PCmag reviewed the Sony a6700 mirrorless camera and found that the autofocus to be surprisingly good, but found the competition to be better at moving objects. Are you a sports or fast action photographer? You might find attaching and operating certain telephoto lenses challenging and the 38% crop in 4K120 might be too much, but there is a lot to like in the Sony a6700. Did Sony just phone this one in, or did they generate another hit? We've got the highlights of the PCmag review below.

    You can preorder the Sony a6700 from Adorama and B&H.

    • The Sony a6700 design and ergonomics is well suited for small lenses, but not so functional with large and heavy telephoto lenses.
    • It is built from a magnesium alloy chassis so its able to withstand some abuse, and it is dust and water resistant. However, as most lenses are not, be sure to use some sort of rain protection.
    • The A6700 grip is improves over previous bodies improving operability with larger lenses. 
    • The newly added front e-dial is a little too close to the middle finger recess, but I'm happy with the addition of this dial nonetheless. 
    • The control system on the back is a little cramped leaving one to easily fat finger the controls especially if one has large hands.
    • The directional pad doesn't have diagonal input like a joystick, so it's a bit inconvenient.
    • AI subject recognition helps avoid tedious operations when focusing, but if one often shoots demanding subjects like team sports or wildlife — anything that moves around a lot — a joystick like the EOS R7 or X-T5 would be much appreciated. This is one area where the competition excels.
    • The LCD is upgraded from tilt to a variable angle LCD allowing one to face the front and take selfies. 
    • The 1.03 million-dot monitor has plenty of resolution, but it's not ideal for manual focus like the X-S20's 1.8-million dot monitor or the EOS R7's 1.6-million dot monitor. Sony could and should have done a better monitor.
    • The EVF is disappointing for a camera sold to hobbyists, but the resolution is the same as the EOS R7, so it's not at all inferior, but the Fujifilm X-T5's EVF is bigger and sharper.
    • The battery life is unknown at this time, but it was enough for a full day of shooting, and I didn't have to worry about the battery running out during the review period. I was able to record 100 minutes of video at 4K60p on a full charge.
    • Those using external recorders should be wary of the notoriously fragile micro HDMI port. Also, the use of a single card slot can be a problem for weddings and events where it's common to use dual card slots for redundancy.
    • Autofocus is surprisingly good when combined with subject recognition and real-time tracking, but not having a joystick is a limitation for fast moving subjects.
    • Continuous shooting is 11 frames per second for both mechanical and electronic shutters, which used to be remarkably fast, but modern cameras have faster continuous shooting (EOS R7 at 15 frames per second and 30 per second, X -T5 realizes 15 frames/second and 20 frames/seconds). 11 frames per second is sufficient for many uses, but when shooting moving subjects, faster continuous shooting is advantageous.
    • Buffering is the limiting factor in motion photography. In my tests, I was able to shoot 18 lossless RAW, 36 compressed RAW, and 36 JPEG before slowing down the burst. Writing to an SDXC card (Sony Tough 299Mbps) didn't have to wait long, 5-10 seconds. The a6600 was able to shoot 100 JPEGs and 45 RAW, so the continuous shooting experience is a bit lacking compared to the a6600.
    • Rolling shutter distortion can be seen with electronic shutters, so you should use a mechanical shutter when shooting fast-moving subjects.
    • As for image quality, the Lightroom used for evaluation does not support the α6700, so a complete evaluation of RAW is withheld, but the pixel pitch matches the a7R V, so the dynamic range and high-sensitivity noise are the same as the α7R V. I expect that.
    • In JPEG, detail is excellent up to ISO3200, and noise is almost non-existent. At ISO6400-12800, the contrast is a little lower and the contours are broken. Detail almost disappears at ISO25600-51200, and image quality drops significantly at ISO102400.
    • In combination with the E11mm F1.8, IBIS provided sharp images without any problems up to 1/4 second, and had a good hit rate even at 1/2 second. I recommend using a tripod for longer exposures.
    • The video is much higher performance than the α6600, and it supports oversampling 4K60p from 6K with almost the full width of the sensor, and also supports 10bit 4:2:2.
    • The overheat warning appeared after just 10 minutes of recording at 4K24p with default settings. Switching the setting to high allowed me to record 40 minutes in 4K60p, but my body got hot. The temperature between the eyecup and the menu button was 140 degrees Fahrenheit (60 degrees Celsius) and the grip was 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43.3 degrees Celsius) when the camera thermally stopped. If you want to record for a long time in a hot place, the FX30 with a cooling fan is better.
    • Video image stabilization supports active mode, which is cropped but more stable handheld. Image stabilization works well with wide-angle lenses, but not so well in still scenes at telephoto.
    • The built-in mic's sound quality is average, and you'll need an external mic for good quality audio.
    • The a6700 is packed with Sony technology, and it's great for both stills and movies, so fans of small cameras won't have much to complain about. That said, it doesn't handle large lenses very well and is not as ergonomically suited for moving subjects as the X-T5 and EOS R7. Until Sony comes out with an A7-style APS-C camera, the competitor will continue to be the better option.
    • Pros: Compact body with built-in EVF, 5-axis image stabilization, vari-angle monitor for videos and selfies, large capacity battery, 4K60p 10bit recording with almost full sensor width, 4K120p slow motion shooting, improved menus system.
    • Cons: No joystick, outdated EVF, tracking limited to 11fps, SDXC single card slot, can overheat during recording.

    The Sony a6700 is a solid camera, but it doesn't break any rules or grab the limelight. Sony has mastered the ability to take technology pioneered in the Sony A7S III and slowly bring it to much more affordable models, but dealing back some capabilities as they did here. Very similar to the a7S III, but a 38% crop in 4K, missing joystick, and not suited to large heavy lenses, yet bea\cause it draws a lot of A7S III tech, it's still a solid upgrade over the a6600. Viewed side by side with the EOS R7 and the X-T5 and it's not a clear winner. Your shooting style and scenarios will dictate if this is your next camera or not.

    Derek is a writer, video and stills shooter who has been in the video graphics industry since the 1980s. Derek is a founding member of the Camera Insider.

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