Sony Alpha A6000 Review

on Sunday, November 16, 2014
The Sony A6000 is, in some respects, the older NEX-6 reincarnate. Which puts it in good stead: as far as interchangeable lens cameras go, the NEX-6 was one of our favourite small scale models with a built-in electronic viewfinder, so the Alpha A6000 arrives with high expectations.
The Alpha name now prefixes all Sony interchangeable lens cameras, as part of the company's attempt to breathe new life into its E-mount compact system camera line. Although the A6000 hasn't reinvented the wheel, it does retain the positive elements from Sony's back catalogue of products alongside a more advanced autofocus system than before. 
But time moves fast and in the last couple of years we've seen some great autofocus advances in among the compact system camera competition. Is the Alpha A6000 good enough to hold up against the best of them?

Familiar design

To look at the A6000 echoes the earlier NEX-6 model. The body is near identical, measuring approximately 120mm x 67mm x 45mm, meaning it sits snugly in the hand. It's small, but not the smallest of cameras out there given the arrival of the Panasonic Lumix GM1 among some other competitors.
This particular Sony review unit came with the 16-70mm f/4.0 lens, but the typical in-box arrangement will come with the 16-50mm power zoom - which is significantly smaller than the hefty lens on the front of our camera. Don't let the "new" Alpha name confuse you either: the A6000 is built around the Sony E-mount, not the larger A-mount.
Design wise the boxy form and straight lines are typical of Sony's current camera line, but we think it adds a distinctive edge to the look. The A6000 is well made too, with a metal body and embossed name atop the camera.

Controls are plentiful, with a dual dial arrangement to the top encapsulating the main mode dial and control wheel; the rear d-pad makes up the equivalent second control wheel on the rear. It might take a bit of practice to learn your way around, but Sony's come a long way in terms of its quick access menus and layout - we found it accommodating enough to pick up and use.

Premier features

Despite an affordable £649 price tag there's a lot on offer in the A6000. The built-in electronic viewfinder to the side delivers a 0.39-inch panel with a 1.44m-dot resolution and it works really well. Minimal ghosting is a positive, but the overall resolution is actually lower than the earlier NEX-6 model. We've seen larger and more resolute panels, such as that in the Fujifilm X-T1, but given the scale and the price point we're still fans of the Sony arrangement.

When not using the viewfinder the rear LCD provides a 3-inch 921k-dot preview onto the world. Better still it's mounted on a tilt-angle bracket meaning it can be angled just beyond 90-degrees upwards or around 45-degrees downward for waist-level or overhead work. We used it a load in practice too - it's a really good way of avoiding getting low to the ground and being able to compose more creative shots with accuracy.
The screen isn't Sony's latest WRGB (white, red, green, blue) panel but we still found it to work pretty well outdoors and should the sun get too much then there's always that viewfinder. Just like the earlier NEX-6 the A6000 still lacks a touch-sensitive panel, so no finger-jabbing control from this particular model. Odd seeing as some earlier NEX models had touch panel controls.


In today's super-fast tech world manufacturers are all pushing for the fastest possible autofocus. Sony claimed at launch the A6000 delivers the "world's fastest" system thanks to a new 179-point phase-detection autofocus system joining the contrast-detect on-sensor system.
However, that's a claim we've heard time and again from many camera makers. In the case of the A6000 it's definitely quick, but in our day to day use we wouldn't describe it as the fastest out there - not with this lens anyway. Both Olympus and Panasonic could probably contend, but we're talking tenths or hundreds of a second different.

Give the A6000 good light and subjects slip into focus at pace. But it's some of the finer details that hold the A6000 back from being better. Take low light conditions, for example, where instead of honouring a specific selected focus point it's not uncommon for a generalised green box to show up around the majority of the image instead. With close-up focus and some other scenes we also found the focus could hunt and miss locking on, so accuracy isn't always on point either.


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