom 5.4
I tested with some ISO 3200 images and without noise reduction applied they look pretty bad! But the a6000 marginally less bad.
Applying noise reduction with the Sony Image Data Converter software set to Auto noise reduction improves things massively but the a6000 images come out looking better when viewed at 100% on screen. Slightly less smeary and more pleasing looking noise on the a6000 vs the 5N. Again at normal size prints you won't notice the difference - its only pixel peeping you notice these things.
So in terms of image quality the a6000 is very similar to the other cameras but wins because its 24 mega pixels allowing for larger prints.
One thing I did notice was the a6000 image was slightly brighter than the NEX 5N image. Even though I shot the same thing at the same time in the same light with the same lens, shutter, ISO and apatures. Maybe its a fluke but perhaps the Sony sensor is slightly more light sensitive at the same ISO. It'll be interesting to see expert reviews with proper tests.
*** Ease Of Use ***
Where the a6000 definitely wins over the NEX 5N is its ease of use. The menu structure and navigation is so much easier on the RX100 and a6000 which share similar menus structure. I personally found the NEX 5N's interface a nightmare to use and never really liked it.
The a6000 is also much more customisable than the NEX 5n. It has 3 buttons you can assign to your own commands as well as being able to customise things like the wheels, dials and some of the menus.
I've not used the 5N in a while and was swearing a bit trying to navigate its menus ready to set it up for testing!
Sometimes its silly little things that help. For example if you go in to image playback on the NEX 5N and then press the menu button it'll go back to the last menu used. Do the same thing on the a6000 and it goes automatically to the playback menu with the delete menu highlighted - so you then just select the delete menu and then choose what to delete. On the NEX 5N you go back to the previous used menu and then have to navigate to the delete multiple images menu - all of which takes time. Sounds silly but just makes the camera easier to use - and there are lots of little improvements like this that make the a6000 an easier to use camera.
*** Battery Life ***
Battery life on default settings seems quite poor - certainly compared to my Sony RX100 which just keeps on going! I can go on a week's holiday with the RX100 and take a few hundred shots and still have 50% power left.
The a6000 seems to be down to 40% power after 1 day and 100 shots.
However I switched off the Pre-AF feature to save power and this has definitely helped reduce battery consumption. Pre-AF continuously focuses at whatever the camera is pointing at when on. When off the camera only focuses when you half press the shutter button.
For most things leaving it off is fine and saves power. Only if you are trying to shoot fast moving/changing things like children and dogs would it be a good idea to keep the Pre-AF switched on.
However I'd still strongly recommend getting a spare battery.
*** Movies ***
Movies. Until now I've always preferred a dedicated camcorder to using a camera for video. But I've done a few test videos with the a6000 and one word - WOW! Video quality is surprisingly good - even under low lighting. I'm really impressed.
*** Summary ***
To sum up this rambling review.....
If you own a Sony NEX 5N then the main reasons to upgrade to the a6000 are:
* The excellent electronic viewfinder
* Faster frames per second and slightly faster AF
* Higher mega pixel sensor
* Better menu structure
* Easier to use with customisable buttons
* Marginally better high ISO RAW images but high ISO in camera JPGs not quite as good. Maybe Sony will improve this in a later firmware update.
* Wifi - I've used the Sony remote control app on my Android phone and it works quite well.
I wouldn't say image quality is a reason to upgrade unless you really need a 24 megapixel sensor and its not that necessary except for very large prints. The easier interface, AF speed and EVF would be the main reasons to update.
If you own an RX100 than the advantages of an a6000 are similar - except the menus which are common to both cameras. But you lose the amazing battery life of the RX100.
Downside is the a6000 while not a big camera is much bigger and heavier than the compact Sony RX100. Still way lighter than my Nikon D800 though!
After using the Sony a6000 for around 10 days I'm really pleased with it. There's a lot to learn but its generally easy to use and gives you a lot of creative options. I'm still learning many of them!
**** Update ****
Having spent the weekend away in Bath taking lots of photos I wanted to give an update.
Image quality is great - though I sense 24mp is the maximum for that sensor - sometimes some slight noise can be seen at low ISOs where there are shadows in the photo as well as bright areas.
No big deal and only visible with careful pixel peeping. I suspect the sensor is better than the sensor on the NEX 5N but not a massive leap better - Sony taking it to 24 mega pixels vs the NEX 5N 16 mega pixels is pushing the boundries.
But over all this camera does take great photos. Exposure is generally spot on as is auto focus. Auto focus does a good job in low light - it gets quite dark inside some parts of the Roman baths but the AF never faltered at any point.
I was also impressed how far JPGs could be processed in Adobe Lightroom and still look good. A tourist had taken a shot of me and my partner - and unfortunately we didn't spot till later it was way over exposed. I assumed it was for the recycle bin but I had a quick play in Lightroom when I got home and mostly using just auto settings was able save the shot and it looked both natural and correctly exposed.
