Sony NEX-6 Review - Digital Photography School

Sony NEX-6 Review

Sony NEX-6 Review.jpg

I usually start a review of a camera like this straight after brekky, while I’m fresh, with an uncluttered mind.

But sometimes it seems I would have been better off by kicking off with a cluttered mind!

So I pick up the NEX-6. Hit the power button. Look in the LCD. Looks awfully dark. What’s up? Go the finder menu and hit the factory reset button. No better. Look in the menu for the PASM options. None there!

Oh! Oh! Dumbo missed the legibly inscribed, external PASM settings on the top mode dial. Just like most other cameras, but unlike the two most recent mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that passed through my hands, the Canon EOS-M and Sony’s NEX-5R, which tucked these vital options away in the finder menu and touch screen respectively.

With the NEX-6 many will appreciate the easy access to external exposure controls like these.

Sony NEX-6 Review back.jpg

Sony NEX-6 Review tilt.jpg

Sony NEX-6 Review Top.jpg

Cosmetically, the camera looks gorgeous, simply garbed in black with legibly labelled external controls. It feels good too, thanks to a prominent speed grip. With the review f3.5/16-50mm review lens attached, it is almost pocketable.

Sony NEX-6 Features

The power and Function buttons are mounted on a front sloping deck that falls naturally to an operative forefinger.
Scene selection 1.jpg

Scene selection 2.jpg

As I mentioned, the mode dial carries the PASM choices plus iAuto and Superior auto exposure options, plus scene modes (nine in all) and Sony’s excellent sweep panorama. Set lower and on the extreme right corner is the video record button: later, when out shooting, I found this location to be a damned nuisance!

At the rear there is the replay button, flash pop up, AEL (to fix the exposure); the four way control wheel carries ISO, display options, single/continuos shooting and exposure compensation. There are three more, unlabelled near-invisible buttons: two assignable ‘soft keys’ and the central control wheel.

Chatswood shopping centre 2.JPG

Chatswood shopping centre 3.JPG

The CMOS captured a maximum image size of 4912×3264 pixels, or 42x28cm as a print.

Movies at Full HD res of 1920×1080 pixels can be shot in either AVCHD (full res) or MPEG4 (at two lower res settings).

The camera is furnished with full Wi-Fi access. This allows relatively simple wireless stills and video transfers to smartphones or tablets running the supplied PlayMemories Mobile (Windows only) app. Images can also be transferred wirelessly to a networked computer or viewed wirelessly on any DLNA-compatible TV.

Thankfully, the NEX-6 has a vari-angle LCD screen, tiltable to 90m degrees upwards or 45 degrees down.

Sony NEX-6 ISO Tests

Sony NEX-6 ISO 100.JPG

Sony NEX-6 ISO 400.JPG

Sony NEX-6 ISO 800.JPG

Sony NEX-6 ISO 1600.JPG

Sony NEX-6 ISO 3200.JPG

Sony NEX-6 ISO 6400.JPG

Sony NEX-6 ISO 12800.JPG

Sony NEX-6 ISO 25600.JPG

A very clean performance all the way to ISO 3200. By ISO 6400 very slight rise in noise. Still very useable at ISO 12800 in terms of quality, sharpness and lack of visible noise. Noise up at ISO 25600 but still useable with the right subjects.

Sony NEX-6 Review Verdict

Quality: slightly above average.
Why you’d buy the Sony NEX-6: easy to use; access to a reasonable range of lenses.
Why you wouldn’t: no touch screen operation; the memory cat\rd slot is fiddly to deal with.

If you don’t need the image size of the NEX-7, this could be an ideal choice. Good one!

Sony NEX-6 Specifications

Image Sensor: 16.1 million effective pixels.
Metering: multi zone, centre-weighted, spot.
Lens Mount: Sony E-mount.
Exposure Modes: iAuto, Program AE, shutter and aperture priority, manual.
Effective Sensor Size: 23.5×15.6mm CMOS.
35 SLR Lens Factor: 1.5x.
Shutter Speed (stills): 30 to 1/4000 second and Bulb. Flash sync: 1/160 sec.
Continuous Shooting: up to 10 fps.
Memory: SD/SDHC/SDXC, Memory Stick Pro Duo cards.
Image Sizes (pixels): Stills: 4912×3264 to 2448×1376.
Movies: 1920×1080 (AVCHD), 1440×1080 and 640×480 (MPEG4).
Viewfinder: 7.5cm LCD screen (921,600 pixels).
File Formats: JPEG, RAW (Sony ARW 2.3), JPEG+RAW, AVCHD, MPEG4.
Colour Space: sRGB, Adobe RGB.
ISO Sensitivity: Auto, 100 to 25600.
Interface: USB 2.0, HDMI mini, Wi-Fi.
Power: Rechargeable lithium ion battery, DC input.
Dimensions: 120x67x43 WHDmm.
Weight: 345 g (inc card and battery).
Price: Get a price on the Sony NEX-6 (Body Only) or the Sony NEX-6 with 16-50mm Power Zoom Lens or the Sony NEX6 with 16-50mm Power Zoom Lens and 55-210mm Lens.

