Talkin’ bout a Revolution

DSCF2718FUJIFILM X-T1 (39mm, f/8, 1/4 sec, ISO400)

In 2010 I got the first small digital camera with an image quality as good as my DSLRs. It was the Sony NEX5. It was an amazing experience.

Five years later I got myself a Sony A6000. The successor of the Sony NEX 6 and NEX 7. Those where the successors of the NEX5T which was the successor of the NEX5R which was the successor of the NEX5N which was the successor of my NEX5. That’s five generations! It’s like upgrading to an iPhone 6 plus from an iPhone 3GS and it feels the same.

Compared to my other cameras this is now the one with the highest resolution and the highest frame rate. I once owned an Olympus E-100RS. A camera capable of shooting 15 fps! but only for 10 frames and the camera just had 1.5MP. The Sony A6000 shoots at 11 fps for 22 frames and its resolution is 24 MP. That’s a lot of data! Impressive but why did I get another camera?

DSCF2719FUJIFILM X-T1 (37.4mm, f/4, 1/13 sec, ISO200)

Like in the first image: Sony A6000 with kit lens a 16-50 pancake zoom beside Sony NEX5 with 2.8/16 pancake prime. As you can see it is not much bigger but offers an EVF and a zoom. The A6000 is still a very compact camera.

Today I mainly shoot with either my Canon 6D or my Fuji X-T1 plus the Ricoh GR as a compact camera. The Sony A6000 is to replace my Panasonic GM1. Main reason I have to replace it is that I can’t see the small screen properly anymore. Today I need a viewfinder. The other reason is that the GM1 was too small to shoot with gloves and while AF was blazing fast for static subjects it failed to track anything in motion. The Sony A6000 will be my camera for XC skiing, biking and hiking and a couple of other things.

Now after this long intro: “We happy, Vincent?”

When the NEX5 came out I loved it because it was the first compact camera with top image quality. But it was nowhere as good to shoot as an DSLR. The A6000 is a different animal. Image quality is even better than on the original camera but everything else has been improved so much more. The main topic of this camera is SPEED. “We are happy.”


Speed I:

One of the biggest improvements is the speed of operation. The NEX5 was a little sluggish. There was shutter lag, AF was too slow for action and sometimes it just miss- focused for no reason. In short: there was always a high risk to miss the shot. The Sony A6000 is a completely different animal. This camera is really quick. In good light it is as fast as an DSLR. No, it’s faster than most DSLRs. It is clearly faster than my Canon 6D. From the first push of the shutter button it is clear that this is a fast camera. The sound is nice and fast. I still have no idea what causes the noise because there is no mirror but at least the A6000 is not as loud as the NEX5. AF is fast and reliable for static subjects but it is really outstanding in tracking moving subjects. When I saw all the internet videos I thought that this is to good to be true but it is real. This is the first mirror less camera that tracks like a DSLR! This is nothing but a revolution! Did I mention that its frame rate is 11 fps? This is a real action camera. And fast tracking even works with the standard kit lens or the 18-200 OSS. Amazing!

Here is what it means in real life. 21 frames shot with the kit zoom at its tele end wide open. To avoid excessive loading times I reduced the images to 1000 pixel on the wide end:

DSC00137SONY ILCE-6000 (50mm, f/5.6, 1/1000 sec, ISO100)
DSC00138SONY ILCE-6000 (50mm, f/5.6, 1/1000 sec, ISO100)
DSC00139SONY ILCE-6000 (50mm, f/5.6, 1/1000 sec, ISO100)
DSC00140SONY ILCE-6000 (50mm, f/5.6, 1/1000 sec, ISO100)
DSC00141SONY ILCE-6000 (50mm, f/5.6, 1/1000 sec, ISO100)
DSC00142SONY ILCE-6000 (50mm, f/5.6, 1/1000 sec, ISO100)
DSC00143SONY ILCE-6000 (50mm, f/5.6, 1/1000 sec, ISO100)
DSC00144SONY ILCE-6000 (50mm, f/5.6, 1/1000 sec, ISO100)
DSC00145SONY ILCE-6000 (50mm, f/5.6, 1/1000 sec, ISO100)
DSC00146SONY ILCE-6000 (50mm, f/5.6, 1/1000 sec, ISO100)
DSC00147SONY ILCE-6000 (50mm, f/5.6, 1/1000 sec, ISO100)
DSC00148SONY ILCE-6000 (50mm, f/5.6, 1/1250 sec, ISO100)
DSC00149SONY ILCE-6000 (50mm, f/5.6, 1/1250 sec, ISO100)
DSC00150SONY ILCE-6000 (50mm, f/5.6, 1/1250 sec, ISO100)
DSC00151SONY ILCE-6000 (50mm, f/5.6, 1/1250 sec, ISO100)
DSC00152SONY ILCE-6000 (50mm, f/5.6, 1/1250 sec, ISO100)
DSC00153SONY ILCE-6000 (50mm, f/5.6, 1/1250 sec, ISO100)
DSC00154SONY ILCE-6000 (50mm, f/5.6, 1/1600 sec, ISO100)
DSC00155SONY ILCE-6000 (50mm, f/5.6, 1/1600 sec, ISO100)
DSC00156SONY ILCE-6000 (50mm, f/5.6, 1/1600 sec, ISO100)
DSC00157SONY ILCE-6000 (50mm, f/5.6, 1/1600 sec, ISO100)

As you can see there are plenty of frames to choose from. It’s almost like a movie. The good thing is that you can avoid shots where your subject looks kind of awkward. Not all people ski like this gentlemen. As this guy was a little faster than me I assume his speed at this part of the track was about 30km/h.



