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At the end of 2014, after shooting for a decade with Canon, I completely switched to a Sony Mirrorless.
Just before the Christmas holiday, I sold all of my Canon equipment and ordered the Sony A6000, Sony 10-18mm f/4, and Zeiss 16-70mm f/4 in one shot. I paid $2000 in total. Sony lenses are always pricy but I found that the price of the complete kit was very reasonable.
The switch surprised some of the readers on my blog, my followers and even a few of my fellow photographers.
To address these issues and explain the reasons for the switch, I wrote the blog post titled, Top Reason Why I Switched from Canon to Sony which became one the most popular articles on my site. It looks as if the topic of switching from DSL to Mirrorless is on the minds of many photographers.
I also promised to put together a full review of my new Sony gear. After six months of using my new equipment and, after taking about 10,000 photos, I am ready to give you comprehensive feedback on my experience in switching to Sony.
Sony A6000 Review – Specs
- Camera Format – APS-C (1.5 crop factor)
- Lens Mount – Sony E-Mount
- Pixels – Actual: 24.7 mp (6000 x 4000)
- Viewfinder Type – Electronic (EVF)
- ISO Sensitivity – 100-25600
- FPS/Burst Rate – Up to 11fps
- Dimensions – 4.7 x 2.6 x 1.8″ / 120.0 x 67.0 x 45.0 mm
- Weight – 12.13 oz / 344g with battery and memory card
For me, one of the top reasons for switching was the compactness of the new system, not only in terms of the camera but the lenses as well.
As a DSLR photographer, when preparing for long and demanding trips, I always faced the same dilemma – what equipment should I bring?
I no longer have to compromise equipment for the sake of space as I can now put everything in a small camera bag and bring it with me.
Sony A6000 (344g, 12oz) + Sony 10-18mm (220g, 8oz) = 564g (20oz).
Sony A6000 (344g, 12oz) + Sony 16-70mm (308g, 11oz) = 652g (23oz).
It is hard to believe that a high-quality wide angle zoom lens (10-18mm) can weigh only 220g (8oz).
The full set, including the camera and two lenses which cover 90-95% of my needs (I am not big on shooting long), weighs less than 900g (32oz). I call it freedom.
Electronic Viewfinder (EVF)
For some inexplicable reason the EVF is considered to be one of the shortcomings of Mirrorless systems, scaring away many DSLR photographers. I do not agree with that conclusion. For me, the EVF is one of the main advantages of mirrorless cameras. Finally, when I look through the viewfinder, I can see what the camera’s sensor sees.
Here’s a real life scenario. Earlier I was shooting using an exposure compensation of -2EV and I forgot to reset it to zero. Now, when looking through the EVF, I can see right away that the exposure is wrong because the EVF picture is too dark.
When I shoot wide at 10mm, I can even see a barrel distortion, which realistically represents the photo I am about to take.
I often use manual focusing when shooting landscapes, which was pretty much an impossible task with the DSLR in bright conditions because of the display screen glare. Now, not only can I easily use the manual focus in any condition, I can also take advantage of Focus Peaking, an amazing feature that highlights areas that are in focus with bright color. There is no more guess work.
In one of the reviews, I read how awful and pixelated the EVF picture becomes in dark conditions. I can confirm that it looks pretty bad but, it is good enough for composing the shot and, it beats the DSLR where all you can see is pitch black.
For me, the EVF simplifies the process of taking pictures and makes it more predictable.
24 megapixels sensor
The Sony A6000 comes with 24Mpix, which I initially did not consider as an important upgrade. What I realized later, after starting to process photos, is that the 24Mpx sensor produces unbelievably clean and sharp images and, in combination with native quality lenses, it resolves an insane amount of detail. Photos look acceptable even at 100% magnification.
As you may know, I am big on HDR processing. I always bracket my shots with the goal to process them for HDR if necessary.
After a few months of shooting with the A6000, I realized that I use HDR less and less. I also noticed that some of the photos that were shot in extreme lighting conditions and absolutely required multiple shots with my Canon DSLR, could be processed and edited as a single image without sacrificing quality.
Since I could not explain it, I researched in an attempt to find the reason for the different behavior. What I discovered was completely unexpected. The dynamic range of the Sony 24Mpix sensor is almost by two stops or 20% wider than the sensor of the Canon 60D or 70D.
What was even more unexpected is that the Sony A6000 dynamic range is also wider than Canon’s full frame, high-end 5D Mark 2.
An unexpected consequence to switching to the Sony Mirrorless was a change in the way I process and edit my photos.
Shooting speed and focus accuracy
In order to test the highly advertised 11fps shooting speed and focus accuracy, I went to the local cycling race to photograph fast moving cyclists.
I switched from RAW to JPEG, set the camera to a continuous shooting mode and enabled Object Tracking. I was amazed not only with the new experience of shooting but with the results as well. Shooting at 11fps reminded me of filming a video and then going frame by frame in the editing software to select the best frames. There are no missing moments. The focus was spot on in pretty much every frame.
I can see how the Sony A6000 can be a game changer for sports and wildlife photography.
According to Sony, you can take up to 360 shots on a single battery charge. I found this number to be pretty accurate. I even managed to take close to 390 shots when shooting in bracketing mode. It is not bad at all considering the small battery size and the EVF high power consumption. However, when you are accustomed to shooting 1500 shots on a single charge with the DSLR, the difference is very obvious. Now, I carry three spare batteries with me at all times and have to remember to keep them charged.
In general, my experience of switching to Sony A6000 was very positive but, there are some issues I would like Sony to address. I would not call them “negatives” as they are more shortcoming, annoyances and software bugs.
2-Second delay and Sleep Mode shortcoming
This is the most annoying combination UI shortcoming and software bug.
Because of the poor UI design, there is no way to trigger bracketed shots using the 2-second delay functionality. I had to buy, and carry around, an unnecessary extra piece of equipment: Wireless Shutter Release ($10).
In order to make the Wireless Shutter Release work, you have to enable REMOTE CTRL in the menu. The main problem is that when you switch REMOTE CTRL on, the camera does not go into sleep mode and the rear screen stays on. This is purely a software bug.
Can you imagine my horror when I went for a day long hike in Hawaii and by 7am my first battery was completely drained? I had to develop a new habit of turning the camera off after every shot.
Like I said before, this is very annoying.
For some unexplainable reason, you can shoot five bracketed shots at 0.7EV intervals only, which makes it completely useless. In extreme lighting conditions I have to shoot two sets of bracketed shots (-2, 0, +2), offsetting them manually using exposure compensation (-1 EV).
What made this shortcoming less problematic is the quality and wide dynamic range of the sensor. I do not have to shoot 5 or 7 bracketed shots as often. Three bracketed shots (-2, 0, +2) is sufficient in most cases.
No GPS tagging
Even though the camera has decent wireless connectivity, GPS tagging utilizing a mobile phone is missing.
Buffer writing lock
When a camera transfers photos from the buffer to a memory card, the system is completely locked. You cannot even preview the images during the transfer.
The switch from a Canon DSLR to the Mirrorless Sony A6000 was less stressful than I expected. It took me about three months to be completely comfortable with the new system and fully understand its limitations and ways to deal with them. I am also glad that I purchased the native Sony lenses from the very beginning. It saved me the headache of dealing with the converters.