Sony α6100 (ILCE-6100)
A cut-back version of the α6400 and α6600 with a lower-resolution EVF, shorter ISO range and no Picture Profile settings but the same 24-megapixel sensor and BIONZ X processor.
Like the α6400, the relatively small size and light weight of the α6100 makes it ideal for travellers, while its flip-up monitor enables it to be used for vlogging or selfie shooting.
Announced late in August 2019, the 24-megapixel α6100 is a lower-priced version of the popular, cropped-frame α6400 camera with reduced EVF resolution (1,440,000 dots instead of the α6400’s 2,360,000 dots), no Picture Profile settings and a truncated ISO range that ends at ISO 51200. Otherwise, key features are the same as in the α6400. The α6100 is seven grams lighter than the α6400, probably because more plastic is used in its body.
Angled front view of the α6100 with the E PZ 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS kit lens. (Source: Sony.)
The review camera was supplied with the FE 12-24mm f/4G lens, which is designed for Sony’s ‘full frame’ mirrorless cameras and not an ideal match for the smaller, cropped-sensor body. This lens is reviewed separately.
Who’s it for?
Like the α6400, the relatively small size and light weight of the α6100 makes it ideal for travellers, while its flip-up monitor enables it to be used for vlogging or selfie shooting. The addition of a microphone socket is particularly relevant to the former target market.
The α6100 has the same Fast Hybrid AF system as its siblings, with 425 focal-plane phase-detection autofocus (AF) points covering approximately 84 percent of the image area and 425 contrast-detection AF points. Sony’s ’Real-time Tracking’ which is activated in the AF-C focus mode, uses AI-based object recognition to keep subjects sharply focused, while Eye AF can identify both humans and animals and maintain focus automatically with high precision and reliability.
As a kit, with the bundled 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS lens, the α6100’s sophisticated autofocus system and reasonable price make it competitive with other entry level APS-C rivals like the Canon EOS M6 Mark II and Fujifilm’s X-T30 with similar kit lenses. However, for serious enthusiasts looking for a lightweight travel kit, the higher-priced Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III will be more compelling with its bundled 14-150 mm lens.
Build and Functionality
Physically, the α6100 is almost identical to the α6400 with the same control layout and mode dial. In fact, this body design has remained relatively constant since the six-year-old α6000, with the main changes being the introduction of a selfie-capable touchscreen monitor in the α6400.
However, whereas the α6600 is made largely from magnesium alloy, the α6100 is built from polycarbonate plastic and, although it feels quite robust and solidly built, it won’t provide the same degree of dust- and moisture-resistance as the more up-market α6600. The α6100 also uses the smaller, lower-capacity battery, which means its grip moulding is smaller (although it’s comfortable enough).
The battery is recharged in the camera via a USB cable and mains power interface (both supplied). It’s a clumsy arrangement that prevents you from recharging a battery while you’re using the camera. Sony doesn’t list a separate charger on its website but several third-party manufacturers have filled the breach and you should be able to find one in your local camera store or online.
Front, top and rear views of the α6100 with no lens fitted. (Source: Sony.)
Three α6*** models are currently listed on Sony’s Australian website: the premium α6600, mid-range α6400 and basic α6100 camera. The table below compares key features of each model.
