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Sony Alpha A6100 ILCE-6100 Review

Sony's new 24mp APS-C mirrorless camera, the Sony Alpha A6100 offers 4K video recording, high-speed shooting, and rapid focus. Does it perform, and is it worth the price? Find out in our review.


|  Sony Alpha A6100 in Mirrorless Cameras
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Sony Alpha A6100 Black (14)
 

The Sony Alpha A6100 is the long-awaited update to the Sony Alpha A6000, and as such is Sony's new entry-level mirrorless camera. With a price tag of around £800, Sony has added 4K video recording, and what they're claiming is the fastest AF system available.


Sony Alpha A6100 Features

Sony Alpha A6100 Black (12)

The Sony Alpha A6100 features the latest focus system from Sony, promising the fastest and most accurate autofocus system available, with 425 phase-detection AF points, which work with contrast-detection AF, giving focus speeds of 0.02s. AF tracking includes eye auto-focus, with eye-tracking, and this works with both humans and animals. Autofocus is effective down to -2 EV.

There's a 24.2 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, with 14-bit raw output... the camera uses the Sony E-mount, and Sony has recently introduced new E-mount lenses, including the E 16-55mm f/2.8 G lens, with a constant aperture of f/2.8 available, and a new 70-350mm f/4.5-6.3 G OSS super-telephoto zoom lens. The camera offers 11fps continuous shooting, with continuous AF / AE (Auto-focus, Auto exposure).

The camera has P, A, S, M shooting modes, giving you full manual controls, plus there's an MR setting (Memory Recall) with several different "memories" so you can set up the camera for a specific shooting scenario. You'll also find Auto, Scene modes, S&Q (Slow and Quick Motion), Sweep Panorama.

You'll find the usual Creative styles (Standard, Vivid, Portrait, Landscape etc), and Picture Effect (digital filters) available, as well as the ability to add image ratings in playback, which is a welcome addition to the camera.

You'll also find 4K UHD video recording at frame rates up to 30fps (NTSC). You'll also find FullHD video recording (60/50fps), and high-speed FullHD video recording at speeds up to 120fps. There's a microphone socket on the side, plus a "selfie" screen that can be tilted so that you can view it when facing the camera, means it could be a good option for vlogging. More on this later.

Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and NFC are built-in, and if your smartphone supports NFC connections, then this can speed up the process of pairing the camera to your smartphone.

Sony Alpha A6100 Black (11)

Key Features

  • 24.2mp APS-C CMOS sensor
  • 3inch tilting touch-screen (16:9 aspect)
  • 1440K dot OLED EVF, 0.70x magnification
  • 425 AF points, fast Hybrid AF (PDAF)
  • 11fps continuous shooting speed, with AF
  • Real-time Face-detection and Eye-AF
  • Built-in pop-up flash
  • 4K UHD 30/25/24fps video recording
  • FullHD at speeds up to 120/100fps
  • Microphone socket
  • ISO100 to ISO32000 (Native) ISO51200 (Extended)

Sony Alpha A6100 Handling

Sony Alpha A6100 Black (6)

The camera uses a plastic construction, with areas that are made from metal, including the hinge for the screen, the control wheel on the top corner is also metal, and the tripod mount, as well as the lens mount (there's also a metal frame around the battery and memory compartment). This gives some of the camera the impression of a solidly built camera, however, the finish on some of the plastic, the top particularly could be better (perhaps with a speckled finish).

The camera feels good in the hand, however, thanks to the large rubber grip on the right-hand side, which features textured rubber all the way round to the back. The video record button is on the corner and slightly recessed so that you don't accidentally press it. This can make it a little tricky to press at times, but after a while, you do get used to it.

Not much has changed, externally, when comparing the A6100 to the 5-year-old A6000. I guess the old saying "If it isn't broken, don't fix it" could have been applied to the camera.

The electronic viewfinder (EVF) looks good, with a reasonable resolution of 1.44m dots, but this is looking slightly dated compared to some cameras. Colour reproduction is excellent, and the view through the viewfinder gives a very good replication of what the photo will look like, with good dynamic range, and colour production. The EVF refreshes quite smoothly.

The screen is a 3inch 16:9 aspect ratio touch-screen, with 921K dots. The resolution is a little lower than other cameras, and the 16:9 aspect ratio means that standard 3:2 aspect ratio photos have black borders on the left and right-hand sides. However, the 16:9 aspect ratio is perfect for video recording. We also found that the contrast appeared a little too high at times when viewing images, leading us to think that images might be over-exposed. The EVF didn't give us the same over-exposed look. The refresh rate on the screen also seemed slower than the EVF.

Sony Alpha A6100 Black (2)

Menus – The Sony menus continue to be spread over a number of pages, with photo and video options spread across the two Photo menu sections. It'd be nice if all of the video options were grouped into a "Video" section for easier and quicker access, and many other companies have done this. You can't use the touch-screen to scroll through the options or change settings, and this is the same with the Function (on-screen) controls. However, one nice feature is the "MyMenu" section where you can add your favourite options, to give quicker access. The camera doesn't offer Sony's PlayMemories apps anymore.

The camera has high-speed AF tracking, with "real-time" tracking, including eye-AF for humans and animals. The AF area covers a wide area of the sensor, almost all of it, with 425 phase-detection points, and 425 contrast-detection points, for improved accuracy. Focus sensitivity is down to -2 EV, with an AF illuminator helping. You can use the touch-screen to set the focus point. In use, focus was extremely rapid.

The camera features built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, and with built-in NFC on the side, it can be easy and quick to set up a connection to your smartphone, as long as it's got built-in NFC.

Sony Alpha A6100 Black (9)

Battery life - Battery life is rated at 380 shots using the viewfinder, or 420 shots using the LCD screen. The battery can be charged in the camera, meaning you can easily charge the camera when needed, using the MicroUSB connection. There's also a microphone socket on the side, an update over the original A6000.


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