Just a few years ago, there was a general belief among camera consumers that only a DSLR could deliver great image quality. It was generally believed that the bigger a DSLR, the better the function and the better the pictures. In general it was so, the producers actively supported such image of cameras observing a clear correlation between the size of the body, the functionality, the price and the quality of the pictures. At the same time digital compact cameras more often were slow and clumsy toys with small sensors, which gave a flat and noisy picture. That all changed four years ago when a new class of digital cameras appeared – mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras. Those cameras were compact and produced great image quality, and that changed the way many people thought about photographic equipment.
Of course, there was a price to pay for compactness. Lack of mirror made it impossible to implement phase autofocus system, so the new class of cameras lost much to DSLR cameras in speed, tenacity and accuracy of autofocus.
Unlike other manufacturers, Sony did not go the way of reducing the size of the sensor and uses the same sensors in their mirrorless cameras as in DSLRs.
And that means that the focus precision requirements are quite high.
Sony made its first attempt to solve the problem of high speed autofocus with the NEX-5R and NEX-6, where the phase phase sensors were built into the sensor. Focus speed and precision markedly improved, but still left much to be desired. In addition, the area of coverage of the frame phase sensors was not large, and the number of lenses that support this mode of focusing is very small.
The real breakthrough was the Sony a6000 ILCE-6000 , announced in February 2014. It has the world’s fastest autofocus, according to the manufacturer. Interestingly, Sony now makes no distinction between DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, they are all now called ILC Interchangeable Lens Camera , apparently this is due to the fact that there are almost no differences between these camera classes. Let’s dwell on the technical characteristics of the camera in more detail.
Sensor, processor and autofocus system
The Sony a6000 camera is equipped with a new 24.3 megapixel APS-C format sensor, which has been increased light sensitivity by 20% compared to previous models. The gain is due to improved microlenses, which minimize light loss. This sensor provides not only high resolution but also a wide ISO range 100 – 25600 . The autofocus system is based on the same sensor with 179 phase detection points, and the new BIONZ X processor that performs several times better than the previous generation processor.
Thanks to the high speed of reading information from the new sensor and the high speed of data processing by the processor, the contrast focusing system on the Sony a6000 is very fast. And the autofocus system provides not only focus, but also face detection and object tracking. 179 phase-assist AF points are added to the AF tracking mode which markedly speeds up the focusing process.
This autofocus system has many pluses, but there are still problem areas. When comparing the autofocus speed of the Sony a6000 with mirrorless cameras of competitors and DSLRs of the budget and medium price segment in good light conditions, there are no complaints to the autofocus of the Sony a6000. In these conditions it often depending on the lens outperforms popular mirrorless and even DSLR cameras. The camera does a great job of recognizing and focusing on faces, though. And in the case of shooting with a small DOF, the camera has a mode of focusing on the eye, which focuses exactly on the eye, so that your portraits will always be sharp, while on DSLR cameras with poor alignment focus is often on the ears or nose, and this problem can not be solved without a trip to the service.
On the downside, the speed and tenacity of autofocus decreases considerably when lighting levels go down. But competitor cameras face the same problem. In addition, from time to time the camera confirms autofocus, but there is no real focus on the subject, although this happens very rarely and it is visible in the viewfinder, which allows you to simply focus again.
For lovers of manual optics, the camera has a function of outline highlighting, which emphasizes the contours of objects that are in the DOF. In combination with a digital magnifier, it is ideal for manual focusing.
Ergonomics and controls
Compared to its predecessor the camera has undergone minor changes in ergonomics. The camera has a mode wheel, and two control dials top and back , as well as three fully customizable buttons and buttons on the back wheel that can be set to any function. With minor external changes, the camera is much more ergonomic with changes to the main menu, quick menu Fn menu , and more button customization options. Now the basic menu and the logic of the camera controls are borrowed from DSLR cameras, and the menu on the Fn button is fully customizable. The result is a significant increase in camera controllability and the ability to customize the camera to your liking.
In low light, you can use the built-in flash, which can be gently deflected to the ceiling, or use a full-fledged external flash, for which there is a hot shoe. Of particular note, the built-in flash can not fire other flashes in wireless mode, you must use an external flash for this.
