Sony NEX-6 Mirrorless Camera Review (Part 7)

10/21/2013 11:25:53 AM


As a camera for photography enthusiasts, it is not surprising that the NEX-6 is generally pretty responsive. Capturing performance is fairly good, although the startup time of the camera with the 16-50mm power zoom is a bit long, and some of the apps are quite slow when operating.

Operational speed ​​

With its 16-50mm power zoom kit lens mounted, the NEX-6 works more like a compact camera than a mirrorless ILC. After turning the power switch on, it will first be necessary to extend the lens before you can start capturing. It takes 1.9 seconds. If you use a basic or more normal zoom lens, the camera will be ready to take pictures within 1.1 seconds

If there is any shutter lag on the NEX-6, this is certainly not noticeable when used in reality. Delays when taking each shot is in the range of 1.0 to 1.5 seconds (for JPEG and RAW + JPEG, respectively). Adding the integrated Flash into the mix does not step up those times.

AF System and Performance

The NEX-6 features a 'fast hybrid AF' system that we first saw in the NEX-5R. Following the approach of its competitors, Sony has adapted its imaging sensor to obtain information on the phase difference so that the camera can determine not only the direction to move the lens to get focus, but also how far. This has a certain number of advantages compared to the method of the contrast detection focus traditionally used by the compact and mirrorless cameras, which require the lens to scan through the focus locations, while the camera checks whether it is becoming more in or out of.

The ability to gather information about this depth not only means that the focus can be done faster (because the camera’s lens can be pushed straight to the exact location, rather than having to scan through the entire range), but also yields advantages for continuous focus and for focusing during the movie recording process, for example, since the camera has a clear understanding of depth, it will reduce the risk of any camera suddenly missing a moving object and scanning off to infinity and turning back to seek it out (and ruining your movie by doing that).

Description: The Autofocus Hybrid system (Hybrid AF) of Sony on the NEX-6 uses an array of 99 phase-detection points that spread throughout the central part of the sensor. It covers a higher, relatively broader region than the system used by Canon in the EOS-M.

The Autofocus Hybrid system (Hybrid AF) of Sony on the NEX-6 uses an array of 99 phase-detection points that spread throughout the central part of the sensor. It covers a higher, relatively broader region than the system used by Canon in the EOS-M.

As with the system that Canon have performed on the EOS M, the phase detection technique on the sensor is not used as an independent system (it does not seem to have the accuracy that the sensors used in DSLRs have), so it is used in combination with normal contrast detection). Thus, the phase detection is used to control the lens close to the in-focus location, and then the contrast detection is used to scan through the optimal focus point, to adjust the focus.

We were not too impressed with the addition of Canon for this feature on the EOS M (the overall focus performance is relatively slow), but Sony has performed much better on the NEX-6. The camera focuses almost immediately in the cases of high contrast, and takes less than a second in low light or other difficult scenes.

Outdoors, the NEX-6 was able to monitor moving objects surprisingly well - even when capturing at the speed of 10 frames/ second. We captured at the speed of continuous shooting 10 pictures of an approaching bike (with a very tangled background behind him), and the NEX had the ability to monitor the objects about 70% of the time. We would expect a more accurate rate from the actual phase-detection systems, but with a camera of this type, we also felt impressed.

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The object tracking feature works relatively well in the movie mode, which is highly impressive, considering that the Hybrid AF is available only in the still mode (a fact buried in a footnote in the manual). The most difficult part is ensuring that your object is in the square at the center of the frame, at which point you press the lower soft button to lock onto them. In low light, the camera had to struggle much more in the detection of objects. Trying to keep the fast moving kids in focus proved to be a hopeless job. This is not extraordinary.

The NEX-6 is, of course, likely to focus manually, using a 'focus-by-wire' system like other mirrorless cameras. The frame is digitally expanded, and you are able to move this region around by using the four-way controller. Focusing is smooth and accurate with the kit lens, and the image on the LCD and EVF is sharp enough to distinguish clearly what is in focus.

Description: The NEX-6’s maximum focus function allows you to focus manually with a high level of accuracy. Here, the red border points out that the focus plane surrounds the horizontally striped cat.

The NEX-6’s maximum focus function allows you to focus manually with a high level of accuracy. Here, the red border points out that the focus plane surrounds the horizontally striped cat.

Another feature is related to manual focus found on the NEX-6 (and plenty of machines of the same type) is the maximum focus point. This draws a border around the areas in the frame that are in focus. You can adjust both how strong the maximum point, and the color of the border.

Continuous shooting

The NEX-6 gives two different continuous shooting modes: standard (3fps) and speed priority (10fps). As its name implies, shooting speed priority mode is faster than normal continuous mode, but in a much shorter time.

Thanks to the NEX’s hybrid AF system, the camera will try to keep your object in focus, even when capturing in speed priority mode. However, if your object wanders out of the phase-detection area, you will lose that benefit, and the NEX-6 returns the contrast-detection status.

As mentioned above, in our experiment, the NEX-6 was able to monitor a moving object while shooting continuously with impressive-but not 100% - consistency.

Continuous shooting quality setting

·         RAW + JPEG: 10 shots @ 3.0 fps

·         RAW: 12 shots @ 3.4 fps

·         Fine JPEG: 40 shots @ 3.3 fps

Priority speed quality setting

·         RAW + JPEG: 9 shots @ 10.1 fps

·         RAW: 10 shots @ 10.3 fps

·         Fine JPEG: 12 shots @ 10.1 fps

Experiment using a SanDisk Class 10 UHS-I SDHC card

The NEX-6 works as advertised, with competitive shooting rates and buffer capacities. When the buffer is filled up, the camera does not stop capturing - it just respectably slows down. In the normal continuous shooting mode, you are able to have a direct look at your object; therefore, you will probably pan with the moving objects fairly easily. In the faster Speed Priority mode, you'll see a replay of the previous images, so the precise panning is extremely difficult. Occasionally slower speed is better, even when capturing moving objects

Battery life

The NEX-6 is provided power by Sony’s NP-FW50 Info Lithium battery, which is used by plenty of the other Alpha and NEX models. The NP-FW50 has 7.7Wh of energy, promising 360 images per charge using the CIPA standard, which makes it leading among the mirrorless ILCs. In real world usage we noticed that the battery easily lasted through a day of shooting, but that is not using Wi-fi. Once that function is turned on, the battery is worn out much faster. Fortunately, the camera only switches on Wi-fi when needed, which helps minimize the damage

The NEX-6’s battery is charged internally, using an AC-to-USB adapter. Charging battery lasts 280 minutes. To charge the battery faster - and the ability to always have a spare battery at hand - should consider buying the BC-VW1 external charger ($60), which helps fill up the NP-FW50 battery in 90 minutes.

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