If you are looking to buy a new camera, Sony has been making it pretty hard to not choose one of theirs. They throw all of the features at all of their cameras and beg you to try them out. It’s clear that Sony listens to their users, and with this camera, they have finally made a camera in the a6000 line that checks all the boxes.
The a6600 is the final realization of an APS-C camera with all the strengths of the a7 line, without the larger price tag. But that begs the question, if they are giving us all this value in this version, will Sony turn around and release something even better next year? Sony releases a lot of cameras, but they also lead in innovation.
Whatever your view on Sony’s release schedule, they brought it with the a6600, but you’ll need to keep reading to find out how they did it.
The wide view
The a6600 holds many of the same features found in prior models and in other Sony camera lines. You still find both S-Log2 and S-Log3 as well as frame rates up to 120fps in HD and up to 30fps in UHD 4K.
The 24.2 Megapixel APS-C Exmor CMOS sensor has a typical 1.5 times crop factor. It’s paired with the latest BIONZ X processor. The camera also features 425 phase and contrast autofocus points. All of those features, however, are also found on the a6400 and a6100.
Like with previous models, you can flip up the rear monitor for a view of yourself while shooting a vlog or a selfie, as long as you are not using a shoe mount accessory. We like the ability to monitor yourself when shooting a vlog, plus the monitor gets bright enough to shoot in direct sun.
The a6600 also has in-body image stabilization (IBIS), also known as 5 axis sensor stabilization. That’s not in either the a6400 or the a6100, but it is found in the a6500.
What is new to the a6600 is the addition of the NP-FZ100 battery. That makes this the first a6000 camera with Sony’s new battery. It shares batteries with the a9, a9 II, a7R IV, a7R III and the a7 III.
It’s also the first in the line to have independent headphone and mic jacks; this is a big deal for video shooters. Add-in that it, along with the a6400, has no record time limit and you can see how transformative all of this innovation can be for video work.
Now that you have a general idea of what this camera can do, let’s jump into the specifics.
Image capture capabilities
The camera can capture up to 14-bit RAW still images and Sony says it has 14 stops of dynamic range when shooting in S-Log3. The maximum resolution of UHD 4K at 30fps offers full pixel readout without pixel binning.
Video capture is 8-bit at up to 100 megabits per second. This is acceptable for now, though it is one of the only features where other brands top Sony, specs-wise. We hope the next set of Sony alpha cameras have, at minimum, 10-bit video out the HDMI. However, 10-bit internal is more and more prevalent.
The image stabilization system on the a6600 is unchanged from the a6500, however, it’s still one of the features that sets the camera apart from its competition. 5-axis sensor stabilization means you’ll always have stabilization, regardless of the lens you attach to the camera.
Plus, if the lens being used has optical image stabilization that’s better than what the camera’s IBIS offers, the camera will yield to the better-performing stabilization.
Ergonomics of the a6600
The a6600 keeps with the form factor from the past, but it’s slightly taller than past cameras and is the heaviest a6000 camera yet. Like all other APS-C mirrorless cameras, it’s slightly smaller than is comfortable for those with larger hands, though the increase in height is welcome. The grip is also now deeper than before. It’s deep enough to hold it in one hand with confidence. We see the same buttons as prior cameras in the line, with loads of customization available. There are 11 buttons that can be assigned to 91 different functions.
Using the menu
Sony kept the menu simple on the a6600, and you can even make your own custom menu. Called “my menu”, you can include up to 30 menu items of your choosing for easier access to frequently used functions. On top of that, the menu itself is easy to navigate. The resolutions, frame rates, picture profiles and media format are a quick find. Additionally, the a6600 has all the shoot assists a video shooter needs with peeking, zebras, audio meters and a histogram.
The a6600 keeps with tradition and captures to SD cards. The single card slot is found within the battery compartment and requires an SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-I) card. Although there is only a single card slot, you can shoot a lower resolution and bitrate proxy at the same time as 4K.
The low-light performance when shooting video on the a6600 is better than typical. in our low-light tests, we look for where noise is introduced into the image and when that noise starts to color shift, affecting the color and sharpness of the image. To find those two numbers, we do an ISO ramp starting at ISO 100. We then double it until we get to the highest ISO of 32,000 while adjusting the shutter speed and aperture to counter the increase in light from a higher ISO.
For this camera, Noise starts at ISO 6400, which is higher than even other cameras that perform well in low light. From there, with each increase in ISO, the noise becomes more and more visible. At ISO 12,800 the image is still usable, but any higher and the noise color shifts. What this means is that you can shoot slower lenses with higher f-stops. No need for overly fast lenses with a low f-number to capture those low light situations.
