For the successor to its generally excellent Alpha NEX-6, Sony claims improved performance from an updated autofocus system, better image quality from a new sensor and bump to the latest Bionz X image-processing firmware, and a refined design over its predecessor. The latest ILC to get Sony's ILCE rebranding, the Alpha ILCE-6000 (aka the A6000) seems to have been improved in every way except the way it needed most — shortening its start-up time.
The NEX-6, with its hybrid autofocus system, performs pretty well, but the A6000 finally offers a solid burst frame rate with continuous autofocus. The updated system provides phase-detection sensors covering more of the image area — 92 per cent, according to Sony — which should help with focusing on off-centre subjects and subjects moving across the frame. However, it remains to be seen if Sony has reduced the camera's long start-up time, a problem that continues to plague all of its mirrorless models; the boot time on the preproduction model we saw still seemed awfully slow.
The new sensor incorporates the latest gapless microlens technology that most modern sensors now use, and coupled with the Bionz X processor I think we should see some pretty good photo and video quality. Sony also brings the feature set up-to-date by adding NFC for quick wireless pairing, clean HDMI output, and Zebra (tone-clipping indicator).
Sony will also be offering three new A6000-compatible apps for its proprietary PlayMemories platform in the spring, StarTrail (for long-exposure sky photography), LiveView Grading (which despite using the term "grading" looks more like special effects), and Smooth Reflection (a digital neutral-density filter for long exposures). All will cost you extra bucks. The new Sync to Smartphone app (for simultaneously saving to mobile device and camera) will be gratis, however.
On the one-step-back front, Sony seems to have downgraded the EVF — it's much lower-resolution and a hair smaller — though it remains competitive with those of the other cameras in its class.