The Sony a6000 is probably one of, if not the most popular mirrorless camera body that has been released to date. Even though Sony has added a large number of new cameras to their Sony Alpha lineup, the a6000 still sees extremely strong sales month in and month out. Not only does it offer excellent image quality relative to its price point but the a6000 is also extremely versatile too.
This means that no matter what you are actually planning to do with your photography sessions, the Sony a6000 should be able to deliver and ensure that you are able to capture the absolute best photographs possible. That said though, just like many other camera bodies on the market right now, we constantly see people reaching out asking questions such as “is the Sony a6000 good in low light?“.
Now, the short answer for the question is that is going to depend, the Sony a6000 can be a great little camera body for low light photography or videography if you are on a budget. You can easily pick up the Sony a6000 and a suitable low light photography lens such as the Rokinon AF 24mm f/2.8 for well under $1000. This offers some excellent levels of low light image quality relative to the price point for the setup and is well worth taking advantage of for any beginner or intermediate level photographers or videographers.
On the flip side of this though, if you do have a larger budget available for your gear then we would highly recommend that you consider something like the newer Sony a6400 and a better lens such as the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN. The difference in image quality between the suggested a6000 setup above is obvious and the price difference really is not that much more.
That said though, due to seeing more and more people reaching out with this and similar questions, we have decided to make it the main focus of today’s article. We are going to be offering our readers the ultimate break down on the low light performance of the Sony a6000 to try and help as many of our readers as possible. Although a large number of you may already own the a6000, many may be considering picking it up and adding it to their camera collection.
No matter what your current situation is, we are confident that our article will be able to show that the Sony a6000 is able to provide you with some outstanding low light image quality while also offering a number of tips and tricks to try and ensure you get the best low light photos possible. That said though, although we will try to ensure that as many of our tips and tricks are free/cheap as to not break the bank, some do have a higher price tag but where relevant, we will offer ways that you are able to integrate them without having to break the bank.
The Low Light Photography Performance Of The Sony A6000
Although there are a ton of comparisons out there where a photographer or videographer will compare the Sony a6000 to a different camera body, they almost all forget to take into account that the a6000 is a much older camera, has a crop sensor, and is usually considerably cheaper than the camera that they compare it too. We see this time and time again and as we pointed out above in our gear recommendations, it is obvious that a newer, more expensive camera such as the Sony a6400 will be able to beat the a6000 out of the water when it comes to low light image quality.
That said though, if you look at photographs of the exact same subject taken within seconds of each other with the Sony a6000 side by side to something like the Sony a6400 or the Sony A7III, the difference in image quality can often go noticed to many. This usually means that many of your clients will not even be able to tell the difference between the more expensive camera rigs and the Sony a6000 allowing you to keep them happy without having to folk out for the more expensive camera rig.
On top of this, depending on the specific situation that your client requires you to capture your photographs in, the difference in image quality between the a6000 and the other, more expensive camera bodies on the market becomes even less recognisable. Although it is a given, the better the available lighting, the better the a6000 will perform for you. Depending on your clients needs, you may be able to improve the available lighting for your camera sensor while still getting the photograph your client needs and ensuring that you get a comparable image quality to a newer camera body.
Additionally, once you tweak the ISO on your Sony a6000 to around the 5000 mark, the image quality that the camera is able to provide for you does become drastically better when used in low light situations. That said, we have seen some people increase their ISO to over 10,000 for optimal image quality so the specific situation that you are working in will definitely come into play so don’t forget that.
Too many photographers simply Google search something like “Sony a6000 settings for low light photography” and blindly stick to it for every single photography gig they have for low light work. This is a huge mistake that is unfortunately becoming more and more common. Ensure that you always play around with both your ISO and your shutter speed when on location with a few test photographs to optimize the performance of your a6000 for the gig.
It doesn’t matter if you are looking to use the a6000 for photography or videography, there are multiple, budget-friendly lenses that will natively mount to the camera without needing a lens convertor that performs well in low light. This can drastically improve the image quality that you are able to capture with your camera body and help ensure that your a6000 is getting the best photograph possible in even the lowest of low light situations.
Invest In An Optimal Low Light Photography Lens For Your Sony A6000
This is an extremely common problem for beginner photographers as they will often try to use the kit lens or some other lens that is not suitable for low light photography with their camera. Not surprisingly, this leads to poor image quality and it is no fault of the camera or the lens as the actual photographer or videographer is just using their tools incorrectly.
Thankfully though, there are a ton of great lenses available for the Sony a6000 that are able to drastically improve its performance when it comes to your low light photography session. If you are on a tight budget then we would highly recommend that you check out the Rokinon AF 24mm f/2.8 as it really is a great bit of kit for the price.
In our opinion, the Rokinon AF 24mm f/2.8 is one of the best lenses available that will natively mount to your a6000 without having to use a lens converter or anything like that. It offers some outstanding performance relative to its price tag and due to the huge popularity of the Rokinon AF 24mm f/2.8, you can often find pre-owned lenses on sites like eBay to bring the price down even further.
