A few tips to use your Sony A6000

Photography can be complex.  I remember how overwhelming it was when learning to use my camera.  I often wished there was a simple 10 minute crash course on how to use my Sony A6000.

There wasn’t, but I was determined to master my camera and get off the auto-program mode.

The camera manual was little help, YouTube experts directed changes without explaining why and my geekish son flicked through the modes, dials and auto-settings at lightening-speed under the guise of setting it up for me.  Definitely not helpful!

On the plus side, the A6000 is nice and light, and fits nicely in my handbag (important criteria) and I do love the BIG megapixel values.  That’s all I need to take awesome photos, right?

Have you got 10 minutes? Let me show you how to use your Sony A6000 camera. Click To Tweet

Be inspired

Inspired, I started by taking an active interest in photographers around the world and their work.  For me, this involved learning a whole new language using terms I’d not heard before.  It seemed that any blog or magazine showcasing beautiful photos used this language and constantly referred to F-stops, aperture, exposure, composition and depth of field.

Over time I learnt tips and techniques to the point that eventually the techno-jargon started to make sense.  As I learnt about composition, exposure, the golden hour and depth of field, I found I was able to achieve the photo effects I wanted, consistently.

So, have you got 10 minutes?

My goal today is to assist you to learn enough of the technical aspects to minimise the frustration I experienced in my early days.

Let me show you how you how to use your Sony A6000

Dragonfly

Today you will learn how to set up your Sony a6000 and familiarising yourself with one of the most powerful cameras in use today.  We will take you though the basics so you can find the settings you want and show you step-by-step how to get the shots you want.

Read next:  Beginners Guide to Shooting Awesome Photos with your Sony a6000

Getting Started

Get to know the dials.  Experiment.  Take the time to explore all the settings and dials to find out exactly what works best for you.

The Top Buttons

Sony A6000 - top view

The Sony A6000 is simple and uncluttered. There are only two dials and a single function button for you to use.  The first dial close to the flash unit is the camera mode dial.  

The second dial on top, to the right will function differently depending on the camera mode you select.

  • In Aperture Priority and Manual modes the dial is used to adjust lens aperture changing the depth of field.
  • In Shutter Priority mode, this dial alters the shutter speed.

Choose the right Shooting ModeCamera Settings

Follow our quick summary of the camera mode settings on your Sony A6000 and discover what each function does.  Explore them all.

  • Superior Auto – (gold) Enables photos of higher quality with auto-adjusted settings, while reducing blurring and noise.
  • Intelligent Auto – (green) Shoot images with auto-adjusted settings.
  • SCN – Scene Selection – Select an auto-mode from pre-selects for landscapes, night, portraits and other modes.
  • Sweep Panorama – Create a panoramic image while you move the camera left/right or up/down at a fixed speed.  Simple to use.
  • Movie Options – Mode for shooting movies.
  • MR – Memory Recall – Allows you to save a favourite setting into the memory and recall when desired.
  • M – Manual Exposure – Select your aperture and shutter speed manually.
  • S – Shutter Priority – Shoot moving subjects by manually adjusting the shutter speed.
  • A – Aperture Priority – Adjust the aperture when you want to blur the background.
  • P – Program Auto – Shoot with the exposure adjusted automatically.

TIP:  I usually shoot in Aperture Priority mode, since it gives me control over lens aperture and the camera does the rest of the exposure automatically, simplifying my settings. I can then tweak the depth of field by using the dial on the right.

Getting your head around the Back Buttons

Sony A6000

You will find a number of other navigation and function buttons on the rear of the Sony A6000.

  • The Menu button opens up the main camera menu.  (I will feature this in another post)
  • AEL button (Auto Exposure Lock) is for locking exposure.

The Fn Button

I find the Fn Button is one of the most useful buttons to change key settings quickly.  Here’s a brief outline of the options I use most to assist control:

  • Drive Mode – This is where you can change the shooting functions.  Single Shooting or Continuous Shooting (Lo, Mid and High) and you will find the Self-Timer option here too.

Focus Mode

  • AF-S – Single-shot AF Locks the focus when focus adjustment is achieved.  Use Single-shot AF when the subject is stationary.
  • AF-A – Automatic AF Switches between Single-shot AF and Continuous AF according to the subject movement. When the shutter is pressed halfway down, the camera locks focus when it determines the subject is stationary, or continues to focus while subject is in motion.
  • AF-C-Continuous AF – Continues to focus while the shutter button is held halfway down.  Use this when subject is in motion.
  • DMF – DMF allows you to use a combination of manual focus and autofocus.
  • MF – Manual Focus allows focus to be adjusted manually.

Focus Area

  • Wide – The camera focuses over a wide area allowing instant AF response to a subject, even off centre.
  • Zone – Select a zone on the monitor on which to focus.  Select from nine zones.  The camera focuses on a subject in the chosen zone.
  • Centre – Focuses automatically on a subject in the centre of the image.
  • Flexible Spot (S/M/L) – Enables you to move the AF range frame to a desired point on the screen and focus on a very small target within a narrow area.

