Sony NEX 6 Review

Sony NEX 6 Review

With the NEX-6, Sony has added another model to its family of mirrorless system cameras. It inherits the integrated electronic viewfinder and accessory shoe from the top model NEX-7. The recently introduced NEX-5R, on the other hand, donates the APS-C sensor with 16.1 megapixel resolution and Wifi functionality. The NEX-6’s mode dial is unique in the NEX line-up, and Sony is also announcing additional lenses for the NEX system in the coming months.

Short evaluation


  • Numerous special functions with expansion options through WLAN and apps
  • Apparently good image quality
  • Foldable, bright screen
  • High resolution viewfinder with bright image
  • Excellent workmanship with compact dimensions and good ergonomics


  • Video function with limited resolution settings only
  • Menus that need some getting used to and are somewhat confusing
  • The two control wheels are not consistently used independently

With the NEX-6, Sony is placing a new model right between the NEX-5R and NEX-7. The manufacturer is responding to the wishes of many users who want the robust housing and electronic viewfinder as well as the built-in flash of the NEX-7, but who don’t want to spend so much money on the other hand and who are satisfied with the 16 megapixel resolution of the NEX-5R. In addition, the NEX-6, like the NEX-5R, has a built-in WLAN module and the camera functions can be expanded using apps.

Take the case of the top model NEX-7, equip it with the sensor and other ingredients of the NEX-5R – and the new NEX-6 is ready. But Sony didn’t make it that easy: The NEX-6 is the first member of the NEX family to feature a dedicated mode dial on the top – a late concession to critics who didn’t like the “modern” operation via on-screen menus only (which was quite successful with the NEX series), but preferred a “traditional” operation. The mode selector is enclosed by a second selector wheel whose function can be configured. Apart from this welcome renovation, the new NEX-6 is very similar to its big counterpart: it also has an electronic viewfinder integrated in the top left-hand corner of the housing. And on the top plate there was still room for a system flash shoe as well as for a small shaft from which the integrated on-board flash can jump up if required. On the back Sony has a decent three-inch display that can be folded up 90 degrees and down almost 45 degrees.

The inner values of the NEX-6 correspond largely to those of the recently presented NEX-5R. These include the 16.1 megapixel CMOS sensor in APS-C format, which Sony believes has a light sensitivity of up to ISO 25,600. The NEX-6 also has the new fast-hybrid autofocus on board. In combination with classical contrast measurement, phase AF sensors integrated in the image sensor ensure particularly fast and yet fast focusing. Thanks to this new technology, the NEX-6 can even adjust the sharpness of serial photos with up to 10 fps – as well as video recordings. The latest addition to the NEX family records videos at maximum Full HD resolution (1,920 x 1,080) and 50 full frames per second. Another innovation benefits it: Sony has equipped the NEX-6 with an automatic shutter for video shooting. It automatically extends the exposure time when filming in low light conditions – this should enable better shots in low light conditions.

The NEX-6 is also up to date when it comes to network connectivity. As with the NEX-5R, its built-in WiFi interface allows it to connect to other devices, the Internet or the home network. In this way, the latest snapshots can be conveniently transferred to your smartphone or published on the Internet. In addition, the functionality of the NEX-6 can be extended via apps which, according to the manufacturer, can “partly be downloaded free of charge from the PlayMemories platform from Sony”. In this way, the NEX-6 receives additional image effects, additional options for series shooting or can be remote-controlled via smartphone. The NEX-6 will be available from November 2012 for about 800 Euro.

Together with the NEX-6, Sony has also announced three new lenses with an E-Mount connector and optical image stabilizer. The SEL-P1650 (approx. 350 Euro, from January 2013) is particularly light and compact. It covers a zoom range from 16 to 50 millimetres (24-70 mm related to 35mm), the luminous intensity ranges from F3.5-5.6. With the SEL-35F18 another powerful fixed focal length (30 mm / F1.8) is added to the range, which will be available from December 2012 for around 450 euros. In addition, the SEL-1018 will feature a wide-angle zoom that covers the range from 15 to 27 with a continuous light intensity of F4 relative to 35mm.

