The Sony NEX-6 and NEX-5R Review – The best NEX cameras yet.

The Sony NEX-6 and 5R Review – The best NEX cameras yet.

This has been a Sony year no question. With their all out assault in the last part of 2012 they have created the buzz and news to propel their camera models and name out to the Photography world in full force. Not only have they been able to do this successfully  this but they have also DELIVERED products shortly after the announcements which is a big deal because most (well, some) companies take months and months just to get their new cameras out to the buying public. For example, take a look at the Leica M. It was announced mid September 2012 and I really do not expect to see a shipping model until March-May 2013.  That is a 6-7 month wait AFTER people have pre-ordered. This not only shafts the Leica dealers but also the buyers who have been waiting months and months for the camera so I am happy Sony delivered on their NEX-5R and NEX-6 weeks after they announced them and the flagship CyberShot RX1 about 2 months after they announced it. If I did not know better it seems like someone lit a fire under Sony’s ass these past two years, and this is good!

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Sony also seems to be listening to the photography community and delivering more and more of what us enthusiasts want and I respect and applaud them for that.

Video showing the NEX-6 and NEX-5R side by side with my thoughts on the cameras

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I have reviewed just about EVERY Sony NEX camera from the very 1st 3 and 5 to last years NEX-7 and NEX-C3, to the newer F3 and 5n. I enjoyed the 5n and 7 so much that I bought them both and eventually sold the 5 and kept my 7. It has served me well with loads of personal video projects (even though I had the heat issue) and family memories. It wore in great and after a full solid year and few months of use I realized the main weakness of the NEX-7 was the slow and sometimes inaccurate AF and higher than average ISO noise (hopefully both fixed with these new releases). Also, when the NEX-7 was released I felt and wished Sony had put in the 16MP sensor instead of the 24 MP sensor. I felt the images would have been cleaner this way just due to having less MP squeezed on to the sensor so when I found out the NEX-6 would have 16MP I smiled with joy for this very reason. The NEX-5R also has the same 16.1 Megapixel sensor and both cameras are scarily similar in output. In fact, both are basically the same camera but the NEX-6 has the EVF and NEX-7 body (minus tri-navi) for $200 more. To me this is worth the extra cost. Having the EVF built in is a huge plus and for $200 extra, why not?

Both of these cameras also now have WiFi capability as well as “Apps” that you can download to the cameras. So basically these NEX cameras are gaining faster AF ability with some lenses, slightly improved high ISO and now even WiFi capability for those who want to beam their images to their phones or tablets without wires. At the time of this writing the only lenses compatible with the new AF system are the speedy 16-50 Kit Zoom, the Zeiss 24 1.8, the 55-200 and 18-55.

The NEX-5R and 18-55 Kit Zoom

Another from the NEX-5R and 18-55 Lens

The NEX-5R and NEX-6 Basic Specs

16.1 MP APS-C Size HD Sensor – The latest APS-C from Sony!

Uses Sony E-mount Lenses

Full 1080 HD 60p/60i/24p Movie Capture

3.0″ 180º Tilt-able Touchscreen LCD

Fast Hybrid Autofocus – Phase Detect and Contrast Detect!

PlayMemories Camera and Mobile Apps

Wi-Fi Sharing – New but will you use it?

Intuitive Interface with Control Dial

Low Light Performance up to ISO 25600

Includes 16-50mm Retractable Zoom Lens

The NEX-6 adds the built in EVF over the 5R as well as the mode dial for $200 more. Worth it? I think so. 

Overall the NEX-5R and NEX-6 are refresh updates to the 5 and yes even the NEX-7. While we lose the cool tri-navi control of the NEX-7, the NEX-6 seems like an update as it adds the new faster focus ability and better high ISO performance in the same body style as the 7. This review will go over the new features of the cameras but if you own a NEX-5n or NEX-7 then you will be fine with what you have unless you want WiFi and the new Phase Detect AF feature. The NEX-7 and 5n are fantastic cameras and the new ones will not really gain you any better image quality, just some new features that may or may not be to your liking. Even with that said, these two new NEX cameras are the best NEX’s yet because they offer just about everything you can ask for in a small mirrorless camera system.

The Sony NEX-6 with 35 1.8 – love the OOC JPEG color here 

A new kind of Auto Focus for Sony – HYBRID AF (Phase Detect & Contrast Detect)

What is really uber cool is that for the 1st time Sony has upgraded the NEX series Auto Focus to be fast. Like Nikon V1 fast. When the Nikon V1 was released it was the first mirrorless to have Contrast Detect and Phase Detect Auto Focus which in everyday terms means the AF was fast and worked in most situations. The issue here is that not all lenses will work with Phase Detect just yet. During my review period I could not get the new 10-18 or the 35 1.8 to work with Phase Detect AF because they are not compatible with it (which defeats the whole purpose – cool new lenses that do not work with the new AF system?). The 16-50 Zoom did work with this new “Hybrid AF” though and it was pretty fast. Here is what Sony says about the new focus feature.

“The NEX-5R/6 is Sony’s first E-mount camera with Fast Hybrid AF, utilizing two focusing technologies to provide extremely fast and accurate auto-focusing. Phase detection AF splits incoming images into two and compares them for light intensity in order to focus, and it is a fast system- able to focus in 0.3 seconds, and especially useful when tracking moving subjects. Contrast AF uses the image sensor to measure the contrast differences amongst the pixels, pixels that are “in focus” having higher contrast. It is considered a very accurate focusing system and combined with Phase detection AF, provides the ‘Hybrid’ system that gives the NEX-5R such a noteworthy DSLR-like auto-focusing capability.

The Hybrid auto-focusing is also utilized when shooting Full HD Video with the NEX-5R and provides continuous auto-focus when shooting video, something very few cameras do. Continuous AF gives your home movies that extra watchable touch that will command attention when you screen them on your HDTV via the provided HDMI output. Able to shoot at 60 frames per second or the more cinematic 24 frames per second, the NEX-5R also shoots with higher quality AVCHD codec and upload-friendly MP4 codec.”

NOTE: For me, shooting with the new 35 1.8 was a mixed bag. When shooting with the 35 I had some front focus issues at times but mostly in dark lighting. A few shots would be just a little bit off when shooting wide open at night. For comparison the Sony RX1 was faster for me in AF in every situation over the NEX-6 and 35 1.8 lens. The 10-18 focused nice and fast (but wide angles usually do) and the 16-50 was very fast with Phase Detect enabled. Also seemed more accurate. The 35 1.8 gave me a few misses as the camera does not focus well when it has no contrast to grab on to. But it does focus! Just at times it can be frustrating when it keeps missing (reminded me a little of the Fuji 35 1.4 on the X-Pro 1 but a little faster). The NEX series has a way of guessing where focus should be when it can not find it during low light. When this happens you will see a big green square on the LCD. That is when you know your shot may not be in focus. The NEX-7 did this as well as does most of the Sony digital camera line.

NEX-6: Used the 35 1.8 here at night and while I tried to focus on the woman’s face it focused in front of her onto the “Photos” sign.

NEX 6: Focused OK here in a low light aquarium, wide open – ISO 320 – JPEG

NEX 6: The 10-18 at f/4 and ISO 1600

WiFi Capability – Shoot your images directly to your smartphone or tablet

With the new 5R and 6 you can activate the WiFi feature if you want to do anything new and techie. For example, you can send images to your phone or you can frame a shot on your phone if the NEX is far from you. Me, I did not spend much time with this feature as I am not a fan of my cameras being turned into computers or internet hot spots. I will leave that to the phones but I’m sure there are a few of you out there who will want to mess around with WiFi so it is there for you to play with of you like. It does seem that this is the gimmik of the moment so let us see if this turns in to the “3D TV” moment of the camera world.

The new “Play Memories” app store is also new and allows you to download and use apps on the cameras much like you would on a smartphone. Some will cost money, some will be freebies.



HIGH ISO showdown – How do they stack up?

