Most importantly in the a6300, Sony has increased autofocus speed, video resolution (obviously), overall build quality, viewfinder resolution and, naturally enough, price from what we found in the Full HD-recording 2014 a6000 camera. In many other regards however, both shooters are very similar, with the same 24.2 megapixel maximum photo resolution, and the tradition of offering one truly spectacular autofocus, which in the a6300 has been massively augmented, as we’ll see in just a bit. Overall, the a6300 has also retaken the move towards consistently increasing build quality which was lost slightly between Sony’s NEX-6 and the a6000. How with the a6300, we’re once again seeing specs like magnesium alloy construction and superior viewfinder resolution which indicate that this new and affordable 4K mirrorless camera will not only also be a bestseller but also one of the better high quality 4K mirrorless models for this year .
Next up, the a6300 has really moved up its image processing technology from what was found in the a6300’s predecessor camera, with a new Bionz X image engine which is the same as that found in the absolutely top-shelf Sony A7R II mirrorless professional camera. Along with this, there is also a powerful new ISO level at work in the a6300, which sits at 51,200. While in practical terms, ISO is nearly useless at anywhere near these maximum levels, the fact that the maximum has been expanded allows for useful lower ISO settings to manage far better performance in low light with minimal grain. In the case of the a6300, practical ISO performance during even high shutter speed shooting in low lighting is quite impressive, offering sharp shots of even fast motion under weak lighting but with minimal to nearly nonexistent granulation/graininess.
Moving along, the a6300 also offers some superb 4K UHD video recording capacity and of course also delivers video shooting in Full HD at varying frame rates. Thus for different needs you can select among 4K 3840 x 2160 at 25p (full sensor) and 30p (cropped) or 1920 x 1080 at 120p and 60p, meaning that slow motion video is also possible in Full HD. Whichever resolution is used in the a6300, the video quality is superb in terms of both color and compression, with excellent brightness in low light (though not quite of the caliber we’ve seen in some of Sony’s a7 mirrorless camera models) and superb sharpness. In the a6300, Sony’s rekindled emphasis on video quality in the a6 camera line is clearly visible and other cool extras like refocusing a video during shooting and focus peaking allow for plenty of excellent video recording.
Finally, we love the physical build of the a6300. The a6000 was an excellent and tough camera but this new version comes with an even better, hardier magnesium-alloy body that has been sealed for great resistance to bad weather, moisture and dust or grit. Furthermore, the a6300 is physically compact in a very easy to handle way that lets you grip the camera firmly even while moving quickly to capture those perfect shots in telephoto, macro or conventional landscape photography. After prolonged use, this writer dropped his model only twice through sheer dumb clumsiness and it should be noted that the camera handled both falls to a hard floor with no notable damage or performance failures afterwards.
THE BADWhile the Son y a6300 is by almost any definition a camera it’s easy to quickly fall in love with, it’s not without its annoying flaws.
First of all and possibly most annoying because we’ve noted it in other Sony shooters, there’s the whole issue of selecting a focus point for the AF system. It’s simply cumbersome and Sony has never fixed this in any mirrorless model we’ve seen so far, including the a6000 from 2014 and now even the a6300! Changing the AF point can’t be done by touch screen adjustment, can’t be done through any sort of joystick control and thus the only way to handle AF adjustment is by pressing the center button on the back button/dial combo and then toggling the selection for AF around to what you’d like. This is not at all efficient or easy to do during rapid-fire photography sessions and if it weren’t for the fortunate fact that the a6300 has an excellent and mostly intelligent lock-on AF tracking system, this whole AF selection issue would be a serious detriment to this camera.
Next, we don’t entirely like that the a6300 comes with only one dial for controls that can be accessed without changing grip during shooting. This is the main rear dial and accessing it for photo or video adjustments is difficult to do without lowering the camera from your face and playing with the dial. You can also move the controls by touch and see what you’re adjusting through the OLED viewfinder but this can be clumsy while also causing some eyestrain (from looking at the different ISO, shutter speed etc options in the viewfinder superimposed over your scene in the viewfinder display.
Finally, we’d argue that the standard issue 16-50mm power zoom lens which comes included with most sales models of the a6300 could use some improvement. It’s convenient for a wide range of shooting options but definitely leaves open the near necessity of getting your hands on at least one more powerful zoom and possibly one Macro lens for the a6300. Both of these additional E-mount-compatible lenses are going to be pricey (with a 18-105mm FR Zeiss model costing almost as much as the a6300 camera body itself) but if you want to do some serious photography or video recording, you’ll need at least one or possibly both since the a6300’s 16-50mm standard power zoom model is weak at shooting more distant action and offers surprisingly poor macro functionality.