Ergonomics and workmanship

The Sony NEX-6 has a slim housing made of high-quality plastic. The bayonet and the rubberized handle stand out strikingly on the front, with the latter the camera can be held well despite the small dimensions. The metal tripod thread on the underside is located in the optical axis and far enough from the battery and memory card compartment so that it remains accessible when mounted on a tripod. The memory card slot has a slot compatible with SD, SDHC, SDXC and MemoryStick Duo. The case looks quite similar to the NEX-7, but it’s a little more compact and has some differences in detail.

A further component of this smart, slim system camera stands out: the electronic viewfinder at the top left of the camera back. The large eyecup offers good protection against side scattered light, but can also be removed. The OLED viewfinder has a high-contrast, bright image with a very high resolution of 2.36 million pixels, which corresponds to 1,024 x 768 pixels. However, the view is not optimal for spectacle wearers because the exit pupil is too far forward to be able to see the entire viewfinder. It is recommended to use diopter compensation from -4 to +1 dpt. The brightness of the viewfinder can only be adjusted if you have it on your eye, so you have to operate the keys blindly. Unfortunately, there are only three brightness levels, which also don’t differ too much. The NEX-6 automatically switches to the electronic viewfinder as soon as you take it to your eye.

Due to the small size of the camera, the rear screen with its three inch screen diagonal (about 7.5 centimeters) looks quite large. This is not obvious at first glance, because the screen is so nicely embedded in the back: You can fold it 90 degrees up and about 45 degrees down, which simplifies ground level and overhead shooting. Unfortunately, the screen is not rotatable, so you don’t see yourself in self-portraits. The monitor with a resolution of 921,000 pixels offers a high-contrast and extremely bright image, and the brightness of the settings can also be increased significantly, so that there are hardly any situations left in which you can’t see anything on the screen.

Numerous settings can be displayed on both the monitor and the viewfinder, plus an electronic spirit level and a grid. In contrast to the NEX-5R, the operating concept of the NEX-6 is also designed for advanced users who like to make more settings directly. This includes a second setting wheel. One is located under the program selector wheel, the other is integrated in the four-weigher. Unfortunately, Sony does not yet use the two control wheels independently enough, so that each of the wheels often adjusts the same function instead of expanding the setting range (e.g. flash function on one wheel, flash exposure correction on the other if you are in the flash menu).



There is also an Fn key and two blank keys, each of which has a function that is displayed on the screen. Especially for “old hands” the menu looks a bit opaque at first sight. It is at least unusual to find white balance and ISO settings in the “Brightness and Color” menu. Newcomers, on the other hand, will most likely look for these settings here. The individual menus scroll vertically, especially the system menu becomes quite confusing, as the search for a setting ends in long scrolling. After all, the camera can optionally remember the last used menu item and jumps back there as soon as you enter the menu.


The Sony NEX-6 offers an intelligent fully automatic function that relieves the user of any adjustment work. It automatically detects the subject and sets the correct subject mode, such as macro, landscape, sport or portrait. Faces are also recognized. The intelligent “Auto plus” includes special programs for blur reduction and noise reduction using multiple shots. Above all, however, the NEX-6 can also be adapted very conveniently to the individual shooting situation by preselecting the respective program. Program priority, aperture priority, aperture priority and manual exposure mode are very prominent on the program dial. Thanks to the two setting wheels, the parameters can also be set very easily. The ISO sensitivity has its own position on the four-weigher and is therefore also directly accessible. If you want to trigger your NEX-6 remotely, you can do so using an infrared remote control. In addition, the NEX-6 offers special programs such as the panorama mode, which creates high-resolution panoramas by simply panning.

The NEX-6 records videos in full HD resolution of 1,920 x 1,080 pixels. The refresh rate is either 50 or 25 full frames per second (50p or 25p), if you like you can also set 50 fields (50i). However, this requires that you select AVCHD as the storage format, as the alternative MP4 format reduces the resolution to 1,440 x 1,080 pixels at 25 frames per second, alternatively you can set VGA. HD-Ready with 720p is unfortunately not available as resolution at all. The sound is recorded via the built-in stereo microphone, but an external microphone can also be connected (see below).

The possibilities offered by the WLAN module are interesting. The WLAN connection parameters are entered via the menu, which can be a bit tedious due to the lack of a touch screen. If you are connected, you can send pictures by e-mail, copy them to your PC or post them on Facebook. If you have installed a special app on your smartphone, you can control the NEX-6 from it, so you can see the live image and trigger.

