The Sony a6000 originally launched way back about 10 years ago, boasting a 24.3mp sensor, compact body, superb image quality, fast AF and a reasonable pricetag. Nowadays, is it still a good pick in 2023?
Personally, I’ve owned my a6000 for about five years at this point (I’ve been practicing photography for a bit over 10 years). I originally bought the camera back in 2018 as I was switching away from Canon. Although I recently finally upgraded, my little a6000 has stayed by my side for half a decade.
Why You Can Trust Us
Chance (that’s me) has been practicing photography for 10 years and has been a paid professional for most of it. I bought my first Sony in 2018 so this website is the culmination of about 5 years of Sony experience (full site history). All cameras/lenses are hands-on-tested by me for a minimum of a few weeks each (read how I review/test gear).
This incredible camera has been on hundreds of photoshoots and has seen most of the United States with me (along with some countries) and I absolutely love it. I’ve even used it for a bunch of paid photoshoots!
In this review, we’ll be diving into all the things that make the Sony a6000 still so amazing in 2023, including many of my personal experiences and photos I’ve taken with it (and don’t worry, I’ll cover the negatives too!).
Let’s jump in.
- Incredibly reliable and long-lasting
- Compact and easy to use
- Excellent images and a wide lens selection
- Autofocus systems are fast and reliable
- Lacks flip screen, mic jack, and stabilization
- Poor battery life and some dated features
- Getting harder to find, even used
Not great for video, but still the best beginner camera on the market in 2023 if you're on a budget.
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.
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 five years ago.
The dials haven’t gotten loose, and 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 its 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 five years ago) and it shares a rather similar weight rating, thus when out shooting they feel perfectly balanced.
On the flip side, 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, so it 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 neck, 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.
Button Layout & Usability
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)
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.
Some newer cameras have exceeded these numbers (primarily sports-focused cameras), 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 of years ago. I met him at a photowalk and we got dinner afterward 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 are 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 are 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.
Manual Focus Tools
The first of these features is the 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 highlight 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”.
One negative point that I do need to touch on is the LCD screen.
While the screen may have been impressive when the camera was released so many 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) or 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.
EVFs are awesome!
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 placed 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.
So uhh, the battery drains incredibly fast, and this was the biggest shock when I moved 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 (optical viewfinder) 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 the 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.
Off-Brand vs OEM Batteries (my opinion)
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 toward lenses or accessories.
There’s 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.
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 the 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 my new a7iii, but I’ve rarely run into any situations where I was wishing for a cleaner and higher ISO range. By the way, if you’re looking to delve deep into night photography with this camera, consider reading this epic a6000-astrophotography-focused review from my friends over at Lonelyspeck.
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 of the skies, causing occasional blown-out highlights if it’s 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.
But what about JPEGS? As I’ve stated, I rarely shoot in JPEG, but when I have, the results were respectable.
Whatever automatic processing software Sony stuffed into this camera is pretty impressive, as I’ve found JPEG images straight out of the camera had pretty good color accuracy and sharpness.
If shooting something casual 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.
Back in 2014 when the camera was released, the 1080p was pretty impressive for the price point. Nowadays, to be honest, it falls a little bit behind Sony’s newer 4k offerings. Still, as I’ve been practicing developing my video skills, I’ve found the 1080p to be adequate for my uses.
Am I going to shoot a Hollywood film with this? Absolutely not. However, the a6000 does the job just fine for casual and cinematic YouTube content (pst, yep this website has a YouTube channel).
The camera is able to record in 24, 30, and 60 frames. Sure, I’d love 120fps to get some REALLY slow motion shots, but 60 has been good enough for me thus far.
In terms of pure video quality, I’ve found daytime clips to come out looking fantastic.
It’s when you dip into lower-light situations where the camera starts to fall apart, but that’s really not a surprise. I found that I was able to shoot at 800 ISO with no visible noise, but video quality started to drop at around 1600 ISO.
Below, I’ve linked a “video test” that I shot in late 2019. Soon, I’ll be putting together another “b-roll montage” to show off the camera’s capabilities.
So, pure video quality is more than adequate for casual use, but the biggest flaw of the Sony a6000 is its lack of video-related features.
Lack of Stabilization
The first major flaw I want to touch on is the lack of in body image stabilization.
Most of Sony’s newer bodies include it, but the a6000 is just too old to have this feature.
There are a few ways around this. First, you could spring for a gimbal, but that’s QUITE expensive in addition to being bulky and hard to pack.
Second, you can choose a stabilized lens.
Although I generally use my Sigma 30mm F1.4 for talking head stuff, I’ve actually gone out and picked up the crappy old kit lens for everything else. It’s genuinely exceeded my expectations. The stabilization is great, sharpness/quality is acceptable (for the price), and it’s incredibly tiny.
So, the lack of in-body stabilization is a bit of a pain point, but thankfully picking up a stabilized lens works just fine.
No Audio Input
The second fatal flaw is that the a6000 does not include an audio jack.
I’m not sure why Sony decided to exclude this, as it seriously limits your options for external audio.
There are two ways to deal with this, both of which I’ve detailed in my post on how to connect a mic to your a6k.
I’ll summarize the two options really quickly here.
Solutions for No Mic Jack
The first method is to use Sony’s OEM microphone specifically made for the camera. The ECM-GZ1M is an improvement over the in-camera microphone, but it still sounds a bit tinny and cheap.
