Sony A9 vs NEX-6
The Sony Alpha A9 and the Sony Alpha NEX-6 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in April 2017 and September 2012. Both the A9 and the NEX-6 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a full frame (A9) and an APS-C (NEX-6) sensor. The A9 has a resolution of 24 megapixels, whereas the NEX-6 provides 16 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Sony A9||Sony NEX-6|
|Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Sony E mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|24 MP, Full Frame Sensor||16 MP, APS-C Sensor|
|4K/30p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO 100-51,200 (50 - 204,800)||ISO 100-25,600|
|Electronic viewfinder (3686k dots)||Electronic viewfinder (2359k dots)|
|3.0 LCD, 1440k dots||3.0 LCD, 921k dots|
|Tilting touchscreen||Tilting screen (not touch-sensitive)|
|20 shutter flaps per second||10 shutter flaps per second|
|In-body stabilization||Lens stabilization only|
|Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|650 shots per battery charge||360 shots per battery charge|
|127 x 96 x 63 mm, 673 g||120 x 67 x 43 mm, 345 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Sony Alpha A9 and the Sony Alpha NEX-6? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Sony A9 and the Sony NEX-6. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony NEX-6 is considerably smaller (34 percent) than the Sony A9. Moreover, the NEX-6 is substantially lighter (49 percent) than the A9. It is worth mentioning in this context that the A9 is splash and dust resistant, while the NEX-6 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Sony FE Lens Catalog (A9) and the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog (NEX-6). Mirrorless cameras, such as the two under consideration, have the additional advantage of having a short flange to focal plane distance, which makes it possible to mount many lenses from other systems onto the camera via adapters.
Concerning battery life, the A9 gets 650 shots out of its NP-FZ100 battery, while the NEX-6 can take 360 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 power pack. The power pack in the A9 can be charged via the USB port, so that it is not always necessary to take the battery charger along when travelling.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.
|Sony A9||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.5 in||23.7 oz||650||Y||Apr 2017||4,499|
|Sony NEX-6||4.7 in||2.6 in||1.7 in||12.2 oz||360||n||Sep 2012||999|
|Nikon Z6||5.3 in||4.0 in||2.6 in||23.8 oz||310||Y||Aug 2018||1,999|
|Olympus E-M1 II||5.3 in||3.6 in||2.6 in||20.2 oz||440||Y||Sep 2016||1,999|
|Panasonic GH5||5.5 in||3.9 in||3.4 in||25.6 oz||410||Y||Jan 2017||1,999|
|Sony A9 II||5.1 in||3.8 in||3.0 in||23.9 oz||690||Y||Oct 2019||4,499|
|Sony A7 III||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.9 in||22.9 oz||610||Y||Feb 2018||1,999|
|Sony A7R III||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.9 in||22.9 oz||650||Y||Oct 2017||3,199|
|Sony A7R II||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||22.0 oz||290||Y||Jun 2015||3,199|
|Sony A7S II||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||22.1 oz||370||Y||Sep 2015||2,999|
|Sony A7 II||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||21.1 oz||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999|
|Sony A6000||4.7 in||2.6 in||1.8 in||12.1 oz||360||n||Feb 2014||599|
|Sony NEX-3N||4.3 in||2.4 in||1.4 in||9.5 oz||480||n||Feb 2013||499|
|Sony A99||5.8 in||4.4 in||3.1 in||28.6 oz||500||Y||Sep 2012||2,799|
|Sony NEX-5N||4.4 in||2.3 in||1.5 in||9.5 oz||460||n||Aug 2011||699|
|Sony NEX-3||4.6 in||2.4 in||1.3 in||10.5 oz||330||n||May 2010||599|
|Sony NEX-5||4.4 in||2.3 in||1.5 in||10.1 oz||330||n||May 2010||699|
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The NEX-6 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 78 percent) than the A9, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color-depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Sony A9 features a full frame sensor and the Sony NEX-6 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the NEX-6 is 57 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 24MP, the A9 offers a higher resolution than the NEX-6 (16MP), but the A9 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 4.78μm for the NEX-6) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the A9 is a much more recent model (by 4 years and 7 months) than the NEX-6, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
The resolution advantage of the Sony A9 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A9 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Sony NEX-6 are 24.6 x 16.3 inches or 62.4 x 41.5 cm for good quality, 19.6 x 13.1 inches or 49.9 x 33.2 cm for very good quality, and 16.4 x 10.9 inches or 41.6 x 27.6 cm for excellent quality prints.
The A9 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Sony Alpha A9 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 51200, which can be extended to ISO 50-204800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha NEX-6 are ISO 100 to ISO 25600 (no boost).
For many cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. Of the two cameras under review, the A9 provides substantially higher image quality than the NEX-6, with an overall score that is 14 points higher. This advantage is based on 1.2 bits higher color depth, 0.2 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.8 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|Sony A9||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.9||13.3||3517||92|
|Nikon Z6||Full Frame||24.3||6048||4024||4K/30p||25.3||14.3||3299||95|
|Olympus E-M1 II||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.7||12.8||1312||80|
|Panasonic GH5||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/60p||23.9||13.0||807||77|
|Sony A9 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.0||3434||93|
|Sony A7 III||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3730||96|
|Sony A7R III||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||14.7||3523||100|
|Sony A7R II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||13.9||3434||98|
|Sony A7S II||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/30p||23.6||13.3||2993||85|
|Sony A7 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
|Sony A99||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||14.0||1555||89|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the A9 provides a higher video resolution than the NEX-6. It can shoot video footage at 4K/30p, while the NEX-6 is limited to 1080/60i.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The two cameras under consideration are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the A9 offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the NEX-6 (3686k vs 2359k dots). The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Sony A9, the Sony NEX-6, and comparable cameras.