Dynamic range tests
We then put Sony’s claim of 14 stops of dynamic range to the test. Shooting our DSC Labs Xyla 21 chart, we can measure how many stops of light the camera can capture. The chart offers 21 lights with each light one stop less light than the next. When shooting in the natural picture style, we saw 9 stops of dynamic range.
However, when switching over to S-Log3 in CineGamut 3, we saw 14+ stops of dynamic range. That’s impressive. When we first saw Sony’s claim, we were very skeptical, but alas, their claim is true.
Battery life and overheating
The battery life has been an issue with past a6000 cameras. Because the camera has no record limit, that means you’re going to be limited by either the media size or the battery life. With the new battery, we are happy to say that we got three hours of video capture on a single battery.
on the other hand, to keep the cost down, the camera doesn’t come with a dedicated charger, the camera must be used to re-charge the battery. A dedicated charger will run you just under $100.
Additionally, we did not see any overheating. We tested in a climate-controlled room out of direct sunlight.
Rolling shutter issues
Mirrorless cameras have had a history of having more rolling shutter effect issues than cameras with mirrors. When shooting in 4K, we did see some rolling shutter. It wasn’t the worst we have seen, but it’s not the best either. It’s there and will affect fast-moving objects or quick camera movements. In contrast, when shooting in HD, the camera shows very little rolling shutter effect.
Moving on to the autofocus function of this camera, it offers some impressive updates along with 425 phase and contrast AF points. When shooting stills, the camera offers real-time eye AF for animals. There is no more excuse for your out-of-focus cat and dog portraits. Moreover, if you are a wildlife photographer, animal eye tracking is a must.
The a6600 doesn’t offer animal eye AF for video, but it does have real-time tracking and face detect AF. When testing the real-time face detection for video, we shot a model under high key lighting with auto eye priority. We started the shot behind a light, blocking the full field of view. We then panned down to the model while pushing in. It took us three takes to get a shot without hunting. However, when it worked, it was spot on.
You have the ability to choose right or left eye priority depending on what suits your shot better. This would be useful to those who can set up their scene and controlling everything. However, in a real-world situation, we wouldn’t recommend relying on autofocus for important moments. Sure, use it when shooting off a gimbal — but not when you can pull a manual focus more accurately.
High-frame rate recording
Although not new to this camera, the a6600 can shoot up to 120 frames per second in HD. We were impressed by the quality of the image when shooting at 120 fps. The image is sharp and the color is good. You get 5 times slo-mo when you slow down 120fps to 24fps, which isn’t necessary for most cinematic slow motion. But, it’s great to have when needed.
When considering any interchangeable lens camera, you should consider what lenses you will need to get up and running for the work you do. Because the camera is affordable, it’s unlikely that one would have a huge budget for lenses.
Luckily because the a6600 is as sensitive as it is, you don’t need fast lenses. That means the lowest f-number is not as important as with other cameras. A fast lens is one with a low f-number like f2.8 and below. A simple rule of thumb is the faster the lens, the bigger the price.
Selecting a zoom lens
With that said, for shooting video, we recommend zoom lenses that have a constant aperture across the full focal length of the lens. For example, the Sony E PZ 18-105mm f/4 G OSS costs just $650. With the crop added in, you get an effective focal length of 27-157mm. That should be all you need for most shooting. It’s a great value and gives you lots of zoom for the money.
Selecting a prime lens
If you do need a wider aperture, we recommend opting to use primes. You will pay far less for a fast prime lens than you would if it was a zoom.
To assess what focal length you need for your type of shooting, do a quick test. Find a zoom lens and set it to the focal length of the lens you are considering, like 24mm, 35mm, 50mm or 85mm. then, tape the zoom in place. This will allow you to see what that focal length captures. Once you know what focal length works for you, you can shop for loads of affordable primes from Sony or a myriad of other manufacturers.
On top of Sony having several similar cameras to consider, other camera manufacturers have comparable options, too. We’re going to look at other APS-C mirrorless cameras from Canon, Nikon and Fujifilm.
Sony a6600 vs. Canon M6 Mark II
First up is the Canon M6 Mark II at $850. That’s $350 less than the a6600. It’s also 95 grams lighter and almost an inch shorter. The M6 Mark II sports a 32.5 MP sensor — 10.3MP greater than the a6600 — but it has no IBIS or log recording. It captures up to UHD 4K at 30fps, just like the a6600, and it has a bit higher rear monitor resolution at 1,040,000 Dot over the 921,600 Dot from the a6600.
