Sony’s re-branding of the APS-C NEX mirrorless models as Alpha has presented an opportunity to realigned the range. Although the new A6000 announced in February this year features a 24-Mpix CMOS like the technically still current NEX-7 it is seen as a replacement to the newer NEX-6.
Like that model it has dedicated on-chip phase-detection AF pixels (in addition to the usual contrast detection) although the A6000 can boast 179 AF points covering a greater area, up from 50-percent of the frame on the NEX-6 to just over 90-percent.
The Exmor type 24-Mpix APS-C CMOS sensor is a development of the device used in the NEX-7 using a similar gapless micro-lens structure as that found on the 36-Mpix full-frame sensor used by the full-frame A7R. The latest Bionz X level processor allows AF with continuous shooting at up to 11 fps and ISO sensitivity to a maximum ISO 25,600 for stills or ISO 12,800 for movies.
Like the NEX-6 and 7 it has a built-in EVF albeit with 0.39-inch lower resolution 1.44M dot OLED screen (down from 2.36M dot on the NEX-6) and a 3.0-inch 16:9 ratio, 921k-dot tilting LCD at the rear. Images can captured and shared using the on-board WiFi with NFC capability with suitably equipped smartphones.
Some slight improvements in video over its predecessor include the adding of a zebra-pattern display capability to aid exposure control and an uncompressed 1080i/p AVCHD video at 24/ 50/60 fps via HDMI in addition to the usual in-camera capture option.
The Sony Alpha A6000 is available in body only for $649 with a black or ‘titanium’ finish, or with the standard 16-50mm kit lens at around $799.
- 24-Mpix APS-C Exmor CMOS sensor
- 11 fps continuous shooting
- Hybrid AF with wide coverage using 179 phase-detection points
- 0.39-inch 1.44M dot OLED EVF
- 3.0-inch 921k-dot Tilting LCD
- Wi-Fi connectivity with NFC
- Full HD 1080i/p AVCHD video at 24/ 50/60 fps
- Multi-interface shoe
Sony A6000: High sensor performance
With a DxOMark score of 82 points the Sony A6000 sensor performance is very high, and on a par with the best performing APS-C sensors found on rival DSLRs.
It’s ranked in 24th place overall however, it’s still some way behind full-frame sensors. The 24-Mpix CMOS device in the firm’s SLT A99 and A7, for example, achieve a DxOMark sensor score of 90 points.
Sony A6000 versus Sony NEX-6 versus Sony NEX-7: Incremental Improvement
Color depth and dynamic range are close between the three – there’s only a marginal improvement in color sensitivity over the NEX-6 and a slight drop in DR at base against the NEX-7 (albeit that DR is improved at higher ISOs on the new model) and there’s a slight improvement in low-light performance of around a +1/3 of a stop.
Sony A6000 versus Panasonic Lumix GH-4 versus Olympus OM-D E-M1
When compared alongside, similar high-end rivals from Panasonic and Olympus, albeit with a physically smaller sensor the A6000 has around a +2/3 stop advantage in sensor performance. It has +2/3 stop better color discrimination at base ISO but just +1/3 stop wider dynamic range. However, the A6000 has almost +1-stop advantage in low light over the OMD- EM1 and just over +2/3 stop gain over the new Panasonic Lumix GH-4.
Sony’s re-alignment of the range with the new A6000 offering a better performing sensor than the NEX-7 in more –or-less an NEX-6 body is an intriguing development. When making comparisons, it’s always worth looking at the camera’s capabilities as a whole – for a start the reduced resolution of the viewfinder is somewhat disappointing.
Based on sensor performance alone, however, at $649 (body only) the A6000 appears to be excellent value for money. And while we’ve yet to assess image quality with native mount lenses, the Sony A6000 certainly looks like a promising addition to the range.