After using the Sony RX1 full frame camera for weeks and then going to the NEX series I was a teeny bit let down. Getting used to superb full frame ISO performance can spoil you but  have to keep it all in perspective as the NEX uses APS-C sensors and they are NOT as good as full frame when it comes to high ISO. Still, the NEX-6 beats the panties off of the NEX-7 when it comes to high ISO. When I shoot any digital camera I turn off Noise Reduction because I can not stand blobby lumpy noise reduction that most cameras apply. It makes your images look awful in most cases.

I was always a little bit disappointed in the NEX-7 high ISO performance and if I did not have a fast lens with me I never took it out at night. The NEX-5R and 6 improve on this thanks to the new 16MP sensor. High ISO and color seem nice as you can see by taking a look at the image below of my early Christmas present to myself 🙂 ISO 3200 with the 16-50 Kit Zoom.

ISO 3200 – from RAW – Zero Noise reduction – 16-50 Kit Zoom indoor low light. X-mas comes early sometimes at the Huff Household.

I also did a few ISO tests to see just how good the high ISO performance of the NEX-6 and 5R really is. I added in the RX1 and OM-D in the mix as well. Sorry but I did not have a Fuji on hand for this one. Take a look below at the ISO 1600 and 6400 crops from the RX1, NEX-5R, NEX-6, NEX-7 and Olympus OM-D. These are from RAW with ZERO Noise Reduction and no sharpening at all:



and now ISO 6400

The high ISO capability of the new NEX cameras surely beat last years NEX-7, which was the weakest in the NEX line for high ISO shooting. The one that surprises here is the OM-D with the 4/3 sensor. The color is off but the noise control is excellent for being a micro 4/3 camera. As for color, the RX1 came the closest and for noise, the 5R and 5 did pretty good. ISO 1600 on these cameras is very usable. Take a look at the ISO 1250 shot below, from JPEG with the NEX-6 and 16-50 kit zoom when there is some nice light coming in. Gorgeous.

NEX-6 – ISO 1250 with some nice light


So are the new NEX’s worth an upgrade from the 5n or 7? 

Yes and No. I am a bit mixed with the new NEX line. On one hand, I am happy to see the NEX-6 which looks identical to last years powerhouse NEX-7 in body style as well as build and feel. Also, with a sensor that will not give you any issues with wide angle third party lenses. FYI, The NEX-7 was full of issues when using wide angle Leica glass like a 15mm, 21mm or 28mm. The NEX-6 is good with Leica glass. I do not own anything wider than 35 so I did not test it but my research has shown me it is fine and dandy and a buddy has told me he had no issues using his 24 Lux on the NEX-6. If you are a fan of shooting 3rd party glass on your NEX and own the 7, an upgrade to the 6 could be warranted. You will have the same feel, same body, and while you lose the Tri-Navi control you gain a mode dial and still have all of the control you need. The NEX-6 does not feel like an inferior product at all (to the NEX-7)  and the sensor seems to perform better than the 24MP sensor in the NEX-7. So basically, the NEX-6 is the best NEX yet IMO and feels very “mature”.

Image Quality is still superb with these NEX cameras and while it has improved from the very 1st NEX-5 it is not a huge night and day difference and when compared to last years 5n, the new 5r seems about the same in regards to all out picture quality. The body has been improved with more function.

So is it worth an upgrade? Only YOU can answer that by asking yourself what you need in a camera. If you are attracted to the new features such as Phase Detect AF and WiFi/Apps then it is a no brainer. If these things do not tick the boxes for you then stick with what you have. All are capable of delivering images of quality.

The NEX system is growing into quite the system and it has many fans who love it for its no nonsense approach to small size and great quality.

NEX vs The Other Cameras

If you are new to all of this mirrorless camera business then you may be considering cameras like the Fuji X-E1, Sony NEX or Olympus OM-D. Which one is best? Well, they are all good in their own way as they each have their own strengths. For example, the Fuji has the best high ISO performance and its own “Fuji Color Signature” that many love and some hate. Fuji has a great 35 1.4 lens for the X system as well and Leica lenses can be used on ALL of these mirrorless cameras. So the question is, which one is best for you? Well, which model speaks to you? You can see reviews for all of these cameras over in my “Mirrorless Central” section if you want to see them.


Fuji Strengths – Color, IQ and high ISO 

Fuji Weakness – Slow AF, Quirky operation, Video not so hot, limited lenses


OM-D Strengths – Loads of stellar lenses, fast AF, very good high ISO

OM-D Weakness – Smaller sensor, less shallow DOF effects


Sony NEX 5R/6 Strengths – Mature product, speed, Smallest size, Video

Sony NEX 5R/6 Weakness – Can have AF issues in low light, “Sony Colors”, Not the best lenses


What I am about to tell you is top secret. I am only telling you this so you do not obsess over which camera to spend your hard earned cash on. The fact is…that…ANY of these cameras can provide you with superb results. Which one you choose will not hamper your ability to take beautiful images but rather any of these cameras will help you grow. They are all capable of delivering astounding results. Go with whatever you feel is for you. Body style, control, etc. The images that come out of the camera are really what is coming out of YOU so with that in mind, go with your gut and then take whatever you choose and learn it..and shoot it. Every day. 🙂


A trio using the 16-50 Kit Zoom. I like this lens better than the 18-55 as it is much smaller and all black and the results are great 🙂

The NEX-5R vs the NEX-6 vs the NEX-7 – One test image with crops

I shot one image with each camera to see how the IQ and color would be out of the camera. Same lens, same settings, same everything. Shot RAW and converted with the Sony software with no added anything. Honestly, there is not much difference here.


and the 100% crops from each – f/5.6 – ISO 100 – 1/400s – No sharpening added.


The new 35 1.8 OSS Lens


The new 35 1.8 OSS lens is not giving me the luscious and creamy results as the Zeiss 35 f/2 on the RX1 but I did not expect it to. At the price of $450 or so it is a great buy if you want a fast 50 equivilant for your NEX camera. Yes, this is a 35mm lens but on an APS-C NEX camera it is going to act like a 50mm when it comes to field of view (what you see in the EVF and on the LCD). At $45o it is about $100 less expensive than the Fuji 35 1.4 for their own X system but is it a better lens? Well, for starters it is slower with a 1.8 aperture vs 1.4. Build wise, the Sony feels a TAD more solid than the Fuji but both feel like light lenses and nothing like a Leica or Zeiss lens.

As for sharpness, I feel the Fuji 35 1.4 is a sharper lens but it could also be due to their sensor in the X cameras. Overall though, the 35 1.8 OSS is a lens I have been waiting for on the NEX. It has Optical Steady Shot built in and will in fact give you great results, especially if you stop it down to f/2-2.8. At 1.8 wide open I found some softness but nothing horrible. Just not as crisp as I am used to seeing from modern lenses.

My lovely girlfriend Debby. Shot with the NEX-6 and the 35 1.8 OSS at f/2.8 – click for larger!

Bokeh Quality of the 35 1.8 OSS

The Bokeh is decent but not buttery smooth. Wide open it can be a little blotchy but not offensive. See the example below in my Bokeh test image.

Overall the new 35 1.8 is a great addition to the NEX line. We have been begging for faster glass and now we have a few lenses to choose from. The 35 1.8, 50 1.8 and Zeiss 24 1.8 are all here and available for NEX users. For those wishing for a full frame NEX camera, keep in mind that if this happens none of these lenses will work with the camera as they are not full frame lenses. They would only work in a crop mode which would defeat the whole purpose of having a full frame sensor.

The image below is from RAW with no enhancements. It was shot up close with the 35 1.8 at 1.8. It is the full size file so click on the image to see it in full size.


The new 10-18 Wide Angle 


The new 10-18 is a very cool lens, but a bit on the costly side. Wide angles, especially versatile ones such as this usually cost because they are tricky to make. Sometimes wide angles are very soft on the edges or have distortion issues. So how does the Sony 10-18 stack up? Well, just make sure you are using in camera distortion correction and you will be golden.


