Is the Sony a6000 the best APS-C mirrorless I've used? and first pictures with the 10-18mm Wide-angle zoom







Sony a6000 10-18mm wide angle zoom

People have been telling me how good this wide-angle zoom is for a while and now I've got one, I can see why. Add another to the (short) list of excellent e-mount lenses.

You have probably noticed that I'm spending a lot of time and writing a lot of posts on the a6000. And there's a simple reason for that. I'm coming to the conclusion that this is the best mirrorless / csc non 'full-frame' camera I've ever used. Better than my Fuji's, better than the m4/3 cameras I've used and better than the Leicas I've owned. So why is that?

Well the primary reason we buy gear (well I hope it's the primary reason) is because we want to create pictures. I'm just guessing here but I presume if you are reading this blog then you, like me, are interested in creating those pictures using the highest quality possible, given the constraints on our budgets and assuming that the cameras and lenses we use have the capacity to produce the kind of images we want to capture. It's rapidly dawning on me that the a6000 does that better for me than anything else I've used. Because those 24MP's really do their job.

I've written in previous posts that 24MP on an APS-C may be pushing it somewhat, but the more I look at the images I'm producing with the a6000, now I'm not so sure. With a spot-on exposure and a decent lens, the images I'm producing are really rather good. In fact I'm very impressed with them. I don't have a NEX-7 any more but I've got lots of pictures I took with one and the a6000 does seem to produce cleaner images without sacrificing any sharpness. Plus as I've been banging on interminably about, I think the jpgs. are superb, for me virtually ready to upload straight out of the camera. The AF, whether or not it's the fastest, is undeniably one of the fastest out there and with the excellent EVF, focus peaking, decent battery life, decent video, excellent accurate metering it's a camera that does the basics very well indeed. 

And while it's probably not the best at any of the above, it's this combination of a set of consistently high standards at virtually anything that's asked of it that makes it so useful for me. My Fuji's are better at high ISO, my Panasonics are better for video, but the a6000 is pretty decent for both. It's certainly better than my Panasonics at high ISO's and better than my Fuji's for video. As I've indicated, my lens choice is a bit mix and match. Some e-mount, some a-mount and some manual focus Nikon F-mount, and although it's not a particularly 'neat' set of lens options, it does work. 

Yesterday afternoon after having gone out already in the morning, I embarked on a route that had virtually no flat in it. The start was mostly up and because I was visiting the place for the first time I managed to select the shortest, but steepest route to a ridge with great views, then descended down a slightly less steep but slippy path and then clambered about looking at and photographing some houses built into caves. I was shooting with wide-angle and telephoto MF primes and did some interiors with a flash gun. And at no time was the camera a burden to carry and at no time did it perform less than efficiently, reliably and quickly. And I realised when I'd finished and was looking through the pictures that I had a set of pictures with seriously good image quality. I was mostly shooting at ISO 200 - 400, something I would never have done with my NEX-7 and prefer not to with my Panasonics and the results were clean, sharp and ideal for the stock libraries I supply and make my living through.

I also realised that I hadn't needed to 'fiddle' with the camera and for the most part I wasn't really taking much notice of it. And yes, I have to admit it, I enjoyed using it. Now I love my Fuji X system, I love the old-school retro idea of the whole thing, but there is no denying that to get optimum results takes some time and work. But with the a6000 that isn't necessary. The images are pretty much finished when they come out of the camera. I do a bit of tweaking here and there but not much as with other systems and that's going to save me so much time. As I've written before, at least half the time it takes me with my Fuji X files and probably less than that. I've recently come up with a way of getting better results from my Panasonic m4/3 cameras but what the a6000 is producing is a step on from that. Sure, I can get my m4/3 images looking good for my stock libraries, but with the a6000 I don't have to do that, they look good already. 

I won't deny that it's this time saving factor that's really making me think hard about what to keep and what to sell. It's one of the reasons I keep coming back to the A7 and A7r. because whatever I might feel about them in use and the lens issue, I have no complaints about the image quality or the speed at which I can get them edited, sorted and ready for editing. And the a6000 is the APS-C version of those. So with these three Sony cameras I have a consistency of results and an ease and speed of operation that I've never managed to find before. It's a small point but when I go away I hate all the different batteries and chargers I have to take with me. I usually pack a plug board and set it up somewhere I'm staying. I then have to remember what I've used, what needs charging and unlike Sony's % readout of how much power I have left I have to guess how much power is left and estimate how many spares to take out with me. I usually end up putting a new one in and charging the one I've taken out, which of course shortens the life of the battery. As I said it's a small thing but it's one more thing that Sony make easy for me.

As ever I'm not saying that this camera is the answer to life, the universe and everything for everybody, but it does work really well for me. Going back to yesterday, it was a warm sunny day but somewhat hazy and I would have been struggling to get the depth of field I wanted with my Sony A7 and A7r, so the APS-C sensor on the a6000 was the better option. Yes, m4/3 would have worked for most of it, but there were a few shots I took in some pretty dark places and while the a6000 wasn't perfect for those, it did produce cleaner, more sellable results than my Panasonics would have done. 

We all know that it's not the amount of pixels on our sensors but the quality of those pixels that really counts and I think Sony have come up with the best compromise for that in terms of what I shoot. 24MP produces large files that give me lots of options for sales. And just like I can upsize my 16MP files then of course I can do the same for these Sony files. To be honest the times I will sell really huge files is pretty small, but it's this 'psychological' impression that I write a lot about. If a file is available for sale at a large size, say 36MP or 24MP, then firstly it will look really superb when downsized and secondly a potential picture buyer will more than likely assume that it's taken on a 'better' camera and is therefore a 'better' quality image. And selling pictures in the way that I do, assumptions are everything. 

So I guess it's that head versus heart dilemma again. One day it may be possible that I own a camera that to me looks great, feels great and takes superb high resolution images that can be printed the size of cliff, but at the moment that isn't available. So I have to compromise. And if you think that my 'talking up' the a6000 because it's the best compromise that I currently have available to me is faint praise, then you may be right. But it really isn't derogatory to praise a camera that does everything to a high standard, not the best, but close to it. And it certainly isn't going to win any awards for the prettiest, the sexiest or the most talked about camera of the year, but it's pretty close to my most complete camera of the year so far, when I factor in the small size and weight that I like and to be honest need these days. That may be faint praise but to me it's well-deserved praise as well. 
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