The ISO Auto multi image noise reduction does a good job of minimising noise at high ISOs while retaining detail. This feature is absent on the NEX 5N though it does have other multi image noise reduction options but I they don't seem to work quite as well as the a6000s.
The viewfinder is a real bonus over the NEX 5N's lack of view finder. I'm finding I'm using it a lot - especially on bright sunny days. The NEX 5N screen becomes very hard to see when its really sunny.
The movies I filmed with the a6000 have really impressed me. I recorded a short clip of some practice singing in Wells cathedral and despite it being very dark the image has come out really, really well!
And to my surprise the sound quality from the in-built mic is also really good.
I also tried again one morning in some fields to shoot my dog running using the multi-point AF detection facility. Not sure what name Sony give it but the idea is the camera spots what you are trying to photograph and automatically tracks it as it moves - making it easy for you to take a rapid succession of perfectly focused shots of moving objects.
Despite it being a really bright day and me using f8 at 1/500 of a second at 70mm I am still not having much luck photographing my dog with the automatic facilities.
After a lot of experimenting I think the problem is the camera is not looking for a moving object - which is what I assumed it was doing. Instead its hunting the image for the main subject. It defines main subject as the closest high contrast thing in the image - regardless of whether its moving or not. I suspect its also using face detection and would prioritize a human being in the image. Which is why people taking photos of other people are having much more success than me trying to photo a dog.
In my first attempt I was kneeling down with the sun was behind me and the dog running towards me. On viewing the shots taken I realised it'd taken 10 perfectly focused shots of my shadow in front of me! Obviously this was much higher contrast than my brown down on green grass.
I tried again in a different location and this time it focused perfectly on the patch of lighter green grass my dog ran past!
The solution is obvious - I need a higher contrast dog! She's a medium brown small Labrador - the Sony can't cope with that unless I'm zoomed in enough for her to be the only thing in the frame. My Sony 16-70mm doesn't allow for that - I need something with more reach that allows me to stand some distance away but still have her zoomed right in.
The other option is to use the tracking facility - which can be challenging as the dog runs at high speed towards you. I found using centre focus spot and tracking manually is actually easier.
I do have a 2 year old Sony E 55-210mm F4.5-6.3 which I will update with v2 firmware and report back when I've done some more tests.
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Showing 1-10 of 21 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 9 Apr 2014 23:51:19 BDT
J. Place says:
Great review - thanks! I have an NEX-5R and like you, take a lot of shots of my dog running. I was looking forward to the A6000 for the supposedly speedy autofocus - but if it's not all *that* great I think I'll stick with my 5R for now. In burst mode, some of the shots are sharp - but not all. If this is still the case with the new model, it sounds like this new model isn't the revolution that I was hoping for. Maybe when the price comes down a bit...
In reply to an earlier post on 10 Apr 2014 09:15:28 BDT
Thank you for the comment. Before it was launched all the amazing videos showing the camera perfectly picking out the right fast moving subject and getting 100% correct focus every time really got me excited. I think I expected miracles of the AF system.
I know other people have had more success than me but maybe expecting it to spot a fast moving small brown Labrador and focussing perfectly was asking too much.
I've posted a photo of the situation I was trying to photograph. Letting the 179 point AF decide what to focus on was a disaster - but setting to centre point AF and manually tracking worked much better. As you can see from the photo the dog does merge in a bit with the scenery - I was hoping the fact she was running would make the camera realise what I was trying to photograph. I also tried the same shot in "sports action" mode as well - just in case I'd messed up the settings and that was just as bad.
If she was a brighter colour or I was able to zoom in closer ( I was at the max 70mm end of the E1670 ) it might have worked better. As I say I think the camera probably does work well with the right subject - I was just expecting too much.
But the AF is very quick when you get it to focus on the right thing!
Posted on 12 Apr 2014 19:20:48 BDT
Last edited by the author on 12 Apr 2014 19:23:22 BDT
Thank you for your review. I was somewhat stunned when Sony announced they were dropping the NEX range!
Thinking my lovely lens's and Ziess collection would be tide down to my one and only NEX7, so to protect my investment I bought another one "really" and then to my horror the A6000 was announced.
Hence thank you for the review and think I now see I didn't do the wrong thing.
PS I would defiantly recommend the Ziess SEL24f18Z for stunningly sharp photos especially for those 24.3mp and for wider landscape shots the SEL20F28 "and the ultra wide angle adapter VCL-ECU1 fits it perfectly". To name just a couple I own!!!
In reply to an earlier post on 21 Apr 2014 17:19:06 BDT
Paul, thanks for a good review.
Can you tell me what the wake-up time is on the a6000? By this, I mean the time it takes to come to life, with the On button already on, when you lift it to your eye and look through the viewfinder.
