Updated 05/2022 with EVEN MORE sample images, a FAQ plus more of my long-term impressions. 🙂
The Sony a6000, launching with much fanfare back in 2014, boasts a 24.3mp sensor, compact body, superb image quality, reliable autofocus, and, of course, a reasonable pricetag.
It is now 2022 and several years have passed since the release of the world’s best selling mirrorless camera, and many newer, more modern bodies have been released.
Personally, I purchased mine quite a few years ago back in 2018 as I was moving away from Canon’s ecosystem. It’s been on hundreds of photoshoots and has seen most of the United States with me (along with some countries) and I absolutely love it.
In this review, we’ll be diving into all the things that make the Sony a6000 still so amazing in 2022, including many of my personal experiences and photos I’ve taken with it. This post is MASSIVE, so feel free to use the table of contents below to skip around. Let’s jump in!
Looking for just a quick summary before jumping in?
- Compact and easy to use
- Excellent images and a wide lens selection
- Autofocus systems are fast and reliable
- Still the best beginner camera in 2022
Size & Weight
To start, I’d like to bring notice to one of my favorite factors of the Sony a6000: the sheer diminutive size. Weighing in at only 12.13oz and sharing the same height/width as my cell phone, this camera is truly compact.
One of my biggest reasons for switching away from Canon was to pursue a more compact and comfortable everyday setup, and I certainly found that with the a6000, especially when paired with one of the many ultra compact lenses.
In some cases, like with the Neewer 35mm F1.7, I’ve been able to stuff both the camera and lens into my jacket pocket when not in use. With bigger lenses, my Tenba BYOB 10 does the trick. This is exactly what I was looking for when I initially switched to the Sony ecosystem.
Is the camera built well?
Build quality definitely does not suffer either. The body is made of durable but lightweight magnesium alloy and sports a small but well designed rubber grip to keep the camera firmly in your hands.
All the dials and controls feel clunky (in a good way) and precise, and I appreciate how hard it is to accidentally bump my mode dial out of place (something that happened a lot on my old T5).
The camera, unfortunately, is not weather sealed, but I personally haven’t had any major issues. I’ve taken it into all sorts of environments.
It has summited mountains out west, survived torrential downpours when I lived in Seattle, and has been through snowstorms on more occasions than I can count back in my home state of Wisconsin. Yet it still works and looks flawless if you ignore the hundreds of micro-scratches.
I can say with complete confidence that the Sony a6000 doesn’t feel like a “cheap” camera. It was most certainly built to last, and frankly, it functions and feels identical to how it did when I first bought it four years ago. The dials haven’t gotten loose, all the buttons and switches still feel flawless.
The battery door still slides back into place with a satisfying click, and the shutter button still has great resistance and a tactile feel.
Ergonomics & Comfort
Next up, I want to talk about ergonomics and overall comfort when out shooting. As I mentioned earlier, the Sony a6000 has a rather small rubber grip. I’m not going to say it’s flawless, or that it’s as comfortable as a large DSLR (or full frame Sony), but it does the job. It’s comfortable enough whilst still allowing the camera to retain it’s compact form, so no complaints from me.
As for weight distribution, if you find the right lens, the camera feels like an extension of your hand. My lens of choice is the Sigma 30mm F1.4. It was the first lens I bought (also four years ago) and it shares a rather similar weight rating, thus when out shooting they feel perfectly balanced.
On the flipside, I have used some lenses that either feel too light or, in the case of large zoom lenses, far too heavy and uncomfortable. The simple truth of the matter is that the Sony a6000 is a compact and light camera, and requires a heavy yet small lens to feel perfect in the hand.
Going off of that, I also believe that the camera strap matters as well. For years, I used a massive neck strap and, despite rarely ever putting the camera around my next, I stubbornly stuck to it.
This year, I decided to pick up a cheap wrist strap and it transformed the way I shoot. That may sound dramatic and exaggerated, but not having to deal with a massive neck strap swinging around is game-changing. The camera fits into my pocket easier than ever, and I don’t have to fight a huge tangled strap whenever taking it out of my (very small) bag.
Finally, I want to talk about button layout and day-to-day usability. The buttons and dials are set up in a way to allow for one-handed shooting, something that has been more handy than I had initially expected. I can carry a drink whilst shooting street photos in the city, or I can quickly raise it to my eye if I need to take a quick snapshot.
As I stated prior, the top dials are very stiff. I don’t believe I’ve ever knocked the mode dial out of place, and the other unlabeled dial can actually be switched to control either shutter speed or aperture when in manual mode. Speaking of which, most buttons on the a6000 can be customized.
