Sony a6600 portraits review: The mighty details of an APSC crop sensor camera

Sony a6600 portraits

With everyone battling online about the difference between full-frame and crop sensor cameras, it’s easy to get lost in gear specs. We all get caught up in the specs and pricing of the newest cameras and we forget that new technology has made for great advancements in quality and performance in taking portraits.

Sony a6600 Camera
Sony a6600 Camera

The Sony a6600 is an APSC mirrorless camera that takes high quality portraits and other images. The technology that Sony has integrated into their camera systems allows for fast eye auto-focusing and reliable subject tracking along with better handling of camera shake at lower shutter speeds due to the 5-axis in-body image stabilization.

Sony a6600 portrait photography
Sony a6600 | Sony 55mm f1.8 | @f1.8 | ISO 100 | 1/500sec | All natural light

This camera is a smart choice for beginner photographers so I decided to put it to the test on a natural light portrait shoot with local models from the Dallas, Tx area. Check out the results and see how this light-weight camera performed.

Sony a6600 portrait samples

Sony a6600 portrait photography
Sony a6600 | Sony 24-70mm f2.8 @53mm | @f2.8 | ISO 125 | 1/250sec | All natural light
Sony a6600 portrait photography
Sony a6600 | Sony 55mm f1.8 | @f1.8 | ISO 200 | 1/750sec | All natural light
Sony a6600 portrait photography
Sony a6600 | Sony 55mm f1.8 | @f1.8 | ISO 125 | 1/250sec | All natural light

Sony a6600 first impressions

My main camera for shooting portraits is the Sony a7riii and Sony a7iii. Both full-frame cameras that provide amazing quality and performance while on portrait shoots. My first impressions of the Sony a6600 were pretty positive.

I’ve used the Sony a6400 for portraits and you can check out my preview here. This time, I had a chance to shoot a portrait session with the Sony a6600 and it went really well.

The camera, menu and functions were all pretty familiar to me since I have already shot with other Sony mirrorless cameras. The Sony a6600 was slightly smaller in size than my Sony a7iii full frame camera but just a tad larger than my Sony a6400.

This is due to the Sony Z-battery, so the grip is a bit larger to hold the new battery size.

The only negative thing I could see from the start was the viewfinder. It is WAY too small for this camera so you might want to keep that in mind when using this body. I used the back LCD screen a majority of the time since I couldn’t get used to using the viewfinder.

Sony a6600 Ergonomics and Buttons
Sony a6600 Camera Ergonomics and Buttons

How is the ergonomics and grip of the Sony a6600

The larger grip of the a6600 makes for easier handling over the a6400, but the camera is still pretty small. I have medium to large size hands and my pinky finger hangs off the bottom of the camera when shooting.

To make it easier to hold, I added a small metal camera grip from to the bottom and this solved the problem for me.

I know some people also use full sized battery grips on the bottom of the camera but I don’t like having to use a shutter release cord on the side of the camera so I pass on these. Just personal preference.

Button placement is nice and easy but I still wish there was a front dial on the camera just like the Sony a7iii body. There are plenty of custom buttons that are easy to access one handed on location.

Sony NP-FZ100 Battery vs W Battery
Sony NP-FZ100 Battery vs NP-FW50 Battery

How is the battery life on the Sony a6600

The Sony a6600 has a larger grip than its smaller brother the Sony a6400. Again, this is because the a6600 is now using the Sony Z-battery and not the smaller NP-FW50 batteries from the previous generations.

The addition of the Z-battery alone makes this a tempting feature, especially if you want to upgrade from the Sony a6400. The new NPFZ-100 battery lasts over 2x longer than the NP-FW50 batteries.

This can make a big difference when you’re shooting for longer periods of time. Especially at events or weddings. Having the extra battery life means having to carry less batteries. This was one of my biggest gripes with the Sony a6400 camera.

Is the Sony a6600 heavy

Even with the new Z-battery the camera is very light weight and easy to carry around. You won’t attract much attention because the body is pretty small. When paired with smaller e-mount lenses you will barely be able to tell you are carrying around a camera in the event you want to stay discrete.

