Sony’s Alpha-Series APS-C mirrorless cameras have long been a popular choice for casual and enthusiastic photographers because of their ease of use, excellent performance and portability. Sony has made a new iteration of the A6000 series like Clockwork and it has launched its latest flagship camera, the A6600, in late 2019.
This camera builds on the already powerful A6500 such as a large battery, even fast autofocus, a flip-up LCD display, eye autofocus for video (AF) and many other small things that we will find in many more. Revaluation. Suffice it to say, this is the best crop-sensor mirrorless camera Sony has ever offered. With these new features comes a slightly higher price of Rs 1,17,990 for body only. Is Sony A6600 premium? It’s time to find out.
Sony A6600 design
The body of the A6600 will look very familiar if you have used any of the previous models in this series. However, there is one big difference: the camera grip is much larger for larger batteries. For the first time, the Sony A6600 uses a battery from its full-frame mirrorless models, offering 800 shots per charge. This is a huge step up from the previous 350-400 shot per charge that has been rated for other A6XXX models. Greater grip means that this camera is more comfortable to hold for a long time. The body is made from a magnesium alloy and is said to be dust and moisture-resistant.
The buttons are ergonomically laid back, and most of them can be customized, including labeled. The above mode dial offers general shooting modes, including the dedicated S&Q (slow and fast) mode, which we saw on the A6400. Sony has dropped the pop-up flash on this model, but you’ll still get a hotshu for external flash.
The A6600’s left ports now include a headphone jack with a simple microphone, micro-USB, and micro-HDMI port. We’re a little disappointed that Sony hasn’t yet reached the USB Type-C standard for this series.
The rear 3-inch touchscreen has a 921K dot resolution and can be flipped 180 degrees, making it easy to take selfies or frame shots while vlogging. There’s a three-second timer that automatically enables stills when the screen flips. It can also be tilted downwards, giving you fair flexibility when you need to shoot at odd angles. You will also find a 0.39-inch OLED electronic viewfinder with a resolution of 2.35 million dot.
Overall, the A6600 feels extremely well-built and sturdy, just like you would expect from a premium Sony camera. The small body makes it easy to fit in any bag and its weight is very controllable at 503g. Once you press the lens on the body, the ratio increases exponentially. Sony has sent us an 18-135mm zoom lens with camera body. We’ve found it to be fairly versatile for casual shooting, but the aperture range of f / 3.5 to f / 5.6 doesn’t make for low light shots. Still, as a starter lens, we managed to get decent results with it.
Sony A6600 Specifications and Features
The Sony A6600 has a 24.2-megapixel cropped (APS-C) CMOS sensor with a native ISO range of 100-32,000. It can be extended to 50-1,02,400 and you can set a threshold for the maximum ISO you can use the camera while shooting. Burst shooting top out at 11fps (high + mode) in live-view and silent shutter mode and 8fps.
The buffer isn’t too big to hold a burst shot, and Sony claims that it can only hold 115 JPEG frames or 46 RAW files at a time. This is much less than the 269 JPEGs and 107 RAW files that the A6500 was capable of. The camera uses a single SD card next to the battery, but it only supports UHS-I speeds and not UHS-II.
One of the highlights of the A6600 is its AI focus tracking capabilities. The sensor has 425 phase detection autofocus (PDAF) points and the same number of contrast detection AF points, making it able to lock focus in just 0.02 seconds, according to Sony. This is not entirely new, since Sony’s own A6400 had the same setup that we tested a year ago.
Face and eye tracking is still very reliable and kick in as soon as you press the shutter button halfway. There is also real-time eye autofocus for animals and it worked decently when we tried it. The camera also has in-body 5-axis stabilization to help reduce blur in stills when using high zoom levels.
The A6600 also has some fantastic Nifty video capabilities. In addition to being able to shoot up to 4K 30fps with full pixel readout, the camera also supports advanced image profiles like S-Log2, S-Log3 and HLG for HDR workflow. This is Sony’s first APS-C camera that offers eye autofocus when shooting video.
