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Sony NEX-6 Review

March 2013 | By Jeff Keller and Amadou Diallo

Review based on a production NEX-6 with firmware v.1.01

When it entered the mirrorless market with the NEX-3 and NEX-5 back in 2010, Sony, along with Panasonic and Olympus, saw vast potential to attract the millions of compact camera users who wanted better image quality but without the bulk of a DSLR. Today, however, as the smartphone market continues to erode compact camera sales we see camera makers increasingly turning their attention to a smaller - but potentially more eager - group. Namely, enthusiasts who want a lighter, more compact DSLR alternative, but still demand the level of customization and camera control to which they've grown accustomed.

Accordingly, the past couple of years have seen a rash of high-end interchangeable lens cameras like the Sony NEX-7, Olympus OM-D E-M5, Panasonic DMC-GX1 and Fujifilm X-E1, which in both price and feature set are aimed well beyond point and shoot upgraders (ironically, the constituency that was originally supposed to be most profitable for ILC manufacturers).

With the announcement of the NEX-6, Sony appears to be refining the high-end concept by merging much of the technology from the NEX-7 with the connectivity options of the NEX-5R. In essence, the NEX-6 combines the hallmarks of an enthusiast-oriented camera - control dials and a high-quality viewfinder - with Wi-Fi functionality and apps. Oddly though, considering it has created a camera that is obviously designed to appeal to smartphone owners, Sony has removed the touchscreen operation found in the NEX-5N and 5R.

Sony NEX-6 specification highlights

  • 16.1MP APS-C format CMOS sensor
  • 2.3 million dot resolution OLED EVF
  • ISO 100-25600
  • Control dial
  • Customizable Fn button
  • 'Quick Navi' interactive settings display
  • Multi interface hotshoe (supports standard contacts and proprietary connector)
  • Built-in Wi-Fi for connection to smartphones or computers, for photo sharing
  • Proprietary in-camera apps
  • Built-in flash (GN 6, ISO 100)
  • Electronic First Curtain shutter
  • 1080/60p HD movies in AVCHD (50p on PAL region models)

The NEX-6 and NEX-7 are so similar in both appearance and specification (save for the latter's 24MP sensor) that a lot of people might wonder whether the flagship model is still relevant. The NEX-6 offers the same stunning 2.3 million dot OLED EVF, a built-in flash, 1080/60p video, and even adds an exposure mode dial and (finally) an ISO standard hotshoe connection. It also gains the NEX-5R's hybrid phase/contrast-detection AF system. The NEX-6 is missing the NEX-7's Tri-Navi three-dial controls, but this seems unlikely to be a deal-breaker for most photographers. A few minor features from the NEX-7 have been chopped as well, such as 3D panoramas, automatic LCD brightness adjustment, and a handful of Creative Styles.

Now about that hybrid AF system. The NEX-6, like the NEX-5R, uses a modified CMOS sensor which accommodates pixels devoted to performing phase-detection to provide a hybrid autofocus system. The phase-detection pixels are used to determine depth information about the focus target, which means the camera has to perform less hunting to hit accurate focus. Sony is the fourth manufacturer (following Fujifilm, Nikon and Canon) to go down this route, with the potential of faster focus, improved continuous focus performance and better autofocus in movie shooting. The NEX-6 has 99 phase detection 'AF points', ranged in the middle of the frame.

And as with the NEX-5R, the NEX-6 has built-in DLNA-compliant Wi-Fi and on-camera apps. While the app collection is rather limited at the moment (currently only eight are are available), Sony has made clear it plans to expand offerings in the near future. And the possibility of enhancing your camera's current capabilities through user-friendly app downloads, as opposed to firmware updates is one that could be worth the wait.

The Wi-Fi capability allows you to push images from the NEX-6 to an iOS or Android smartphone, to your Mac or PC, or straight to Facebook (or Sony's PlayMemories site) across a Wi-Fi network. You can also use your smartphone as a remote viewfinder/trigger. We've covered the NEX-6's connectivity options in detail in these pages.

E-mount power zoom 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 OSS

Alongside the NEX-6, Sony introduced the E PZ 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 OSS power zoom lens. The retractable zoom design collapses to just under 30mm when powered off, making it one of the smallest kit lenses on the market - and the most compact E-mount optic available outside of Sony's E 16mm F2.8 Pancake lens. Impressively, this new lens is only slightly deeper than Panasonic's PZ 14-42mm F3.5-5.6 OIS power zoom, while offering a usefully-wider field of view at the wide end (24mm versus 28mm equiv.) although settling for a bit less reach at the tele end (75mm versus 84mm equiv.).

The Sony E-mount E PZ 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 OSS power zoom lens, shown detached from the camera and attached to the NEX-6. When the camera is powered-up, the lens extends as you can see in the picture on the right.

