In the world where everyone and their uncle has a digital SLR cameras the idea to introduce smaller compact system cameras is a rather unique one. My first experience with these cameras was the Olympus E-P1, the very fist in what would spawn several different ones from across the camera manufacturing world, Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Panasonic, Ricoh, and Sony all started making these rather neat cameras. With the E-P1 getting long in the tooth and a big trip this summer I wanted to get an upgrade. I eventually settled on switching away from the Olympus Micro 4/3 system to go for the Sony E-Mount.
The technical low down on the camera is pretty impressive for the size. Packing a 24.3 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor backed by the Bionz X image processor, a format that I am familiar with from my work with Nikon digital SLRs. The image quality is stunning, and even a photo shot at ISO-3200 on the a6000 has really acceptable noise, and the same type and amount of noise that I found with my D300 at ISO-1600. The Autofocus is fast and pretty darn accurate and is decent in low-light situations and the manual focus is super easy to use both with the big screen on the back and the electronic viewfinder.
As for ergonomics I like a camera that feels good in the hand and easy to access all the functions. And despite the small format this camera is just that! I can easily use this camera with the big screen (the tilting is awesome for composing shots at a lower angle and the auto switch between the screen and electronic finder means I can use the camera in a more traditional manner without having to to through any complex menus. Speaking of menus they can be a bit hard to navigate at first, but usual functions that you need to access while out shooting are clearly laid out in buttons. There’s even two custom buttons you can use to access things you need the most. Both the Screen and Electronic viewfinder are sharp and easy to work with in any light condition. And for those who love video the camera does a really good job with full 1080p HD Video and a decent sound pickup with the built in microphones. Not to mention the accessory shoe on the top can be used to mount an external mic or a flash/radio transceiver for off-camera flash work as it’s a standard shoe. While small the built in flash works in a pinch but can be hard to diffuse or tilt.
The Sony E-Mount has lots of amazing lenses for it out there both from Sony and third party manufactures but more importantly has the greatest number of lens adapters that let you mount your old manual focus Nikon, Contax G, Canon EF, K-Mount, M42, M39 and more out there. I know that I’ll be getting a handful of these adapters to use some of my favourite lenses on this camera later. The one beef I have is the kit lens, optically the lens is great and the power zoom function on the Sony E PZ 16-50mm 1:3.5-5.6 is super handy, there is wicked barrel distortion at 16mm. Of course this is a mild problem as Lightroom can easily fix that distortion with a mouse click. If you’re like me, you shoot all your digital work in RAW, to get your Adobe Products to read the new format you will need the latest Camera RAW plugin for Photoshop/Lightroom which is fine, but you must be running Windows 7 or better to install this plugin. Over all I’m very happy with this camera and can see it being the one I bring along more than the big D300 system when I go on vacation or just personal photography.