I found the 10-18 to be an excellent lens for the NEX system. I have not had the time to sit down and do any scientific testing but I never do that anyway!  In real world images the lens performs great. For pixel peepers, well, I cant tell you how it performs because I did not pixel peep while using it 🙂 As I have already stated, The 10-18 is a bit on the pricey side at $849.  The overall build is very good and it feels much better made than some of the older Sony lenses like  the 18-55 and 16mm. This is a lens for those who wanted a quality wide angle solution and here it is.

Full Size Files

Below is an image you can click on to see the full size out of camera file. It was taken with the NEX-6 and Sigma 30 2.8 lens at 5.6 which is a sharp lens on the cheap.


PROS & CONS of the NEX-5R and NEX-6


  • Same small size as always
  • Great image quality in the 16MP sensor
  • Decent low light performance
  • Phase Detect AF is fast if using a compatible lens
  • NEX-6 has it all and takes the place for my fave NEX to date
  • WiFi feature will appeal to some
  • Nice tiltable LCD screens as always
  • Priced Right and 16-50 is an improvement over 18-55 IMO
  • No problems with Leica wide angle lenses
  • Sony finally releasing more nice lenses like the 35 1.8 and 10-18
  • Tilt Screen on 5R allows for self portraits like the F3
  • 5R has touchscreen and new control wheel that is a great addition


  • Sony took out the Mic input from the NEX-7
  • HIGH ISO is not best in class (Fuji wins)
  • Sometimes cameras can mis-focus in low light
  • Phase Detect does not work with all lenses
  • Video noise with 16-50 can be heard when zooming
  • Using the Apps can slow the camera down to a crawl. Not ready for prime time.
  • NEX-6 does not have the touchscreen of the 5R
  • HD video quality a downgrade from the 5n?

The Sony NEX-5R and 6 Conclusion

Sony is having a huge 2012 and as we approach 2013 I have a feeling they will be very successful with their latest and greatest camera releases. The RX1 made “Camera of the Year” for me and I stand behind that one 100%. As for the NEX cameras, well, they are NEX’s! You know what to expect if you have ever shot with one and these are basically the same as the ones that came before with some refinements, enhancements and new lenses. They are more mature but at the same time they throw in even more features which make them feel like mini computers that also take photos. The menu system is the same as the previous NEX cameras but these days they are as customizable as ever with so many buttons to customize to your liking you will not have any problems or issues finding your favorite settings and controls. If you want a small mirrorless that is responsive and can deliver the image quality you want from an APS-C then your choices come down to either Sony or Fuji. Sony wins on speed and size. Fuji wins on sharpness and color.

In fact, the Sony NEX cameras do indeed have their own “look” much like Fuji has theirs. Which one you like is up to you. But these days, any of the mirrorless choices can deliver the goods. Just go with what feels right for you. The NEX 5R and 6 are once again superb cameras but in all honesty I do feel that Sony will need to create something like this that has a full frame sensor for the next go round. How they will go about it (if at all) is the mystery. Oh and as for the other things I did not go over this time, the App store and WiFi (for me at least) are a miss right now. The App feature slows the camera down to a crawl at times so I just avoided using them. The HD video is good but as I shot some personal family stuff I kept thinking that the NEX-5n gave me better quality video. I will have to do more video to really see what is happening there. It is not horrible, but I remember being wowed by the NEX-5n and 7 video, no so much on the 6.

So if you are a NEX user and fan the 5R and 6 are improvements once again when it comes to photos, but only you can decide if they are worth the upgrade.

Where to Buy?

You can buy the Sony NEX-5R and NEX-6 at the links below:

Buy the NEX-5R at B&H Photo HERE

Buy the NEX-6 at B&H Photo HERE

Buy the NEX-5R at Amazon HERE

Buy the NEX-6 at Amazon HERE








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  2. Hi,
    I really have to laugh at the comparisons made between makes of camera nowadays, they are all thrown together probably in the same factory in China, made down to a price, made to last (if you are lucky) as long as the guarantee but not much longer…
    I will say the older ones did seem to last longer – remember when the jump from 1.3 megapixels to 1.5 was phenomenal!!
    At the moment IMHO think the Samsung NX100 is better than the Sony Nex 6 for colour but no one cares about that one…Fuji are notoriously unreliable and refuse to acknowlege known faults with recalls (XF1 lens control error), X10 sensor etc. I tried the Xpro1, XE1 etc but not impressed, look good on the outside but as rubbish made inside as all the rest. I spend my life repairing them so I know. An old camera shop owner said to me once you take a camera apart and see how its made you will never trust it again. And he was right.

  3. Steve, I just found your site and in comparison to others I found yours better for a person as myself, just like taking pictures and not a pro nor an amateur. I have been looking at the Sony Nex-5r as well as the RK but I do not see any comparison. I would like hearing from you before I make a decision. I travel alot domestically and abroad and the compactness is high on my list. Looking forward to hear from you soon.

  4. Hi there. In a bit of a quandary… I was going to get an NEX-6 but then saw the updated 5RL model which has the same kit lens. It’s cheaper but lacks an EVF. However, it does allow the screen to tilt 180 degrees which will be very useful for my intended use. The touchscreen also looks interesting for touch focus…

    I see these magnetic viewfinders that let you look at the LCD screen in sunlight but would wonder how they could possibly work with the touchscreen!

    Video is my intended use, almost exclusively.

  5. Thanks for the great review. I’m a total novice upgrading from a point & shoot & wanting to get into some photography as a busy mom. I began learning about photography years ago with a great Nikon film camera & have a great lens that I’ve considered trying to adapt to my brand new nex5r. It’s an old Tamron lens, and I wondered if you can tell me what adapter I’d need? I may just sell it & start over, but with a really tight budget, I thought it may be worth a shot. Advice?

  6. Think i will make a cash offer on nex 5N it has 2 lenses with it 1 looks like a 1970s coin operated telescope lol they have like 600$ ticket price on it may offer 450$ cash ? and see what pans out with the rumoured new ricoh/pentax FF camera , what you think ? go for 5n at bargain basement price ?

  7. Hi Steve,
    I planning to buy Nex-6 or OM-D. They both similar price now(in Sydney). What’s your recommendation?


    • Both are great, and if you plan on getting some nice lenses go OM-D..the lenses are much nicer. If planning on kit lens, go for Sony.

    • Vijay, I own the NEX-6, for the exact reason that Steve mentioned. I use the kit lens as my “walking-around” lens, and find it more convenient than the lens that comes with the OM-D. I also like the Sony 50mm lens for portrait work. If you buy an inexpensive 3rd-party lens like the Sigma 30mm, it will look slightly better on the Sony than on the Olympus, but on the OM-D, you get image stabilization, so the 30mm is a draw.

      Once you get outside the kit lens and the 50mm, almost every category goes to the OM-D. The autofocus on the OM-D is much faster and slightly more accurate. ,The Oly 75mm prime lens is better than almost anything you can get in Sony E-mount. The OM-D is more rugged, and also has a much higher level of moisture-proofing.

      They are both good cameras, but if I did it again, I might choose the Olympus.

  8. Hi, would you consider that the NEX6 AF is (much?) faster/slower than the state of the art of Oly M43 ? For still objects in AF-C and for moving subjects in AF-C ?

    • Gerpy, I can agree with what Steve said. I shoot with the NEX-6 and the 50mm lens. With the firmware updates, it is quick enough to chase around kids, but the OM-D and kit lens is faster.

      It matters which lens you shoot with, though. There are a few cheap lenses that you can put on the OM-D that will slow it down. Even the Oly 25mm 2.8 slows the camera down a bit.

      But if you put a nice lens on the OM-D, like the Oly 75mm, there is no contest. The OM-D finds focus and holds it, even in low light, as fast as the Sony in bright sunlight. In bright sunlight, the OM-D feels as fast as a professional DSLR.

  9. Is it ok to use NEX 6 for traveling on some extreme weather especially snow? (between -6 to 0 degree celcius)

    • On the dpreview forum, several NEX-6 owners report that the camera works well in that range, but the battery life is significantly shorter.

      Because the EVF has a high pixel count and refresh rate, it is already a battery hog. I travel with 6 fully charged batteries (2 Sony and 4 non-OEM [Wasabi, Anker]) to be sure I can shoot for 2 days away from a plug. I’d keep spare batteries next to my body in such temperatures.