|Sensor||23.5 x 15.6mm Exmor CMOS sensor|
|Resolution||24.2 megapixels (effective)|
|Body dimensions (wxhxd)||120 x 66.9 x 69.3 mm||120 x 66.9 x 59.7 mm||120 x 66.9 x 59.4 mm|
|Weight||Approx. 503 grams||Approx. 403 grams||Approx. 396 grams|
|Native ISO range||ISO 100-32000|
|ISO expansion||ISO 50, ISO 102400||ISO 102400||ISO 51200|
|AF system||Fast Hybrid AF (phase-detection AF/contrast-detection AF)|
|Shutter speed range||30-1/4000 second|
|Max. Burst speeds||Hi+: 11 fps, Hi: 8 fps, Mid: 6 fps, Lo: 3 fps|
|EVF resolution||2,359,296 dots||1,440,000 dots|
|Monitor||Touch screen with 921,000 dots|
|CIPA rating||720 shots with EVF, 810 shots with LCD monitor||360 shots with EVF, 410 shots with LCD monitor||380 shots with EVF, 420 shots with LCD monitor|
Unlike of its more up-market siblings, the α6100 is not weather-sealed and its body contains more plastic. It’s also not weather-resistant and lacks the ability to customise the function (Fn) menu separately for stills and video shooting, set the shutter speed at which the Auto ISO mode changes values and define different AF settings for shooting with vertical and horizontal orientations. It also lacks a headphone jack.
Like other models in the α6*** series, the α6100 retains a few design compromises that can make using it more difficult than it should be. For starters, Sony keeps putting the movie button on the top right hand corner of the camera body, just to the rear of the strap loop, where it’s difficult to reach. In addition, while the α6100 can record 4K 25p video, because it lacks Picture Profiles, it doesn’t have the S-Log and HLG recording capabilities of the α6400 and α6600 models.
Similarly, the memory card still shares a compartment in the base of the grip with the battery. The card slot is pushed up against the hinge of the cover, making it quite difficult to insert and remove cards if your fingers are large or your dexterity is limited.
Sensor and Image Processing
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 and a front-end LSI similar to those used in Sony’s full-frame cameras. However, its ISO range tops out at ISO 51200 with a native range of ISO 100-32000 for the auto mode. Multi Frame Noise Reduction is available at high ISO settings.
The α6100 lets users choose between 3:2, 16:9 and 1:1 aspect ratios and provides three levels of JPEG compression for each. Raw files can be recorded in Sony’s ARW.RAW format with 14-bit lossless compression.
Shutter speeds remain unchanged from previous models, with an overall range of 30 to 1/4000 seconds. An electronic front curtain shutter is available in movie mode along with silent shooting. Interval recording is also available. Ambience and White Priority settings have been added to the auto white balance mode.
Like the α6400, the α6100 supports continuous shooting at up to 11 frames/second (fps) with fixed focusing, along with silent continuous shooting at 8 fps with AF and AE tracking in the live-view mode. The buffer depth is lower than the α6400’s, at approximately 76 Large/Fine JPEGs, 33 RAW or 31 RAW+JPEG files.
The α6100 uses the same autofocusing system as the α6400, with 425 phase-detection points plus 425 contrast-detection points covering almost the entire sensor surface. The system includes Sony’s latest Real-Time Tracking technology with Real-Time Eye AF providing precise subject tracking for both human and animal eyes in continuous AF mode for both stills and video recording. Sony claims a 0.02-second AF acquisition speed for this system.
The standard AF area modes of Wide, Zone, Centre, Flexible Spot and Expanded Flexible Spot are all available. Although no provisions are available for fine-tuning AF modes to suit different subject types, most users should find they can rely on the Wide or Flexible Spot modes for the majority of shooting situations.
Most of the video features offered by the α6400 are provided in the α6100, including the ability to record 4K UHD clips in Super 35mm format with full pixel readout and no pixel binning. This oversampling captures a little more than double the amount of information required for 4K movies. The frame is cropped a little when the 30 fps setting is used.
The video menu provides three options: XAVC S 4K, XAVC S HD and AVCHD. The maximum frame rate for 4K recording is 25 fps for PAL format users but 50p recording is available at 1080p resolution in the XAVC S HD mode. Proxy recording is available at 1280 x 720 resolution with a bit rate of approximately 9Mbps.
The α6100 also includes slow/quick recording modes which provide the ability to record Full HD video at up to 100 frames/second with a 100 Mbps bitrate (for PAL system users) for 4x slow motion movies or as slow as one fps for 25x quick motion recordings. AF tracking is supported in these modes.
