A question I receive regularly is
Here is my answer to that question.
I have been a happy Canon shooter for the last 7 years. I use to own a tone of Canon glass (lenses) and accessories but they are all gone. Replaced by something I wouldn't even have though of 6 months ago, a Sony A6000 mirrorless camera. It has turned out to be the best everyday and travel camera for the average Joe.
Travel Camera Requirements
As a frequent traveller, I am always looking for ways to cut my travel weight. How can I upgrade my gear to be smaller, lighter and more usable? I quickly realized these requirements weren't only applicable when travelling. Owning the prosummer Canon dSLR cameras, I often found myself leaving the kit at home and snapping pics with my iPhone. Why? Weight and size. There were many times (even when in my home city) that I just didn't want to carry a large backpack (Lowepro) just to take pictures so I surrendered to sub-par smartphone quality pictures.
I watched a Youtube video from Nikon pro photographer Jason Lanier about why he left Nikon for Sony (link). As I continued reading and talking to photographers I had met over the years, more and more of them have been converting to Sony.
There are hundreds of technical write-ups and reviews about the Sony A6000 (which is the new brother of the older NEX-5/NEX-7), so that's not the purpose of this article. The purpose of this article is to provide food for thought.
Why I love the Sony A6000
It is small, light, fast and offers incredible pictures. It delivered wonderful 24 megapixel images at 11 frames per second (in good light).
At first I was looking at the Olympus Micro Four-Third systems but was put off by the small sensor. The Sony's cropped sensor is bigger than the Micro Four-Third ones (Olympus, Panasonic, Pentax, etc). Bigger sensors are better especially in low light.
As a non-professional user, I don't need a hundred lens options but I do need a good selection and you won't be disappointed. I have tested some Sony lenses and everyone of them has been excellent. I am now testing the Sigma 30MM (f2.8) which is turning out to be a little gem (write-up coming shortly). There is an incredibly rich lens ecosystem for the Sony E-mount system.
The camera itself is small, light and compact but all of the lenses are also light, small and compact. A Sony 18-200 is 30-40% smaller than its smallest Nikon or Canon counterpart.
The Sony A6000 has an unbelievable 179 points of phase-detecting auto-focus. The Canon 70d (which is their comparable prosummer camera) has 19 auto-focus points. Auto-focus on the Sony A6000 is fast and accurate which means less blurry shots. This is especially wonderful when you are visiting a foreign land you may never come back to.
Even in automatic mode (which I rarely use), the camera takes wonderfully detailed and sharp pictures. It has a fantastic ability to properly determine the situation and switch the camera into an optimized shooting mode.
The Sony A6000 has an electronic viewfinder (as opposed to the optical viewfinder included in most Canon and Nikon prosummer dSLRs.) Some complain that an EVF is not as good but I disagree. An EVF means you are seeing exactly what the camera will capture which means there are no surprises (filters, modifications and in-camera improvements).
Last but not least is the price. You can pickup a Sony A6000 with 2 great kit lenses for under $1000 which is an incredible value. Amazon has it with a 16-50mm and 55-210mm lens kit for under $1000 (link)
There are only 2 negative points that I want to mention.
The camera is not weather-sealed.This means that if you use it in dusty environments, you can expect dust to penetrate the device (and don't use it under the rain).
The WIFI smartphone based control system is functional but far from efficient. I wish Sony would improve it.
Overall this is a fantastic camera. I loved it so much, I sold my Canon equipment in the first month. It is a fantastic camera for travel and a fantastic camera for everyday use. Since buying it, I find I carry it around more and therefore have better pictures.
The pictures I take are tack sharp, clear and well balanced. I normally take all my pictures in RAW format and use DXO Optics Pro 10 to improve them and produce phenomenally wonderful final JPG images.