Sony has long been known to make excellent cameras, and their mirrorless range is one of the best on the market. The Sony A6000 is no exception; it lives up to the expectation of what a Sony camera should be and does it all in a stylishly compact body. But many people are wondering, is it suitable for portraits?
The Sony A6000 is good for portraits. The autofocus system and face detection work perfectly along with the large sensor, viewfinder, and other internal components to capture beautiful and high-quality images. However, it is not the camera you’d use if you are a pro photographer.
In this article, we will discuss whether or not the Sony A6000 is good for portraits by going over the camera’s specs, how these impact its ability to take good portraits, and giving you some settings to use for portrait photography if you’re just stepping into this world. Now, let’s get started!
What Are the Sony A6000’s Specs?
Much of how good a portrait looks comes down to the person taking the photograph, their familiarity with their camera settings, and their knowledge of lighting and composition. However, this is not to say that the specs of the camera they are shooting with don’t also play a role in the images captured, because they do. In this section, we briefly go over all of the specs of the Sony A6000.
- 24.3 effective megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor with a 1.5 crop factor
- Hybrid autofocus system with 25 contrast and 179 phase-detect points
- ISO sensitivity 100-25600
- 11 FPS continuous shooting
- Compatible with Sony E-Mount Lenses
- Built-in flash
- Multi-interface Hotshoe
- Electronic viewfinder
- 3-inch (7.62 cm) articulating LCD screen
- WiFi with NFC capable
- PlayMemories App compatible
- FullHD video recording at 1080p at 24 and 60 fps, or 720p at 30 fps
- Weighs 12.13 oz (343.88 g) with battery and memory card
The Sony A6000 is a small and compact camera with a solid build and impressive specs at a much more affordable price than DSLRs with similar specs. It has a quick start-up time, something that many cheaper cameras lack in. The buttons are all dedicated to a single function each, making operating this camera relatively easy, though the main menu is somewhat confusing at first.
The 16-50mm lens that comes with the camera kit bundle features a power zoom, which is an electronic zoom reminiscent of those on the early digital point-and-shoot cameras and camcorders, just much (MUCH) faster. It also features a hybrid autofocus system, with many detect points, comparable to the autofocus systems on Canon cameras (a.k.a. the king of autofocus).
All round, it is an excellent camera for beginners, but the question of the day is whether it is good to use for something as detailed as portrait photography.
- Advanced 24.2MP back Illuminated 35 millimeter full frame image sensor
- ISO 100 25600 (expandable to 51200). Lens compatibility: Sony E mount lenses
- Hybrid AF with 179 point focal plane phase detection and 25 contrast detect points
Why the Sony A6000 Is Good for Portrait Photography
Now that we’ve gone over the camera’s specs (which look pretty impressive on paper), let’s discuss how those specs would come into play in practice and whether they would make the A6000 a good camera to use for portrait photography.
We’ve already briefly touched on the autofocus system, but other aspects of it warrant taking a second look at. The detect points cover almost the entire area of the image frame, meaning that the camera will be able to focus on your subject no matter where they are in the frame.
The face detection software is also somewhat incredible. As soon as a face enters the image frame, the camera’s focus will lock onto it and track it wherever it moves.
The large size of the APS-C sensor helps the camera achieve a shallower depth of field, meaning that your subject will be in focus, while everything behind and in front of it will be blurred out in that classic portrait photo fashion.
The viewfinder is another spec to take a closer look at.
The electronic viewfinder on the Sony A6000 is different from the optical viewfinders you’re used to using on a DSLR camera because instead of seeing what your eye sees (like you would looking through an optical viewfinder), you see exactly what your camera sees. This means that if you change any settings on your camera, you’ll see those changes when looking through the viewfinder.
The articulating screen is also a big bonus for portrait photography. It can tilt 90° up and 45° down and will help you get some more interesting or artistic photos from unusual angles.
This camera is undoubtedly a camera well suited for taking portrait photos, all of its components working together flawlessly to get you the best image possible.
However, this camera would likely fall under the beginner or intermediate photographer categories, as it is definitely not for pros. It produces excellent images, but there are cameras out there that are even better suited towards portrait photography in particular.
What Settings to Use for Portraits if You’re a Beginner
If you’re new to photography, trying to learn about all of your camera settings and what they all do can be daunting, mainly because the range of settings on different cameras varies so much. Setting up your camera for portraits is a whole different beast because the settings you use will greatly impact how the result looks.
However, there are some basic settings you can use for beginner portrait photography that will give you a nice all-round look, that you can then tweak and adjust once you get more experience and find a style that you like best. But for now, let’s go over some beginner portrait photography settings.
Having some basic knowledge of what each setting on your camera does will be beneficial here, so don’t be afraid to use the manual that came with your camera or look up something you don’t understand.
These settings will work quite well universally, giving you the blurry background and tack sharp subject that portraits are famous for, though there may be some adjustments to be made depending on whether you’re shooting indoors or outdoors. If you bought the camera and lens bundle, you’d already have a lens (16-50mm) that can give you the two most popular portrait focal lengths (35mm and 50 mm).
However, if you only bought the camera body, you’ll need to go out and buy either the 16-50mm zoom lens or both the 35mm and 50mm prime lenses. Prime lenses will offer you a sharper image than zoom lenses but will also cost you more.
The 35mm focal length is great to use for indoor portraits, as it will give you a wider field of view to get a better composition in a smaller space. The 50mm focal length is good to use in outdoor settings, as you’ll have more space for you and your subject to move around until you find a composition you like.
As for in-camera settings, you’ll want to switch to the Aperture priority mode (A) and choose the lowest f/ number available. This will vary depending on which lens you are using. Then, set your ISO, metering, and white balance to auto (if you’re shooting indoors, you may want to change the white balance to a preset that matches the light you’re under).
Also, set the focus mode to AF-C, the focus area to wide, and enable Smile/Face Detect on page 5 of the first menu tab.
The Sony A6000’s large sensor size, quick and reliable autofocus, electronic viewfinder, and articulating screen make it a great camera to shoot portraits if you are a beginner or intermediate photographer.
If you choose to use this camera on your next shoot, it would be wise to carry an extra battery or two with you, as the smaller body of the camera also means a smaller battery and thus shorter battery life.
…still considering other cameras? Check out whether we think the Nikon D750 is good for portraits here!
- CameraDecision: A6000 for Portrait Photography
- Shotkit: Ultimate Sony A6000 Review [Updated for 2020]
- Imaging Resource: Sony A6000: What about portraits?
- Colby Brown Photography: An In-Depth Review of the Sony A6000 Mirrorless Camera
- Camera Tips: Sony A6000 Portrait Settings for Beginners
Last update on 2021-07-31 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API