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Sony Alpha A6600 (ILCE-6600) Review

We review the Sony Alpha A6600 - Sony's flagship 24mp APS-C mirrorless camera. It features 4K video recording, 5-axis image stabilisation, high-speed focus, and extended battery life.

| Sony Alpha A6600 in Mirrorless Cameras
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Sony Alpha A6600 (ILCE-6600) Review: Sony Alpha A6600 (14)

Quick Verdict

Whilst there are numerous things we'd like to see improved with the Sony Alpha A6600, we can't ignore the excellent photo and video quality, as well as the impressive battery life, thanks to the use of the Z series battery.

+ Pros

  • Great image quality
  • Fast focus system - with eye detection
  • In-body image stabilisation
  • Headphone socket added
  • Greatly improved battery life
  • Wide range of E-mount lenses

- Cons

  • MicroUSB, not USB Type-C
  • 16:9 aspect ratio screen - small viewing experience for stills
  • 3inch screen is also low-resolution
  • NTSC / PAL switch to change frame rates
  • Limited touch-screen operation
  • Complicated, long-winded menus

Sony Alpha A6600 (ILCE-6600) Review: Sony Alpha A6600 (4)

The Sony Alpha A6600 is Sony's flagship APS-C E-Mount camera, with a 24mp APS-C CMOS sensor, 4K video recording, and adopting the Z-series battery from the Sony Alpha A7 range, it now offers double the battery life. It updates the Sony A6500, and sits at the top of the range with the A6400, see how these compare here.


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Sony Alpha A6600 Features

Sony Alpha A6600 (ILCE-6600) Review: Sony Alpha A6600 (1)

The Sony Alpha A6000 series is part of Sony's APS-C mirrorless cameras, and have always used the "rangefinder" style of a compact camera, with a flat top, and electronic viewfinder (EVF) on the left. Each new camera may look the same, or very similar, but by improving on what Sony already have, they have continued to deliver improvements. The Sony Alpha A6600 is the flagship device in the range and has the best of all the current A6000 series, as well as a number of new features.

Some of the stand-out features of the Sony Alpha A6600 include:

  • Fast autofocus - "4D Focus" - real-time tracking / real-time eye AF for both humans and animals, 0.02s auto-focus speeds, with 425 phase-detection AF points built-in to the sensor.
  • Image stabilisation - 5-axis image stabilisation, with up to 5-stops in-body image stabilisation (IBIS) that moves the sensor to counter pitch, yaw, horizontal, vertical, and roll.
  • 24mp APS-C CMOS sensor - offering 11fps continuous shooting with AF/AE - or 8fps using silent continuous shooting
  • Extended battery life - with Sony's Z series battery, which is used in the A7 / A9 cameras, the camera now offers up to 820 shots.
  • Weather-sealing - dust and moisture-resistant magnesium alloy body
  • 4K HDR (Hybrid Log-Gamma) video recording - with full pixel readout, in Super35 format, without pixel binning, to record-high levels of detail.

The camera offers 720 shots using the EVF or up to 820 shots using the LCD screen!

Using the Sony E mount, there is a wide range of E-mount APS-C and Full-frame lenses available, and with the introduction of the A6600, Sony introduced two new APS-C lenses, the E 16-55mm f/2.8 G Series, and the E 70-350mm f/4.5-6.3 G OSS, bring the total to 54 Sony lenses available. However, that doesn't include the wide range of lenses available from Tamron, Samyang, Sigma, Tokina, Zeiss, and other third parties.

The A6600 camera has P, A, S, M shooting modes, giving you full manual controls. There are two custom modes, a dedicated movie mode, plus an S&Q (slow and quick) video mode for high-speed/slow-motion video, as well as Auto (intelligent), and Scene modes for beginners.

For stills photography, there are "Creative styles" that let you pick the "Colour" such as Vivid, Standard, Landscape, Neutral, etc, with options for contrast, saturation, and sharpness. There are "Picture Effects" where you'll find the digital filters, with "Toy Camera" and other creative filters.

