Sony Alpha a6600 Review

The Sony A6600 is Sony’s latest and greatest offering in its popular A6000-series APS-C mirrorless cameras. Its 24.2MP sensor and BIONZ X image processor are nothing particularly special, but Sony has gone to town with the A6600’s advanced autofocus and subject tracking capabilities.

Other new, high-end features include a weather-sealed magnesium alloy body that conceals in-body sensor-shift image stabilization and a high-capacity battery.

This is also a camera targeted squarely at video and vlogging. It boasts 4K HDR capture with no restriction on recording length, along with an integrated microphone socket for enhanced audio clarity, plus a built-in headphone input for sound monitoring.

Specifications

Sensor: 24.2MP APS-C CMOS
Image processor: BIONZ X
AF points: 425 phase/contrast-detection
ISO range: ISO 100-32,000 (51,000)
Max image size: 6000×4000 pixels
Metering modes: Multi-segment, Center-weighted, Spot (standard/large), Average, Highlight
Video: 4K 30/25/24p, 1080 120/60/30/25/24p
Viewfinder: EVF, 2,359k dots, 0.39 type
Memory card: 1x Memory Stick/SD/SDHC/SDXC (UHS-I)
LCD: 3.0-inch, 922k dots, tilting touchscreen
Max burst: 11fps, 46 raws, 116 JPEG
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC
Size: 120.0 x 66.9 x 69.3mm
Weight: 503g

Features

At the heart of the A6600 is Sony’s venerable 24.2MP APS-C sensor. We’ve seen it before in previous a6000-series cameras, and indeed, even the entry-level A6100 shares the same sensor and Sony’s Bionz X processor. However, this is no bad thing, as both come together to produce excellent image quality. Sensor sensitivity tops out ISO 32000 for stills (expandable to ISO 102,400), but it’s the sensor’s 5-axis image stabilization in-camera which is particularly impressive, especially in a camera this small. The system gives you up to 5 stops of stabilization and can work with lenses that don’t contain their own optical stabilization.

Other cutting-edge tech includes 0.02-second autofocus with Real-Time Tracking Autofocus and Real-time Eye AF for recognizing eyes in humans and animals to automatically keeping them in focus. 11 frames per second (fps) burst shooting is also amazing for an APS-C mirrorless camera, as are the A6600 video features.

As well as that Real-time Eye AF working for video – something step-down models in the range doesn’t feature – the A6600 boasts 4K movie recording within Super 35mm format, unlimited length video recordings, and XAVC S-format 4K video at 24fps and 30fps. There’s 120fps slo-mo capture if you drop to Full HD res, and the A6600 has the ability to record in an HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) picture profile, with S-Log3 and S-Log2 Gamma profiles available for colour-grading in post-production.

More video-friendly features include a 3.5mm output so you can accurately monitor audio using headphones, and there’s an integrated microphone input so that you can attach a high-quality external mic.

Build and Handling

The a6600 is designed to withstand a little more than other Sony APS-C cameras. Boasting a weatherproof design, it’s fitted with Sony’s step-up NP-FZ1000 battery, which effectively doubles battery life to about 720 shots. This, Sony claims, makes it the longest-lasting APS-C mirrorless camera around.

To make this extra bulk, it boasts a larger grip than its siblings. This helps makes the digital camera feel comfortable and secure in larger hands, and there’s still just about enough room between the grip and a typical lens to not feel cramped. The same can’t really be said of the rear panel, however, which follows the design ethos that can be traced back to Sony’s NEX range of APS-C mirrorless cameras. It may keep the camera compact, but the rear panel controls end up being fairly cramped and the trunk control wheel too small to use comfortably. The layout could really benefit from being assisted by a front-mounted control wheel like on the Fujifilm X-T3 or Nikon Z 50, but alas, the A6600 doesn’t get one.

The most visible difference compared to other A6000-series cameras is the A6600’s chassis. It’s fashioned from magnesium alloy and looks distinctly high-end, though at 503g, the a6600 is a little heavier than models further down the a6x00 range.

The A6600 has a three-inch touchscreen LCD that tilts up to 180° degrees to face forward. It’s a useful feature for vloggers (Sony a6000-series cameras have long been popular for vlogging thanks to their compactness and well-regarded video quality), as are the microphone and headphone ports. There’s no pop-up flash, but a hot shoe is present for you to add your own flashgun.

Performance

During our time with the A6600, it was the Real-period Tracking autofocus technology that impressed most of all. The system is able to track a subject and focus on them even when they turn their backs and it’s also possible to swap seamlessly between face detection, eye tracking and object monitoring. The 11fps burst shooting is handy for getting a sharp shot, and if that’s not fast enough to capture the action, you can use Real-Time Eye AF during video capture as well.

But the advanced AF systems certainly aren’t compensating for any shortcomings when it comes to the basics. Evaluative metering is excellent, as the A6600 reliably nails the optimal exposure settings, even in tricky high-contrast and back-lit scenarios. Combine this with Sony’s Dynamic Range Enhancement (HDR) and stills display a decent amount of shadow and highlight information.

If you’re expecting the level of eye-popping sharpness and vibrancy you often get from images chance on many flagship camera phones, the A6600’s images can seem slightly subdued by comparison. However, we appreciate Sony’s more subtle, realistic approach and avoidance of excessive in-camera image processing.

With the camera’s DRO (Dynamic Range Optimization) set to Normal, the A6600 deals well with high-contrast scenes. But even with DRO cranked up to High, don’t expect the same degree of shadow boosting you’ll get with the latest and greatest camera phones. However, these can often go a little too far and look fake, whereas the A6600’s dynamic range enhancement still retains the scene’s original atmosphere.

Check Out: Best Sony Alpha a6600 Lenses

Verdict

The Sony a6600 looks an excellent camera for video and vlogging, and its stunning AF, in-body image stabilization and large battery make it suitable for demanding stills photography. However, its still image quality is good rather than class-leading, which is a significant shortcoming given the a6600 is up against some terrific and more keenly-priced rival cameras, and while its video performance is broadly good, it’s marred by pronounced rolling shutter effect and pretty ordinary video specifications by today’s standards.

Check Sony a6600 Price and Bundles 

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