Does the NEX lineup need another model? Sony reckons it does. Meet the NEX-6. The company's latest mirrorless camera looks nearly identical to last year's top-of-the-line NEX-7, with the exception of a new dedicated mode dial, that lets you switch between aperture- and shutter-priority, manual, or scene modes with a hardware control rather than a need to jump into the menu. It offers the same pop-up flash (with a bit more power), a 3-inch 921k-dot TruBlack tilting LCD, an identical 2,359k-dot OLED electronic viewfinder and a strikingly familiar design. And that's where the similarities screech to a grinding halt.
The NEX-6 is a hybrid camera of sorts, merging the best of the NEX-7 and the new 5R into a compact ILC that Sony says is its first to offer "full DSLR functionality." You won't be able to snag full-frame captures, as with Sony's brand new Alpha A99, but the 16.1-megapixel APS-C Exmor CMOS sensor should get you well on your way. There's also low-light shooting through ISO 25,600, 1080/60p video, a 10 frames-per-second continuous shooting mode, the new Fast Hybrid autofocus system first introduced with the NEX-5R and a new Multi Interface Shoe that lets you interface with a bunch of new accessories, including a hot shoe-mounted XLR mic input rig ($800). Join us past the break for our impressions and hands-on video.
We had a chance to shoot with the NEX-6, after mistakenly picking up an NEX-7 that was sitting beside it (the design really is incredibly similar). There's no tri-navi interface here, but the mode dial does offer a unique twist -- a secondary ring surrounds it, letting you adjust key settings that change based on the current shooting mode. In aperture-priority, the ring will change the aperture, for example, but it can also be used for other adjustments by tapping a nearby Function button. Besides this welcome addition, the interface feels quite similar, though there's a new option for launching PlayMemories Camera Apps (you guessed it -- there's 802.11b/g WiFi). All of the NEX-5R's wireless functionality is here as well, such as remote shooting and file transfer, along with the option to download a handful of Sony-created apps. The 6's focusing performance also felt snappier, making the 7 a hard sell unless you really need 24.3-megapixel snaps.
The NEX-6 will be available in November for $1,000, including Sony's slick new 16-50mm power zoom lens. That f/3.5-5.6 image-stabilized optic will be available as an add-on for any NEX cam beginning in January for $350, or in a kit with the NEX-5R for $800 in February. The company is also launching a new 10-18mm f/4 OSS lens in November for $850, and a 35mm f/1.8 OSS optic in December for $450 -- both of which are pictured with the NEX-6 in our gallery below, along with the hands-on video after the break.