Sony a6000 - some observations on the image quality and capabilities.


Sony's NEX-7 camera certainly 'pushed the envelope' in terms of what an APS-C small compact camera could achieve. Those 24MP were headline news back when it was announced in 2011. It's obviously been a success since it never really got discounted that much, at least here in the UK and it's not until now, some 21/2 years later, that it's been 'upgraded' with the a6000. This camera has also moved the NEX-6 line into this progression.

As I wrote yesterday the a6000 has significant improvements over the AF speed of the NEX-7 and I'm one of those who appreciate the EVF's lower resolution but clearer sharper images. But is it an improvement in terms of image quality and high ISO performance?

Well from my initial testing, not much.

OOC jpg.


ACR Raw


OOC jpg.

ACR Raw


ACR Raw


ACR Raw

While the image quality isn't spectacular, it's certainly very good. To me however, it seems pretty obvious that there is some noise reduction going on even before I bring the raw files into Photoshop for processing. Which considering that Sony are squeezing 24MP onto that APS-C sensor isn't really surprising. The high(er) ISO results are somewhat cleaner, but also slightly softer, however there is nothing there that a bit of sharpening can't improve.

One thing is for certain, this isn't a budget, smaller A7. The 35mm sized sensor on that camera certainly does deliver cleaner, sharper results than the a6000. As you can see above I tried it with some very good lenses including my Zeiss 55mm f1/8 and Sigma 35mm f/1.4 a-mount lens, so any notion that some cheap kit lens isn't doing the sensor justice doesn't apply here.

However, having said all that, just like the NEX-7, this is a camera capable of excellent results. Pixel-peeing hair-splitting does show that this is far from an A7r, but in terms of print reproduction there really isn't any problem here. It's easily the equal of Fuji X or m4/3 files if the files are downsized to 16MP. As you can see below the point of focus is very sharp.

ACR Raw

Sony are a strange company. They offer camera's and lenses which seem to occupy polarised positions on the price scale. The RX1 was ridiculously priced, as can be be seen by how the price has dropped dramatically. Some of Sony's lenses are also way too expensive for what they are. The Zeiss 24-70mm FE lens being a prime example. However, the NEX (now alpha of course) range has always been good value. The NEX-6 was my camera of the year for 2011 and the price was a consideration in that. The a6000 is a prime example of this element of Sony pricing. It's significantly less than the NEX-7 was when that was released and it's an improved camera. And I have to say to get this resolution in such a small light camera is pretty incredible. Plus when you add in the remarkable AF performance it really is a 'pocket rocket'. (Not that cameras should ever be hidden away in pockets of course!!)

I'm still no great fan of Sony's design ethic and the a6000, looking pretty much identical to the NEX-7, isn't going to get any aesthetic complements from me. However, it is hard to criticise a camera that is so capable, so fast and with such resolution and is small, light, compact and relatively cheap. It suffers from the perennial Sony APS-C e-mount lens problem (lack of really good ones!) but at least I now have some pretty good FE options to use on it. I would mention that the 28-70mm FE zoom, with the corners cropped out due to the smaller sensor actually produces very good results. I got the 16-50mm kit lens with the camera, which is what it is. Useful when corrected, but not much more than that. Incidentally, just to see what it was like I put the 16-50mm on my A7 just to see what it was like. It was pretty horrible and I may publish a post on that at some point which will be quite entertaining.

All in all the a6000 is a very decent camera and as far as I'm concerned, great value for money. If for example you wanted a versatile camera to build up a portfolio of images to submit to picture libraries and you were on a budget, then I would have no hesitation in recommending the a6000. And with that AF speed there are all sorts of picture possibilities that you can consider that other CSC's would struggle with. I'll obviously post more when I get out with it for some serious use, but initial impressions are very encouraging.   


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