Good things come to those who wait.
I wasn’t really looking for another camera…especially not the NEX series. They are not really small when you take into account their lenses. Besides, I already have my Olympus E-M5. The camera wasn’t really for me and since JB HiFi was practically giving away the NEX 6 and 16-50 kit lens for $509 AUD, I bit the bullet. The store that I went to actually sold out all their stocks; three just on that day alone. It was selling like hotcakes. The very helpful sales lady had to call four other branches to find a stock for me. After about half an hour over the phone, she found one about 45 minutes drive from where I was.
This is not really a review of the NEX 6 and there is no point in reviewing something that is already discontinued and replaced by the A6000. But anyway …
There are a few things that I don’t like with the NEX 6. The menu is just terrible. It’s not even divided into sections so there is no way to quickly navigate to a particular setting. However, the there is a display mode in the rear LCD that allows you to change important settings such as the output quality, focusing modes, white balance, etc… Unfortunately, there are no custom presets that you could save for easy recall and since the image stabilisation setting is hidden deep in the menus, there really is no quick way to switch from casual shooting to landscape photography. The kit lens is also the electronic zoom type and there is a significant lag in response time when you zoom in and out. It’s quite difficult to precisely get to a particular focal length by feel alone. I’m a very tactile person and this is what irritates me the most. However, the size of the 16-50 kit is very much preferable to the gigantic 18-55 kit that came with the other NEX releases. I think that the trade-off between irritating, inaccurate zoom and lens size is fair.
What I do like about the NEX 6 is that it has enough knobs and buttons to do real photography. It’s got the mode dial on top and a wheel under it to configure settings depending on the shooting mode that you are in. There is another multipurpose wheel behind the camera that allows you to set different parameters such as exposure compensation, focus points, ISO, etc… Quite neat really. What I really like about the NEX 6 and Sony cameras in general (I used to own an A700) is that the AEL button can be configured to be persistent. You can meter the seen, click on AEL and it will keep that exposure until you click it again. You do not have to hold it unlike other camera brands. Very handy when you are doing panoramic stitching or when you decide to shoot in pseudo-manual mode.
Anyway, what really matters is how this camera captures what you’re aiming at. I notice that it tends to underexpose so I have the exposure compensation set to +0.3 most of the time. The kit lens is also amazingly sharp. Here is a sample output at ISO 1600, 16mm at f4, completely untouched straight from the camera:
I think this toy camera is a keeper. The way it fits my hands is just right. I don’t mind if the shutter sounds like a paper stapler. It fits in my small bag and I can bring it anywhere and it takes nice photos. For me, that’s what matters most.