For video, there are also "Picture Profiles" where you can set up different profiles with video-centric options, including settings for the black level, gamma, black gamma, knee, saturation, colour mode, saturation, colour phase, colour depth, detail, as well as options to copy the profile and reset the profile. Colour mode includes the options videographers will be looking for, including movie, still, cinema, pro, ITU709 Matrix, Black and White, S-Gamut, S-Gamut3, Cine, BT.2020, and 709. The Gamma setting has options for Cine1-4, ITU709, ITU709 (800%), S-Log2,3, HLG, HLG1,2,3 plus more.

The S-Log3, S-Log2 gamma curves are good for later grading, whilst HLG allows instant HDR playback with compatible devices. The camera has a 3.5mm microphone and headphone sockets. Using the Slow and Quick option you can record FullHD video at speeds up to 120/100fps depending on whether you're using NTSC or PAL.

Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and NFC are built-in, and NFC can be used to more quickly connect to your smartphone if your phone has NFC built-in. If yours doesn't then you can use a QR code displayed on the camera to set up the initial connection.

Sony Alpha A6600 (ILCE-6600) Review: Sony Alpha A6600 (8)

Key Features

  • 24.2mp APS-C CMOS sensor
  • 5-axis in-body image stabilisation
  • 3inch tilting touch-screen, 921K dots
  • OLED EVF, 2359K dot
  • 11fps continuous shooting, with AF
  • 200,000 shutter life rating
  • ISO 50 to ISO102400 (Extended)
  • 14-bit raw image output
  • 425 AF points / fast Hybrid AF
  • 4K 30p internal recording, in HDR
  • Real-time Eye AF for movies
  • Microphone, headphone sockets
  • Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and NFC
  • Dust and moisture-resistant magnesium alloy body
  • Z battery - 720 shot battery life

Sony Alpha A6600 Handling

Sony Alpha A6600 (ILCE-6600) Review: Sony Alpha A6600 (13)

The rubber covered grip is noticeably larger, in order to accommodate the Z series battery, giving the camera double the battery life of other A6x00 cameras, this also makes it more comfortable to hold, even when using larger lenses, such as the 18-135mm lens. The rubber grip can also be found on the back of the camera, with a protruding edge for your thumb and thanks to the rubber grip extending to the bottom corner of the camera, the camera is comfortable to hold, for longer.

With metal construction, the camera feels strong and robust, with very good build quality. Even the battery compartment cover feels solid and dependable.

In terms of controls, there is a good layout, that will be familiar to Sony users. It's optimised to enable the use of the camera with one hand, however, it would aid ease of use if there was a front command wheel/dial as with the current setup you need to use your thumb to set both aperture and shutter when in manual mode. There are a number of customisable buttons, C1 to C4.

Auto Focus (AF) options: There are numerous AF options, including AF-S, AF-A (Auto), AF-C, DMF (Direct Manual Focus), MF, although these become more limited in video mode (with AF-C and MF being the only options). There are face and eye-detection AF options, including the option to specify that you'd like it to detect humans or animals (presumably in the future they'll introduce a feature to automatically detect whether it's a human or an animal, as at the moment it seems awkward that you have to specify), as well as focus area options, including focus area limit. The continuous AF works when shooting continuously even when shooting at 11fps with the mechanical shutter, or 8fps when using the electronic shutter. Eye-AF works well for both human and non-human subjects, although you do have to specify animals in the menus before it will detect animal eyes. Autofocus in low-light was better than expected, and the camera's AF system is sensitive down to -2 EV. We had a good success rate (as can be seen in the sample photos), and the AF covers a wide area of the frame.

