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The Sony A6300 experience, as with many of its A series interchangeable-lens camera (ILC) models, feels like soaring through the sky one minute only to smack into a window the next. It flies with a beefed-up autofocus system, excellent 4K video (with supporting features) and improved low-light photo quality over the A6000's already great images. Combined with the usual advantages of an ILC -- smaller body and lenses, better photo preview and more streamlined video shooting -- there's a lot to appeal to enthusiasts who might otherwise buy a fast general-purpose dSLR.
It's priced at $1,000 (£1,000, AU$1,700) for the body, and $1,150 (£1,100) for a kit with the 16-50mm f3.5-5.6 power-zoom lens. There doesn't seem to be any official kit pricing in Australia, but I've seen it for AU$1,800.
That kit lens is one of my least favorites, though -- it feels cheap, slows camera startup a lot, and the inexpensive power zooms generally have worse quality than their manual counterparts. It seems a waste for this camera.
It really is a moving target, but for now the A6300 seems to have the best photo quality in its price class: most accurate automatic white balance, with nicely rendered detail, decent tonal range and above average noise profile even with the default Creative Style setting. It pushes the contrast a little, but doesn't mess with the actual hues.
It's not a huge lead, though. For example, you won't see much difference from the much-cheaper A6000 in the JPEGs until you hit about ISO 6400; below that, they're practically identical. The A6300's JPEGs are only really clean through ISO 800; you can push that through ISO 3200 by shooting raw to avoid the aggressive noise reduction and to expand the shadow areas that get clipped.
As you'd expect from Sony, the 4K video is quite good; sharp, with an excellent noise profile and well preserved tonal range in low light. Highlights will blow out with the default settings, though, as with many cameras.
For the most part, the A6300 performs almost identically to the A6000; that shouldn't have surprised me, but it did. (I retested the A6000 with our current setup for the purposes of comparison.) That's both good and bad.
At most operations it's fast, at least as fast as good performers in its class at single- and two-sequential-shot focusing and shooting under most conditions. Though my tests indicate it's reasonably speedy in dim light, I frequently experienced slow focus or complete inability to focus in low light situations that usually aren't a problem for dSLRs I shoot with. And that's with a better-than-kit lens, in this case the Vario-Tessar T* E 16-70 mm F4 ZA OSS.
Its continuous shooting speed varies widely. Under our test conditions, the A6300 hit its rated spec of 11fps for 54 shots when it's configured like it's the A6000; the A6300 has a higher-quality JPEG option, Extra Fine, and we perform our tests with the highest-available JPEG quality, even if it's not the default.
With all the useful settings -- JPEG Extra Fine, 1/500 second shutter speed, High-speed burst, focus-priority (rather than the default release priority) selected, and Sony's version of continuous-autofocus tracking and autoexposure -- the camera's continuous-shooting performance ranges from 6.5fps to 8.3fps, for about 46 shots. (I used the average of the most frequently occurring range of values for my chart.) In raw, shooting slows at about 24 shots, and performance ranges from 8.5fps in high-speed burst to 9.5fps for Hi+.
Autofocus accuracy during continuous shooting is better than before, but ultimately just brings it into parity with cameras like the Nikon D7200 and Canon EOS 80D. You'll find that many of the not-quite-in-focus ones are perfectly suitable for posting at less-than full size.
Overall, the camera is straightforward to operate and customizable enough for power users. It offers some great features, including high frame-rate video for slow-motion playback; 4K video with customizable curve and color profiles, time code options, AF drive speed and tracking sensitivity and more pro-friendly tools; and a ton of autofocus-area options.
But occasionally I just want to swing it around by the strap and fling. The A6000 was groundbreaking for its time, and remains a great camera for the price, now almost half that of the A6300. But the company didn't take the opportunity to fix the problems of its predecessor, which at the time -- or at its currently low price -- are easier to stomach.
The file system it uses is outmoded, forcing delays on you when inserting a new card and burying video files in subdirectories. Because of the latter, I've lost videos more than once because I forgot they had to be retrieved separately from the rest of the card's contents.