Other Settings available from the Fn Button

  • White Balance – AWB Auto White Balance.  AWB contains a range of Auto preference settings.
  • Smile/Face Detect – Opt to have this auto detect for Faces and Smiles.
  • ISO – I generally leave this setting on Auto mode with the minimum set to 100 and maximum to 3000.
  • Flash Compensation – I leave this set to Auto.
  • Exposure Compensation – Leave at 0.  Use the Navigation wheel.
  • Metering Mode – I leave this set to Multi unless specific conditions require change.
  • Focus Mode – AF-S with the opportunity to change the setting to AF-C as required.
  • DRO / Auto HDR – I leave this off
  • Zebra –  I set this to 100%.  I find this function useful to give me a guide to exposure.

The Navigation Wheel

The navigation dial on the back of the camera can be used to navigate through the camera menu, make quick exposure changes, as well as access specific functions by pressing each of the four corners.

  • DISP switches between different views on the camera LCD screen
  • ISO allows changing camera ISO
  • The Left side is used to access camera drive mode
  • The Bottom side can adjust exposure compensation
  • Playback plays back the images on the LCD screen
  • C2 can be used as the Trash button to delete unwanted images during playback.  C2 can also be assigned as a programmable option when not in playback mode.

Lock-on AF

This super-cool AF function tracks the subject, and maintains focus on it.

Simply position the target frame over the subject to be tracked, and press the central button of the control wheel to start the tracking.  There’s also a convenient Lock-on AF activation setting when camera is in AF-C mode which starts tracking by pressing the shutter button halfway down.

Simple Shooting Tips for your Sony A6000

Finke Desert Race

Simple Steps to Shooting a moving subject

These settings can be used for shooting moving subjects in general.

Focus Mode
AF-C

Focus Mode: Select AF-C that continuously maintains focus on a moving subject while the shutter button is held halfway down.

Focus Area
Wide

Focus Area:  Select Wide that automatically focuses on a subject, wherever it is positioned within the frame.

Drive Mode
Continuous Shooting Hi

Drive Mode:  When shooting a moving subject, select Continuous Shooting that takes continuous shots while the shutter button is held all the way down.

Shutter Speed
1/500 sec or faster

Shutter Speed:   Try to select a fast shutter speed, so that the subject doesn’t become blurred.

Shooting dynamic sports scenes

Use of Lock-on AF is recommended when shooting with potential obstacles around your subject.  Once focus is locked on the intended subject this function is locked on the intended subject, this function maintains steadfast so you won’t miss a good shot.  A frame with double green lines appears to indicate Lock-on AF target.

Shoot swimmers in splashing water

How to select Flexible Spot

Press Fn Button
Choose Focus Area in the menu
Choose Flexible Spot
Move the AF range frame to the area that you want to focus on.

With a selection of shutter speed that is as fast as possible, such as 1/1000 sec or faster, each drop of splashing water can be depicted, capturing something that the naked eye cannot see.

When using the camera to trace the movement of a moving subject, Focus Mode should be set to AF-C.

Tip:  To prevent splashing water from interfering with focusing, select Flexible Spot for Focus Area.

Capture a performance

How to select Zone
Press the Fn button
Choose Focus Area in the menu
Choose Zone

Move the AF range frames to the area you want to focus on.To capture facial expressions of a performer, set Face Detection to On.

When framing your performer vertically, a dancer’s face is likely to be positioned in the upper area of the frame.  Select upper area of the frame and select upper zone in the Zone setting in the Focus Area.  A shutter speed of 1/500 sec or faster to capture movement.

Shooting active situations

How to set up Continuous Shooting
Press the left side of the control wheel
Select Continuous Shooting Hi.

The key to capturing a definitive moment is to take many shots using continuous shooting mode.

The A6000 offers plenty of opportunities to capture by using high-speed continuous shooting at 11 frames per second (fps) in Hi mode.  Keep the shutter pressed to continuously shoot.

Capturing animals on the move

Monkeys at UbudTo shoot animals that move unpredictably, set Focus Mod to AF-C and Focus Area to Wide.  Use a fast shutter speed to ‘freeze’ the action like 1/500 or faster.  Try to shoot in bright light or at a fast shutter speed to capture your subject clearly.

To shoot with a shutter speed of your choice, turn the mode dial to S and choose a shutter speed using the control wheel.

Capturing Speed

Capturing Movement
Select AF-C Focus Mode.
Set the Focus Area to Zone.
Choose a fast shutter speed of 1/1000 sec or faster in order to capture the subject clearly.

Shooting vehicles, people and pets gives great opportunity to capture movement.

To capture the shot, pan the movement of your target by starting the shoot before, and continuing to shoot after the photograph sequence has been taken.

Shooting portraits

When shooting a person, set Focus Mode to AF-S.  Focus on the eyes wherever possible  when you shoot a portrait.  Select Wide for Focus Area and On for Face Detection. Set Eye AF function too.

Shooting Scenery

Devils Marbles

Select AF-S for Focus Mode when shooting a stationary subject.

Flower Power

To achieve a soft focus on the flower and blur the background, set Focus Mode to AF-S.  Choose Flexible Spot Focus Area to allow a specific point of focus within the frame and the background blurred.

Shooting Food

Focus on a specific point to make a dish look more appealing by choosing a place in bright but not direct light.  Use the Focus Mode of AF-S, with Flexible Spot.

Remember to have fun

Most importantly, take time to have fun with your photography by exploring new techniques and don’t be afraid to use the different settings on your camera.  Experiment and live the adventure.

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Let me show you How to Use Your A6000!

Practice Practice Practice

If you want a better understanding of your camera, try everything and keep challenging yourself, and Practice, Practice, Practice.
But until then, why not share your beautiful photos with me and learn as you go.