  10. These cameras look nice but I wanna wait for the FF NEX. The Sony DSC-RX1 almost looked like the perfect compact camera but it didn’t have a wide enough lens for me.

    Do you think Sony will leave the screen that can’t flip up or go down all the way on the FF NEX?

    I hope they also fix the colors on all these camera as well. I have an RX-100 but it can’t accurately pick up purple for some strange reason.

    Sony Japan also has a thing against using English here in Japan. Even though 66 percent of people are meant to be able to use or speak English around the world they strip it from their cameras over here in Japan. Do you know why?

    • If indeed a FF NEX arrives the IQ will not be as good as the RX1. Why? Simple. The Lens on the RX1 is a $1500 lens. Sony will release cheaper Sony branded lenses at first in the $600 range and maybe, maybe release one Zeiss, which will not be a guaranteed wide angle. With a FF NEX we could easily run into soft corners, color fringing, etc. The RX1 is all about the lens mated to the sensor, and it is an incredible lens. As for colors, all Sony cameras have the same color signature and have for years and years. The RX1 has deviated a little from that and are much less “Sony” than the past. Very nice.

      Also, a FF NEX will be larger, thicker and lenses will be much larger. Remember, using current NEX lenses on a FF NEX will not give you FF results as those are APS-C lenses, not full frame.

      I think it would take a year or two for any FF NEX to gain traction due to lenses..Sony must release lenses which they are always slow on doing (good ones anyway).

  11. Hi Steve!
    How does the manual focusing with the EVF of the NEX6 with leica style glass feel? Is it easy to focus accurately? The main thing that is interesting for me about the NEX system is the Viewfinder and Leica compatibility. I shoot a M6, but I would like to have a digital option for my glass… And I don’t want to pay the price of a M9 nor of a M8…

      • Agree! Works great with all my Leica M glass, Canon LTM. Just watch out for retractable and those lenses like the old 35mm f2.8 Zeiss Biogon types that extend deep into the film bodies of the past. The APS-C sensor box is too small to accommodate them, I fear, even with adapter depth considered.

  12. Hi Steve ‘n all,

    I downloaded the handbook of Nex-5R from Sony and it says at chapter “Phase Detection AF Area” p.131:
    “Phase Detection AF is unavailable for movie shooting. The Phase Detection AF ranging points are not
    displayed on the screen.”

    You quote Sony saying: “The Hybrid auto-focusing is also utilized when shooting Full HD Video with the NEX-5R and provides continuous auto-focus when shooting video”.

    Can you tell us if PD actually works while shooting video? The Sony statement is quite ambiguous….


  13. Hi Steve,

    Great review.

    I really value your input due to your experience of all these cameras and “go out and shoot” style.

    At the end of the day I am trying to decide between the OM-D and the Nex-6.
    I think the lens argument is now passé. I would get the OM-D with the 12-50mm, 12mm and 45mm. I would get the Nex-6 with the 20mm f2.8, 35mm f1.8 and 50mm f1.8

    As a Leica M user, where critical sharpness and “3D pop”/micro contrast is important, what is your comment on this specific point in terms of the two cameras ?

    I have heard (for you as well) that the Nex pictures can look a bit flat. I have certainly seen some remarkable OM-D pictures, although the compressed DOF is a bit noticeable.

    At the end of the day I only shoot raw, so can the Sony raw, with the right lens, be popped up ?

    Many thanks in advance

  14. Dear Steve..
    I bought the NEX-6 solely after reading this review…
    I previously own a Panasonic GX-1 with 20mm F1.7 lens

    boy.. I am SO disappointed with the NEX-6
    yes the viewfinder is cool.. the sensor is bigger.. the noise is lesser

    that’s if the AF can lock on a object in low lighting … like a restaurant.. or outdoor at night
    the quote “•Sometimes cameras can mis-focus in low light”
    sometimes is an understatement….

    even with the double Phase and Contrast AF and the new lens that suppose to support that..
    it is not much better than the previous NEX-5N that I own but sold after 4 months due to the same issue……

    • The Panasonic GX1, Olympus OM-D, etc will focus quicker than any NEX camera next to the 5n, which I found to be the quickest focusing NEX there is. The NEX-6 focused like lightning for me with the 16-50 (as long as I enabled phase detect in the menu) but the 35 1.8 was dodgy and missed AF (which I mentioned). Focusing all depends on lens used but the NEX series is far from perfect, much like Fuji. The RX1 focuses reliably and spot on for me while the NEX-6 and NEX-7 missed shots now and again. The OM-D and GX1 are much quicker.

      • HI Steve

        I think u misunderstood me a little

        I am using the kit lens for the NEX-6 which is 16-50, and the phase detection is turn on..
        it is not the speed of the AF that I am concerned about

        it is the AF lock.. it doesn’t lock on the object that I am trying to AF on.. if the lighting is not enough…

        now I am in the dilemma on whether to keep the NEX6 or to sell it at a loss

  15. I really enjoyed this review, thanks!
    This camera ticks more boxes for me than any other option for a lightweight camera with an integrated EVF/focus peaking and manual lenses.
    I have been looking everywhere to get some confirmation of the compatibility of this lens with an M-adapter and the Zeiss Biogon series (especially the 35/2). Does anyone know if there are color-shifts or corner smearing? I would hope it performs as good or better than the 5n.

  16. Great write up as always Steve, I’ve been researching my next purchase. At present I’m shooting with a Nikon D7000 and have an 8 lens line up, but I’m looking for a smaller compact system to take out without so much weight. I’ve pretty much narrowed it down to the Nex 6, epl-5 or Om’d e-m5. As you’ve explained all these systems will take fantastic images in the right hands. I’m still leaning a little more towards Olympus as it’s more about lens selection for me at the moment but I’ll certainly give the Nex 6 some serious thought 🙂

  17. Hello, Steve,
    Great review. May I ask whether the 5R or 6 exhibits any colir shifts with wide UWA lenses like the CV heliar 15mm?

  18. Regarding the 10-18mm F4 OSS I agree that it is sharp from edge to edge even at 10mm and F4. The only downside is that on the NEX-7 it is not free from color shift

    Regarding the NEX-6 I do not agree that it provides superior image quality to the NEX-7. It depends on the lightning. When there is enough light to shoot at ISO 100, the NEX-7 still provides the larger dynamic range and of course you get a significant resolution advantage when the lens can support it. At higher ISO it produces more noise on pixel level but when scaling to 16 MP it is not so far behind NEX-6 or OM-D as your 100% crops may suggest. When you compare the total package, the NEX-7 is still the flagship for me.

  19. Steve, I’ve now read your Sigma 30mm f/2.8 review, & your partial review (more comments) on the new Sony 35mm f/1.8. How would you compare the two in terms of sharpness & contrast at f/2.8 & at f/8.0?

    Thanks, Alan

  20. Hi Steve, I have become your subscriber for a long time and I really enjoy reading your blogs. And base on your review, I have purchased the leica X1, fujifilm x100 and I have been really happy with them. And again, after reading this review and a good deal from amazon, I have got the NEX-6 on my hand finally. Everything is fine, I love the grip, the dial, and the wifi function. But IMHO, the biggest disadvantage of this camera is its battery charger. I have no clue of why sony chose to not give us a separate battery charge instead of a USB charger. And the charging time is so long too, 280 min. To me, NEX-6’s battery charger is definitely a failure. I will pack this camera and return it after Christmas. And I have to stick with my beloved x100 for a while.

    Keep up the good work Steve!

    • I agree on the charger. Sony skimped in 2012 with the chargers. Good news is you can buy one on Amazon for $10 or so. That’s what I did. 🙂

      • and do you mention that the viewing angle of the EVF is very narrow? When I place my eye not directly straight, I will see a blurry image in the EVF.

  21. Question: when making videos with either of these cameras, is it possible to manually focus from a distant object to a nearby object while the recording is running? On some cameras you can only do this in photo mode.
    If it works, is it possible to change the focus by touching an object on the display screen? Or do you need to turn a wheel? Or can it be done remotely using the Ipad App? That would be ideal, because then you don’t need to touch the camera, avoiding camera shaking.

