14 October 2012
Hands-on with the New NEX cameras
The NEX 5R and 6 system cameras
The new Sony NEX cameras, the NEX 5R and NEX 6, represent Sony's step into the connected mobile world. Both cameras features wifi connectivity for added versatility.
The NEX 5R, is very reminiscent of the old NEX 5N in terms of its design and build. It is light weight and a very solid construction that gives the impression it is designed to last. NEX 5R's LCD monitor can flip upwards so that it is easy to do self portraits.
The NEX 6 sits nicely between the 5R and the 7 with an advancement on the features of the 5R but in a body similar to the NEX 7. In fact it feels very similar in the hand to the NEX 7 but minus the Tri-Navi. The high resolution OLED viewfinder is maintained along with the built-in pop-up flash unit.
The NEX 6 has Sony's new hot-shoe which means older Sony (and Konica Minolta) flashguns are no longer compatible and will require an adapter.
The hybrid AF system in both cameras allowed for responsive focusing in the indoor lighting conditions in-which the cameras were tested. It should provide a significant improvement in auto focusing compared to models using only contrast based AF.
While the NEX 5R and 6 do not have Tri-Navi for easy adjustment of exposure parameters they do have a single control dial (in addition to the one on the back) for straightforward exposure adjustment. This makes the 5R a better camera for the enthusiast photographer. Some may prefer the control dial implementation on the NEX 6 to that of the NEX 7 as it feels more traditional.
Unlike some of the Cyber-shot or Alpha series cameras, none of the NEX cameras features GPS tagging. Not everyone needs this feature but the NEX series seem well adept as travel cameras and having GPS tagging built in would make the camera feel more complete.
Some may prefer the NEX 6 over the NEX 7 not only due to its lower price but the fact that the lower resolution image sensor (16mp as opposed to 24mp) should bring lower image noise especially at the higher ISOs.
WiFi and Apps
Wifi connectivity is put to good use firstly by allowing the scene viewed by the camera to be seen remotely on a smartphone (iOS and Android) with the shutter triggered remotely too. When a photo is taken it is stored on the cameras memory card and a smaller picture file is transferred to the connected smartphone. As the cameras are DLNA (Digital Living Network Alliance) certified photos can be remotely viewed on any DLNA compliant device.
Applications can be downloaded to NEX 5R and NEX 6 cameras to extend the feature set. It was nice to see that there will be a time lapse app which will be very useful for movie makers. Hopefully, Sony will get many application developers on board so there can be a rich selection of useful apps.
16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS Power Zoom Lens
The 16-50mm power zoom lens makes a nice addition to the NEX system providing the 35mm format equivalent of 24-75mm which in time may prove the preferred standard zoom lens amongst NEX owners. The lens has an optical speed similar the to 18-55mm (28-70mm) kit lens but is a more compact design when powered down.
The lens provides power zooming via either the control ring towards the front of the lens or via the control on the side of the lens. With a camera body set to manual focus focusing is carried out with the control ring. The control ring proved very responsive for both zooming and focusing during a hands on test. The lens seemed to operate very quietly during zooming which should make it very handy for movie use.