Sony’s superlative new camera

The Sony A6100 represents a big step up from smartphone snaps and is an excellent entry-level choice for photography enthusiasts, says Matthew Partridge.

Lockdown and social distancing have caused camera sales to plummet as there isn’t much point in buying a camera if there’s nothing much to take pictures of. However, with restrictions on outdoor activities being gradually lifted, photography enthusiasts may now be thinking about buying a new camera. One option that they should consider is Sony’s A6100 camera, which I had the privilege of testing in late February and early March. Released last year, it is designed to replace the A6000 as Sony’s entry-level interchangeable-lens mirrorless camera.

Although the cheapest model, the A6100 features all the latest advances in camera technology. The autofocus system is fast and reliable, allowing you to not only track a moving subject, but also lock focus on their eyes. Those interested in video will also enjoy the ability to record an unlimited amount of high-quality footage without interruption. There is also an electronic shutter mode that allows you to take pictures silently, which is extremely useful if you are taking snaps in an environment (such as a concert) where you aren’t allowed to make a noise.

Sony has had to make a few compromises to keep the price down. The video capabilities lack the professional modes that enable people to fine-tune the footage. The silent mode also suffers from a bit of rolling shutter, which means that images of extremely fast-moving objects may be distorted, and fluorescent lights may cause banding unless you set the shutter at the correct speed.

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The “rangefinder” style, where the viewfinder is to the side of the lens rather than directly above it, may not be to everyone’s taste. And like all mid-range cameras, the sensor is cropped compared with the most expensive “full-frame” cameras (though still much larger than smartphone sensors).

Still, as I found out when I used it at a comedy night and a museum, when it comes to taking top-quality photos, even in the most challenging conditions, the A6100 is an excellent choice. Overall, it’s on a par with comparable cameras such as the Nikon Z50 and Fuji’s X-T30, surpassing them in certain areas (such as the ability to take long videos).

Dr Matthew Partridge

Matthew graduated from the University of Durham in 2004; he then gained an MSc, followed by a PhD at the London School of Economics.

He has previously written for a wide range of publications, including the Guardian and the Economist, and also helped to run a newsletter on terrorism. He has spent time at Lehman Brothers, Citigroup and the consultancy Lombard Street Research.

Matthew is the author of Superinvestors: Lessons from the greatest investors in history, published by Harriman House, which has been translated into several languages. His second book, Investing Explained: The Accessible Guide to Building an Investment Portfolio, is published by Kogan Page.

As senior writer, he writes the shares and politics & economics pages, as well as weekly Blowing It and Great Frauds in History columns He also writes a fortnightly reviews page and trading tips, as well as regular cover stories and multi-page investment focus features.

Follow Matthew on Twitter: @DrMatthewPartri