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Sony Alpha a6300 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 16-50mm Lens
Most helpful customer reviews
381 of 402 people found the following review helpful.
great but imperfect jack of all trades camera
By Adam Brown
This is a fantastic "jack of all trades" camera. In some respects, it may be the best camera under $1,000, but it is far from perfect.
In general, it is a nice compact size, but feels well built in the hand. It is fast and responsive, with an amazing autofocus system. Just a few years ago, mirrorless cameras had the true reputation of being significantly behind dSLRs in auto focus systems. That day is over. The autofocus system, in most respects, surpasses most dSLR autofocus systems. Being mirrorless, the camera has an exceptional live view/LCD for videos and stills. It has an EVF instead of Optical viewfinder. It may be one of the best EVFs on the market, and is superior to an OVF in most respects. The image quality is very very good. I shoot primarily full frame with the Nikon D750. This is an APS-C camera. No, it's not as good as full frame, but it seems to be as good as any other APS-C camera out there. But there is an important caveat -- Sony's jpeg processing leaves a lot to be desired. While they may be good enough for a casual shooter, an enthusiast will want to process RAW files to maximize the image quality. There are lots of other nice features you don't necessarily see in most dSLRs -- A tilting LCD, well-implemented wifi, very good in-camera HDR and Panorama modes.
Anyway, let's get into specific pros and cons, starting with the negatives:
- The hard eyecup over the EVF. It makes it nearly impossible to use the EVF while wearing glasses. Yes, it's a spectacular EVF, but I need to lift up my glasses to use it.
- The memory card slot, located in the battery compartment, flush and parallel to the battery compartment door. I feel like I am performing surgery every time I need to remove the memory card. It is not easy to slide in and out due to this positioning.
- Continued lack of an easy way to move the AF point. It's not a touch screen. There is no good thumb stick to move the AF point. You need to use the control dial, and I found myself often accidentally pushing it to the side, to the ISO or drive function, when I was trying to move the AF point. For an enthusiast level camera, there should be simpler and faster methods to move the AF point.
- Cramped buttons and lack of some direct controls in general. This is largely a tradeoff of being a small camera. But in this price range, when compared to other dSLRs in this price range, you get dual control dials, you get more direct function buttons. While the camera has many assignable customizable buttons, still not enough for all the functions I need. I shouldn't have to dive into the menu system, for example, to change the focus point mode.
- Horrible battery life. But this is to be expected for mirrorless, and Sony has given it a small battery to keep the size and weight down.
- Placement of the movie record button. It is in a very unnatural position, and it forces me to shift the camera just as I start to take video. (but I rarely use video and will not be commenting much on it, in this review).
- Menu system. Poorly organized, difficult to find necessary functions at times. (But there is a good customizable FN menu, see below).
Image quality negatives:
- Poor jpeg compression. I'm not sure if it's the noise reduction (which I reduced to low), the default sharpening, or the jpeg compression scheme, but even at moderate level ISO, my jpegs were looking pretty ugly when examined closely.
- Inconsistent indoor artificial light AWB. Often in artificial light, my portraits take on very unnatural yellow colors. Be ready to fix white balance in post processing.
- Difficulty moving AF point, see above.
- Mediocre buffer in continuous shooting.
- Very slow write speed, locking up the buffer. Unable to view images while they are being written to the memory card.
Now the long list of strengths and pros:
- Lots of customizable buttons and a good FN menu. Instead of digging through the entire menu system, it is helpful to assign your most common functions to the FN menu.
- With a prime lens or kit lens, the entire camera is very compact. Won't fit in a pocket, but won't weigh you down at all.
- Feels solid, some weather sealing.
- Except for the difficulty in viewing with glasses, exceptional EVF.
- A true level display in EVF and LCD. A huge benefit for keeping your image horizon straight.
- A fairly versatile tilting LCD. Live view on my Nikon dSLR is so slow, that if I want to take a picture low to the ground, I need to get low to the ground and look through the viewfinder. With the A6300, I can just tilt the LCD and lower the camera, while looking at it from above.
-Dedicated memory recall functions.
- Greatly improved auto-ISO implementation. Not only can you select minimum and maximum ISO, you can also set a minimum shutter speed, or set whether you want the camera to default to slower or faster shutter speeds. This allows the shooter to use Aperture or P priority modes, without fearing that the camera will set the shutter speed too low.
- Wifi is well implemented, including the ability to add apps to the camera functions.
