a Mirrorless Upgrade | my Sony A6000 Preview


the Sony a6000 with a kit lens

My move to a mirrorless camera system started over a year ago now and it all began when I was loaned the incredible Fuji XT-1 for a few days in Disney World. I absolutely loved the feel of the Fuji (especially the small size and weight compared to my big DSLR systems) and the picture quality was nothing short of breath taking. I knew then and there that I’d be adding a mirrorless system to my gear collection.

But as much as I loved the Fuji, it was a bit pricey – as in many thousands of dollars – to get myself a complete system (bodies, lenses, flashes, accessories, etc.) for what would ultimately be a camera I used outside of my professional work.

I tried a number of cameras out and ultimately picked up the least expensive Sony mirrorless camera, the a5000. The a5000 has been a delight to work with and it’s small size, light weight and astoundingly low price were exactly what I was looking for in a travel camera. While I liked a lot of what the entry level a5000 offered, it was also lacking some features that I found myself really missing (like a hot-shoe and a view finder). It didn’t take me long to add an additional body to my growing collection of mirrorless gear.

Today I’ll share a few thoughts on the current flagship Sony mirrorless camera (APS-C sized sensor): the a6000.

Sony a6000 Introduction

For anyone interested in my thoughts on the entry-level mirrorless camera (the a5000) you can check out my two previous articles on the subject (going mirrorless and the a5000 long-term review).

The a5000 has been (and continues to be) a seriously decent camera. At 20 mega-pixels it has plenty of resolution for still images. And it is TINY (especially when compared to one of my big DSLR systems). Additionally it offers some strong video capabilities. Where it felt lacking (for me) was in it’s handling and lack of some important (for me) features. The solution to all of my complaints was simple – take a serious look at Sony’s current flagship (APS-C) mirrorless camera, the a6000.

It didn’t take me long to pick up a Sony a6000 and the two features I’m happiest to have back are a hot-shoe (I use a lot of external flashes in my product photography, for example) and a viewfinder (holding a camera out in front of me still feels a bit foreign after decades of pressing my face into the back of a camera). Here’s a look at my a6000 with a 16mm lens, a .75 wide-angle adaptor and a “L” bracket attached:

accessories on my Sony a6000

Due to the a5000 being an entry level camera the emphasis is clearly on ease of use so it lacks a number of dials and buttons normally found on a full sized DSLR. I can completely understand the decision since Sony is looking for point-and-shoot users who want to make an upgrade without being overwhelmed. With the zoom control located around the shutter release button, it feels instantly familiar to anyone who has used a point-and-shoot camera in the last decade. The size, as I mentioned above, is extremely tiny – perhaps too small (especially when a larger lens is attached). Another issue I have is that it’s a bit “slippery” because the grip is just plastic (with little dimples). Thankfully those issues have all been addressed on the a6000.

Here’s a look at my a6000 and a5000 next to each other:

two Sony cameras

You can see that the a6000 is just a bit bigger in every direction. It’s still quite small but it feels much nicer in your hand with the added size (and excellent feel) of the grip. While it is physically larger and heavier than the a5000 it’s still much smaller and lighter than one of my big DSLR cameras.

Here’s a side-by-side comparison of my Sony a900 and my Sony a6000:

sony a6000 and a900 size comparison

The a6000 gives me back the hot-shoe (a semi-proprietary system Sony calls “multi-interface”) and a seriously awesome electronic view finder (EVF). In addition to the obvious additions Sony also upgraded the handling with more buttons and dials (including a whole lot of button customization) and a much better menu navigation system. Using the a6000 is much closer to the experience of using a DSLR without the size and weight. Here’s a look at the rear of the a5000 and a6000 next to each other:

the back of a Sony a6000 and Sony a5000

All of the additional buttons and dials make the a6000 easier to get settings right much faster, especially when compared to the a5000 (which uses the rotary dial for almost everything and buries important settings in the menu). There’s no doubt that the a6000 is more of an enthusiast camera compared to the smaller a5000.

In addition to the upgraded handling Sony gave the a6000 some nice performance upgrades with a higher capture rate (over 11 frames per second) and a 20% increase in resolution (the a6000 is a full 24 mega-pixels). The added features, speed and resolution are seriously welcome additions that have the potential to make the a6000 a more viable replacement for my big DSLR systems.

Here’s a quick comparison of the headline features of the a5000 and a6000:

the Sony a5000 and a6000 features and specifications compared

Individually the upgrades may not sound like much but when you consider all of them together the a6000 is a substantial step up for an astoundingly reasonable price.

As I’ve already mentioned the hot shoe was the biggest addition I was looking to add. I love all the upgrades in performance and handling but I shoot a lot of home interiors, products and portraits so having a hot shoe (for using a radio trigger) was huge for me. With Sony’s “multi-interface shoe” system I’m able to use the hot shoe for a whole lot more than just triggering off-camera flashes. I’ve invested in numerous accessories to help me make better videos and the multi-interface shoe gives me options for connecting some really cool microphones (I’ll talk more about them in the future).

In Conclusion

This article wasn’t meant to be an in-depth review of a Sony a6000. I just wanted to give a brief introduction to the camera and talk a bit about why I picked one up.

My Sony a5000 and a6000 have spent almost a year in my camera bag and I enjoy using both of them. The a5000 was a great introduction to a mirrorless system, but for less than $500 (new, body only) a serious enthusiast camera was available. I’m not going to lie – I instantly fell in love with the Sony a6000. I still use the a5000 but the a6000 is my new mirrorless workhorse.

Is the a6000 perfect? Not even close. The higher quality sensor shows the limitations of my early lens purchases (especially the 16-50mm kit lens), for example but I totally expected that. The solution for that is simple – buy better lenses! I have a few I absolutely love and more that will be added to my bag soon. There are other issues I have with the a6000 but many of them have been addressed with the announcement of the upcoming Sony a6300. When I put together my long-term a6000 review I’ll spend more time exploring the issues I have.

As a video camera the a6000 is just amazing, even though it has it’s limitations (a video clip is limited to 30 minutes maximum, for example). I’ve invested in a number of add-on accessories to help me make better videos and I’ll be sure to talk more about them in a future blog. Until then here’s a peek at my current video setup:

a Sony a6000 with video accessories

I’ll have more to share about the a6000 in a future blog post – along with my thoughts on Sony’s newest camera announcement (at the time of this article), the a6300.


If you’re interested in picking up a Sony a6000 here are a few links:


 


 


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