Sony A6600 Hands On & Video! The new Flagship APS-C from Sony!
By Steve Huff
My FUN Video on the a6600 is below! With Gordon Laing, Ted Forbes, and a few others in the photo world you may know!
It’s quite the sight to see when the little green AF box just locks onto the Eye to ensure your subject is never out of focus when shooting video with human subjects. It’s pretty freaking amazing actually as back when Sony released the very 1st NEX5 so many years ago now, the AF was abysmal compared to what we have today from them.
With the A6600 the Auto Focus is simply fantastic (but there is one thing I noticed, keep reading). The sensor is the same as the one in the a6400 so no improvements to image quality over that model. Instead we gain speed and new features that might just make it worth it to some of you out there looking for a new APS-C sensor sized body.
All snaps here in this article are with the Sony A6600 and 16-55 f/2.8. The lighting was not the best on this day as a thunderstorm was rolling in.
Nope, this a6600 camera is not full frame but another APS-C model which is telling me that Sony is still committed to this format (good for those who shoot Sony APS-C).
Also, being the it is not a full frame camera, it will not bring the same ultimate image quality that the older $1999 Sony A7III will bring. While I am aware some out there feel APS-C can match full frame sensors, well they can not in my experience of testing cameras over the last 11 years. But they get mighty close!
With a smaller than full frame sensor we can expect more image noise (compared to full frame) and you also just lose that full frame look (yes, I still feel there is a look to full frame images when using a nice fast prime that APS-C can not match) . It’s like when you go to a phone sensor and see the limitations over even a nice 1″ sensor. So full frame does give us overall better IQ. Even so, APS-C is a great alternative to those who want to spend less, get a smaller camera, get a faster camera and still have amazing performance in speed and IQ.
The new 70-350mm Lens maxed out at 350mm
The Helicopter below is a 100% crop shot at 350mm with the new zoom. You can click it to see the full 100% crop.
With the new a6600 coming in at $1400, an A7III is only $600 more and I would argue, you are getting more bang for your buck with an A7III when it comes to overall IQ, feel and video quality. Nope, the A7III does not have a flip up screen as the 6600 does nor does it have the EYE AF feature for video. But it does offer a larger body (slightly, and it is still SMALL by full frame standards) and that full frame sensor. With that said, that is not the end of the story as some may prefer to save $600 and gain these new AF features (that will one day be in an A7IV).
I really enjoyed the new 16-55 f/2.8 lens which gives a 24-70 equivalent at f/2.8. It’s also much smaller than any full frame 24-70 f/2.8 lens. When size and weight are a concern, APS-C is a great option as the bodies and lenses are smaller than full frame equivalents.
I was able to use the A6600 for a few hours while in NYC for the announcement and a few others were able to test it out as well. While I did have my Sony A7III with me, I did enjoy carrying around this combo as it was small, blazing fast, never failed me with AF, did great with photo and video and was just fun to use. The new Z battery (same one in the new A7III and IV series) the battery life of the 6600 is the best yet for Sony. Over 800 shots (you can get more than this) means this camera will last a LONG Time on one charge. Better than the full frame models that use the same battery. The new lens is so small and light compared to any full frame 24-70 2.8 equivalent so that was also a treat.
More new Sony announced..
Along with the 6600, Sony announced and showed us the new A6100, which is an under $750 body with a flip-up LCD (great for selfies or vlogging). They also introduced two new lenses, the gorgeous 16-55 f/2.8 G and the 70-350mm (which will be an equivalent of 105mm-525mm for under a grand) that are a perfect fit for the new APS-C bodies.
Sony now has three models in the APS-C Lineup, from Standard to the Flagship. See the models and features below courtesy of B&H Photo.
It seems like the a6400 just came out and sort of did. It was just in January of this year that I was out testing that camera, and the new 6600 is a sort of improved version of that camera, in a few ways, so it is not replacing the 6400 but is a step above the 6400. First off, it’s the same sensor, has the same speed, and same overall look and build (aside from the new larger grip on the 6600), Same EVF, and all of that jazz. What the 6600 brings to the table is that AF system with the real-time EYE Af for VIDEO as well as photo. The 6400 only has Eye AF for PHOTOS. The 6100 does not have any type of EYE AF.
