Let me get this out of the way first: I am an official Sony Global Ambassador of imaging which means I am affiliated with Sony. That said, I wrote this article from my own ideas and perspectives. The main reason I am writing this article is because I am often asked what camera I would recommend for people ‘on a budget’. Most of the times I would recommend be the A6000. There are several reasons why and I am trying to explain those in this article. This article also has a review aspect in it which isn’t only to promote the camera. I am addressing both it’s positive and negative points.
It’s an old camera, why buy it now?
The A6000 was first announced in February 2014. In the ‘Sony camerabody world’ this seems ages as Sony is updating their camera bodies frequently. The A6000 currently has 2 successors, the A6300 and the A6500. Please don’t ask me about their numbering regarding the A6000 series. I’ve had discussions about it and it just seems totally random. The Sony A7 body naming with the S for sensitivity and R for resolution makes much more sense. So that brings me to the other reason I am writing this article now, about 1.5 years after its initial release with already 2 successors. That’s exactly the point: I’ve heard people complaining about the quick upgrades of the A6xxx line but the great thing about it is: The original A6xxx keeps dropping in price! I even saw the body for less than 400 USD at B&H and Amazon currently, which is a bargain for this camera. For the sake of this article and the 'bargain' aspect I shot most of the sample images (especially at the end) with the kit lens to show what it is capable of.
The A6000 kit with the (interchangeable) 16-50mm kit lens and 1 battery
For the people fairly new to cameras in general and the current ‘mirrorless hype’, let’s talk about mirrors a bit. If you’re an experienced mirrorless camera user you can skip reading this and the ‘interchangeable lens’ part. Key points of mirrors cameras are that they (obviously) do not have a mirror, so they are lighter and more compact. They are based on live view and a digital viewfinder. It basically makes them perfect to quickly grab, put them in your handbag or even your pocket and bring them around everywhere. There are a lot of different mirror less cameras with different camera sensors.
The A6000 is an allrounder where image quality and speed are its key points. While the camera has been out for a while the image quality is still great for the current generation of cameras. If we go back in time, people known with the Sony cameras will probably remember the NEX series. The A6xxx series are the successors of the NEX series. The A6000 has an APS-c sensor meaning it is around 1.5x smaller than a full frame sensor. A smaller sensor has advantages and disadvantages in general. Obviously, the biggest advantage is that it’s smaller, so the camera body can be smaller and the native lenses are smaller too. That means that the whole package weight is a lot lighter than a full frame package also. Another important thing is the price of not only the camera but also the lenses. APS-c lenses are generally cheaper than full frame lenses. The disadvantages are that you will have to give in regarding some aspects of image quality regarding dynamic range and especially ISO performance (more noise at higher ISO). In general, the average hobby photographer will not really notice the differences.
The A6000 kit is very compact. I say ‘kit’ because you generally buy a body with the 16-50mm kit lens. This lens can be changed for a different lens. The Sony A6000 has the famous E-mount meaning it can fit any lens that has the E-mount fitting, including the full frame lenses for the A7x series. And there are a lot of choices these days! The Sony E-mount is currently very popular and not only Sony but also lots of other brands like Zeiss and Samyang have a wide variety of lenses available. Like full frame and APS-c bodies differ in sensor size, full frame lenses and APS-c lenses also differ in size. They have the same mount but are meant for a different sensor. Full frame E-mount lenses fit perfectly fine on the APS-c sensor of the A6000, although the sensor only uses part of the lens (the center) because the sensor is smaller. This has no impact on image quality. Keep in mind though, that a full frame lens has 1.5x more ‘reach’ on a crop sensor because you’re only using the center of the lens. A 50mm lens would turn into 75mm equivalent (with a 50mm DOF) because of the crop sensor.
The Sony A6000 kit has a 16-50mm kit lens. For the average photographer this is good enough. It’s extremely small which makes the whole package great to carry around. This is important for a lot of people. The image quality of the kit lens is decent, especially at 16mm. And if you ever want to upgrade, no problem. There are lots of ‘upgrades’ to choose from regarding both wide angle lenses and tele zooms. I’m a big fan of the Sony 10-18 f/4 and the Zeiss Tuit 12mm f/2.8 regarding wide angle lenses. Almost all lenses can be adapted to fit the Sony E-mount. For example Canon or Nikon lenses can be used with an adapter or even very old manual lenses that you might have lying around from the past. In some cases (especially with old manual lenses) the autofocus will obviously not work.
You can go as crazy as you want. Here I am using a Sigma 150-600c (full frame) lens on the A6000 body via the Sigma MC-11 adapter which makes the body look so small. This lens now gives me a 225-900mm range on the 24mp sensor of the A6000. Perfect for photographing butterflies, birds or even the moon!
weight: 285 Gram
Autofocus points: 179
Resolution: 24.3 Megapixel (6000x4000 pixels)
Sensitivity: ISO 100 - 51200