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Sony a6000 | 10 Things You’ll Love About this Mirrorless Camera

By Tanya Goodall Smith on July 3rd 2015

Welcome to Time Out with Tanya, where I’ve put my fast paced graphic design career on hold in favor of adventures in motherhood. I’m capturing every moment on camera, and you can come along if you’d like. Sign up for my weekly email here, so you’ll never miss a Time Out.

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Remember my quest to find the perfect point-and-shoot? Well, I kind of gave up after hours of research, testing and frustration. After realizing I needed to either lower my expectations or raise my budget, I’m back on the hunt for the right camera to take with me on trips and for everyday shooting while out and about with my kids.

B&H sent me the Sony A6000 with 16-50mm lens to test out and I spent an entire day with it (a luxury I don’t often get these days!) at the Farm Chicks Show and a photo walk in downtown Spokane. It was a great day for me, and I must say I may have developed an emotional attachment to this little camera.

[LEARN: Free Engagement Photography Guide]

The camera itself meets all of my requirements for a good touring camera, although I did not particularly like the variable aperture lens. There are other lens options for this camera, so it’s become a serious contender for a spot in my camera bag, or my pocket, as the case may be. Here are 10 things I love about the Sony A6000 camera, and I think you’ll love it, too.

1. Full Manual Control

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I shoot in full manual mode 99% of the time. It’s what I’ve mastered and it’s how I feel comfortable and confident shooting. Cameras that only offer partial manual control confuse me. This one allows me to be in total control of my ISO, Shutter Speed, and Aperture so I can get some cool effects using my knowledge of photographic techniques. Of course, if you feel more comfortable shooting in program modes, this camera has those too.

I should note all of the images I shot with the a6000 were in RAW format and edited with the SLR Lounge Lightroom Preset System.

[Free Tutorial: 4 Lightroom CC Features You Need to Know]

2. Viewfinder

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Another feature that’s oh-so-important to me in a camera is the option of using an optical viewfinder. “What’s the big deal with an optical viewfinder?” you might ask. It can provide stability against camera shake, aid in composing your image, and it just feels more natural to me to hold the camera up to my eye.

Of course, an LCD screen has its perks, but on bright sunny days it can be hard to see what you’re shooting (sometimes even impossible!) so I like to have a viewfinder. This particular camera came with a little eye piece you can attach, which is a really nice touch.

It also has Live View inside the viewfinder, which is so amazing. You can see the exposure of your images as you make adjustments to your settings while viewing the scene through your viewfinder. This feature is not available on my Canon 5D Mark III DSLR, and while it likely drains the battery pretty quickly, it’s a nice feature.

3. Compact Size

The biggest plus this camera has going for it is the size. It’s not too big and heavy but not so small that I might lose it in the pocket of my jeans either. I was able to wear it on my Peak Design Slide Strap all day. I alternated between the neck and sling strap positions and had absolutely no strain at the end of the day. You could even use this camera with a simple wrist strap and be just fine. It’s the perfect size for keeping in your purse or taking with you on a trip.

4. Ergonomic Grip & Design

The grip on this camera is the perfect size for my average sized female hands. Again, not too big, not too small. It’s just right. I could hold it all day without slipping or worrying about dropping it. Navigating to all the dials and controls was easy and intuitive. In fact, I only had to pull out the owners manual to look up one thing. You’ll find out what that is later on in the article. (Are you still with me? Keep reading).

5. Interchangeable Lenses

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For a tourist camera, having the ability to change lenses wasn’t a big deal to me, but it is a plus, especially since I didn’t end up loving the lens that came in this kit. The features of the actual camera are perfect, so being able to find a better lens for my particular needs is great. And your needs might be different than mine, so you might choose a different lens.

What didn’t I love about this lens? I’m just not a fan of variable aperture lenses. When shooting in manual mode I have to take into account the fact that the aperture will change if I zoom in or out, and that’s going to affect the exposure settings, which I’ll then have to change. The quality of an image is largely determined by a lens as well, which is why I generally skip a kit zoom lens and go for a prime or higher quality zoom. For more information on what type of lens to choose for your genre or style of photography, check out our Lens Wars Series by clicking here.

6. Low Light Performance

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ISO 4000, 16mm, f/4.0, 1/160 sec

As someone who lives in an area that is dark and cold for over half the year, low light performance is a big deal to me. We spend a lot of time indoors and many of the moments I want to capture are in low light. Christmas morning, birthday parties, indoor fairs, we even have indoor water parks, soccer and football in Spokane.

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ISO 4000, 16mm, f/4.0, 1/160 sec

The Farm Chicks Antique show is a huge event at the indoor fairgrounds here in Spokane. I tested the low light limits of this camera thoroughly during my walk through of this poorly lit space. I was shooting at anywhere from 3200 to 4000 ISO with no problem.

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Yes, there is some grain in the images at 100% crop, but I don’t mind it at all. In fact, I usually add a little grain to my super crisp images anyway.