Summary
Reviewer
Barrie Smith
Review Date
Reviewed Item
Sony NEX-6
Author Rating
3

Read more from our Cameras & Equipment category.

Barrie Smith is an experienced writer/photographer currently published in Australian Macworld, Auscam and other magazines in Australia and overseas.

  • timgray

    You guys list “no touch screen” as a negative. I see it as a positive. I look for cameras that do not have a touchscreen and avoid them. A well designed camera does not use them.

  • Hammerglock

    I agree with timgrey I think touchscreens are a nuisance especially for a small screen.. Physical buttons on the camera work great!

  • Barrie Smith

    I tend to agree with you on the touch screen. But so many cameras have such a confusing mix of external controls and viewfinder options the touch screen is an easy way out.

  • Jason

    This is the best NEX body to date. By the way, via commonly found and very inexpensive adapters, this camera, along with the entire family of NEX bodies, accepts more lenses than any other body ever made. Limited lens selection is NOT a factor here.

  • Andrew

    So…. just like the review of the 7, no mention of what the EVF is actually like?

  • UG

    Wow, those high iso images are impressive… opens wallet

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/djkj Kartik

    I am a Sony shooter. Very much invested! I love the features of the NEX however I found no documentation on how the A mount lenses perform with the A to E adapter. Is there any loss in light or quality? I shoot with an A500 and so much want either the NEX 6 or the A77.

    Take a look at some of my interesting pics taken with my current Sony A500 camera here:

    http://flickriver.com/photos/djkj/popular-interesting/

    Cheers!
    KJ

  • http://www.bestmirrorlesscamerareviews.com Heather @ MirrorLessons

    The ISO is quite impressive, even at 12800. It would be fun taking this camera out for a bit of experimental night shooting!

  • Jason

    “Slightly above average”?? Give us all a break, Barrie.

  • Justin

    I sold my Nikon D5000 and switched to an NEX-6. It takes excellent photos but retains the size of a compact camera. It really is great!

  • http://sonynex-vg30.blogspot.com Martino

    I am not the least surprise if someone would trade their cameras or handycams to Sony. With Sony Nex series, photography enthusiast will be keen to get their hands on this . Have you read about the latest Sony Nex VG30? It offers to fulfill the need of a cinematic expression and at a reasonable price too.

  • Bazman

    Im looking at the NEX 6 and the Olympus OMD. The Olympus has a smaller sensor and is a lot less sexy, but has a touch screen you can shut off and on. The Olympus does not do as well in video but has a superior stable of lenses. Neither camera has a external mic jack. Both have come out with external mic periferals that work through the proprietary connections but the Sony one is better. The Olympus is priced much higher than the Sony and Im leaning towards the Sony. But they are pretty close.

  • Doug Harper

    RE: Bazman comments on March 23, 2013

    Will you please describe in detail exactly the equipment you mention in your statement:
    ” Both have come out with external mic periferals that work through the proprietary connections but the Sony one is better.”
    I’d buy the NEX 6 now if it had an external mic input. Some of what I wish to use the “NEX X” for is video work.

    Thanks,

  • http://digital-photography-school.com/sony-nex-6-review Brian

    I own a NEX-6 and have found four major defects which have let me down .
    The first is the location of the Movie button. It is hard to locate and turn on – usually needs to visually locate as groping for it wastes time and when it comes to turning the movie off – it definately needs removing your eve from the ELV to locate the movie switch – at the expense of interupting the flow of the movie. Unfortunately Sony has bowed to critics and located the Movie button away from accidental operation – however, it has completely destroyed this facility by a stupid button location which I doubt has been seriously trialled pre manufacture.
    The second is a failure to provide a choice of an Aspect Ratio of 4:3 which is incomprehensible.
    The third is the menu system which leaves “hanging” explanations which obscure other menu options.
    The fourth is the necessity to press the focus button to get the camera to actually select a change to the mode selector – like a double manual acknowledgement.

  • gautam lakra

    Would please review the Sony HX 300 .

