It’s been about 6 months since I bought my Sony A6000 camera. Ever since I changed my camera and shared some photos on my personal Facebook page and this blog, my friends have been asking me about the camera. Knowing how lazy I am when it comes to answering the same questions again and again, I am going to blog about it.
Firstly, I am not a photographer. I am just a mother who is always out with my kids and want to have a camera to take better photos of them.
But that being said, I think it is only fair that I tell you what I DO know about photography. Ever since getting the camera, I have been reading profusely about aperture, shutter speed and ISO. So most of the photos you see on this post were NOT taken in the camera’s Auto modes. They were taken in either aperture-priority or shutter-priority modes. Also, they were taken in RAW format with some basic post-processing done in Lightroom.
However I know nothing about focusing. Neither do I have steady hands. And I am definitely not bringing a tripod around when out with the kids. Hence, I am largely dependent on the camera’s ability to auto-focus and stabilize the images.
As you would know if you follow my blog, we visit indoor playgrounds a lot. Indoor playgrounds are usually not brightly lit. And the kids are constantly moving. These two factors have made it very difficult for me to get a clear shot of the kids.
As much as I would love to invest in a more professional DSLR to take photos of my kids in action, I was reluctant to lug a bulky camera around when out with the kids. So after reading about how mirrorless cameras compare to DSLRs, I decided a mirrorless camera suited my needs and budget.
In terms of sizing, the Sony A6000 was not that much bigger than my previous compact camera. It was an acceptable size for me to put into my diaper bag and bring around regularly.
Fast Continuous Shooting
One of the main features of the Sony A6000 that attracted me to it was its capability to take ‘continuous shots at an amazing 11fps’ with ‘ultra-fast hybrid auto-focus’ (whatever that is.. I just copied those words from Sony website). In layman terms, it means that I can just hold on to the button and the camera can shoot 11 shots in 1 second.
I almost always use this continuous shot function when my kids are playing and so far the results have worked well enough for me. To be fair, the photos I am only going to show you next are taken with the standard kit lens.
I have found this extremely useful for parents like me with limited photography knowledge and skill but want to take photos of the kids in action. Out of like the 20 photos I shoot in a row, I can usually find at least one decent shot.
And just to do a quick comparison with my old camera, here are photos I took at Katapult Trampoline Park with my old camera. I couldn’t get a single decent photo of MF while he was doing the free fall.
The next photo is a photo I took with the Sony A6000 at the same spot. See how much clearer MF is?
When I was using my old camera, I could never take a decent photo of my boys (who cannot stop moving) at night. Shortly after I bought the camera, it was GE2015. So I decided to bring the camera to the night rallies to see what I could do. I was quite happy with the photos I took of kids in action during the rally. Though, no, I’m not supposed to be happy that the boy got hit in the face by the ball.
And just to make sure nobody accuses me of being political, here is a bouncing ball at an opposition rally.
Sony A6000 with SEL50f18
SEL50f18 has a maximum aperture of f1.8 compared to maximum aperture of f3.5 on the standard kit lens. In layman terms, this means it is better able to isolate an object by blurring the background / foreground.
I generally prefer using this lens instead of the standard kit lens to take portraits of my kids.
A larger aperture also helps in taking photos of fast-moving objects. Using the ability of the camera to snap pictures at 11fps plus the large maximum aperture of the SEL50f18, I was able to capture the exact moment the bird flew through the ring that MF was holding during the show at Zoorasia.
Or jumping shots like this one from Shinjuku Gyoen:
Or shots like this one of MF doing a Tarzan at Hamamatsu Fruits Park:
Although the photo quality of the SEL50f18 is better than the standard kit lens, you need to stand very far away from the subject when using it. So in constrained spaces like inside a bouncy castle, I couldn’t use the SEL50f18 and had to go back to the standard kit lens.
Sony A6000 + SEL55210
The standard kit lens that came with the Sony A6000 was not able to zoom very far, which made it very difficult to, say, take photos of animals at the zoo. Hence, I bought the SEL55210 to take photos of faraway objects. With this, I was able to take close-ups at zoos and wildlife parks.
However, the SEL55210 lens is very heavy and bulky, so it is not meant for bringing around on a daily basis. I only bring it when I need it, like when visiting the zoo.
*UPDATE* Sony A6000 + Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN lens
Since writing this post, I have gone on to purchase one more lens: The Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN lens (Sony E-Mount). The reason I bought this lens was because I found myself having to take indoor shots a lot for the purpose of this blog: indoor playgrounds, indoor attractions, hotels, restaurants etc.
Many times the space was too tight to use my Sony 50mm lens. But the lighting was too dim and the photos taken with the kit lens came out too grainy. So I needed a lens with a wide aperture and shorter focal length.
For example I was taking photos at my friend’s kid’s birthday party recently. It was held in an indoor gym in the evening, so the lighting was very dim and my kit lens failed terribly. And the space was not big enough for me to be using a 50mm. So I ended up using the Sigma 30mm for the entire party.