I have my C1 button set to control drive mode (single shooting, burst, timer, etc.), C2 to control focusing mode (I enjoy switching to MF on occasion), and finally I have my AEL button set to control exposure compensation.
The level is customization is spectacular, and I love the fact that I’ve been able to tailor the buttons on my camera to exactly my wants and needs.
In this section I’ll be discussing autofocus. Over the years, I’ve found it to be incredibly reliable and fast. Sony boasts that autofocus time is “0.05 seconds” and, depending on the lens, I haven’t actually found this to be an exaggeration. Assuming you’re shooting in good and even lighting, the Sony a6000 can focus lightning fast with remarkable accuracy.
Although not as advanced as newer bodies, the EyeAF system is incredible. It’s not flawless, but I’ve found it perfectly nails focus about 95% of the time. That may not sound the greatest, but I think it’s pretty impressive, as the other 5% of the time it gets incredibly close.
Subject tracking (AF-C or “autofocus continuous mode) is another strong point. For a long while I never used it, but recently I’ve been doing more movement-heavy photoshoots (think twirling dresses and that sort of thing) and it’s blown me away. I’ll turn on AF-C, low speed burst mode, and then have the model just do their thing. I’ve gotten some incredible (and sharp) candid pictures this way.
When shooting faster moving subjects, such as cars driving across the frame or sports, I’ve found the performance to be pretty reliable as well, although not entirely flawless.
Speaking of burst mode, when Sony released this camera way back in the day, they touted the a6000’s impressive ability to shoot 11fps in raw and 49fps in JPEG. Newer cameras have exceeded these numbers, but at the time, these specs were incredibly impressive.
There are two important things to note on this subject, though. First, eventually the SD card can’t keep up and the camera will stop shooting as it cannot write to the card quickly enough. Second, there’s no silent shutter mode so the camera will sound like a machine gun when shooting at high FPS (I like this noise personally).
On the other side of the focusing coin, I want to talk about manual focus. I never put any thought into it for many years, until a friend introduced me to vintage lenses a couple years ago. I met him at a photowalk and we got dinner afterwards to chat about camera stuff and general photography.
Little did I know that, other than making a now lifelong friend, I’d be getting my ear talked off about lenses that came out decades before I was born.
He taught me that, as it turns out, Sony cameras are the perfect platform for using manual focus lenses. There’s converters that have been made for pretty much every old lens, from Konica’s AR mount to Canon’s vintage FD mount.
In addition, there’s numerous manual focus systems in place on Sony cameras. I won’t get super into detail (that’s what my guide to manual focus is for), but I’ll touch on a few of the excellent features Sony included to help manual focus users create sharp images.
First is focus peaking. A more thorough explanation is included in my guide above, but to put it simply it’s a feature that shows what’s in focus. It sounds simple because it honestly is. The Sony a6000 is able to detect what’s in focus and highlights it with a color (red is my choice, but it’s customizable). This allows a manual focus user to quickly grab fairly accurate focus.
Complementing that, however, is the focus magnifier tool. When I shoot with manual lenses, I bind the magnifier to the AEL button. What this allows me to do is double tap the button and the image will zoom in 5-10x (customizable as well). This way, if I’m shooting a static subject such as a building or mountain, I’m able to obtain the most accurate focus possible.
Sony’s electronic viewfinder (more on that later) makes this all positive, given that it’s literally just a screen that shows exactly what the camera sensor sees. Overall, I absolutely adore manual focus.
It’s a really fun change of pace, and adds an extra challenge, especially when shooting street photos or in other fast paced situations. As that friend told me, “it gives your other hand something to do”.
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LCD Screen & Viewfinder
Rear LCD Screen
One negative point that I do need to touch on is the LCD screen. While the screen may have been impressive when the camera released seven years ago, it’s less so in the age of 4k TVs and ultra-HD phone screens.
Playing back images on the LCD screen can lead to minor disappointment, as the low resolution makes pictures look much worse than they actually are.
That being said, a poor screen is just a small blemish on an otherwise great camera, and it shouldn’t be a determining factor when considering a body that’s this old. On the plus side, it does tilt either 90 degrees upwards (for the awkward on-the-ground shots) and 45 degrees downward (much more useful than I had expected).
The viewfinder is in the same boat. It’s entirely usable, but it doesn’t compare to the quality of “screen” that a newer camera provides. I never saw an issue with it until I went into a physical camera store and looked through the viewfinder of a brand new Panasonic camera.
As with the LCD screen, however, it’s not a deal breaker and, for me personally, is a minor and mostly insignificant downside.
With that being said, I love having an EVF (electronic viewfinder). Poor quality aside, it shows exactly the image you’re going to get. If you adjust your settings in manual mode, the viewfinder will reflect that.
