Sony NEX-6 Review
Conclusion - Pros
- Very good image quality and high ISO performance
- High resolution OLED electronic viewfinder
- Articulating 920k dot LCD display
- Built-in Wi-Fi allows for photo sharing to smartphones, computers, Facebook, and more; camera can be remotely controlled via smartphone app
- PlayMemories App Store lets you add additional features to your camera
- Finally a 'real' hot shoe and mode dial
- Snappy focusing and shot-to-shot speeds
- Hybrid AF system tracks subjects better than just contrast detection alone (at least in good light)
- Lots of useful features, such as Auto HDR, focus peaking, Sweep Panorama, and Hand-held Twilight / Anti Motion Blur
- Full HD video recording at 1080/60p with full exposure control (even while filming) and continuous AF
- Fast continuous shooting performance, with ability to focus between each shot
- Customizable function menu and soft buttons
- Above average battery life
- USB charging can be convenient
Conclusion - Cons
- Best image quality obtained from RAW images (due to fairly strong noise reduction)
- Many controls still accessed through clunky menu-driven interface
- Movie recording button has gone from too-accessible (NEX-7) to inaccessible
- Some apps (such as Multi-Frame NR and Time-Lapse) are free on previous Sony cameras or competitors; no e-mail app included
- Apps take several seconds to load and can be laggy
- In-camera raw conversion would add flexibility
- Playback confusingly separated into stills, MP4 and AVCHD sections
- 16:9 aspect ratio on LCD leaves margin when composing stills
- Touchscreen LCD would've made camera easier to use, especially when typing on virtual keyboard
- USB charging is slow and makes it awkward to use a spare battery
- No 3.5mm external mic input (only proprietary Sony hot shoe mics are supported)
While it doesn't break a lot of new ground, the Sony Alpha NEX-6 provides two features that E-mount enthusiasts have been asking for: a physical mode dial, and an ISO standard hot shoe. Add the beautiful OLED electronic viewfinder from the NEX-7 and new Hybrid AF and Wi-Fi features from the NEX-5R to Sony's already impressive offerings, and you've got a pretty compelling product.
The NEX-6 offers solid build quality and generally easy handling. The camera has a good-sized grip for your right hand, with most of the controls in easy reach of your fingers. The one exception is the movie record button: starting and stopping recording has gone from too easy on the NEX-7 to too difficult on the NEX-6. While the 920k dot articulating LCD is pretty standard these days, the 2.4 million dot EVF is not, and it's among the best you'll find. However, the aspect ratios of the LCD and EVF - 16:9 and 4:3, respectively - mean that you'll always have margins surrounding the photo you're composing (this is especially noticeable on the LCD). The camera is very responsive, save for slightly sluggish startup times with the 16-50mm power zoom kit lens, and battery life is well above average. Despite the new mode dial, the NEX-6 remains largely menu-driven, and said menus can be very frustrating to navigate.
Feature-wise, the NEX-6 has all of the bells and whistles found on other Sony cameras -- such as Auto HDR, Hand-held Twilight, and Sweep Panorama -- plus a competent set of manual controls and customizable options. The NEX's new Hybrid AF system did a better job at tracking moving subjects in good light than on the NEX-3N (which is contrast detect only), though it doesn't improve overall autofocus speeds. The camera can shoot at 3 or 10 fps with continuous autofocus, which is something that most competitors can't match. Movie enthusiasts will be impressed with the camera's 1080/60p quality setting and the ability to adjust exposure, ISO, and focus while recording. They may, however, bemoan the lack of an external mic input.
Another big feature on the NEX-6 is its built-in Wi-Fi system, which is accompanied by a new PlayMemories App Store. Wi-Fi can be used to transmit photos to your smartphone, computer, or Facebook, and your phone can also be used to control the camera remotely. There are currently eight apps in Sony's store, ranging in price from free to $9.99. Many of the apps are for retouching images (though not RAW files), while others add features like time-lapse and Multi-Frame noise reduction that arguably could have been included in the first place. One rather glaring omission in the app store is something to e-mail your photos.
