What a time for the camera-industry! Just following the releases of the top of the line Canon 1D X Mark II, Nikon D5 and D500, all three of which are excellent cameras that are pushing the boundaries of engineering, is very exciting! Sony, it seems, didn't want to miss out either and has also come to the table with some hot innovations. And, unlike the other above-mentioned cameras, chances are you can actually afford it.
So, here we have it – the A6300. It is a successor to the already extremely capable and popular Sony A6000, which was released about two years ago. It features a sensor of the same size (APS-C) and resolution (24MP) but brings significant advances to the technologies behind it and to the autofocus system.
Sony A6300 Key Features
- 24 MP Sensor
- Native ISO up to 51,200
- 4K Video Recording at 30 fps and 100Mbps
- Video 1920 x 1080p at 120 fps
- 11 fps Shooting with AE/AF
- 2.4 million dots 120Hz viewfinder
- 425-point AF System
- Silent shooting
The autofocus system is now called 4D Focus, and it’s capable of locking onto a subject in 0.05 seconds. It also has 425 on-sensor phase-detection points, breaking the world record in this respect and giving you about 100% sensor coverage. In addition to this, it has new refined algorithms for subject tracking, so you can take full advantage of this incredible focus point density which is approximately 7.5 times higher than in the A6000. And if you were previously seeking out a different camera, such as the Canon 7D, to shoot sports and other dynamic scenes, the new Sony may just change that.
It has the same rate of 11fps in continuous mode as it’s predecessor, but given the new autofocus technology you can expect significantly more “keepers” when using it. What’s even more interesting is the new ability to shoot continuously at 8 fps in live-view with very short viewfinder blackout time, allowing you to keep track of your subject and follow it with the camera, so it’s always in the frame. This really is a nice and unique feature bringing the experience with this camera much closer to that of DSLR’s and resolving one of the most significant shortcomings of mirrorless cameras where in a continuous shooting you were only able see the last shot in a sequence, because view finder was just black.
A6300 is also the first of Sony's APS-C cameras that support autofocus with A-mount lenses via an adapter.
As for innovations in sensor technology Sony has said that “the new image sensor employs copper wiring in its structure, which improves light collection efficiency and significantly accelerates readout speed”. We’ll have to wait for the tests to confirm how much of an improvement this sensor has, but most likely it will come very close in performance to the APS-C sensor found in Nikon D5500 which is currently the best in the world (and also happens to be manufactured by Sony). For now all we know is that the native ISO range was boosted to the nominal number of 51,200.
The digital viewfinder also has been updated and now has 2.4 million dots and a refresh rate of 120Hz (meaning it’s able to show 120 frames per second) allowing you to smoothly see and track fast-moving subjects.
On the video side we have the ability to shoot 1080p video with up to 120fps and 50Mbps bitrate and 4k video (3840 x 2160) with 30 or 24fps with the bitrate of 100Mbps. To capture 4k footage it uses the 20MP (6k) area of the sensor and offers a 2.4x oversampled 4K video with full pixel readout. This in practice means sharp and low-noise footage even at high ISOs as almost the entire sensor is used to gather light. It also has many features that are desired by a videographer such as zebra exposure warning, focus peaking in video mode, microphone line input, Gamma Display Assist and picture profiles.
The body design might seem identical to the A6000 but has some key differences. First of all, it’s now made of magnesium alloy and not plastic, allowing for a more rigid construction. The dust and moisture resistance have been also taken into account and improved, although the camera is still not weather or splash sealed.
Sony A6300 will be available in March 2016 for the price of $1000 for body only and $1150 paired with a kit 16-50mm F/3.5-5.6 lens (which we do not recommend for anything but casual snap taking).
For $1000 dollars base price, Sony A6300 is a steal. It has everything you need for amateur video making or sports photography; areas where A6000 was lacking. 9 customizable buttons can be assigned any of 64 functions, giving it a feel of personalization and convenience. With autofocus technology being a breakthrough in the industry, I’m sure that when it comes to head-by-head comparisons A6300 will be second to only the best of the best cameras that are in a price range far above it.
It still lacks full weather-proofing, a second dedicated control dial, and a touchscreen or direct AF point selection. Additionally, Sony’s lens selection (especially for moisture resistant FE lenses) is still narrow but, lucky for us, there are adapters that allow you to use almost any mount lens with it, and in the case of Canon lenses and right adapter even retain the ability to autofocus (slower than with native lenses but still fast enough for portraiture and landscape).
Nevertheless, despite having the above mentioned shortcomings, overall the A6300 is an extremely capable camera that is excellent for travel, portrait, sports and even landscape photography and will be worth every penny.