XPro1 vs NEX-6 hands on review

Started Nov 9, 2012 | Discussions thread
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a l b e r t
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XPro1 vs NEX-6 hands on review
Nov 9, 2012

I'm a user of XPro1 for about 6 months. I've also handled the XE-1 briefly. Finally got my Sony NEX-6 today. For people who are on the fence of XE-1 and NEX-6, contemplating on which camera to get, here is a quick comparison and observations of the two:

- NEX-6 looks more like a modern consumer electronic device than a camera. XE-1, especially the silver version has the classic camera look.

- NEX-6 comes with a charger that requires you plug the USB cable into the camera for charging. And the USB plug is quite hard to pull out of the camera after you have plugged it in.

- The NEX-6 runs quite warm after awhile. The left side and the bottom of the camera are very warm.  XPro1 is completely cool running.

- The menu system of the NEX-6 is difficult to navigate. Sony uses non-photographic terms for the various settings and you simply have no idea where an item is located and I found myself needing to look through each submenu to find the item I want. Some of the submenu has a long list of items.

The menu's behavior is inconsistent. Sometimes you get back to the previous menu after setting an item, and sometimes it throws you completely out of the menu system after setting an item. Also, sometimes you press OK to get out, get back, and other times, you have to hit the soft key to return. The menu is one major weakness of the NEX system.

- Because of the menu system, trying to get some simple function can be rather difficult. For instance, there is no easy way to enable macro mode.

- The mechanical shutter sound is louder and has more vibration on NEX-6 than the XPro1. I've the beep turned off in either camera. NEX-6's beep is particular annoying, there is no way to turn down the volume. So it is either beep on or beep off.

- NEX-6's EVF has noticeably better resolution than the XPro1. But XPro1's EVF has better dynamic range. It is also much clearer/brighter/less noisy when viewing the EVF in the dark with the XPro1.

- The NEX-6's EVF brightness and LCD brightness are inconsistent. The LCD needs to be one notch brighter in order to match the EVF's default brightness.

- The built-in flash is nice and can be bounced if you tilt it with your finger. One can also tilt the flash on XE-1. Overall, NEX-6's flash exposure is much more accurate than XPro1 + EF20. XPro1 (and X10 and probably XE-1) has problem dealing with specular highlights. It'll under expose the picture if specular highlight is found.

- Both systems have problem focusing on objects with only horizontal contrast. I've struggled with XPro1 on this CDAF issue and I was surprised to find that it exists on NEX-6 as well. However, if PDAF is engaged, NEX-6 will have no problem focusing on objects with only horizontal contrast. If you use a single AF point for AF, as soon as the AF point is situated outside of the PDAF grid, it'll fail AF on objects with only horizontal contrast.  So PDAF definitely helps on acquiring AF when CDAF alone may not cut it.

In general, I found that PDAF on NEX-6 helps AF accuracy more than AF speed. AF speed on NEX-6 is very fast and accurate. This is one area that is much better than XPro1 even with fw 2.01. I think this is mostly due to the ultrasonic wave AF motor inside the 16-50mm lens rather than PDAF. The lens can go from one end to the other end of focus very quickly. Since the lens uses ultrasonic AF motor, AF is completely silent. Out of all the test photos I've made, NEX-6 nailed AF on each and every one, while XPro1 will have hit and miss even when it told me it has acquired AF lock.

- The 16-50mm lens is sharper than I've read. It is not quite as sharp as the Fuji 18mm f/2 for sure, but it is completely useable. Especially when you get the equivalent of 24-75mm on 35mm film. It a perfect lens for travel. NEX-6's built-in lens distortion correction is also great, as far as OOC JPEG is concerned. While AF uses ultrasonic motor, power zoom uses noisy conventional motor. The lens barrel (the part that extends out) also wobble a bit. Since the lens needs to extend and retract during power on/off, getting the camera ready for shooting can take a bit longer time.

- High ISO noise of NEX-6 is nowhere as good as XPro-1. Far from it. I see XPro1 having at least 2 stops better in high ISO performance, sometimes up to 3 stops, for OOC JPEGs. There is no contest at all. NEX-6's shadow noise is blotchy even at ISO 800. Where as XPro1's shadow noise is more random and smooth. The shadow noise looks better on XPro1 at ISO 6400 than NEX-6 at ISO 800.

- Dynamic range of the photo is better on the Fuji than the Sony. With higher DR, the photos have a more 3D look.

- There is no Auto-ISO in M mode on NEX-6. And Auto ISO is limited to ISO 3200 max and you cannot set the max Auto-ISO value.

In any case, both camera systems have their strengths and weaknesses. XPro1's major weakness is AF speed and AF accuracy. I think AF will improve greatly once the new lenses start to use Fuji's LM AF motor. NEX-6's major weaknesses are the menu system and high ISO noise.

It'd be more interesting when Fuji got their PDAF system going in next year's X-system cameras. AF is the only place where Fuji falls flat on its face.

 a l b e r t's gear list:a l b e r t's gear list
Fujifilm FinePix F31fd Fujifilm FinePix X100 Fujifilm X10 Nikon D3S Fujifilm X-E2 +5 more
Fujifilm X10 Fujifilm X-Pro1 Sony Alpha NEX-6
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