- The autofocus system is the biggest selling point of this camera. It is simply fantastic. AF points are densely packed over the whole frame. Many different AF modes to choose from, but they all seem to work very well. Even more than great lenses, getting sharp photos is about getting proper focus. This system focuses fast and accurately, anywhere on the screen. If you need to AF on a very small point, you can even change the size of your AF point. I haven't done much with the lock-on tracking offered by the camera, but I have followed birds in flight with zone-AF and with expanded flexible spot AF, and they work very well.
- Continuing the AF, a HUGE feature for portraits is eye-AF. (slight negative that you need to program it into a customizable button, and you need to hold down the button for it to operate). Traditionally, photographers will lock onto the nearest eye with the center AF point, and then re-compose the image. With the A6300, compose the image, press the eye-AF button, and the camera will reliably focus on the nearest eye at a very high percentage hit rate. It makes taking portraits easier, and more accurate than a traditional dSLR. (and even without eye-AF, the face detect system is excellent, better than most dSLRs).
- Fast 8/11 fps. The A6300, like the A6000, is capable of 11 fps. This is basically faster than any other dSLR for $1,000 or less. But, this 11 fps was rather limited. When using the 11 fps, and looking through the viewfinder or LCD, you didn't have a live feed of the image. Instead, the camera repeatedly displayed the last image taken. Thus, you didn't really have a live view, and it was difficult to track a moving object, which is the entire point of a fast burst speed. So the bad news, I won't be using 11 fps on the A6300. But the great news, the camera can provide a truly live stream at 8 fps, which is still faster than almost any comparable dSLR. Older Sony mirrorless cameras could only provide a live stream at around 3 fps. So 8 fps is a huge step up, and it makes it much much easier to follow action when continuously shooting.
- Video. I don't use video much, so I won't say much. But it does offer 4k. Even better for me, it has HFR -- high frame rate -- video modes. It is fun and simple to capture super slow motion video. I look forward to my kids' next Tae Kwon Do board breaking, it will be fun to watch them splinter those boards in slow motion.
- For casual shooters, the jpegs will be very good. The great AF system will insure a high number of keeper pics.
- For more serious shooters, use RAW. The files have very good dynamic range. The noise quality is very good for APS-C files. I suspect I can print 8x10's from ISO 6400 and 12,800 in most cases. And I can get web quality images even at ISO 25,600. It won't replace full frame for the most critical low light work, but it will produce excellent results. (with the caveat that you may need to fine tune the AWB. And as a further footnote, it is actually very easy to set customizable AWB, which you may want to do anytime you are shooting in artificial light).
Some thoughts on the Sony system:
Sony's mirrorless system has been advancing rapidly. They finally have a decent selection of lenses, but remain behind Canon and Nikon. For most types of shooting, Sony has what you will need. But the thing is, why do people buy a top level APS-C camera, like the Canon 7dii or the Nikon D500? They buy it largely for sports and wildlife. Sports and wildlife require a great AF system, and long telephoto lenses. The A6300 has a great AF system. But Sony doesn't have ANY long telephoto lenses. The longest native lenses are the 70-200/2.8 (not yet released), the 70-200/4 (a very good lens), and the 24-240 (an ok full frame superzoom). If the A6300 wants to be taken seriously for sports and wildlife, Sony needs longer lenses.
(Addendum: Sony has announced a 70-300 lens. So Sony is quickly addressing the lens deficiency I noted. The 70-300 should be a natural fit for sports and wildlife on the a6300)
Some price/value thoughts:
If the camera body was priced around $750, I would probably say it was the best value on the market. Overall, it feels superior in build, quality and performance to most entry and mid-level dSLRs. But the camera is priced at $1,000. Similar in pricing to the enthusiast level Nikon D7200, Sony A77ii (a dSLR), Canon 70d/80d. Does the camera belong at this price level? I'm not sure. It definitely has advantages over those cameras, like 4k video, 8/11 fps. But those cameras and systems have key features for enthusiast photographers. They have more lens options including telephoto. Their bodies have better button layouts for better direct controls of functions. If you are shooting wildlife, you may need to change AF points very quickly, which is harder to do on the A6300. So when comparing this camera to the more traditional options in the price range, there is no clear cut winner. But the A6300 will be more compact than those other cameras, it will pack a huge punch in a small body, with great image quality, super fast AF, and fast performance.
Overall, I recommend the camera. And the A6000 remains an even better value. Half the price, but far more than half the value.
In quick summary, what's this camera very good at:
As a jack of all trades:
- Great candids.
- Very good image quality and flexibility of using the LCD makes it great for landscapes.
- Fast AF and 8/11 fps is very good for sports/wildlife, but not at extreme distances due to lack of telephoto lenses.
