Still Not Taking APS-C Seriously? We Review the Sony a6700

Still Not Taking APS-C Seriously? We Review the Sony a6700

Sony has recently released a successor to a fan-favorite a6600 fittingly called the a6700. Don’t get me wrong, in those few days I had it it performed well, but there are some features that would elevate it to a different level. First things first though, what did Sony do well with the a6700?

Let’s Get the Specs Out of the Way First

The a6700 is the latest mirrorless camera released by Sony set to sit on top of their APS-C lineup. And many features would suggest so. The relatively compact body is powered by the decently performing 26-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor we’ve already had a taste of in the recently released FX30 camera. The sensor is capable of ISO values between 100 and 32,000 with decent low-light performance up until ISO 6,400. 12,800 starts to introduce color artifacts and the noise gets distracting. The images are still usable though.

The top plate is flush and flat. Perfect for small camera bags.

The maximum available framerate has stayed the same up to 11 raw files per second using the mechanical shutter. The viewfinder has unfortunately also stayed the exact same with 2.39 million pixels. It is the same resolution as its competition like the Fujifilm X-S20, or the Nikon Z fc, but I still find the viewfinder in both mentioned superior to the Sony. It’s not just about resolution but about the optics and the UI projected. 


The rear LCD size is the same at 3”, but the resolution has been improved to 1.040k dots and the up/down tilt mechanism has been swapped for a fully articulating one we’ve already seen in the a7 IV. This makes vertical shooting more comfortable and allows us to hide the screen when not in use. I’m not going to call this an upgrade or a downgrade. Everyone has a different preference and that is fine.

Fully articulating LCD. Some love it, some hate it. Can't deny the options it gives us though.

It Handles Well Enough

The ergonomics of the camera have been slightly improved with the inclusion of the front roller. Now we finally get three to be able to quickly adjust any aspect of the exposure on the go. The grip is large, and deep, and offers a solid hold. I can see some people not enjoying the low height of the camera having to have their pinky awkwardly underneath the body, but I personally never really found that an issue. I did not mind carrying the camera for hours and hours with no strap. It is a comfortable body to have. 


That being said there are some downsides to the size. The first one is the exclusion of a focus point joystick. As a left-eye shooter, I immediately disable touchscreen controls on any camera as I do not want to move my focus point using my nose on the screen. That meant I had very limited options to move my focus point. Granted the AF system with the tracking point is reliable enough for me to trust it, but there were occasions when I’d prefer to move the point to a desired location instead of tracking and recomposing. Well, at least the AF button on the back of the body is large and easy to use. 

The mode dial with the stills, video, and S&Q switch.

Who Is It For?

The next gripe I have with the body is the viewfinder size. I understand that to keep the dimensions at this level, there is not much room for a larger EVF. But I was honestly hoping for a top viewfinder with more resolution and a larger magnification similar to the a7 IV. I guess I was hoping Sony would release something like an a7000 lineup. Professional features and body with a smaller and cheaper APS-C sensor. Instead, we just got an updated a6600 which was already a great camera. 


It is nice of Sony to keep the camera weather-sealed, which expands the shooting options tremendously for many photographers. But the inclusion of a single card slot is too scary for anyone shooting either a paid gig or an important piece of work you cannot afford to lose. SD cards fail. I’ve had that happen to me multiple times and the thought of not having a backup is just too unsettling. 

Good connectivity, only a single card slot though. I aplaud the use of actual hinged doors instead of loose flaps.

Just a Buzzword or Does AI Truly Help?

The Sony a6700 has adopted the same AI processor we have seen introduced in the recently released a7R V promising much more accurate performance when detecting all kinds of different subjects like animals, insects, vehicles, birds, and, of course, humans. It can nicely figure out not just where the eyes are and follow them, but when your subject turns around it keeps the head in focus until the eyes are visible again. All of this works well at most times but it certainly is not flawless. Just like with the a7R V, the a7 IV, Canon’s R6 Mark II, Fujifilm’s X-T5, or OM System’s OM-1, these AF systems work brilliantly when they do, but when they lose the subject too far into the bokeh it has a hard time refocusing to find the subject once again. 


And once again, unless the AF system is accompanied by a fast enough motor within the lens it cannot keep up with the subject. I used the Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 Zeiss and the FE 28mm f/2 and while I would not classify these lenses as slow if the subject was moving fast towards me I often got out-of-focus clicks when tracking. 


Don’t get me wrong, the AF system is truly advanced. One of the best on the market. But it is not the all-saving, all-knowing, and all-seeing AI miracle Sony claims it to be. Don’t give into the marketing hoping to not have any more blurry clicks. Learn to work with it and it will deliver. Rely on it too much and you’ll end up disappointed. 