Like most reviews out there mentions, the speed of focusing when I use a Sigma lens on the Sony A6000 was significantly slower than the speed of focusing when using my Sony lenses on the Sony A6000. Before I bought this Sigma lens, I was very used to the super fast focusing of the Sony lenses on the A6000. So when I first bought the Sigma lens, I felt a bit handicapped.
But in a way, the slower focusing forced me to be more careful when I take my photos. Rather than relying solely on the intelligence of the camera to guess where and what to focus on and hopefully get a sharp photo, I had to use some *ahem* skill to make the camera focus on what I want to focus.
I also had to learn to keep my hands a bit steadier with the Sigma lens because of the lack of OSS (Sony’s Optical SteadyShot™). When I first brought the Sigma lens to Gardens by the Bay to try photographing flowers with it, I came home with a lot of blur shots due to hand-shake. But I guess the saying ‘practice makes perfect’ is right. I learned to lock my elbows in, hold my breath, and *snap*!
When I first got the lens, I was missing a lot of shots, either due to the camera taking too long to focus or my hands being shaky. After lots of practicing, I got used to the focusing speed of the Sigma lens, learned to anticipate action so that I could get the shots in time, learned to hold my breathe and keep my hands steady, and was able to get the shots I needed *most* of the time. And now, this Sigma lens is my default lens to bring out.
But do note that the Sigma lens is pretty heavy in comparison to the kit lens and even the Sony 50mm f/1.8 lens!
When I was looking for a camera, I didn’t specifically try to find one that had WIFI capabilities. But since the Sony A6000 had it, I have been using it and now I am somewhat addicted to it.
The WIFI capability allowed me to transfer photos from my camera to my phone directly. Because of this, I have become a lot more active on Instagram (not sure if that’s a good thing actually).
Spotted this vibrant yellow flower which has dull greyish leaves at Flower Dome @gardensbythebay. I didn't photoshop it – the colours are natural. #bbmlocaltourist #gardensbythebay #gardensbythebaysingapore #flowerdome #marinabay #marinabaysands #singapore #singaporetrip #singaporetravel #mondayescapes #traveltuesday #wednesdaywanderlust #citytripping #airhead #airheadsflock #instatravel #instapassport #globetrotter #traveltheworld #sonycamera #sonyalpha6000 #sonya6000 #sel50f18 #sonyalpha #sonysg #sonyimages #nofilter #macro
Another benefit I have found was that I could take photos of my friends, transfer the photo to my phone and whatsapp the photo to them immediately.
As mentioned in the comparison between DSLR and Mirrorless cameras, mirrorless cameras are known to have poor battery life. I have found this to be true with the Sony A6000 and a spare battery has been mandatory for me. But that is partly due to my over-reliance on continuous shooting when taking photos of the boys in action. :p
Also, the USB charging cable charges the battery very slowly. So you may have to invest in an external battery charger to charge up the batteries faster, especially when on vacation.
Note also that to fully optimize the use of the continuous shooting function, you will need a very fast SD card. If you are already invested in the camera, don’t scrimp on the SD card.
I’m pretty happy with my Sony A6000. Like I mentioned, I am not a professional photographer. If you read reviews online about the camera from professional photographers, they often lament about the lack of quality lenses to go with the Sony A6000. Since I have limited budget, quality lenses are usually out of my budget anyway. The Sony A6000 is small enough for me to bring around regularly and it handles my kids’ movements well enough.
Currently, the RRP for the Sony A6000 is S$849 (body only) or S$1099 (with standard kit lens).
But I do find the standard kit lens pretty insufficient and I recommend you at least get the SEL50f18 as well if you are on a budget. Try to get a bundle (purchase-with-purchase) deal. I got mine under a purchase-with-purchase deal at Changi Airport for $200+. If you decide to purchase the SELF50f18 separately later on, the RRP is currently $449.
If you need to zoom far, there are several telephoto lenses available, but the only one within my budget was the SEL55210. RRP is currently $599. I got it under a purchase-with-purchase deal at Changi Airport for $200+.
Okay, I really cannot remember the exact prices I paid for each lens, but I bought them together and paid $500+. So they were like less than $300 each.
Overall, I think the camera and the two bundled lenses were extremely value for money. I now have photos of my kids that I am perfectly happy with.
If you are a professional photographer, go ahead and laugh at me being happy over my mediocre photos and trying to review a camera when I barely know anything about cameras and photography. This is not meant to be a professional technical camera review and I am not here to debate with professional photographers whether it is a good camera or not. It is just me answering to my friends who want to know more about the camera I am using after they saw my photos.
For More sample photos:
> Tulipmania @ Gardens by the Bay (Flower photos)
> Butahage @ Liang Court (Food photos)
> Tupperware® Hello Kitty Eco Bottles (Product photos)
> Amazonia (Indoor playground photos)
> Japan (Tokyo & Chiba) (Travel photos)
> Japan (Nagano & Gunma) (Animal photos)
> MOSH! (Low-light photos)
> Singapore Night Safari Thumbuakar Show (Fire show at night)
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