A few other issues are worth a mention. Sony has apparently decided that you can have an EVF or a touchscreen LCD, but not both. We think that the NEX-6 would be easier to use with a touchscreen display, and you'll probably agree when you're trying to type using the on-screen keyboard. Like the other NEX family members, the NEX-6 does not let you view stills and movies sequentially, for no real reason. Finally, some users may be frustrated by the in-camera battery charging, which is quite slow, and makes keeping a spare battery handy a bit difficult.
Like the other NEX models that share versions of its 16 Megapixel CMOS sensor, the NEX-6 produces very good quality images. Exposure is accurate, with the D-Range Optimizer providing just the right amount of contrast. Colors are vibrant and will be pleasing to the NEX-6's target audience. Photos don't display a lot of 'grainy' luminance noise, though that's at the expense of fine detail, such as hair or grass (even at low ISOs). For best results, you'll want to shoot RAW, which not only brings back some of that detail, but it also gives you access to shadows and highlights that were otherwise lost. The NEX-6 automatically reduces various lens issues, such as chromatic aberrations, distortion, and vignetting.
As far as its key systems are concerned, the NEX-6 chose the proper exposure in nearly all of our real-world samples, so we didn't need to reach for exposure compensation or bracketing mode very often. The camera's Auto DRO system, which is on by default, does an impressive job of brightening shadows and producing a nice, balanced image. If you want to bring back highlight detail, you can do so using the NEX's easy-to-use HDR function, or shoot RAW.
The Final Word
The NEX-6 is an very competent and fun-to-use mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. It performs as well or better than other mirrorless cameras on the market, and offers some unique features that are genuinely useful. With the addition of Wi-Fi, the NEX's feature set is arguably the best in its class. The new mode dial and hot shoe have made it a bit more 'traditional' than its predecessors, though the clunky, menu-driven interface remains largely untouched. If you're comfortable with how the NEX-6 operates, then you won't be disappointed by its performance, photo and video quality, or features. The NEX-6 earns a very solid silver award and only just misses out on a gold. While some of our complaints could be resolved with a firmware update (such as app speed or movie/still separation in playback mode), others, such as the lack of direct controls and location of the movie mode button, will have to wait for the revision of the NEX-6.
Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category.
Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.
Sony Alpha NEX-6
Category: Mid Range Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
Ergonomics & handling
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Movie / video mode
The NEX-6 offers a highly attractive combination of excellent image quality, enthusiast-friendly ergonomics (including a mode dial--a first for the NEX-series), a 'real' hot shoe, an OLED electronic viewfinder, and useful features like Sweep Panorama and Auto HDR. That said, the NEX's user interface isn't for everyone. Having to download (and sometimes pay for) apps can be frustrating, and for best results you'll need to shoot raw.
- Fuji X-E1 review
- Olympus OM-D E-M5 review
- Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX1 review
- Sony Alpha NEX-7 review
- Nikon 1 V2 hands-on
- Canon EOS M preview
Sony recently announced the RX100 VI, the newest addition to its compact camera line. How does this new model stand out from the rest? Chris and Jordan take the camera for a spin and tell us what they think – and even manage to fit in some well earned hammock time in the process.
Greenland in winter is not for the faint of heart, but it's highly rewarding to those who can manage the conditions. In this final installment of his series, Erez Marom tells us how he made the most of getting stuck in the snow, and why it's worth the cost to charter a sailing into Disko Bay.
Lomography is crowdfunding its latest film camera, the Diana Instant Square. According to the company, this is the first Instax-compatible camera with a hot-shoe mount and support for interchangeable lenses.
Bing Visual Search is a direct competitor to Google Lens, enabling web search and online shopping through images.
The US Supreme Court, in a 5-4 decision, has ruled online retailers such as Amazon, B&H Photo, and eBay can be forced to collect sales tax in states, even where they don't have a physical presence, overturning a 1992 Supreme Court ruling.
