Photography / Hands-on Review

Hands-On Review: Sony a6300 Mirrorless Camera

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Since its introduction, Sony’s flagship a6000 has proven to be one of the most popular APS-C format cameras on the market, and deservedly so. Fast-forward two years and Sony has released the a6300, a camera that is markedly better in a number of ways than the camera it replaces.

Aside from a few tweaks to the layout of the control dials and buttons on the top and rear panels, and a modest (2.2oz) increase in weight, the a6000 and a6300 are nearly identical—the big changes are internal.

Building façade along Manhattan’s High Line; f/8.0; 1/250; ISO 100

According to the numbers, the a6300’s all-new 24.2MP Exmor CMOS sensor actually contains slightly fewer pixels when compared to the 24.3MP sensor used in the a6000. Nevertheless, thanks to improved wiring technologies resulting in better signal-to-noise ratios, larger photodiodes, and an updated BIONZ X image processor, the new a6300 captures image files that are cleaner and perceptually sharper, with less image noise.

The biggest shakeup is in the autofocus department. The a6000 featured 198 phase detection points and 25 contrast detection points. The a6300 features a new High-Density AF Tracking system, 4D FOCUS, that sports 425 phase detection points and 169 contrast detection points, which in practice makes a huge difference.

The camera’s new High-Density Tracking AF system surrounds the subject with about 7.5-times as many active AF focus points as the a6000, resulting in higher levels of AF speed and accuracy. The a6300 focuses fast and without a hint of hesitation.  

During my time with the camera I didn’t detect any focus searching—even when shooting after dark. The AF system in the a6300 is that good. The a6000 wasn’t a slouch by any measure, and the a6300 is better yet.

The a6300’s AF system isn’t the only feature on the fast-lane; you can now capture up to 11 fps in continuous capture mode or a choice of up to 8 fps when shooting in Live View. At 11 fps, image capture becomes near-cinematic—think high-definition movie stills. Equally important: I was able to hold focus throughout each of the sequences I captured with the camera.



 


 


 


 


 


 

Cyclist maneuvering through a construction zone at 8 frames per second; f/7.1; 1/125; ISO 250

For shooting in theaters and other sound-sensitive locations, the Sony a6300 has a Silent Shooting mode, which allows you to capture up to 3 fps with full AF and AE Tracking.

If you tend to photograph people, you might want to try the camera’s Eye AF feature, which tracks focus of your subject’s eyes when shooting in continuous mode. The camera also has an Expandable Flexible Spot feature that automatically redirects select focus points if you should momentarily lose focus tracking on your subject.

For composing stills and video, Sony’s a6300 features a 2.4-million dot XGA OLED electronic viewfinder. Alternately, you can use the camera’s 3.0” 921,600-dot LCD, which can be tilted 90° up and about 45° down. I found myself going back and forth between the two, depending on the situation.

It seems as though half of the High Line is a construction zone. One building is finished and another one sprouts up on the opposite side of the path; f/7.1; 1/100; ISO 100

For critical focusing when shooting at wide apertures and close subject-to-lens distances, the a6300 features a focus magnifier that can be engaged in manual as well as in AF mode. I find this feature particularly handy for checking focus when shooting with wide-angle and longer focal length lenses set to their maximum apertures. The resolving power of modern EVFs and LCDs is remarkable, but nonetheless, when shooting with mirrorless cameras, I like having the option of focusing tight on the details.

 The native ISO sensitivity of the new camera remains ISO100, but it now tops out at ISO51200, which is a stop faster than the a6000. Like the a6000, the a6300 provides 16-bit image processing and compressed 14-bit raw output. A new and noteworthy feature found on the a6300 is the option to set a minimum shutter speed when shooting in Auto ISO mode. If you plan on shooting fast-moving subjects—especially under low light conditions, this is a feature you’ll want to engage.

A night shot of a sewer grating, in New Brunswick, NJ; f/7.1; 0.4"; ISO 400

For stills, Sony’s a6300 offers a choice of JPEG compressions, along with the option to shoot raw and RAW+JPEG.

If you’re into video, don’t feel ignored. Sony’s a6300 captures 4K video in the Super 35mm format with full pixel readout and no pixel binning, which allows for about 2.4-times as much data as required for 4K capture (QFHD: 3840 x 2160).

You also have the ability to capture Full HD 1080p recording in frame rates up to 120 fps, with AF tracking at a bit rate of 100 Mbps, or 4x/5x slow-motion video internally with a frame rate of 30 or 24 fps.

The a6300 also offers the flexibility of S-Gamut/S-Log shooting for post-production color grading. To minimize whiteout and blackout, the S-Log3 and S-Log2 gamma curves feature a dynamic range of up to 1300%, with a 14-stop latitude in S-Log3. The camera also has a Gamma Display Assist feature, which allows you to display scenes with natural contrast levels while recording with S-Log settings.