My portrait shoots last around 1.5 hours and I have had some that last 4-5 hours. Even carrying this camera around for that long, I don’t get as tired or fatigued as with my larger full-frame cameras paired with full frame lenses.

Weight is something that can be overlooked, but don’t under-estimate the weight of a camera.

Is the eye auto-focus good on the Sony a6600

The new technology in most new mirrorless cameras has come a long way. Sony has positioned itself as an industry leader in eye auto-focus technology but the other camera manufacturers are not far behind.

Sony a6600 portrait photography
Sony a6600 | Sony 55mm f1.8 | @f2.0 | ISO 100 | 1/350sec | All natural light

The eye autofocus is very accurate in good lighting and just as accurate in low lighting conditions. Like all technology there are some limitations to this functionality so you will have to test for yourself to see if this feature meets your expectations.

I shoot natural light portraits and off-camera flash with the Profoto system so I have seen the eye auto-focus work well in both scenarios.

Sony a6600 Camera Sensor
Sony a6600 Mirrorless Camera

Is the Sony a6600 menu complicated to learn

Time and time again I hear about the Sony menu system. Yes, it can be very complicated, but it is very robust and gives you maximum feature control with your camera. There is a way to customize your favorite menu settings on a single screen so this helps control the chaos.

Other than that, you will need to take some time to learn the menu system. This is the case with all cameras and new electronics.

Yes, the Sony menu could have a better and more updated user interface but for now you work with what you have.

As of this article, the new Sony a7siii has been released and it does feature a new menu interface. I am looking forward to seeing if this menu is integrated into other cameras in the future.

What lenses can you use on the Sony a6600

The Sony a6600 features the e-mount system. This allows you to use their full line of APSC and full-frame FE lenses. I have more full-frame lenses in my collection and it’s convenient to be able to use these on my APSC camera bodies.

I do have to keep in mind the crop factors of my full-frame lenses on my APSC bodies. For example, my Sony Zeiss 55mm f1.8 FE lens (full-frame) on my APSC is more like an 82mm. It has a more zoomed in look. This same lens on my Sony a7iii is truer to a 55mm field of view on a 35mm equivalent sensor.

I know it can be confusing. Just remember to keep in mind that the crop factor of an APSC sensor is 1.5 when compared to the larger 35mm sensors from Sony. Other camera brands might be slightly different but same fundamentals apply for the lenses.

Sony a6600 Sony 16-55mm G Lens
Sony a6600 paired with Sony 16-55mm G Lens

Best starter portrait lenses for the Sony a6600

There are many lenses that you can use from the e-mount system and every photographer will tell you something different for portraits. With that said, here are a few lenses I recommend trying with the Sony a6600 mirrorless camera

  • Sigma 56mm f1.4 Sony E-Mount
  • Sigma 35mm f1.4 Sony E-Mount
  • Sony 35mm f1.8 E-Mount Lens
  • The Sony 50mm f1.8 E-Mount Lens
  • Sony 55mm f1.8 FE Lens

Is the Sony a6600 good for beginners

Yes, the features of this camera make this a great beginner camera for portrait photographers but you have to get over the price (unless you can get it for a cheaper price).

The Sony a6600 currently retails for $1399.00 (US dollars). You can find used Sony a7iii full-frame cameras for around $1600-$1700 on the second-hand market. This makes it a very interesting buy for beginners.

If the Sony a6600 was $1000 or less, I would say it was a no brainer for beginners with that budget range, but since it is more expensive then, I would personally save up to buy a used Sony a7iii full-frame camera. You are getting more with full-frame for just a few hundred dollars more.

The features and functionality of the Sony a6600 are great and this camera system makes it easy to take portraits, but I’m was having a hard time with the regular price.

I purchased my Sony a6600 on clearance at a major brand store. A customer returned the camera and the store marked it down.

I was able to negotiate and get the camera for $799 so I bought it on the spot. It was spotless and brand new. I know not everyone is that lucky but I could not pass up on this deal.

