Sony Alpha NEX 6 Ken McMahon, Jan 2013

Sony NEX-6 vs Panasonic Lumix G5 RAW quality

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To compare real-life RAW performance I shot this scene with the Sony Alpha NEX-6 and the Panasonic Lumix G5, within a few moments of each other using their RAW settings.

The NEX-6 was fitted with the E PZ 16-50mm f3.5-5.6 OSS kit lens. To produce an equivalent field of view to the Lumix G X Vario PZ 14-42mm f3.5-5.6 lens on the G5 I zoomed the NEX-6 in to 19mm.

Image stabilisation was disabled for this tripod-mounted test and all other settings were left on the defaults.

  Sony Alpha NEX-6 results
1 Sony NEX-6 Quality JPEG
2 Sony NEX-6 Quality RAW
3 Sony NEX-6 Noise JPEG
4 Sony NEX-6 Noise RAW
5 Sony NEX-6 Multi Frame NR
6 Sony NEX-6 Sample images

The image above was taken with the Sony Alpha NEX-6. The camera was set to Aperture priority mode with the aperture set to f5.6 and the sensitivity to 100 ISO. The camera metered an exposure of 1/500. The Lumix G5 metered an exposure of 1/400 at f5.6 at its base 160 ISO sensitivity.

I processed both files in Adobe Camera RAW using identical settings: Sharpening at 70 / 0.5 / 36 / 10, Luminance and Colour Noise Reduction both set to zero, and the Process to 2012 with the Adobe Standard profile. To further reduce any distracting visual differences between the crops I also set custom white balance to 5500K and tint to 0. These settings were chosen to reveal the differences in sensor quality and isolate them from in-camera processing. The high degree of sharpening with a small radius enhances the finest details without causing undesirable artefacts, while the zero noise reduction unveils what's really going on behind the scenes.

As always, these processed RAW files are very revealing in what they tell us about the NEX-6's in-camera JPEG processing as well as how much detail the sensor and lens combination is recording. In terms of the detail, the first and last crops are the most instructive. Though this image has had a much higher degree of sharpening applied than you'd routinely use, it does reveal that the NEX-6 sensor is recording a greater level of detail than you can see in the JPEGs. You can see detail in the stonework of the chapel and its surrounding wall much more clearly here as you can in the rocks and grass in the foreground.

The same goes for the fourth and final crop, you can make out the individual bricks in the buidlings and the tiles on the roofs; this is very positive news for those who like to process their own RAW files as shows there's more to be had from the NEX-6's lens and kit lens than the in-camera JPEGs provide.

The middle two crops are interesting for different reasons which I hinted at in the previous JPEG result page. The third crop shows the fringing that was noticeably absent in the JPEG, but it's also a lot darker and, if you compare it with the JPEG crop on the previous page, you'll notice it shows a different area of the image, even though the crop is taken from exactly the same location. So as well as correction for chromatic aberration the NEX-6 is also correcting for quite severe vignetting and image distortion.

Now see how these models compare at higher sensitivities in my Sony NEX-6 Noise results.


Sony NEX-6
Panasonic Lumix G5
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 160 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 160 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 160 ISO
f5.6, 100 ISO
f5.6, 160 ISO

Sony Alpha NEX-6
results : Quality / RAW quality / Noise / RAW Noise

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