I'm an amateur photographer having toyed around with film cameras of old, point and shot cameras as well as other digital models. I bought the A6000 as an upgrade of my old DSC-H50. The H50 was my work horse which I use for producing portrait graphics, product shots for my business and occasional social events. It did what it supposed to do but, not everything. I evaluated different models and based on the following criteria:
1. Price and Quality
3. Size and Ergonomics
7. Speed (Shooting and Over-all responsiveness
8. Point and Shoot Feature
I narrowed my options to pro-sumer brands from Nikon, Canon, and Sony (A7) and either a full frame or an APS-C system.
The price of the APS-C with its pro features was really hard to ignore compared to full frame professional systems. Check out the prices online and you'll see what i mean.
a. The body is plastic but as long as it is hard resin plastic which is strong and light, I'm happy with the weight.
b. I believe the plastic door for the HDMI and Multi-USB ports may break if not handle properly, so handle with care.
c. The reticulated flash is kinda fragile, so handle with care. Be sure to store it when moving around and deploy it only when needed.
d. The buttons and rotating rings and knobs are firm and not too soft. It prevents accidental changing of settings.
e. The flash died after 1.5 weeks of extensive use. Since I was a Best Buy rewards member (now an Elite Plus member) my unit was replaced with a brand new one without too much brohaha. That's what I call customer service. I bought the unit in store and I may have gotten a lemon, because they told me that this is the 1st time they had a defective flash unit problem. The rest of the camera features still worked in spite of the flash being broken. My advise is, when you buy any electronic unit, test it extensively in the 1st few days so that you'll be able to find out if it has defects.
a. The EVF, though lower in resolution quality than its predecessors and other competing brands, is just perfect. It's an EVF, period. There is no noticeable lag when panning and the area coverage is perfect for me. The sensor that activates it is too sensitive. The EVF sensor (when turned ON) should detect objects within 10 cm, NOT 30cm which can be annoying especially if you're using the reticulated display. Not a deal breaker, but a room for improvement which can be fixed (hopefully) by firmware upgrades. The controls are easy to understand.
b. The Flash
It's a good fill flash that's also effective within around 6 feet. Increasing the compensation to +3 would likely extend it to around 15'. But the good quality even on high ISO settings makes the size and power of the flash just enough. It's not there to replace professional flash capabilities, it's there if you need a flash.
The reticulation allows you to bounce the flash if you need to bounce it. This simple capability can greatly improve the quality of your shots if you know how to use it. It takes getting used to propping one finger to push the reticulating flash to point upward.
Adjust the flash compensation for longer reach. It's more than enough for my needs. Night shots are a challenge to shoot, but the pro-features of the A6000 (exposure compensation, ISO setting, HDR setting, HDO settings) makes it easier to adjust the quality of the night shots. Learn the features of the camera and you would have a host of solutions to address lighting problems. Forget post processing, learn how to use the features I mentioned and you'll get good quality nights shots.
c. The 16-50mm PZ F3.5 kit lens.
Adequate for my use. at 16mm, I can take selfies with a good coverage of the background or landscape. Quality is good under average lighting conditions. It's a good carry around lens and for tackling close quarter situations. The 16mm is good for landscape. I cant complain really. The 50mm is good for portrait and bokeh shots . Not as great as the dedicated SEL 50mm F1.8 but acceptable.
d. Using a SEL 50mm F1.8
I bought a dedicated 50mm lens (in FF specs) it gives me an equivalent 75mm characteristic. Very good quality for regular portraits with soft bokeh shots. Low light shots are well rendered.
3. Size and Ergonomics
The size is not pocketable on regular jeans, denims or shirts, but the 16-50mm combo will allow you to pocket it on a regular size coat pocket.
It's comfortable to hold for my hand size. My hands are slender and small (not short and stubby!) The right hand grip is enough for a steady and secure grip. Not to big and not to small for me. Maybe too small for those with large gigantic hands. I suggest you try it "for comfort"
Everything I need is in there:
Bokeh, great night shots, Fast moving shots, SLow Sync, Rear Sync, Interchangeable lens, buttons that I can program, video, fast focus using Phase Detection. Every professional feature that I may need is in there i think.
5. The love it or hate it e-mount lenses
Either you'll love it or hate it. The availability is becoming better compared to 2 years ago. But how many do you really need? It depends on how you wanna use your camera. In my case, high quality product shots and occasional landscapes for use in websites requires some average quality prime lens in 16mm and 50mm. A good set of studio equipment either DIY or commercially available equipment are needed for product shots.
6. APS-C or Full Frame formats
It used to be an issue for me. For the same distance away from your subject and using the same lens with the same focal length, the full frame system will capture more area of the picture versus the APS-C system. I learned to live with the limitations which I believe can be solved by buying the right lenses and positioning yourself at the right distance. The Sony A7 or A7R was being considered but the price of the A6000 APS-C system is worth considering, at least in my case it was a primary consideration. I'm no pro, but it does what I need to do and it does it pretty well in my opinion. if you have the cash, get the FF system, but consider this, Whatever you can do in the FF, you can do in the APS-C albeit using a different solution.
Capturing moving objects requires some fiddling and common sense. With the A6000 the PDAF feature and high Frames Per Second, Shooting moving objects with less distortion and blurriness is so much easier. Over-all responsiveness of the system is okay. Minimal lag, cycling time of the flash is quite flash.
8. Point and Shoot feature
I also bought the camera with my wife in mind. She may need the camera for hobby purposes, hence the capability to operate the camera with user friendly settings comparable to a point and shoot camera should be supported. The smart controls makes the configuration much easier. Dial the config to Intelligent Auto or super intelligent Auto and you're good to go. Bokeh is also easy to set-up with some fiddling, almost anybody can take great shots!
For an amateur like me who likes to produce my own materials for my websites, the A6000 + my skills can do the job. For a price that is a fraction of high end cameras, it's a no brainer. My next investment is on some accessories , but I'm still trying to observe what lenses I need and the accessories I need to buy. The investment on lenses has to wait though. I will have to comb through my shots to see which focal lengths I use extensively before buying a new lens system. Do i need a new flash systems, I'm not yet sure. DIY lighting systems maybe the way to go for me as commercial lighting systems are just bulky for me. We'll see.
I'll be buying more accessories as I deem it fit. It's easy to fall prey to blogs and reviews where you need to buy this and that because they say you need it. Reality dictates, based on what I have observed with other enthusiasts, pros and amateurs alike, it all boils down on how you want to use your camera. Observe what you need using the 16-50mm lens. Use it extensively. Move around. A picture is not just about the clarity or the color correctness of the image. In general, majority of the viewers of your photos will observe the composition of the photo. Practice proper composition before you invest on high quality expensive units. It takes time, research and a lot of shooting. It's not the camera, it's the person behind the camera that takes beautiful and impressive photos. invest in tutorials and shoot a lot. Practice composition. The A6000 has everything you'll probably need to make professional looking photos.
Photography can become a lifestyle and you can be drawn to spend a serious amount of money and I suggest you avail on reward systems that help you earn points which you can use to earn and purchase points or get discounts. For me Best Buy Rewards has helped me a lot. pick one that's best for you. Being a Best Buy rewards member helped me earn points and get perks that I can used to buy more accessories at discounted prices, and I get 45 days return policy instead of the usual 15 days. I can test accessories and I can return it if it doesn't suit my requirements.