However, I have instead been using my phone combined with an external mic for audio. I plug in the mic to my phone, and then just use the built in Android recording app. After that, I just sync the audio in post-processing.
It’s a massive pain, but it’s a hell of a lot cheaper than purchasing an entirely new camera. Refer to my aforementioned guide on connecting a mic for more details and instructions.
Check out this older video of mine, it has a lot of B-Roll shot on the a6000 (16-50mm kit lens along with a $12 lavalier mic connected to my phone).
Alright, now that I’ve covered the negatives of using this camera for video, let’s talk about the positives.
First up, the a6000 does allow for full manual control, so you won’t have to worry about white balance, aperture, or shutter speed randomly changing.
Second, autofocus works fantastically.
I’ve rarely had issues with hunting, and you can even adjust the AF speed (for cinematic focus “pulls”).
Is the Sony a6000 good for video?
So is the Sony a6000 good for video?
I’d say it really depends. Recording audio on my phone and syncing it up in post-processing is a huge pain, but it’s still way cheaper than buying a whole new camera just for that purpose.
However, if you’re primarily a stills photographer who has just a fleeting interest in video, the a6000 will still be a good pick for you.
If you can deal with the lack of stabilization and mic jack, the a6000 still puts out really good-looking quality for the price.
Ease of Use
Is the Sony a6000 beginner-friendly?
Yes. Honestly, one of the best parts about the Sony a6000 is its 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 are “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 primary 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.
Update: after many years with the a6000, I finally upgraded to the a7iii. I can not emphasise enough, however, that I grew as a photographer alongside my a6000.
EVF & Manual Focus
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 though), and having a “cheap” Sony a6000 didn’t cause me any issues.
Versatile Lens Choices
Finally, the last major benefit for enthusiasts is the incredible lens choice.
The possibilities of the Sony ecosystem are endless, and I can’t see myself ever moving.
So, the a6000 is pretty great, right? But how does it compare to Sony’s newer bodies and even competing cameras from different manufacturers at similar costs?
Sony a6000 vs Sony a6300
First up: the Sony a6300 was the direct successor to the a6k. Versus the previous model, the a6300 offers 4k video recording and a much more robust (read: heavy) body.
It’s a decent upgrade, but if you’re only interested in doing photography, don’t bother. It’s not worth the increased cost.
Sony a6000 vs Canon M50
I know, I know. You’re reading a Sony site, yet I’m talking about a Canon camera. I switched from Canon years ago and have never looked back, but even I can’t deny that the M50 offers a pretty good value.
If you’re doing exclusively photography, choose the Sony a6000. However, if you want to expand into video, the M50 offers both a flippy screen AND in-body stabilization.
I’d never suggest anyone choose Canon over Sony (I’m extremely biased, obviously), but I hate to admit that the M50 really does offer a good value. Something to consider.
Sony a6000 vs Fuji X-T20
My last comparison would be with the Fujifilm X-T20. Now, I may be locked into the Sony ecosystem, but I’ve always had a soft spot in my heart for Fujis.
They’re often well renowned for their color science and, to be frank, I’m an absolute sucker for their vintage-inspired design. If you’re really into the “aesthetics and feel” of a camera, consider the Fuji. Just know their lens ecosystem is fairly limited.
Value for Money
At the end of the day, there are dozens of cameras out there offering plenty of features and great performance, but they tend to be either a bit more expensive or have more limited lens selections (such as Fuji).
Personally, I bought the body only for $325 used a couple of years back (crazy good deal), but nowadays you can buy the body plus kit lens for about $500-$600. The kit lens isn’t the greatest (full review here) but it’s a nice versatile little lens to have on hand, especially if you intend to shoot any video.
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 many 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 I had spent is an excellent price for all the value I’ve gotten out of it.
|Reliable & long lasting||No built-in stabilization|
|Great stills image quality||No mic jack or flip screen|
|Compact & lightweight||Poor battery life|
|Super fast autofocus||Some “dated” features|
|Lots of customizability||Getting hard to find (used)|
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 2023, the Sony a6000 is still one of the best cameras for anyone, whether a pure beginner or a seasoned enthusiast (one of the best for stills, at least).
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, the site is filled with a6000-related guides and lens reviews. 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 incredibly capable camera and is absolutely still worth buying. Even in 2023, it’s great for both beginners and professionals.
2023-07 Update: While I do think the a6k is still incredibly capable for its age, it is becoming harder and harder to find. Stock keeps dropping (no longer being produced) and used prices keep rising.
I’d suggest checking out my huge hands-on review of the a6400 instead, as that camera acts more or less as a direct replacement. If you can still find the a6k at a good price, however, BUY IT!
Is the Sony a6000 obsolete?
Sony has, unfortunately, completely discontinued the Sony a6000. In 2023, the Sony a6000 is no longer being produced, but it’s still an excellent camera to pick up on the used market.
2023-07 Update: The a6000 is continually increasing in price and is becoming harder to find. Although a fantastic camera still, I’d highly suggest checking it out its direct replacement: the a6400. Check out my massive hands-on review. However, if you can find it at a good price, the a6000 is still an awesome body.
Does the Sony a6000 shoot 4k?
No, the Sony a6000 does not shoot 4k. 1080p and 60fps is the best it can do.
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