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Performance

Being a enthusiast camera, it should come as no surprise that the NEX-6 is generally quite responsive. Shooting performance is quite good, though the camera's startup time with the 16-50mm power zoom is a little on the long side, and some of the apps are rather slow in operation (see the following pages for more on that).

Operational Speed

With its 16-50 mm power zoom kit lens attached, the NEX-6 acts more like a compact camera than a mirrorless ILC. After flipping the power switch, it'll first need to extend the lens before you can start shooting. That takes about 1.9 seconds. If you're using a prime or more conventional zoom lens though, the camera will be ready to take photos in around 1.1 seconds.

If there's any shutter lag on the NEX-6, it's certainly not noticeable in real world use. Shot-to-shot delays are in the 1.0 - 1.5 second range (for JPEG and RAW+JPEG, respectively). Adding the built-in flash into the mix doesn't increase those times.

AF System & Performance

The NEX-6 features the same a 'Fast Hybrid AF' system we first saw in the NEX-5R. Following the approach of its rivals, Sony has adapted its imaging sensor to collect phase-difference information, from which the camera can ascertain not only the direction to move the lens to achieve focus, but also how far. This has a number of advantages over the contrast detection focus method traditionally used by compact and mirrorless cameras, which requires the lens to scan through its focus positions while the camera checks whether it is becoming more in or out of focus.

The ability to collect this depth information not only means that focus can be performed faster (because the camera can push the lens straight to the right place, rather than having to scan through its whole range), but also brings advantages for continuous focus and for focusing during movies. In movies, for instance, because the camera has a good understanding of depth, it should reduce the risk of the camera suddenly losing a moving subject and scanning off to infinity and back looking for it (and ruining your movie by doing so).

Sony's Hybrid AF system on the NEX-6 uses an array of 99 phase-detection points spread out across the center of the sensor. It covers a taller, slightly wider area than the system used by Canon in the EOS-M.

As with the system Canon has implemented in the EOS M, the on-sensor phase detection isn't used as a standalone system (it's unlikely to have the fidelity that the dedicated sensors used in DSLRs have), so it's used in combination with conventional contrast detection. As such the phase detection information is used to drive the lens near to the in-focus position, then contrast detection is used to scan for the optimal focus point, to fine-tune the focus.

We weren't overly impressed with Canon's implementation of this feature on the EOS M (the overall focus performance of which is simply slow), but Sony has done a much better job on the NEX-6. The camera focuses nearly instantly in high contrast situations, and takes less than a second in low light or other difficult scenes.

Outdoors, the NEX-6 was able to track moving subjects surprisingly well - even when shooting at 10 frames/second. We shot ten burst sequences of an approaching bicycle (with a rather busy background behind him), and the NEX was able to track the subject about 70% of the time. We'd expect a better hit-rate from true phase-detection AF systems, but from a camera of this type, we're impressed.

Frame 1 Frame 8
Frame 2 Frame 7
Frame 3 Frame 6
Frame 4 Frame 5

Subject tracking works similarly well in movie mode, which is impressive, considering that Hybrid AF is only available for still shooting (a fact which is buried in a footnote in the manual). The hardest part is making sure that your subject is in the square at the center of the frame, at which point you press the lower soft button to lock onto them. In low light, the camera struggled a lot more at subject tracking. Trying to keep rapidly moving children in focus proved to be an exercise in futility. This is not unusual.

The NEX-6 can, of course, focus manually, using a 'focus-by-wire' system like other mirrorless cameras. The frame is digitally enlarged, and you can move this area around using the four-way controller. Focusing is smooth and precise with the kit lens, and the image on the LCD and EVF is sharp enough to roughly discern what is in-focus.

The NEX-6's focus peaking function allows you to manually focus with a good degree of accuracy. Here, the red outline indicates that the plane of focus is around the middle of the striped cat.

Another manual focus-related feature found on the NEX-6 (and several of its peers) is focus peaking. This puts a an outline around the areas in the frame that are in focus. You can adjust both how strong the peaking effect is, and the color of the outline.

Continuous Shooting

The NEX-6 offers two different continuous shooting modes: standard (3 fps) and speed priority (10 fps). As its name suggests, speed priority mode shoots faster than regular continuous, but for a much shorter duration.

