Sony’s Alpha-series APS-C mirrorless cameras have long been a popular choice for casual and enthusiast photographers because of their ease of use, great performance, and portability. Sony is churning out new iterations of the A6000 series like clockwork and it launched its latest flagship camera, the A6600, in late 2019.
This camera builds on the already powerful A6500 with a bigger battery, even faster autofocus, a flip-up LCD display, eye autofocus (AF) for video, and many more little things that we’ll get to next. will do. review. Suffice to say, this is the best cropped-sensor mirrorless camera Sony has ever offered. Along with these new features, also comes a slightly higher price tag of Rs. 1,17,990 for the body only. Is the Sony A6600 worth the premium? It’s time to find out.
Sony A6600 Design
If you’ve used any of the previous models in this series the body of the A6600 will look very familiar. However, there is one big difference: The camera grip is much bigger due to the bigger battery. Sony has used the battery of its full-frame mirrorless model for the first time in the A6600, which is said to deliver 800 shots per charge. This is a big step up from the previous 350-400 shots per charge that other A6XXX models are rated for. The bigger grip also means that this camera is more comfortable to hold for long periods of time. The body is made of a magnesium alloy and is said to be dust and moisture resistant.
The buttons are ergonomically placed on the back, and most of them can be customized, including the labeled ones. The Mode dial on the top offers the usual shooting modes, including the dedicated S&Q (slow and quick) mode, which we saw on the A6400. Sony has omitted the pop-up flash on this model, but you still get a hotshoe for the external flash.
Ports on the left side of the A6600 now include a headphone jack, along with the usual microphone, micro-USB, and micro-HDMI ports. We’re a little disappointed that Sony hasn’t switched to the USB Type-C standard for this series yet.
The rear 3-inch touchscreen has 921K dot resolution and can be flipped up 180 degrees, making it easy to take selfies or frame a shot while vlogging. There’s a three-second timer that’s automatically enabled for stills when the screen is flipped. It can also be tilted downwards, giving you plenty of flexibility when you need to shoot at odd angles. You also get a 0.39-inch OLED electronic viewfinder with 2.35 million dot resolution.
Overall, the A6600 feels extremely well built and sturdy, as you’d expect from a premium Sony camera. The small body makes it easy to slip into any bag, and at 503 grams its weight is very manageable. The proportions increase markedly once you slap a lens on the body. Sony has sent us an 18-135mm zoom lens with the camera body. We found it versatile enough for casual shooting, but the aperture range of f/3.5 to f/5.6 doesn’t make for great shots in low light. Still, as a starter lens, we did manage to get decent results with it.
Sony A6600 Specifications and Features
The Sony A6600 features a 24.2-megapixel cropped (APS-C) CMOS sensor, with a native ISO range of 100-32,000. This can be increased to 50-1,02,400 and you can set a range for the maximum ISO the camera can use while shooting. Burst shooting tops out at 11fps (in Hi+ mode) and 8fps in live-view and silent shutter modes.
The buffer isn’t huge for holding burst shots, and Sony claims it can only hold 115 JPEG frames or 46 RAW files at a time. This is far less than the 269 JPEG and 107 RAW files the A6500 was capable of. The camera uses a single SD card placed next to the battery, but it only supports up to UHS-I speeds, not UHS-II.
One of the highlights of the A6600 is its AI focus tracking capability. According to Sony, the sensor has 425 phase detection autofocus (PDAF) points and the same number of contrast detection AF points, capable of locking focus in just 0.02 seconds. This isn’t brand new, as Sony’s own A6400 that we tested a year ago had the same setup.
Face and eye tracking are still very reliable and start immediately when you half-press the shutter button. There’s also real-time eye autofocus for animals, and it worked decently well when we tried it. The camera also has in-body 5-axis stabilization to help reduce blur in stills when using higher zoom levels.
The A6600 also has some pretty good video capabilities. In addition to being able to shoot at up to 4K 30fps with full pixel readout, the camera also supports advanced picture profiles such as S-Log2, S-Log3, and HLG for HDR workflows. It’s also Sony’s first APS-C camera to offer eye autofocus while shooting video.
