A few weeks ago, I wrote about my experience with the mirrorless Sony NEX 5N camera. Thanks to its APS-C sensor, it met my requirements for a high quality image making camera in a smaller package, but there were a few “issues” that I just couldn’t get used to. I found myself missing a dedicated viewfinder and didn’t like having to choose between attaching a flash or a VF. Plus the body of the 5N was just too small to feel secure in my hand. Take a look at the photos in those two posts if you want a quick refresher.
The new NEX 6 had been announced by Sony and appeared to address some of my concerns, so I returned the 5N and placed an order for the 6, and waited about three weeks for it to arrive, which it did last week. Here are some initial impressions.
The Sony NEX 6 comes with a built-in electronic viewfinder AND a pop-up flash. The EVF is rated one of the best available with high resolution and offers 100% coverage, but this being my first experience with an EVF, (as opposed to a conventional optical viewfinder), the EVF took a little getting used to. You are effectively looking at a miniature television screen, and it’s bright and crisp. It reminds me of the old View-Master toy my brothers and I loved as kids. Now that’s not a bad thing, it’s just a little different from what I was used to on my DSLR, but I quickly acclimated. There’s a diopter adjustment to fine tune the view to meet your needs too.
The built-in flash pops up with the press of a button and although it has a low GN of 6, it does a nice job in close settings. Flash compensation (+/- 2EV) also allows adjustment as needed. Interestingly, and I don’t know if Sony planned this or not, the flash, once popped up, stands on a spring-hinged arm, which allows you to tilt the flash head back to bounce the light. The spring wants to return it to its normal position, so you have to hold it with a finger on your other hand. Not the contortion it sounds like and actually pretty effective.
Another plus: for the first time on a NEX series camera, there’s a standard hot shoe. My Nikon SB-600 fits nicely but must be operated manually as there’s no TTL communication between a Sony and Nikon.
The NEX 6’ body is heftier and heavier than the 5N which is a welcome improvement. The deep grip with rubberized coating feels much more secure in the hand.
Sony replaced the 18-55mm kit lens found on both the 5 and 7 series NEX cameras with a power zoom 16-50mm lens. With the APS-C sensor, this equates to a 24-75mm focal length, a pretty useful range. One of the best features of the lens is it’s low profile, making the 6 with kit lens coat-pocketable… something the 5 and 7 only dream about.
The kit lens has a max aperture range of f/3.5 to 5.6, so it’s not exactly a low light demon, but the camera’s excellent high ISO performance helps overcome that.
This NEX model also adds a PASM dial and second dial for aperture adjustments, something the traditional DSLR shooter will find familiar. The 6 lost the touch screen that the 5N had, so maneuvering through the menus must be done with the 4 point/wheel on the back or the second dial on the top, easy stuff. On the 5N’s touch screen, I sometimes touched the wrong menu item, so I won’t miss the touch screen. The other advantage of the touch screen was the ability to touch the point in the scene where you wanted the camera to focus. I didn’t use that as I tend to focus with the center focus point and then recompose. But it’s matter of personal preference.