The 3inch screen has a 16:9 aspect ratio, which helps keep the camera smaller, and is great for recording 16:9 video, however for 3:2 aspect ratio photos, you end up with two sidebars giving you a smaller view. The resolution of 921K is reasonable, as the screen looks clear and detailed, however, this is definitely on the lower end of the scale compared to other cameras, and the screen can easily look crowded with text on default settings. You can tilt the screen forwards for selfies and vlogging, and viewability is good.

The electronic viewfinder (EVF) has a resolution of 2.69m dots, and with eye-detection, the camera will automatically switch between the rear screen or the EVF. The view is clear, and colour reproduction matches the screen. There's also dioptre correction. The rubber surround is soft and comfortable but does get in the way of the tilting screen at times, so you may want to leave it in the box.

Sony Alpha A6600 (ILCE-6600) Review: Sony Alpha A6600 (6)

The menus remain long-winded and complicated. The first photo menus have 14 pages of options and contain a mixture of photo and video options, with three pages of AF options. The second "Photo" menus cover 9 pages of options and start with movie settings, but then after three pages goes back to a mixture of photo and movie options. It would be really useful if Sony had a set of "Movie" options, or a set of "AF" options, in their own dedicated area (like many other cameras), and you could quickly go to these. As it stands you can end up searching through every menu option to find the setting you're looking for.

It's not that we're complaining about the vast number of options and settings, far from it, more options on a camera are a good thing, but if they could be more neatly organised so that they were easier to find, then that would help. Smartphones, for example, let you search for an option or setting, perhaps a camera company could introduce this feature.

However, one saving grace is the inclusion of "MyMenu" where you can start to add your favourite settings so that you can more quickly access them.

You can customise the Function (Fn) menu, however, the camera doesn't offer different Function menu screens for video and stills, even though Sony introduced this to other recent models such as the RX100 VII, and A7R IV. Surely with such a video-capable device, this would have been an essential (or nice) feature to include on the A6600?

The camera includes a touch-screen, however, you can't use this for the menus, or the function menu, and even in playback it's only function is to let you zoom in to an image and scroll around the image. You can't, for example, swipe between photos. In the photo mode, the touch-screen can be used to set the focus point, and that's about it.

Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and NFC are built-in, and NFC can be used to more quickly set up a connection to your smartphone if your phone has NFC built-in. If your smartphone doesn't then you can use a QR code displayed on the camera to connect. We used Sony's Imaging Edge Mobile app to connect to the smartphone, however, on several occasions, it took two attempts to connect before the transfer of photos was possible.

Sony Alpha A6600 (ILCE-6600) Review: Sony Alpha A6600 (10)

Battery life - With the new, larger, Z series battery, the NP-FZ100, battery life is greatly improved. Battery life is rated at 720 or 810 shots depending on whether you're using the viewfinder or the LCD screen, with the LCD screen giving better battery life. You can also record up to 150 minutes of video using the LCD screen, although there is a 29 minute limit on each video clip.

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Photographs taken using the Sony Alpha A6600

The Scooter BoysAliceModel in Frame...Cairngorm PlateauYour Move...Cairngorm PlateauSeal FamilySamuraiGaggle of Delivery CyclistThe unnoticed side of CheltenhamSitting at 21He's on the PhoneHappy Buddha Nails

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RayBeck Avatar
RayBeck 18 43 United Kingdom
6 Feb 2020 8:04AM
You say that the camera gives "Great image quality" and yet suggest that it would be better with a different sensor. Can you explain why please?
joshwa Avatar
joshwa Plus
13 927 1 United Kingdom
6 Feb 2020 8:53AM

Quote:You say that the camera gives "Great image quality" and yet suggest that it would be better with a different sensor. Can you explain why please?

Hi Ray, yes the camera gives great image quality, however, considering the camera is Sony's flagship camera, and Sony are the leaders in sensor technology, it's a shame it doesn't feature a BSI CMOS sensor, as this would take the image quality to the next level. As we said in the conclusion, considering APS-C BSI CMOS sensors are available, and in use by other people, why isn't Sony using the best available sensors in it's flagship product?

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