Thanks to the NEX's hybrid AF system, the camera will attempt to keep your subject in focus, even when shooting in speed priority mode. However, should your subject wander out of the Phase Detect area, you'll lose that benefit, and the NEX-6 reverts to contrast-detection.

As mentioned above, in our testing the NEX-6 was able to track a moving subject while shooting continuously with impressive - but not 100% - consistency.

Quality Setting Continuous Speed Priority
RAW + JPEG 10 shots @ 3.0 fps 9 shots @ 10.1 fps
RAW 12 shots @ 3.4 fps 10 shots @ 10.3 fps
Fine JPEG 40 shots @ 3.3 fps 12 shots @ 10.1 fps
Tested using a SanDisk Class 10 UHS-I SDHC card

The NEX-6 performs as advertised, with competitive burst rates and buffer capacities. When the buffer does fill up, the camera doesn't stop shooting - it just slows down considerably. In normal Continuous mode, you get a live view of your subject, so you'll be able to pan with moving subjects relatively easily. In the faster Speed Priority mode, you'll be seeing a replay of the previous shot, so accurate panning is extremely difficult. Sometimes less speed is better, even when shooting moving subjects.

Battery Life

The NEX-6 is powered by Sony's NP-FW50 InfoLithium battery, which is used by many other Alpha and NEX models. The NP-FW50 has 7.7Wh of energy, promises 360 shots per charge using the CIPA standard, which puts it top amongst mirrorless ILCs. In real world usage we found that the battery easily lasted through a day of shooting, but that's without using Wi-Fi. Once that's switched on, the battery drains much quicker. Thankfully, the camera only turns on Wi-Fi when it is needed, which helps mitigate the damage.

The NEX-6's battery is charged internally, using an AC-to-USB adapter. Charging takes a lengthy 280 minutes. For faster charging - and the ability to always have a spare battery at hand - consider picking up the BC-VW1 external charger ($60), which fills up the NP-FW50 in 90 minutes.

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Comments

Total comments: 30
Galbertson
By Galbertson (5 months ago)

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

0 upvotes
RichMack55
By RichMack55 (5 months ago)

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...
EVF.
Decent lens ( perhaps a Compact system type ) mid range 18-55mm or a little more
High ISO
Lighweight
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..?

0 upvotes
RichMack55
By RichMack55 (5 months ago)

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??

0 upvotes
photosym
By photosym (6 months ago)

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
GirusVirus
By GirusVirus (6 months ago)

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.

0 upvotes
Herbert001
By Herbert001 (3 months ago)

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.

0 upvotes
zblues
By zblues (6 months ago)

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.

0 upvotes
zblues
By zblues (6 months ago)

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.

0 upvotes
rodoki
By rodoki (8 months ago)

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.

1 upvote
ManInTheStars
By ManInTheStars (8 months ago)

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
jeremyclarke
By jeremyclarke (7 months ago)

+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
jeremyclarke
By jeremyclarke (7 months ago)

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
0 upvotes
MotoP
By MotoP (6 months ago)

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?

0 upvotes
photosym
By photosym (6 months ago)

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

0 upvotes
Kurnia Lim
By Kurnia Lim (6 months ago)

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.

0 upvotes
coolboy
By coolboy (9 months ago)

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

Thanks

0 upvotes
john Clinch
By john Clinch (9 months ago)

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

0 upvotes
MotoP
By MotoP (6 months ago)

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
0 upvotes
Flower girl
By Flower girl (2 months ago)

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

0 upvotes
kastaldi
By kastaldi (10 months ago)

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
0 upvotes
esad
By esad (10 months ago)

@dpreview.com: 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.

2 upvotes
LJS
By LJS (11 months ago)

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.

2 upvotes
kreislauf
By kreislauf (10 months ago)

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

4 upvotes
jeremyclarke
By jeremyclarke (7 months ago)

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?

1 upvote
MotoP
By MotoP (6 months ago)

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...

0 upvotes
Gabriel Yeo
By Gabriel Yeo (11 months ago)

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

2 upvotes
FRANCISCO ARAGAO
By FRANCISCO ARAGAO (11 months ago)

You are joking, right?

14 upvotes
Henderson May
By Henderson May (9 months ago)

this is subjective

2 upvotes
nanajan
By nanajan (Aug 9, 2013)

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.

0 upvotes
A V Cole
By A V Cole (Aug 13, 2013)

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

0 upvotes
Total comments: 30