• Camera Format: compact changeable lens mirrorless
• Max Photo resolution: 24.2 megapixels (7952 x 5304 pixels)
• Sensor Type/size: CMOS APS-C (23.5 x 15.6mm)
• File formats:
• Photo: JPEG, RAW
• Audio: AAC LC, AC3, Dolby Digital 2ch, Linear PCM (Stereo)
• Movies: AVCHD Ver. 2.0, MP4, XAVC S
• Supported memory cards:
Memory Stick PRO Duo (High Speed)
Memory Stick PRO HG-Duo
• Image Stabilization: Sensor-Shift, 5-Way
• Photo Resolution: 6000 x 4000 (24.2 megapixels)
• Video Resolution:
3840 x 2160: 30 fps, 24 fps, 25 fps
1920 x 1080: 60 fps, 30 fps, 24 fps, 50 fps, 25 fps
1280 x 720: 120 fps, 100 fps
• Focus Type: Auto and Manual focus
• Autofocus points: 399 phase detection and 25 contrast detection points
• Viewfinder: OLED 2.36M-dot w/120 fps refresh option
• ISO: Auto, 100-25600 (Extended Mode: 100-51200)
• AF System: Hybrid AF (with 425 PDAF points)
• Continuous shooting: Up to 11 fps at 24.2 MP for up to 21 frames in raw format
Up to 11 fps at 24.2 MP for up to 44 frames in JPEG format
Up to 8 fps
Up to 6 fps
Up to 3 fps
• Shutter: Speed: 1/4000 – 30 seconds, electronic and manual
• Flash: extendable flash, accessed by button
• Connectivity: WiFi, NFC, also includes 1/8″ Headphone, 1/8″ Microphone, AV / USB Multi, HDMI D (Micro)
• Weight with battery and memory card: 404 g (14.3 oz)
• Dimensions: 4.7 x 2.6 x 1.9″ (main body, excluding protrusions)
Additionally, you’ll need to get your hands on a memory card such as one of SanDisk’s or Kingston’s models and for this we’d also recommend at least 64GB and a class 10 version if possible. Finally, because of the somewhat limited telephoto and macro capacities of the 16-50mm standard power zoom lens which comes with the a6300, we strongly recommend buying either a 16-70mm or 18-105mm F4 Zeiss lens model or one of Sony’s own Nex 55-210mm F4.5-6.3 Sony E-mount lenses, none of which are cheap but any one of which will go a long way towards a much more versatile photo shooting experience in the field. Or, on the other hand if you’re more interested in wide angle and macro photography, great and reasonably priced options include the Alpha E-mount E 30mm F/3.5 Macro Lens and a Sigma 19 mm f/2.8 Prime lens for a range of photography options.
4K (UHD) video – 25/24p to 30p from smaller crop: The internal 4K UHD video recording chops of the a6300 are something that also impresses, with the camera having the ability to shoot in multiple frame rates of either 30p for cropped video and 24/25p in full sensor mode. Additionally, the Super35mm recording area and effective 20 megapixel total resolution available for video allows for 2.4x oversampling that means greater detail, full pixel readout and some very high quality video with little moire and aliasing. Full HD video recording is also supported in the a6300 at 100Mbps in the XAVC S format at 120fps, which also means that you can grab some excellent 4x to 5x slow motion video if needed, with the frame rate set to 30p or 24p.
425 phase detection points to give ‘4D Focus’ Hybrid AF: This is the feature Sony is most hyping about the new a6300 and the company claims this camera to have the world’s fastest AF tracking system in any mirrorless camera model on sale today. We’re hard-pressed to doubt this given that the 4D Focus system allows for a whopping 425 on-ship phase detection points with 169 contrast-detection areas. Through these, the precise focus speed itself in AF is downright stunning at 0.05 seconds. We should also note that the sheer density of focus points in this hybrid AF system allows for some seriously high-density tracking AF functionality, which is especially useful for moving objects and action sequences even in low or variable light situations, and the 4D Focus system in the a6300 is excellent at using lock-on AF for maintaining specific focus on moving subjects under some very variable and difficult conditions.
ISO 51200: While the a6300 comes with a native ISO of 25600 just like its predecessor the a6000, this can be expanded to 51200 for some even further enhanced low-light power. Now, while nobody is going to pull anything resembling decent video from the camera at an ISO anywhere near the a6300’s maximum range, the enhanced setting does mean that solid, low noise photography is possible even with ISO ratings as high as 10,000 and maybe even 12,800 at a slight stretch of your definition of tolerably noise. In particularly dark conditions, the a6300 can get away with decently clean high speed still shots at ISO levels of up to 6400.
Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC: Finally, the Sony a6300 also comes with built-in WiFi for instantly sharing photos to mobile devices or direct upload to social media sites and email attachment files. Or you can do uploads directly to a cloud storage site. On the other hand, the sheer size of the 24 megapixel still photos you grab with this camera will mean a fairly slow upload speed for transfer to any device or page through WiFi. Furthermore, NFC (Near Field Communication) is also supported in the a6300, which means one-touch connection between camera and a compatible mobile phone or tablet for live view display on your larger device screen and the benefit of remote shutter control.
OVERALL PERFORMANCEOverall, the a6300 is one absolutely solid performer almost across the board. Photo shooting options are varied and flexible enough for a wide range of low light, action, landscape, sports, dance and even fashion photography needs while the video recording versatility of this compact mirrorless camera is definitely up to the usual high quality standards we’ve come to expect from Sony. The sheer number of AF points and the insanely fast focus speed of 0.05 seconds combine to deliver particularly excellent action photography in a camera with such a reasonable price tag.
What we also love about the a6300 is how well it handles under rugged and fast-paced conditions. With its small size, this camera is very easy to handle and can be firmly gripped or repositioned on the fly as needed without too much worry about dropping it or messing up a shot. Furthermore, its tough magnesium-alloy body and weather sealed design combine for good endurance of moist, rainy or dusty conditions, and, as this writer can testify, the camera is surprisingly resistant to rough treatment, even if it gets dropped to a hard surface or bumped against hard objects regularly. Tossing the a6300 into a backpack and hitting the road is not something which should provoke too much worry about unexpected damage or easily broken components.
• Excellent high resolution photos
• Amazingly fast Auto Focus at 0.05 seconds
• 425 phase detection points
• 4K video with no pixel binning
• Tough, rugged build
• Great price
• Difficult to manually set a focus point
• clumsy main control button/dial layout