- Eye-AF is a great feature enabling excellent portraits, though I would invest in a prime lens like the 50/1.8, if you want to shoot portraits.
- The size makes it a great travel camera.
255 of 268 people found the following review helpful.
An Alpha evolution (Updated)
By D. Pierce
Retiring my DSLR and moving to the Sony mirrorless system has been the most liberating event in my decades of photography since digital and autofocus before that. Same (now better) quality and performance with half the weight. Traveller's dream! I currently shoot with an A6000 with a NEX-3C as a backup/second body in the travel kit. Many comments are based on comparing the A6300 to its older sibling.
So. Here I sit looking at my recently arrived Sony A6300. At first glance, it’s nearly indistinguishable from the A6000 sitting next to it. At second glance, the slightly textured finish of the magnesium alloy body and the return of the AF/MF switch just under the mode dial do supply some visual cues. Looking at the top plate seals it since there is a distinct A63000 label. So, if it is virtually the same camera, why did I buy it?
Turning it on, spending 20-30 minutes in the menu and playing with autofocus provided at least half of the answer. This is not a technical leap like the A6000 was when it first appeared but it has solid improvements that based on personal needs or preferences, may or may not justify the $400 difference between it and the still-available A6000. The justification depends a lot on how and what you shoot. If you use your camera for video at all, it could be a done deal since the improvements in that department make it one of the most capable part-time video cameras in its price range. If not, your decision may be a bit more difficult. Not because the A6300 is in any way lame, but because the A6000 is still to be considered a fantastic camera.
After a few days, I’ve compiled a list of the changes (so far) that justify my choice for getting an A6300 and moving the A6000 to the second body position in my travel kit.
Two small things right off the bat:
"USB Power Supply = On" Allows the use of a USB battery pack to extend battery life almost indefinitely. It allows the camera to operate while charging and with a 15,000 MAH device charger pack connected, it should power the camera for hours.
"Release w/o Card = Disable" No more puttering around in the garden snapping random flowers only to find the card was left in the reader when inspiration hit.
The significant things:
1. Focus : Autofocus is incredible. 425 phase-detect focus points on the sensor cover most of the frame and allow for vastly improved focus tracking. Face recognition is fast and accurate. Improved eye-AF tracks focus on a subject’s eyes so the face is always in focus. Huge value for weddings and such. Did I mention fast? The A6000 and the 55-210 kit lens wan't bad for outdoor action shooting but the A6300 makes me want to pop for the 70-200 f/4 and go find some flying birds or something. One feature I hadn’t heard mentioned but stumbled across in the menu was “AF In Focus Mag.” It allows you to magnify the focus point while in DMF mode as you would in manual focus and a half-press on the shutter activates autofocus while remaining zoomed, allowing for a critical focus check. Another pleasant surprise is that the on-sensor phase-detect is now available to lenses like my A-mount 16-50 f/2.8 SSM via the LA-EA3 adapter. Focus speed seems little different, if at all, from native lenses. AF-A is disabled, as is DMF and the specific MF setting but manual focus is always available.
2. Viewfinder: The A6300 has nearly double the number of pixels as the one in the A6000 and while the difference is noticeable, it isn’t an oh-my-God difference. What is very noticeable is the 120hz refresh on the viewfinder which eliminates image tearing and lag. I’m also happy to see the return of the electronic level as a viewfinder and LCD overlay. Unlike its predecessors that display the last image shot in a rapid (but lagging) slide show during burst shooting, the A6300 offers a real-time live viewfinder display at 8 frames per second with full auto-exposure and focus tracking that makes action shooting much easier. It really brings EVF tech one step closer to eliminating the need for any optical component to the viewfinder beyond letting light in through the lens.
3. Silent Shutter Mode: It is truly silent. Its potential for use in a solemn situations like wedding ceremonies is pretty awesome. I did some research on the tech behind it and found an interesting article related to the A7x series cameras that warn of the time it takes to read out the image once the electronic second shutter is triggered. If panning aggressively or if a subject were to move suddenly an effect similar to the “jell-o legs” in CMOS video may manifest. Concerned, I went out and did some testing and found that though setting the shutter to silent limits burst shooting to “Low”, even aggressive panning didn’t distort vertical lines in any of the situations I tried. My guess is that the electronic second curtain terminates the exposure very quickly and the 1/20 sec. or so for readout and reset for a single frame, while taking a little extra time, is done after the exposure is recorded and the distortion doesn’t come into play as it does in video.