However, things like posting on Facebook or the remote control function are not an integral part of the NEX-6, but are retrofitted with camera apps that are available from Sony PlayMemories. Some of these apps are free like the remote function, others are supposed to cost money like the professional bracketing function. Prices are not yet fixed, but are expected to be around five euros per app. The Bracketing app provides the NEX-6 with interesting bracketing functions, such as a focus row or an aperture row. This allows you to take pictures with different depth of field or different focus positions. Traditional exposure series, on the other hand, are part of the standard repertoire; the three images can be separated by 1/3 to 3 EV each. The NEX-6 can even make HDR shots directly and calculate the individual shots, which is very reliable and yet retains a natural image impression. By the way, the NEX-6 takes serial pictures extremely fast with 9 frames per second. Depending on the storage format, the number is up to 11 images, so that action-packed scenes can be captured well. In addition, it stores both in the background and very quickly, so that it is always ready to record.

The image processing functions, which are otherwise rather economical at Sony, are also extended by PlayMemories apps. An app offers creative filters like Colorkey, Miniature Effect, Retrofoto etc.. Another app has retouching functions, such as automatic cropping of portraits, so that they appear more harmonious in terms of image composition. Color, saturation, image size etc. can also be changed with this app. Unfortunately PlayMemories is not open for foreign developers, that means for now there will only be apps from Sony itself.

The flash of the NEX-6 must be opened by pressing a button, but it jumps up very high. It has a very small guide number of just under 6 and offers all the usual functions such as automatic, fill-in flash, pre-flash to reduce red-eye, long-term synchronisation and flashing onto the second shutter curtain. In addition, there is flash exposure compensation. The latter, however, is hidden separately in the “Brightness and Color” menu. An external flash can be connected via the system flash shoe. An attached Sony system flash can trigger other Sony system flashes wirelessly. Sony connoisseurs will notice that Sony is now using the ISO shoe instead of the manufacturer-specific one. This offers advantages with other accessories that can now be attached directly to the shoe. An adapter for the old Sony/Minolta connector is included with the camera. In addition to the central contact at the front, the flash shoe has a number of electronic connections that other manufacturers place under the flash shoe. Accessories such as electronic viewfinders, audio adapters etc. can be connected here. A very smart solution.


The NEX-6 has the Sony E bayonet connection, for which there is already a reasonably good lens selection. Together with the NEX-6, Sony has announced three new lenses for the NEX system, including the new SEL-P1650 set lens, an ultra-compact standard zoom lens with an equivalent focal length of 24 to 75 millimetres and a speed of F3.5-5.6. The lens is extremely compact and has a high-quality metal body. In addition, there is no manual zoom, the zoom is electronic. A lever and a ring are located on the lens as control elements. When the camera is switched on, it moves to the shooting position within a good two seconds, the tube is made of plastic and has only slight play. Thanks to the 40.5 mm filter thread, optical accessories can be connected. Since the tube or the front lens do not rotate with it, polarizing filters are also easy to use. However, there is no connection for a lens hood.


The function of the two control elements is cleverly solved: The lever controls the zoom position, but offers only one speed, so it does not work progressively. Too bad, because you could have zoomed slowly with low pressure and zoomed faster with stronger pressure. The zoom lever is particularly practical in video mode to enable even zoom movements. The wide, ribbed and non-slip ring also controls the motor zoom. If, on the other hand, you switch to manual focus, this ring determines the sharpness level. The NEX-6 offers a focus magnifier that automatically fades in when the ring is rotated, as well as a peaking function that highlights sharp edges in color, simplifying the placement of the focus plane. The focus magnifier can be moved across the screen and its magnification adjusted to 4.8x or 9.6x.

The autofocus works quite quickly and above all purposefully. So Sony’s hybrid system obviously works very well. 99 phase sensors are integrated directly on the image sensor and take care of the rough pre-focusing and direction determination, while the contrast mode with 25 measuring points takes care of the fine adjustment. As a result, the autofocus pumps less, which has a particularly positive effect on the video function. It’s also easy to point the camera at a suddenly appearing subject and release the focus without much delay. In dark environments, the autofocus is supported by an orange LED auxiliary light. In wide-angle, the autofocus is quite fast with about 0.4 seconds, but in telescopic position it takes 0.6 seconds and is therefore only average. On the other hand, the release delay is extremely short, only 0.02 seconds.

