This review is on the a6600, Sony’s current flagship APSc camera, and really is the culmination of everything sony has learned in the a6000 series while also borrowing a few tricks from the a7 series. Today I am going to talk about the pros and cons of the camera in my opinion, and who this camera may be best for. For a bit of context before this review I’ll talk about why I got this camera and what my use cases for it are. I am a part-time professional photographer/videographer. I work with full frame sony cameras and have a decent kit already of full frame lenses to work with. With that said, the first camera I learnt to shoot on was a Sony NEX camera, so APS-c cameras hold a special place still in my heart and are quite comfortable for me to fall beck to using. I got this camera as a 3rd camera body for wedding videos and as casual photography or video camera I can walk around with.
I’ll start off with the key features that make this camera novel before getting really granular. This camera rocks the same 24mp sensor all the other cameras in the a6000 lineup have, which is fine as this senor is still fantastic, and it also has in body image stabilization which is very handy for photos and even more so in video. The new display on this camera also is able to flip up to take selfies and making it easier to vlog with get video of yourself. The auto-focus is also revamped from the previous iterations in the series, and its not like the a6000 cameras had an issue with their AF, but this camera is basically perfect, it tracks like no other camera I have used before, but I’ll talk about it more later. The last and most important feature for me is that this camera uses Sony’s Z type batteries, which are same as those used in their full frame a7 series cameras, which dramatically improve this camera’s life span over others in this series, basically making its double that of the a6000 and 64000, and the battery easy lasts a day of heavy photography and hours of constant video work.
Ok, now I’ll get granular, and I’m going to get started with the build quality of the camera and the handling. The a6600 has a slightly larger body than the rest of the Sony a6000 series of cameras to accommodate the larger battery. This is fantastic for those like me with larger hands, however it keeps the cameras profile relatively the same because as long as there is a lens on this camera, it isn’t protruding forward more than the lens would normally. Otherwise the handling overall is a matter of taste, Sony has always had a tendency to put pure functionality over aesthetics and ergonomics. The body is made out of Sony’s familiar magnesium alloy frame with a few plastic components, it is rugged and feels very sturdy in the hand and I have no concerns over damage to the frame. The camera also is weather sealed per sony, with dust and moisture resistance, which I don’t enjoy putting to the test, however I have used this camera out in the rain on a few occasions now, and it has held up well.
Buttons and controls:
The button layout on the body will be familiar, and perhaps just as frustrating to those of you who are familiar with the other a6000 cameras. The layout itself is good, out of the bx its very functional, and with a bit of messing around with the layout, which sony makes very easy to do, it is not hard to get the perfect button layout for your needs. The frustration comes mainly because this camera only has two dials, both of which are at the back, and there is notably no dial near the shutter. This is excusable as the a6000 series of cameras always have been targeted for more casual shooting where shooting in aperture priority more isn’t at all unreasonable, but the price bracket that this camera is in pits it against camera from fuji that have a whole heck of a lot more dials on them. So, it’s not a deal breaker for, but it is an area of improvement is sony does continue this camera line.
One peculiar choice was to maintain the same USB micro port on the side rather than a USB type C port which could support much faster transfer speeds, and also that the SD card slot inside of the camera is still a UHS type 1 card slot, which makes clear the buffer sometimes painfully slow and is routinely noticeable shooting longer bursts. Both of these are not deal breaking issues, but just disappointments.
The displays on the sony a6600 are nothing to write home about but they are supe competent. The EVF is small and not terribly high resolution, making it functional, but not ideal, which is again, excusable in my opinion because this isn’t necessary a camera designed to be used for intense manual focusing situations, and even so, the AF is so good to compensate. The back display inherited the same unique 16×9 ratio LED display that the rest of the a6000 cameras have, which is on the small side of things, but that’s inevitable because of the size of the camera body and the EVF location. It uses all the space that the back of the camera offers. In terms of image quality though the back display is surprisingly good, the colors are crisp and I don’t have issues with brightness, even in bright light.
The stand-out feature of the back display though is that is able to flip up! After years of sony not including any real articulation to their displays, they finally added in with this camera. I does so in a conservative sort of way though, basically extending the old range of articulation with an new axis so that it can be seen above the camera. The pros of this design are obvious in that you can now take video and photos of yourself or a group with much more ease. The biggest draw back is that this means you cannot easily use items in the hot-shoe because it obstructs the screen, however a simple cage or even an small part to move the hot shoe to a cold shoe is simple enough, and I keep this camera a cage anyways for the sake of convenience.
