I have abandoned my all-time favorite Sony A7 II & and move down to A6000 by accident. There was an unexpected and unavoidable happening … :- )
The model number multiplies impressively higher, 7 to 6000, but cannot hide it belongs to “cheaper” side in the beginning. But after playing with couple of days, I concluded A6000 is decent or even gorgeous machine to work with. I will not only keep it but train it to the proper level of satisfaction. In fact, there is no camera that would not deliver the good result because of pixels, dynamic range, functionalities in these days, but Pros and Cons is different matter.
A6000 with Mitakon 50/0.95
The biggest change for me is the feeling of the camera holding. The A7 II is not a big camera indeed but A6000 is even smaller and lighter, almost uncomfortably small. I lost a place to put my little finger when hold the body, so my first reaction was ordering vertical grip.
A6000 will work well if user hold it lightly with only 3 to 4 fingers of both hands as if ‘point-and-shoot’ stuff, but I could not build this habit within short period of time. Instead I decided to add the extra bulk and weight to this camera because I want to hold the camera firmly with one hand (essential to use heavy weight manual focus lenses).
The menu system is almost the same as A7 II, no matter good or bad. It is the same Sony product anyway, so I have advantage to get use to it quickly. Only noticeable difference is Custom key on A6000, C1 and C2 are available while 3 custom buttons are available on the A7 II body. User can change or allocate favorite function in these custom buttons.
The C1 key, next to the shutter release is given a function to enlarge the screen when manual lens used. I prefer this method to ‘focus peaking function’ because of higher accuracy for large aperture lenses. ‘AEL’ button nearby thumb finger location changed to EyeAF function. AEL stands for ‘Auto Exposure Lock’ which holds exposure value when pushed. I allocate AEL function to ‘half press shutter release’ already, so no need to use this button.
C2 is located bottom right position with trash icon… I reserve it an empty as of now. I will use the camera for while and decide which function is deserved to the custom function key in A6000.
‘EyeAF’ is Sony’s counter punch to the old legacy giants C & N who dominate and play with DSLR market. Pressing this button, camera find the person’s eye & focus on it automatically. When both eyes come together, it focuses on the nearer eye. This is unthinkable function at DSLR technology.
You know in a portrait, how awkward or incomplete-looking if focus is not spot on human eyes. When using a large aperture lens which is typical in portrait shooting, like 85mm f1.2 and 50mm f0.95, often the eyes become blur even if the lens focused to the eye and moved slightly for framing. So much handy and crucial function who take people shots, especially for wedding photographers who run in fast moving scenes.
A6000 with 16-50 bundle lens (click photo for larger view)
Control dials, Aperture and Shutter speed
At A7 II, the aperture control dial located (actually allocated) on the top-right of the body turning by a thumb and the shutter speed dial located in front-top of grip controlled by the index finger, but with A6000 no such an dial for index finger at the grip. Yeap, it is another big difference with A7 II. I tried multiple combinations and ended up assigning exposure adjustment (Ev +/-) to the rotary dial on the rear side. This setting prevents the M mode because no way to adjust both shutter speed and aperture at the same time from camera body.
How to use is selecting either Av (Aperture Priority) or Tv (Shutter Speed Priority) and adjust thumb dial to change the aperture or shutter speed. Then adjust + / – exposure with rotary dial (#3) to give more or less exposure. It is not so bad once to get it in. In case manual focus lens, no problem to use M mode because the lens itself has aperture ring. Just select Tv mode in that case to change shutter speed meanwhile change aperture at the lens.
Rotary dial allocated to exposure compensation (Ev + / – )
16-50mm f3.5-5.6 lens
The bundled 16-50 lens is a small zoom lens, or more precisely folding lens flatten like a squid. The A6000’s image sensor is APS-C type, so lens focal length translated to 24-75mm in full frame due to 1.5x crop factor. It is quite useful angle of view for many different environments. I think the flexibility of standard zoom lens, e.g. 24-70mm is the driving force to kick out traditional 50mm standard lens in these days.
