Sony’s most popular APS-C camera has received another update. The design has practically not changed, the resolution of the matrix has remained the same, and the autofocus has been pumped up so that competitors can silently envy. At OrigaZoom, I have reviewed and ground-tested the features, price, design, and ergonomics of ‘Sony a6300‘ camera for our readers.
Alpha a6000, released in the spring of 2014, became Sony’s most massive camera in recent years. As of early 2016, this model alone has almost 10 percent of the US mirrorless camera market. It is still widely available for sale and looks even more attractive in the new economic realities than before.
However, the competitors of Sony are not lagging – and now, exactly two years later, Sony is releasing an updated version – Sony a6300. Of course, it costs more, but if the difference between the old APS-C flagship and the new one does not exceed $350, then in the USA, the new product is twice more expensive.
Sony a6300 Camera in Natural Habitat
We will probably get used to the new prices for a long time, but if we abstract from this and look at the a6300, it turns out that Sony has very clearly identified the elements for the upgrade. Keeping the design unchanged without increasing the sensor resolution, the company has seriously worked on autofocus and improved video recording functions.
So now, it is not just a great device for advanced beginners but a pretty serious tool for professional reportage shooting.
|Specifications||Sony A6300||Sony A6000|
|Class||Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera||Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera|
|Sensor||24 MP, CMOS, APS-C (23.5×15.6 mm)||24 MP, CMOS, APS-C (23.5×15.6 mm)|
|Bayonet||Sony E||Sony E|
|Photo Format||RAW, JPEG (6000×4000)||RAW, JPEG (6000×4000)|
|Video Format||MPEG-4, AVCHD, XAVC S, H.264 4K (3840×2160 @ 30 / 24p) Full HD (1920×1080 @ 120/60 / 30p) HD (1280×720 @ 30 / 25p)||MPEG-4, AVCHD (1920×1080 @ 60 / 30p) HD (1280×720 @ 30 / 25p)|
|Sensitivity Range||ISO 100-25600 (expandable to ISO 51200)||ISO 100-25600 (expandable to ISO 51200)|
|Exposure Range||1/4000 – 30 s||1/4000 – 30 s|
|Burst Shooting||11 frames / s||11 frames / s|
|Screen||3″, 921,000 Points, Tilted Design||3″, 921,000 Points, Tilted Design|
|View-Finder||Electronic, 2.36 million points, 100% coverage of the field of the frame, magnification 0.7x||Electronic, 1.44 million points, 100% coverage of the field of the frame, magnification 0.7x|
|Stabilization||Optical only, depending on optics||Optical only, depending on optics|
|Memory||SD / SDCH / SDXC cards and Memory Stick Pro Duo||SD / SDCH / SDXC cards and Memory Stick Pro Duo|
|Built-in Flash||Yes, guide number 6 m at ISO 100||Yes, guide number 6 m at ISO 100|
|Wi-Fi||Built-in module + NFC||Built-in module + NFC|
|Battery||NP-FW50, 1020 mAh||NP-FW50, 1020 mAh|
|Dimensions||120x67x49 mm||120x67x45 mm|
|Weight||404 gm||344 gm|
Design and Ergonomics
The line’s exterior has gone without radical changes since the days of the NEX-6, and it is from this camera that the entire six thousandth series originates.
At first glance, the a6300 does not differ from the a6000 – about the exact dimensions, the same buttons in the same places, the same dial selectors. But if you take the camera in hand, you will notice that it has become more dense and weighty – there is less plastic and more metal in its design.
The bayonet was reinforced separately. Since the optics for the APS-C matrix (unlike any micro four-thirds) are quite large and heavy, the mount was potentially the weakest point. So Sony took extra insurance for its users.
The keys on the body, although they remained in their places, have become smaller in size. The AEL button is now also responsible for switching the focusing method (AF/MF), and a lever is used to select a function. Not the most elegant solution, but you get used to it quickly.
There were no changes on the top panel: the controls remained in their places and did not change externally. You can only notice an excellent set of modes on the main selector – instead of two automatic modes, one remains, which is called Auto. Plus, two points have appeared, for which all shooting parameters can be set independently – here, the camera should be compared with the A7 full-frame line rather than with the previous a6000.