However, unlike the α6600, neither the Hybrid Log-Gamma picture profile for HDR video capture nor the S-Log3 and S-Log2 Gamma profiles are provided. There’s also no built-in stabilisation in the camera, which can be problematic if you use an unstabilised lens, like the FE 12-24mm f/4G lens provided for our review (although there’s less need for it with such a wide-angle lens).
The camera includes a microphone jack – but no headphones connection to enable users to evaluate audio recordings. You’re forced to rely on the on-screen displays, which aren’t always easy to interpret. ‘Clean’ HDMI video (8-bit 4:2:2) can be output via the HDMI port. Other video aids include peaking and zebra displays.
Interval recording is available for time-lapse videos with intervals between one and 60 seconds. Up to 9999 shots can be recorded in a sequence and AE tracking sensitivity can be set to High, Mid or Low to allow for potential changes in exposure during the recording.
Playback, Software and Connectivity
Nothing much has changed in this area, with Sony’s Imaging Edge Mobile app allowing users to transfer still images and/or videos to a smartphone and supporting remote shooting and provides location information to images captured by a camera. Users can also tag or caption files that are being transferred.
The standard built-in Wi-Fi and NFC functions are augmented with Bluetooth 4.1 for low-power connectivity.
Our evaluations of imaging performance are, to some degree, coloured by the fact that all shooting tests took place with the high-performance FE 12-24mm f/4G lens (INSERT LINK), which is designed for use with ‘full frame’ sensors. We found the camera and lens combination produced sharp images with natural-looking colours and restrained saturation and our subjective assessments were confirmed with Imatest testing.
Imatest showed the camera to be capable of delivering high resolution, with JPEGs falling just short of expectations for the 24-megapixel sensor and raw files well above expectations. Resolution remained high at ISO 100 and ISO 200 but declined slowly and steadily through to ISO 51200, as shown in the graph of our test results below.
As with previous α6*** cameras we’ve tested, the gap between centre and edge resolution across the camera’s sensitivity range was relatively small. This is likely to be largely due to the performance of the FE 12-24mm f/4G lens (INSERT LINK).
Low light performance confirmed the results of our Imatest tests. We found little noise in long exposures at ISO settings up to 12800, with subsequent sensitivity settings showing evidence of softening, although contrast remained relatively high. Both shadow and highlight details were compromised at ISO 51200 and noise granularity was visible.
We were unable to test flash performance because the supplied lens caused roughly a quarter of the frame to be lost because the lens blocked the light, as shown in the illustration below.
The FE 12-24mm f/4G lens blocked the light from the camera’s pop-up flash, preventing us from carrying out flash tests.
The auto white balance setting produced close-to-neutral colours under fluorescent lighting but, as expected, failed to eliminate the orange cast from incandescent lights and warm-toned LEDs. Flash shots were slightly warm toned as well.
There’s no pre-set for LED lighting but the incandescent and relevant fluorescent pre-set tended to over-correct and it required manual measurement to produce neutral colours under all three types of lighting. As in previous α6*** cameras we’ve tested, both the EVF and monitor screens appeared to render incandescent lighting with much less warming than appeared in the recorded image, a feature potential users should take note of.
Autofocusing performance was similar to the α6400‘s and generally very good, as you’d expect with Sony’s Real-Time Tracking plus an ultra-wide-angle lens. With static subjects, the camera was able to lock on almost instantaneously, even in very low light levels, and it was equally good with moving subjects.
Eye AF Tracking was particularly impressive; you simply touch the face you want to track and the AF system will keep it in focus wherever the subject moves within the frame. It works equally well with people and animals and for stills and video recordings.
Video quality was very good and more than satisfactory for any vloggers considering this camera, although not quite up to Sony’s α7 cameras. The camera is set to FHD by default and we found clips recorded in the XAVC S format looked slightly better than the AVCHD clips and, importantly, the ‘unlimited’ recording time lets users record pretty much to card capacity.
