I created a bit of confusion with my episode 043 Sony a6000 vs DSLR results. A number of you seemed to think that I was giving the camera a negative review and that was not my intent. Let me clarify here.
My research began with episode 027 to find a good alternative camera to my DSLR. My current walk around combo is a Nikon D600 with a 50 mm f/1.8.
I love shooting with this option, mostly because of the results. I love the quality of the images I produce. If I don't like a photograph, it's rarely the cameras fault.
My main frustration with the Nikon DSLR option is the size. It's not very compact, so taking it is not always convenient. I've tried half a dozen different bag combinations, thinking maybe that might help. It didn't. Nothing seems to work, so I leave my camera at home more than I should.
Is mirrorless the answer?
I've been reading so much about how the mirrorless cameras are the new frontier in photography. This is where camera manufacturers are making radical improvements in technology and the resulting images are just as good as any DSLR but in a compact package.
I was seduced by the thought and set out in episode 027 to do a review of the mirrorless camera market and find one I could be happy with.
My primary criteria was that it cost less than $1,000, have interchangeable lens capability, and give me reasonably consistent quality in my images.
In the reviews I found, the a6000 promised all of that, so I decided to rent one to try it out.
Here's what I reported
- I loved the ease of use. I found myself shooting more than I normally would.
- I loved the fast autofocus. It found and locked in on my subject much faster than my DSLR would.
- I wasn't happy with the photo quality though. It just didn't have the same pop as I was used to with my DSLR.
- Was it the camera or lens? I'm not sure, and I'm not willing to continue testing that model to find out.
- Maybe my expectations were unrealistic. I think perhaps I was expecting too much from a $600 camera, so I am widening my parameters to less than $2,000.
Here's what I should have emphasized
This wasn't the right combination for me. It's a very popular camera however, and works well for some uses.
If carrying a compact camera is your primary objective, it's worth a look. The footprint is much smaller than many of the other mirrorless cameras I tested and with much better quality than I would expect from a compact size.
It is great value for the money. If your budget is less than $1,000, you probably will be hard pressed to find a better deal. I tested the camera with its kit lens because that's how you would pay less than $800. You get tremendous value for that price range.
I have never been a fan of Sony video. It's been my experience that Sony video files are a pain to play on Mac computers, which is what I use. I've owned a number of Sony camcorders and cameras, and I've never been able to just take the video file from the camera and play it on my computer. Sony makes me use some proprietary software to convert it to Mac compatible files. That is a major pain and deal breaker for me.
This wasn't a fair side-by-side comparison. This was not meant to be a laboratory test of similar options. It's not apples vs apples to put a Sony a6000 up against a Nikon full frame camera, even with a modest 50 mm lens.
I was merely comparing a new option against the option it would be replacing. And for that, I wasn't thrilled.
I could retest the Sony a6000 with a better lens, but that isn't worth it to me. I have already decided, primarily because of the video file, that this isn't the right option for me. Plus, if I use bigger and more expensive lenses on the Sony a6000, I lose the appeal of the compact, cost effective option.
As I said in episode 011, there are two reasons I upgrade, the camera improves my quality of life or the quality of the image. While the Sony a6000 might be able to make a reasonable case for the quality of the image, the video file is a pain to my quality of life.
It's not right for me, but is it right for you?
Only you can decide that. Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- What subjects will you be shooting?
- Under what conditions will you be shooting?
- What features improve your quality of life?
- Is the image good enough for your intended purpose?
- What can't you do with your current camera that this one helps you to accomplish?
- What is your budget?
- Do you have any history with that brand or know anyone who does?
Once you are happy with these answers, I'd urge you to borrow or rent any camera before you buy it. That way you won't get stuck with a model that looks good on paper but irks you in your camera bag.