NEX-6 - Major AF flaw

Discussion in 'Sony Alpha E-Mount Cameras' started by Stelex, Jun 2, 2013.

  1. Stelex

    Stelex TalkEmount Regular

    May 30, 2013
    Brisbane, Australia
    Hi everyone. I'm new here so please be nice to me :)

    I just purchased my first NEX camera, the NEX-6 with 16-50mm kit lens. I've received it of Thursday and had a good chance to give it a run for its money yesterday and this morning.

    There are quite a few things I like about this camera but there are two things that really pissed me off.

    1 - The horrible battery life.
    2 - The autofocus design flaw, see below.

    The #1 is a direct consequence of the #2.

    The NEX-6 camera has two auto-focus modes - AF-S for a single shot and AF-C which is a continuous AF.

    When you compose a shot in AF-S mode and focus on your subject, take a shot and the lens stays in that focus position until you focus again. You can look through your EVF or screen and move camera around, but until you press the shutter button half way down, the focus point remains where it was at your last shot. Way to go.

    When you focus in AF-C and shoot, you move the camera to something else, the camera automatically refocuses without user interaction. This is how most/all video cameras behave. However, AF-C mode drains battery very fast as your lens is constantly refocusing, whether you like it or not.

    Now, the way to avoid this is naturally to select AF-S. This is the default setting on all/most cameras.

    Hell no, not on the Sony NEX-6. While you can change the settings to AF-S, this does not make any difference, the camera just keeps autofocusing on its own. This is rubbish!

    I thought this was due to the kit lens being the power-lens (which I don't like one bit, by the way), but other users in another forum mentioned that it does exactly the same thing with 18-55mm lens.

    I spent last hour going through menus and manuals but running out of ideas, the thing just won't turn off. It sucks big time.
  2. My method:

    Method: (with my Nex7, i assume this is similar in the Nex 6)

    1 Menu
    2 AF Area
    3 Flexible spot (not the menu option "Centre" )
    4 put the flexible spot in the centre or wherever you like

    (By choosing “flexible spot” the af focus area is at it’s smallest)

    4 Focus on subject (area with high contrast)
    5 keep focus button half-way to keep this focus and do the make the picture (by pushing it further down) when you like it. It will use the focus that you had memorized by keeping the button halfway down.

    Also: turn af helplight off

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  3. Stelex

    Stelex TalkEmount Regular

    May 30, 2013
    Brisbane, Australia
    Thanks Veneboer

    I think you misunderstood my point. I don't have the problem with focusing, I use it pretty much the way you described, focus and recompose.

    The problem is that once I take the shot, the camera keeps focusing all the time, regardless of what I'm doing, hence killing the battery in a heartbeat.
  4. Good morning Stelex,

    Somehow the AF helplight badly affects the AF performance. Just give it a try with the described settings. Same for the described af method combined with Af-s

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  5. Rich

    Rich TalkEmount Veteran

    Nov 20, 2012
    Salisbury UK
    Stelex. I think I see what you are saying. In AFS the lens continues to focus approximately. I have always assumed this is to speed up focus, i.e. the lens is close to the point of focus, more or less ready, at the time of shooting the picture. I think what you are saying is that the lens is constantly in action even when just hanging on the strap, thus using battery.

    I have just accepted this and carry three spare batteries with me, so far I have only had to change the battery once per outing. How many shots are you getting for a fully charged battery?

    I use NEX 5N and 6, Fuji X100 and X Pro 1 and they are all hard on batteries. I think one has to accept this and carry spares.

    Sorry if I have misunderstood you.

  6. ChangshaNotes

    ChangshaNotes Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 15, 2012
    I think battery life may be a little better on my NEX-7 because of the lack of PDAF and I would guess the power zoom s some up on the 6 too (I don't have one). it's definitely a disadvantage with the camera. For me the advantages out way this though as it's pretty easy to carry a few extra batteries.

