Accessories and Tips for Doing More with Your Sony a6000

I have been loving my Sony a6000 since I bought it almost two months ago. Read my full review here to see why. One of my major takeaways after shooting over 10,000 photos with it and bringing it to Greece and back was that you get what you put into it. By investing in some accessories and spending some time with educational materials, you’re going to see your photos improve.

Here are some of my main tips for doing more with the Sony a6000.

  1. Grab a portrait lens.
Caught my nephew Gabriel thinking deeply about frogs with the Sigma 30mm.
Um, framing this in my HEART. Also taken with the Sigma.
The Sony 50mm 1.8 lens made our toy collection look artsy as heck.
Portrait lenses make flowers look artsy and amazing with almost no effort on my part. (Sigma)

If you want to take more dramatic, professional-looking pictures that have a beautifully rendered, abstracted background, try a portrait lens. These are going to have a wider aperture, meaning they let in more light and create a shallower depth of field. Some of my favorite pictures so far have been taken with a portrait lens.

I actually had to try three different lenses before settling on a favorite. I spent some time with Sony’s 50mm f/1.8 ($298) and its Sony 35mm f/1.8 lens ($448) but returned them both. I vastly preferred the Sigma 30mm F/1.4 lens ($339). Its wider view gives me more flexibility, and its wide aperture means it lets in the most light. Plus, it was just more fun to shoot with.

Pro tip: Have a portrait session with your friends who also have cameras they want to use more.
Neil showing off his relatively new beard in Santorini, captured by the Sigma lens.
Like the Sigma, the Sony 35mm took beautiful shots and provided a nice bokeh. But it just wasn’t as fun to shoot with.
Before I returned the Sony 35mm 1.8 lens, Neil used it to take a picture of a disgusting and huge spider on our porch. It turned out kind of beautiful, didn’t it?
This photo of a kitten eating a sardine is one of my favorite pictures from my trip. (Sigma)
Portrait lenses also capture groups of people (or dogs) quite beautifully.

2. Read up on photography.

A couple books I found extremely helpful:

In Camera: Perfect Pictures Straight out of the Camera

Gordon Laing shares some of his best (unedited) pictures, all taken with mirrorless cameras. He talks about how he got the timing and settings just right for each shot, which dramatically changed the way I thought about photography. I started looking at what intrigue I was creating in the foreground, thinking about line movement in buildings and scenery and understanding how to play with light, particularly at night.

Understanding Exposure

I got this for my birthday and have found it very helpful. Plus, it’s a fairly quick read.

3. Invest in a nice strap.

A nice camera strap will change your life.

The camera comes with a strap, but it’s incredibly uncomfortable. I wore it all through Las Vegas and hated it. For Greece, I bought a leather strap, and the back of my neck was quite happy about it. The Wirecutter has a great rundown on a variety of different straps. I opted for this one, and I love it.

4. Add a wide angle lens.

I love how Josie looks like the queen of her domain on a wide angle lens.

Going all the way down to 16mm, the a6000’s kit lens gives you some pretty nice wide angle capabilities. But when I was on the unbelievably beautiful hills of Santorini, I found myself wishing for an even wider view. Sony makes a couple wide-angle lenses, including the 20 mm F2.8 Prime Fixed Lens and the 16mm f/2.8. While they are incredibly thin and light, which would make them amazing to travel with, I wanted a lens that went wider than the 16mm kit lens. I could have opted for their 10-18mm lens, which offers a lot of versatility, but would have put me out about $850. Ouch.

After doing a lot of research, I landed on the Rokinon 12mm F/2 ($329). At 12mm, it offers a very wide angle, plus it has an unusually wide aperture for a wide angle lens. At F/2, it can take some pretty creative wide angle portraits, blur out the background in street photography, and coolest of all, take some sweet starry sky shots. That’s a lot of versatility for one lens. I haven’t had it as long as the other lens, so you’ll have to wait for my next trip to see any super scenic tests of it.

A wide angle lens makes interior spaces look larger.
A wide aperture means the Rokinon can take close-up flower shots, too.
Wide angle lenses make objects in the center appear farther away.

5. Watch YouTube videos by photographers.

I can’t reiterate enough how helpful these videos have been. Just google any random question you have about your camera and there WILL be a YouTube tutorial about it. Go down the camera video rabbit hole, then the photo editing rabbit hole. You’ll be amazed at how much you can customize what types of photos you take.

6. Up Your Editing Skills

Taking a little time to edit your photos can make a huge difference. I like to use Adobe Lightroom and VSCO, which have fairly nice mobile apps. Snapseed is also great if you don’t have access to Lightroom.

I hope this list helped any aspiring photographers out there. Feel free to leave your own tips for doing more with your Sony a6000.