The new Sony NEX-6 is a new mirrorless camera designed to fit in-between the NEX-5R and NEX-7. It is targeted towards DSLR users, with Wi-Fi built in.The Sony NEX-6 is available as three different kits, body only at £699, kit with 16-50mm power zoom lens at £829 and a dual lens kit with 16-50mm and 55-210mm lens at £1029, all available in black.
Sony NEX-6 Features
The NEX-6 has a 16.1 megapixel DSLR size APS-C CMOS sensor with up to ISO 25600 available and is on test here with the compact E 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 PZ OSS kit lens. The BIONZ processor is designed to give clear, detailed, low noise image with quick, responsive shooting - the NEX-6 calculates direction and movement automatically so it can focus and shoot faster.
Continuous shooting is available at up to 10 fps and when shooting in low light the camera can take a high-speed burst of six frames to create and single low-noise image while reducing blur.
It also has built-in Wi-Fi which allows you to connect to a smartphone or tablet as well as download apps onto the camera itself. There are apps which allow you to directly upload to Facebook and add picture effects to your images.
There is an 2.359m dot OLED viewfinder which gives you a 100% high definition view when composing your images. To select a shooting mode, there is a DSLR style mode dial. The modes available are Superior Auto, Intelligent Auto, Program Auto, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual Exposure, Sweep Panorama and a range of scene modes which includes Landscape, Portrait, Sports, Macro and more.
The NEX-6 gives you an extra creative touch with a number of picture modes which include poster effect, soft focus, miniature and more. Portrait shots can be retouched to remove minor blemishes.
Videos can be recorded in full 1080p HD and you can the connect the camera to a HDTV via a HDMI cable for playback.
16.1 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
Sony E lens mount
3.0 inch wide type TFT LCD screen
OLED 2.359m dot viewfinder
Full 1080p HD video recording
ISO 100 - 25600
10 fps continuous shooting
Sony NEX-6 Handling
The camera has a large rubberised hand grip with a good sized thumb grip on the back helping you keep solid grip on the camera. There is a mode dial placed on top with the varying modes available clearly labelled. There is a function button next to the shutter release, which allows you to set the focus mode, focus area, white-balance, metering mode and picture effect but can be customised to give you easier access to settings such as ISO. In manual mode the scroll wheel under the mode dial controls aperture, the shutter speed is adjusted by using the rotating wheel on the rear of the camera.
The NEX-6 has been supplied for review with the SELP1650 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 Power Zoom lens (35mm equivalent: 24-75mm) with Optical SteadyShot image stabilisation built-in. The lens body measures just 29.9mm when fully retracted, making it an ideal travel companion. There’s also a dual-function ring that controls both power zoom and manual focus, depending on operating mode. With the camera set to AF the control ring adjusts smooth, high-speed zoom with small hand movements. With the camera in MF mode, the ring controls manual focus. Smooth power zoom makes the lens particularly suitable for video shooting.
The screen can be tilted at 90° so you can place the camera in a low position and comfortably compose your shot, if you're shooting with the camera held up, the screen only goes to 45° but enough to be able to view the screen easily. The OLED viewfinder is of fantastic quality, with its 2.359m dot resolution, it's great for both composing shots and viewing your images, better than viewing them on the screen.
The menu system does take a little getting used to, when you hit menu you are presented with six options: camera, image size, brightness/colour, playback, application and setup. Some of the lists, e.g. in setup, are quite lengthy and can take a little while to cycle through.
Above: Smart Remote Control screenshot
Right: Portrait edited using Photo Retouch app
Downloading and installing apps is easy, it requires you to have an account with Sony for PlayMemories, if you have one set up for a PS3, you can log in with these details. The Smart Remote Control app lets you use your iPhone to take pictures. You can't change any settings other than set a 2 second timer, but you can review your picture as well as save it to your camera roll, albeit at a reduced size. The Photo Retouch app has options such as framing, horizontal adjustment, brightness control, contrast control, saturation control and soft skin effect.
