NEX 6 - Low Light questions

Discussion in 'Sony Alpha E-Mount Cameras' started by chains007, Aug 21, 2013.

  1. chains007

    chains007 New to TalkEmount

    Aug 19, 2013
    Just got my NEX 6 last week, and since I'm upgrading from a P&S I'm learning a lot. One thing that still puzzles me though is how the NEX 6 acts in low light. A few things that I noticed:

    - The camera automatically chooses ISO 3200 a lot. When I shot the exact scene with my Nikon J3 with the same aperture (3.5), the J3 chooses 800 or 1600. When I manually set the ISO of the NEX lower, the picture actually looks better. Just seems like the ISO the camera automatically picks seems too high.

    - When metering using multi-zone vs center - the camera underexposes quite a bit in multi-zone. On my J3, multi-meter results in a much brighter picture.

    - Related to the multi-zone issue, in Intelligent Auto mode, since multi-zone is the default and you can't change it, the picture is frequently underexposed if i'm taking a picture indoors with less light. Sometimes the resulting picture is pretty bad to the point where it's unusable. The auto mode of my J3 seems to result in a better picture in darker scense. Of course I didn't get the NEX to use it in Auto - I really want to learn and have achieved better results using A or P modes. But I expected the Auto mode to at least give a decent picture. And I would like the option to hand the camera off to my wife or friends to take a quick shot easily in Auto.

    Are these all normal observations? I understand that the J3 is a more amateur friendly camera so it's more idiot proof - and I can already tell that I can do so much more with the NEX 6 - but I'm confused as to why things such as multi-zone or the Auto modes seem so much worse in the NEX?
  2. ajm80031

    ajm80031 TalkEmount Regular

    Jul 16, 2013
    With regards to auto-ISO, the NEX-6 does have a tendency to select high ISOs. My guess is that the engineers programming the firmware decided to prioritize avoiding blur from camera shake and so the auto-ISO shoots up to 3200 in anything other than bright light to try to keep the shutter speed high. I find this rather odd as both of the 'native' lenses I have for the camera have image stabilization built-in, so the camera should be confident of using lower shutter speeds, but in practice it seems to do just the opposite.

    Yes, so long as you don't end up with camera blur from too low a shutter speed, lower-ISO images will be better (less noise and more dynamic range) than high-ISO images. I'd suggest avoiding auto-ISO if possible. Manually select the lowest ISO setting that doesn't risk risk getting you too slow of a shutter speed for the focal length you're using.

    I've had my NEX-6 for about a month and a half now and am likewise finding odd quirks about it. For instance last night I found that, with the kit 16-50mm lens in low light, the camera consistently underexposes by over a stop. In bright light there's no such problem. Also (as I just asked about in another thread) it appears that the live histogram doesn't show the effects of any exposure compensation you've dialed in. Odd behaviors for a camera aimed at enthusiasts.
  3. JeffP3456

    JeffP3456 New to TalkEmount

    Aug 2, 2013
    South Florida
    I also find that the 'pattern' metering underexposes in low light, it seems fine in good light though. So in low light I switch to center-weighted metering.
    Also, I regret that Sony did not include allowing the user to set the auto-iso limits as I find 3200 in low light to be too grainy for my tastes. The multi image low nr app however works very well! (Jpeg only)


  4. Bimjo

    Bimjo Super Moderator

    Oct 28, 2011
    Washington State
    Real Name:
    Defaulting to ISO 3200 is common across the NEX line. I guess Sony feels that the high ISO performance is good enough that they push it to keep shutter speeds up.