  22. Great review as always. I’ve read (and re-read) your reviews on the Nex 5n, 7 and now the 5r/6. After a lot of thought, I bought the 5n at closeout with kit lens for $499, bought the EVF used for $200 and then got the Zeiss 24 and the Sony 50 OSS.

    I will probably sell the 18-55 kit lens (I really don’t ever use it) and consider getting the new 16-50, or perhaps just hold out for the Zeiss 32 or grab the Sony 35, as I strongly prefer primes and only look at the 16-50 for its size benefits and OSS.

    What really convinced me on the 5n was the combination of price and performance and the fact that I just don’t care about the gimmicks (wifi, apps, etc). Its only downside is the single proprietary shoe that precludes use of flash and EVF, but I rarely use flash and prefer the tilt-action of the external EVF over the built-in units of the Nex 6 and 7.

    Anyway, your reviews provide excellent, real-world information with photos that really show what the equipment will do. I personally have never photographed a test chart and can’t think of any time I would want to. But rendering of real color in the real world is helps us make decisions.

    Keep up the great work, and I’m looking forward to your Zeiss 24 review.

  23. Yhanmks for the review.

    One comment about the focusing issue. I do not think it is low light rather the size of the AF area is allowing camera to select other interesting subjects. I remedy this is two ways: (1) use DMF + peaking – this is great confirm focus is where you wanted it to be. (2) if you see focus is not where you wanted it – refocus.

    Olympus AFAIK has choice of small and big AF area size. Small AF would solve your issues but NEX still lacks it.

  24. Cheers for yet another great review Steve. I think I will stick to my nex5n for now however…
    I eagerly await the full frame Nex. The camera of my dreams! 😀

  25. The high ISO capability of the new NEX cameras surely beat last years NEX-7, which was the weakest in the NEX line for high ISO shooting.

    It wasn’t nearly as bad as you make it out to be. IQ comparisons in 100% view are completely useless since there is not a single use case in which you would choose the viewing size based on the image resolution. Or are you actually telling me you view 24MP photos at 1.5x the size of 16MP photos?

  26. Actually it’s listed as a weakness.

    Sony NEX 5R/6 Weakness – Can have AF issues in low light, “Sony Colors”, Not the best lenses

    Can you please explain.


    • I can tell you my opinion, for what it is worth. I find the colors on the NEX-6 to be slightly under-saturated. This is an easier problem to fix than over-saturation, so I don’t worry much about it. Also, I find the colors on the 50mm lens to be better than the colors in the kit lens.

      If you are used to Nikon, you may find Sony colors a little less bright, and a little less “contrasty”.

      I was looking for a picture to sum it up, and the best I have is this one:

      That is the 50mm lens at 5.6, and the camera was having fits trying to focus. (My son was throwing sand in front of a bright background, and the camera would alternately focus on the sand or the background, but never his face.) The colors are very natural, but if you are used to warm tones, you may find it a bit flat. The .jpg engine lost some of the detail in his shirt, but this also may be due to the focus.

  27. Thanks again for yet another fantastic review and comparison of cameras. Steve you have an intuitive knack for guessing questions before they need to be posed, and are never condescending unlike a certain Leica-lover reviewer from your part of the world. Keep up the good work, seasons greetings from Iceland.

  28. Open question: What is the better deal based on features? Nex-5n at $470.00 or the Nex-5rk at $698.00 ?

  29. Such a great review (and site). I’m completely new to anything other than P&S and my collection of old instant cameras. Any advice out there as to someone new to the game? The NEX series speaks to me for some reason, but I’m honestly having a hard time deciding between the 5r and the 6. Or going the cheaper route and grabbing a 5n now that the prices have gone down. And if the 5R looks like the best choice, would it be better to wait a month or two before the new kit lens debuts?

    I wouldn’t say that money is no object, but I’m not the type of person to replace something like this in 1-2 years. Anyone out there care to weigh in? I pretty much just want to have a versatile camera that can take good low-light photos, portraits, actions shots of my son, and some landscapes If time permits – without having much gear to lug around. I hope to do more, but who am I kidding. Much thanks to anyone with some advice.

  30. How about new the kit lens ? I had the NEX 5N and I love it but the lens was so big that, makes the whole camera seems larger. Same quality?, how about usage ? one of the things that i love was that you can zoom pretty fast.


  31. Thanks for an excellent review, Steve.

    Ironically, you’ve confirmed my preference for the NEX-7. I wandered into my local camera shop last week, to find they had a manufacturers demo day in progress. I had a chance to handle the OM-D, NEX-7 and NEX-6, all on my short list for purchase by year end (no XE-1, alas, but that’s dropped to the B list for now).

    Handling all three cameras, I found the OM-D a bit too cramped in my hand (I have long fingers). The NEX-6 actually is a different and smaller body than the NEX-7, and also felt a bit cramped. The NEX-7 dropped quite naturally into my hand, and I found the viewfinder superior to that of the OM-D. Not huge differences, in any case: I could happily live with any of them, absent the alternatives. The lovely Sony rep, quite a talented photographer herself, told me the NEX-7 was her favorite camera.

    I probably will go all in (not in the Petraeus sense) and spring for the 24mm Zeiss: love those Sonnars! That and the 50mm 1.8 OSS will cover most of my shooting until the bank account recovers.

  32. I’ve had a NEX-6 for a few weeks now and I’m pretty happy. I think it’s a brilliant compromise — pretty decent at everything that’s not outright specialised, at a good price, and a good size and weight.

    The IQ is not FF or Fuji, but it’s in the top few percent of cameras and better than most users’ technique. And it’s way cheaper and more portable than anything that clearly beats it.

    The kit lens is not a pro 24-70/2.8 but it’s really small (pocketable in my coat) and good enough for 16MP with software correction (which is now available for RAW in Lightroom). And it’s nicely priced in the kit.

    The hybrid AF is not a D4s, or even a D7000, but it’s a mirrorless camera that can shoot moving objects repeatedly. Which is not overly common.

    The feature list is not humungous, but it’s got all the basics. It has a viewfinder, and a hotshoe flash that it can use at the same time as the viewfinder, and a built-in flash for backup, and an interchangeable lens mount, and a tilting LCD. The number of highly-regarded cameras that are missing at least one of those (RX1, XE1, OM-5, 5d3, D600/800, GX1, RX100) is kind of shocking.

    The only thing I’m a underwhelmed with is the controls. It needs another dial. It needs customisable function buttons that invoke menu items, instead of invoking menus. You can have a button launch the “face detect” menu, then scroll through that menu with the wheel. But you can’t have button turn on face detect with one push and toggle it off with the next, ignoring the rest of that menu. You can’t set a button to directly choose centre spot AF, or auto ISO, or fill flash, or lots of other things I sometimes want to do quickly.

    • Joel,
      There is Quick Navi feature that isn’t really documented well but it can be activated when clicking the fn button but you need to set your lcd display to “for viewfinder” In that mode the LCD display doesn’t show the live preview but an info screen like a DSLR. When you hit the FN button you can access just about every possible setting without diving into the main menu system. I know this doesn’t solve direct access toggles that you are wishing for but it has been a big time saver for me as I was used accessing controls in this fashion on my DSLR.

  33. I’m new to photography and got a NEX6 recently with the 50mm 1.8 lens. The article mentions that not all lenses are phase detection capable. How do you tell if a lens is or isn’t? Is the 50mm 1.8 lens capable?

    • Mike; I quote from the first part of Steve’s review: “At the time of this writing the only lenses compatible with the new AF system are the speedy 16-50 Kit Zoom, the Zeiss 24 1.8, the 55-200 and 18-55”.

    • Mike, I can tell you that the 50mm 1.8 is not compatible with the hybrid autofocus. The easy way to tell is to look it up on the Sony website, but you can also tell by comparing it to the kit lenses. The 50mm hunts back and forth a bit in low light, while the hybrid AF lenses do not. (They don’t always guess right, but at least they guess quickly.)

