While most people agree that Sony stole the spotlight in 2011 with the announcement of the NEX-7, at least a handful of people were quick to complain that Sony should have used a lower-resolution image sensor in the NEX-7 to give that camera superior high ISO performance ... and possibly a lower price tag. Sony was apparently listening because today Sony unveiled its NEX-6 camera packed with a 16-megapixel sensor and a starting price of just $850.
This newest addition to the Sony E-mount camera line-up includes Fast Hybrid AF, built-in WiFi capabilities and the Play Memories Camera Apps platform recently introduced on the Sony NEX-5R model. The camera's APS-C Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor offers 16.1 effective megapixels and works with a BIONZ image processor to deliver better ISO performance (up to ISO 25600) than last year's NEX-7.
The Fast Hybrid AF system combines phase- and contrast-detect AF methods. It uses 99 phase-detection AF points on the image sensor to detect a subject's distance and direction to quickly lock focus on it, and then utilizes contrast-detection AF to confirm extremely fine focus detail. In Speed Priority Continuous shooting mode, the camera automatically switches to phase detection tracking AF to track fast-moving action at up to 10 frames per second.
As with the flagship NEX-7 camera, the NEX-6 features a built-in XGA OLED Tru-Finder EVF. This 2.36 million dot electronic viewfinder delivers 100% frame coverage and looks almost as good as the opitcal viewfinder on a DSLR. On-screen grid lines and a digital level gauge can also be displayed to assist with accurate framing. In addition, the 3.0-inch Xtra Fine LCD display can be angled up to 90° up or 45° down (approx.) for easy viewing in a variety of shooting positions.
New for the NEX-6 camera is a traditional mode dial on the top, similar to those found on DSLR cameras, giving photographers easy access to commonly used shooting modes. The camera also has a separate control wheel on the camera back for fine adjustments of exposure, ISO, white balance and other settings.
As with the NEX-5R model, integrated WiFi on the NEX-6 camera allows photos to be transferred wirelessly to a smartphone or tablet running Sony's free PlayMemories Mobile app, available on both Android and Apple iOS platforms.
New Lenses For The E-mount As Well
Sony has also introduced three new lenses for its E-mount line of interchangeable lens cameras, adding to the system's flexibility.
The new SELP1650 lens is an extremely light, compact 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 powered zoom model that measures only 29.9 mm (1.17 inch) thick when fully retracted and contains built-in Optical SteadyShot image stabilization for sharper handheld images. Additionally, it features a dual-function ring that controls both power zoom and manual focus, depending on the camera's focus mode. With the camera set to AF the control ring adjusts zoom and when the camera is in MF mode the ring controls manual focus.
The new SEL35F18 lens is a wide aperture 35mm focal length model with a bright maximum aperture of f/1.8 and built-in Optical SteadyShot image stabilization. Sony says "it offers excellent optical sharpness, clarity, and background defocus" for both still images and HD video, and is exceptionally light and easy to carry.
The new SEL1018 lens is a super-wide angle zoom with a maximum aperture of f/4.0 across its range of 10-18mm and built-in Optical SteadyShot image stabilization. This lens -- which is ideal for shooting landscapes and interiors -- uses super ED (Extra-low Dispersion) glass which reduces color aberration.
Pricing and Availability
The SELP1650 power zoom lens will be sold separately in January for about $350, and the SEL35F18 prime and SEL1018 wide angle lenses will be available this November for about $450 and $850, respectively.
The new camera, lenses and all compatible accessories will be available at Sony retail stores (www.store.sony.com) and other authorized dealers nationwide.
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