Picture quality

With its 16 megapixels, the APS-C large CMOS sensor resolves rather moderately for today’s conditions, in which 24 megapixel sensors are often already used. This benefits the signal-to-noise ratio, which up to and including ISO 400 is a very good over 40 dB. Up to ISO 6.400, it remains within an acceptable range before falling below the 35 dB limit. Color noise plays practically no role and becomes easily visible at the highest sensitivity level of ISO 25,600. The brightness noise looks similar, which only appears slowly at high ISO 6.400. The fact that the noise suppression leads to a medium coarse granularity of 2-3 pixels is therefore hardly noticeable, especially as this grain size is hardly noticeable at a resolution of 16 megapixels on a 20 x 30 centimetre print anyway. The dynamic range is also at a good level with just under ten f-stops (EV) up to ISO 3,200, drops slightly above this and at ISO 12,800 and 25,600 is only a mediocre 8.5 f-stops. The noise reduction of the NEX-6 thus leads to an overall even and good to very good image result over a wide sensitivity range. The finest textures up to and including ISO 800 remain extremely sharp, but above this the texture sharpness drops noticeably. At ISO 1.600 it is still just good, but from ISO 3.200 on fine details become softer and at ISO 6.400 and 25.600 are visibly blurred. Interestingly enough, the camera image processing at ISO 12.800 once again manages to raise the textures to the slightly soft-looking level of ISO 3.200, only to break down sharply again at ISO 25.600.

The further measured values of the image tuning clearly show that the NEX-6 in JPEG is trimmed to subjectively respectable images, so for the demanding image processing one should rather photograph in raw. The colours are generally quite saturated, which is especially true of the warm red and orange tones. The tonal value curve is steep, mid-range contrasts are strongly raised. Only the sharpness artifacts of the NEX-6 are pleasantly reserved. The output tonal range is good up to ISO 3,200, the actual colour depth even up to ISO 12,800. The NEX-6 thus differentiates fine brightness and colour gradations quite finely over a large ISO range. As with most cameras, the manual white balance is so precise that a deviation can only be measured, but no longer perceived visually. Overall, the NEX-6 can boast a very good image quality up to ISO 800 and a good image quality at ISO 1,600, while at ISO 3,200 some important measured values are already more in the basement. It is a pity that the ISO automatic works up to exactly this value and cannot be limited to ISO 1,600.

The 16-50-millimeter lens also gave an overall good picture in the test lab, but there are some limitations here as well. The maximum resolution remains just below the 40 line pairs per millimeter (lp/mm) mark, but one should take into account the very restrained sharpening of the NEX-6, so that this resolution value is very honest and little embellished. The best aperture is F8, the best focal length is 28 millimetres (or 42 millimetres 35mm equivalent). In telescopic position, the resolution is slightly behind the medium focal length. At 28 and 50 millimeters, the resolution at the edge of the picture drops only slightly. The Achilles heel of the lens lies in the wide angle. Although the resolution of the image center is almost as high as at 28 millimeters, the resolution loss at the edge of the image is around 50 percent. A possible explanation for this is the compensation of distortion. This is very low from a measurement point of view, but sometimes you catch a glimpse of the uncorrected image on the live image when switching on the camera and see what the compensation has to achieve here at the edge of the image. Such a compact design is unfortunately also compromising. After all, these blurred edges are only noticeable on very large prints of well over 20 x 30 centimetres. In addition to distortion, edge darkening (maximum 0.7 f-stops) and chromatic aberrations are also low. The latter are on average well below 0.5 pixels, at the maximum they just reach one pixel. But even these values have already been corrected by the camera.

In the wild, the NEX-6 offers very good image quality with a decent dynamic range and low noise. The 16-50 millimetre lens has only very small colour fringes and delivers a high image sharpness, whose loss of resolution in the wide angle towards the image edge is less disturbing in practice than the laboratory test suggests. The white balance worked reliably in practice, the NEX-6 also reproduces colours pleasantly and slightly embellished, without emphasising individual colours too much in the candy style.

