Sony Alpha 6300

This is a brief first impression review of the Sony Alpha 6300 , an E-mount mirrorless camera with a 24 megapixel APS-C sensor. The A6300 was released in 2016, but it is still a very competitive product, especially considering that it is currently available for half of its original MSRP.

Specifications

  • sensor size: APS-C (23.5 x 15.6 mm)
  • crop factor: 1.5x
  • sensor resolution: 24 megapixels
  • ISO range: 100 – 25600 (expandable to 51200)
  • viewfinder: 2.4MP XGA OLED (0.7x magnification)
  • video resolution: 4k (3840×2160 @24-30p), FullHD (1920×1080 @24-120fps)
  • video codec: XAVC S up to 100Mbit
  • connectivity: HDMI out, WiFi, NFC, micro USB, 3.5mm mic jack
  • dimensions: ~12 x 6.7 x 5cm (w/o eyepiece)
  • weight: 408g (with battery and SD card)
  • battery type: NP-FW50 (7.2V, 1020mAh)
  • MSRP: 1200€

You can find more information in the brochure from Sony.

 

My impressions

To my surprise, there was no battery charger included in the box. So you can either spend another ~50€ for the Sony charger or look for an aftermarket replacement.
Battery life is rated at 350 shots with EVF and 400 shots with the LCD screens, which is decent but not exactly great.

The A6300 has a magnesium alloy body and is dust and moisture resistant. My first impression of the build quality was a bit mixed. This is potentially owed to the lightweight construction and small size of the A6300, or maybe I am just used to the A7III now, which feels much beefier and sturdier. After some use however, I have to admit that build quality and the used materials on the A6300 are perfectly fine and much improved over its predecessor, the A6000. Apart from the flimsy battery door, there is nothing to complain about really.

As expected from such a small camera, ergonomics are a bit lacking. The grip is quite small, which makes the camera sometimes a bit uncomfortable to hold (particularly with larger lenses). The buttons are really tiny and give hardly any feedback.

Sony has significantly improved the menu in their most recent generation of cameras such as the A7III. Unfortunately, the A6300 still uses the old menu system, which is quite combersome. I have been using Sony cameras for several years now but I still struggle to find certain settings. To me this is a clear sign of a poorly designed menu system. There is hardly any logical structure to the menu items, it is more or less a list of settings without a hierarchy. The good news is that you can customize the buttons such that you don’t need to dig into the menu while using the camera. I am fairly happy with the amount of customization options, although it would have been nice to have one or two additional dials or buttons.

While the EVF is very handy and definitely useful, it does not resolve particularly high. There is a 100fps mode, which enhances responsiveness but further reduces the resolution.

the 425 phase detection AF points cover almost the whole frame

Autofocus is very fast and accurate in general, but can get sluggish and loose accuracy in low light situations. The A7III for example is much quicker in low light and focuses down to -3EV in contrast to the A6300, which only handles -1EV according to Sony.
Unfortunately, there is neither a touchscreen nor an AF joystick, so setting the AF point is rather slow and troublesome.

Image quality is very good for an APS-C camera with low noise up to ISO3200 and usable images up to ISO12800.

lab sensor test by DXO Mark

 

Comparisons

Compared to the A6000: The A6000 is the predecessor and cheaper sibling of the A6300. It offers comparable image quality, but the A6300 has better build quality, better EVF, improved AF speed and coverage, slightly longer battery life and a richer set of features, including 4k video, Eye AF, zebra an improved shutter and a fully electronic shutter option. On the other hand, the A6000 is 60g lighter and is about 40% cheaper.

Compared to the A7III: Well, this is an easy one. The A7III wins in every discipline by a good margin. The only category in which the A6300 prevails is portability (size and weight). Admittedly not quite a fair comparison since the A7III costs about 3x more than the A6300.

Compared to the Olympus OM-D EM-1 MkII: The Olympus is built like a tank (with true weather sealing), has much better ergonomics, a flipscreen, dual SD card slots, excellent in-body image stabilization and a much better lens ecosystem. Autofocus is comparable, but the E-M1 offers a higher burst rate. In terms of image quality, the A6300 has a slightly higher resolution and better high ISO performance. Overall, the E-M1 Mark II is clearly the better camera, but it is also about twice as expensive as the A6300.

the A6300 is quite a bit smaller than the E-M1 II, even though it as a larger APS-C sized sensor

 

Summary

Positive aspects:

  • good build quality, weather resistant construction
  • lightweight and compact
  • excellent image quality up to ISO 3200
  • fast autofocus (425 PDAF points which cover almost the whole frame)
  • bright LCD, useful EVF and built-in flash
  • outstanding 4k video quality and up to 120fps video in FullHD
  • lots of video features such as slog, zebra, focus peaking and a microphone input
  • many customization options
  • battery can be charged in-camera via microUSB cable and camera can be used while battery is charging

Neutral (not an issue for me, but might be for others):

  • LCD is only tilting
  • battery life is only mediocre
  • only 1/4000s max. shutter speed
  • only 1 SD card slot

Negative aspects:

  • ergonomics are lacking: small grip, tiny buttons, only two dials, no touchscreen or AF joystick (setting the AF point is tedious!)
  • no in-body image stabilization
  • autofocus struggles in low light conditions
  • unintuitive menu system
  • no battery charger included

The Sony A6300 is packed with features and offers impressive image quality, but its biggest selling point is probably the small size. Even though there are quite a few shortcomings – most notably the ergonomics / usability – , I would definitely recommend this camera if you are looking for something compact. While the Sony E-mount APS-C lens lineup is still lacking high quality zoom lenses, there is a nice selection of optically excellent prime lenses.

Rating:  8/10    highly recommended

Value: 7/10    (reviewed at ~550€)

Link to Amazon.de.

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