Sony A6600 initial comment: compact, powerful, fast

Sony has just released its most powerful A6000-series camera to date, and our first try with it has definitely a lot to like about this new APS-S. Essentially has all the bells and whistles you're likely to find in the company of more expensive full-frame cameras, but puts them in at a much smaller size.

It's called the A6600 and has several improvements over previous models, including in-body stabilization, much better battery life, 4K and HDR real-time capture, face and eye tracking of people and animals, and a slim design that's easy to grip and wear all day.

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Of course, with its high end specifications comes a high price tag, but it's still suitably cheaper than any of the Sony A7 series, and that could make it a winner. Especially when combined with one of Sony's new high-end G master lenses.

Stylish, uncomplicated

  • Magnesium alloy
  • dust/moisture
  • 180 degree tilt touch
  • Integrated headphone jack + microphone input

Look at it at arm's length, and there's a lot about the A6600 looks that makes it extremely familiar. Obviously, the Sony A6000-series cameras, with a compact rectangular body and an E-mount lens mount on the front that take up almost all available space.

 

Despite its slightly heavy weight (compared to its predecessors), the A6600 is pleasant when held. It's small, which is great, but it also feels well made, strong and durable. This is mainly due to the magnesium alloy casing, which offers moisture and dust protection.

Part of the joy of holding this camera is also in the design of its power. It doesn't feel small or overly cramped, which gives you a good hand feel, only further helped by grippy textures and placement of a quickly re-powered/shutter button on top. Overall, it's very easy to use with one hand, and doesn't cause fatigue even when worn for hours.

But not everyone is Dora's hard worker. Sony has kept the hinged screen on the back in their version, which is big, and not big all at once. We appreciate the strength and durability provided by the hinges, mechanism and bezel that holds the small LCD screen in place. Which is to be commended. It's not too loose so you can do it exactly the way you want it And know it's going to stay there.

This seems to be an oversight, although there are no vacancies. When flipped 180 degrees - allowing you to see yourself when taking a video or selfie - the screen isn't fully in view. The tiny bottom of the display around the edges seems to be built into the top of the camera. More frustrating for videographers, however, is that he sits almost directly behind the hot shoe. This means that if you have a microphone, or a wireless microphone kit set to do so, you are completely blocking the display, making it completely useless.

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Otherwise, there's the usual smattering of buttons and controls on the back of the camera, most of which are easy to figure out if you sit down with it for a few minutes, and include two customizable function buttons on the top that you can control. What would you like. Whether it's switching between animals and people in tracking mode, or something completely different.

There are two additional customizable function buttons on the back, D-pad entry, menu button, manual/auto focus switch, main function button and gallery open button.

Car Paradise

  • 24.3 MP APS-C sensor
  • 23.5 x 15.6 mm Exmor CMOS sensor
  • BIONZ processor x image processor
  • 3:2 photo ratio
  • Fast Hybrid AF - 425 points phase and contrast
  • Burst shooting up to 11 frames per second
  • New Z battery lasts 810 shots

We could cite the impressive specs of this compact APS-C camera until they're out of our ears, but actually using it, you get more sense of how good it can be. One thing that stood out from our initial tests was simply how fast the camera is. Its focus is in no time at all, the fastest half-pressing the shutter and then almost as fast snapping shot as soon as you fully press the shutter.

You can see the results of this effort in the collection above, where we tested him shooting various shots, both close ups and zoomed in far, landscape and portrait. With the new 16-55mm lens we were able to get some great close-up shots with nice smooth bokeh in the background, with great color and texture in the image.

Inside, power is the performance of the same advanced BIONZ X image processing engine, which is inside a much larger A9 camera. This - Sony promises - means crisp, sharp images with very good low light, low noise and a wide sensitivity range.

We only have a few hours to test the camera, and mostly outdoors in good daylight, so we have to do a lot of testing, especially in low light - when it comes time to completely overhaul the A6600.

The thing is, Sony had sharp real-time tracking and autofocus for us to experience, and given how fast and well it worked in our testing this far, we'd say Sony hacked it.

It not only uses a 425-point hybrid phase and contrast autofocus, but also automatically detects faces and eyes, and can track them as they move in the frame, focusing on them. You can even switch his attention to the eyes of the animals as well if you want.

4K video chops

  • 4K video - 30 fps, HDR mode (HLG)
  • Super format 35mm
  • 1080p up to 100fps
  • 5-axis body stabilization
  • Real-time tracking/AF on the eye
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For the videographers and vloggers of the world, Sony has provided the A6500 is equipped with fairly high performance and features. Goal: to give the many used camera experience to professionals, while also giving prosumers and vloggers something that is much more than just capable of shooting video. Basically, it's a tool that makes it super easy to make great videos, or at least that's what they claim to be.

All functions that take pictures are easy to work in video/movie too. And that means you get real-time tracking and autofocus even when shooting in 4K. Combine this with a five axis stabilization body and you have something that not only keeps focus on the subject effortlessly, but does so without too much wobble when shooting handheld.

In practice, very impressive. After the fast-moving pigeon around Copenhagen's food markets kept the bird in the spotlight easily, quickly and, importantly, silently. Likewise, we were able to capture the cyclists zipping past and also keep them in focus throughout the frame.

Most of this was shot with Sony's new 16-55mm f/2.8 lens throughout, and that, of course, no harm done. This new lens will be fast and won't lose light no matter you zoom in to its wide 16mm angle or zoom in to 55mm.

Of course, video quality isn't the only thing that matters to video makers. Sound quality, convenience and practicality matter too, which is why Sony includes some much needed ports along one side. The most important are the two 3,5mm mic/line in and headphone outs. This means that not only can you connect an external microphone (even when using the correct XLR microphone, providing you with the correct adapter), but you can also control your levels with a pair of wired headphones.

For external surveillance visual rather than audio, there is a mini HDMI port that allows you to connect a camera to a screen.

In video terms, this is a very versatile camera. Some videographers may complain about the lack of 4K/60 recording resolution, and to be honest, we were a little disappointed not to see it there. However, with the addition of 100p full HD video, you can still shoot crisp video and slow it down without losing the smoothness. It just won't be in 4K resolution.

As well as the problem with the screen being blocked by any montage or microphones (we talked about them earlier), the only video disappointment is that the camera from Sony does not save video files in the same folder as photos on the memory card. You'll have to dig through the folders in the "miscellaneous" file to find them. Once you know where they are, it's not such a big deal, but it does seem a bit counter-intuitive. We can probably understand why you might want to separate them, but Sony should at least save them to the main folder next to "hard drive", which clearly indicates that it has video in it.

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