As with previous Sony cameras we’ve tested, we found the camera had a tendency to slightly compress image tones, leading to blown-out highlights and blocked-up shadows in scenes with a wide brightness range. However, colours were nicely rendered and the slight boost to saturation delivered attractive-looking clips. Audio quality was acceptable for the internal microphones but not exactly stellar.
Our timing tests were carried out with a 64GB Panasonic SDXC I U3 memory card, which claims a read speed of 95 MB/s and write speed of 90 MB/s. The review camera took a little over one second to power-up, which is similar to other α6*** models we’ve reviewed.
Capture lag was effectively negligible and shot-to-shot times averaged 0.7 seconds.
Processing times were not especially fast. On average, it took 2.3 seconds to process each JPEG file, 2.7 seconds for each ARW.RAW file and 2.9 seconds for each RAW+JPEG pair.
In the high-speed sequential shooting mode, we recorded a burst of 79 Large/ Fine JPEGs in 9.4 seconds, which is close to the specified 11 frames/second. Processing was completed within 30.6 seconds of the last frame captured.
With ARW.RAW files the capture rate slowed after 35 frames, which were recorded in 4.2 seconds. It took just over 22 seconds to clear the buffer memory. Thirty-three RAW+JPEG pairs were recorded in 3.9 seconds before the frame rate slowed. It took 29 seconds to process this burst.
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Image sensor: 23.5 x 15.6mm Exmor CMOS sensor with 25 million photosites (24.2 megapixels effective)
Image processor: BIONZ X
A/D processing: 14-bit
Lens mount: Sony E-mount
Focal length crop factor: 1.5x
Zoom functions: Clear Image Zoom (approx. 2x); Smart zoom (Still images):M: Approx. 1.4x, S: Approx. 2x, Digital zoom (Still images): L: Approx. 4x, M: Approx. 5.7x, S: Approx. 8x, Digital zoom (Movie): Approx. 4x
Image formats: Stills: JPEG (DCF Ver. 2.0, Exif Ver. 2.31), ARW.RAW (V. 2.3), RAW+JPEG; Movies: XAVC S & AVCHD with AVC/H.264 compression, Audio: XAVC S – Linear PCM (Stereo), AVCHD – Dolby Digital (AC-3) 2ch, Dolby Digital Stereo Creator
Image Sizes: Stills – 3:2 aspect: 6000 x 4000, 4240 x 2832, 3008 x 2000; 16:9 aspect: 6000 x 3376, 4240 x 2400, 3008 x 1688; 1:1 aspect: 4000 x 4000, 2832 x 2832, 2000 x 2000; Sweep Panorama mode: Wide: horizontal 12,416 x 1,856, vertical 5,536 x 2,160, Standard: horizontal 8,192 x 1,856, vertical 3,872 x 2,160; Movies: XAVC S 4K: 3840 x 2160 (25p, 100M), 3840 x 2160 (25p, 60M), XAVC S HD:1920 x 1080 (100p, 100M), 1920 x 1080 (100p, 60M), 1920 x 1080 (50p, 50M), 1920 x 1080 (25p, 50M), 1920 x 1080 (50p, 25M), 1920 x 1080 (25p, 16M), AVCHD:1920 x 1080 (50i, 24M, FX), 1920 x 1080 (50i, 17M, FH)
Aspect ratios: 3:2, 16:9, 1:1
Image Stabilisation: Lens based
Dust removal: Not specified
Shutter (speed range): Electronically-controlled, vertical-traverse, focal-plane shutter, Still images:1/4000 to 30 sec, Bulb, Movies: 1/4000 to 1/4 (1/3 steps), up to 1/50 in AUTO mode (up to 1/25 in Auto slow shutter mode); flash synch at 1/160 sec.
