The a6000 One Beast of a Camera!

There has been a massive influx of ILC or Mirrorless cameras in the photography industry lately.  There is no reason to question why either, these cameras keep on getting better and better as the months progress.  I, a big time DSLR user, have been eyeballing a mirrorless camera for a while now.  I was hesitant to jump in the mirrorless ring because of how fast the industry is moving with them.

In case you are wondering, a Mirrorless camera is a camera that does not have a mirror inside the camera body to reflect into the prism of the viewfinder like a traditional DSLR.  It is kind of like a DSLR that is stuck in mirror lock-up mode.  On the inside all you have is the sensor.  This cuts back on some moving parts inside the camera making them much smaller, but it comes with a sacrifice.  Because a DSLR uses a mirror and prism in the viewfinder, what you see in that viewfinder is a true reflection of the photo you are about to take.  With a mirrorless camera, if it has a viewfinder, it will be an electronic representation of what the sensor is seeing.

IMG_0459

With that being said, I wanted the luxury of a mirrorless camera.  By luxury, I mean versatility, the ability to get decent RAW images without having to bust out my Canon (it certainly feels like a Cannon sometimes).  I love my DSLR, the Canon 6D has treated me very well over the last year and a half.  However, it can be cumbersome for small excursions, especially with the family.  After researching the mirrorless cameras on the market, I went with the a6000.

Cameras I researched before buying the a6000:

  1. Olympus Omd-Em1
  2. Olympus Omd-EM5
  3. Olympus Ome-EM10
  4. Sony a7r
  5. Sony a7
  6. Sony NEX-7
  7. Sony NEX-6

The Sony a6000 Specs

Quick Tip:  If you ever want to compare two cameras before buying, I highly suggest using the page Snapsort.
Note: The a6000 is a step down from the a7 and a7R, but an upgrade to the NEX 6 and 7.

The Sony a6000 

a6000

What I like about the a6000:

  1. The Price: $749.00 with a lens (a fraction of the cost of many other mirrorless cameras).  This price was one of the biggest selling points for me.  I wanted a mirrorless that produced high quality images without having to pay more than $800.  This camera fit the bill and then some!
  2. Ergonomics:  This camera is a beauty!  It has a vintage land camera look to it giving it that retro flare.  It is small, however, it fits very comfortably, even in my large hands.  The buttons are laid out well.  I do find myself hitting buttons that are in the same place as my Canon but do different things.  This is something I have to get over, Sony did a great job of placing the right buttons in the right spots.
  3. Megapixel count:  The a6000 packs a mean punch with a 24.2 Megapixel APS-C sensor!  I was stunned when I saw the quality of the images this camera produced, even with the limiting factor of the kit lens (I will get to that in the dislikes).  I used one of the images from this camera in a webinar with Topaz Labs.  I ran a single RAW file through the post processing ringer and it held up like a champ!
  4. ISO Sensitivity:  While the a6000 boasts the capacity of 25,600, the images are far too noisy.  I did find that it worked very comfortably at 3200 and even pushed the mold at 6400 as well.  The images seen below were RAW images with no noise reduction applied.
  5. 1.5x Magnification: As mentioned before, this is a crop sensor camera with an APS-C sensor.  This means it will magnify your focal length by 1.5x.  The kit lens it comes with is a 16-50mm lens.  After the crop factor it is 24-75mm.I prefer the 1.5x Crop Factor over the 2x crop factor of many of the Olympus mirrorless cameras.  I know myself well enough that I like my focal lengths really wide!  You will frequently find me out in the landscape with a 14mm lens on my Canon as my walk around.  Having a 2x magnification would have me in tears.
  6. Foldout Screen: The a6000 has a foldout LCD screen.  This is something I missed terribly when I upgraded from my Olympus E-30 to the Canon 6D.  While a fold out screen may not seem like something incredibly useful, it can be in extreme high or low angle shots.
    Just this weekend I was using the ol’ Canon to take a low angle shot, we are talking on the ground on a bean bag.  I had to bend all the way down to the ground to see either the viewfinder or the live view.  With the Sony, you simply adjust the screen before putting it down for the low angle shot and you don’t have to worry about breaking your back to get at its level.
  7. 2 Scrolling wheels:  This may not seem like a big deal, but when you go from a DSLR with 2 scroll wheels you get very spoiled.  The a6000 has one scrolling wheel on the top of the camera and another one on the back of the camera that also functions as a push button dial in 4 directions for quick access to the camera features like ISO, Exposure Compensation, and Firing Mode.
  8. 11 Frames per second!:  This thing is WICKED fast! In High Speed continuous fire you can successfully snag 11 frames per second (in ideal lighting conditions of course).  If you simply try to take one shot with High Speed continuous fire activated you are likely to take 3 or more, it is that fast!  This high speed frame rate also makes it great for handheld HDR.  It can take a 3 bracket series in a split second.
  9. Custom Settings:  The a6000 allows you to save up to 3 custom settings on the camera.  I have a few of my own Custom HDR settings so I can switch from any camera setting to an HDR setup in seconds.