By the way, in my reviews of the A7, I have repeatedly noted that the release button lacks rigidity with an intermediate position. This can hardly be considered a serious blunder, but it seems that it was not only me who thought so – this shortcoming was eliminated in the a6300. The primary key has slightly less travel to the focus position and requires more force to release.
If you paint over the numerical index of the model on the case, then it will be impossible to distinguish a6000 from a6300 by eye. But is it worth getting upset about this? In my opinion, the camera is in perfect order with ergonomics, and there was simply no need for more radical innovations.
Apple has been releasing the MacBook Pro and Air in the same case for several years in a row, and no one complains. The same, in principle, can be said about Nikon or Canon DSLRs.
Screen and Viewfinder
The display hasn’t undergone any changes since the a6000. Here we still have a 3-inch wide-format sensor with a resolution of 921,000 dots and an inclined design. I cannot say that the screen is terrible, but it is inferior to many competitors from a purely technical point of view. And even some cameras in the budget segment.
Okay, let’s leave alone the resolution and the tilted (not hinged!) design, but why is the display still not touch-sensitive? Even with such perfect autofocus, sometimes touchpoint selection is downright lacking. And it would be more convenient to flip through images in view mode.
The EVF is in its usual place and looks exactly like its counterpart in the Sony a6000. The viewfinder resolution is almost twice as high as before, but this does not affect shooting convenience.
I think a tilted viewfinder like the Panasonic Lumix GX8 would be more helpful. Well, ideally, such a viewfinder should also complement a freely rotating screen.
On the official Sony website, the novelty is “hiding” in the section of cameras for advanced amateurs, but the autofocus system alone does not allow me to agree with this. In the a6000, the hybrid focusing worked well. But there were only 179 points, and here there are as many as 425. And they are located over the entire area of the matrix.
When shooting static scenes with manual focus area selection, none of this matters, but when you switch to tracking mode for shooting moving objects, the camera shows itself in all its glory.
Sony claims about 0.03 seconds for focusing and in parentheses says that the figure is valid only when using a kit lens. I am sure that advanced amateurs will immediately throw it on the shelf or even buy a camera without a lens in the kit. And besides, all this is pure marketing. Think you can tell a hundredth of a second difference by eye? Never in my life.
The burst speed in normal mode is only eight frames per second. I won’t say that this is not enough, but the technical specifications claim 11 fps. How so? It turns out that 11 frames per second can be obtained only with AF locked on the first frame and AE locked.
But, admittedly, tracking focus works flawlessly. The camera is equally good at holding both horizontally moving objects and those approaching and receding. True, if you shoot American football, the automation perfectly “follows” the players but does not want to see the ball point-blank and track its movement across the field.
Yes, Sony claims that the a6300 has a new sensor, not the same as the a6000; it has a traditional structure (no backlighting) but a thinner profile. However, the very nature of the picture allows us to speak instead of a modified version of the camera sensor of 2014. Even the nature of the noise at high sensitivity is very similar. But more on that later.
The sensitivity remained formally the same. ISO can be set from 100 to 51200 units. But if before the maximum could be set only when using multi-frame noise reduction (Multi-Frame Noise Reduction), now you can do without these tricks.
The built-in stabilizer never appeared in the a6300. On mirrorless cameras with APS-C matrices, the picture is stabilized only optically if there is a function in the lens. In contrast, the mechanical stabilization method remains the prerogative of the full-frame cameras of the Alpha A7 family.
It can be added that many Sony E-mount lenses are equipped with stabilizers by default. Even the whale 16-50 F3.5-5.6 boasts Optical SteadyShot marking. But the new “sevens” allow you to use two methods of stabilization at once simultaneously.
The built-in flash is increasingly overboard. The ever-increasing sensitivity of the sensors eliminates the need to shoot with flash, and for creative lighting, you can use an external flash or use studio equipment.
The built-in flash can come in handy for simple synchronization with monoblocs – you don’t need to use a radio synchronizer.
Well, I hope I don’t need to say anything about the built-in Wi-Fi module. The camera is identical to the a6000 the year before last. You can copy photos wirelessly, you can use your smartphone as a remote control, but in practice, copying material is carried out using a card reader. The wireless module can come in handy when you want to upload a photo you just took to the Web quickly.