|Olympus E-M1 II||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||18.0||n||Y|
|Sony A9 II||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7 III||2359||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7R III||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7R II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7S II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7 II||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
One feature that differentiates the A9 and the NEX-6 is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The A9 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the NEX-6 offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, the A9 is one of those camera that have an additional electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
Concerning the storage of imaging data, both the A9 and the NEX-6 write their files to SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The A9 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the NEX-6 only has one slot. The A9 supports UHS-II cards (on its first slot), while the NEX-6 can use UHS-I cards.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Sony Alpha A9 and Sony Alpha NEX-6 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Olympus E-M1 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.0||Y||-||-|
|Sony A9 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|Sony A7 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|Sony A7R III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|Sony A7R II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Sony A7S II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|Sony A7 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the A9 has a microphone port, which is missing on the NEX-6. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Sony A9 (unlike the NEX-6) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the A9 and the NEX-6 have been discontinued, but can regularly be found used on eBay. The NEX-6 was replaced by the Sony A6000, while the A9 was followed by the Sony A9 II. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Sony website.
So what is the bottom line? Is the Sony A9 better than the Sony NEX-6 or vice versa? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A9:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 16MP) with a 22% higher linear resolution.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (14 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.2 bits more color depth).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1.8 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60i).
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (3686k vs 2359k dots).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.78x vs 0.73x).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1440k vs 921k dots).
- Fewer buttons to press: Is equipped with a touch-sensitive rear screen to facilitate handling.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (20 vs 10 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Less disturbing: Has an electronic shutter option for completely silent shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (650 versus 360) on a single battery charge.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports a more advanced SD data transfer standard (UHS-II vs UHS-I).
- More modern: Reflects 4 years and 7 months of technical progress since the NEX-6 launch.
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha NEX-6:
- More compact: Is smaller (120x67mm vs 127x96mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 328g or 49 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (78 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in September 2012).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the A9 is the clear winner of the match-up (24 : 5 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Sony A9 and the Sony NEX-6 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the A9 or the NEX-6. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|Sony A9||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Apr 2017||4,499|
|Sony NEX-6||+ +||78/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2012||999|
|Nikon Z6||..||..||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2018||1,999|
|Olympus E-M1 II||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||1,999|
|Panasonic GH5||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Jan 2017||1,999|
|Sony A9 II||..||90/100||5/5||..||5/5||Oct 2019||4,499|
|Sony A7 III||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Feb 2018||1,999|
|Sony A7R III||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Oct 2017||3,199|
|Sony A7R II||+ +||90/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Jun 2015||3,199|
|Sony A7S II||+||..||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Sep 2015||2,999|
|Sony A7 II||+||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||1,999|
|Sony A6000||+||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Feb 2014||599|
|Sony NEX-3N||..||..||4.5/5||4/5||4.5/5||Feb 2013||499|
|Sony A99||..||84/100||4.5/5||o||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799|
|Sony NEX-5N||+ +||79/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Aug 2011||699|
|Sony NEX-3||..||70/100||4.5/5||5/5||4/5||May 2010||599|
|Sony NEX-5||+ +||71/100||4.5/5||4/5||4/5||May 2010||699|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? If you would like to see a different side-by-side camera review, just use the search menu below. Alternatively, you can follow any of the listed hyperlinks for comparisons that others found interesting.
- Canon 1D Mark III vs Sony NEX-6
- Canon 5D Mark II vs Sony A9 II
- Canon M200 vs Sony A9 II
- Fujifilm X100F vs Sony NEX-6
- Nikon 1 V2 vs Sony NEX-6
- Nikon D3300 vs Sony NEX-6
- Olympus E-500 vs Sony A9
- Panasonic GH5 vs Sony NEX-6
- Panasonic TS7 vs Sony NEX-6
- Sony A6100 vs Sony A9
- Sony A9 II vs Sony HX95
- Sony A9 vs Sony HX95
Specifications: Sony A9 vs Sony NEX-6
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Sony A9||Sony NEX-6|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Sony E mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||April 2017||September 2012|
|Launch Price||USD 4,499||USD 999|
|Sensor Specs||Sony A9||Sony NEX-6|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||35.6 x 23.8 mm||23.4 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||847.28 mm2||365.04 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||42.8 mm||28.1 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24 Megapixels||16 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6000 x 4000 pixels||4912 x 3264 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.94 μm||4.78 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.83 MP/cm2||4.39 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/30p Video||1080/60i Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 51,200 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 204,800 ISO||no Enhancement|
|Image Processor||BIONZ X||BIONZ|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||92||78|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||24.9||23.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||13.3||13.1|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||3517||1018|
|Screen Specs||Sony A9||Sony NEX-6|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||3686k dots||2359k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1440k dots||921k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Tilting screen|
|Touch Input||Touchscreen||no Touchscreen|
|Shooting Specs||Sony A9||Sony NEX-6|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||20 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||500 000 actuations||150 000 actuations|
|Electronic Shutter||up to 1/32000s||no E-Shutter|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||Lens stabilization only|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||MS or SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||Single UHS-II||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Sony A9||Sony NEX-6|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||mini HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||no Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||no NFC|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||no Bluetooth|
|Body Specs||Sony A9||Sony NEX-6|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||650 shots per charge||360 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||no USB charging|
127 x 96 x 63 mm
(5.0 x 3.8 x 2.5 in)
120 x 67 x 43 mm
(4.7 x 2.6 x 1.7 in)
|Camera Weight||673 g (23.7 oz)||345 g (12.2 oz)|
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