Sony NEX-6 vs NEX-5R vs NEX-7 – Comparison

September 12, 2012

Sony NEX-6, NEX-5R and NEX-7 mirrorless cameras

On September 12, 2012 Sony announced the Alpha NEX-6 enthusiast mirrorless camera.  At that same day (pre-Photokina 2012) Sony also announced the A99 Full Frame DSLR and RX1 Full Frame compact. I personally think that the NEX-6 is actually one of the more excited announcements and it’s relatively much more affordable and aimed to a larger market. I personally really love Sony NEX cameras. In this article I will compare the NEX-6 vs NEX-7 and NEX-5R.

 

NEX-6 Price Comparison Standpoint

The Sony NEX-6 price is around $850, the NEX-5R is around $750 and Alpha NEX-7 is around $1200 (for the time of writing this article, prices via Amazon). This means that the Sony NEX-6 sits below the Sony NEX-7 flagship but above the NEX-5R. The NEX-6 is kind of a mix between the 7 and the 5R as you’ll soon see. Sony wanted to make an advanced mirrorless with EVF that is more affordable than its flagship model, but one that also enjoy some of the latest features that were introduced on the 5R.  That makes the NEX-6 a very interesting camera, and in a price range that is in more reach for many enthusiasts.

The Sony NEX-6 might be the perfect mirrorless camera that many people have been waiting for. One that is relatively more affordable than high-end mirrorless like the NEX-7.  There are many photographers who won’t with a camera that doesn’t have an eye-level viewfinder, and this is probably the most important feature on the NEX-6.

The NEX-6 costs $150 less than the Olympus OM-D E-M5. This might tickle you a bit and some of you might be tempted to invest a bit more and get the Oly. For the Olympus OM-D E-M5 price you can get the NEX-6 plus the SELP1650 power zoom lens (which is $150 less if you buy the SELP1650 separately).

So as you can see, the mirrorless market gets quite saturated and companies push more new models to fill up the gap and convince more people to buy there cameras. It seems that the NEX-6 price is just right. A bit more, people would have been tempted to get the Oly, less and the NEX-6 would compete against the NEX-5R.

 

Sony NEX-6 Introduction

NEX-6 was designed to be yet another NEX camera in the Sony E-System mirrorless camera’s lineup.  There was a large gap between the NEX-7 and the NEX-5R that needed to be filled. It was large because there are many enthusiast photographers whom really wanted to buy the NEX-7, but it was out of their budget.  Now with the Alpha NEX-6 you can enjoy some of the great features of the NEX-5R and also enjoy some of the advanced features of the Alpha NEX-7 (ie. viewfinder, fast access to various camera settings ,etc.).

Sony NEX-6

Sony NEX-6

External Design

The Sony inherits the the overall design, look and feel of the NEX-7, rather than the Alpha NEX-5R design. So it’s far less compact in size, and that’s a big hint that Sony aimed this camera to the enthusiast audience.  At the top of the camera there is a dual DSLR-style control dial and a mode dial for fast access to popular camera functions and simple navigation between settings.

The first thing we’ve notices is that the NEX6 lacks the metal construction of the NEX7, pitty. There is the same nice handgrip that you have on both the NEX-7 and NEX-5R.  At the back there is a high-quality 2.3 million dot  OLED Tru-Finder™ EVF, same one used on the NEX-7. You also get to enjoy the same high quality 3-inch 921K-dots tilting display.

There is the pop up flash at the top, and all in all, the NEX-6 button layout is almost the same as the NEX-7 with some minor changed including the position of the movie recording button (further right) and the AF/MF switch was removed. The dedicated ‘Fn’ button is at the same place as on the NEX-7.

 

NEX-6 vs NEX7 size comparison

Sony NEX-6 (left) and NEX-7 (right) Size Comparison (via camerasize.com)

 

Now let’s too a look at the rear..

 

Sony NEX-6 and NEX-7 side by side (rear)

Sony NEX-6 and NEX-7 side by side (rear)

 

Key Features

Sensor and Fast Hybrid AF – The NEX-6 features a 16.1MP APS-C sensor with high-sensitivity, ability to shoot defocused background and deliver crisp and highly detailed images. The sensor incorporates phase detection AF points on the sensor, giving us the Hybrid AF technology that utilizes both contrast detection and phase detection for fast and more accurate AF performance. Ideal for tracking fast-moving subjects across the frame.