With an all-black finish that matches the NEX-6, the plastic and metal construction of the PZ 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 OSS feels pleasingly solid in hand. A long slider placed along the left side of the lens barrel offers an ample, knurled platform with which to easily zoom the lens. The throw of the slider is rather short though, offering no variable speed zoom capability. It does though make for smooth and relatively quiet zooming during video recording, one of the major benefits of a power zoom design.

What we really appreciate, however, is the dual-function control ring at the front of the lens barrel. In AF modes it is used to manually zoom the lens, providing behavior more like a conventional lens than most power zooms.. With a double-ridged platform, the ring is wide enough for a sure and comfortable hold and offers a pleasingly smooth action that allows for precise focal length adjustments. Unlike the single-speed zoom slider, you can increase the speed of the zoom by rotating the ring more quickly. This produces much more audible motor noise than using the power zoom slider, though.

Here, we're showing two pictures taken at the wide (16mm) and telephoto (50mm) ends of the kit lens. Equivalent to a focal length range of 24-75mm, this is a useful lens for everyday photography with the NEX-6.

Switch the camera to MF mode and this same ring automatically controls focus instead, with zoom control operated by the slider. After extended use we much prefer Sony's ring/slider design over the dual lever approach in the Panasonic 14-42 power zoom, where we can never tell by feel whether we're about to zoom or focus the lens. While the Sony lens is of a focus-by-wire design, the action is dampened just enough to approximate a 'feel' of connection to the lens elements with responsive operation. And with MF assist enabled, an initial turn of the control ring brings up a magnified scene view for focus confirmation.

As far as optical performance is concerned, the 16-50mm is consistent with what you'd expect of a complex, retractable yet affordable kit lens. Sharpness is relatively good but the corner performance at wide angle (where a lot of distortion correction is being conducted) isn't great. It performs fairly respectably for a kit zoom, and offers considerable convenience.

The only limiting factor is the maximum aperture range of F3.5-5.6 (standard for this type of lens), which isn't really bright enough for use in very poor light without flash. Optical SteadyShot image stabilization helps, but of course that won't do anything to prevent blur from subject movement.

If you're new to digital photography you may wish to read the Digital Photography Glossary before diving into this article (it may help you understand some of the terms used).

Conclusion / Recommendation / Ratings are based on the opinion of the reviewer, you should read the ENTIRE review before coming to your own conclusions.

We recommend to make the most of this review you should be able to see the difference (at least) between X, Y, and Z and ideally A, B, and C.

This article is Copyright 1998 - 2015 and may NOT in part or in whole be reproduced in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from the author.

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Total comments: 31

Maybe an old subject...has anyome fhotshoe adapter to allow 3.5...or 2.5 mic jack other than sonys on
Y external microphone?


Which camera would compete well with the nex 6..?
Any opinions greatly appreciated.

I originally wanted to invest in a canon 700 d ( just missed out on a greal deal on the 600d ) but the fact tthat the viewfinder is optical swayed me.

Is there an all round dslr for amatuers coming from a bridge version with the following...
Decent lens ( perhaps a Compact system type ) mid range 18-55mm or a little more
High ISO
Flip screen, preferably one which can actually swivel round to take portraits...
Touch screen is NOT necessary
And of course a decent battery which the camera makes tend to overlook...
I feel Canon have lost sight where Nikon is concerned whereas Sony and Lumix seem to have come a long way and are doing what Olympus did in the 70s and the 80s...
Again, any thoughts on the above..?


I am just about to purchase this camera on the basis that I can return it within 15 days if unhappy...
I thought I had done my homework when decidng on the nex 6 but I am unable to find out if it is possible to override the function of having the screen on.
It seems that the EVF switches on automatically when you place your eye close up to the corner of the camera ( thrus the screen goes off...) and the screen does the same when you move away from the EVF.

To my surprise there is quite a 'waste' of battery time...
Living in a sunny country means the use of an EVF is much more practical.

Can anyone give any tips on how to make the battery last longer.
Ideally, taking three on trips is practical. An external charger is wise too.
And the pc method when on the go is practical as well. Nevertheless, total control over the screeen makes sense nowadays.
I share your point too photosym. That does not make sense as a selling / marketing point. Is this the case with most sony cameras??


I don't know who designed this camera, but it certainly wasn't an active photographer. It would be a superb machine, but there's a massive design flaw. You can't use the self timer or an electronic shutter release when in HDR or Auto bracketing modes. Absolutely crazy!!! I've been in touch with Sony and they don't have any plans for a firmware update. I'm not sure if this applies to other Nex or Sony models, but be aware. This is the last Sony camera I will buy, I'll stick to Canon or Fuji in the future.

1 upvote

I agree with you photosym. This would be a great camera, but it is really useless in the respect of remote control bracketed photography. The remote control is useless when you can't have timers, and other manual settings. It is a shame.