      I still use the 50mm 1.8, though, even in low light. The sharpness, color, image stabilization, and excellent bokeh more than outweigh the slow autofocus. The price is comparable to similar fast primes from Nikon and Canon, and the color is as good or better.

      The lens is slightly too big for the camera, but that is because of the IS.

      Sony has the ability to “upgrade” the firmware of the 50mm, and I am holding out hope that they will do so. It will not improve the AF all that much on that particular lens, but then it doesn’t have to.

    • bummer! I’m in the same boat almost- this is my first decent camera, my 5R and 50mm 1.8 just arrived today. Low Budget Dave- so you’re saying even if Sony updates the firmware it won’t really make use of the Hybrid AF? Due to the mechanics of it?

      Should I just return the whole lot and buy a 6 with the kit lens? 🙂

      • I looked it up and I was incorrect. The lens does have a built-in stepping motor, which means that a firmware update might deliver fast hybrid autofocus. Sorry for the misinformation.

        I have not heard news about a firmware update for the 50mm E-mount, but the lens seems to have the basic hardware needed. It is a great lens. Don’t give up on it. I used it for a “Santa Portrait” just the other night at F2:

        My other favorite lens on the NEX6 right now is the Sigma 35mm. Fast, light, and sharp. (Also cheap.)

        • wow great shot! that’s all encouraging info. Spent the day using the 5R / 50mm 1.8, and I’m pretty pleased with it!

  34. Thank you Steve. In this overly marketed world, you’re a beacon of down to earth assesment and opinion.
    I think I’ll go for the 6 after reading your long awaited review. The M-OM-D is tempting, put I get put off by its weird colour signature. And its low light performance must be worse than the nex – or it defies logic??.
    In the end, I agree it is a gut feeling aswell and the nex ergonomics and build somehow pleases me.

    1 thing I haven’t been able to discover/anyone know?: how are macro possibilities/min.focable distance on the kit lens?

  35. I wonder how the new Zeiss 32 mm F1.8 will stack up against the current sigma 30 and Sony 35 for the nex? I really hope that the Zeiss 32mm comes out sooner rather than later and its worth the money !!! Maybe it may just about put to rest my urge to splash on the RX1 🙂 Steve could u do a shoot out of these 3 lenses when they are out ??? maybe even the 24 Zeiss ?

    • I’d love to know how the Sigma 30mm f/2.8 compares to the new Sony 35mm f/1.8 in terms of sharpness for landscape shots. I’m hoping I can get the Sigma sharpness combined with the faster new Sony lens with OSS for indoor low-light shots.

      Thanks, Alan

  36. I would really appreciate an upgrade to the remote control functionality, I want to be able to utilise the majority of the settings, Sony just replicate what ever is in the NEX 6 through software for my phone or Ipad and that will put this platform in another dimension. Yea I’d even pay for those 🙂

  37. Hey Steve just wanted to let you know that the second picture of the “NEX and Sigma 30mm 2.8” isn’t actually from the NEX it is coming out of the E-M5 and 60mm macro.

    Either that or my EXIF viewer is wrong on that picture. Let me know, because i like the different color signature on that picture

  38. Been loving my NEX-7 for the past year. IMO, my Sigma 30mm 2.8 has more style and character than the new Sony 35 mm 1.8. The Sony just isn’t worth the money for the extra speed. Although I do love my Zeiss 24 1.8, it’s too big to make the NEX-7 a true pocket camera. But with the Sigma, it just fits beautifully in a good size coat pocket.

  39. Yet another great review, Steve! Thank you so much!
    To me the essence of it was (I quote): ” The fact is…that…ANY of these cameras can provide you with superb results… … They are all capable of delivering astounding results. Go with whatever you feel is for you.”
    That’s exactly how I think of it too. I’d go for whatever camera fits my way of working the most. It’s a bit give and take nowadays. But most “flaws” of today’s cameras are pretty easy to work around. So I will stick to my 7 for now, and I think that I even might go for it, should I buy today. It’s 24MP sensor gives me more cropping possibilities and I simply love it’s tri-navi system. It’s minusses don’t really bother me. It’s ISO gives me a lot more than we could ever dream of a few years ago, and I shot quite some pics with my Zeiss ZM Biogon 28mm recently, during my stay in Finland, with not once having trouble with any color shift in the corners, because I very rarely use wide angles wide open. On the other hand, the 6 is cheaper. So I would be in doubt right now. Glad that I don’t have to decide. 🙂
    The only new camera that I will buy (I hope for many years to come) will be the IC full frame Sony. Because with that sensor the difference in IQ is really worth while, and I often wish I could get rid of the crop factor of the APS-C. I think (and hope) it’s coming next year, as you suspect too. I keep my fingers crossed…

  40. Thanks for your review on these new NEXs, Steve!

    Curious if you have been able to get anytime with the 35/1.8 on the NEX-7? I am very curious how the lens will hold up on that sensor (i.e. corner performance) – would greatly appreciate your take on this.

    • I use the equivalent 135mm F1.8 Zeiss on Sony full format. This is a (the) great focal length and aperture for zoo shots, theater shots and portrait work.

  41. I am thinking of this combination (NEX 6, 16-50 kit, and 35/18 prime). But there is nothing much available above 50mm apart from the kit zoom. What do you suggest? I really like the focus peaking feature on the NEX -7 (have recently borrowed one), which would allow the use of a legacy lens. What do you all suggest at around 100 – 150mm?

  42. Excellent review as always. I was actually waiting for your review on the NEX 6, after which I wanted to decide if I would purchase it. But I’ve already got my NEX 6 with the kit lens and since this is my first ever IL camera and my first attempt ever at digital photography, I’m so far satisfied with my NEX 6. I’m quite surprised at the high ISO crop tests, the OM-D looks a lot better but has a unique color.

  43. Nice work Steve — really appreciate your review. (Just bought the NEX6 and am VERY happy with the results so far. Hope Sony/Zeiss can churn out some high-quality lenses. Keep up the great work.

  44. Review is great as always. The cameras are great as well but in all honesty, the Gibson 3-Pick-Up Les Paul is flat out gorgeous! Have fun with that! Is that an Fender amp box in the background I see?

    • Thanks! That is the Ace Frehley Budokan. Always been a KISS fan (since age 9) and when I saw this on clearance and was able to use a coupon I could not pass it up 🙂 They are actually hard to find and to be honest it is the best Les Paul I have ever picked up or played. Amazing guitar. They also had the Epiphone version on sale at $699 but it had some issues with build and things falling off of it so I went Gibson 🙂

  45. I was specially interested in this little ISO test, the RX-1 ; wow, the full frame effect is quite there.
    OM-D ; is surprisingly good with a completely different color signature as always..this is something I really like about the OM-D.

    Overall Sony fixed the Nex 7’s biggest mistake in both cameras the Nex 6&5r which was the ISO performance, as Steve said Sony is on fire lately.

  46. While I agree, that the OM-D-s weakness may be the smaller sensor, it would be fair to consider this fact also one of it’s strengths. Smaller sensor translates into smaller lenses – and sure the Olympus has some beautiful primes. Lens size was one of the reasons why I have chosen this system (and obviously the quality of lenses).

    I also agree, that all these systems can produce great images, and differences are down to the person taking the shot.

  47. Sony black e lenses..eew. Let’s spray everything black like all the other lenses and call it a day. Whatever happened to being different? Even the marketeers are tired of marketing over at Sony. A camera store employee told me there was once a dufus who bought a Sony nex 7 black lens kit just because he wanted the black lens, and sold off his identical silver one he had earlier. And I though women were vain when it came to fashion…..wrong! LOL

  48. Great review!

    About the new 35 1.8 OSS lens. You state “Yes, this is a 35mm lens but on an APS-C NEX camera it is going to act like a 50mm when it comes to field of view (what you see in the EVF and on the LCD).”

    Is this the same field of view one would see if the 16-50mm kit lens were set to 50mm?


  49. I have been using the Nex 6 for about 3 weeks now. I used to be a “canon” guy. I still have my 5D II, but I could honestly see two Nex 6’s working just fine for me. I mainly shoot weddings and portrait work and have been very impressed with the little sony. It is an absolute joy to work with and has brought back a lot of ‘fun’ into my photography. Steve, thanks for the great website and community.

