Sony NEX-6 Review
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.
Mar 19, 2014
Jun 29, 2013
Mar 26, 2013
Mar 23, 2016
|Sophisticated construction by the nature by Orchideon|
|After the Rain by Flor Tempra|
from Macro - Something Pink
|Asilah by Limburg|
from Cozy Corners
EyeEm has revealed the finalists for its fourth annual photography contest, the largest competition of its kind.
Via its strategic partnership with Huawei Leica is already in the smartphone camera development game, but chairman Andreas Kaufmann can imagine the German manufacturer taking things one step further.
In a blog post the imaging engineers behind the dual-camera in Andy Rubin's Essential Phone explain how the imaging components were developed and calibrated for best performance.
Tamron calls it an 'ultra-telephoto,' and for good reason: this lens offers a massive 27-600mm equivalent zoom range. But is it sharp?
It started with a great idea and a slick promotional video, and ended with the company headquarters being raided by the San Francisco District Attorney’s office. Wired reports on Lily, the selfie-drone maker that never got off the ground.
With card readers disappearing from MacBooks, USB-C card readers are now a necessity. Macworld's helpful guide compares five models and decodes the current mess of card speeds and certifications.
A Sony a7S II mounted on the outside of the ISS' Japanese Experiment Module (KIBO) for the last seven months has sent back some impressive 4K video and stills.
A Federal judge has refused to throw out a copyright case against controversial artist Richard Prince, who used an image by photographer Donald Graham in an exhibition.
Sony has teased its customers with news of an upcoming announcement: it will soon take the wraps off a new CineAlta motion picture camera, one sporting a 36x24mm sensor.
QuikStories is integrated into the latest version of the GoPro app and automatically creates 'stories' using the video clips you've shot during a day.
Journalists photographing a protest in the US Capitol building claim they were told by Capitol Police to delete photos and videos of arrests.
The Meizu Pro 7 Plus secondary display can be used for music playback, date and weather-related information, or as viewfinder when taking selfies with the rear cameras.
Nikon is marking its 100th anniversary in many ways, including the creation of a new scholarship program for 'future visual creators' in the USA and Canada.
Take one Digital ELPH (or IXUS), rotate it vertically, add a fully articulating LCD and a lens with a camcorder-like focal length, and what do you get? Why, the Canon PowerShot TX1, of course. In this week's Throwback Thursday we revisit Canon's one-of-a-kind hybrid stills/video camera.
Just in case there was any doubt in your mind, here's the definitive video proof that yes, a $50,000 cinema camera beats the pants off a $50 camcorder in a side-by-side test.
Photographers who fly frequently in the US may want to finally invest in that TSA Pre-check status: in standard security lines, cameras and all other electronics larger than a smartphone will need to be placed in a separate bin for screening.
Images have appeared which claim to show Nikon's forthcoming D850 DSLR, the development of which was announced this week. If genuine, the pictures indicate that the D850 will offer illuminated controls and a tilting LCD screen, but no built-in flash.
To celebrate the Daguerreotype Achromat 2.9/64 lens' successful Kickstarter campaign, Lomography has announced a chrome-plated version of the lens in Nikon and Canon DSLR mounts.
Nikon just released four new firmware updates, adding features and fixing bugs in the D600, D610, D750 and the KeyMission 80.
It probably hasn't made your landscape photography bucket list just yet, but there's a good reason to visit Idaho. Here are 9 must-visit locations in this beautiful state.
Oops... Adobe accidentally leaked their unfinished Lightroom-powered cloud-based photo editor 'Project Nimbus' to some Creative Cloud users yesterday.
Storm chaser and award-winning photographer Mike Oblinski just released his latest time-lapse, and it is absolutely stunning.
Looking to level up your video capture capabilities without buying a whole new camera? Blackmagic's Video Assist 4K is well worth considering, despite a few flaws and its lack of 4K/60p support.
We're big fans of Fujifilm's fast-growing GFX system, and the GF 110mm F2 lens is no exception. Positioned as the system's classic portrait lens, its optics are just as impressive with non-human subjects as well.
Nikon turns 100 years old today, and the company is celebrating with a wacky music video, some tributes to its history, and a new vision presented by president Kazuo Ushida.
Phottix just released the Premio Parabolic Umbrellas series, replacing their Para-Pro line with a stronger, deeper and better made set of parabolic umbrellas.
The Moto Z2 is Motorola's first dual-camera smartphone and, compared to its predecessor, comes with a number of improvements and new camera features.
Researchers at Stanford have revealed a new '4D camera system' built for robots. The system is based on the same light field tech that allowed Lytro cameras to refocus images after they were taken.
If you want 'beautiful rendition' from your lenses, follow this simple rule: only buy classic low-element prime lenses with lead glass elements—everything else is junk.
In an interview with CNBC, Leica Chairman Andreas Kaufmann said he dreams of a 'true Leica phone,' and hinted at what's next for the Leica and Huawei partnership.