Made for smaller lenses. The a6700 handles really well and offers decent ergonomics.

What I Liked

  • The deep and ergonomic grip
  • Compact size
  • Weather-sealing
  • Fast autofocus when in many scenarios
  • Decent image quality
  • Good exposure controls
  • Large battery
  • USB-C charging
  • Easy vertical shooting with the swiveling screen

What I Didn’t Like

  • Single SD card slot
  • Small viewfinder with low resolution and magnification
  • Loud shutter noise
  • Lack of a joystick

It’s Good, Just Not Great

If you’re an a6600 owner and do not plan on shooting video, there really is not a huge reason to upgrade. The a6700 is a big step up from the likes of a6100 or a6400, but it is still being held behind by some features lacking. Unless you are a hobbyist who is not afraid of losing files to a card failure. It would, however, be nice to see Sony take APS-C slightly more seriously if they came out with a more fleshed-out body. Adding a second card slot, making the viewfinder larger and sharper, and making the shutter sound less obnoxious would make the body a serious machine. For now, it is just a spec-bump to tell us “Look, we haven’t forgotten about APS-C!”


Ondřej Vachek's picture

Ondřej Vachek is a Prague based independent documentary photographer and photojournalist with multiple journeys to war-torn Ukraine where he covered everything from the frontline in the Donbass to the civilian life adapting to the new normal. Avid street photographer with love for writing and storytelling.

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I have an X-T5 and I hardly take it anywhere. With smaller bodies like the A7r V and lighter mirrorless lenses for full-frame, there's not much noticeable difference in weight any more when I go out with the equivalent lenses. My poor APS-C is essentially gathering dust in the corner.

That's why my everyday camera is the still great Fuji X70. :-)

Define equivalent lenses.

For starters the A7RV is 40% heavier than the x-t5.

Picking a lens at random and not forgetting that aperture is the same for both formats, the 50mm 1.4 GM is again just over 40% bigger than the XF 33 1.4, the closest equivalent. Both will gather identical light, give or take. The Sony lens costs almost double though.

So on the one side you have a package that weighs just over 900g and costs about €2300 at today's prices.

On the other hand you've got the sony at just over 1.2 kg, costing €6700.

Add a couple more lenses to three bag and you'll quickly be carrying 1kg more than the Fuji you mentioned.

Not forgetting of course, mirrorless doesn't have to mean the x-t5. The x-t30 fits very well with the XF 33 also and weighs half an A7RV.

I am Fish wrote:

"Define equivalent lenses."

The best way to compare a MFT lens to a FF or APS-C lens is to compare the actual size, in diameter, of the aperture at its widest opening.

There is no need to bother with f stop numbers when you can just go according to how many millimeters across the aperture is, because that is what determines the light-gathering capabilities of the lens, and it transcends any difference between systems of varying sensor size.

That's a cop out. You said equivalent lens, not me. You must have had lenses in mind, otherwise it's just a baseless sweeping statement.

Edit: my bad, you weren't the OP. But maybe the OP can answer for themselves.

Hi Mr. Fish,

Apologies for the delay in responding, I don't log on here much. I won't check or dispute your weights, I'm sure you cheked them yourself. All I will say is if they are correct, just over 1/2lb in weight is meaningless to me. I would never notice it. To me that's like the people who complain a smartphone is 5 grams heavier than another one. If I carry a backpack with GFX 100s gear and several lenses when I do landscapes then why would 1/2lb difference in weight between FF and APS-C worry me?

I have the best gear I can buy for no other reason than I like to have the most options open to me, even if I (very often) never use the options to their full. Money means nothing to me, I have plenty, so why not?

1kg more for a kit isn't 1/2lb, it's 2 lb heavier. Or the weight of an extra GFX 100 II or litre of water. You notice that. Hell the difference between the viltrox 27 and Fuji 23 1.4 WR is noticeable after a long day, and that really is just 1/2lb difference.

A bigger, comfortable bag will help distribute weight for heavier kits, but that is also more of more. There's of course a balance, and when I take my small kit - and with APSC small can mean very small - I wish I had the faster lenses. But I also appreciate that I don't.

And while money may not be your primary concern, to get the closest approximation to my Fuji kit with Sony, including choosing some lenses much slower and also third parties and a some that are cheaper even, it would set me back over €21000. My 12 lens Fuji kit including most of the latest and greatest lenses cost me a fraction of that at €9000. There's still a gulf in terms of price and weight.

And that's a lot of trips to enjoy the photography.

