The Sony a6100 is a 24MP APS-C mirrorless camera, aimed squarely at beginners and people who want attractive photos but don’t necessarily think of themselves as photographers. A new, powerful autofocus system makes it one of the easiest cameras to use, if you just trust it to do its thing and concentrate instead on what you’re shooting. The a6100’s specifications aren’t cutting edge, and it’s priced accordingly. But that simple, effective autofocus system means it makes it easy to get the photos you want, and hence, arguably, it’s better value than those less expensive rivals. On paper it looks a lot like the bargain-basement a6000 but in use this is a vastly better camera. Our main doubts about the camera come if you want to get more involved in the photographic process. Read the Sony A6100 review here.
Sony A6100 Review
- 24MP APS-C CMOS sensor
- Advanced AF system with highlight dependable subject tracking
- 1.44M dot OLED electronic viewfinder
- 0.9M dot LCD tilting rear touchscreen
- Wi-Fi for image transfer to smart devices (with NFC for quick connection)
- 4K video capture
- USB charging
The Sony a6100 has a list price of $750, a $50 premium over the launch price of the original a6000, which suggests it may take a similar low-cost position in the lineup, long term. It has a list price of $850 with the small but uninspiring 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 power zoom. A two-lens kit adds a 55-210mm zoom for an additional $250.
Build and handling
Overall, we really enjoyed our time with the Sony A6100. We paired the camera with a couple of slightly higher-end lenses – the FE 24‑70mm f/4 and FE 35mm f/1.8 – which are both a sensible size and weight match.
Depending on the lens, the A6100 is small enough to fit into a jacket pocket. This is thanks to its form factor – it stands at just 67mm high and has a very flat profile without the pentaprism ‘hump’ seen on rivals like the Fujifilm X-T3.
The polycarbonate body feels solid and the external controls are robust, while the textured hand and thumb grips provide a firm hold. Praise be for the slightly larger grip than the one in the A6000.
Considering the compact size of this camera, a mighty number of controls and features are packed in. You get a pop-up flash that can be tipped back by hand for indirect fill light. There’s a hotshoe to attach optional accessories such as an external microphone, which is then connected via the microphone port on the side. (Unsurprisingly, there is no room for a headphone jack).
There’s also a built-in EVF, which is a plus for a camera at this price. It’s not the easiest to use and the resolution remains at an average 1.44 million-dots. To get the latest high-resolution EVF, you’ll need to fork out extra for the Sony A6400 or Sony A6600.
The tilt LCD touchscreen can be pulled out and up, and then flipped vertically above the camera into selfie mode. By today’s standards, the 3-inch screen has a relatively modest 920,000-dot resolution. It’s a 16:9 screen too, meaning that full resolution 3:2 photos do not fill the display and therefore appear on the small side – a similar scenario also happens on the 16:9 display on the Fujifilm X-A7.
Given the A6100 is an entry-level camera, it is perhaps a little counter-intuitive that its touchscreen functions are so limited. The screen can be used to select the AF points and track subjects, plus pinch-to-zoom and scan an image in playback. But you can’t navigate menus or make setting selections. Still, AF selection is arguably the most helpful touch function.
Where the A6100 shines brightest is through its rapid and reliable autofocus system for both photography and video. It has the same AF system as the flagship Sony A6600, a camera that’s almost twice the price.
There are several Focus Modes and Focus Areas to choose from. After playing around with these settings, we settled on continuous AF with the ‘Tracking: Expand Flexible Spot’ focus area for virtually all scenarios.
With this AF setup in play, focusing for general action – family shots, a specific subject within the frame – is extremely reliable. Honestly, there were times that we forgot that this is an entry-level camera because the A6100 is so reliable for sharp focusing.
A burst mode of 11fps is, on paper, solid. However, in use the reality of ‘continuous high’ shooting is a tad disappointing. In our experience, the length of bursts do not quite match the claims of up to 67 frames. Also, the camera takes time to buffer those sequences before full performance is available again.
Despite the Bionz X processor, the limitations of a UHS-I SD card slot are clear. We found the 6fps ‘Continuous Mid’ shooting mode a more sensible choice. The A6100 is still very competitive at this level, but the Olympus E-M5 Mark III is only a little more expensive and offers UHS-II compatibility with unlimited burst shooting.
The A6100 uses a 1200-zone evaluative metering system. In many circumstances – and of course this is to taste – we found exposures a little bright and opted to dial in around -0.7EV exposure compensation.