Bottom line

The Sony NEX-6 is an extremely successful mirrorless system camera that optimally fills the gap between the NEX-5R and NEX-7. It offers compact dimensions with excellent workmanship and ergonomics, which could however be improved in some details. The extremely high-resolution OLED viewfinder, which is also perfectly integrated into the housing, is outstanding. The new autofocus with phase sensors integrated into the sensor is particularly convincing for videos due to the significantly reduced pumping, but could be faster for photos, especially in the telephoto range. The picture quality is also at the usual high level. The new 16-50 mm set lens is not only compact and also very well processed, but also has a decent image quality with low color fringes, low distortion and good resolution, which, however, drops sharply in the wide angle towards the image edge.

Fact sheet

Fact sheet
Manufacturer Sony
Model NEX-6
Price approx. 950 EUR**
Sensor Resolution 16.1 megapixels
Max. Image resolution 4.912 x 3.264
(aspect ratio) (3:2)
Lens 16-50 mm 3.5-5.6 OSS PZ
Filter threads 40,5 mm
Viewfinder electronic
Field of vision 100 %
Enlargement 1,09-fold
Disbandment 2.36 million
Diopter compensation -4 to +1 dpt.
LCD monitor 3″
Disbandment 921.600
swivelling yes
as seeker yes
Video output HDMI
as viewfinder
Program automation yes
Aperture priority yes
Aperture priority yes
manual exposure yes
BULB long-term exposure yes
Scene modes
Portrait yes
Countryside yes
Macro yes
Sports/Action yes
more 5
Exposure metering Multi-field, Centre-weighted Integral, Spot
Flash yes
Guide number 5.8 (measurement)
Flash connection Standard system flash shoe
Remote release Infrared (optional)
Interval shooting
Storage medium SD/SDHC/SDXC, MemoryStick
Video mode
Size AVCHD or MP4
Codec H.264/AVC
Resolution (max.) 1.920 x 1.080
Frame rate (max.) 50p
automatic ISO 100-3.200
manually ISO 100-25.600
White balance
Automatic yes
Sun yes
Clouds yes
Fluorescent lamp yes
Light bulb yes
Other Shadow, flash, manual color temperature selection
Manual yes
Number of measuring fields 25 or 99
AF auxiliary light orange
Speed approx. 0.4-0.6 s
Languages Yes
more 16
Switch-on time 2 s
One-hand operation
(zoom and shutter release)
approx. 340 g (only housing
)approx. 460 g (with lens**)
Continuous shooting function*
Number of series images 11 (JPEG
)9 (RAW)
9.1 (JPEG
)9.0 (RAW)
Endurance run
2.3 (JPEG
)1.1 (RAW)
with flash yes
Zoom adjustment at lens
Zoom levels continuously variable
Time WW to Tele 1,8 s
Memory speeds*
JPEG 1,2 s (6,5 MByte)
RAW 2,0 s (16,1 MByte)
Triggering during
.Save as possible.
Battery life approx. 360 images (according to CIPA)
– not applicable” or “not available
“* with Sony 16 GByte 94 MB/s Class 10 SDHC memory card**
with lens Sony 16-50 mm 3.5-5.6 OSS PZ

This test of the Sony NEX-6 with Sony E 16-50 mm 3.5-5.6 OSS PZ (SEL-P1650) was created with DXOMARK Analyzer.

Short evaluation


  • Numerous special functions with expansion options through WLAN and apps
  • Apparently good image quality
  • Foldable, bright screen
  • High resolution viewfinder with bright image
  • Excellent workmanship with compact dimensions and good ergonomics


  • Video function with limited resolution settings only
  • Menus that need some getting used to and are somewhat confusing
  • The two control wheels are not consistently used independently

Sony NEX-6 Datasheet


Sensor CMOS sensor APS-C 23.6 x 15.8 mm (crop factor 1.5
)16.7 megapixels (physical) and 16.1 megapixels (effective)
Pixel pitch 4.8 µm
Photo resolution
4.912 x 3.264 pixels (3:2)
3.568 x 2.368 pixels (3:2)
2.448 x 1.624 pixels (3:2)
Panorama Swivel panorama
Picture formats JPG, RAW
Metadata Exif (version 2.3), DCF standard
Video resolution
1.920 x 1.080 (16:9) 50 p
1.440 x 1.080 (4:3) 25 p
640 x 480 (4:3) 25 p
Video format
MPG4 (codec MPEG-4)
MPG4 (codec MPEG-4)