The problem for Sony with taking APS-C more seriously is that such a decision could lead to a portion of full frame customers choosing to buy a slightly lower priced APS-C body instead of a more expensive full frame body.

So I think the reason they do not make an APS-C body with the highest level specs and feature set is to protect their more expensive bodies and make sure that there will be no cannibalism of FF bodies whatsoever. Makes sense, and it is best for Sony's bottom line. Of course, it is NOT best for us, but Sony has to do what is best for themselves, not what is best for their customers. That's just good business.

I agree, but have a look at how well-loved the Nikon D500 was. Or the 7D from Canon. If they made a seriously fast and durable APS-C body similar to the A1 or A9 for sports and wildlife with a fast framerate and autofocus it could be incredible paired with their longer FE lenses.

The number of people I see choosing OM-1, X-H2S, R7, or even a used D500 over their dream A9 II, or A1 due to the cost and longer reach due to crop is pretty high.

If you want a more serious apsc body, just buy an a7r5 or an a1 and leave it apsc mode, using primarily crop lenses, voila you now have the best crop body ever. Lol

That is an excellent point.

I think that when most people say they really want a pro grade crop body, what they really want is to save money. It isn't really about pixel density or form factor ... it is about not wanting to spend what it takes to get the features they really want.

If someone was honest with themselves and really did want a crop sensor body, and wasn't being a cheapskate but was willing to pay full frame price, then they would do exactly what you suggest.

That's why I bought an a6700, I wanted to put together a smaller, lighter, more value oriented kit vs my Canon RF kit.

I could never get excited enough about an apsc sensor to spend too much on one.

For the APS-C DSLR's Nikon and Canon chose to make them compatible with full frame lenses. This resulted in the same lensmount for both systems and the same distance between the sensor and the lensmount for APS-C and Full frame, although APS-C sensor is smaller . As a result of this, the APS-C camera's and the lenses especially designed for APS-C (DX and EF-S) are a compromise in terms of size and weight. The benefit for those APS-C users is small, because of this.

The benefit of on APS-C system in terms of size and weight, that is not compatble with full frame, is more clear.

I think if most people were honest with themselves they'd say that they bought FF because they thought that's what they should get, but for most people with FF not buying the high end lenses, they would be able to get similar results with a M4/3 never mind APSC. The wonders of modern marketing and bias confirmation.

You are suggesting that the best way to get an inexpensive two seater coupe is to buy a BMW 7 seater for 3 times the money and only use two seats.

That's just dumb as F.

I am Fish wrote:

"You are suggesting that the best way to get an inexpensive two seater coupe is to buy a BMW 7 seater for 3 times the money and only use two seats."

No, I am not saying that. You are putting words in my mouth that I never uttered at all.

If someone tells me that they want a relatively inexpensive camera that will take really good photos, but that they do not need the very best image quality because they are not pixel peepers, then I would suggest a crop body camera. I would NEVER suggest a full frame camera for that person, because it would not fit the parameters of what is important to them.

In the comment that you misinterpreted, I was saying that many people are not admitting that they want inexpensive cameras.

They are saying, "I want the very best camera possible, regardless of price, size, and weight" ..... and then they are buying crop cameras because they are cheaper and lighter. Then they try to convince themselves that their crop bodies are very bit as good as the full frame bodies in every measurable way.

They are not being honest with themselves about the fact that price, size, and weight played a role in their decision.

You premised your earlier comment by agreeing with that statement that the best way to get the best APSC camera was to buy a high end FF and to just leave it in APSC mode.

I'm not misrepresenting you, it's in your comment.

But nowhere was I ever responding to someone saying they wanted a camera that came at a relatively affordable price tag, or at relatively light weight. Those parameters were never given to us. In fact, no parameters were given to us.

If I am not given any parameters or limitations that I need to work within, then I will suggest the very best no matter what. If someone gives me parameters and specifications that I must work within, then I will give suggestions that are within those parameters.

Yet you tried to say that what I was recommending laid far outside of given boundaries. But no boundaries had been established. Hence, it was wrong and unreasonable for you to make that analogy and to draw that conclusion.

I did a direct comparison between a older Sony APS-C and FF 24 mp with the same lens and there was a minor difference. Frankly, at this point the only reason for FF are the better lenses.

That's one reason, but the bigger reason is better signal to noise ratio, shallower depth of field when desired, etc.......

I really think if you are not going to get the better lenses, there is literally no point going to FF.

