Sony Alpha A6300 Mirrorless Camera

Sony Alpha A6300 Mirrorless Camera

The Sony Alpha A6300 is Sony’s latest flagship APS-C type sensor camera. Comparing to other models in the market, Sony has intended to focus on users who prefer high-speed autofocus camera.  The Alpha A6300 is the complete upgrade from A6000 in terms of design and specification.  Sony does claim that the autofocus function of Alpha A6300 is one of the fastest in the market to date. The Alpha A6300 is good for a sports event, candid shooting, street photography, or even casual shooting.

The Alpha A6300 Design

Sony has decided to shift their focus from DSLR segment to mirrorless counterpart by investing R&D funds upgrade the specification on NEX and Alpha series.  The Alpha A6300 is the palm-size interchangeable lens mirrorless camera.  It comes with the dimension of 120 X 69.99 X 48.8 mm and the approximate weight is 404 g.

Unlike Alpha A6000, the body of the Alpha A6300 is made of a magnesium-alloy material which is mild resistant to water and dusk ( this material helps to protect the camera from water and dusk to some degree but it is not a waterproof).

Left Side – the left side of the body houses series of connection ports starting from AV multi-channel port, micro HDMI port, and 3.5 mm microphone socket for video recording.

Right Side — the rubber grip is placed on the right side together with NFC sensor while the infrared sensor is embedded on the front of rubber grip to be connected with other wireless accessories such as a remote shutter.

 

Top – the hot shoe is well placed above the lens mount for add-on accessories like additional flash or microphone.  A pop-up flash, a mode dial, and a customizable dial are placed on the right shoulder respectively.  The shutter and custom buttons are laid on the top of the grip.

Rear — the flappable 3” TFT screen has a resolution of 921,600 dot and Live View is capable of displaying up to 60/120 fps of video playback.  The electronic viewfinder is equipped with XGA OLED panel with the resolution of 2,359,296 dots.  The eye sensor will detect and automatically switch the display between the viewfinder and a rear screen.  The most interesting part is AF/MF/AEL switch that enables users to lock the image focus in manual mode or confirm exposure level by nudging the small lever with a thumb.

The layout of the Alpha A6300 is almost identical to that of A6000.  The fn button is set to bring up the camera setting menu while it is on the shooting mode. On the other hand, it is used to turn on Wi-Fi and share images in preview mode.

Bottom – you can hook up your tripod here.  A battery socket for the NP-FW50 battery is under the grip area.  The Sony Alpha A6300 battery life is slightly improved from the previous model with the capability of capturing up to 350-400 image for a single charge.  The SD card/memory stick slot is compatible with Memory Stick PRO Duo, Memory Stick PRO-HG Duo, Memory Stick Micro (M2), SDHC UHS, and SDXC UHS.

Sony doesn’t include an external battery charger along with the unit.  You have to connect 5V 1.5 An adapter with micro USB cable to charge the camera.  You can also do it via 5 V power bank and still operate the camera while charging.

Specification and features

The image sensor

The Alpha A6300 uses APS-C (23.5 X 15.6 mm) Exmor CMOS sensor with a maximum resolution of 24.2 megapixels (6,000 × 4,000 pixels at the aspect ratio 3: 2).  The sensor is designed to utilize a copper metal conductor to speed up the flow of electricity.  Additionally, the photodiode area has been extended to increase the exposure level.

Sony has also improved the BIONZ X image processor to better eliminate noise than its predecessor. The ISO sensitivity range can be switched from 100 to 51,200. The Alpha A6300 can deliver 14- bit + 16-bit color (but compressed) raw file which is superior to that of a6000.

The Autofocus

Sony has enlisted “4D Focus”, the fast hybrid AF technology (phase/contrast AF).  Sony has upgraded the focus area in Phase detection to 425 points and Contrast area to 625 points.  With the combination of hybrid AF, the Alpha A6300 will cover as much 7.5 times focus area as that of A6000.  Furthermore, Sony has improved the performance of CPU to precisely analyze the movement of the focused object.  Sony also claims that the focus speed of the Alpha A6300 can be executed within 0.05 second.  The Phase detection AF is upgraded to be compatible with the A-mount adapter (LA-EA2 or LA-EA4).

Continuous shooting mode

In continuous shooting mode, the camera is operated at 11 fps with AF and at the speed of 8 fps with AF and a live feed. The buffer has also been upgraded to enable us to shoot up to 44 images of JPEG Extra Fine, 47 images of JPEG Fine L, 55 images of JPEG standard L, and 21 images of Raw and Raw + JPEG.

The focus magnifier helps users to precisely focus on a tiny object by enlarging the image, then the user can easily shift the cursor to the designated area.

Like its predecessor, the Alpha A6300 features Focus Peaking function to facilitate the use of manual zoom lens.  The performance of this feature seems to be slightly improved from previous models.

Video recording mode

Sony has done a substantial improvement on video recording mode for the Alpha A6300.  Let’s start from the new S-Log3 gamma curve to its Picture Profile option that renders a dynamic wild range up to 1,300% of the actual range.  A super 35 format can offer a sensor cropping to improve video recording speed and frame rate but the great leap forward is the capability of shooting 25 fps 4K video footage at 16: 9 aspect ratio on XAVC S 100Mbps format.  You also have an option to record 1080p video up to 50 Mbps on the following XAVC S, AVCHD or MP4 format respectively.  The video recording mode also supports a high frame rate slow motion at 120 fps on 1080p 100Mbps resolution.