Lots of triangles on this wood pedestrian path, Johnson Park, Piscataway NJ; f/13.0; 1/60; ISO 200


 

Other noteworthy video features found on the new a6300 include an Enhanced Zebra function, and Clean HDMI output that supports 4K and Full HD for uncompressed video that can be output to external recorders and monitors.

In addition to a built-in mic jack, the a6300 offers support for an optional XLR adapter kit for use with higher-fidelity microphone systems, which is atypical for cameras in this class.

No doubt, a percentage of Sony fans will be disappointed to learn there’s no touch screen on the a6300. Personally speaking, I can live without a touch screen, but I do wish the LCD had a swivel mount, which would enable high and low-angle viewing when shooting in landscape and portrait mode.

Out in the field, the Sony a6300 handles quite well. If you’re familiar with Sony’s menu system, the camera will feel quite familiar to you. If you’re new to Sony, fear not—the menus are pretty straightforward and shouldn’t be a challenge to learn.

If you can’t wait to get home before you start sharing your pictures with the world, the a6300 has a One-Touch picture sharing function, enabling you to wirelessly transfer pictures to your tablet or smartphone. All you need to do is upload Sony’s PlayMemories Mobile app to any Android-based device, tap it against your camera, and it’s done.

A wonderful play of reflected light on the West Side of Manhattan; f/7.1; 1/60; ISO 100

You can also use your smartphone or tablet as a remote viewfinder and shutter release.

Our test camera came with a Carl Zeiss 16-70mm f/4 Vario-Tessar ZA OSS zoom lens, which has the same field-of-view range as a 24-105mm zoom on a full-frame camera. The lens performed well, although I wish it focused closer on more than a few occasions. I would also be curious to see how the new sensor performs with some of Sony’s premium fixed focal length lenses.

 
f/10.0; 1/60; ISO 125
 
f/11.0; 1/125; ISO 250

Paint peeling off of fire hydrants and old brick walls along 12th Avenue, in Manhattan

The Sony a6300 is a solid-feeling camera, and is reportedly built to tougher standards than its predecessors. Sealed against dust and moisture, the a6300’s chassis is made of magnesium alloy, as are the rear and top plates of the camera body. The camera’s lens mount is made of stainless steel, and the camera’s grip is large enough to fill a mid-size hand.

Something I had a hard time with personally is the location of the video button on the upper right corner of the camera back. It’s in the right spot, but proved hard to turn on and off on more than a few occasions. Again, speaking for myself, I wish the video button was a tad larger and better defined from its surroundings.

The only other issue I encountered with the test camera had to do with exposure. Although my exposures were consistent, they ran 0.3 to 0.7-stops brighter than I prefer. A simple adjustment of the exposure compensation dial solved the problem.

Detail, rear lights on a Bolt Company bus; f/10.0; 1/125; ISO 160

The Sony a6300 accepts Memory Stick Duo and SD-series memory cards and is compatible with more than two dozen Sony full-frame and APS-C format E-mount lenses. And being a mirrorless camera, you can adapt just about any lens made in the past century onto this camera. 

The Sony a6000 was and remains responsible for winning over a lot of Sony converts. Was the new a6300 worth the wait? My answer is “Yes.”

Discussion 57

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I would like to know if sony has improved the battery consumption rate in the A6300. I have the A6000 and I need a pocket full of batteries for a day worth of shooting.

The a6300 has improved battery life, yes.  It would be roughly an 11-14% improvement. 

I currently have the Sony A 6000 and have used it more for video -- specifically to shoot sports.  I found shooting still pics with this camera is a little frustrating becuase of the lag time between taking picures. I hear the a6300 is more responsive than the 6000 was.  Is that true?  Also, is the mic placement on the 6300 better?  The sound from the 6000 was not that great in capturing the "nat sound" of the events I was shooting when hearing what people were saying.

I am a plastic surgeon and take a lot of pictures during surgery (pretty close range - 1-2 feet) and also some close ups (skin cancers and scars) and also in the office - whole body and portrait - 3 feet. Can you recommend an appropriate lens? I am not sure whether to buy the kit lens. For the past few years, I've been through the Sony RX100 M1, M2, M3. This is my first non-point and shoot. Also wound you recommend the Nissin i40S flash? 

The Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS SEL90M28G is suited for close work and has gotten excellent reviews. It is a prime lens, not a zoom, and at 90mm will allow close-ups from a distance.

Hello Sarah. Sorry, I should clarify: the Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS SEL90M28G is a full-frame lens best for a Sony A7, a7II or A7R. Kit lenses such as the Sony E 18-55mm will not give you super sharp images but will suffice for E mount Sony cameras such as the a6000 or a6300.