EVF – One of the most anticipated features is of course the True-Finder OLED 2359K dots EVF. All Sony NEX mirrorless cameras, except the NEX-7 lack an EVF. That means that you compose your stills and videos via the LCD only. For some people it was just a deal breaker, they wanted an EVF on lower-end models and some of them just couldn’t afford or didn’t want to pay the premium price for the NEX-7 to enjoy that EVF. This is a very high quality screen that have some advantages over Optical viewfinder, including more data, live preview, brighten the scene when shooting with slow lenses, etc.

Wi-Fi Sharing and Apps – The NEX 6 inherits the Wi-Fi and apps capabilities of the NEX-5R, allowing owners of the NEX-6 to share / transfer images to mobile phones and tablets directly, without the need for a proxy. This is done using PlayMemories Mobile app.

Full HD – The Sony NEX-6 can shoot full HD 1080p movies at 60p/60i/24p. So you get both 24p cinematic framerate and 60p high quality progressive 60fps framerate which is great. You can shoot videos in either AVCHD or MP4, while MP4 is optimized for the web, offering smaller file size videos compare to AVCHD.

NEX-6 from Sony: Official Video Release:

 

The Sony NEX-6 as you can see was designed to give enthusiasts premium features for a lower cost. This is a camera that many people have been waiting for, mainly due to the EVF option, which is only available on higher-priced mirrorless cameras (ie. Olympus OM-D E-M5, Sony NEX-7, etc.). So it’s nice to see this feature on a camera that costs much less.

All in all the NEX-6 is really one of the most interesting mirrorless cameras this year. A really well-equipped Compact System Camera for the enthusiast photographer.

It’s worth mentioning that the NEX-6 does have quite a lot of competition now with the Fujifilm X-E1 and Olympus OM-D E-M5, which although more expensive, still are very hard to resist. There is also the Sony RX100 large-sensor compact which sells like cupcakes and offers an alternative to a Compact System Camera for some photographers. All in all, the NEX-6 offers a great value for the enthusiast photographer. I don’t think that there is any type of camera that can directly compete against this one because of its price tag and features. You can pay less for a simpler camera or pay more and get flagship mirrorless like the Oly E-M5 or Fuji X-E1.

 

B&H Photo Ad

 

 

NEX-6 vs NEX-7 vs NEX-5R Differences

As I’ve mentioned earlier the NEX 6 sits between the NEX-7 and NEX-5R, a sandwich model you can call it.

  1. NEX-5R –  $648.00
  2. NEX-6 – $848.00 (+200 from NEX-5R)
  3. NEX-7 – $1199.00 (+350 from NEX-6)

 

*Prices via Amazon relevant to date 12/9/2012

 

The NEX-5R costs $550 less than the NEX-7 flagship. It’s an affordable mirrorless for both beginners and advanced photographers. It has a different design and it’s a more compact camera.

Sony NEX-6 alongside NEX-5R

Sony NEX-6 alongside NEX-5R

 

You can see that by design, the 5R was designed to appeal to beginners. It has less controls and more minimalistic design and also lacks an electronic viewfinde (which both the NEX-7 and NEX-6 have).

Let’s take a look at a side by side comparison table so we can clearly see the difference in specs:

NEX-6NEX-5RNEX-7Notes
AnnouncedSep 12, 2012Aug 29, 2012Aug 24, 2011NEX-6 is the latest, NEX-7 the oldest model
Body ConstructionMetal top/front plate, PolycarbonateMetal top/front plate, PolycarbonateMetal-shelled bodyNEX-7 is the only one with full metal construction
Sensor16.1 megapixels (effective)
APS-C (23.5 x 15.6 mm)
CMOS
16.1 megapixels (effective)
APS-C (23.5 x 15.6 mm)
CMOS
24.3 megapixels (effective)
APS-C (23.5 x 15.6 mm)
CMOS
NEX-7 offers the highest resolution
ISOStill images: Auto (ISO 100-3200), Selectable (ISO 100-25600) Movies: Auto (ISO 100-3200), Selectable (ISO 100-6400)Still images: Auto (ISO 100-3200), Selectable (ISO 100-25600) Movies: Auto (ISO 100-3200), Selectable (ISO 100-6400)Auto (ISO 100-16000), Selectable (ISO 100 to 16000)NEX-6 and NEX-5R has larger ISO sensitivity range
Wi-FiYesYesNoThe NEX-7 doesn't feature Wi-Fi and direct image sharing capabilities
Focus Points99-point phase detection, 25-area contrast AF99-point phase detection, 25-area contrast AF25-area contrast AF
Metering1,200 zones1,200 zones1,200 zones
Hybrid AFYesYesNoNEX-7 lacks the Hybrid AF
LCD3-inch
921,600 dots
No Touchscreen