For avid social media fans, the Alpha A6300 has supported NFC/Wi-Fi connection which you can transfer your images directly to your smart devices without using another media like a memory card.  All of this can be done through the PlayMemories Camera Apps on Android or IOS smart devices. You can download additional shooting mode directly from built-in apps store in your camera or you may go to https://www.playmemoriescameraapps.com/portal

The Alpha A6300 has supported a minimum shutter speed of 30 seconds and a maximum speed up to 1/4000 second.  The Flash sync rate is at the maximum speed of 1/160 second.  Additionally, the Alpha A6300 provides a silent shooting function and supports the eye AF for portrait shooting.

The Alpha A6300’s performance test

Image quality

We have started the test from each ISO sensitivity threshold to measure the performance of image sensor and camera’s upgraded CPU.  At the ISO sensitivity range from 100 to 6400, the image quality is up to the standard and no visible noise is clearly detected.  However, the image starts losing the color saturation, dynamic range, and fine details when the ISO sensitivity moves up to 12800 threshold.  The Chroma noises are clearly visible without pressing a zoom-in button but it is acceptable to be used on a personal website or the social media.  In contrast to JPEG format, the image noise on the RAW format is likely to be visible from ISO sensitivity 3200 threshold and up.

Autofocus

Sony has introduced the upgrade 4D autofocus system on the Alpha A6300 camera with 425 points phase detection and 625 points contrast detection.  We have conducted an extensive test by switching to H+ 11fps continuous shooting mode (we recommend the UHS-I standard SD card be used as a storage media).  By swiftly moving the object in and out, we had fired multiple shots without focus but the camera’s AI did a fine job by determining the movement of the object and automatically activating the autofocus.  As a result, we’ve got a fine quality 44-46 images (on 24Mpixel JPEG Extra Fine format) in a single buffer.  It took almost a minute to write the image data (approximately 400-500 MB) on the SD card.  Please note that we used MicroSD 32GB Sandisk Class 10 UHS-I 80MB/s as our storage media.

Though the autofocus system has done quite well on the test, it is still pretty far from perfect.  We have tested it with a 16-50mm kit lens and found out that if the object is moving fast toward the camera or there are numerous moving objects in a single frame, the autofocus will show some errors.  Out of 44-46 images, we may have up to 10-12 images with autofocus issue.  Anyway, thanks to the superb AI, the camera will soon realize errors and promptly refocus the object in less than a second.

When you apply the panning technique in shooting, you may experience a rolling shutter effect that the image bends diagonally in one direction as the camera moves from one side to another.  This issue can be eliminated by using software to adjust the image’s skewness.

Raw format

The Alpha A6300 has come up with the new 14-bit raw image.  We have tested the pushing exposure of raw file by setting up the shooting scene with relatively low exposure and used the image editing software to add the brightness to lower exposure area.  The result is somewhat satisfied because we could pull lots of details back from lower exposure area and also the noise is properly handled by the software.  However, it is highly recommended that the ISO sensitivity is set at lower than 3200 threshold otherwise the color saturation will start to get deteriorated.

JPEG format

As opposed to a raw file, the quality of JPEG format is still in an acceptable range even with high ISO sensitivity. Like any other models, Sony has emphasized on a wide dynamic range of its JPEG format to facilitate the use of social media since users can edit the JPEG file right on their smart devices.

The Peaking level function         

To test the peaking level function with a manual zoom lens, we used the Alpha A6300 with OM>NEX adapter and Olympus Zuiko 50mm f1.4 from ’70 era.  Once connecting a manual zoom lens to the camera body, the autofocus is usually ceased to function but we can bring up the peaking level function to aid the focus.  The peaking will start crawling along the edge of the target when we manually zoom the lens.  The performance of peaking level of the Alpha A6300 is more impressive than that of previous mirrorless cameras from Sony.

The Bottom Line      

Sony has made a more substantial improvement on the Alpha A6300 than the previous models.  According to numerous tests, we have made so far, every aspect of the camera have been revamped to surpass those of rival models in the market, especially in the video and focus system.  JPEG and raw files are pleasant and reliable.  A little drawback is a relatively high price tag comparing to rival models in the market or even mid-class DSLR cameras.

Pros 

  • Improved hand grip. A solid construction with a magnesium-alloy body.
  • Superb autofocus works precisely and swiftly.
  • Excellent silent shooting mode.
  • High-quality 4K video with S-log 3 / S-Gamut 3 capability. Also, support 100/120 fps slow-motion at 1080p resolution.
  • Great JPEG Extra File with low noise.
  • Smooth Live View at 50/100 fps (60/120 fps in NTSC mode).
  • 5 mm microphone socket.

Cons

  • Rolling shutter effect is always detected when engaging in panning technique.
  • A relatively high price tag.
  • No built-in image stabilization.
  • Lack of touch screen and 180 degrees flipping screen.

 

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