7. Video

My interest in video is increasing so this feature is becoming more and more important to me. I’m not a video expert but using the video function on this camera is easy and seems to produce decent quality for little snippets of your life. As previously mentioned, this camera was so intuitive to use right out of the box that I barely needed to consult the users manual, except for one thing: How to record video! After consulting the manual, I finally found the tiny red button on the side of the grip that you have to push to start a recording. The video above is a little example of my downtown Spokane photo walk video clips I put together using Animoto.

[Rewind: Click here for Animoto Discounts]

8. In-camera Stitch Panorama

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I’m usually not into snazzy functions on cameras, but I thought I would give a few of these a try. The Panorama function is quite fun to play with. Have you ever gone to the trouble of taking several shots and stitching them together later in Photoshop? It’s so time-consuming! Well, this took about 5 seconds and all the work was done in camera.

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Just be aware of moving objects when you’re making a panorama, since they may end up looking kind of funky after they are stitched together (check out the car in the far right of the above image). This one also ended up being a little over exposed. No biggie, I just cropped out the car and applied an HDR Preset from the SLR Lounge Lightroom Preset System and we’re done! I’m sure with a little practice I could get these 100% right in camera.

9. Burst Mode

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Holy frames-per-second, Batman! The burst mode on this camera is quick. It actually took me by surprise the first time I pressed down the shutter. It felt like I was holding a very tiny automatic weapon in my hands. This could come in very handy for photographing kids. In fact, it’s one of the little tricks I often use.

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Kids move so quickly and sometimes you get just the right expression for a fraction of a second so capturing multiple frames very quickly in a row is a plus. The only downside is having to weed through all the resulting images trying to find the best one, so I only go there if absolutely necessary.

10. Price

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Considering everything this little mirrorless camera can do, and all that comes in the current kit over at B&H, the price is fantastic. Get the body alone for just $548 or a kit that includes the camera, lens, memory card, shoulder bag, lens cap holder, and microfiber cleaning cloth for $698. Oy! What a good deal!

Other Features

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A few other features worth mentioning on this fantastic little camera are the tilting LCD screen, built-in Wi-Fi connectivity, a multi-interface shoe and built-in flash, all of which add to the versatility of the Sony A6000.

What would you love most about this camera? If you own it already, let us know in the comments which feature is your favorite and why.

For a comprehensive review of the Sony A6000, read Matthew’s article here: SONY A6000 INITIAL REVIEW & SAMPLE IMAGES

CREDITS: Photographs by Tanya Smith (unless otherwise noted) are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.

Tanya Goodall Smith is the owner, brand strategist and commercial photographer at WorkStory Corporate Photography in Spokane, Washington. WorkStory creates visual communications that make your brand irresistible to your target market. Join the stock photo rebellion at workstoryphotography.com.

27 Comments

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  1. Dan Sifuentes

    I wrote my own review of the Sony a6000. Check it out and write a comment so I know what you think. Here’s the link: https://www.digitalcamcentral.com/sony-a6000-silver-review/

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  2. Gary Oldham

    The A6000 doesn’t have an optical viewfinder. It has an electronic viewfinder (EVF) in addition to the large LCD bank panel “live view” display.

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  3. Samuel Sandoval

    Should I get this or Fujifilm Xt10?

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  4. Sam Hyden

    After I had my Canon cameras stolen, I used my insurance money to get a A6000. I opted to buy the zeiss 16-70 lens. I have used it to shoot school groups 200 plus and am very pleased with the sharpness. Better in comparison to Nikon D700 with 24-70. I am also able to use my manual focus Canon lenses, what a bonus. Totally pleased with video also. My grandkids recitals are sharp and well exposed. I would recommend this camera to anyone, but save your pennies and buy the zeiss lenses.

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  5. David Blanchard

    Nice hardware. I’m still holding out for the mythical A7000!

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  6. Phil Bautista

    BTW Tanya, if you’re a fan of legacy lenses, you’ll find a plethora of adapters for nearly every lens mount to E/FE mount, some smart but most dumb. You’ll also find a variety of specialty adapters like tilt-shift and speed boosters that expand the usefulness of your current lenses and camera. The a6k has features such as focus peaking and focus magnifier to help you focus manually and zebras to assist in exposure adjustment.

    p.s. Yes Paul, I know. These functions aren’t exclusive to the Sony a6k. But the article is about this camera cos it’s what Tanya tried out.

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  7. Paul Nguyen

    Whilst this was a nice read, I can’t help but feel like basically all of the points could apply to any other interchangeable lens mirrorless camera on the market.

    For example, which of these 10 points aren’t satisfied by the Fuji X-E2, Olympus OM-D EM-5 II, Samsung NX-1 or any of the others that are available?

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    • Tanya Goodall Smith

      I’m not sure, I haven’t tried any of those out. Would you care to enlighten us all?

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    • Paul Nguyen

      I’ve been shooting with the Fuji system (alongside Nikon) for a while now, recently started selling off nearly all of my Nikon stuff to move to Fuji full time and I can say that most of the points you raised about the benefit of the Sony A6000 also applies to the Fuji system.

      The only points I would think that are truly unique to the A6000 would be the video capabilities (where Fuji is quite lacking), as well as the panorama mode, which I’m not sure Fuji has (I’ve never tried).

