Sunday, 6 November 2016

SonyAlpha Reflections

SonyAlpha Reflections

I've had long enough now with the Sony Alpha 6000 to form some opinions which I want to reflect on here. I suppose the first thing to say is how delighted I am with it. The a6000 is superb value for money, but it also hits the target by providing outstanding performance in a small package - the (lack of) weight is a joy. The other big positives are the E mount lenses. As with the whole package, they are outstanding value for money, the image stabilization is first rate and they deliver superb quality considering how tiny they are (I can't quite get over that).

Initially I suffered with the "toy camera" feel of the a6000 and had to work very hard to stop myself snapping away with insufficient care, but I'm slowly overcoming that (needs constant vigilance). Overall the image quality rivals the D7200, a much larger and more expensive camera, but it's different - the Sony goes for sharp where the Nikon goes for smooth. The Sony images are a little bit noisier than the D7200 (although I've got the noise reduction off by default to speed up the buffering a bit) but the overall sensitivity is comparable - a great achievement on Sony's part. The difference can be dealt with by learning new post-processing reflexes.

The not so good points: the autofocus on the a6000 is disappointing - it's slow and can be a bit hit and miss. I've overcome this slightly by being careful with the autofocus settings. Set against that is the addition of focus peaking - very useful and something Nikon has never offered. The solution to the autofocus weakness is my future upgrade path to an a6300 where the focus performance has been improved. However there's a problem there. Most of my gear is purchased used (mostly from the reliable sources of MPB or Wex), but the Sony alpha models hold their value so well that it's hard to justify secondhand purchases of such complicated electronics when the new items with full warranty are similarly priced. This means that while the a6000 is great value for money, the a6300 is about average (and the a6500 is over priced for a camera of this type).

The Sony menu system isn't great but to be honest it's no worse than the Nikon menus. The big letdown is the EVF - disappointing but a useful fallback in bright light when the rear screen isn't much use. And of course, the EVF also offers focus peaking (one advantage over an optical viewfinder) which I'm relying on more and more as I trust there autofocus less. Having said that, the tilting rear screen is bright and clear and I'm learning new shooting techniques, shooting from the waist and bracing my forearms against my body. The wifi is total crap. Sony's not alone in that. Given that the a6000 battery life isn't great, I just put the camera on Airplane mode and leave it there. This isn't a big loss for me. I haven't tried connecting it to a smartphone yet - to be honest, I'm more likely just to use my iPhone than to bother.

I haven't had chance to see how the a6000 performs in macro photography yet, but with that caveat, overall moving to the Sony ecosystem seems to be inevitable. Nikon's days are numbered. Photography has evolved and Nikon just hasn't kept up.

Sony ILCE-6000
E 55-210mm F4.5-6.3 OSS
f4.5 55mm 1/200 ISO 2000