At the end of the day, the 6600 has a deeper hand grip, the new Z battery fo double the shooting time, real time EYE Af for movies and also adds a headphone jack over the still current a6400. In essence this is really an a6400 when it comes to image quality, speed and usability as everything is just about the same.
I will say that the EYE AF for video worked well but if you are in a backlit or more dark lit situation I noticed the eye AF was not working as well as the same feature on the new A7RIV that I tested. In those situations the camera would not quite lock on the eye for me, as if it could not see it. But most would not shoot Eye AF in these situations anyway.
The a6600 is a camera that I feel would be perfect for vlogging, for street shooting, vacations, family, taking photos of the kids or pets…or well, anything really. While I personally would still choose an A7III over the A6600 as the price difference is so close, many may prefer to buy into this a6600 for it’s smaller size, and smaller lenses. The A6600 is fast, as all Sony cameras are today and it feels nice in the hand with the beefier more A7III like grip.
We are trying to convince Gordon from CameraLabs to ride a roller coaster with us at Coney Island but in the end he decided to stay out and take a snap of US on the coaster using the 6600
Below is the image Gordon shot of us on the ride..you can check out more from Gordon at CameraLabs HERE. Click images here for larger views. BTW, I will have a VIDEO coming soon from this whole a6600 adventure including the roller coaster ride with Ted Forbes from Art of Photography and Vivian from Jason Vongs YouTube channel! You can see the GoPro in my hand!
Price is a bit steep IMO for a camera like this in 2019 but remember you are getting tech features that you just can not get in any other camera or brand, unless you pay much more. For example, no one does eye AF like Sony, no one. I have tried the others from Canon and Nikon and no, they do not even get close to what Sony has taken years to achieve. With Sony’s EYE AF, your human or animal subject will never be out of focus even if something walks in front of you or blocks your shot. It will pick that eye back up as soon as your subject is clear. Yes, even this 6600 will outperform the Canon and Nikon’s EYE AF.
Late night on the Brooklyn Bridge with the A6600 and 16-55 f/2.8 lens at ISO 6400. Handheld.
I used to think eye AF was a gimmick, until I saw it working with video in the A7RMKIV and now the A6600. In this scenario (video), I feel eye AF is invaluable. As for stablisation, 5 Axis IS is here as it is in the 6400 (excluded in the 6100) to keep the shakes under control but to be honest I always find Sony’s implantation of 5 Axis IS to be miedocire when compared to the other companies who have mastered it (Panasonic, Nikon Z).
Not a slight on Sony but I have to be honest with what I found. Sony comes in 3rd for 5 Axis performance IMO when compared to these other two brands. I mean, Panasonic’s implementation of this in their S1 series is REMARKABLE. Nikon Z has amazing IS. The Sony bodies do not do as much to steady the image and video as these others do. Almost all I spoke with (other reviewers) this week agreed. Even so, the 5 Axis in the Sony works well and it is a treat to have it.
So this is yet another solid release from Sony. This announcement may not be what everyone out there is waiting for but at least Sony is keeping APS-C owners happy with new lenses and body upgrades. For me, I now own a Sony A7III along with my other cameras and feel it is one of the most versatile bang for the buck cameras you can buy today but the new A6600 is not far behind if you do not mind going to an APS-C sensor over full frame.
So that’s it! This camera is like an enhanced version of the A6400, with the new features. Kind of like when you go to buy a fancy car, Sony lets you choose your options with each model of camera. You can go for the standard, the advanced or the FLAGSHIP which is this a6600. Each model offers something extra, so it allows us to pick the model we need. Same goes for the full frame models in the A7III, A7RIV and the Flagship full frame A9.
The new A6600 will start shipping in November 2019, the new 16-55 f/2.8 in October and the new 70-350 will start to ship in early November.
Pre-Order at B&H Photo
Pre-Order at Amazon