Now onto the actual software, Sony’s old menus system was not the best when they made it and it continues to be less than ideal. I am not saying its not functional, I have used it for years, but the limited amount of touch controls when the camera has a touch display is rather disappointing still. With that said, the level of customization in the menus is a feature that keeps me happy and I have never missed a shot because I was stuck in the menus, but here is a learning curve to be mindful of. Sony made a new menu system for the new a7siii however I am doubtful that it will be an option to upgrade old cameras to have it.
The biggest surprise with this camera when I got it was the ludicrous speed of the autofocus, it goes real, real fast. It is my first camera with Sony’s updated eye tracking and face auto focus and on the a7riii I though it was fast, however ends up it gets faster. It locks on to eyeballs and faces and it is actually hard to miss focus with this camera. The animal eye AF also is improved further and with dogs or cats it is extremely accurate, and it does work with other animals, but just not as well.
With regards to the auto focus in video, its just as impressive as with photos. Out of the box the camera is pretty neutral and accurate and natural with the AF, but it is able to be as smooth or responsive as you like as you would like depending on the situation you are in by tweaking the settings. The video also has all the same eye auto-focus features too, making it optimal for taking videos of yourself without worrying about the AF.
The images coming off this sensor are not going to be a major upgrade with this camera, as I said in the start of this video, this camera is using the same sensor that is found in all the other cameras in this series. It’s a 24mp APS-c CMOS senor that has fantastic dynamic range and does everything you would want from it. It has decent lowlight performance and is able to comfortably shoot in high ISO situations without falling apart. The unedited images from the camera have rich and crisp colors and very adequate sharpness for what the camera is. I am a little bit of a pixel peeper and have used the a7riii as my daily driver for too long, but even though 24mp is entirely functional and completely enough for professional work, I still am left wanting for some more resolution for cropping and scaling up for print. For portraits, family photography, street and just casual everyday stuff, this camera is ideal, but if you are wanted to step into studio work, product photography or a little more intense landscape work, this camera isn’t going to hold up as well when you are scaling the images up.
The primary focus of this camera by Sony is as a video camera. The video is all 8bit 4-2-0 video which is par for the course for the rest of the cameras sony released prior to this camera, and its shoots in a max resolution of 4k 30p with a minor crop, or 4k 24p with out a crop, and the camera shoots at a max speed of 120p in 1080p. There is notably no 4k 60p and these resolutions are not ground breaking by any means bit, they are entirely functional and the video you can get with camera I find is just decent enough to use slog2 with and get some decent colors from. One thing that is rather disappointing because after seeing the new colors on the a7siii, any other camera in Sony’s lineup falls a little flat. It is important also to note the camera doesn’t overheat in the testing I have done, and that includes shooting a wedding video in direct sun for a couple hours with no issues thankfully. This camera also has the in body image stabilization, which even though it is useful still for photos, its crucial for handheld video, and even though the IBIS in this camera is not the best, it does dramatically improve the video smoothness. Overall though the video quality is very middle of the road across the board, it doesn’t bring anything revolutionary to the table, but it does double down on everything right without failing. This makes it a very reliable and easy to work with video camera, the AF is able to hold so darn well and the image quality, while not being the best, is able to really hold its own, and my last 3 videos on this YouTube channel have either be partially or completely shot while using this camera.
Besides the improved battery life, the other main appeal of getting this camera is the lens lineup. The camera shares the same mount as every sony mirrorless camera, sporting the Sony E mount, which has absolutely oodles of lens option. Sigma in particular has made several fantastic options, and sony also has slowly made many lens for the APS-c cameras, while all the full frame lenses also work well on the crop bodies, although there is quite a bit of unnecessary bulk when using full frame lenses on a crop body, it is very convenient for people like myself who use both full frame and APS-c cameras.
So overall, this camera is very interesting to me, it seems to always be almost enough for what I am looking for in a smaller camera, while also falling a little bit short of what I would like for the price that I payed. It’s autofocus, battery life, size and lens options make it incredibly compelling, but the lack of a front dial, the mediocre displays, the lack of 4k 60p are all disappointing omissions. The biggest issue is that it just is rather expensive makes it a little difficult to recommend to a new photographer but because it is quite expensive, but also hard to recommend to a professional like myself that may be disappointed by the lack of feature that you would expect. Ultimately what it comes down to is that is a fantastic camera that is the near perfection of the sony a6000 line, and improves on its predecessors in many important ways while also maintaining the same level of backwards compatibility to make upgrading easy. It’s very close to being the perfect APS-c camera, and I see myself using it as my lightweight camera for while a while and as a back up camera at events.