What the M6 does not have is a headphone jack. It also comes with a 30-minute video record time limit. One more thing to consider: Canon only makes eight EF-M lenses, but there are lots of other third party lenses out there.
Sony a6600 vs. Nikon Z50
Next up is the Nikon Z50 for $860, or $340 less than the a6600. It’s 108 grams lighter, an inch taller and a bit thinner. It also has a top resolution of 4:2:0 UHD 4K in 8-bit with a bit-rate of 144mbps, 44mbps greater than the a6600.
Unlike the M6 Mark II, the Z50 has a lower resolution image sensor at 20.9MP. Its rear monitor is also a bit larger (.2 inches) and has a slightly higher resolution screen at 1,040,000 dots. The Z50 also has a 30 minute record time limit and is missing a headphone out and IBIS.
Sony a6600 vs. Fujifilm XT-3
Last is the Fujifilm XT-3 at $1,500; that’s $300 more than the a6600. However, it’s the only camera to offer a few notable feature differences. The first is that it can capture internal 4:2:0 DCI 4K at 10-bit at up to 400mbps. That’s a huge difference from the a6600, getting billions of colors over the millions offered in the a6600.
Additionally, it has two SD card slots that are separate from the battery compartment, unlike all of the other cameras mentioned, including the a6600. The sensor has a slightly greater resolution at 26.1MP, but the camera has a 30-minute record limit time. Lastly, it is the only camera mentioned outside the a6600 that features separate mic and headphone jacks.
Should you buy it?
If you are looking for a camera with loads of specs for a good price, the Sony a6600 is pretty hard to beat. If you have a past a6000 camera, then you’ll need to decide if the added features are worth paying for the upgrade. That worth is dependent on the work you are going to do with it. It’s not the best price for an APS-C mirrorless camera, but its long list of features gives it many reasons for the added cost.
This is the first a6000 camera that doesn’t have significant flaws that make it a more difficult camera to shoot video on. With the combination of no record limit, a long battery life, superb dynamic range and both a mic and headphone jack, it’s a great camera for video work. It’s the best deal you can currently get.
- Mic and Headphone Jack
- Long battery life
- No record limit time
- Documentary Filmmaking and Journalism
- Run and gun videography where conditions are unpredictable and agility is key
- Corporate and Event Videography
- Situations where ease of use and reliability is more important than the film look
- Marketing Video Production
- Short form video produced on a schedule
- Lens Mount: Sony E
- Camera Format: PS-C (1.5x Crop Factor)
- Pixels Effective: 24.2 Megapixel
- Aspect Ratio: 1:1, 3:2, 16:9
- Sensor Type: CMOS
- Bit Depth: 14-Bit
- Image Stabilization: Sensor-Shift, 5-Axis
- ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 32000 (Extended: 100 to 102400)
- Continuous Shooting: Up to 11 fps at 24.2 MP for up to 46 Frames (Raw) / 116 Frames (JPEG)
- Interval Recording: Yes
- Recording Modes: XAVC S
- UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 24.00p/25p/29.97p [60 to 100 Mb/s]
- Full HD (1920 x 1080) at 100p/119.88p [60 to 100 Mb/s]
- Full HD (1920 x 1080) at 24.00p/25p/29.97p/50p/59.94p [50 Mb/s]
- Full HD (1920 x 1080) at 50i/59.94i [17 to 24 Mb/s]
- External Recording Modes 4:2:2 8-Bit
- UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 24.00p/25p/29.97p
- Full HD (1920 x 1080) at 24.00p/50i/50p/59.94i/59.94p
- Focus Mode Automatic (A), Continuous-Servo AF (C), Direct Manual Focus (DMF), Manual Focus (M), Single-Servo AF (S)
- Autofocus Points: Phase Detection: 425, Contrast Detection: 425
- Viewfinder: Electronic (OLED)
- Size: 0.39″
- Resolution: 2,359,296 Dot
- Monitor: 180° Tilting Touchscreen LCD
- Size: 3″
- Resolution: 921,600 Dot
- Memory Card Slot: SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-I)
- Connectivity: 3.5mm Headphone, 3.5mm Microphone, HDMI D (Micro), Micro-B (USB 2.0)
- Battery: 1 x NP-FZ100 Rechargeable Lithium-Ion, 7.2 VDC, 2280 mAh (Approx. 810 Shots)
- Dimensions (W x H x D): 4.72 x 2.63 x 2.73″ / 120 x 66.9 x 69.3 mm
- Weight: 1.11 lb / 503 g (Body with Battery and Memory)