Sony’s New APS-C Cameras: Sony A6600 and Sony A6100

Sony in the past few weeks has added a few more models to its already stellar mirrorless lineup.

Who says APS-C sensors are dead? They have numerous benefits and Sony seems to agree. Sony announced follow ups to two of their most popular (and top selling) camera models, these new releases are the Sony A6600 and the Sony A6100. Sony has also released two new E-mount lenses — the 16-55mm F2.8 G, and the 70-350mm F4.5-6.3 G OSS, which I will briefly discuss in this article as well. 

The A6600 is the replacement for Sony’s A6500, and the A6100 will replace Sony’s insanely popular A6000 (Sony has sold about 500,000 A6000s, and yes, that’s a lot). These two models have been much anticipated, and the market will finally be rewarded. Both cameras are available for pre-order and they are expected to ship this fall (October-November).  

With the public eye on the two big Sony full-frame announcements – the already announced impressive A7r IV and the rumored A9 II, Sony’s release of the A6100 and A6600 show that they still place importance on their APS-C market. These are both industry-leading cameras and should perform very well.

Let’s get into each and look at some of the main differences between the newly released models and their predecessors. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sony A6600 – $1,398.00 – will ship November 29th
Key Specifications

  • Fast 0.02-s AF, with 425 phase-detection AF points
  • Real-time Tracking and Real-time Eye AF, to detect and hold onto moving subjects
  • 5-axis optical image stabilization for rock-solid shooting
  • 24.2-megapixel APS-C Exmor CMOS image sensor
  • High-resolution 4K HDR (HLG) movie recording, with diverse movie features
  • Sensor Size: APS-C Camera
  • Resolution: 24 MP
  • Max Video Quality: 4K 30fps
  • Viewfinder: Built-In Viewfinder
  • In-Body Stabilization: 5-Axis Optical
  • Wifi: Wi-Fi: Yes
  • Special Features: Bluetooth

Autofocus
I wanted to start with autofocus since it is one of the biggest upgrades over the A6500. The A6500 has a hybrid focusing system comprised of 425 phase and 169 contrast detection points. It was lauded as having great autofocus features for an entry level APS-C camera. The A6600 blows it away, in my opinion. The A6600 also sports a hybrid focusing system with 425 phase-detection points, but the amount of contrast detection points has increased to 425 as well. 

All those extra focus points aid in acquisition, as focus acquisition with the A6600 is faster (the A6600 obtaining focus in 0.02s versus 0.05s for the A6500). Along with the added points come some new features too. There is a huge improvement with tracking when comparing the A6500 to the A6600. The newest software improvements to Sony’s focusing system deliver great real-time tracking, aided by AI and Sony’s fantastic algorithms. Eye-AF in real time is available with the A6600 – something not possible with the A6500. Sony is also lauded as having the best Eye-AF system, it also works on animals.

  

Ergonomics & Design
In terms of dimensions and size, the A6600 is almost identical to its predecessor. The biggest change comes with the grip. The grip on the A6600 is much larger than it was on the A6500. This is good news for handling and should make it easier to handle with longer lenses. That could prove especially useful since APS-C models shine as wildlife camera bodies. The A6600 has also taken on a new battery, the one uses in A7 models and the A9. Expected battery life has jumped up 500 shots from the A6500 for a total of 800 shots per charge. 

Not much else has changed with the body. The LCD sports the sam resolution but is more flexible now. It can tilt up 180˚ and down approximately 74˚. That can be useful for shooting conditions that demand it. I offer wish for more LCD rotation flexibility with my Nikon Z7. Both bodies are weather sealed. 

Sensor
The sensor is the same for the A6600 and A6500. Both models have a APS-C sized 24.0 MP sensor. Dynamic range and color depth can be expected to be unchanged. However, the BionZ X image engine used by the A6600 allows expandable ISO values – from ISO 100 to 32,000. That bests what was possible from the A6500. 

Video
The A6XXX series has been popular for vloggers and photographers who enjoy taking videos alike. Although no massive upgrade in terms of video quality, the A6600 does allow users to record unlimited video…meaning there is no time restriction on video clip length. The A6500 limited video to 30 minutes. The A6600 also has some HDR video modes and a headphone port that allows high-quality sound devices to be connected. This should be a great camera for video. 