4. Build: Not a tank but definitely, at least, an IED-resistant Humvee. Reminiscent of the NEX-7, actually. The magnesium alloy feels solid (but so does the A6000’s polycarbonate) and its pebbled texture feels “comfortable”. The grip now has a slight indentation at the bottom on the lens side right where your middle and ring fingers rest. The indentation on the grip sharpens the ridge a bit and makes it slightly easier for my medium-sized hand to hold (IMHO). The body is 4mm thicker front to back than the A6000 and along with the extra 2 ounces of heft makes the camera feel a little more substantial but unless you have a body in each hand, the additional weight isn’t really noticeable. Except for the aforementioned AF/MF switch, the controls are identical. The added weather sealing just ices the cake.
5. Sensor: Another evolutionary rather than revolutionary list of improvements. The shallower photosites made possible by using copper rather than aluminum in the sensor circuitry improve compatibility with wide-angle lenses (theoretically) as well as light gathering. 10x better in low light than the A6000? Sadly, no. However, the changes in the sensor and processor have made about a one-stop improvement IMHO. I can set the auto-ISO to 6400 now with little to fear where the A6000's ISO6400 shots were hit and miss as far as usability. Copper wire is a better conductor than aluminum which may contribute to the significantly faster readout that enables 120fps in 1080p recording. The big thing is the phase-detect autofocus array and associated image analysis for tracking and overall speed. There is still hunting in low-contrast, dim environments but the ability to find and lock focus is much improved. Of all the improvements, this could be the One Big Thing when looking for a reason to choose the A6300 over its older sibling.
6. Customization: The buttons and Fn menu can now be customized to host almost any shooting or playback function. After I finished fiddling with button customization I have settled on Focus Assist for C1 by the shutter release and Silent Shutter for C2 on the back. I then turned to the Fn menu and found that the Drive, ISO and Exposure Compensation access on the four-way nav had redundant entries in the grid as did the top-dial-adjustable Shooting Mode. I replaced them with a few items left out in button customization that I would I still have to dig in the main menu to get to. Now Auto ISO Minimum Shutter Speed (another neat new feature), Face/Smile Detect, Image Quality and Finder Refresh Rate are easily accessed.
***Update*** Not sure how I missed the Fn settings feature in the A6000 menu but now I have set my A6000 to match the A6300. Live and learn! (And RTFM!)
7. Video: Except for occasional short clips of no more than 5 minutes, I don't do video. If I did and wanted to shoot important video of a wedding or something, I'd buy an actual video camera that doesn't legally have to legally terminate shooting at 29 minutes and 59 seconds to avoid import taxes. The A6300 is a stills camera with remarkable video capability, not a dedicated video camera. I may play with some of the video features simply because they are there but I bought this camera for the solid still image feature set.
I've only had the camera for a week so far but my initial impression pretty much confirms the research I did before ordering it. I have taken it out for a spin at Disneyland and despite the poor light and 16-50 kit lens (jacket pocket camera), I came back with some very nice images. So far, it's a definite keeper for me!
I will update if I come across anything new. The 18-105 f/4 G arrived a couple of days ago and I'm eager to see what it can do.
***Update - six months in***
Since the first review I've shot about 10K images and my first good impression has only gotten better. The choice of the 18-105 f/4 G was a good one too. Despite its size, it spends more time on the A6300 than any other lens. The improved live-view and extra stop of clean ISO really came in handy shooting a wedding in June and even though it was about 102° and humid for an outdoor wedding (yeah, I know...), I had no overheating issue for stills or bursts (no video). Eye AF is pretty amazing when trying to keep someone in focus on a dance floor and tracking AF is actually useful now. It doesn't feel any different from the A6000 until I shoot with the A6000. As good as the A6000 is (and that is quite good), the A6300 is an obvious upgrade if you use both alternately.
Bottom line: I feel my money was well spent. I don't find myself wishing for the next upgrade or feel the need to jump to full-frame right now. The image quality is excellent and being able to carry two cameras and an assortment of lenses in a day pack makes this photographer smile.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful.
Beautiful images even on auto - no tinkering necessary.
Wow. Be prepared to take time to learn a LOT about this camera, even if you are an experienced digital photographer. The options and programmability on the a6300 is impressive.
First annoying bit: cannot quickly switch from single shot to multiple shot - have to go into menu. Although it may be programmable into one of the free slots on a button - haven't learned that yet!
If you're serious, invest in a Zeiss zoom lens for an equivalent amount to camera and you're good to go. (f4 lenses are perfect as the a6300 has a top ISO of 52,000! Shoots with f4 lens in the DARK. I tried it.)