The Sony a6000, a diminutive camera with some big camera attributes.
After playing with this camera for a couple weeks, I feel knowledgable enough with its workings to file my thoughts on it. This camera is no point-and-shoot competitor, its a fully capable big boy shooter stuffed into a tiny body. Packed with features, it generally keeps up with or even surpasses my Canon DSLR.
The 24.7 megapixel APS-C sensor captures some amazing images, as crisp and clear as anyone could possibly expect from a sensor of this size. I really love the button placements and layout on the camera body, right away after picking it up everything felt natural and easy to access. All the buttons and the two wheels are placed to the right side. It feels right to have them all in one area.
The features! My god, does this camera have a lot of bells and whistles. While this is not always a good thing (see cons) I'd generally rather have them there even if I can't use them or they aren't practical. From creative style menus to selective focus tools, auto HDR and even a freaking app store built in, if there is a feature one craves in a camera, it is probably here. This includes, of course wifi and NFC functions.
The autofocus system is claimed to be the worlds fastest (with some asterisks). It has 179 phase detection autofocus points and 25 contrast detectors. And it is seriously fast, let me tell you. What I greatly appreciate is the fact these autofocus points run nearly edge to edge in every direction of the frame, great for moving subjects or unusual compositions.
11 frames a second maximum burst speed. Wow! enough said.
Probably my favourite thing is the ability to use lenses from other manufacturers with almost no issues at all. There are third party adapters for almost every kind of lens out there. While you may lose some capability (or not depending on the adapter) that flexibility is truly awesome.
One last little thing, and it is little, is the pop up flash. While I normally don't use an in camera flash, this one has a pop up mechanism that allows a finger to hold it in a variety of positions, so you can easily bounce it off the ceiling without a bounce card or any additional equipment.
The electronic viewfinder. I bought this camera reluctantly because I really prefer an optical viewfinder, and for the most part I still do. The 100% coverage is nice and seeing settings and such overlaid is helpful if not incredibly distracting at times. I dislike the fact that while moving the camera fast, the picture is not clear and streaky. I also detest that immediately after a photo is shot the viewfinder shows black, then a preview with stats and settings. If something happens in the second or so after i take a photo, I tend to miss it. The one thing I really like though, and makes anything else said worth it: Focus Peaking! I love this feature, and with third party lenses and manual focus this feature is great to help nail focus.
The vast amount of features. Some of these are just outright useless or redundant and make the menu system more convoluted than it really needs to be. Also, for RAW shooters the majority of these gimmicks aren't even available. Its hard to know why you can't use a specific feature sometimes, some are locked out while using another feature like the focus selection, or ISO settings. Sometimes less is more. This is purely a preference however, and to me just made the learning curve a bit steeper.
The battery life is really very dismal. Claimed is somewhere around 360 photos per battery charge, but in practical use it seems even less that that. The battery is small in dimension and shouldn't be too hard to stuff an extra couple in a camera bag pocket, but still at $60 plus for a sony branded battery, thats additional cost to factor in.
The wifi and NFC pairing is a bit kludgy, It takes me more than one try most times to pair, although I haven't updated the firmware in the camera to the latest version, so judgement reserved on that for time being.
Like most (all?) Sony products this camera has a proprietary hot shoe. So if one would like to add a speed light or other accessory the choice is quite limited. Speaking of accessories, while the video capability is quite good, the microphone is not. This forces a user to buy the Sony stereo microphone that fits on this hot shoe, not much of a choice there.
Lastly, although I hear opinions are varied on this, the 16-50mm/3.5-5.6 OSS kit lens is just not good, but then kit lenses are generally not the best. It has significant barrel distortion and vignetting, the clarity over all is reasonable, especially at the center, but not great. A couple clicks in Lightroom solves this mostly, but buying a better lens will probably be priority to most shooters.
Okay, I like this camera a lot more than I originally expected to. It feels great in the hand and is almost small enough to pocket with the right lens attached. The images are really good, and the feature set is really full. The electronic viewfinder, while having tradeoffs with a traditional optical viewfinder, is quite useable. I'll be in the market for a full frame camera soon. Will I go mirrorless over a traditional DSLR? Probably not, but I'm closer to being swayed in that direction than I ever imagined.