For smartphone connection, the A6600 supports NFC, 2.4GHz Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Last year, Sony finally replaced its Play Memories companion app with the new Imaging Edge mobile, which is easier to use and set up. You can use it to wirelessly copy photos to your phone, either in their original size or in smaller sizes. You can even use your phone’s display as a viewfinder to remotely control the camera.
Sony A6600 Performance and Battery Life
The A6600 has the same native maximum ISO as the A6400, which is 32,000, and our ISO test results were similar. Clarity and sharpness were very well preserved from ISO 100 to around ISO 800, where we started to see very small grains. Jumping to ISO 3,200, we noticed some slight distortion along the edge of the pencil, but nothing too scary. At ISO 12,800, the pencil edges began to lose definition, but again, this was only noticeable in 100 percent of the crop. Grain was also visible but there was still no chroma sound.
At a maximum native ISO of 32,000, the image had very visible artwork without the need to zoom in. Using any ISO above this level does not yield favorable results, so we recommend limiting it to around 25,600 for a relatively good balance. Fast shutters and low grain, while handheld shooting at night.
When shooting outside in daylight, the A6600 rarely stumbled and was always on point when focusing on what we wanted. We chose to use the camera’s ‘Expand Flexible Spot’ AF mode, but others were also reliable. There is tracking AF, which has worked well on people and objects alike. The landscape had very good details, and the colors were richly represented. The dynamic range was also quite impressive. We noticed some light vignetting in the corners of the frame at higher zoom levels, but considering you have 24 megapixels to play with, we found it easier to simply crop the images in the desired frame later.
The close-up shots were very well managed. Despite the slightly narrow aperture range, some very nice depth-of-field effects have been found using some zoom for our close-ups. A large number of autofocus points make it very easy to capture fast moving objects like birds. Even at full zoom, the camera can keep our subject locked and locked for the duration of the explosion. One thing to note is that since the buffer is not very large, you actually have to wait a bit before reviewing your shots, which sometimes becomes a bit annoying. The touchscreen is very responsive and can be used to quickly change the focus area and review your images. However, it still cannot be used to navigate menus.
In low-light conditions, the A6600 still focuses quickly, and we only notice some prey when shooting remote objects or when fully zooming. The dynamic range was also quite good, and the in-body stabilization also worked very well when shooting from a moving car. In very low light, we noticed some grains in the photo, but the reason was that we were shooting in the highest native ISO setting. It yields more optimal results in drop down.
Video performance is equally good. We were initially shooting in 4K and were quite impressed with the details and colors that the A6600 could capture. Focusing was again very reliable and a simple tap on the viewfinder would transfer focus smoothly between subjects. Faces are tracked automatically but can be disabled if needed. Depending on your shooting style you can set the speed at which the focus and tracking will change.
The A6XXX series typically fights for great battery life, especially when recording video. All that changes with the A6600 is thanks to the much larger battery life. With the camera in airplane mode, we noticed that after taking more than 1,000 shots, there was about 25 percent left in the battery. Even shooting 4K video does not cause as much damage to the battery level as we have experienced with older models. You can also charge the camera (with battery inside) through the power bank.
The A6600 seems to be the most complete APS-C mirrorless camera ever from Sony. It gets the best bits of A6500 and A6400 with many big battery bonuses Also, things like headphone sockets, flip-up LCDs and quick tracking autofocus make this camera very suitable for vlogging. That’s not to say it’s perfect – we still want Sony to upgrade to a USB Type-C port and add faster charging; Let’s use touchscreen in the menu; And maybe add support for UHS-II speed SD cards too
Coming at a price, the A6600 is a little expensive. Camera body and 18-135mm kit lens together cost Rs. 1,51,990, although you can sell them for around Rs 20,000 less online. Note that the A6500 with the same lens will now be available under Rs 1,00,000, so unless you have an absolutely large battery and need to focus a little faster, the previous model is still a good option.
Overall, the Sony A6600 is a great option if you’re looking for a do-it-all mirrorless camera or just want to upgrade from an entry-level model.
- Body only: Rs. 1,17,990
- With 18-135mm lens – Rs. 1,51,990