Lens mount
Sony E


Autofocus Functions Single Auto Focus, Continuous Auto Focus, Area Auto Focus, Manual, AF Assist Light

Viewfinder and Monitor

Monitor 3.0″ TFT LCD monitor with 921,600 pixels
Video viewfinder Video viewfinder available, diopter compensation (-1.0 to 4.0 dpt)


Exposure metering Center-weighted integral measurement, matrix/multi-field measurement, spot measurement
Exposure times 1/4,000 to 30 s (automatic
) bulb function
Exposure control Program automatic, Aperture automatic, Time automatic, Manual
Bracketing function Bracket function with maximum 3 shots, step size from 0.3 to 0.7 EV, HDR function
Exposure compensation -3.0 to +3.0 EV with step size of 1/3 EV
Sensitivity to light ISO 100 to ISO 3.200 (automatic
)ISO 100 to ISO 25.600 (manual)
Remote access Remote triggering, remote control via Smartphone/Tablet
Scene modes Auto, Landscape, Macro, Night Scene, Night Portrait, Portrait, Sports/Action, 0 more scene modes
Picture effects Landscape, Lively, Portrait, B/W (contrast, saturation, sharpness adjustable in ± 3 levels), Sunset, Standard
White balance Auto, Cloudy, Sun, Shadow, Flash, Fluorescent, Incandescent, Manual
Color space Adobe RGB, sRGB
Continuous shooting Continuous shooting function max. 10.0 fps at highest resolution and max. 15 stored photos, max. 11 images RAW
Self-timer Self-timer at intervals of 2 s, special features: or 10 s (optional)
Shooting functions Live histogram


Flash built-in flash shoe
: Sony Multi Interface, standard centre contact
Flash range Flash sync time 1/160 s
Flash number Guide number 6 (ISO 100)
Flash functions Auto, Fill Flash, Flash On, Flash Off, Slow Sync, Flash On Second Shutter Curtain, Red-Eye Reduction


Image stabilizer no optical image stabilizer
Memory Stick (Duo Pro)
GPS function Internal GPS
Microphone Stereo
Power supply 1 x Sony NP-FW50 (lithium ion (Li-Ion), 7.2 V, 1,240 mAh
)165 CIPA-standard images
Playback Functions Highlights / shadow warning, image index, slide show function
Face recognition Face recognition, smile recognition
Picture parameters Sharpness, contrast
Special functions Electronic spirit level
Ports Data interfaces: USBUSB type
:USB 2.0 High SpeedWLAN
: available
AV connectors AV output: HDMI output Micro (Type D)
Supported direct printing methods PictBridge
Tripod socket 1/4″
Features and Miscellaneous BIONZ image processorSensor cleaning function
(antistatic filter and ultrasonic)
Dynamic Range Optimizer (1-5 steps)
Long-term noise reduction from 1 second selectableNoise reduction
from ISO 1.600 and more with
priority selection)
Contrast, sharpness and saturation can be changed in /-3 stepsFinder magnifier
6x and 12x for manual focusingAVCHD
and MPEG-4 video recordingPtP transmission protocolMagnesium die-cast housingPercentage-accurate

battery capacity display Automatic
brightness adjustment of the screen


additional sunlight settings built-in
stereo microphonepost-installable
apps via play memories platformimage effects
posterisation/sound separation (colourS/W
pop artretro photo part colour


monochrome high-contrast toy camerasoft

high-keysoft drawingHDR painting rich

monochrome miniature

Size and weight

Dimensions W x H x D 120 x 67 x 43 mm
Weight 345 g (operational)


included accessories Sony BC-VW1 Charger for special rechargeable batteriesSony
NP-FW50 Special rechargeable batteryUSB connection cableRiser strapPicture editing softwarePicture Motion Browser for Windows
optional accessory Nikon HDMI Cable Audio / Video CableSony
GPS-CS3KA Universal ProductSony
HVL-F20M Plug-in Flash with Swivel ReflectorSony
NP-FW50 Special Battery Pack
AC-PW20Removable Memory CardOpticalViewfinder (FDA-SV1)
Electronic Viewfinder (FDA-EV1Plug-In Stereo Microphone
Camera Case


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