    I have more problems with battery on my phone really.
  7. addieleman

    addieleman Passionate amateur Subscribing Member

    Nov 13, 2012
    Ad Dieleman
    Concerning battery life, you shouldn't leave the camera on drive mode "Remote Commander" because it won't go into standby and keeps on focussing. However, going to the single shot drive mode doesn't help to avoid the continuous focussing action.
  8. sleekdigital

    sleekdigital TalkEmount Regular

    May 7, 2013
    I often leave the camera in review mode until I think I will need to shoot something very soon, for this very reason.
  9. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter TalkEmount Regular

    Aug 7, 2011
    Philadelphia, Pa
    That's a good idea. How long does it take to go back to shoot mode?
  10. Stelex

    Stelex TalkEmount Regular

    May 30, 2013
    Brisbane, Australia
    Yeah, that's a good idea, indeed.

    Still, the camera has a malfunction which Sony needs to address. If you switch from AF-C to AF-S, but camera still operates in AF-C mode then it's a fault. I'll give a call to Sony customer support today and see what's their take on it.

    I'm thinking of returning the camera for the refund, but then again, what else would I get? You sell one problem, you buy another one :-(

    Forgot to ask, this is the case with other NEX cameras as well, not only the 6, right?
  11. Bimjo

    Bimjo Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Oct 28, 2011
    Washington State
    As far as I know that's how the system operates.
  12. GaryR60

    GaryR60 TalkEmount Regular

    May 12, 2013
    What I do to extend battery life is shut the camera off between shots, when I can. Whenever I have a lull in the shooting, in which I'm either walking to a new vantage point or just standing there looking around for subjects, I have the camera off. It's nothing to turn it back on again and start shooting. Typically, I go out shooting for about an hour or two and I shoot anywhere from 100 to 300 photos in that time. I have even done this on a 60% charge and still had plenty of battery time left to download my RAW files once I got home, but normally, I leave home with the battery at 100% and by the time I'm done, it's at about 50% to 70%. If I left the camera on the whole time, of course it would be drained before I'm done.
  13. WoodWorks

    WoodWorks Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Dec 12, 2012
    Ashland, OR, USA
    Every new camera requires us to adapt to its quirks, and the NEX is no different. FWIW, I just came back from a day and a half of shooting, and my NEX-6 battery still shows 51%.

    I do turn the camera off when I move from place to place, or when I'm stumped for ideas. But I haven't felt myself constrained by it battery life since I got it last fall.

    Having said that, I do always carry a spare battery.
  14. Streetshooter

    Streetshooter TalkEmount Regular

    Aug 7, 2011
    Philadelphia, Pa
    I believe you are correct. A few years ago I had the 5 when it was released. It drove me crazy when the lens hunted all the time. After a time, I realized how much I liked the hunting. Whenever I looked at the screen, I had a basically focused scene.
    I have 4 batteries but never needed them. I guess one can rationalize anything to overcome an issue with a camera.
  15. sleekdigital

    sleekdigital TalkEmount Regular

    May 7, 2013
    It's pretty fast, certainly much faster than turning the camera on and off. So I use the switch to review approach in some situations and turn off the camera in others. Just depends on how long I think it will be till i take another shot. I tried a really short power saver time setting for awhile, but its really annoying when the camera shuts down when you don't want it to.
  16. sleekdigital

    sleekdigital TalkEmount Regular

    May 7, 2013
    It's not a malfunciton. It's the usual prefocus feature that many cameras use. It would be nice to have the option to turn it on and off though.
  17. TomH

    TomH New to TalkEmount

    May 17, 2013
    Please let us know what they say, as this would be a deal-breaker if AF-S doesn't work properly.

    AF-C exists precisely for when you want to prefocus. Having the AF-S mode prefocus defeats the purpose of its existence.
  18. sleekdigital

    sleekdigital TalkEmount Regular

    May 7, 2013
  19. freddytto

    freddytto TalkEmount All-Pro

    Dec 2, 2011
    Puebla, Mexico
    I think it is normal to happen, at least when used the NEX 7, for that reason always carry two spare batteries but usually one is enough, in my case, as 99% of the time use the EVF, I try to turn off the camera when not used for a while, and set up in saving energy a 1 minute, and the brightness of LCD is low as possible.
  20. TomH

    TomH New to TalkEmount

    May 17, 2013
    Perhaps it's best to consider it as separate from AF-S and AF-C since it operates without the half-press.

    How would you auto-focus on something, then switch to MF without the camera changing focus between? I'd be worried that the focus would change because I can't (or don't want to) hold it steady enough to retain the lock when pushing buttons.

    Does this pre-focusing occur with adapted lenses as well?