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REVIEW: Sony α6100

SONY α6100: A cheaper version of Sony’s popular α6400 camera with reduced EVF resolution, a shorter ISO range and no Picture Profile settings. Price- and feature-wise, the α6100 fits best into the upper section of the ‘entry-level’ category for APS-C mirrorless, and is competitive with its Canon (EOS M6) and Fujifilm (X-T30) rivals.
RRP: $1298, body only; $1598 with kit lens. (‘Street prices’ considerably lower.)
Sony a6100
Physically, almost identical to the α6400 and the α6600 which was released simultaneously, the α6100 (ILCE-6100) carries on essentially the same body design as Sony’s six-year-old α6000. It’s compact and light enough to appeal to travellers and its flip-up monitor enables it to be used for shooting selfies or vlogging. Vloggers will also appreciate the provision of a microphone socket. The camera is commonly sold as a kit with the 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS lens and its sophisticated autofocus system and reasonable price make it competitive with potential rivals like the Canon EOS M6 Mark II and Fujifilm’s X-T30 with similar kit lenses.

Although constructed mainly from polycarbonate plastic, the α6100 is quite robust and solidly built. But it’s not dust- and moisture-resistant and its smaller, lower capacity battery means its grip moulding is quite shallow. Battery life is CIPA-rated at 380 shots with the EVF or 420 shots with LCD monitor, which is average for an entry-level camera. The memory card slot shares the battery compartment and is pushed up against the hinge of the cover making cards difficult to extract.

Although resolution hasn’t changed since the α6300, the α6100 uses the same 24-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor and BIONZ X processor as its current siblings. Native ISO sensitivity ranges from 100 to 6400 with extension to ISO 32,000 available. While able to record 4K video at 25 fps, it doesn’t come with Picture Profiles and lacks the S-Log and HLG recording capabilities of its more up-market siblings.

Imaging performance was generally good, with little noise in low-light exposures up to 12,800, after which softening became visible. Both shadow and highlight details were compromised from ISO 51200 on. Autofocusing performance was very good and Eye AF Tracking was particularly impressive. Video quality was more than satisfactory for vloggers, although not quite up to Sony’s α7 cameras.

Purchasing Points:
Sony A6100 top1.The sensor is the same 23.5 x 15.6mm Exmor CMOS sensor as used in the α6400 and α6600 cameras and all three models use the latest BIONZ X image processor.
2. The Fast Hybrid AF (phase-detection AF/contrast-detection AF) is the same as in the α6600 and features 425 phase-detection AF points plus 425 contrast-detection AF points that cover almost all of the image frame. Sony claims an AF acquisition time of 0.02 second.
3. Sony’s Real-time Tracking and Real-time Eye AF (for both humans and animals) use advanced AI algorithms to predict the subject’s future location. Touch Focus is supported and Touch Tracking lets the user select the subject to track by simply touching it on the screen. Real-time tracking is also available in movie mode.
4. The 180-degree LCD monitor permits users to shoot selfies or use the camera for vlogging. The screen can also be tilted 74 degrees downwards for high-and low-angle shooting.
5. The α6100 supports UHD 4K movie recording with full pixel readout and no pixel binning. This allows oversampling of more than double the image information needed for 4K, enabling downscaling to provide more realistic colours and tonal depth.
6. Clean HDMI output to an external device is supported and the camera includes a microphone socket for add-on mics. Other videography functions include variable frame rates and proxy recording.
7. Interval timer recording enables users to record time-lapse movies at resolutions up to 4K quality. Intervals can be set between one and 60 seconds and the camera includes a variable-speed preview function that enables users to see how the finished movie will look.
8. Wi-Fi and low-energy Bluetooth connectivity enable easy sharing of images and movie clips to a linked mobile device plus tagging of images with GPS data from a smartphone.
9. Up to eight of the camera’s keys and controls can be custom-assigned to any of 89 shooting and replay functions. The My Menu feature allows flexible assignment of 30 menu items, while guides to individual menu items are available via a single button press on the menu screen.
10. The α6100 offers three aspect ratio settings for stills shooting: 3:2 and 16:9 plus a new 1:1 aspect ratio designed for images that will be shared on social media platforms.

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