If you’ve horribly overexposed your image, the viewfinder will show you that, along with a perfectly places histogram.
I never had the courage to shoot in full manual mode when I owned a DSLR, but now with an electronic viewfinder, it’s a breeze. I know exactly what I’m going to get.
As a bonus, on extremely bright days when the poor quality LCD screen becomes useless, I’m able to playback images in the viewfinder itself without any glare.
Does the battery drain fast?
Yes, the battery drains incredibly fast, and this was the biggest shock when moving over from a DSLR many years ago.
Whereas DSLRs have an optical viewfinder that’s literally just glass and mirrors, the Sony a6000 (and all mirrorless cameras) have essentially a tiny screen for the viewfinder. This tiny screen is always on when shooting, and tends to drain batteries way faster than a classic DSLR OVF would. That being said, as I stated prior, it’s worth the convenience of having an electronic viewfinder.
Autofocus will also, obviously, drain your battery. Normal single shot AF isn’t too bad, but switching to continuous mode (AF-C) will annihilate it.
At some point last year, I went through a long phase where I was shooting almost exclusively with manual lenses. At that time, I wouldn’t have to bring an extra battery with me because the camera would last forever.
Now that I’m shooting regularly with autofocus lenses again, I’ve been packing an extra battery anytime I go out, even if it’s a shorter shoot.
Turning off the camera, of course, does wonders for preserving battery, and unlike a lot of cameras, startup time is very low. I’ve noticed that, even with an AF lens, it takes about only a second until I’m able to take a shot.
If I recall, there was a firmware update released at some point to accomplish this, so if you end up buying the camera used, make sure to get that update.
Should I use off-brand or OEM batteries?
If you’re considering buying the Sony a6000, you may be wondering: can I use cheap off-brand batteries or do I need to use the OEM Sony ones?
I can honestly say that it literally does not matter. I’ve found they share nearly the same exact amount of charge (in other words, they both die fast).
Off-brand batteries are literally a third of the price of OEM ones so you’ll be saving some money that could be put towards lenses or accessories.
There is a lot to talk about when it comes to image quality. The Sony a6000 has a 24.3mp sensor, offering great resolution for the vast majority of photographers.
You won’t be printing billboard sized images or any other massive prints, but for anything else the 24.3mp is more than enough.
Over the years, I’ve had some of my best work printed in standard sizes (think a typical mid-size picture frame) and the prints have turned out looking fantastic.
Additionally, the megapixel count is just enough to where you’re able to moderately crop in images without substantial loss of detail.
This resolution is just big enough to be perfect for most uses, without images being so large that they take up a ton of file space or slow down lower end computers when put into photo editing platforms.
ISO & Noise
The Sony a6000 has an ISO range of 100-25600, about half of which is not particularly usable without significant noise. I’ve noticed over time that you can get up to 1600 with virtually no noise (easily fixable in editing or with JPEG processing) and it’s only around 3200 where it starts to appear.
When I’m not shooting in full manual mode, I’ll set my Auto ISO to a max of 1600, and I can shoot knowing that I won’t lose any of my images to noise.
I should note that JPEG images straight out of camera handle noise very well. I rarely shoot in JPEG these days, but when I do, I notice that it can handle generally up to 3200 ISO and still produce decent (if a bit softer) images.
Using RAW, of course, opens up an entire world of possibilities. I’ve been able to save 6400 ISO shots on a few occasions.
At the end of the day, it really depends on which medium you’re shooting for. When making larger household prints, I aim to shoot at 1600 or lower. When photographing for social media (tiny phone screen) purposes, it’s safe to push all the way to 6400 without worry.
Overall, not as impressive as a newer Sony body, but I’ve rarely ran into any situations where I was wishing for a cleaner and higher ISO range.
Dynamic range is another important factor to consider when looking at older camera bodies. Sony offers both a “dynamic range optimization” setting and an HDR shooting mode.
To be honest, however, I’ve never used either option as I shoot almost exclusively in RAW.
With standard auto exposure (+0 EV), the camera does tend to overexpose a bit for the skies, causing occasional blown out highlights if its an extremely sunny day.
What I’ve found works best is to expose for the highlights of an image (I just set exposure comp to -0.3 or -0.7 EV usually) and then fix the shadows in post processing.
The RAW files that the Sony a6000 produces are incredible. I’ve been able to save images from almost pure blackness with minimal noise gain. In fact, in most cases, I’ll underexpose intentionally as the shadows are just incredibly easy to recover when compared to the highlights.
Already interested in buying?
Consider buying used on eBay. I saved a ton of money when I first bought my a6000.