  50. Steve, thanks for the insights, there is no doubt in my mind Sony is really on the rise, the big 2 in comparison now seem very conservative and complacent.

    When we examine the bigger picture it’s clear that the nex series, despite some quibbles are really technological marvels that really do offer some significant benefits.

    I can relate directly that in every photography class I run, that as soon as I break the Nex 5n out and start showing, touch to focus, stopped down live view, using legacy glass, sweep panoramas etc, most DSLR owners are saying “why did we buy a DSLR”.

    Ideally I would like a Nex 6 with a touch screen, but in the end I will stick with my 5n and see what happens when the 7 is replaced.

    On the issue of lenses, I feel the whole “lack of nex glass” argument is pretty rediculous. For most needs Sony now has the native glass most people need, but heck you can use almost any lens ever made if you wish via adapters including, tilt, shift and autofocus options.

    Olympus film OM lenses via adapters are even quite compact, the Micro Nikkors turn your Nex into a digital scalpel and if you want dreamy well how about some old Russian glass. Personally I have over 50 lenses I can use on my Nex, what more could I possibly want!

    And if you want to go pinhole you can even go with wide angle options!

    The Nex series are for my Money the perfect small format digital backs, and well priced ones at that.

    Not to knock the alternatives, I love them all, but the Nex is just a far more adaptable option and it seems that the NEX 6 might be the best of the bunch, pity it lacks the touch option.

    • Brad, thanks for the insights. I agree with you. I’m a novice buying my first system camera. The Nex6 would be perfect with touchscreen. Now the 5R plus optional viewfinder is a little more expensive than the 6, and the hotshoe is proprietary. I’m still undecided.

  51. I agree with your comment and results from nex 7, the noise/blur is so obvious. I am so frustrated with the AF and the noise, seriously disappointed this is my first investment camera. Thanks for a wonderful site!!!!

  52. Seems like Sony still needs to clean up their menu system a bit. Thankfully, there are now dials and fn buttons compared to the 5n, which I feel (beyond a personal beef with “Sony Color”) was the biggest let down.

    • yes, if Sony had the Samsung menu it would be great, simple and easy and straightforward. The worst menu system hands down is from Olympus, esp from the earlier pens. God, they even had a hidden cog you had to enable in order to use those features. Their handbook would describe to you what a function does but not how to turn it on. really was the wrost.

  53. Let us hope that 2013 will be Leica year so we can se some glowing Leica images. I miss does days.

  54. Steve, one thing to note, it looks like the OMD is applying nr to it’s raw files (yes, for whatever the reason some cameras do that.) And another note, the 35mm 1.4 isn’t just sharp….it’s scary sharp…like I avoid using f/2 for most portraits, because it’s too much trouble trying to retouch the crazy amounts of facial detail. haha. The nex-6 looks interesting, but I think I’d pay more just to get the additional controls.

    • I use both the NEX-6 and Fuji X-E1 and I have no doubt that the Fuji files also have some level of NR added to their RAW files, the NEX-6 high iso files might look worse but in the real world you can process more detail out of them than from the Fuji X.

  55. I currently own the X-PRO1 and a NEX-5N and agree wholeheartedly with Steve, these are all great cameras that will help the “average” photographer grow and can produce stunning images for those that know how to eek out all that performance.

    The SONY NEX cameras just work. They are well sorted with few quibbles or surprises. As Steve said, they are “mature”. They should appeal to the workman photographer that values high IQ, good controls and flexibility (love that tilt-screen). It really is a top-notch platform. Kudos to SONY.

    The Fuji X-PRO and X-E1 are like adolescents that like sleeping late, listening to vinyl and using film cameras. The JPEG quality is out-of-sight, described by many as film like. They have that “soul” that appeals to some and cannot be discounted because of the enjoyment it conveys. Unfortunately you also get a less than mature AF system, some minor UI quirks and a not ready for primetime RAW format. This is the camera you hedge your bets on and enjoy for the positives, accepting the negatives.

      • Well the Nex 5 has the 14mp sensor like the one in the Pentax K7 and the Nex 5n has the 16mp sensor like a Pentax K5. I have heard some equate it to about a 20-30% upgrade in IQ.
        However, owning both as I just could not part with my original nex 5. The 5n is a bit quirky. Where the 5 just works everytime the 5n often has weird issues like video won’t work in full HD mode sometimes, it says video won’t work in this movie format, switch to mp4 and it will work, but that is compressed. However pull the battery out and put it back in and the problem is fixed. There have been a few other quirks too where this battery removal is the only fix. Same with my new Pentax K30 too. However my old nex5 and Pentax kx just work. This new crop of cameras and interfaces seem a little buggy. I’m waiting for a firmware update for both.

  56. The E-M5 looks good at high ISOs noise-wise (although that color shift from bright red to pink is annoying) because it underrates its ISOs. Take a look at your exposure settings, and you’ll notice that the E-M5 has about half the shutter speed, given the same aperture and ISO. It’s one of those little optical illusions that Olympus has implemented to fool people that do these kinds of comparisons.

    • Edit: It looks like the NEX-5R and NEX-7 do this as well. So, you might want to use a light meter to compare, but according to what I’m seeing online, the NEX-7 overstates its ISO by about 1/3 of a stop, the NEX-5R does so by about half a stop, and the E-M5 does so by a full stop, compared to the EV values of a scene. This will hurt your shutter speeds, so while you’re shooting at 1/60s at ISO 1600 with the NEX-7, the NEX-5R will be about 1/40, and the E-M5 will be about 1/30, requiring you to boost the ISO even more to keep your shutter speed up.

  57. The 5R with the Zeiss 24 1,8 is dogma. If you can’t afford an RX1 at least make sure your spring for the Zeiss -night and day difference compared to the other e-mounts. The new Zeiss e-mount primes coming out in ’13 should spice things up a bit for us NEXers.

  58. Sounds like Sony has introduced an excellent replacement for the NEX-7 that not only corrects the 7’s weaknesses — the 24 MP sensor, proprietary flash shoe, and the infamous record button — but has done so at a lower cost and with a better kit lens. I’m counting the days until mine arrives!

  59. Fuji to me seems more committed to listening to the needs of the photgrapher. Look at the amazing lenses they have introduced in a short time, and continue to release. Look how few NEX lenses Sony has released in the YEARS the NEX cameras have been avail. IMHO Sony is seriously missing an opportunity to have a great system by having such few nice primes for the NEX cameras. This has been a Sony year? The RX1 is nice but with the NEX system Sony is sitting on it’s ass pumping out more bodies when we really need more lens choices.

    I’d get an XE1 any day over these….

    • The Sony 24, 35 and 50 are all great primes. So are the Sigma 19 and 30.

      Either way, the Fuji X-Trans has inherent chroma smoothing, so, while it is great at high ISO, I’d choose any NEX camera over the Fujis at low to mid ISO. It’s a trade off.

      • GH: “the Fuji X-Trans has inherent chroma smoothing”

        Sorry for my ignorance, but what does this mean? Is the Fuji worse than the NEX at low ISO in certain respects with the colour sharpness at the edges?

        • Fuji X-Trans “smoothing”, while it being consistent on all ISO and thus benefiting on very clean high ISO, this makes it cannot deliver maximum resolution. In low ISO, normal Bayer pattern (especially for camera with weak or without anti-aliasing filter) could give higher resolution than fuji X-trans.

          So, as GH said it’s a kind of trade off… your shooting style priorities dictate which system you want to heavily invest on…

  60. Sony has released an update for the old 18-200, it’s now also hybrid AF compatible. You can find it on the Sony website. I updated the lens to version 2.0 and can now use the new AF system on that lens. I love this combination! The OSS on the old 18-200 is so great, especially with video!