For smartphone connectivity, the A6600 supports NFC, 2.4GHz Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth. Last year, Sony finally replaced its Play Memory companion app with the new Imaging Edge mobile, which is easier to use and set up. You can use it to copy photos to your phone wirelessly, either in their original size or at a reduced size. You can also use your phone’s display as a viewfinder to control the camera remotely.
Sony A6600 performance and battery life
The A6600 has the same basic maximum ISO as the A6400, which is 32,000, and our ISO test results were similar as well. Clarity and sharpness were preserved very well from ISO 100 to ISO 800, where we began to see very slight grain. Jumping to ISO 3,200, we saw some slight distortion along the edges of the pencil, but nothing terrible. At ISO 12,800, the edges of the pencil began to lose definition, but once again, it was only noticeable at 100 percent crop. Grain was also visible but no chroma noise yet.
At the highest native ISO of 32,000, the image had a lot of visible artifacting, even without the need to zoom in. Using any ISO above this level doesn’t yield favorable results, so we’d recommend narrowing it down to around 25,600 for a good balance between a relatively high and low resolution. Faster shutter and less grain when shooting handheld at night.
When shooting outside in broad daylight, the A6600 rarely stumbled and was always on point when it came to focusing on what we wanted. We preferred using the camera’s ‘Expand Flexible Spot’ AF mode, but others were also reliable. There’s Tracking AF, which worked well on people and objects alike. The landscape had great detail, and colors were richly represented. Dynamic range was also quite impressive. We noticed some mild vignetting in the corners of the frame at higher zoom levels, but given that you have 24 megapixels to play with, we later found it easier to simply crop the images to the desired frame.
Close-up shots were handled very well. Despite the slightly narrow aperture range, using a bit of the zoom for our close-ups yielded some pretty decent depth-of-field effects. The large number of autofocus points also made it very easy to capture fast-moving objects such as birds. Even at full zoom, the camera was quick to track our subject and stay locked for the duration of the burst. One thing to note is that since the buffer isn’t huge, there’s a bit of a wait before you can actually review your shots, which is a bit annoying at times. The touchscreen is very responsive and can be used to quickly change the focus area and review your pictures. However, it still can’t be used to navigate menus.
In low-light scenarios, the A6600 still focuses quickly and we only noticed a bit of hunting when shooting distant objects or at full zoom. Dynamic range was also pretty good, and in-body stabilization worked great even when shooting from a moving vehicle. In very low light, we noticed a bit of graininess in photos, but that’s because we were shooting at the highest native ISO setting. Knocking it down yielded more favorable results.
Video performance is equally good. We were shooting primarily at 4K and were quite impressed with the details and colors the A6600 could capture. Focusing was once again very reliable and a simple tap on the viewfinder would switch focus between subjects with ease. Faces are automatically tracked but can be disabled if necessary. You can also set the speed at which focus and tracking change, depending on your shooting style.
The A6XXX series generally struggles to deliver great battery life, especially while recording videos. All that changes with the A6600, thanks to its more beefy battery. With the camera in Airplane mode, we saw about 25 percent left in battery after taking over 1,000 shots. Even shooting 4K video doesn’t have as big an impact on battery levels as we experienced with older models. You can also charge the camera (with the battery inside) via the power bank.
The A6600 seems to be the most complete APS-C mirrorless camera ever from Sony. It also gets the bonus of a much bigger battery, along with the best bits of the A6500 and A6400. Plus, things like the headphone socket, flip-up LCD, and fast tracking autofocus make this camera great for vlogging. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect – we’d still like to see Sony upgrade to a USB Type-C port and add fast charging; Let’s use the touchscreen in the menu; And maybe even add support for UHS-II speed SD cards.
Talking about the price, the A6600 is a bit expensive. The camera body and 18-135mm kit lens together cost Rs. 1,51,990, although you can get them for around Rs. Can be found for sale. 20,000 less online. Keep in mind that the A6500, with the same lens, can now be found for less than Rs. 1,00,000, so unless you absolutely need a bigger battery and slightly faster focus, the previous model is a good option.
Overall, the Sony A6600 is a great option if you’re looking for a 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