The Sony Alpha NEX-6 Mirrorless Digital Camera gracefully straddles the line between compact point-and-shoot and DSLR and in doing so, demonstrates why mirrorless cameras are becoming more and more popular with serious shooters. With an APS-C sized sensor, fast autofocus, an electronic viewfinder, comfortable control dials, and of course, interchangeable lenses, the NEX-6 can play big, but its manageable size and easy auto features prove it be a different creature altogether. And being one of the better cameras on the cusp of this whole new chapter in photo history, it makes sense that the NEX-6 embraces all that instant inter-connectivity can bring with it. And to that, PlayMemories Camera Apps is Sony’s application download service that allows functions to be downloaded and added to its Alpha NEX-6 Mirrorless Digital Camera.
For starters, the NEX-6 has built-in Wi-Fi and after installing the free PlayMemories Mobile App, you can transfer images directly from your camera to your smartphone or tablet and then share at will. You can also wirelessly transfer to compatible TVs and to a PC that has PlayMemories Home installed. This is a time saver and a cable-free way to get photos to your computer for management, correction and storage. But being Wi-Fi enabled you will also be able to download apps that can improve the functions and features of your camera. At present, Sony has 6 apps for enhanced creativity and photographic expression.
The Picture Effect App is a collection of six effects that offers ways to add creative touches to your photos. Partial Color+ allows you to add up to two colors to the highlights of a black and white photo, Soft High-Key+ adds soft colored blues, pinks or greens to the ambient lighting in an image, Watercolor can transform a photo into a watercolor-like image and Illustration adds outlines and “punches up” images to look more like cartoon illustrations. Toy Camera+ controls the brightness at the center of an image and its degree of vignette on the sides and Miniature+ offers an enhanced version of Miniature imaging in which depth of field and selective focus are controlled to make your subject appear like a small diorama seen from a distance. The Miniature + effect can be combined with Toy Camera or Retro effects for truly unique images.
Photo Retouch is an app that provides you with an in-camera editing program to retouch and manipulate previously shot photos. Using Framing, Resize, Brightness, Color Saturation and Contrast control you can improve the look of your shots while they are still in the camera, saving you time in front of the computer and allowing you to immediate share a well-balanced shot. Soft Skin Effect is also part of Photo Retouch package and allows you to retouch portraits with a more flattering skin tone. The Framing element of Photo Retouch includes Auto Portrait Framing which automatically sets your subject in the ideal spot within the frame and crops out the rest.
Another free app in the PlayMemories service, the Smart Remote Control, allows your smartphone to be a remote control for your NEX-6 camera. A great tool for group shots, experimental self-portraits and action videos, you can check the framing of your image, adjust the exposure and shoot all from your smartphone or tablet. And images shot with Smart Remote Control are automatically and immediately transferred to your smartphone for storage and sharing. For Smart Remote to function, you must also install the PlayMemories Mobile 2.X onto your smartphone or tablet.
The free Direct Upload App lets you upload your just-shot images directly to a network sharing service like Facebook or Sony’s own Play Memories Online. With this app you can bypass the need to download your photo to your computer, tablet pr phone before you share; just a quicker way to get your images out to your friends and colleagues. Even RAW photos can be directly uploaded as the app converts them into a smaller jpeg file before upload. The app also allows you to add English text to your photo when posting it on Facebook. (Multilingual Keyboard app on the way!)
The Bracket Pro app has a small cost to download but offers a function that will truly help you get the best photo out of the moment. It provides automatic bracketing by aperture, shutter speed, focus or flash. With the Bracket Pro function selected on your camera, one press of the shutter is all you need to capture three versions (or two in flash mode) of the same image. Each exposure is adjusted slightly in order to provide you with three options from which you can choose the best or most applicable. This is a particularly useful function when shooting in tricky light or when your subject is moving or simply if you have little time to manually adjust your settings and are not sure which setting is best. Within the Bracket Pro function, you can customize the settings for each of your three bracketed images.
The Multi Frame NR app provides you with an important function when shooting in low light situations. The NR stands for Noise Reduction and what this function does is to shoot several photos of the same image instantaneously and superimpose them in order to create one low noise image. The difference between a standard dimly lit image shot at 1600 ISO and a Multi Frame NR image shot at the same ISO is noticeable. Less pixilated noise and a clearer image with better contrast and well-defined lines is the result. This is a function found on many high end cameras, but with this inexpensive app, it can be available on your NEX-6 as well.
To download these and all future apps for the NEX cameras, simply go to the play memories camera apps portal on the Sony website. Each of these apps needs between 4.0 and 6.0MB of space and a valid Sony Entertainment Network account is required, but that’s an easy thing to take care of. And my feeling is that the PlayMemories App will be around for a long time to come and will continue to bring with it not only new features to the NEX-6 but major upgrades that will add serious functionality to the high resolution, fast autofocus, interchangeable lens Sony NEX-6.