Exposure Compensation: +/- 5EV in 1/3 and 1/2EV steps (+/-EV for movies)
Exposure bracketing: 3/5 frames selectable in 1/3EV increments up to 3.0EV
Other bracketing options: WB (3 frames, H/L selectable); flash 3/5 frames in 1/3-3.0 EV steps selectable
Self-timer: 2, 5 or 10 seconds delay; Continuous self-timer (3 frames after 10 sec. delay/5 frames after 10 sec. delay/3 frames after 5 sec. delay/5 frames after 5 sec. delay/3 frames after 2 sec. delay/5 frames after 2 sec. delay)/Bracketing self-timer (Off/2 sec. delay/5 sec. delay/10sec. delay)
Interval recording: Yes (1-60 sec. interval, 1-9999 shots, AE tracking)
Focus system: Fast Hybrid AF (phase-detection AF/contrast-detection AF)
AF points & selection: 425 points PD/CD; Wide (425 points (phase-detection AF), 425 points(contrast-detection AF)) / Zone/ Centre/ Flexible Spot (S/M/L)/Expanded Flexible Spot/ Tracking (Wide/ Zone/ Centre/ Flexible Spot (S/M/L)/Expanded Flexible Spot)
Focus modes: AF-A (Automatic AF), AF-S (Single-shot AF), AF-C (Continuous AF), DMF (Direct Manual Focus), Manual Focus modes; Face/eye detection available
Exposure metering: 1200-zone evaluative metering with Multi segment, Centre-weighted and spot metering patterns
Shooting modes: AUTO (iAuto/Superior Auto), Programmed AE, Aperture priority, Shutter-speed priority, Manual, Movie (P/A/S/M), Slow & Quick Motion (P/A/S/M), Sweep Panorama, Scene Selection (Portrait, Sports Action, Macro, Landscape, Sunset, Night Scene, Hand-held Twilight, Night Portrait, Anti Motion Blur)
Creative Style modes: Standard, Vivid, Portrait, Landscape, Sunset, Black & White, Sepia, (Contrast (-3 to +3 steps), Saturation (-3 to +3 steps), Sharpness (-3 to +3 steps))
Picture Effects: Posterisation (Colour), Posterisation (B/W), Pop Colour, Retro Photo, Partial Colour (R/G/B/Y), High Contrast Monochrome, Toy Camera (Normal/Cool/Warm/Green/Magenta), Soft High-key, Soft Focus (High/Mid/Low), HDR Painting (High/Mid/Low), Rich-tone Monochrome, Miniature (Auto/Top/Middle (H)/Bottom/Right/Middle (V)/Left), Watercolour, Illustration (High/Mid/ Low)
Dynamic Range functions: Off, Dynamic Range Optimizer (Auto/Level (1-5)), Auto High Dynamic Range (Auto Exposure Difference, Exposure Difference Level (1-6 EV, 1.0 EV step))
Colour space options: sRGB standard (with sYCC gamut) and Adobe RGB standard compatible with TRILUMINOS Colour
ISO range: Auto (ISO 100-6400 ) with extension to ISO 51200 available for stills or ISO 32000 for movies; adjustable in 1/3 or 1 EV steps
White balance: Auto, Daylight, Shade, Cloudy, Incandescent, Fluorescent (Warm White / Cool White / Day White / Daylight), Flash, Underwater, Colour Temperature (2500 to 9900K) & colour filter (G7 to M7 (57-step), A7 to B7 (29-step)), Custom
Flash: Built-in GN 6 flash (m/ISO 100); coverage to 16mm
Flash modes: Flash off, Autoflash, Fill-flash, Slow Sync., Rear Sync., Red-eye reduction (on/off selectable), Wireless control, Hi-speed sync.
