Wi-Fi and Apps (continued)

Currently, Sony offers the following eight apps for the NEX-6 in nineteen countries. The yellow links below will take you to the US app store. Further down this page we've picked out the most notable and explained them in more detail.

App Name Price Purpose
Smart Remote Control Free Use your iOS or Android smartphone to remotely release the shutter.
Direct Upload Free For uploading photos to Facebook or Sony's PlayMemories Online service.
Photo Retouch Free Lets you adjust the brightness, saturation, and contrast to photos you've taken. Also offers resizing, horizon correction, skin softening, and Auto Portrait Framing.
Picture Effect+ Free Offers enhanced Partial Color, Soft High-Key, Miniature, Toy Camera, Watercolor, and Illustration Picture Effects.
Bracket Pro $4.99 Allows you to bracket (two or three shots) focus and flash exposure. Conventional bracketing is also possible, using a simplified interface.
Multi Frame NR $4.99 Takes a series of photos at a designated ISO and layers them to reduce noise. See demo on this page.
Cinematic Photo $4.99 The camera takes a burst of images and combines them into a movie. You then select the area of the image that you want animated. The result is a still image with only the selected area moving.
Time-lapse $9.99 Select the file format (24p or 30p movies or stills), whether the self-timer is used, the interval between each shot, and the total number of photos to be taken. Time-lapse "themes" are available for shooting clouds, night scenes, stars, sunrise/sunsets, or using a miniature effect.

It's worth pointing out that these apps can take some time to load - a least five seconds in the case of time-lapse, and feel a bit sluggish at times when performing basic actions like scrolling through options within the apps. In addition, there are fewer menu options available when using an app than when you're not. For example, in time-lapse mode the Camera menu provides access to just AF mode and AF area, while the only thing you can adjust in the Brightness/Color menu is exposure compensation.

Smart Remote Control / Send to Smartphone

Your smartphone or tablet can interact in two different ways with the NEX-6. You can remotely release the shutter using your smartphone, or transfer photos to it from the camera. For both of these tasks you'll first need to download the PlayMemories Mobile app for iOS or Android. After a simple pairing of the two devices, you're ready to go.

Composing a photo remotely using Smart Remote Control is pretty similar to taking a picture using the built-in camera app on most smartphones. There are three options you can change in the app - EV, self-timer and a 'review check' feature to make sure the shot came out the way you wanted it to.

Smart Remote Control lets you preview an image on your smartphone or tablet's screen, and then release the shutter. The live view is a bit choppy, but is perfectly usable. A downsized version of the resulting photo is automatically transferred to your mobile device. There are three options you can set on the smartphone: exposure compensation, self-timer, and whether the image is automatically transferred. On the camera itself, just small subset of the menu system is available.

Once you've got the shots, you can select the photos you want to transfer to your smartphone using the PlayMemories Mobile app.

In playback mode, you can select the Send to Smartphone option in the menu system. Then, after opening the PlayMemories Mobile app, you'll be able to pull down photos from the camera to your mobile device, and then (perhaps) send them off to social networking sites or friends. Photos can be sent full size, or reduced to 2 Megapixels or VGA for easier handling.

Direct Upload

Another app that many people will probably use is Direct Upload. Right now, it's only set up to transfer photos to Facebook or Sony's PlayMemories Online service, though Sony representatives tell us that more options are coming soon.

After you've selected a photo, you can add a caption. This is the queue of images waiting to be uploaded.

Aside from the initial set-up, sharing photos with Direct Upload is relatively simple. You select the photos you want to share via a thumbnail interface, and then move on to the next screen, where you can add a caption. Once you've selected all of the photos you want to upload, you just select the destination album (at least for Facebook), hit upload, and you're done.

Time Lapse

The Time Lapse app adds a feature not found on previous Alpha SLT or NEX models. Once you load up the app you'll be presented with something resembling scene modes - presets for shooting clouds, night scenes, stars, sunrises, and sunsets. A miniature effect option is also available.

In the Time Lapse app you can adjust the file format, interval between shots, total number of shots, and whether the self-timer is used.

Once you've picked your scene, you can accept the default settings, or customize them to your liking. You can select the output format (24p or 30p video or just the stills), the interval between shots, total number of shots taken, and whether the self-timer is used.

A ten second time-lapse movie recorded using the Night Scene 'theme'

It's worth pointing out that the camera locks the exposure on the first shot, so if the lighting in your scene is going to change dramatically (such as the transition from day to night), you might not get the desired results. We took several time lapse sequences of sunset and once the sun went down, the scene became too dark. It would've been nice to have an option to turn exposure lock on or off.

Send to Computer

While not an app per se, the NEX-6's Send to Computer option is also worth a mention. To get this working, you first need to install PlayMemories Home on your Windows PC or Wireless Auto Import on your Mac. A quick sync over USB will get the computer and camera on the same page.

After that, with the camera and computer connected to the same wireless network, just select 'Send to Computer' from the NEX's playback menu, and all of your photos will be sent over to your computer. The only options you can select on the computer side are 1) where the photos will be saved and 2) whether AVCHD video is converted to MPEG-4 (Mac only). Note that unlike the send to smartphone app, you cannot send pictures individually using the 'send to computer' option. You have no choice but to send everything you've shot.

What's Missing?

One surprising omission from the NEX's connected feature set is the ability to e-mail photos. Naturally, you could pull the photos onto your smartphone and do it from there, but it seems like an easy enough feature to have included on the camera itself, and one that is almost ubiquitous in similarly connected cameras.

Another thing that would've been nice is the ability to send one (or a selected group) of photos to your Mac or PC, using the 'send to computer' function instead of all of them. Finally, as you've already read, those of us in the DPReview offices really wish the NEX-6 had a touchscreen - it would make doing some things - especially working with the connection options and apps - so much easier. Hopefully Sony will incorporate this feature into whatever replaces the NEX-6.

Overall, when it comes to adding apps to the NEX-6, some folks may be a bit put off by having to pay extra for certain camera features, especially after spending upwards of $750 for the hardware. Even without them, the NEX-6 is a great-value product, but this whole apps effort looks like an experiment on Sony's part, and one that we can't help being a little cynical about. Some people will never use a function like multi-frame NR, and the same applies to focus and flash bracketing, but charging extra - even if it's just a token amount - for these features doesn't sit well with us. Time will tell how Sony's customers respond.