A popular Instagram user based in Singapore has been caught passing stock images off as his own work. Daryl Aiden Yow, who has worked with many recognizable brands, has apologized for his actions, and has deleted some images from his Instagram account while adding credits to others.
Instagram is the fourth Facebook-owned social media app to reach the coveted 1 billion users mark.
Chinese smartphone brand Oppo has employed a clever solution to the dreaded display 'notch' – a sliding mechanism that houses the device's front and rear-facing cameras.
The Kamlan 28mm F1.4 is an all-manual prime lens for APS-C (and Micro Four Thirds) mirrorless cameras. Following a successful Kickstarter campaign, it'll go on sale to the public for just $200 – see what it can do on Sony and Fujifilm bodies.
Instagram TV — IGTV for short — is a new app and service from Instagram that puts the focus on video content. You can now follow content creators and watch up to hour-long vertical videos inside the new dedicated IGTV app, as well as directly within Instagram.
Researchers at NVIDIA have used artificial intelligence to train a system that's capable of turning standard 30fps video into 240fps slow-mo video with minimal loss in quality.
Loupedeck has updated its popular Lightroom editing console with a new '+' version featuring improved build quality, more customization and support for some non-Adobe software.
Apple released a new batch of mobile photography tutorial videos this week, each briefly demonstrating how to perform various camera actions using the flagship iPhone X.
Adobe has announced development of Project Rush, a cross-device video editing application that consolidates the entire video creation workflow, from shooting to social media sharing, in a single application.
Adobe's quarterly financial report was just published, and the news is good. Q2 2018 saw a new quarterly revenue record of $2.20 billion, and 22% growth to $1.55 billion in its Digital Media segment.
Just months after launching its QuartzLine filters for DSLR and mirrorless lenses, PolarPro has launched a buyback program that will give you credit towards a PolarPro filter for trading in an old one - even if it isn't theirs.
Sigma has announced that five of its Sony E-Mount Art-series primes, announced earlier this year, are now shipping.
Adobe has announced a raft of updates across its suite of Creative Cloud apps, including Lightroom CC and Lightroom Classic CC.
The FUJINON GF 45mm F2.8 R WR is a 36mm equivalent fast prime for Fujifilm's GFX 50S. We've been shooting with one for a few days, and we're impressed. Check out our sample gallery to judge for yourself.
Video editing software package Video Pro X has received what is described as its biggest update yet to mark ten years since Magix Video Pro was launched.
Back in 2010, Canon announced that it was developing the world's largest CMOS sensor, measuring about 40 times larger than full frame. The company has just updated its website with more details.
Samyang has launched its latest lens, the Samyang AF 85mm F1.4 EF. This telephoto prime is a direct competitor to Canon's $1,600 alternative—and considering it's expected to retail for half the price, it looks like quite the bargain.
Scanning film takes forever and photographing negatives is a pain. The Pixl-latr aims to provide a simple solution.
Google has published an 18-page study fully detailing its synthetic depth-of-field technology that makes its single-camera Portrait Mode possible. The in-depth paper shows a degree of openness and academic mindset unusual for the industry.
Rugged, waterproof compact cameras are tough enough to survive even the most action-packed vacation, but they're not the only choice for capturing those great memories. Photographer Josh Root takes us through the options.
Kodak has restarted production of one of its most famous film emulsions - Ektachrome. Popular Science editor Stan Horaczek recently go to take a look inside.
The Tamron 28-75mm F2.8 Di III RXD is an affordable F2.8 standard zoom for full frame Sony E-mount cameras. What's it like, what are the trade-offs, and what are the alternatives? Chris and Jordan take a closer look...
We've updated our Best Drones buying guide and there's a new winner. Find out which drone was our favorite and learn more about all current models in our updated guide.
A teardown of a Nikon D850 has provided proof that the camera's sensor is made by Sony Semiconductor. The chip's design and performance already strongly supported this, but the confirmation also gives a hint about how the industry works.