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Wowza
Wowza

We’re still hunting for the perfect big sensor point and shoot for the long hikes we take. You can see how we summed up our interactions with the Fuji X-Pro1 (ambivalent), Nikon V1 (liked), and the Olympus EP-2 (hated) at the various links. Last weekend was the chance for Sony’s NEX 6 to shine.

Image: BorrowLenses
Image: BorrowLenses

Now just to be completely up front here, we hate Sony. Really, really passionately hate the bastards. We’ve not yet forgiven them for rooting our PC back in 2005 just for the crime of wanting to listen to Alicia Keys‘ cover of Prince’s ‘How Come U Don’t Call‘ on our MP3 player. Though we should point out that thanks to that episode we moved to Mac’s and have been shiny and happy ever since. That said, people keep telling us that their NEX cameras are really good, so swallowing our pride, we rented one for the weekend.

Not too bad for this hard shot
Not too bad for this hard shot

The full line up was the Alpha NEX6, the 16 – 50mm zoom lens, and the 16mm fixed pancake. Running around the house we quickly decided that the zoom lens is a waste of time. The camera has a 2x crop factor (we think) which means the zoom is actually a pretty decent 32 to 100 but for some reason the pictures seemed more like 32 to 42. Not sure why that would be but we put the zoom back in the bag, and stuck with using the pancake for the rest of the weekend.

The NEX6 uses SD memory cards and while we have a few of those, we have many more MicroSD cards and so decided to use those with their SD adaptors. Except we couldn’t. For some reason the adaptors refused to slide in to the camera. Very odd that true SD cards worked but MicroSD Adaptors didn’t. To the eye they’re the same. Oh well, moving on.

Why is this out of focus?
Why is this out of focus?

We set the camera in to RAW as always, center focus, center priority for exposure, rapid shoot. We were going to a party and the idea of quickly grabbing a few funny faces seemed more pleasing than composing for whole scenes. The menu settings required to do this didn’t need the manual, but wasn’t as straight forward as we’d have liked but then no camera ever is.

Really? Focus. Damnit!
Really? Focus. Damnit!
Are you even trying?
Are you even trying?

Once at the party we quickly learned that the view finder was useless. No amount of adjusting the diopter would render an image that was of any use. Now, this is a rental camera, so who knows what crap could have been on the glass, but to our eyes the little TV in there was always just a tad blurry, more so at the edges, and lagged behind the action quite noticeable. We gave up with it, and moved to composing using the large rear display just as you would a camera phone.

One of the complaints we have of other 4/3rds camera is the shutter lag. They are all way too slow. Not so the NEX6. It’s near instant. It’s a very responsive camera with a satisfyingly real click when the picture is captured.

Fancy Hat Winner
Too much noise

With other cameras we’ve also noticed that we get many out of focus images. Probably due to our amateur style of using the camera but still, it doesn’t happen when we use our phones or our DSLR’s. And with the NEX6, the same thing. Of the 60 or so pictures we took fully ¼ of them we’re out of focus. All of them were unacceptably soft.

Can anyone spot the focus point?
Can anyone spot the focus point?

The colors are great, the exposure just fine, the white-balance (set to auto) was a tad off but not unacceptably so. The real issue is noise (in the few pictures that are sharp). We had ISO set to auto, and even in the below picture, taken in full sun you can see the noise. Inside, it was even worse. Unacceptably so.

Nice tones
Nice tones

Once everyone had sobered up and we sat in front of the computer, two things immediately jumped out. Firstly, the raw files are huge. Easily twice the size of our Nikon D300’s. And secondly, as mentioned, everything was soft. We had to use a bucket load of both RAW and post editing sharpening to even get the terrible shots you see here.

More bad focus
More soft focus

And so another one bites the dust. We’re not going to be buying an NEX6. Henri Cartier-Bresson once said that ‘sharpness is a bourgeois concept’, we’ve no idea if he’s right or not, but soft images hurt our eyes.

Thanks for reading.

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