Flash exposure adjustment: +/- 3EV in 1/3, 1/2 EV steps
Sequence shooting: Max. 11 shots/sec. with locked AF
Buffer capacity: Max. 76 Large/Extra Fine JPEGs, 33 RAW files, 31 RAW+JPEG pairs
Storage Media: Single ‘Multi’ slot for Memory Stick Duo/SD cards
Viewfinder: 0.39 type EVF with 1,440,000 dots, 100% frame coverage, 23mm eyepoint, 0.70x magnification, -4 to +3 dpt adjustment
LCD monitor: Tiltable (up by 180°, down by 74°) 3-inch touchscreen LCD with 921,600 dots
Playback functions: Single (with or without shooting information Y RGB histogram & highlight/shadow warning),12/30-frame index view, Enlarged display mode (L: 16.7x, M: 11.8x, S: 8.3x, Panorama (Standard): 19.2x, Panorama (Wide): 29.1x),Auto Review (10/5/2 sec, Off),Image orientation (Manual/Off selectable),Slideshow, Panorama scrolling, Folder selection (Date/ Still/ AVCHD/XAVC S HD/XAVC S 4K),Forward/Rewind (movie),Delete, Protect, Rating, Display as Group
Interface terminals: USB Multi-micro terminal, Micro HDMI (type D), Multi interface shoe, 3.5 mm stereo mini jack (microphone)
Wi-Fi function: Built-in (IEEE 802.11b/g/n), Bluetooth Standard Ver. 4.1 (2.4GHz band), NFC (Type 3 Tag compatible)
Power supply: NP-FW50 rechargeable Li-ion battery; CIPA rated for approx. 420 shots/charge with monitor, 380 shots/charge with EVF; USB charging supported
Dimensions (wxhxd): Approx.120 x 66.9 x 59.4 mm
Weight: Approx. 352 grams (body only); 396 grams with battery and Memory Stick PRO Duo card
Distributor: Sony Australia; 1300 720 071
Based on JPEG files taken with the Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G lens.
Based on ARW.RAW file captured simultaneously and converted into 16-bit TIFF format with Adobe Camera Raw.
Auto white balance with incandescent lighting.
Auto white balance with fluorescent lighting.
Auto white balance with warm-toned LED lighting.
30-second exposure at ISO 100; 20mm focal length at f/4
30-second exposure at ISO 400; 20mm focal length at f/5.
15-second exposure at ISO 1600; 20mm focal length at f/5.
10-second exposure at ISO 6400; 20mm focal length at f/6.3.
5-second exposure at ISO 12800; 20mm focal length at f/6.3.
5-second exposure at ISO 25600; 20mm focal length at f/11.
2.5-second exposure at ISO 51200; 20mm focal length at f/11.
Close-up with 23mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/500 second at f/5.
24mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/320 second at f/9
24mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/200 second at f/8.
24mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/100 second at f/8.
24mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/1250 second at f/4.
12mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/250 second at f/8.
12mm focal length, ISO 200, 1/100 second at f/8.
12mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/80 second at f/9.
14mm focal length, ISO 100, 1/80 second at f/11.
Still frame from Full HD AVCHD movie clip recorded with FX 50i / 24M setting.
Still frame from Full HD AVCHD movie clip recorded with FH 50i / 17M setting.
Still frame from XAVC S 4K movie clip recorded with 25p/ 100M setting.
Still frame from XAVC S 4K movie clip recorded with 25p / 60M setting.
Still frame from XAVC S FHD movie clip recorded at 100p/100M.
Still frame from XAVC S FHD movie clip recorded at 100p/60M.
Still frame from XAVC S FHD movie clip recorded at 50p / 50M.
Still frame from XAVC S FHD movie clip recorded at 50p / 25M.
Still frame from XAVC S FHD movie clip recorded at 25p/50M.
Still frame from XAVC S FHD movie clip recorded at 25p/16M.
Additional image samples can be found with our review of the Sony FE 12-24mm f/4 G lens.
RRP: AU$1298; US$650 (body only)
- Build: 8.8
- Ease of use: 8.5
- Autofocusing: 8.9
- Still image quality JPEG: 8.9
- Still image quality RAW: 9.0
- Video quality: 9.0