First Impressions: Say hello to Sony’s NEX-6!

New toy alert! Sony’s latest mirrorless interchangeable-lens model, the NEX-6, recently arrived in the Gadgets office, and today, we’re here to give you our first impressions.

The folks at the DP Review described it quite aptly as a mix of the enthusiast-oriented functionality of the NEX-7 and the wireless connectivity of the NEX-5R. Packing both full manual control and Wi-Fi capabilities, think of it as a more compact alternative to a DSLR that throws in additional features that appeal to today’s mobile users.

Inside the NEX-6 is a 16.1-megapixel Exmor APS-C CMOS sensor and a BIONZ image processor. It features a hybrid autofocus (AF) system that combines phase detection AF and contrast detection AF to achieve more speed and precision. The NEX-6 has an ISO range of 100-25600.

Examining its build quality, the NEX-6 looks and feels solid and durable. It is, however, heavier than expected. The NEX-6 has a polycarbonate body, unlike the NEX-7 which dons a metal shell.

Like the NEX-7 and unlike the NEX-5, the NEX-6 hosts an electronic viewfinder dubbed as the XGA OLED Tru-Finder. It has a 2,359K-dot resolution and has a very good level of contrast and saturation—not overly vivid, but not too pale as well. The LCD screen fares just as well. It measures 3.0 inches and features a 921,600-dot resolution. It’s not a touchscreen, but it still is pretty roomy, and the great thing about it is it’s tiltable.

The power switch/shutter release and function buttons are placed atop the protruding grip. I’d like to add on a personal note that the grip fits in my hand just fine; it isn’t too deep nor is it too shallow. Not only does it have a flexible pop-up flash on top; it also hosts a multi-interface hotshoe so that you can mount an external speedlite.

The dedicated video recording button can be found at the right edge—yes, the edge—of the body. I find the placement of the button a bit odd, especially since thumbs don’t normally graze that part of the camera’s body. The position of the electronic viewfinder (EVF) is awkward, too. Viewfinders placed on the upper left of the device instead of the center are still something I find hard to get used to since I have to place the eye on the edge of the camera when shooting in portrait orientation.

A dedicated mode dial sits on top, making the NEX-6 the first camera in the Sony’s mirrorless series to have one. If you look closer, you’ll see that another dial is placed underneath it. This secondary dial controls the aperture. The shutter speed can be tweaked using the dial/navigation pad on the back of the device.

The back of the device is also where the menu and delete buttons are found—although they aren’t labeled—together with the playback, auto exposure lock and flash buttons. On its side are the USB and HDMI ports, while underneath it is the battery compartment that is kept hidden under a little door together with the full-sized SD card slot.

Mounted on the NEX-6, we have an E PZ 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 OSS power zoom lens that wields a collapsible barrel design that makes it compact and convenient when not in use.

After a quick run through the menu, I found that the interface was pretty messy, but luckily the camera features a Quick Navi menu that lets you access settings such as image size, white balance and exposure settings directly on the display.

You can also use your smartphone as a remote trigger and/or viewfinder, as well as to wirelessly transfer photos from the camera to your tablet or smartphone. You would, however, need to download the PlayMemories mobile app for Android and iOS, but the good news is that the app is free.

This heavy-hitter is available at a suggested retail price of PHP 40,999. That’s quite a big number, but is it worth the cash-out? We’ll be doing a full review in the magazine soon, so be sure not to miss any of our upcoming issues!