Raw Vs Jpeg
As I’ve stated, I rarely shoot in JPEG, but when I have, results were respectable. Whatever automatic processing software Sony stuffed into this camera is pretty impressive, as I’ve found JPEG images straight out of camera had pretty good color accuracy and sharpness.
If shooting something casually or not artistic (like a family gathering perhaps), I’ll use JPEG just because I can rapid fire and have decent images (with a small file size) that I can share quickly.
That being said, despite JPEG performance being solid, I’d still recommend shooting in RAW. It allows for so much more post-processing, and you’ll be able to save otherwise ruined images (underexposed, weird flaring, etc.). I have a much more thorough comparison of raw vs jpeg here if you’d like to read up on it more.
Full disclosure: while I have made a few shorts with this camera, I’m more of a stills photographer. In any case, the Sony a6000 had pretty remarkable video quality when it released, but nowadays it doesn’t quite stack up to newer cameras. The camera offers 1080p video in the AVCHD format and is able record either in 60 frames per second or 24.
In the few times I’ve tested it, I found that it produced pretty good results in daytime lighting, but very poor results when attempting to shoot in even slightly darker conditions. Video in the daytime is crispy and clear, and looks nice.
Pushing up the ISO, however, is when it starts to fall apart. Video in low light conditions tends to be a bit “muddy” for lack of a better term. In fact, I’d say it looks a bit more akin to what my iPhone produces. Not exceptional but not terrible either.
Below, I’ve linked a “video test” that I shot in late 2019.
The first major point I want to address is the lack of in body image stabilization (IBIS). Most of Sony’s newer bodies include it, but the Sony a6000 is just too old to have this feature. While this is an irrelevant point if you own a stabilized lens, it is something worth considering if you’re looking to get into video shooting.
A nice feature, on the other hand, is that the camera allows for full manual control when shooting video, something that wasn’t seen on a lot of budget cameras at the time.
Additionally, autofocus works very well, although it is only offered in AF-C (continuous/subject tracking mode). I’ve found that it works well regardless of lighting, so that’s nice.
Finally, for audio-conscious videographers, it should be noted that there is no audio-in jack for external microphones. Your two choices are to either use Sony’s OEM hot-shoe mic, or record off camera (more info on that here).
As I stated before, I’m not a big videographer, so I’m not sure if other people have a different opinion on the video performance of the a6000. I think it’s decent, certainly, but not amazing.
Ease of Use
Is the Sony a6000 beginner friendly?
Yes. Honestly, one of the best parts about the Sony a6000 is it’s vast appeal. There’s a reason it’s the best selling mirrorless camera ever.
A beginner can shoot in JPEG and let the camera do all the work and still create respectable images. I’ve been able to hand the camera to my non-photographer friends and they’ve been able to produce nice pictures with ease.
If you dig through the (admittedly complicated) menus enough, you’ll find all sorts of beginner friendly features.
There’s “creative styles” that allow the user to adjust all sorts of basic settings such as sharpness, contrast, etc. without ever having to dive into manual mode.
For beginners looking to get more adventurous, there’s a “picture effect” setting that can achieve all sorts of things from watercolor filters to toy camera effects.
Is it also good for enthusiasts?
Well, I’ve been shooting for a long time and I still use the Sony a6000 as my primarily camera, so yes. Delving into manual mode allows for full control of everything whilst still staying simple and pleasant to use. I’m able to control my aperture with the heavy top dial, shutter speed with the back dial, and my ISO with a custom button. Everything is easily accessible, quick to change, and adjustable with one hand.
The electronic viewfinder shows exactly what you’re going to get, whether you’re overexposed or horrifically underexposed.
Manual focus is a breeze, with the camera offering all sorts of focus assists for enthusiasts. I shot professionally for a little while (didn’t enjoy it), and having a “cheap” Sony a6000 didn’t cause my any issues.
Finally, the last major benefit for enthusiasts is the incredible lens choice. Whether you want a razor sharp, fast prime such as my beloved Sigma 30mm F1.4 or a weird bokehlicious beast such as the Kamlan 50mm F1.1, this camera can support it. Want to get really weird? Check out vintage lenses, such as the old Canon FD 50mm F1.8 or perhaps the crazy Helios 44M-2, a wacky lens built in the Soviet Union.
The possibilities of the Sony ecosystem are endless, and I can’t see myself ever moving. If you’re interested in exploring more lens choices, I’ll include some of my top lists at the bottom of this post.
My Final Thoughts
Value for Money
At the end of the day, there’s dozens of cameras out there offering plenty of features and great performance, but they tend to be a bit more expensive.
