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12th February 2014
Sony Alpha 6000 mirrorless system camera preview
by Ian Burley
9440: Sony Alpha 6000 mirrorless system camera preview

Sony combines a serious photographer specification and competitive price for the Alpha 6000

The new Sony Alpha 6000 fitted with an FE (full frame) 24-70mm f/4 zoom

It looks like a NEX, but that branding is now officially finished and the new Sony Alpha 6000 goes some way to demonstrate why it's not a NEX. Gone is the characteristic NEX-style icon-based user-interface, replaced by the more conventional orange-keyed menus and function displays of other Alpha cameras. There is an array of no less than 179 on-sensor phase-detect AF points supplementing the relatively modest 25 contrast detect points and both sets work together for hybrid auto-focusing which promises high performance for action photography. Sony now also lays claim to the crown of 'fastest AF' according to CIPA testing standards, too. Several buttons can now be re-programmed for custom versatility. There are two adjustment controls; one semi-recessed corner knob and a rotating four-way controller. A conventional flash hot shoe is featured alongside a pop-up flash.

While the Alpha 6000 is definitely aimed at more serious photographers, you can still make use of the Sony PlayMemories camera apps library of both free and chargeable downloadable software. The Alpha 6000 naturally has WiFi with app support for Android and iOS devices and NFC is now supported as well.

Sony is positioning the Alpha 6000 as a serious enthusiasts' camera and so the rather clumsy NEX-style icon-based UI has been dropped in favour of the same style menus and options as other Alpha models.

Under the skin the Alpha 6000 gets the latest quad-core Bionz X image processor and 24 megapixel APS-C Exmor HD CMOS sensor. Sony says the Bionz X engine can compensate for diffraction softness when shooting at very small apertures, and improve noise control in defined areas of the frame. Continuous shooting rates can now reach 11 frames per second. Of course there is AVCHD video recording but you can't shoot 4K UHD video, but 4K stills can be recorded if you have the latest TV technology.

The Alpha 6000 is available in silver and black and the 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 collapsible power zoom is the default kit lens.

The ISO range starts at a handy ISO 100 - especially as the shutter tops out at 1/4000th, right up to ISO 25600. The corner electronic viewfinder is, by today's standards, now only an average 1.4 million dots but the 0.7x magnification makes the view look roomy.

While the Alpha 6000 sports a tilting LCD screen as well as an OLED viewfinder, Sony has yet again missed an opportunity to endow the screen with touch-capability.

Finally, the 921K dot tilting LCD looks good but Sony remains averse to touch controls, so no touch-shutter or poking the screen to set the focus point, etc.

Overall, I think the Alpha 6000 is possibly the best all-round specification and design flat-top mirrorless Sony yet - if only it had a touch-screen! And at a sub-600 including the 16-50 power zoom lens, it's a very attractive price. Expect sales to commence in April.

Sample images

We were kindly allowed to take shots using early pre-production cameras at the launch venue in London. There was limited time plus a lot of demand for cameras from journalists present so I was not really able to produce many decent sample images but here is a small selection. The cameras were so early that the exif data doesn't even identify the camera model:

To view the photo in your browser just click on the appropriate thumbnail below. To download the image file, use the 'save target as' or equivalent function on your browser. All sample images provided here are copyrighted and made available for personal, non-commercial, evaluation only.

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