Sony A6000 review
Sony today put another nail in the coffin of its NEX brand with the launch of the Alpha-branded Sony A6000. This compact system camera looks to be a replacement for the excellent Sony NEX-6 which we lavished praise upon well over a year ago now. The NEX brand is no more, but the new Sony A6000 certainly carries on its design ethos.
The new camera is aimed at the same kind of photography enthusiasts. There's still no touch screen, but you do get a thumb-controlled dial on the upper rear and a mode dial next to that. The dial is now recessed into the body, giving the whole design a far neater look. There's an exposure lock button on the back plus a custom function button (labelled C1). There's also a hotshoe for accessories, next to a convenient pop-up flash.
The interface has been redesigned, with Quick Navi Pro designed to allow faster access to common settings, it's the same slick interface we've seen on the new Sony A7 full-frame CSC, with Sony unifying this aspect of its cameras across the ranges.
The sensor is brand new, a Sony-made APS-C CMOS with 24.3 megapixels, which is a little more than any other sensor we can recall of this size. The sensor has 179 phase-detect focus points spread liberally across the chip, and backed up by a contrast detect system (25 points) on the more central part of the sensor. Sony is claiming that this is the fastest autofocus camera in the world at just 0.06 seconds. It sounds impressive, and it's certainly fast, but such claims rarely reflect upon the real-world reliability of the focus system, a far more important consideration.
Here you can see the coverage of the focus system over the frame, with most of the sensor covered, a boon for autofocus tracking
Sony has used the new BIONZ X image processor, again seen on the A7, which provides faster burst shooting up to 11fps and looks to add superior JPEG image quality. Sony was keen to promote its range of PlayMemories Camera Apps too, which allow you to apply various effects in camera, and add shooting modes such as time lapse. Wi-Fi and NFC are provided for easier wireless connections to other devices.
There's a 3.0in LCD display that can face upwards or tilt down to 45 degrees. This is accompanied by an OLED viewfinder with 1.44m dots, which is a step down from the 2.36m dots in the NEX-6. Again it's placed on the far left, so it's easy to get your eye, as long as your right eye is dominant (that's around two-thirds of us). It has a bigger hood around the EVF than before, helping keep out unwanted light.
It looks smart, felt very comfortable to hold thanks to the sizeable handgrip, and all the controls felt responsive. It's around the same dimensions as the previous model, though the body itself looks a little chunkier. The basic kit will come with the 16-50mm kit lens, this impressed us on the NEX-6 with good corner sharpness.
We tested the camera (a pre-production model) in lowlight conditions and the noise from the sensor wasn't ground-breaking, see below, but resized pics for internet use should be fine at even ISO 12800.
Some quick test at the usual ISO high speeds didn't show anything immediately impressive, this shot at ISO 12800 is very fuzzy close up but fine when resized. It's not hugely different from the results other APS-C sensors are producing, but its certainly near the top end
The Sony Alpha A6000 will be available from mid-April in the UK, with kits selling for around £670 and the body alone costing around £550. We'll bring you a full review as soon as we get a sample from Sony.