Sony NEX-6: Performance

March 29, 2013 by Theano Nikitas Reads (18,105)
Editor's Rating

Ratings Breakdown (1-10)

    • Image/Video Quality
    • 9
    • Features
    • 8
    • Design / Ease of Use
    • 8
    • Performance
    • 9
    • Expandability
    • 9
    • Total Score:
    • 8.60
    • Rating 1 to 10, top score 10

Overall performance is quite good and, in some ways, is way above average for a mirrorless camera. Continuous shooting is available up to 10fps (even in RAW) and the hybrid autofocus system works well. It took me a few tries to get the AF tracking to work at that speed but it does a good job.

Start-up time and shot to shot time are minimal, even when consistently shooting with the flash. It’s no DSLR in terms of speed but we didn’t miss any shots because of performance issues. And, of course, the camera’s SteadyShot image stabilization allowed me to handhold the camera at slower than average shutter speeds.

Battery life, when using the EVF (but not WiFi), is really good at around 360 shots. With the LCD, it drops to about 270 images per charge. Even with the occasional WiFi usage and shooting some video, the battery easily lasted through a full day of picture taking.

Sony NEX-6

Video Quality
As expected, the NEX-6 can capture full HD video in 1920 x 1080 (60p/60i/24p) in AVCHD Progressive and different quality levels, along with 1440 x 1080 or 640 x 480 both at 30fps. Audio is captured in stereo but, as is common, the camera speakers are monaural. If you’re serious about recording sound, be sure to pick up the optional stereo microphone and plug it into the Multi-Interface Hotshoe.

Like the NEX-7, full manual and semi-manual exposure control is available…even while recording. Adjusting exposure while shooting might be a little awkward at first since you’ll be trying to keep the camera as steady as possible (mounting the camera on a tripod is a good idea). And, a clicking sound is audible when changing settings (which will hardly be noticeable if there’s enough ambient sound).

Video quality is excellent for a camera in its class. Footage is clear and sharp, with accurate and well-saturated colors. We noticed no rolling shutter when panning slowly. Under low light, the NEX-6 handles image noise quite well.

Continuous autofocus and tracking work well, thanks in part to the camera’s hybrid autofocus system. However, really dark/low contrast scenes can be a little challenging but the NEX-6 does surprisingly well, even though the AF may hunt a little under these conditions. I managed to capture some pretty good footage in a dark aquarium of pulsating jelly fish. Keep in mind that, regardless of lighting conditions, there’s a brief wait time between the press of the video button the recording; the same wait time applies when you press the button to end recording. It’s more of an issue when you start recording since you may miss the beginning of a scene. At the end, if you end up with a second or two of extra footage, you can always clip it out in post-production.

Audio quality is good and the built-in microphone is sensitive to most levels of sound. On the other hand, even the whoosh of light wind can be heard so be sure to turn on the wind filter. That won’t quash the wind noise totally but it helps.

Image Quality
Image quality is above average, particularly for a mirrorless camera. However, I found the best results were achieved when shooting with the 16-50mm power zoom (and the 10-18mm lens). Test shots were, for the most part, well exposed and well detailed. Colors are accurate but well-saturated and vibrant. Dynamic range, particularly when Sony’s D-Range Optimization is enabled, is quite broad.

The NEX-6’s ISO ranges from 100 to 25,800 and the camera handles image noise quite well. Images are clean up to ISO 400 and very usable at 800 and beyond, although we’d save the upper reaches (especially 12,800 and above for dire emergencies only). Be sure to shoot in RAW any time you head above ISO 800 for the best results and beware the in-camera noise reduction since it’s a little heavy-handed and you’ll lose details.

Sony NEX-6

Sony NEX-6

Sony NEX-6

Sony NEX-6

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1 Comment

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  1. USNNavigator

    Well, I do like the NEX 6, but it is just a step below the 5N I sold in order to get the 6…… The5N had a better noise reduction program, and/or better resolution. The 5N was very usable at 3200 and even at 6400 indoors, where the 6 is best kept at 1600 or maybe 3200.

    However, I’ll keep the 6 over the 5N for its total usability being better: the EVF and WiFi just add SO MUCH to a grandfather who loves to travel and likes to send photos to granddaughters and nieces…(girls are always more communicative than boys…lol).

    I have the 1650PZ and the 55-210 lenses, and they are a complete package just by themselves. I keep looking for a 35mmf1.8 on a good sale, but so far can’t seem to catch it below my $300 target.