      I would assume that other cameras such as the OM-D EM-5 (or any of the other M4/3 bodies) and the Samsung NX-1 would satisfy all these points as well.

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    • Enzo Scorziello

      I’ve shot with both Fuji and Sony. I chose Sony because it has a vastly superior auto Focus and better lowlight capability. I did like the color of the Fuji straight out of camera. Also Fuji imo has the better line up of native glass at the moment, while I can get adaptors for almost any make of glass I want for the Sony what is the point of having amazing autofocus and not be able to use it.

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    • Paul Nguyen

      I’m not sure how long ago you tried Fuji, but AF performance is much better than in the X-Pro1 and X-E1 days. The X-T1’s autofocus is better than the A6000 and A7II just going by reviews.

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    • Claude Beauchemin

      Huge difference in price X-Pro1 vs Sony A6000

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  8. Phil Bautista

    As an owner of this camera, I think your article is an accurate representation of the camera with one exception… shooting video. Are you kidding? Nearly every P&S, Bridge camera, mirrorless and camcorder has a dedicated video button aside from the video mode in the mode dial. I know it’s small but I would have thought that an experienced shooter like you wouldn’t need a manual to figure THAT out. Still a great article though. Well thought out and written. Thanks for sharing.

    p.s. I love the kit lens for its size. The variable aperture is a bummer but it’s a reasonable compromise if it means keeping the size down IMHO.

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    • Tanya Goodall Smith

      Phil, I literally could not find the button. It’s so small and in a weird place. I had to look up where it was in the manual.

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  9. Austin Swenson

    I keep telling myself I want this thing but then the a7000 or whatever they call it will come out and I will make a huge facepalm… Sad face.

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  10. Greg Silver

    I absolutely love my a6000. I agree Tanya not crazy about the variable aperture lenses too. But I currently use the Sony 18-105 f/4 lens and it works fantastic!

    Can not say enough good about this camera. Best bang for your buck!

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  11. Black Z Eddie

    I have one of these and <3 it! I'm thinking of picking up another one. I typically shoot with a a6000 + 35 1.8 and an a77II + 135 1.8. It may be nice to replace my a77II with another a6000 + 85 1.8.

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    • Dustin Baugh

      You can pick up some used NEX camera’s for pretty cheap too if you need an emergency backup body that works with the lenses.

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  12. Graham Curran

    “Have you ever gone to the trouble of taking several shots and stitching them together later in Photoshop? It’s so time-consuming!” – Sorry, but you must be doing it wrong. It only takes a few seconds (depending on size of images). In LR5 I could select the images and “Merge in Photoshop”. It may not be as fast as in-camera but you do get some control of the merge process.

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    • Steve Madden

      I use Auto Pano Pro 3.6, it’s a breeze to use!

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    • Steve Madden

      I’m sooooo tempted to pick one up as a light weight second camera.
      A nikon D5500 would be the best choice really!
      Seeing as i have a load of Nikon lenses!

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    • Claude Beauchemin

      I sold the same Nikon for buying the A6000, best thing I’ve done. Quality/Price

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    • Drew Valadez

      Seriously.

      Download Microsoft ICE and then tell me how “hard” and “time consuming” it can be.

      I put together some 20-26 6D image stitches in Rome in a matter of minutes… I mean I loaded the folder with the shots, hit go, watched a youtube video and came back and my stitch was completed on a i5-2500k + 16GB RAM.

      You will put more effort in trying to hit this shot like you wanted with Sony’s in camera finnicky pan tool rather than shoving the images off on a PC running ICE. Don’t get me wrong though, the feature is AWESOME but it isn’t back breaking to do on a computer. PC or Mac, both are easy.

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    • Dave Haynie

      The thing about stitching photos in-camera: you will have defects. Particularly if you’re shooting by hand, no tripod, you’ll have alignment problems the camera’s simple software can’t deal with, you’ll have overlaps it does wrong, etc. And you’re stuck with that… no going back.

      I’ve been using Autopano Giga for years… in fact, its ability to merge many, many 16Mpixel and 20Mpixel raw images kind of drove my last PC upgrade: 64GB of RAM will get you much larger merges. Now, I’m also a new fan of Lightroom’s panorama merge, for the simple stuff. But when it’s not simple, you want a stronger tool. For example, Autopano Giga supports generalized compositing, not just panoramas. So I’m shooting some bees around a flower… I get a few good bee shots, I can merge them selectively into an image, by indicating which features I want to keep, which I want removed, for each photo. It’s more work, but kind of like magic. There’s also control over which algorithms are used for morphing photos, total control over how many match point, etc. So, ok, overkill for the simple stuff. But Lightroom now does that in seconds, still with more control and a better result than in-camera, and I get a raw photo (DNG) as the output… I have yet to see an in-camera pano that produces anything but a JPEG.

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    • Dave Haynie

      I do like a compact mirrorless as an option. My current one is the Olympus E-PM1, which is tiny, but I’d really like one that combines the higher-quality IBIS of the day with a built-in viewfinder. These are getting close to the size of a good P&S camera, with better lens options (because, well, the lens is an option) and larger sensors. The right camera for the right photography, IMHO.

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