The a6300 with the kit lens would be a good option for starting out and taking whole body/portrait shots.  For the close up shots, a macro lens would be the best option.  As Rich Rivera mentioned, the Sony FE 90mm f/2.8 would be a great option for a macro lens.  It has excellent optics, and would be good for close up shots of skin.  Nissin makes some of the best third party flashes on the market, and the Nissin i40 would be a solid option for the a6300.  For the close-up skin shots, you might want to also consider a ring light. 

I can live without a touch screen, but I do wish the LCD had a swivel mount, which would enable high and low-angle viewing when shooting in landscape and portrait mode.

No references to how disapointing the rolling shutter skew performance is?

Hi PiDstr,

There were no references because I lacked enough first-hand experience with the issue to dissapoint you.

Unfortunately the camera was here for a short stay and has since moved on.

If we should get an opportunity to dig deeper into the rolling shutter skew performance question we'll get back to you!

AW

looks like a great camera with many outstanding bells and whistles. Sony continues to innovate at good price points and timely new updates. One thing to keep in mind when deciding to dive in is the level of customer service. There was a recent Australian pro that knocked Sony's service. Also said that it seems that way worldwide. Interesting. Food for thought. 

As for the customer service issue, my guess is Sony will be rethinking their methodology after this bad press. Time will tell - stay tuned.

I've been looking at getting the 7rII, but now that I see the 6300, I am considering this one instead. I primarily do wildlife photography and am currently using a Nex5t, but am constantly frustrated with the autofocus and use manual adjustment, even on most of my still subjects. I know I need to upgrade, but am not sure what will be best for me. The biggest differences I'm seeing between the 6300 and the 7rII are:  1) sensor size 2) megapixels and 3) internal stabilization.  I'm struggling to decide if it is worth it to save the extra $$ for the 7rII or go ahead and get the 6300 and spend any extra $$ on some additional glass?  How much difference will the internal stabilization make on still photography? Ultimately, are the differences worth the extra $2k for the 7rii?  (I'm a hobby photographer, but do occasionally enter art shows.)

If u shoot wildlife the you'll want the crop factor yo get more reach out of your lenses like the 70-200.

Get the a6300 I forgot to say ,sorry

In their review of the camera, Johnnie Behiri at Cinema5d suggests that the camera doesn't have clean HDMI out. In the "cons" section of his review, he says, "EVF and LCD will go blank while connecting an external recorder/monitor via HDMI (only overly information will be shown in REC mode)" However in your review, you say it does have clean hdmi output. I wonder who's right on this issue? Using it for video work mainly, the camera would be useless to me if you couldn't properly use an external monitor. https://www.cinema5d.com/sony-a6300-review-real-world-video-first-impressions/

Hi Tom,

I didn't have an opportunity to personally check this feature out but according to Sony the a6300 does in fact have a clean HDMI out. We no longer have the camera here but I will look further into the issue and report back to you if I find information that indicats otherwise.

AW

It looks like the camera does not have GPS, is that correct!?!? If so, will there be GPS in the future?

Sorry Angie - the a6300 does not have GPS functionality.

As for the future, we can only make suggestions...

AW

No gps most mfgs are taking it put as it uses up even more battery. Folks forget to turn it on, and it takes forever to acquire signal unlike your cell phone. Just use the map module in lightroom to geotag after or use a tracklog app to get a gpx file to import into Lightroom to tag automatically after. Easy enough. Too many would scream for the less battery power it was included. It also takes up space and would mean a bigger form factor body.

Hi everyone, I read an ad on the Sony a6300 and was impresed ....but then again, it doesn't take much to impress me since I don't currently own a digital camera, and know very little about them. What I do know, is I am in the market for a digital camera, and love high quality in anything I buy.I was ready to order this camera, but was stopped in my tracks when I read I could send photos to my ANDROID SMARTPHONE and other ANDROID DEVICES....  PROBLEM: Since I like the idea of sending photos to or thru my smartphone which is an Apple Iphone and my computer is Mac, does that mean this camera is not for me?

You can send photos to iphone and Mac too. I have the a6000 (previous model) and tested this capability.  

M R is correct the Camera will set up it's own wifi and the iphone and ipad will connect to it, then with the Sony PlayMemories iOS app, it can transfer one, some or all the images on the card/camera. Which then is added automatically to your Photos cloud, which then will automatically sync to your Photos app on your Mac. This is more for lower res images, full res images take too much time and space on transfers and devices but can be done. You can transfer full res this way but it will transfer the JPG and not RAW. If you want the raw in the Photos App and iCloud, you'll need to plug in the camera or card in directly to your mac. You can choose on the PlayMemories app in Settings > PlayMemories > Copy Image Size: options are Original, 2M and VGA

The A6000 has a useless panorama capability.  Erratic error messages - too fast or too slow to make a panorama. I am not aware of any fixes - Sony Customer Servive, on-line forums, or third party instruction info. sites.  

Does the A6300 fix this problem?