Battery life is rated at 360 shots according to CIPA standards. We were able to take over shots before the battery went flat, this also including using the Wi-Fi and apps. As with other Sony digital cameras, it features an "Info-Lithium" battery that tells you exactly how much battery life is left, which is very useful, for example 77%.
We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo
Shot to Shot without Flash
Shot to Shot with Flash
Speed priority continuous shooting
Continuous Shooting - Flash
Speed priority continuous shooting - Flash
Continuous Shooting - RAW
Speed priority continuous shooting - RAW
Focus speed is very quick, with extremely quick shutter response. Switch on time is quite quick, with shot to shot and especially continuous shooting extremely quick.
Sony NEX-6 Performance
Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.
Sony NEX-6 Sample Photos
Sample Photos - Images are well exposed with excellent colour reproduction whether you are shooting portrait, fast moving objects and landscapes. Portrait modes have excellent skin tones and are free of red-eye when using the flash. HDR mode has a number of options for the exposure range, the example above has the maximum 6EV range.
Sony NEX-6 Lens test images
Lens Performance - Detail within the image is good throughout the lens range, with a good control over purple fringing in contrasting areas. Although you can't get really close to your subject with the 16-50mm kit lens, detail is good enough for a decent macro shot.
ISO Noise Performance - Images are free of noise at ISO 100 and there is very little at ISO 200 and 400. You can see a small amount at ISO 800 and more so at ISO 1600. ISO 3200 is where you can see a significant reduction in image quality with images becoming softer. There is a further loss of detail at ISO 6400 but image quality is still decent. At ISO 12800 some areas of the image look smudges which only worsens at ISO 25600. The latter two settings are best avoided unless you absolutely have to use them.
Sony NEX-6 White-balance test images
White Balance Performance - The auto white-balance copes really well under our studio lights. Under the incandescent lights, the incandescent preset also performs well. There are four different fluorescent presets, the -1 option did the best under the fluorescent lights, with a clear colour cast when using the other three.
Panorama 1 | 1/250 sec | f/11.0 | 16.0 mm | ISO 100
Panorama mode - Panoramas are taken by holding the shutter down and sweeping the camera across your scene. There is a dedicated place on the mode dial. You can take standard or wide panoramas. They are well stitched together with a decent amount of detail. We did find when using the wide mode a black border is left where it's not managed to take enough shots so need to be cropped on your computer.
Sony NEX-6 Digital filters
Digital Filters - There is a wide range of picture effects available, many of them also have their own options, such as partial colour which can be set to blue, red, yellow or green.
Video - Below is a video shot in full 1080p HD, quality is good with excellent stabilisation. You can use the zoom during recording, an example of which can be found on the ePHOTOzine Youtube Page.
Value For Money
The Sony NEX-6 will be available with the 16-50mm power zoom lens at £829.00. Below are a number of alternatives which all come with a kit lens, which are of a similar price.
This new addition to the NEX range offers a wide range of features such as its APS-C sensor, tiltable screen, high-speed shooting, full HD video recording and you can purchase from a large number of NEX lenses. Picture quality is excellent, with good colour reproduction and noise performance up to and including ISO 3200. There wasn't much we could find to be critical about, it's a little more expensive than some of the competition and the going through the menu system can become long and drawn out. With the positives far outweighing the negatives, we are happy to recommend the Sony NEX-6.
The Sony NEX-6 is a feature packed compact system camera with excellent image quality.
Sony NEX-6 Pros
Excellent image quality
Fast high-speed shooting
Full manual controls with RAW shooting available
Decent battery life
You can download apps for image editing, sharing etc.
Sony NEX-6 Cons
Menu system can be time consuming to navigate
A little more expensive than the competition
Panorama mode occasionally leaves a black border
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8 Dec 2010 12:16PM