Sony NEX-6 review

The best compact system camera to date – start saving up

4 Dec 2012
Our Rating 
5/5
Price when reviewed 
819
inc VAT
Buy it now for 

Specifications

23.5x15.6mm 16.0-megapixel sensor, 3.1x zoom (24-75mm equivalent), 465g

Other features are drawn from the NEX-7. There's the same 2.4-million-dot electronic viewfinder (EVF), giving a view that's as big and detailed as a full-frame SLR. While most CSCs with viewfinders resemble shrunken SLRs, we like how this one uses the same boxy design as the rest of the NEX range to keep the proportions as small as possible. Having the EVF of the left edge means that you don't have to press your nose against the screen – as long as your right eye is dominant, of course. A proximity sensor switches the EVF on automatically when the camera is raised to the eye.

There's an integrated pop-up flash and a standard hotshoe, which are far preferable to the NEX-5N and 5R's clip-on flash unit and proprietary shoe that doesn't accept standard accessories. It's better than the NEX-7's shoe too, which is yet another proprietary design.

Sony NEX-6

The new kit lens is much more in keeping with the NEX system's compact designs

Other NEX cameras are bundled with an 18-55mm kit lens that's relatively bulky and suffers from soft focus in the corners of frames. The new 16-50mm kit lens is a big improvement on both fronts. It's impressively sharp into the corners of frames, even at its widest aperture settings. It uses a motor rather than a mechanical lens ring to control the zoom, and can retract down to 30mm when powered down. That's half the length of the 18-55mm lens, and it's 40 per cent lighter too.

Sony NEX-6 sample shot

The new 16-50mm kit lens is much sharper into the corners of frames than the older 18-55mm lens

The similar Panasonic 14-42mm PZ lens uses levers to control the zoom and focus, but Sony's new lens has a lens ring that can be assigned to either zoom or focus duties. Controlling motors with a lens ring is often vague and clumsy, but here it's implemented extremely well. Zoom can be assigned to the lever on the lens barrel if you need control over both zoom and focus. Alternatively, selecting DMF mode (short for direct manual focus) assigns the lens ring to zoom, but after triggering the autofocus with a half-press of the shutter button, the ring then switches to manual focus duties for fine tuning.

Along with the sharp screen and viewfinder, up to 9.6x temporary magnification and a peaking mode that highlights high-contrast (and thus, sharply focused) parts of the image, this is as good as it gets for manual focusing with a compact system camera. We only wish that there was a hardware button for toggling between auto and manual focus. As with other CSCs, Sony NEX cameras don't include switches on their lenses, but whereas the NEX-7 has a physical manual focus switch on the back of the camera, the NEX-6 requires a trip to the menu.

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