Monday, November 04, 2013

Camera Review: Sony NEX-6

I took two cameras to Greenland, and one of the them was the Sony NEX-6.

The idea behind the NEX-6 is to have all the power of a DSLR built around a similar large sensor but in a smaller, lighter package.

There's no mirror which means no optical viewfinder, but instead it includes an electronic viewfinder, which worked well enough. Even in bright sunlight when the screen on the back was all washed out I could still frame the scene, though often I had to shield my eyes a bit.

However there were downsides, mostly from the user interface. In the helicopter from Tasiilaq to Kusulak the auto-focus kept locking on the control panel inside rather than the landscape outside. I wanted to switch to manual focus but spent ages mucking around without success.

As it happened it had been pre-set so that the Fn button had been mapped to the focus options, but even then you have to hit Fn, scroll to the option you want on the screen, then hit select. It's just a bit more a palaver to do anything - and its the same for setting the flash to be on / off / auto / fill / slow-sync etc.

Changing ISO is only sometimes possible and the manual options are slightly less flexible. Colour reproduction was a bit off compared to the DLSR.

But overall in terms of features & photo quality versus weight it was pretty good. Battery life wasn't quite as good as the Canon 550D, which could be because the capacity was smaller or the electronics were trying to do more (e.g. keep that screen lit up).

Two problems were my own fault: firstly I purchased it just before leaving so didn't really know my way around and rule #1 for new owners of a camera should be to spend time learning how to use it.

Secondly I only bought the one lens which was ok for landscapes but its zoom end was really limited and the moment I saw that polar bear I knew I'd made a mistake. With hindsight I should have ordered the twin lens kit with the beautiful 200 mm lens (above).

But in general I was pretty pleased and I can see how it won the T3 camera of year award.

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