Angle Adjustment : Up: Approx. 90 degrees, Down: Approx. 45 degrees
3-inch
921,600 dots
Touchscreen

Angle Adjustment : Up: Approx. 180 degrees, Down: Approx. 50 degrees
3-inch
921,600 dots
No Touchscreen

Angle Adjustment : Up: Approx. 90 degrees, Down: Approx. 45 degrees
5R have touchscreen, the NEX-7 and NEX-6 does not. The NEX-5R has the most flexible tilting screen which can be adjusted up at 180 degrees
Eye-Level Viewfinder0.5" XGA OLED EVF
2359K dots
100% Field of View
No Viewfinder0.5" XGA OLED EVF
2359K dots
100% Field of View
NEX-6 and NEX-7 have the same EVF, the 5R doesn't have an EVF, you compose your images and videos via the LCD display
Shutter Speed30 - 1/4000 sec, bulb30 - 1/4000 sec, bulb30 - 1/4000 sec, bulb
Built-in FlashYes (GN6)No (via the accessory shoe)Yes (GN6)NEX-5R doesn't have a pop up flash. You can attach external flash via the accessory shoe.
Flash Sync Speed1/160 sec1/160 sec1/160 sec
Continuous ShootingUp to 10 fps in Speed Priority, Regular 3 fpsUp to 10 fps in Speed Priority, Regular 3 fpsUp to 10 fps in Speed Priority, Regular 3 fps
Exposure CompensationStill images: +/- 3.0EV (1/3EV steps),
Movies: +/- 2.0EV (1/3EV steps)
Still images: +/- 3.0EV (1/3EV steps),
Movies: +/- 2.0EV (1/3EV steps)
+/-5.0 EV(1/3EV steps)NEX-7 more flexible EC
AE BracketingWith 1/3, 2/3, 1, 2, 3EV increments, 3 framesWith 1/3, 2/3, 1, 2, 3EV increments, 3 framesWith 1/3, 2/3, 1, 2, 3EV increments, 3 frames
Video (max. res)1080p60/24
1080i60

Video Format : AVCHD Ver. 2.0 (Progressive), AVCHD, MP4

Audio Format : Dolby Digital (AC-3) / MPEG-4 AAC-LC, 2ch

Stereo Sound
1080p60/24
1080i60

Video Format : AVCHD Ver. 2.0 (Progressive), AVCHD, MP4

Audio Format : Dolby Digital (AC-3) / MPEG-4 AAC-LC, 2ch

Stereo Sound
1080p60/24
1080i60

Video Format : AVCHD / MP4 (MPEG-4 AVC (H.264))

Audio Format : Dolby Digital (AC-3) / MPEG-4 AAC-LC

Stereo
All cameras can shoot Full HD videos at either 60p/60i or 24p with stereo sound
Battery Life360330430NEX-7 offers the longest battery life, NEX-5R the least
Dimensions120 x 67 x 43 mm (4.72 x 2.64 x 1.69")111 x 59 x 39 mm (4.37 x 2.32 x 1.54")120 x 67 x 43 mm (4.72 x 2.64 x 1.69")NEX-5R the most ocmpact, both NEX-7 and NEX-6 are virtually the same size, however the camera design is a bit different
Weight287 g (0.63 lb / 10.12 oz)276 g (0.61 lb / 9.74 oz)400 g (0.88 lb / 14.11 oz)NEX-7 weights the most, 5R the least
Camera Features- Advanced Control Dial and Quick Navi
- New Multi)interface Shoe
- Picture Effect mode
- Clear Image zoom
- Charge camera via USB
- Wi-Fi Sharing
- Auto Portrait raming
- Auto HDR
- 6-image Layering
- Fast Hybrid AF
- Sweep Panorama
- Anti Motion Blue mode
- D-Range Optimizer
- Smile Shutter
- Face detection
- 6 Creative styles
- Manual Focus Assits
- Anti-dust Sensor
- PlayMemories Camera apps
- Fast Hybrid AF
- Picture Effect mode
- 6-image layering
- Control dial
- Auto Portrait Framing
- Multi-interface terminal
- Wi-Fi Sharing
- PlayMemories Camera apps
- Clear Image Zoom
- Auto HDR
- Sweep Panorama
- Manual focus assits
- Charge camer avia USB
- Face detection
- Smile Shutter
- 6 Creative styles
- Dynamic Range Optimizer
- Anti-Dust Technology
- Tri-Navi manual control
- Phase detect AF with adapter (LA-EA2)
- 0.02 sec release time lag
- 3D Sweep Panorama
- 6-image layering
- Sweep Panorama
- Auto HDR
- iAuto mode
- 11 Picture effect modes
- Ultrasonic anti-dust system
- P/A/S/M modes for videos and stills
- Dynamic Range Optimizer (DRO)
- Intelligent Auto Focus