I just bought a Sony nex 6. What a amazing camera. Yes you can use HDR and Auto Bracketing with a remote. At list via wifi with my android phone and ipad. Better than the Leica M digital. With more options. As a reporter I love this camera.


A massive design flaw ?
I must have entered the Twilight Zone.


Appears from the manual no input jack for an external mic attached to the shoe for this camera. Will use the new mic on the Nikon 5100.


I ordered the new SHURE VP83F LensHopper Camera-Mounted Condenser Microphone with Integrated Flash Recording for this camera and it's std size shoe mount to record and video shoot indoor stage Band performances.

Anybody else tried an external mic mounted to this camera.


I just unboxed my Sony alpha Nex6 a few minutes ago.
I have several Panasonic Lumix's and a Canon Rebel.
The Sony, however, is the first camera I've encountered whereby I cannot simply recharge the battery in a compact charger!
Instead I have to connect a wire from the camera into the charger and thence into a wall socket meaning I cannot have second backup battery.
If I'm on vacation I can't simply leave a battery charging at a hotel room and go out and use my camera with a second battery.
I have to leave the WHOLE camera behind to charge!
Am I missing something here? It seems VERY odd.


you can buy original sony charger, I have it but i leave hotel with both batteries charged anyway :) in-camera charging is also great, do your all previous cameras have such feature?

1 upvote

+1, I wish Canon and others would add this feature. While external chargers are vital for certain uses (long trips with brief access to power for example) internal chargers are WAY more convenient. Just bring a USB cord and your iPhone's USB->power adapter and you can plug in your camera to suck some juice whenever you have the chance.

I certainly don't hear people complaining about how the batteries in their phones work these days, we just need to get used to the same thing with cameras (especially the "grab some juice while you can" part, don't wait for it to empty out!)

1 upvote

Just to update this, I didn't realize that you can't use the camera at all while it's charging (mentioned in an Amazon review). That's a very tedious element of this equation if it's true. I can imagine a LOT of situations where I'd want to review photos, make picks or just mess around with the camera while charging it.

It should "work like your phone" like I said in the comment above, if you can't use it while it's charging that's not like a phone. Of course, it IS like every camera previously if you only own one battery ;)

Comment edited 44 seconds after posting

Any number of aftermarket and also (expensive but sure) Sony's spare battery and chargers will add external charging and spare batteries. Safe reliable aftermarket ones are not that expensive and will provide a much more convenient way to refresh the power than with having only one battery. I usually have up to 3-4 batteries always on hand for any primary cameras, two of which are always on the charger during vacations.

I guess in this market for consumer price wars, Sony can't include expensive batteries in the original bundles, at cut-rate prices, nor confuse the ever impatient general consumer who just wants things simple?

1 upvote

You're correct, it's very odd and another fudge by Sony.

Kurnia Lim

LOL I love charging direct to camera, and yes we need to buy extra external charger, but you can just buy cheap chinese charger for around 10-15 USD, with that I can charge 2 battery at the same times, and also I can charge with powerbank when it need.


Can anyone please explain me if I can add an PANASONIC 20mm f1.7 II pancake to this camera? Is it fully compatible?


john Clinch

No that lens is microfour thirds only. This only takes NEX lenses. That is Sony E-mount

1 upvote

Direct mounting is only with SONY E-Mount Lenses, however you have the option to add a LA-EA2 or LA-EA4 adapter to use any Sony A-mount lenses with full Auto Focus features intact. This is also true for all AF Minolta Lenses that use the A-mount as well.

Also, with aftermarket mounting adapter solutions, almost any SLR lenses can be used with MANUAL focus. Canon lenses can operate with some adapters with limited AF functions as well.

Comment edited 52 seconds after posting
Flower girl

Can I use my canon 18-200 on the sony . Has anyone done it and how does it handle?


I bought the RX100 and now I miss the viewfinder of my old P60. A movable screen would also be useful. What a pity...

Comment edited 1 minute after posting
esad As you know, the performance of a camera depends very much on the quality of the lens. What lens did you use to test the NEX-6, please? I couldn´t find any hints in the article.


I personally do not agree about adding a touchscreen to the NEX line of cameras. I simply don't like touchscreen and I know a lot of people that feel the same way.


sure your do. sure you do.
but fact is, navigating is easier with a touchscreen.


Seriously what an odd thing to be worried about. As long as you can disable it why deny it to those who would find it helpful?


Providing a touchscreen, with the ability to enable/disable will meet 100% of user preferences no? ;) Instead of battling opinions on if it should be there or not? I think that's what the review implies...

1 upvote
Gabriel Yeo

Sony continues without fail, to make ugly-looking cameras.


You are joking, right?

Henderson May

this is subjective


Just want to know if Sony Nex-6 had a time and date feature. I have looked through all the materials and have not seen it.

A V Cole

As it takes RAW files all of these details will be on the file along with shutter speed, aperture used etc.

Total comments: 31