Sony NEX-6 – The Best Compact Camera

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It’s so far been the best compact camera, so start saving money from now!

Description: Sony NEX-6

Sony NEX-6

Sony’s NEX-6 is built on the success of the NEX-7. Its 16MP sensor is closely related to the Sony NEX-5’s one, providing impressively low noise levels in poor light. It’s equally a rival with all the best SLRs at this price, and this updated sensor combines phase-detect autofocus points to boost autofocus speed, which NEX cameras have been struggling with previously.

The NEX-6 gets an average of 0.54 second from pressing the shutter button to shooting an image when we refocused for many times on close and distant subjects, so autofocus performance is no longer a worry. It’s a fast camera, just taking 0.7 second between images for JPEGs and Raw capturing. The continuous mode is 10fps, then getting slow to 2.9fps after 12 frames.

With its built-in Wi-Fi, it can upload photos directly to Facebook, but entering username and password is quite complex. You can also connect it to mobile devices. We did transfer photos simply and quickly to an iPad that used the PlayMemories Mobile application. We can resize photos to only two megapixels before transferring, and we can transfer MPEG4 videos, too. You also have limited control over the NEX-6 with the application.

PlayMemories Mobile is available for both iOS and Android, but it works best with iOS devices. You can download applications to the camera, but the online store was closed during our tests.

Seven up

Other features are taken from the NEX-7. It has the similar 2.4-million-dot electronic viewfinder, with a view that is as big and detailed as a full-frame SLR. Many CSCs with viewfinders look like shrunk SLRs, but we like the way Sony keeps its size as small as possible. A proximity sensor automatically switches the EVF on when the camera is taken to the eyes. It also has an integrated flash and a standard hotshoe, not a limited exclusive one such as the NEX-5N's one.

Other NEX cameras are packed with an 18-SSmm kit lens which is bulky and has a problem with soft focus in the corners of frames. However, the new 16-50mm kit lens proves to be sharp in the corners of frames, even at its widest aperture settings. It uses an engine to control the zoom, and can shrink down to 30mm when shut. It measures half the length of the 18-55mm lens and is 40% lighter.

The Panasonic’s similar 14-42mm PZ lens uses levers to control the zoom and focus, but Sony's new lens has a lens ring that can be given the task to zoom or focus. Zoom can be assigned to the lever on the lens barrel if you ever need control over both zoom and focus. Or, choosing direct manual focus (DMF) mode will assign the lens ring to zoom, but after starting the autofocus with a half press on the shutter button, the ring will switch to manual focus responsibility for adjustment.

Along with the sharp screen and viewfinder, up to the 9.6x temporary zoom and a peaking mode that emphasizes high contrast areas of the image, it is as good as manual focusing with a compact system camera. We only wish there were a hard button for switching between auto and manual focus. Instead, you must select manual focus in the menu.

On the other hand, the controls are hard to blame. ISO speed, exposure compensation, drive mode, autofocus point and AE Lock all have separate buttons, and the Function button reveals another five buttons (selected from a list of 15) on the screen. There are two dials for adjusting settings, bringing the direct control of shutter speed and aperture in manual exposure mode. There's no lack of smart shooting modes, including automatic panorama stitching and high-dynamic-range shooting. Best of all, there's a physical mode dial, which has been a lack from previous NEX cameras.

Priority and manual exposure modes work the same for photo and video capturing. With Full-HD capturing at 25p, 50i or 50p up to 30 minutes, this is one of the most powerful cameras nowadays for video.

It is difficult to tell the difference between its image quality and that of the NEX-5N, helping placing it among the best CSCs present for noise levels and also a powerful rival for details. However, the NEX-5N shows a little lower noise at fast IS0 speeds. This is quite disappointing, but there isn’t so much in it and it is only visible at ISO 6400 and more. The benefit of the NEX-6's sharper kit lens is easier to tell.

We tried the NEX-6 with Sony’s new 35mm f/1.8 lens, the SEL35F18 ($340, This brings an effective focal length of 52mm, which is perfect for general shooting. It provides considerably sharp focus at f/4 and excellent poor-light performance at f/1.8. The only problem is that the NEX-6 limits the aperture to f/4 on automatic settings, only using wider apertures when the ISO speed is at 3200. As for us, we had to switch to the aperture priority mode to take the advantage of its poor-light capability.

The next generation

It’s а shame this 3-iпch articulated screen isn’t a touchscreen. Touchscreens are useful for moving the autofocus point, which is worth doing on a camera with a large sensor thanks to the shallow depth-of-field that it brings. Adjusting the autofocus point using the NEX-6's navigation pad is slower than touching the screen. We also prefer а beep sound to confirm autofocus, but it’s not а clicking sound every time we need to press а button or turn the dial.

Description: t’s а shame this 3-iпch articulated screen isn’t a touchscreen.

It’s а shame this 3-iпch articulated screen isn’t a touchscreen.

These are insignificant shortages, however. The NEX-6 is interesting to use, and packed with useful features, and its image and video quality are of high rank. Sony’s Е Mount is still outdated behind Micro Four Thirds by the number of compatible lenses, but it's no longer beaten for quality. It is now $16 less than Sony’s official price, but if can afford, this camera is too hard to resist.


·         Price: $1,290 incl. VAT

·         Ranking: 5/5



·         Sensor size: 16.1MP (4,912x3,264)

·         Zoom: 3.1x optical (24-75mm)

·         LCD: 3 inches (921,600 pixels)

·         Storage (internal): SDXC and Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo card (none)

·         Battery: Li-ion

·         Size: 70x121x70mm, 465g

·         Warranty: one-year RTB

·         Battery life: 360 photos

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