 

By looking at the above specs comparison table you can clearly see how those three mirrorless cameras stand apart from each other. The Sony NEX-6 mirrorless camera certainly look very attractive due to its Hybrid AF, EVF, built-in flash and build quality. We can see that indeed the NEX6 is a mix between the NEX-7 and the NEX-5R. The Wi-Fi capabilities, standard ISO-Hotshe, Hybrid AF and Viewfinder are certainly among the most attracting features in the new NEX-6. The NEX-6 loses the metal construction of the NEX-7, has less resolution and less powerful battery life. However, compare to the 5R, the NEX-6 features a P/A/S/M mode dial like the one you find on DSLR cameras, an excellent OLED EVF, but is larger than the NEX-5R and of course costs more.

The NEX-6 should appeal to enthusiast photographers who don’t want to skip the EVF, want a DSLR-like mirrorless camera capabilities and controls, but at the same time want to enjoy the new multimedia features and Hybrid AF of the NEX-5R.

Is it worth the extra $200 over the 5R? – Well, it depends on what you need. For some people the EVF is probably a good reason to invest the NEX-6. The difference in price between the NEX-5R and NEX-7 doesn’t seem to convince people to grab the NEX-7 over the 5R and get a mirrorless with EVF.  Some people  might be tempted to get the Oly E-M5 instead of the NEX-7, which is in my opinion a better camera overall.

You should remember that when you buy a NEX camera you are buying a Camera system. You will need to purchase lenses to use this camera. Luckily Sony have some great lenses for the NEX E-mount, and alerady announced three new lenses, the 10-18 mm wide zoom, 16-50 mm retractable power zoom and a fast 35mm F1.8 prime lens. Sony is moving forward in fast paste and really seems to give a very tough competition to the Micro Four Thirds.

I’ve wen to read some user opinions on the NEX-6 in various blogs and forums and it seems many people are very excited about this new camera. I really think that Sony did everything right with this camera, and I have trouble finding any flaws  in this camera, which is good because I’m very picky and surely analyze the camera from head to toes. I would have loved to see a GPS  in this camera, but this features is missing.

I’m pretty sure that there are some people with older Panasonic GH cameras that might be thinking of making a switch to Sony NEX.  Maybe it’s to early to come to a conclusion and we still want to see some NEX-6 high ISO sample image comparison before we make our final conclusion.

Sony NEX-6 Hands On Video + Introduction to the new E-Mount lenses and user interface:

 

 

Conclusion

I am really excited about the Sony NEX-6, it’s a really great camera with almost all the features enthusiast want to have in a mirrorless camera. It features plenty of controls that are similar to DSLR, but still maintain the simplicity and ease-of-use of simpler models. The NEX-6 and NEX-5R enjoy Wi-Fi capabilities and the option to install apps.  I am not saying that the NEX-6 ‘killed’ the  NEX-7, but it certainly seems to has more value overall for people with a tight budget.

The EVF and fast access controls are probably one of the most attractive features on the NEX-6. Those will certainly convince many enthusiast to pass the NEX-5R and buy the NEX-6 instead. For me, the price difference certainly worth it, but of course this is my personal opinion. Shooting with an EVF is a complete different experience IMHO. I think that the NEX-6 borrowed the most useful feature of both the 5R and 6 and made the NEX-6 a very hard to resist Compact System Camera.

People who have the NEX-3 or NEX-5 will certainly want to look at the NEX-5R and NEX-6 as an upgrade option. If you feel that the entry-level NEX limit you or their AF performance doesn’t satisfy your need, both the NEX-5R and NEX-6 will certainly give you more creative freedom.  The NEX-7 seems to have a need for an update right now, after the NEX-6 has been announced. Maybe Sony already plans to release the NEX-8 this year, but of course I have no idea.

All in all, Sony is working hard to bring new cameras and lenses to the market, and fast. You can really see that Sony listen to its customer, and the NEX-6 s an evidence for that. Go over the specs and choose wisely. If you want my personal recommendation, get the Sony NEX-6, I personally think that it has a better value and in my opinion is one of the most interesting CSC on the market, feature-wise.

 

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

private September 17, 2012 at 8:42 am

Nex-6 does not have a touch screen (like the 5R does) :-( !

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