I have a NEX 7 and find it abysmal, down to the point where I rarely use it nowadays. I have three lenses, the kit 18-55, the Sigma 18-200 and the Sigma 30 2.8. I've no problems with the quality of the lenses but just the start-up time. For example, walking about street shooting, I see an image I'd like to capture. Lift the camera to my eye, and three maybe four seconds later, the lens finally lets me see the image in the viewfinder, after starting as a burnt-out white image and slowly coming to full colour. By then, the moment has gone and I've missed the shot. Both the Sigma lenses are slightly slower than the kit lens in waking up, but for street photography they are worse than useless. They are fine if you have all the time in the world, like for architecture or landscapes, but this is not what I bought the camera for.
Hope you can find time for a reply.
In reply to an earlier post on 22 Apr 2014 10:25:10 BDT
I've never used an NEX 7 but shocked to hear how slow it is!
In terms of the a6000 if the camera is switched off then it takes around 2.5 seconds from turning it on to the actual photo being taken.
If the camera is switched on already but you are not looking through the viewfinder then the time delay between putting the viewfinder to your eye and an actual image appearing in the view finder is less than a second. Hard to measure accurately but while its not instant its very close to being instant - maybe half a second from looking through and seeing an image.
As far as I can tell the Sony a6000 doesn't seem to have a power saving mode - whereby the screen on the back goes blank. It mentions power saving in the manual but when I set the "Power Save Start Time" to a 10 second delay and waited a minute it never went blank - as happened on some of my earlier cameras. Not sure if that's a fault, user error by me or just the way its supposed to work. I couldn't see any other power saving settings I could change.
I did test my NEX 5N start up times - i.e. from switching on to a photo being taken - it was about half a second slower than the a6000 -maybe a little more.
One thing I did notice on the a6000 is an absence of as you put it "starting as a burnt-out white image and slowly coming to full colour". Pretty much as soon as you turn the a6000 on the image is correct - no starting as a burnt out white image at all.
Anyway I think it should be pretty good for street photography - certainly way better than the NEX 7. Its fast auto focus will help too.
I tested mostly with the Sony Zeiss 16-70mm F4 lens on the a6000. I also have the Sony e10-18mm f4 lens which I definitely recommend - though not probably for street photography. Great for landscapes and architecture.
Posted on 24 Apr 2014 16:24:30 BDT
Last edited by the author on 24 Apr 2014 16:26:25 BDT
Jang 573 says:
Hi Paul, Firstly I want to congratulate you on your excellent Sony A6000 review . As you own the Sony 16-70 mm f/4 lens I 'd like to know if you get more detail compared to the Sony Nex 5-N using this lens , as you've only pointed out as the main advantage of the 24MP sensor , the fact that one can print larger photos .
I've just bought the Sony A7r with the 28-70mm kit lens and I don't know whether to keep it or exchange it for the Sony A6000. The Sony A7r is great in low light , at night , has great dynamic range and the sensor produces great detail images , even with the kit lens which has obtained a good punctuation at DXOMARk.com . Nevertheless , it's a more difficult camera to use and you have to be very concentrated when shooting .
If you have an idea about this two cameras , I'll value your advice .
In reply to an earlier post on 24 Apr 2014 16:36:02 BDT
Personally I think stick with the Sony A7r. The a6000 I doubt is much easier to use. Its main advantage over the A7r is its smaller and lighter weight ( with smaller and lighter lenses ) and possibly better auto focus.
And of course the a6000 is much cheaper than the Sony A7r.
While the Sony A7 looks tempting I'll be sticking with the a6000 for its lighter weight and cheaper price.
Posted on 28 Apr 2014 09:01:15 BDT
Thanks for the review - I was about to order the A6000 as an upgrade from my first generation Nex-5 but your review has given me food for thought.
I also have a dog (a greyhound cross saluki) that likes to charge towards me and which I've tried to take pictures of, but get useless results.
I notice the A6000 brochure has a picture of a retriever taken with the 55-210 lens, with high iso and 1/2500 shutter.
Apart from centre spot AF, what other settings were you using when it did work?
In reply to an earlier post on 30 Apr 2014 08:54:55 BDT
I'm finding it best to have the camera on manual - where I set both aparture and shutter - but leaving the camera to automatically select ISO.
I was using shutter priority - but to keep ISO low the camera would shoot as wide open as possible. But the limited depth of field meant the focus has to not only be spot on but focused on exactly the right bit of the dog - which was challenging.
Depending on the lens I'm tending to use f5.6 to f8 with a shutter of at least 1/500 - 1/1000 if light allows.
ISO is acceptable up to 3200 - so I set that as my maximum.
I have it on high speed continuous shooting.
I need to go out and try again using the 55-210 - but life is always so busy!
In reply to an earlier post on 11 May 2014 17:28:33 BDT
Last edited by the author on 11 May 2014 17:29:36 BDT
A. Webb says:
Yes, I too have the first generation NEX 5, and was seriously considering upgrading. But, after reading the review I've decided to stick with what I have for the time being. The A6000 certainly has a few useful advantages, but not enough to make it worth £600 + at least for me.