What I Don’t Like About the a6000:

  1. The Kit Lens: Of course, all kit lenses are not the best.  However, this lens is supposed to be a 16-50mm lens but if you take it to 16mm you will see the edge of the lens vignetting around the corners of your image.  This is unacceptable to me.  They should have nerfed the lens to 18mm to compensate for the horrible vignetting at 16mm.  It is also a power Zoom lens.  When you zoom it feels like a toy and you can almost hear an audible grinding.
    Lens-Vignettes
    Example of lens vignetting on the lower right and left side of the image.
  2. The Viewfinder:  It is nice that the a6000 has a viewfinder as many mirrorless cameras do not.  However, the viewfinder is electronic.  If you are used to seeing a nice clear picture in a DSLR, you will not be very happy with the pixelated electronic viewfinder found in many mirrorless cameras.
  3. The Video:  While I do not shoot video with my still cameras (I do that with the Panasonic X-920 Camcorder), the a6000 can only shoot 10 minutes worth of video.  This may not seem like a limiting factor, but more and more people are moving to DSLR’s for their filming purposes.  The a6000 is not the camera for long videos.  If you only plan on shooting short videos, it will work for you with no problems.
  4. The Battery Life:  It does not hold a charge for long and is only good for about 300 shots.  I charged it one day, shot 10 pictures with it, put it down and the charge was at 75%, I looked at it the next day 60%.  If you want to go on a long trip with lots of shots, you will have to purchase a second battery.  It is always a good idea to carry more than one battery anyway, but for such a small camera you would think the battery would last longer.
  5. Not Weather Sealed: I don’t take my gear out in extreme conditions, so this was not a deal breaker for me.
  6. Lens Choice: There are not a whole lot of star studded Sony e-mount lenses on the market.  Zeiss makes glass for the e-mount cameras, but you are going to pay the Zeiss price!

Who is the a6000 for?

  1. The pro DSLR owner looking for a convenient walk around camera.
  2. The novice photographer looking to upgrade from an older DSLR but not wanting to spend more than $800.
  3. The beginner  looking for a camera with great manual features, but does not want to break the bank on a hobby.

In the end:

In the end, this is a camera I would refer to a friend, I would refer it to many friends!  It boasts a lot of great features for a little guy and packs a mean punch in the ring with many mirrorless cameras in its class.  I wouldn’t replace my DSLR with this guy, but I would take it to a walk in the park with the family or on a short trip where the DSLR would be inconvenient (with 2 little ones this happens more often than not).  At $748 I would venture to say you are getting a lot of camera for the cost!

What are your thoughts?  

Do you own a Mirrorless camera?  If so, which one?  What do you think of it?

Do you think Mirrorless cameras will one day replace the DSLR?

Blake Rudis
f.64 Academy and f.64 Elite are the brainchildren of Blake Rudis. While he is a landscape photographer he is most passionate about post-processing images in Photoshop and mentoring others.

For Blake, it is less about the art and more about the process. He dives deep into difficult topics and makes them easy to understand through his outside the box thinking.
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