Sony has just announced the APS-C a6300, an update to the immensely popular a6000. Its technological advances seem poised to break down some of the last remaining strongholds of DSLRs. Sony has released videos demonstrating some of these features on the a6300, including one showing 8 fps live view bursts with AF tracking, a comparison of this mode vs. a DSLR, and another video demonstrating AF with subject tracking in 4K video.

Shooting fast action bursts with a DSLR-esque live feed

The a6300 potentially addresses one of the largest shortcomings of mirrorless cameras for action shooting: the often stop-motion playback of last-shot images, as opposed to a live feed, when shooting continuous bursts.* We recently reported on Nikon's calling out of this particular weak point of mirrorless cameras, so Sony's response in the a6300 today seems timely. Essentially, the a6300 offers a live feed in the EVF or on the LCD during 8 fps continuous shooting, in between short blackouts, with continuous AF. This should make it much easier to both pan the camera and still keep your subject in the frame, or keep your selected AF point(s) over your subject. Have a look at 1:00 in the video below.

Live feed with no blackout at all (a la Nikon 1) is arguably the holy grail for mirrorless, and though Sony hasn't quite gotten there yet, it's taken a giant step toward making action shooting as practical on mirrorless as on DSLR. Furthermore, as Heading of Digital Imaging Neal Manowitz correctly points out in the video clip below, these advances also mean that the advantages of EVF, like immediate exposure preview, can now be combined with the immediacy of an optical viewfinder during action shooting. Especially with the newly updated 120 fps EVF.

Ultimately, how well this live feed works for fast action shooting - especially compared to DSLRs - will be largely dependent on the length of those blackouts between shots. Our initial impressions are very positive though: the blackouts appear very short in duration as we shoot these boxers in action in our hands-on video here. Sony claims that the length of blackouts is competitive when compared to a $1000-class DSLR, and demonstrates this effectively in the direct a6300 vs DSLR shootout at 10:04 in the video below (courtesy of Dave Etchells): 

While a comparison against a $1000 DSLR might seem like a relatively low bar, the fact that Sony is getting a live feed off the sensor at all in between shots at 8 fps represents significant progress in the realm of mirrorless cameras. In comparison, a DSLR doesn't have to do anything but return the mirror to get you this 'live feed' through the optical viewfinder between shots. This is one reason many action photographers have stuck with DSLRs: the live feed in between shots helps a photographer follow moving subjects to either keep them in the frame or to keep the selected AF point over the subject. The technology in the a6300 seems poised to remove DSLR's stronghold in this regard.

Autofocus subject tracking

The a6300 also appears to have impressive AF subject tracking accuracy, following not just the dog but the dog's face in the demo video above. We'll reserve judgement until we get our hands on one, but previous Sony cameras had a tendency to wander off to other areas of the subject when using general subject tracking, so the results presented in this video indeed appear impressive in comparison. The expansive 425-point array also mean the camera can track the subject to almost any point in the frame, and all of these points purportedly work with A-mount lenses mounted via a LA-EA3 adapter (we expect Canon mount lenses to work as well, with appropriate adapters).**

Autofocus in video

Sony has also released a video demonstrating impressive AF in 4K video recording with native mount lenses. There appears to be little hunting, with fast refocusing and even subject tracking available during movie recording. Have a look below.

This should be a boon for videographers, assuming Sony now allows one to easily specify the subject before tracking it. On the note of specifying a subject, it's a huge shame that a touchscreen isn't paired with this capable video AF system for focus point selection.

At least on paper, we think that these advances mark some significant progress for mirrorless (it's too bad we can't say the same for the a6300's ergonomics), and we'll be curious to see how the systems perform when we get our hands on a production a6300.

* To be fair, this isn't the first mirrorless to provide a live feed in between shots in bursts: for example the Nikon 1 provides a live feed with no blackouts at all. It's just the first larger-sensor camera to do so at such high frame rates, and with - it appears - very short blackouts.

** It remains to be seen if subject tracking is available in any mode save for 'Wide' with 3rd party lenses though: subject tracking has been severely limited with 3rd party glass on the a7 II and a7R II due to the inability of the photographer to specify the subject, since it's only available in Wide area mode.