  61. haha! I feel as if the NEX series is being targetted at me, I do currently own a 5n but I do like the features of the 5r and 6, so I purchased both to try out and will simply sell the one I like less, I still think the 5r is worth considering upgrading to for the greater number of dials and controls on camera and i’m personally leaning towards it more than the NEX 6 because of the 180 flip screen (not a required feature but nice to have in certain situations) and the touch screen (which is a preferred feature for me because I LOVE tap to focus, it has made things such as macro-ing so much easier than say moving a selective area around to focus

    Steve, do you know if you’re able to set the top dial in the 5r to be able to control exposure in aperture/shutter priority mode? from my play around with one it didn’t let you, it only controlled the aperture

  62. Well , here it goes again , Thanks Mr.Huff with such good but short (wish it was longer !!!! with more samples 😉 review , and yeah today you made my day !! (month maybe) , this was just what i expected , and hell yeah the NEX-6 is awesome but not that much , i thinks it lacks characteristic , the IQ is good but not exceptional , and here i may say i like the images from Fuji X-E1 better with those Fuji Color Signature , and that 35mm lens of Fuji is sharper IMO , any way 1+ for you 😉 and if there was a LIKE button , it would be sky high now 😉 😀 🙂 THANKS

  63. I bought an NEX 6 to replace my dead RX100. I would say that the RX100 has a faster and more accurate autofocus, but that may be because I usually use the 50mm 1.8 on the NEX6, which does not allow for hybrid autofocus. (hopefully they will fix this with a firmware update.)

    With any lens, though, it seems to me that the NEX-6 gets confused and prefers to focus on anything bright as opposed to whatever is in the center (or the flex-spot, for that matter.) Did you have this same issue, or is that just me?

    • it’s a bit lens dependent but I find in most cases yes it jumps to a brighter area or more contrasty. I agree the focus on RX100 is almost instant (in any light it seems) and accurate. I am thinking of the RX-1 as a travel companion to the Rx-100. I haven’t got the 24 f1.8 zeiss on the nex6 and I wonder how that would compare to an RX1? anyone know?

  64. Hi Steve, great review of the Sony NEX 5R and 6. I am loving my Sony NEX 6 with its new kit and Sigma 30mm lens, I bought it because im using it for video work and for stills since its a good all rounder. The video on the NEX 6 is great cause it can shoot in full HD in 50p with full manual control also it is great using my legacy Olympus OM primes on it for video. Im a bit sad it didnt have a mic input but professionals would normally use external audio recorders like the Zoom H4n. I have notice a bit of a lag in the EVF when you are recording video in 25p (pal) but at 50p its pretty smooth… The iso noise performance is really good for video when shooting at 1600 iso compared to my Canon 60D which was horrible and messy at theat iso. For stills im also pretty stoked with its iso preformance but compared to the OM-D the noise grain is really impressive! Next year, hopefully i can get the Sony 50mm f1.8 prime. Too bad i cant just get a OM-D for stills and also get the Panasonic GH3 for video, dam you money! 🙁

    Side note, the Sony RX1 is now my dream camera to own. 🙂

      • So far it never overheated, mind you i mostly shoot video in the shade or indoors. It does get arm but not hot or overheated. ill test it out soon in the sun when i get the chance. the Nex 6 has better iso in video cause of the low pixel count and is very usable at 1600 compared to the Nex 7.

        • I am surprised to not see one thing under “cons” for Nex6.

          This camera does not overheat during video. This issue was huge for some of us owners of 5n and 7.
          Hope you will add that there.


          • There are 8 cons listed but what do you want me to add as a “CON” – that the camera does NOT overheat during video? Wouldn’t that be a “PRO”?

          • mike is right…

            The con is partly a trust issue… If, the NEX 6 does not overheat…Why is not a con?

            If, I paid big bucks for another similar NEX 7 model? What was added-lost and or taken away via 6 vs 7 to fix or prevent an over heating recall?

            So, the con is not that they solved over heating by eliminating a very valuable function e.g., a 5-dollar mic jack item. right.

            Perhaps lowering stress card reading, and bit rates BUT w/better still images for 500 bucks off…how is this not a con?

            Steve did have the balls to post a red flag on the NEX7 review…

  65. I own a Panasonic DMC TZ4, a Canon T2I and 2 other older point and shoot cameras. I have the most fun with the point and shoot Pany TZ4 simply because it is very quick to focus. I can shoot in total darkness indoors with the flash as it is this fast. I was very disappointed with the T2i’s performance (not the picture quality), I take many shots of pets and friends of mine take pictures of their kids,as you know its a challenge.
    I’m in the market for a fast compact mirrorless camera and I was wondering if you could compare the newer models of cameras with attention to speed first and then picture quality 2nd. There are a few great units out there now but there has not been any good reviews to date on the new Olympus E-PM2 and the EPL5 also the Panasonic GF5 and the DMC G5.
    I am a total amateur and like to photograph on the fly. Thank you for your great web site and the very interesting comparisons you do in your “Just for Fun segments”


    • I am exactly in same circumstance as William. I discarded Lumix G5 due to significant lower marks in DXO tests. I like Oly E-PL5 styling but compared to Sony Nex, its wifi seems lacking. doesn’t have focus peaking, no manual controls during video. Between Nex 5r and 6, for me it boils down to usability of touch focus/shutter vs usability of build in viewfinder /flash/ standard hot shoe. Just my 2 cents. Daniel

      • WIFI is lacking?

        Come on!

        Why not skip this year’s generation altogether, and wait for the next years models with Facebook, talk-controlled interface, robot finger to press the shutter and a cappuccino maker.
        We just HAVE TO HAVE them the camera.

  66. Steve:
    Does the NEX 5R and NEX 6 high ISO seem the same as the NEX 5N? I’ve seen some data on DXO Mark that seems to put them a little lower.


    • I just looked at DXOmark to compare, and the NEX-6 has a score of 1018 and the 5N has a score of 1079. I guess it’s conceivable that the contrast-detect system on the NEX-6 sensor hurts a bit. However, those scores are essentially identical. It means that if you were able to turn the NEX-5N to ISO 1079 for an image, you’d have to turn the NEX-6 down to “just” ISO 1018. That’s so small of a difference, less than 1/10 of a stop. Your metering/exposure options will have a much greater effect on the noise.

      • Agijos:
        You’re right. It is a very small difference. But I was curious whether Steve had a sense of whether it “seemed” better or worse. Sometimes the DXO rating seems a little off. Either way, I am actually thinking of the NEX-6 as a second NEX. Keep the 5N for use with MF lenses like the Contax G stuff and set-up work and use the NEX-6 for walk-around convenience. I’d use the new “pancake” zoom for portability.


  67. Great write up, Steve. So many great options for photography exist nowadays, and even going a year or 2 back doesn’t feel like a major stepback, as it did in years past. You are totally correct that choosing M4/3, NEX, or Fuji X can provide fantastic results, and while no system is perfect, all are fantastic, and one’s choice depends on how he or she would get along with the camera’s ergonomics and how the camera’s quirks fits into the photographer’s shooting repertoire.

    • Ashwin is exactly right! Any of these products recently released can provide great results. I had a camera break on me while on vacation, and was depressed until I realized I had a camera in my iPhone. I took what turned out to be some great photos with that simple device….they needed some processing, but the results were very nice. I won’t be selling off my stuff in favor of the iPhone camera anytime soon, but the point is….most any camera will work and can give you great results. I have the NEX-6 and it is a great camera! I call it a mini-DSLR. Almost fits in your pocket, zoom lens, and APS-C sensor. Perfect!

    • Well each of those mirrorless cameras are great in one thing or another. I just wish i could have a GH3(video) and OM-D(stills). 🙁

      • It’s funny because in the photography world we are always looking for ge Swiss Army knife tool. One that does it all and well. I’m guilty of this. But the fact is certain trade offs have to exist in engineering “no fee lunch” and all that.
        That said I was in a couple of guitar forums recently and noticed that guitarists have a much different attitude. More of a “lets full my toolbox so I’m bound to have the right one when needed” mentality. Basically the awareness that you may need different tools for different uses.
        Just food for thought

        • Im a motion graphic designer and videographer, so a mirrorless camera that does good video with manual controls on it is a big plus. I chose the NEX 6 cause it does both pretty well. 🙂

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