The camera uses either a screen that can be tilted up or down, or an electronic viewfinder EVF for vision. Compared to the previous model, the viewfinder has a lower resolution, which is not very nice, but it has become noticeably “livelier. The picture is refreshed much faster in this camera and the motion loops are absolutely imperceptible, so I have a very positive impression of this camera. The information value of the EVF is much superior to optical viewfinders in conventional DSLRs, color reproduction is also superior.
From the disadvantages we can note the absence of switching button EVI\LCD-screen and electronic level, which in previous models was present.
Despite the fact that we’re talking about the camera, not unimportant are its video capabilities. The Sony a6000 camera has the ability to switch the video recording modes PAL\NTFS. 50i, 25p, 50p with different compression modes are available in the PAL mode recommended for our country. AVCHD codec is used for video encoding. P, A, S, M modes are available for video shooting. Start the video recording by pressing the button located almost on the end of the camera. The location of this button is very convenient, so it is easy to press it, and you can not accidentally hit it. But for those who want to be reassured against accidental pressing, you can set the button in the menu so that the recording will start only if the wheel is set to video mode. The advantages include the fact that you can record video in the ISO range from 100 to 12800. Of course, at high ISO you can see the noise reduction, but most cameras just do not allow to shoot at high ISO.
The quality of video from Sony A6000 is enough for home use, and for professional use. But this does not apply to the sound, unfortunately the camera has no microphone input and does not support the native XLR adapter. The built-in microphones are more than enough for domestic use – the sound is not bad, but for professional use it may not be enough. So if you want quality sound in video, you will have to use third-party gadgets to record it.
Lately I’ve been looking less and less forward to lugging around a big, heavy DSLR and a bunch of optics, but I still want to get good quality results. I have less and less desire to carry a bulky camera bag and put it around my neck for walks and trips, but I want to take good pictures without limiting myself in genres. In the past there was nothing to do but fight your laziness and drag your weight for photos, because compact cameras did not provide the required speed, functionality and ergonomics.
Photo 1.Wide DD of the camera does not lose details in highlights and shadows. Sony E 18-200LE lens, ISO 100, 25mm, F8.0, 1/100
Photo 2.With wide DD you can forget about the rule – don’t shoot against the sun, now there is only one rule – seize the moment. Sony E 50/1 lens.8, ISO 100, 50mm, F2.8, 1/800
Photo 3. Since it has a short focal length, you can use any lens with an adapter. Sigma 8-16 lens through LA-EA4 adapter, ISO 100, 8mm, 8.0, 1/160
Photo 4. Short flange-back distance means you can use any lens with an adapter. Sigma 8-16 with LA-EA4, ISO 100, 8mm, 9.0, 1/100
Photo 5. Fast hybrid AF system and high speed continuous shooting won’t let you miss the moment. Sony E 18-200LE, ISO 200, 120mm, F8.0, 1/320
Photo 6. Sony E 50/1 portrait lens.8, ISO 100, 50mm, F4.0, 1/500
Photo 7. Fast AF speed lets you catch a plane flying over you. Sony E 18-200LE, ISO 100, 57mm, F8.0, 1/200
Foto 8. High-sensitivity sensor doesn’t limit you in low-light conditions. Sony E 50/1 lens.8, ISO 3200, 50mm, F2.0, 1/60
Photo 9. Good color reproduction and built-in wi-fi so you can tell your friends on facebook about the food you’re eating. Sony E 18-200LE, ISO 1000, 97mm, F6.3, 1/160
Photo 10. Sony E 18-200LE, ISO 100, 200mm, F6.3, 1/320
Photo 11. Sigma 8-16 lens with LA-EA4 adapter, ISO 100, 15 mm, 11.0, 1/320
The idea was a success, the camera bag became 2 to 3 times thinner and just as lightweight. The Sony a6000 camera pleased me with its high resolution and adequate noise level.
Below are crops of photos from the Sony A6000 at different ISO settings, taken at night with a tripod at slow shutter speeds.
Sliced at different ISO settings, photos taken in camera jpg:
Camera jpg ISO 200
Camera jpg ISO 400
Camera jpg ISO 800
Camcorder jpg ISO 1600
Camera jpg ISO 3200
Camera jpg ISO 6400
Camera jpg ISO 12800
In-camera jpg ISO 25600
This example shows that I sliced a photo taken in RAW and converted to LR5, just to show that the result is much better with RAW.
