Sony Alpha NEX 6 Ken McMahon, Jan 2013

Sony NEX-6 vs Panasonic Lumix G5 quality

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

The test scene on the day that I took these shots was particularly demanding with bright sunshine presenting a very contrasty scene with a wide brightness range. The NEX-6 has coped very well and produced a perfectly exposed image with a full histogram but no clipping of the highlights or shadows. The white balance is neutral and the colours are saturated and natural looking.

Generally, the NEX-6 crops are very good with levels of detail and sharpness on a par with what you'd expect from a budget to mid range DSLR with a kit lens. These results don't look drastically different to those from the the NEX-5N which also has a 16 Megapixel sensor, though not the exact same type as the NEX-6. If you're interested in comparing the two you can find the same scene shot with the NEX-5N in my NEX-7 review, but bear in mind the earlier test was shot in different light with a different lens - the 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 OSS, but even so, the comparison makes for interesting viewing.

Looking a the individual crops, it looks like Sony has stuck with the same, or at least a similar, processing approach as used on earlier NEX models, a good thing, as it strikes a nice balance with great image detail but a natural, unprocessed look. In the first crop the chapel and wall edges are crisp and you can make out some detail in the stonework. I wouldn't worry too much that you can't make out the finer detail in the windows, which is probably more to do with the harsh directional lighting than any sensor or lens shortcomings.

Despite the atmospheric conditions, the NEX-6 has managed to pick out the lighthouse quite cleanly. The detail in the foreground buildings is a little softer in this crop from closer to the frame edge, but edge detail is reasonably sharp and the finer detail in the roof tiles is well resolved.

It's the third crop, though, from close to the frame edge which is the most interesting. First, there's the complete lack of colour fringing where you'd normally expect to see some evidence of chromatic aberration, however slight. It's of course great that the NEX-6 processing has removed it, but this crop looks more processed than those from the centre of the frame and the distortion correction and other processing has resulted in a slighty harsher look with softer edges and less fine detail.

There are none of those problems in the centre of the frame though and the final crop sees a return to crisper edges and cleanly resolved fine detail. So a good overall performance from the NEX-6, but with the caveat that, at the wider end of the 16-50mm focal length range, the in-camera processing designed to compensate for lens distortions and aberrations result in a slight deterioration in image quality.

Compared with the crops from the Panasonic Lumix G5, the NEX-6 crops look punchier and more detailed, but is there really any more detail being resolved than in the G5 crops? The G5 slightly over-exposed the scene which doesn't help, but despite that, the gentler Panasonic processing produces less contrasty and slighter softer image detail. I'm not sure that there's really more detail in the NEX-6 crops, if there is, it's fairly marginal. Having said that, if you prefer the punchier look to the NEX-6 JPEGs, G5 owners might want to create a custom Photo Style setting with increased sharpness and/or contrast. Failing that, you of course also have the option of shooting RAW and doing your own processing.

Check out my Sony NEX-6 RAW quality results on the next page or 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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