Sony NEX-6 review – The logical CSC choice?

By David Newton - Wednesday November 28 2012

Camera Review
Introduction | Sony NEX-6 sensor performance | Sony NEX-6 versus competition | Conclusion

Sony NEX-6 vs Sony NEX-5R vs Sony NEX-5N

Comparing the Sony NEX-6 with the NEX-5R and NEX-5N shows the similarities in terms of performance between the three stable-mates. With the same sensor being used in all three models, it is understandable that the performance across the board is almost identical. The only difference is the fractionally improved dynamic range (1/3EV) when comparing the NEX-6 with the NEX-5N.

Sony NEX-6 vs Olympus OM-D E-M5

Comparing the NEX-6 with the Olympus OM-D E-M5 is arguably more interesting than looking at the NEX-6 relative to other models in its own range, as the OM-D E-M5 uses a 4:3 sensor rather than an APS-C sensor as found in the NEX-6.

The OM-D E-M5 from Olympus has a much improved sensor compared to its predecessors and in fact shows a 4:3 sensor that performs almost as well as sensors found in APS-C sensor compacts. The overall scores may suggest that the Sony NEX-6 (Score: 78) is quite a bit ahead of the OM-D E-M5 (Score: 71). However, looking at the scores in detail we can see where these differences appear and that in real terms, the cameras are very closely matched.

Taking the score for Color Depth, the NEX-6 performs 1/2stop better (23.7 vs 22.8 bits) and in Dynamic Range the NEX-6 is 2/3stop better (13.1EV vs 12.3EV). The low light scores are close enough (less than 1/3stop) to be considered equivalent.

However, when looking at the scores where there are differences, we need to consider the ISO range of the NEX-6 relative to the OM-D E-M5. Crucially, the NEX-6 ISO range extends down to ISO 100, whereas the OM-D E-M5 stops at ISO 200. It is this difference that accounts for the better scores for the NEX-6 in both Dynamic Range and Color Depth.

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The Dynamic Range graph shows that the NEX-6 and Olympus OM-D E-M5 are very closely matched in performance, with the only real difference being the lower ISO limit of the NEX-6 (ISO 100) compared to OM-D E-M5 (ISO 200). This accounts for the 2/3EV difference between the two cameras.

Sony NEX-6 vs Panasonic Lumix DMC G5

Comparing the latest NEX-6 to the older Panasonic DMC G5 may seem unfair, but it is illustrative of how well the APS-C sensor in the NEX-6 performs relative to the older designed 4:3 sensor found in the Panasonic compact hybrid cameras.

Looking at Color Depth, the NEX-6 outperforms the G5 by 1.5EV producing smoother toned images with finer colour gradations. It’s the same story with the dynamic range, an improvement of 1.5EV (13.1EV vs 11.6EV) allowing for a greater contrast range to be captured before shadows block up or highlights blow out. Compared to the DMC G5, it makes the NEX6 a better choice for landscapes where the dynamic range performance is more important.

The ISO performance is another plus for the NEX-6, with a half stop (0.5EV) improvement for better images in low light conditions (1018 ISO vs 618 ISO).

sony_nex-6
The Sony NEX-6 shows a marked improvement over the Panasonic DMC G5 throughout the ISO range. The additional exposure latitude makes the NEX-6 a better choice whatever subjects you shoot, but most especially with landscapes, where a good dynamic range is important.