LR5-RAW ISO 200
LR5-RAW ISO 400
LR5-RAW ISO 800
LR5-RAW ISO 1600
LR5-RAW ISO 3200
LR5-RAW ISO 6400
LR5-RAW ISO 12800
LR5-RAW ISO 25600
Close up images at different sensitivities
As you can see in the above examples, there is a slight loss of detail beginning at ISO 800, but since the camera resolution is very high, it won’t show up in printouts. Significant loss of quality begins at ISO 6400 and higher. If you want to use such high ISO sensitivity I recommend to use RAW recording format and convert photos with third party converter, it makes it possible to get good quality photos even with high ISO sensitivity. Below is an example of a photo shot in JPG format and taken from RAW in Adobe Lightroom 5.4. In this case the range of ISO from 6400 to 25600 is quite useful for photos which will be published in web format.
Dynamic range DD is also excellent. No loss of shadows or highlights in photos taken against the sun or in the glaring sun. The autofocus speed often aroused amazement because in direct comparison with a DSLR it often outperforms the latter, here I also take into account the shutter speed because the A6000 is simply beyond competition in this regard. Of course, it should be noted that the speed of focusing also depends on the lens, but I tried to compare lenses similar in purpose.
Didn’t really like the AF performance in low light conditions. The focusing speed slows down considerably in these conditions and you might miss the point, but by focusing in the active AF area on the contrasting parts of the subject and making the most of the different autofocus modes, problems are solved. Significantly helps and built-in AF-assist illumination, which even not all DSLRs have. To be fair it has to be said that DSLRs from the budget and mid-range segment also have trouble focusing in such conditions, and only the top-of-the-line DSLRs are clear winners in this matter.
can not avoid the issue of econometrics and white balance. The exposure metering is perfect in my opinion. But for those who like to control it quickly, there is an option to set the back wheel as an exposure correction wheel. The BB was also quite surprising, this is the first time I’ve owned a camera that often correctly detects that it is filming under incandescent light and adjusts the white balance, it just takes a little time to get it right.
The new Sony a6000 camera combines compactness, high image quality, low noise and fast autofocus. The 11 fps continuous shooting speed in combination with the new hybrid AF system in tracking mode prevents you from missing an interesting moment. The flip-down screen puts you in the perfect frame of mind to take your pictures and the electronic viewfinder lets you frame your shot even in the sunny mountains. Ample button customization and quick menu options let you optimize the camera for you, so you spend minimal time setting up the camera when you’re shooting. And for those who have not yet mastered the camera, there are two fully automatic modes and scene selection that help you get the best results depending on what scene you are shooting.
To sum it all up, Sony has released an excellent camera that can be a staple for both the novice and advanced amateur photographer. And thanks to its wide features and rich functionality for a professional, it can be a second camera – for the soul.
The model is
Sony A6000 ILCE-6000
CMOS sensor, 23.5 x15.6mm, 24MP, 6000×4000 pixels
interchangeable, E mount, A mount lenses can be used through LA-EA type adapters
Dust protection on the sensor
Anti-ESD coating on optical filter and ultrasonic vibration mechanism
built-in electronic XGA OLED, 2.4 million. pix.
Size3″ 1230k. points, tilts upward approx. Up to 90 degrees, down approx. up to 45 degrees
Hybrid phase and contrast focusing system. 179 phase AF points
Touch control on the display
Shutter speed ranges
30-1/8000 s, long by hand, 1/160 s flash sync, electronic front curtain
P, A, S, M, MR, 2 Smart Modes, Movie, Panorama, Scene
Multi-segment, center-weighted, spot. Exposure compensation ± 5 EV
The ability to connect external Sony flashes through the new multi-interface or wirelessly
ISO 100-25600, ISO Auto 100-25600, AutoISO adjustable range
RAW, RAW+JPG, JPG, Panorama JPG
Memory Stick PRO Duo™, Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo™, Memory Stick XC-HG Duo, SD, SDHC, SDXC memory cards
Single, burst, continuous, self-timer with delay, bracketing up to 5 frames
11 fps with auto autofocus
Full HD with auto or manual focus, AVCHD, MP4
USB micro B, HDMI mini C, support for Wi-Fi connection via NFC
NP-FM50-H, 7.2V, 1080mAh battery
120 mm x 66.9 mm x 45.1 mm body
344p without lens, with battery
Price of the camera with a kit lens from 30 000r