Single card is for amateurs but if you invest in a good card chances for failure are small. I had cards from a well known brand but had minor problems frequently. Then I found some Sony cards on sale and bought those. Never had a problem since. Sony have these Tough cards that are dead expensive, I don’t have those, they came later and are to expensive for me anyway. Well maybe next time. Never buying anything than Sony. (Yes I have a Sony camera)

My best remedy for a single slot camera is to use multiple smaller cards instead of a one high capacity one. Most of my cards are 32 gigs. Every card has a chance of failing. This way I limit the potential loss to a fraction of the shots taken.

It's all about the lenses. And APS-C lenses are sorely lacking. Physics being physics, there is no size, weight or cost benefit to APS-C over full frame when you factor in a truly equivalent lens. In many cases such lenses don't even exist. Want 70-200mm f2.8 results? You need a 50-135mm f/2.0. Unfortunately there is no such lens.

Exactly! Which supports my point that the real reason people want APS-C is to be cheap and not spend as much. They may pretend that they really want that sensor size or pixel density, but deep down they are trying to find a way to get a highly capable camera for less money. Otherwise they would do exactly what Christopher Broughton said and buy the top of the line full frame body and use it in crop mode. The fact that they don't do that just proves that what they are really looking for is a wa\y to cheap out.

Not everyone can just dish out $3000 and frankly, very few customers - if you're a pro - can tell the difference or really care.

It's just some people aren't as gullible when it comes to marketing and the cult of FF. Not about cheaping out, but actually recognising which system they need. Fact is most people with average FF lenses would be fine with M4/3.

Where FF still has a distinct advantage is with sports and wildlife - and that's because of the lenses available, not the sensor size. If the only differentiator were the sensor, for wildlife M4/3 or APSC have the clear crop factor advantage.

Those f1.4 FF lenses let no more light in than the APSC f1.4 lenses. You can always walk a step or two to match the depth of field, but you aren't going to make that f1.8 FF lens collect more light than an f1.2 APSC no matter how hard you try.

Most people can't tell the difference when looking at a picture either. Now would they care.

If I was making videos/movies and on a budget, I'd get this in a heartbeat.

Really? Why this, at $1,400, instead of it's predecessor, the A6600, that you can get for $700 on the used market?

10 bit 4:2:2 video recording color is much better. (A few years ago, my friend spent $3800 for that in an a7SIII.) Plus, 4K 120p video with much better autofocusing with no breathing and recognition. Better stabilization and better photo color science. That is, if you are serious about video.

Thanks for explaining. I am a photographer, not a videographer, so I know nothing about video capabilities as they mean nothing to me for what I do. So if it weren't for your explanation, I would have no idea why anyone would be buying an A6700.

Sure. I wouldn't either but my photographer/videographer friend got me curious about all that. Yeah, the cheaper, used Sony 6000 series is almost as good for much less but without the more modern color science and autofocusing.

I do agree if video is your main use of the camera then upgrading from the a6600 does make a lot of sense. Video features have improved considerably from the last model.

true ... btu Fstoppers is a site for photographers, not for video production

One of the main reason I use FF is for the lenses. I used to, many moons ago, own a Canon 600D but even with a 24mm lens that gave a FF equivalent of 38.4mm, the photos (perspective) just looked too wide. Most of the lenses I like are FF anyway and would be too long a focal length on a crop camera. Also I just really like the 35mm look. Even though I stop down to shoot street photography, I don't really want to have to use wider lenses that also have a deeper depth of field. I do like to zone focus on manual lenses on FF too.

Sadly this review ignored the severe rolling shutter this camera suffers from thus negating silent electronic shutter use for moving subjects.

Well I'd say it's fairly common knowledge that unless the camera has a stacked sensor which this one does not you'll get rolling shutter on fast moving subjects and banding under flickering lights.
There's currently only a handful of cameras that do use a stacked sensor and it's a safe bet that if its not mentioned or pointed out in any of the reviews nor specs it most certainly has a standard slower-reading sensor. The technology is expensive and only used in top of the line cameras like the Nikon Z8, Z9, Canon R3, Sony A1, A9, Fujifilm X-H2S, or the OM-1. Pretty much every other camera has noticeable rolling shutter in electronic mode.

Then Just step way up to the R7 and all the failings of the Sony are addressed with better AF, IQ and speed among many other major improvements.

Trying to decide between this and the Canon R7. Also, I have been photographing since 2005, and never ever have I had a memory card failure, really don't get why reviewers insist on making an issue out if this.

It hasn't happened to you yet. I'd consider you extremely lucky. It has happened many times to a lot of people including me three times already. It's a horrible feeling losing all your data. Ever since then I only ever use either a dual slot camera or if it's a single slot one I use maximum 32 GB cards and swap often.