  • Doug Harper

    Just would like to sync the video from the NEX 6 with audio. Since this camera doesn’t have an aux audio input it’s not straightforward how I can do this. If anyone has a way around this obvious omission of an aux input by Sony please advise. I’ll cant justify at this point 3k for a pro video camera. I what to have a great small camera to do both jobs if possible. Thanks

  • Bruce

    Barrie , I can’t believe you complained about the memory card slot, it isn’t too fiddly . I bought my nex6 yesterday, and so far very happy with it . I have a canon 50D which I love but sometimes it is just too big to take on restaurant outings or on overseas trips, so Sony to the rescue . Canons M csc didn’t cut it for me . The nex6 evf is pretty awesome, can be used for playback as well. The menu is quite large but I think once I get used to it, it won’t be a problem.

  • Jack Eisenberg

    Have been thinking about Sony NEX 6 with 16-50mm zoom. I need the 24mm equivalent coverage which the
    18-55 doesn’t provide. But all the pro’s with whom I speak tell me that both the zoom and the 16mm f2.8 pancake are dogs. One just traded his for the 18-55.

    Have also wondered how much battery power is lost by keeping camera “ON” as I do my Nikon dslr. Necessary for street photography, etc.

    Many thanks,

    Jack

  • Bruce

    Jack- I think the only way you can decide if the lenses are good enough is go to a camera shop with a memory card and try them out for your self. I’m happy with with my 16-50 zoom, but I am not a pro.
    Re the battery left “ON” ,like most cameras they go to “sleep” when not used but still on,nex6 is the same ,just touch the shutter button to wake it up. I would recommend getting a couple of extra batteries & a charger.
    Bruce

  • Bruce

    Jack, when I say I’m not a pro ,I still want quality photos.
    Bruce

  • http://digital-photography-school.com/sony-nex-6-review Brian

    Jack – If I can add a few comments as well, I have a NEX-6 and the following lens – 1018, 1650, 5018, 2418 & 18200. I have used this camera in a trip to Europe which, through space limitations, I left the 1650 lens home – big mistake ! I have used the 1018 lens for about 80% of my photos as many of the sights are either in tight roads – more like alley ways, or fjords which have testes the 1018 lens. The 1018 lens focuses very fast but beware of using the internal flash – it produces a large shadow in the bottom of the image. For night panorama, the 2418 lens is good. I have used the 1650 lens home and have been very happy with it’s performance. As mentioned in this forum earlier, the poor location of the movie button has stopped me from using this camera for movie use. I have also carried a DSCHX20V (current model is DSCHX30V) which I feel is a must on this type of trip – the movie capability is excellent and the long zoom is in most cases a better and quicker option than changing the NEX-6 to a 18200 LE lens, which has a manual focus and is not smooth in operation for movie use. Hope these comments are of use.

Some older comments

  • Brian

    August 13, 2013 12:56 am

    Jack - If I can add a few comments as well, I have a NEX-6 and the following lens - 1018, 1650, 5018, 2418 & 18200. I have used this camera in a trip to Europe which, through space limitations, I left the 1650 lens home - big mistake ! I have used the 1018 lens for about 80% of my photos as many of the sights are either in tight roads - more like alley ways, or fjords which have testes the 1018 lens. The 1018 lens focuses very fast but beware of using the internal flash - it produces a large shadow in the bottom of the image. For night panorama, the 2418 lens is good. I have used the 1650 lens home and have been very happy with it's performance. As mentioned in this forum earlier, the poor location of the movie button has stopped me from using this camera for movie use. I have also carried a DSCHX20V (current model is DSCHX30V) which I feel is a must on this type of trip - the movie capability is excellent and the long zoom is in most cases a better and quicker option than changing the NEX-6 to a 18200 LE lens, which has a manual focus and is not smooth in operation for movie use. Hope these comments are of use.

  • Bruce

    August 12, 2013 11:03 am

    Jack, when I say I'm not a pro ,I still want quality photos.
    Bruce

  • Bruce

    August 12, 2013 08:02 am

    Jack- I think the only way you can decide if the lenses are good enough is go to a camera shop with a memory card and try them out for your self. I'm happy with with my 16-50 zoom, but I am not a pro.
    Re the battery left "ON" ,like most cameras they go to "sleep" when not used but still on,nex6 is the same ,just touch the shutter button to wake it up. I would recommend getting a couple of extra batteries & a charger.
    Bruce

  • Jack Eisenberg

    August 11, 2013 03:05 am

    Have been thinking about Sony NEX 6 with 16-50mm zoom. I need the 24mm equivalent coverage which the
    18-55 doesn't provide. But all the pro's with whom I speak tell me that both the zoom and the 16mm f2.8 pancake are dogs. One just traded his for the 18-55.

    Have also wondered how much battery power is lost by keeping camera "ON" as I do my Nikon dslr. Necessary for street photography, etc.