Summary
Although at first glance it doesn’t look like much of an upgrade over the A6500, the minor improvements go a long way. Sony’s autofocusing system has become industry leading and the focusing should be a big improvement over the A6500. Small things, like the tiltable screen, better battery life, and unlimited video recording make this upgrade worth it. The A6600 release price is right around $1,400 and A6500 still go for around $1,200. The extra money is worth it, in my opinion. 

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Sony A6100 – $748.00 – will ship October 25th
Key Specifications

  • Fast 0.02 sec AF, with 425 phase-detection AF points
  • High-resolution 4K movie recording
  • 24.2-megapixel Exmor CMOS sensor
  • Real-time Tracking, Real-time Eye AF, Eye AF for Animals
  • 180 Degree tiltable LCD touchscreen for easier self-portraits and high- and low-angle shots
  • Sensor Size: APS-C Camera
  • Resolution: 24 MP
  • Max Video Quality: 4K 30fps
  • Viewfinder: Built-In Viewfinder
  • Wifi: Wi-Fi: Yes

Autofocus 
Just like with the A6600 vs. A6500, autofocus is one of the areas where we see the largest improvement when it comes to the A6100 vs. A6000. Sony has come a long way since 2014 (A600 release), and those software updates and new algorithms are baked into the A6100, as well as better AF technology as well. 

A6100 gets real time tracking and a huge improvement in Eye-AF, which works on both humans and animals. We also see a large expansion in focus points, with the A6100 425 phase and contrast detection points for a total of 84% coverage of the sensor (the A6000 has 198 phase detection points and 25 contrast detection points.) The A6100 also acquires focus just as fast as the A6600 at 0.02s. 

Ergonomics & Design
The design is relatively unchanged between the two models. The size and weight are similar, with the A6100 a little larger and heavier due to a slightly bigger grip. Neither is weather sealed, but that shouldn’t be expected at this price range…although it would be nice. Many mirrorless cameras allow for silent shooting via an electronic shutter, that feature has been introduced to the A6100. 

The LCD is the same resolution, but is way more flexible, like the A6600’s LCD. The A6100 screen tilts up 180˚ and down 73˚. The new LCD is also a touch screen, the A6000 LCD is not. There is also an added microphone jack and Bluetooth capability as well. 

Sensor
The resolutions of the A6100 and A6000 are almost identical, the A6100 is 24.2 MP and tee A6000 is 24.3MP, but there are some differences.

The sensor on the A6100 includes a large-scale integration chip that speeds up processing on the A6100.  Sony says the A6100 is 1.8x times faster than the A6000. The new body also has the updated BionZ X processor we also see in the A6600. The A6100 can also output 14-bit RAW and is compatible with 16-bit image processing…the A6000 cannot do that. 

There is an expanded ISO range in the new model as well, from ISO 100 to ISO 32,000, that’s for photo and video.

Video
Video is another big differentiator between the A6100 and A6000. The A6100 can record 4K video up to 30p and 100Mbps with full pixel readout. At 1080p, the A6100 can record at up to 120fps. That pretty much trounces what the A6000 was able to do. As mentioned above, the 3.5mm microphone input is an added plus, as well as a dedicated HDMI output.

Summary
The A6100 is a big upgrade over the A6000. Autofocus and video capabilities really show up the A6000. The A6100 is almost $300 more expensive though, and when looking at an entry level APS-C camera, that makes a big difference. You’ll have to decide if there is enough value for the cost. There’s no doubting this camera will be great though. It should take over as one of Sony’s top sellers. 

Matt Meisenheimer

 

 

 

 

 

 

Matt Meisenheimer is a photographer based in Wisconsin. His artistry revolves around finding unique compositions and exploring locations that few have seen. He strives to capture those brief moments of dramatic light and weather, which make our grand landscapes so special.  Matt loves the process of photography – from planning trips and scouting locations, taking the shot in-field, to post-processing the final image. Matt is an active adventurer and wildlife enthusiast as well. He graduated with a degree in wildlife ecology and worked in Denali National Park and Mount Rainier National Park as a biologist. He also spent 6 months working in the deserts of Namibia before finding his path in photography. Matt’s passion for the wilderness has taken him to many beautiful places around the world. As a former university teaching assistant, Matt is passionate about instruction. It is his goal to give his students the technical and creative knowledge they need to achieve their own photographic vision. He truly enjoys working with photographers on a personal level and helping them reach their goals. You can see Matt’s work and portfolio on his webpage at www.meisphotography.com

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