Benefits of shooting portraits with Sony a6600

  • Light-weight camera body
  • E-mount lens selection
  • Z-battery for long battery life
  • IBIS (in-body image stabilization)
  • Eye auto-focus technology
  • Fast general subject tracking
  • Touch control tracking (portraits)

What I would like to see changed on the Sony a6600

  • Price – Would like to see this under camera under $1000
  • Viewfinder – Way too small and hard to use
  • Menu – Not a big grip but would love a better user interface
Sony a6600 Portrait Camera
Sony a6600 APSC Portrait Camera

Would you recommend the Sony a6600

If your budget allows, this is a feature packed camera for any beginner. It will allow you to grow and work your way to more complicated shoots without having to upgrade to a full-frame camera.

If you have the budget, I would say go with a used Sony a7iii full-frame camera. Just my opinion. If you can’t buy the a6600, then I would absolutely recommend purchasing the Sony a6400 APSC camera.

It doesn’t have the z-battery or IBIS but has many other features of the Sony a6600 including the fast eye auto-focus and subject tracking.

If both of these options are still out of your price range, then consider the Sony a6500 or the Sony a6300.

I rarely purchase gear at full-price but these other cameras are a few years old and can still get you started if you’re in a smaller price budget. Remember you will need lenses and other items so spend your money wisely.

Conclusion

The Sony a6600 is a very capable portrait camera. You would be surprised at the quality if you saw side-by-side comparisons to a full-frame image.

The goal is to get great images and grow as a photographer so don’t let features be the only reason you want a camera.

I always recommend beginners rent gear first before they make a buying decision. Check out lensrentals.com to rent gear and have it drop shipped to your door. Then spend a weekend to learn and test out a camera for yourself.

Try different brands. I shoot Sony but all manufacturers have great beginner camera options. If you’re really stuck, then go visit a local camera shop. Hold each camera and see what feels right for you. Either way find a camera and lens and get out there to start shooting!

Sony a6600 portrait photography
Sony a6600 | Sony 55mm f1.8 | @f1.8 | ISO 100 | 1/250sec | All natural light
Sony a6600 portrait photography
Sony a6600 | Sony 24-70mm GM f2.8 @47mm | @f2.8 | ISO 125 | 1/250sec | All natural light
Sony a6600 portrait photography
Sony a6600 | Sony 24-70mm GM f2.8 @24mm | @f2.8 | ISO 125 | 1/250sec | All natural light
Sony a6600 portrait photography
Sony a6600 | Sony 24-70mm GM f2.8 @47mm | @f2.8 | ISO 125 | 1/250sec | All natural light
Sony a6600 portrait photography
Sony a6600 | Sony 24-70mm GM f2.8 @24mm | @f2.8 | ISO 125 | 1/250sec | All natural light
Sony a6600 portrait photography
Sony a6600 | Sony 24-70mm GM f2.8 @41mm | @f2.8 | ISO 125 | 1/250sec | All natural light
Sony a6600 portrait photography
Sony a6600 | Sony 24-70mm GM f2.8 @58mm | @f2.8 | ISO 125 | 1/250sec | All natural light
Sony a6600 portrait photography
Sony a6600 | Sony 24-70mm GM f2.8 @50mm | @f2.8 | ISO 125 | 1/250sec | All natural light
Sony a6600 portrait photography
Sony a6600 | Sony 55mm f1.8 | @f1.8 | ISO 200 | 1/500sec | All natural light
Sony a6600 portrait photography
Sony a6600 | Sony 55mm f1.8 | @f1.8 | ISO 200 | 1/500sec | All natural light
Sony a6600 portrait photography
Sony a6600 | Sony 55mm f1.8 | @f1.8 | ISO 200 | 1/500sec | All natural light
Sony a6600 portrait photography
Sony a6600 | Sony 55mm f1.8 | @f1.8 | ISO 100 | 1/500sec | All natural light
Sony a6600 portrait photography
Sony a6600 | Sony 55mm f1.8 | @f1.8 | ISO 200 | 1/750sec | All natural light
Sony a6600 portrait photography
Sony a6600 | Sony 55mm f1.8 | @f1.8 | ISO 200 | 1/750sec | All natural light

Author - Jason The Creative
My goal is not to be best portrait photographer. It’s to enjoy the journey and have some fun learning. Welcome to my photography blog on portraits, Sony gear and more.

If your interested, check out my portfolio at dallasportraits.com. I hope you learn something and leave being inspired to grab your camera and go out and shoot. Instagram.com/jasonthecreative


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