While it's easy to connect to a mobile device and scroll through and copy images via the Wi-Fi app, Sony still charges extra for capabilities like time lapse via its PlayMemories camera app store. It also forces you to download an app to the phone for full remote-shooting capabilities beyond one-button shutter, unnecessarily adding a level of confusion and inconvenience, as well as creating compatiblity issues.
Finally, I hate that the camera doesn't have in-body image stabilization. This might be a case where Sony's a victim of its own success. I (sort of) give Canon and Nikon a pass because they're institutionally embrangled with optical stabilization. But Sony has been through several generations of sensor-shift stabilization technology, and to exclude it from this enthusiast-targeted model seems like a shortsighted move that impacts the camera's futureproofness.
I said of the A6000 that it "almost has it all." But in the two years since it launched, the definition of "all" has changed, and for its higher price the A6300 isn't quite the amazeballs its predecessor was. The oustanding design and features of the A6000 are now pretty typical. For all the changes in the autofocus system, it's gained some accuracy for tracking but not much speed otherwise. A competitor like the Panasonic Lumix G7 offers close performance and similar capabilities (except for some of the more pro-oriented video features) for a lot less money, though it can't match the photo quality.
On the other hand, you get capabilities with the A6300 that you don't with similarly priced dSLRs like the Canon EOS 80D or D7200 -- 4K video, most notably -- with similar performance and photo quality.
|Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark II||Sony Alpha A6000||Sony A6300|
|Sensor effective resolution||16.1MP Live MOS||24.3MP Exmor HD CMOS|
|24.2MP Exmor CMOS|
|Sensor size||17.3 x 13mm||23.5 x 15.6mm||23.5 x 15.6mm|
|Sensitivity range||ISO 100 (exp)/ISO 200 - ISO 25600||ISO 100 - ISO 25600||ISO 100 - ISO 25600/ISO 51200 (exp)|
unlimited JPEG and raw
(10fps with fixed focus and IS off)
49 JPEG/49 raw
44 JPEG/21 raw
(mag/ effective mag)
2.4 million dots
1.3x - 1.48x/ 0.65x- 0.74x
0.4 in/10 mm
1.44 million dots
0.4 in/10 mm
2.4 million dots
|179-point phase detection, 25-area contrast AF||425-point phase detection, 169-area contrast AF|
|AF sensitivity||n/a||0- 20 EV||-1 - 20 EV|
|Shutter speed||60 - 1/8000 sec; bulb to 30 minutes; 1/250 sec x-sync (Super FP to 1/8,000)||30-1/4000 sec.; bulb; 1/160 x-sync||30-1/4000 sec.; bulb; 1/160 x-sync|
|Metering||324 area||1,200 zone||1,200 zone|
|Metering sensitivity||-2 - 20 EV||0 - 20 EV||-2 - 20 EV|
|Best video||H.264 QuickTime MOV|
1080/60p, 50p (52 Mbps); 30p, 25p, 24p (77 Mbps)
|AVCHD 1080/60p @ 28Mbps||XAVC S @ 100Mbps; UHD 4K 2160/30p, 25p, 24p; 1080/120p|
|Audio||Stereo; mic input; headphone jack on HLD-8G grip||Stereo; mic (via accessory shoe)||Stereo, mic input|
|Manual aperture and shutter in video||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Maximum best-quality recording time per clip||4GB||29 minutes||29 minutes|
|Clean HDMI out||Yes||No||Yes|
|IS||Sensor shift |
|Memory slots||1 x SDXC||1 x SDXC||1 x SDXC|
|Wireless connection||Wi-Fi||Wi-Fi, NFC||Wi-Fi, NFC|
|Battery life (CIPA rating)||310 shots|
|350 (VF), 400 (LCD)|
|Size (WHD)||4.9 x 3.3 x 1.8 in|
124 x 85 x 45 mm
|4.8 x 2.9 x 1.8 in|
120 x 66.9 x 45.1 mm
|4.7 x 2.6 x 1.9 in|
119 x 66 x 48mm
|Body operating weight||15.7 oz|
|14.3 oz (est.)|
405 g (est.)
|Mfr. price (body only)||$1,000|
|Release date||February 2015||April 2014||March 2016|