    Many thanks,

    Jack

  • Bruce

    July 19, 2013 02:56 pm

    Barrie , I can't believe you complained about the memory card slot, it isn't too fiddly . I bought my nex6 yesterday, and so far very happy with it . I have a canon 50D which I love but sometimes it is just too big to take on restaurant outings or on overseas trips, so Sony to the rescue . Canons M csc didn't cut it for me . The nex6 evf is pretty awesome, can be used for playback as well. The menu is quite large but I think once I get used to it, it won't be a problem.

  • Doug Harper

    July 8, 2013 09:27 pm

    Just would like to sync the video from the NEX 6 with audio. Since this camera doesn't have an aux audio input it's not straightforward how I can do this. If anyone has a way around this obvious omission of an aux input by Sony please advise. I'll cant justify at this point 3k for a pro video camera. I what to have a great small camera to do both jobs if possible. Thanks

  • gautam lakra

    July 5, 2013 11:50 pm

    Would please review the Sony HX 300 .

  • Brian

    April 30, 2013 11:28 pm

    I own a NEX-6 and have found four major defects which have let me down .
    The first is the location of the Movie button. It is hard to locate and turn on - usually needs to visually locate as groping for it wastes time and when it comes to turning the movie off - it definately needs removing your eve from the ELV to locate the movie switch - at the expense of interupting the flow of the movie. Unfortunately Sony has bowed to critics and located the Movie button away from accidental operation - however, it has completely destroyed this facility by a stupid button location which I doubt has been seriously trialled pre manufacture.
    The second is a failure to provide a choice of an Aspect Ratio of 4:3 which is incomprehensible.
    The third is the menu system which leaves "hanging" explanations which obscure other menu options.
    The fourth is the necessity to press the focus button to get the camera to actually select a change to the mode selector - like a double manual acknowledgement.

  • Doug Harper

    April 8, 2013 08:07 am

    RE: Bazman comments on March 23, 2013

    Will you please describe in detail exactly the equipment you mention in your statement:
    " Both have come out with external mic periferals that work through the proprietary connections but the Sony one is better."
    I'd buy the NEX 6 now if it had an external mic input. Some of what I wish to use the "NEX X" for is video work.

    Thanks,

  • Bazman

    March 23, 2013 02:11 am

    Im looking at the NEX 6 and the Olympus OMD. The Olympus has a smaller sensor and is a lot less sexy, but has a touch screen you can shut off and on. The Olympus does not do as well in video but has a superior stable of lenses. Neither camera has a external mic jack. Both have come out with external mic periferals that work through the proprietary connections but the Sony one is better. The Olympus is priced much higher than the Sony and Im leaning towards the Sony. But they are pretty close.

  • Martino

    March 21, 2013 02:01 am

    I am not the least surprise if someone would trade their cameras or handycams to Sony. With Sony Nex series, photography enthusiast will be keen to get their hands on this . Have you read about the latest Sony Nex VG30? It offers to fulfill the need of a cinematic expression and at a reasonable price too.

  • Justin

    March 11, 2013 10:27 pm

    I sold my Nikon D5000 and switched to an NEX-6. It takes excellent photos but retains the size of a compact camera. It really is great!

  • Jason

    March 4, 2013 12:30 am

    "Slightly above average"?? Give us all a break, Barrie.

  • Heather @ MirrorLessons

    February 28, 2013 09:02 pm

    The ISO is quite impressive, even at 12800. It would be fun taking this camera out for a bit of experimental night shooting!

  • Kartik

    February 27, 2013 02:52 pm

    I am a Sony shooter. Very much invested! I love the features of the NEX however I found no documentation on how the A mount lenses perform with the A to E adapter. Is there any loss in light or quality? I shoot with an A500 and so much want either the NEX 6 or the A77.

    Take a look at some of my interesting pics taken with my current Sony A500 camera here:

    http://flickriver.com/photos/djkj/popular-interesting/

    Cheers!
    KJ

  • UG

    February 27, 2013 02:31 pm

    Wow, those high iso images are impressive... opens wallet

  • Andrew

    February 26, 2013 11:46 am

    So.... just like the review of the 7, no mention of what the EVF is actually like?

  • Jason

    February 25, 2013 07:27 pm

    This is the best NEX body to date. By the way, via commonly found and very inexpensive adapters, this camera, along with the entire family of NEX bodies, accepts more lenses than any other body ever made. Limited lens selection is NOT a factor here.

  • Barrie Smith

    February 25, 2013 09:39 am

    I tend to agree with you on the touch screen. But so many cameras have such a confusing mix of external controls and viewfinder options the touch screen is an easy way out.

  • Hammerglock

    February 25, 2013 12:47 am

    I agree with timgrey I think touchscreens are a nuisance especially for a small screen.. Physical buttons on the camera work great!

  • timgray

    February 24, 2013 01:42 pm

    You guys list "no touch screen" as a negative. I see it as a positive. I look for cameras that do not have a touchscreen and avoid them. A well designed camera does not use them.

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