Upwardly mobile: Sony a6300 Review
The Sony a6300 is the company's latest mid-range mirrorless camera. Like the a6000 it still offers 24MP resolution but the autofocus ability, video capability, build quality, viewfinder resolution and price have all been increased.
The most exciting change from our perspective is the a6300's new sensor. Although the pixel count remains the same, the a6300's sensor has a whopping 425 phase-detection AF points ranged across the sensor. The a6000 already offered one of the best AF systems in its class, when it comes to identifying and tracking subjects, so an upgrade in this area sounds extremely promising. The sensor is also built using newer fabrication processes that use copper wiring to help improve the sensor's performance and possibly contributing to the camera's slightly improved battery life.
The a6000 has been a huge success and has dominated its field to the extent that its combination of capability and price still looks impressive even as it enters the twilight of its career (Sony says it will live on, alongside the a6300*). That model represented a dip down-market for the series, with a drop in build quality and spec relative to the NEX-6 that preceded it. The a6300 corrects that course, and sees the model regain the high resolution viewfinder and magnesium-alloy build offered by the older NEX-6 (and the level gauge, which was absent from the a6000).
- 24MP Exmor CMOS sensor
- 425 phase detection points to give '4D Focus' Hybrid AF
- 4K (UHD) video - 25/24p from full width, 30p from smaller crop
- 2.36M-dot OLED finder with 120 fps mode
- Dust and moisture resistant magnesium-alloy body
- Built-in Wi-Fi with NFC connection option
- Built-in microphone socket
As with the previous 6-series E-mount cameras, the a6300 features a flip up/down 16:9 ratio screen. The shape of this screen hints at the 6300's intended uses: video shooting, as well as stills. The a6300's movie features have been considerably uprated. It not only shoots 4K (UHD) at 24p or 25p from its full sensor width (or 30p from a tighter crop). It also gains a mic socket, the video-focused Picture Profile system (which includes the flat S-Log2 and S-Log3 gamma curves), and the ability to record time code.
This added emphasis on video makes absolute sense, since the camera's stills performance is likely to be competitive with the best on the market but its video capabilities trounce most of its current rivals. The a6300 not only includes focus peaking and zebra stripes but, if its on-sensor phase detection works well, the ability to re-focus as you shoot with minimal risk of focus wobble and hunting, should make it easier to shoot great-looking footage.
All this makes it hard to overstate how promising the a6300 looks. A latest-generation sensor can only mean good things for the camera's image quality and an autofocus system that moves beyond the performance of one of our benchmark cameras is an enticing prospect. Add to that excellent, well-supported video specifications, a better viewfinder and weather-sealed build, and it's tempting to start planning for the camera's coronation as King of the APS-C ILCs. Perhaps with only the price tag floating over proceedings, threatening just a little rain on that particular parade.
As well as comparing the a6300 with the a6000 as its predecessor/sister model, we'll also look at what you get if you save up a bit more money and opt for full-frame, rather than APS-C. We think at least some enthusiast users will find themselves making this decision, so are highlighting the differences.
|Sony a6000||Sony a6300||Sony a7 II|
|MSRP (Body Only)||$650||$1000||$1700|
|Sensor size||APS-C (23.5 x 15.6mm)||APS-C (23.5 x 15.6mm)||Full Frame (35.8 x 23.9 mm)|
|AF system||Hybrid AF
(with 179 PDAF points)
(with 425 PDAF points)
(with 117 PDAF points)
|Continuous shooting rate||11 fps||11 fps||5 fps|
|Screen||3" tilting 921k dot LCD||3" tilting 921k dot LCD||3" tilting 1.23m dot LCD|
|Viewfinder||OLED 1.44M-dot||OLED 2.36M-dot w/120 fps refresh option||OLED 2.36M-dot|
|Movie Resolution||1920 x 1080 / 60p||4K 3840 x 2160 / 30p, 1920 x 1080 / 120p, 60p||1920 x 1080 / 60p|
|Image stabilization||In-lens only||In-lens only||In-body 5-axis|
|Number of dials||Two||Two||Three (plus Exp Comp.)|
|Maximum shutter speed||1/4000 sec||1/4000 sec||1/8000 sec|
|Flash sync speed||1/160 sec||1/160 sec||1/250 sec|
|Weight (w/battery)||344 g (12.1 oz)||404 g (14.3 oz)||599 g (21.1 oz)|
|Dimensions||120 x 67 x 45 mm (4.7 x 2.6 x 1.8 in.)||120 x 67 x 49 mm (4.7 x 2.6 x 1.9 in.)||127 x 96 x 60 mm (5 x 3.8 x 2.4 in.)|
A hit-for-six, slam-dunk, home-run?
If it's successful in its attempts to step up from the performance of the a6000 then the a6300 could be sensational. However, there are three questions that we'd like to see addressed. The first relates to handling: why does a camera costing this much only have one dial that you can access without changing the position of your grip? The rear dial isn't the worst we've encountered, but at this price point, we'd usually expect to find a dial under the forefinger and another under the thumb while maintaining a shooting grip.
The second relates to lenses. Sony is bundling the a6300 with the 16-50mm power zoom that's far more notable for its convenience than its optical consistency, a move that's likely to raise the question of what other lenses to fit. Sony offers a handful of reasonably priced APS-C-specific prime lenses as well as some more expensive FE-compatible full-frame primes. However, in terms of standard zooms, you're currently limited to the inexpensive 16-50mm, the older 18-55mm at aftermarket prices or considerably more expensive options such as the 18-105mm F4 or the 16-70mm F4 Zeiss that costs around the same amount as the camera again. The success of Sony's full frame a7 cameras is only likely to improve third-party lens availability but there's a risk that Sony's focus will be on those full frame users for the foreseeable future.
Our final concern is the lack of joystick or touchscreen to re-position the AF point. This may be mitigated during stills shooting if the lock-on AF system works well enough (starting AF tracking and then recompose your shot in the knowledge that the AF point will stay where you want it), but it appears to be a real omission for refocusing while shooting video. The a6300 is improved over previous models, in that pressing the center button on the four-way controller toggles into AF point selection mode, a decision that's retained even if you turn the camera off and on again. We'll see how significant all these concerns turn out to be, as the review unfolds.
Price and kit options
|The 16-50mm power zoom is far more notable for its convenience than its optical consistency.|
The a6300 body has a suggested retail price of $1000/£1000/€1250, with a 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 power zoom kit commanding an MSRP of $1150/£1100/€1400. This is a significant step up from the a6000's $650/$800 launch price and even an increase compared to the similarly well-built NEX-6's $750/$900 MSRP.
|17 March 2016||Intro, Specs, Body and Handling, Operations and Control and Studio Comparison published|
|22 March 2016||Updated studio scene images published (inc electronic-shutter and better lens)|
|31 March 2016||Video and Video Shooting Experience pages added|
|6 April 2016||Autofocus, Image Quality, Raw Dynamic Range and Conclusion published|
*Unusually, the manufacturer's claim that it'll live on, alongside its apparent replacement model seems plausible. The differences in spec and price could allow them to sit fairly comfortably alongside one another, rather than the claim simply meaning 'we'll keep saying it's a current model until most of the unsold stock has gone, to avoid angering retailers.'