Hi there, I have the A6000 and also a Nikon D750 full frame. The key questions after reading this article are: 1.) Is this worth upgrading to from the A6000 if I am mostly using the camera for still photography and videos only occasionally. 2.) How is this camera going to fare against a comparison with the upcoming Nikon D500? Both have 4K, somewhat similar burst rate, somewhat similar megapixel count, somewhat similar boast of better autofocus. Obviously one is half the price of the other and also half in dimension. But performance?

Hey Guys'  I've been drooling over the Sony A7s for some time and I'm aware that they even make a MrkII of the "s" version of the A7 but it's just out of my price range.  I NEVER knew that the A6000 even existed, now I see this A6300 and (it's very low price tag)  I am ONLY interested in using this for VIDEO!  so can you explain if this suffers in any way to the A7s (other than being ONLY APSc sensored) ?  because if it's basically the same (to the A7's in APSc mode) then I'm buying one!!!!  I would REALLY like to know Icould care less about the "hood ornament" aspect of owning the A7s... but I want the same performance (end result) as the camera.  If this 6300 can do that, I'm a happy man

A7S2 is the kind of low light/high iso+low noise for video and stills. Bit it's only 12mp.skip the 1st gen of Amy of the a7 series its old outdated tech now. The mk2's are a huge step up in tech. If you shoot lots of video the s7s2 is your baby but if mainly stills then get the a6300. The 6300 doesn't have the ibis in body stabilization like in the new version 2 of the a7 series do you'll need you will need to buy the OSS stabilized Sony lenses for best performance on the 6300 or have very steady hands.

Allen - You've had your hands on the camera and have seen the menus.  Is true there is no menu option to turn off RAW compression?  I've seen conflicting information on this.

Hey BobG,

Unfortunately I don't recall if RAW compression can be turned off or not and the camera has long since gone back to Sony.

I'll try to find out and report back to you!

-AW

Thanks Allen.  My copy of the a6300 should be in my hands later this week.  Maybe I can report back myself when it arrives.

BobG

Yes the new firmware of sony let's you choose uncompressed or compressed raw on the a7r2. Don't know about 6300. Check dpreview site.

I was told by my camera shop salesperson that E mount lenses for Sony full frame cameras (7R, etc) are compatible with APS but that image would be cropped/vignetted. Is this true? 

No. Using Full frame lenses have a focus area circle larger than the APC-S sensor. Vignetting happens using a lens designed specifically for Digital format on a 35 mm format sensor since it's focus circle does not cover the whole FF sensor

That's backwards.  Its APS lenses on a FF camera that will be cropped/vignetted. 

Alright so what adaptor do I need to use Sony's full frame lenses on the 6300?

the A6000 and 6300 both use Sony's E-mount, this is perfectly compatible with Sony's E-Mount lenses designed for their full frame mirrorless cameras (the A7 series).  No adapter is needed.  However, I believe you do need an adapter to use the Sony A-mount lenses which are designed for the DSLR Alpah series cameras.

Will the silent shutter option work with A-mount Sony lenses paired with the Sony LAEA4 adapter?

So I can use the E mount lenses that I use on my 7r with no issues?

Yes. ( no adapter needed or any other issues ) And even most A mount and Canon EF lenses WITH the proper adapters.

The E mount lens will mount to an FE (7R) camera and work fine, but the lens won't cover the whole FF sensor.  The 7R cameras adust automatically so that only an APS-sized portion of the sensor is used by the camera when an E lens is mounted.

Just so I am clear,  I can use mmy canon EF lens?  (With proper adapter)

Sorry, I was thinking Sony E and FE lenses.  A Canon Full Frame or APS lens should work fine with a smart adapter like the new Sigma, but I can't speak from personal experience.

Yes bit it will be slow for some older Canon tech lenses. See the blog by Brian Smith. He tested out all the adapters with Canon glass for his findings. Check out the metabobes version IV adapter or Fotodiox Pro adapters for best performance

Besides a whole lot of Leica lenses I have 5 lenses with EF mount which I use on my A7II; two Canon Zooms and three Zeiss primes, I use the Metabones adapter. Expensive but worth it. The Zeiss Apo Sonnar 135/2 is insanely sharp.

One good thing about Sony's the battery compatibility.  No excuse not have several spares around.

Agreed. I used my A7R II batteries as back-ups while working on this camera review.

I have a Sony A-65, which has some frustrating limitations. In spot metering, you cannot move the focal point from the center of the screen. Is this true of the new camera? Also, how many focal points are there?

Can you point out any differences in the controls between the new camera and the A-65?

Am I correct in thinking that this camera is more sophisticated than my current model?

Any software needed for slog3 video grading

You did not discuss if the FE lens are usable on this camera.

right in the article

and is compatible with more than two dozen Sony full-frame and APS-C format E-mount lenses.

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