I bought the body only for $325 used, but nowadays you can buy the body plus kit lens for about $600. The kit lens isn’t the greatest (full review here) but it’s a nice versatile little lens to have on hand.
You’d be hard pressed to find any camera at this price point that offers both the features and the quality that the Sony a6000 brings to the table. Sure, you can find some entry-level DSLRs that are cheaper, but what they offer in price they lack in features, usability, and lens choice.
I’ve had my Sony a6000 for four years and yet I spent so little on it. When you consider the fact that I’ve taken tens of thousands of pictures, and have gone on hundreds of photoshoots, that $325 is an excellent price for all the value I’ve gotten out of it.
If I’m honest, I don’t have any major aspirations of upgrading anytime soon.
Now that you’ve read an entire essay on my beloved camera, I hope I’ve convinced you to pick up a Sony a6000 for yourself.
It offers a wealth of features for both beginners and enthusiasts, produces excellent images with decent low light performance, and is built extremely well. Autofocus is reliable, quick, and still exceeds even some newer cameras.
I truly do believe that, even now in 2022, the Sony a6000 is still one of the best cameras for anyone, whether a pure beginner or a seasoned veteran.
If I’ve convinced you to pick one up for yourself, I’ll include purchase links below.
As a final note, if you want to continue reading, there’s additional a6000 related guides, lens lists and more sample images below (underneath the FAQ). Thank you, I hope you enjoyed. 🙂
Sony a6000 Frequently Asked Questions
These are various questions about the a6000 that people have asked me over the years. They’re in no particular order and I’ve done my best to answer them as best I can. If you’re here for the sample photos, keep scrolling past this section.
Is the Sony a6000 still worth buying?
I think my glowing review pretty much answered this, but yes.
The Sony a6000 is still an incredible capable camera and is absolutely still worth buying. Even in 2022, it’s great for both beginners and professionals.
Do professional photographers use the Sony a6000?
Yes, many professionals use the Sony a6000 for their work. While not as popular as a full frame camera, I personally know a few pro photographers who still use their a6000. I’ve done a few paid shoots with mine.
Is the Sony a6000 obsolete?
Sony has, unfortunately, completely discontinued the Sony a6000. In 2022, the Sony a6000 is no longer being produced, but it’s still an excellent camera to pick up on the used market.
How old is the Sony a6000?
The Sony a6000 was originally released in April of 2014, making it over 8 years old as of May of 2022 (time of writing). It released at roughly $650 (USD) for body only, and around $800 with the included kit lens.
Does the Sony a6000 have wifi?
Yes, the Sony a6000 does feature wifi. It can be used to transfer photos to a phone/laptop, but I found it to generally be fairly unreliable.
Is the Sony a6000 waterproof?
The Sony a6000 is considered “water resistant” but not waterproof. However, as I mentioned earlier in my review, I’ve taken my Sony a6000 out into many rain and snowstorms without any negative effects.
Is the Sony a6000 good for street photography?
I personally think the Sony a6000 is great for street photography. The compact size (combined with a small lens) makes it excellent for discreetly photographing interesting scenes. Street is one of my favorite genres and I’ve used my a6000 to photograph hundreds of interesting strangers.
Is the Sony a6000 good for portraits?
When combined with a strong portrait lens, the Sony a6000 is excellent for taking portraits. As I mentioned earlier in my review, the EyeAF function is incredibly reliable and precise.
Does the Sony a6000 shoot 4k?
No, the Sony a6000 does not shoot 4k. 1080p and 60fps is the best it can do.
Is the Sony a6000 a DSLR?
The Sony a6000 is a mirrorless camera, meaning it lacks the mirror that gives DSLR’s their name. If you’d like to learn more about DSLRs vs mirrorless, refer to my article on that subject.
Is the Sony a6000 a good travel camera?
The Sony a6000 is an excellent travel camera. The compact size of the camera and its associated lenses makes it almost unbeatable for travel. As I mentioned in my review, it’s been to hundreds of destinations with me.
What does ILCE mean for Sony cameras?
You’ll sometimes see the Sony a6000 advertised as the “ILCE-6000”. ILCE simply means “interchangeable lens camera w/ e-mount”. This simply means the a6000 can handle hundreds of different lenses as long as they’re built to Sony’s “e-mount” specification.
Sony a6000 Sample Photos
If you’ve made it this far, you’re awesome. Thanks for reading about my beloved camera and for enjoying my pictures! Just a final note (again), if the a6000 sounds like the camera for you, purchasing it through this link grants me a small commission. Thank you! <3
Some of these links may be affiliate links, which means I get paid a (very small) commission if you buy through them. If you do, thank you so much for the support! <3 <3