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A solution to the NEX-6 firmware 1.02 upgrade fail on Mavericks

A solution to the NEX-6 firmware 1.02 upgrade fail on Mavericks

| On 06, Nov 2013

A cautionary tale. I hope this helps you, if not, please comment.
This afternoon I borrowed an NEX-6 from Sony to take on a trip next week. You can see my video review here.
The NEX-6 is a “smart” camera. It has Wi-Fi and the Sony Entertainment portal has apps you can download. So cool – although it’s been around for a while, this is my first time to try it out. Some apps are free, the rest cost $5 to $10. I’ll start with the free ones.
When I got home, I initialized the NEX-6 back to factory settings so that I’m not undoing what someone else has done and also to get the full configuration and setup experience. I suppose all camera reviewers do this. I go to the camera’s apps menu, log the camera into my Wi-Fi network and connect to the Sony apps portal. Entering your password on a camera with a navigation dial to get around a virtual keyboard isn’t much fun.
I’m confronted by a message telling me to upgrade the firmware. “Of course”, I say to myself, “should have thought of that.” I login to the Sony website (my tip here: use the site) and download the version 1.02 firmware to my Mac, which is running OSX 10.9 (Mavericks). You see where this is going, right?
I follow instructions, connecting the camera to my Mac with USB and everything goes smoothly. The upgrade is in progress with the screen prompt “don’t unplug the camera from USB”. About one-third complete, another prompt appears indicating that the update has failed. It instructs me to remove the battery, relaunch the updater app and try again. I panic, I think – the battery wasn’t charged enough! I change to another charged battery.
But at this point, the camera is frozen. No response to any activity. It doesn’t turn on. “What the heck”, I say and follow the instructions and try again. To no avail. The camera is a brick.
Google is my friend, so I type in “nex-6 firmware 1.02 fail”, there are several links to Sony, which are just the links to the download, and then a link to a thread on a forum which echoes my experience. Apparently the firmware upgrade app is not compatible with Mavericks unless you’re in 32 bit mode. Someone describes how to get into 32-bit mode, but it’s not clear that will resolve a bricked camera.
In a few minutes I’ve found a better solution in another thread, where they did unbrick an NEX-5. Use Windows 8 or 7. Easier said than done for this Mac devotee, and I’m hoping that my Windows 8 Parallels instance will do a good enough job of pretending to be a Windows PC.
Sadly, no. I download the firmware upgrade and start the upgrade app, but it crashes the entire Parallels Windows 8 VM. Maybe I was supposed to use the Windows 8 32-bit version? I download that and try again. Sadly, no. Another Parallels crash. Onto a Windows 7 instance in VMWare – my last hope before trying to find a friend who has a real Windows PC. No need to ask why I have both Parallels and VMWare instances …
Luckily, as promised in the thread, the camera somehow responds to the Windows 7 connection, the upgrade initializes and performs the upgrade successfully.
Phew. I’m downloading apps now. More to come …


  1. Hi there, so according to you if I start the updated directly in. 32 bit I risk to brick the camera? cheers Andrew

  2. You may wish to consult some other sources. I was in 64 bit mode. If the camera bricks, you’ll need Windows to restore – as per my experience above.

  3. fastasleep

    The firmware updater kept crashing when I’d open it in Mavericks. I tried a Win 7 VM in Parallels, but that’d bluescreen Windows itself. 🙂 Then saw the article on the Sony page when I went back there — you have to boot in the 32bit kernel. All you have to do is reboot your Mac while holding the 3 and 2 keys. Firmware updater works — even though my camera was “bricked”, i.e.. stuck on the black screen. It just finished the job on the Mac that I had started on the Win 7 updater.

    • Maarten

      Thanks for adding your details to this story. Glad to hear it ended well.

  4. Steve

    I too had the same problem.. tried from an OSX VM of Win10, then a Linux VM of WinXP.. but bricked after the OSX hosted Win10 attempt. Once I tried upgrading firmware on my Neighbours native Windows 8 (I think) machine, recovered.. Phew.. so Phew. Was starting to prepare myself for either a Sony repair at £117, or buying a used version of the Nex-5 for £100…

    • Maarten

      Thanks, I’m still not successful in connecting my camera to the Sony Playmemories site on my iMac – it seems to work only with Windows.

  5. I had the same problem on my Mac. Total fail until I tried restarting and holding down 3 and 2. Had all applications closed. Launched the firmware updater. Then turned on camera and plugged in. Amazingly, the update process just picked up where it was and kept going. Finally the a6000 screen came on. Update complete and camera working!

    • Maarten

      Thanks for adding this additional information. Glad to hear all is well now.

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