That said though, if you are wanting to get the absolute best performance possible out of your Sony a6000 for your low light photography sessions then you are going to want a faster aperture, sometimes like a decent f/1.4 usually offers you the best blend of quality for price. This is why we usually recommend that our readers go with the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN if they do have the budget available.
Although there are even more expensive camera lenses out there that are ideal for low light photography with your a6000, the hike in price is usually not worth it. The Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN is an outstanding camera lens and if you take care of it, we are confident that the lens will be able to last you for many years to come while performing extremely well for your low light photography sessions as well as in a number of other popular photography niches too.
Make Sure You Have Some Solid Image Stabilization Available
This is a frequent mistake that we see beginner and even some intermediate level photographers making time and time again. They will try to hold their Sony a6000 in their hands for their low light photography sessions and then wonder why image quality suffers. Although you can get some surprisingly good photographs from your a6000 with optimal lighting by holding it in your hand, this changes when there is a lack of available light.
In low light conditions, your a6000 needs all the help it can get to ensure it is getting all of the available light to its camera sensor. If you are holding your camera in your hands, the slight vibrations and movements that we naturally make can make this difficult and end up causing your photographs to blur. If you are using an unsuitable camera lens with your a6000 while trying to hold it in your hands this effect is compounded making it even worse.
We know that a large number of our readers will probably already have a tripod in their camera accessories, we often see people reaching out about low light image quality who don’t and have a high number of entry level photographers amongst our readers. If you are yet to invest in a tripod then you will ideally be wanting something like the Manfrotto MT055CXPRO3 for the long term but it can be a little pricey.
Thankfully though, the prices of tripods have come down over the last three to five years resulting in a number of decent options being available in the sub-one hundred dollar price point. If you are on a budget and need a tripod then we would recommend that you check out the Zomei Z699c as it is a great option with an excellent reputation that offers outstanding performance and image quality for its price point.
Recommended Low Light Photography Settings For Your Sony A6000
As we touched on above, every single low light photography session you have will have different optimal settings for your a6000 to provide you with the best image quality possible. That said though, you are able to use the settings below as a base guide for photography and videography work with the Sony a6000 but tweak them to your needs once on location.
- ISO Minimum Limit – 100
- ISO Upper Limit – 800 to 5000
- Shutter Speed – 1/50
- Record Settings – 24p 50M
- Digital Range Optimiser – Level 2, 3 or 4
- Aperture – f/1.4 to f/2.8
As you can see from our recommendations above, some of the settings for the Sony a6000 for use in low light photography have ranges rather than an exact setting. This is usually the range that we would recommend that you work in but as we touched on earlier, when it comes to the ISO setting, it can vairy wildly depending on the available light with some people going as high as over 10,000.
We know that it can be boring to play around with your camera settings but it can be well worth it over the course of your career as a professional photographer or videographer. Being able to build up a feel for what your settings should be once you arrive on location can end up saving you a ton of time in the long run. We would highly recommend that you get out there and play around with the various settings on your Sony a6000 so you can see the changes in image quality that they result in.
Try Using Some Steel Wool When Working In Low Light
This is going to depend on what you are doing with your a6000 but you can often drastically improve image quality by using some steel wool for your photography session. With steel wool adding an additional light source for your camera sensor to work with, it can end up bringing an otherwise low quality photograph to life like the one above.
The photograph above is a great example as it is obvious that without the steel wool being used by the model in the photo, it would be extremely low quality and you probably wouldn’t even see the model or the bridge. If you take a little time to think outside of the box and look around you when on location for your low light photography session with your Sony a6000, you can usually come up with some unique ways to integrate steel wool.
The added light and movement also helps your work stand out against the competition too. As so many photographers share their work on social media sites such as Instagram now, it offers a way for your work to stand out on the hash tag grid helping to draw potential followers to your accounts too.
Try Different Lighting Solutions
Again, this one is going to depend on what you are actually trying to get done with your Sony a6000 as well as what your client needs from you and your session. Depending on the requirements though, you can often use your own lighting source to better capture the subject of the photograph while still getting that low light feel as shown in the image above.
A decent, cheap lightwand can be an excellent option for this as it allows you to add even a subtle light to your subject while offering your full control of its color and brightness too. This can be a quick and easy trick to keep the feel of the desired photograph from your client while ensuring that you are getting them the best photograph possible too.
Depending on where you are actually working, there may be light sources that you are able to use on sight for the same effect though. For example, nightclubs will often hire photographers for promotional photographs and want their main lights off but have neon lights available that you can integrate into the session. Your Sony a6000 has excellent color replication so it will work well with a lightwand or any other light source that you have available on sight such as neon lights.
That brings our thoughts on if the Sony a6000 is good in low light situations or not to a close. As we have tried to explain throughout the article, the a6000 is definitely capable for providing you with some excellent image quality for your work with low light situations. If you are on a tighter budget then the a6000 can definitely be one of the best camera body options available but in all honesty, if you do have the budget available, go with the Sony a6400 instead as it performs much better for low light work.
You have to remember that the a6000 is getting old now and although it is a very capable camera for its current price tag, the newer cameras often out perform is while only having a marginally higher price due to technology becoming better and better and cheaper and cheaper. We hope that you have found this article helpful and wish you all the best in your future low light photography or videography work with whatever camera you choose to use.