The video recording capabilities should be mentioned separately. Firstly, the a6300 can shoot video in 4K resolution, namely 3840×2160 at a full 30 frames per second.
Sony is very actively promoting UHD to the masses, but, in my opinion, the function of shooting Full HD video at 120 frames per second will become much more popular. When played back at normal speed, it will slow down four times, which opens up ample opportunities for creativity.
Snapshots and Offline Operation Testing
Although neither an increase in resolution nor an increase in the upper sensitivity level happened, the Sony a6300 demonstrates better results than the a6000. Let me remind you that during the test shooting, one light source is used (incandescent lamp at 30 watts), and noise reduction is completely turned off or used at a minimum if it is impossible to turn it off.
At all values up to ISO 6400, complete order. The color rendition is correct; there is practically no noise.
However, there is not much of it even at ISO 12800, but you can already notice the distortion of colors and narrowing of the dynamic range. This value can still be considered working, but many artifacts appear on 25600 and 51200. Even a two-fold reduction in the size of the picture (up to 3000×2000) gives a visible improvement in quality. And when shooting in RAW, noise can be removed quite successfully in Lightroom or Photoshop.
But examples of shooting in everyday situations I will leave without comment. The shooting conditions were favorable almost everywhere, so here you can find fault with the composition or style of the author rather than the quality of the picture itself.
The quality of video shooting is simply prohibitive, but at the same time, some things in the ergonomics of the camera look not well thought out. For example, it has a microphone jack, but there is nowhere to plug the earphone.
For serious shooting, you need an external recorder, which, firstly, costs money, and secondly, is corny inconvenient when used for advanced amateur purposes.
Another unobvious moment: during the video recording process, autofocus does not work at full strength – it is very likely that it works exclusively in contrast mode.
But to end this conversation is on a positive note: the battery life of the a6300 has increased compared to the a6000. But I won’t say that it is strong – by 10-15% if measured by the CIPA method.
If we talk about the real state of affairs, this is about 500 frames without Wi-Fi and an electronic viewfinder. You can still charge the battery via USB, but there is no longer a separate adapter for charging the battery outside the camera body. So this accessory can be purchased separately if needed.
You may also like to read: Nikon Nikkor Z 24mm f/1.8 S Review: Best Lens for Landscape Photography & Wide Angle Applications
Competitors of Sony a6300
There are many decent models among the system cameras with APS-C sensors. Samsung NX500 is not very similar to the Sony a6300 in appearance, but these devices are very close from a functional point of view. The Korean model boasts a large sensor resolution (if, of course, it is still important), a thinner and lighter body, and an attractive price.
New Sony benefits from autofocus, higher quality shooting at high ISO. But there is also a less obvious advantage: Sony actively develops its cameras, while Samsung does not. Already, the Samsung NX500 is extremely difficult to find on sale, and new lenses and accessories for the NX system will no longer be released.
Fujifilm X-Pro 2
Choosing between the Sony a6300 and the Fujifilm X-Pro 2 can be incredibly difficult. In terms of value for money, the a6300 wins. But if we take into account the quality of the picture and video and the feeling from work, then here the advantage is for Fuji.
The Fujifilm X-Pro 2 is more pleasant to work with; it feels individual, it is pleasing to hold it in your hands, and you do not want to hide it in your bag between shots. After that, the a6300 seems completely faceless.
I must admit that Sony has very competently identified the elements that require improvement. At the time, the Alpha a6000 became so popular due to the perfect balance of price, performance, and ergonomics. The new model adds class-leading autofocus and powerful video capture capabilities.
I would say that the a6300 is the “default option” in the up to $1000 price category. It will satisfy the needs of the vast majority of amateur photographers and even some professionals. Moreover, it will look great as an auxiliary device for those who shoot with a top-end DSLR or medium format camera.
With all this, it’s too early to send the old model to the dustbin of history. I would say that the “a6000” will now be the best anti-crisis proposal for those who need an interchangeable lens camera.
|Fast and clear autofocus in photo mode||No touch screen|
|The clear picture at high ISO||Slow autofocus when shooting video|
|Extensive video recording capabilities||High Price|
Where Could I Buy
Sony a6300 – Photo Gallery
Would you please share your views about the Sony a6300 in the comment and let me know if I missed something in this review article? All of the above are my personal, exclusively subjective impressions about this camera and its features.