Speed II:

The NEX5 was a pain to use. There were almost no physical dials. For almost everything you need to go through the menu which was one of the most confusing camera menus of all times. The good news is that the A6000 has a much improved menu that looks like a camera menu should look. The better news is that thanks to the mode dial there is no need to enter the menu when you i.e. want to take a panorama. There is a second dial where I can change aperture when in A-Mode. Its not like having the aperture on the lens like on my Fuji but it is much better than changing aperture on the small dial on the back. I only wish the outer dial to be the mode dial and the inner dial to be the one to change the aperture.

The ergonomics have been improved a lot over the original design. The on-switch around the shutter button and the customizable buttons plus the mode dial and the new menu made the camera much faster to use. It’s also worth to note that it handles very well with gloves which is a big plus for me.

DSC00673SONY ILCE-6000 (16mm, f/8, 1/800 sec, ISO100)
DSC00691SONY ILCE-6000 (16mm, f/8, 1/1000 sec, ISO100)



Speed III:

It’s time to talk about image quality. IQ is not only about resolution and noise. Colors, white balance and dynamic range are very important too. I said that the NEX5 was the first small camera that offered image quality the rivaled or even surpassed most DSLRs. That is true but white balance and colors were a kind of hit and miss. The Sony A6000 doesn’t seem to have this issues. The colors look very nice out of the box and white balance is much more reliable too. It is still not on Fuji level but it is close.

24MP seems to be excessive on APS-C but it works. The sensor is a true highlight. It offers massive resolution plus a very impressive dynamic range. It definitely deserves better lenses than what I have a the moment. If this would be my main mirror less camera I would add the 4/16-70 OOS which seems to be a great lens with a prefect range that manages to be still small and light plus maybe the 1.8/24.

DSC00012SONY ILCE-6000 (16mm, f/6.3, 1/80 sec, ISO100)
DSC01618SONY ILCE-6000 (18mm, f/11, 1/250 sec, ISO100)
DSC01732SONY ILCE-6000 (18mm, f/8, 1/200 sec, ISO100)
DSC01714SONY ILCE-6000 (18mm, f/8, 1/80 sec, ISO100)
DSC01716SONY ILCE-6000 (200mm, f/8, 1/320 sec, ISO320)
There was some shadow pulling in these samples especially in shot 1 and 3. The kit lens is nice but it’s not the perfect lens to shoot into the sun. Just have a look at the nasty green flare in the first shot. It also has massive distortion but there is a lens profile in Lightroom. The 18-200 performs better but it is a super zoom and I can think of better lenses to shoot sun stars.


Here are some size comparison shots: A6000 + 18-200 OSS vs. NEX 5 + 18-55 OSS

DSCF2720FUJIFILM X-T1 (34.3mm, f/4, 1/15 sec, ISO200)

The 18-200 is bigger than the regular 18-55 kit lens but it is far from being massive. Its quality is really good for a super zoom. It’s better than the Nikon 18-200VR if I remember correctly. I was lucky to get it second hand for half of its regular price. The lens is good but I think its retail price is a little on the high side.

A6000 + kit lens vs. Panasonic GM1 + 1.8/17 (I don’t have the kit zoom anymore)

DSCF2723FUJIFILM X-T1 (39mm, f/4.5, 1/6 sec, ISO200)
DSCF2725FUJIFILM X-T1 (37.4mm, f/5.6, 1/4 sec, ISO200)

The GM1 is clearly smaller but lacks EVF, fast AF tracking and is of course much harder to hold. The GM1’s static AF is much faster in low light though. The comparison shows how small the Sony A6000 is because the GM1 is super small.

And finally compared to my Fuji X-T1: both with kit lenses

P1050146Panasonic DMC-GM1 (17mm, f/2.8, 1/25 sec, ISO400)
P1050148Panasonic DMC-GM1 (17mm, f/2.2, 1/60 sec, ISO320)

The X-T1 and its kit lens is much bigger but it also has better ergonomics. I added the Fuji grip with Arca swiss base which adds size and weight, looks a little ugly but improves handling a lot. The Sony is a small camera but handles fine. There is no need for a extra grip. The Fuji kit lens is better but the Sony kit lens offers the better range. Tracking AF is faster on the A6000. Focus in low light is a little better on the X-T1 but I don’t have fast lenses for the A6000 so I can’t really tell.



The Sony A6000 is a small but very capable camera with an excellent sensor. It is fast not only compared to other mirror less cameras but also compared to DSLRs. It has very good ergonomics and it is easy to use. The kit lens is small, light and has a very useful range.

What’s not to like? Ergonomics are good but there are more engaging cameras to shoot with i.e. the Fuji X-T1. Despite its small size it has an EVF but there are much better EVFs today i.e. again the Fuji X-T1. When you read this you can come to the conclusion that the Sony A6000 is good but not as good as the Fuji X-T1.

So why get the Sony A6000 instead (or additionally)? One reason of course is price. The Sony A6000 has been reduced in price already and is less than half the price of the Fuji X-T1. Another good reason is size: The A6000 is much smaller than the X-T1, because of its kit lens it’s even smaller than a XM-1, A-1 or A-2 plus kit lens. But the best reason is speed: When it comes to focus tracking the Sony A6000 runs circles around the Fuji X-T1. If you have kids or a fast dog and you don’t want to lug around a DSLR to capture them running around I recommend to try out the Sony A6000. It is a very impressive camera. I think it is the first of a new generation of mirror less cameras. I hope that Fuji’s next pro camera is as fast as this. The Sony A6000 is a revolution.