Speed and quality are what the new 24.3-million-pixel Sony Alpha 6000 is all about. Capable of 0.06sec autofocus, Sony says it will never miss the perfect shot. Jon Devo takes aim. Read our Sony Alpha 6000 review...
Sony Alpha 6000 at a glance:
- 24.3-million-pixel Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor
- ISO 100-12,800 (expandable to ISO 25,600)
- Three times faster Bionz X image-processing engine
- 179-point hybrid AF system
- Fast 0.06sec autofocus time
- RRP £549 body only, or £669 with 16-50mm kit lens
- See sample images taken with the Sony Alpha 6000
Sony Alpha 6000 review – Introduction
After four years, it is only now that Sony has updated its NEX-6 – one of the most popular compact system cameras the market has ever seen – in the form of the Alpha 6000. The new camera also shares some common features with the equally popular Sony NEX-7 and retains the distinctive NEX body shape, which will please fans of the series, but that is pretty much where the similarities end. Although the E-mount-compatible Alpha 6000 resembles the camera it is replacing, inside Sony has included some of the best technology it has to offer.
By bringing the portable NEX cameras into the Alpha family, the Japanese firm is clearly trying to blur the lines between the DSLR and compact system camera markets. To help the Sony Alpha 6000 compete with DSLRs, Sony has included the new Bionz X processor that is featured in the Sony Alpha 7R, which was AP’s Product of the Year at the 2014 AP Awards, plus an improved version of the APS-C-sized, 24.3-million-pixel Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor featured in its previous SLT flagship, the Alpha 77.
In short, the Sony Alpha 6000 is what you would get if you threw the NEX-6 and the NEX-7 into a boiling pot and sprinkled the fragrant mixture with the latest and tastiest hot sauce.
Sony Alpha 6000 review – Features
The 24.3-million-pixel, APS-C-sized image sensor in the Sony Alpha 6000 features a gapless on-chip design, increasing the camera’s light-collecting efficiency for improved low-light shooting and reduced noise throughout its ISO 100-25,600 sensitivity range. It is also worth noting that there is no anti-aliasing filter in this model.
In the past few years, the high-end interchangeable-lens camera landscape has become increasingly competitive, with Olympus’s OM-D range, Fujifilm’s X-series and Panasonic’s GX and GH cameras all continually pushing the boundaries of what is possible in a mirrorless camera.
However, the Sony Alpha 6000 enters the market with one of the most impressive feature lists in its class, greatly benefiting from the improved processing power of the Bionz X engine, which is three times as fast as the original Bionz processor used in the NEX cameras. The increased speed is particularly notable in terms of start-up time. From switching the camera on, I can begin shooting in about a second, even in hi-speed burst mode, which is fantastic for sharp shooters wanting to capture shots at a moment’s notice.
Improvements to areas such as autofocus speed have been enabled by this extra power, with the Alpha 6000 recording a rapid focusing time of 0.06sec according to the CIPA standard. Under ideal conditions, the Alpha 6000 has one of the fastest focusing systems on the market, even faster than that of the impressive Fujifilm X-T1. It also helps that the shutter lag is imperceptible, with the Alpha 6000 achieving focus almost instantaneously.
Burst-mode shooting at up to 11fps, continuous for 21 raw + JPEG frames or 49 fine JPEGs, is also possible before buffering becomes an issue. This will appeal to anyone considering using the camera for sports, action or fast-moving family members.
The Sony Alpha 6000 has 25 precision contrast-detection AF points, as did the NEX-6. But there’s a more significant improvement to the number of phase-detection points, up from 99 previously to 179 points, covering almost 100% of the frame. The new hybrid autofocus system not only makes it easier for the camera to recognise scenes, but it also boosts the ability of the Alpha 6000 to lock onto the correct subjects and track them tenaciously.
AF-A (a combination of continuous and single-shot AF) is featured in the Alpha 6000, which is a first for the Sony E-mount family. When in this mode, and faced with situations where subjects aren’t predominantly stationary or moving, the camera will select the appropriate focusing mode for the scene. I’m also pleased to see that Sony has enabled active AF point visibility, making it easier to check whether focusing is accurate or not, particularly while shooting burst frames and tracking.