But the strength of the 16-50 lens are not image quality, it is extraordinary flatness. Application of A6000 is easy shooting like ‘point-and-shoot’ and delivers semi-pro image quality with APS-C imager in short.
This lens is good to take snapshots around. It is not a professional lens and not designed as so, I’d like to say. The image quality of the periphery is somewhat blurry and relatively small aperture requires ISO boost up 3000-4000 quickly at indoors. Nevertheless, it can deliver extraordinary result under proper environment & seasoned hands.
Food photo is trend, though not mine at all. I usually bring my mouth faster than camera when I found dishes… Also it is not easy to balance color to pop it up deliciously in uncontrolled indoor lighting.
Compared to the A7 II, it shows slightly higher noise level if studied pixel by pixel, but it’s hard to notice in the full size picture at a glance. When enlarged 100% to exam pixels, there’s a little smearing at corners and lack of local contrast compare to premium lenses. This is not likely a problem of imager or image processing, rather the 16-50 lens itself which compromise contrast and resolution to squid-like folding capability.
A6000 has 24 megapixels as the same as A7 II. As you know, APS-C sensor is a half size of full frame sensor. What it does mean? Each photo cell of A6000 is smaller than the A7 II’s photo cell, about half size as simple mathematics. It is the only way to put the same amount of pixels into the half of the area. Isn’t it?
As consequence, a smaller photo cell with less light-receiving area results the higher signal-noise ratio inherently. Theoretically it does. But what I see in A6000 raw file is decent enough image quality when enough light intensity given. I guess the ‘impression of higher noise’ is more induced by higher ISO caused by dimmer 16-50 /3.5-5.6 lens than inherent noise level difference in between APS-C and full frame sensor. On top of it, there is plenty of post processing software to manage the noise, including LightRoom. I will take a closer look for noise reduction feature in LR in following articles.
Taipei long shot, A6000 with Canon nFD 70-210 / f4, BW
Well…Hmm… I admit here I do not like Sony’s color rendition at all. Sony, sorry. It’s yellowish & greenish… looks somewhat roughly painted canvas by apprentice. Color is very much personal taste I know, so I have no objection if someone love the Sony color. But simply I cannot help to say others did and do much better in coloring at least for my view.
Already gone a while but Samsung camera delivers exceptionally pleasing color palette in NX series. It does not matter how much color saturated. Samsung NX color shows saturated but carefully balanced realistic color, not overcasting color in surrealistic yellow or green.
Canon is famous with its own ‘Canon-look’. The Canon 5D is now an affordable full-frame camera. It’s been quite a while since I left the Canon platform, but 5D attracts me again almost 10 years after we departed from. First of all, the price is dirt cheap, and I know the 5D delivers distinctive ‘Canon-look’ with clear skin tone albeit lack of dynamic range, thus prone to white hole. It brings as a result unique Canon-look fame in portrait photographers. I have had used 5D, 5D II, 1D II, 1Ds II and so on, but if bought again, will be 5D.
The Kodak color become a legend, so Kodak DCS digital colors too. It is more film like, natural and under saturated rendition. Kodak DCS color is always the standard of color for me, DCS 560 as under saturated version and 645M as full saturated & pleasing color even when I use other digital cameras. However, it’s hard to get Kodak camera now because they are too old and not many survived. And it was only last year that I sold the last of last Kodak in my collection (DCS 560 & 645M*), so cannot justify myself to buy it again so quickly…haha. Anyway, I am looking for causally the Canon 5D and Kodak DCS 14n. (I once owned all of Kodak DCS body bigger than 6M pixels, then gradually reduce fat upto bones in last year)
I am working for couple of Sony presets in LightRoom and will share in public. No matter what, I could not drop Sony platform out (yet) due to it’s super flexibility on old manual lenses. I am classic lens mania and found nothing else substitute Sony mirrorless camera in that matter. It is worth to take extra burden to optimize, customize and train Sony for own taste…