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Date: 15/02/2016 | By: Mathieu

First Impressions of the Sony a6300

DSC-RX10M2, 1/40, f/ 28/10, ISO 1000

First Impressions of the Sony a6300

Along with the new G Master lenses, we got the chance to see the Sony a6300 at the recent European Press Event in Amsterdam. Unfortunately it was only a pre-production model so we couldn’t take any pictures with it. However you can check out some official image samples on our Mirrorless Curation blog.

I won’t make this article too long since there are only a few things I was able to check out. Sony asked us not to leave the conference room with the camera so as you can imagine, testing was quite limited. I summarised all my thoughts in the hands-on video below. Further down, I’ll share the most interesting aspects of this camera.


First, here are the most important specifications that I couldn’t check at the press event:

  • New 24MP sensor: thanks to a thinner copper wiring, it can gather more light in comparison to the sensor of the a6000. The ISO sensitivity has been raised by 1Ev to 51200.
  • 4K video: the camera can record with full pixel readout without pixel binning. To do so it uses 20MP out of the 24MP which corresponds to 6k resolution, then downscales the footage to 4K. It can also shoot at 120fps in Full HD and includes the S-log2 and S-log3 gamma curves. There is a Mic input but no headphone output.

On the outside, the camera looks almost exactly the same as the a6000 except for a few buttons. The front grip has been sligthly re-designed although the difference is not immediately visible.

The build quality has been improved to feature an updated magnesium alloy body and a stronger mount. The camera is dust and moisture resistant but not completely weather sealed.

sony a6300 review

Overall the feeling hasn’t really changed from the original a6000. The body is compact and very light, yet thanks to the front grip, it is also very comfortable to use. The only complaint I can think of is that an extra dial on the front grip would have been a welcome addition especially considering the action/sports target this camera has. I would have also gotten rid of the built-in flash and provided a small external flash unit as a replacement to make extra space for a third dial on top.

sony a6300 review

Electronic viewfinder

As I already shared in our news article, the EVF is one of the most interesting elements in my opinion. First, after the downgrade on the a6000, a decent resolution is back with 2.4 million dots. The EVF was a pleasant surprise overall. Despite not being very large (0.39in) I find it extremely bright and comfortable thanks to the eyepiece.

Then there is the uninterrupted live-view in continuous shooting mode when you select the Hi speed (8fps). It works on both the LCD screen and the EVF. As you can see in the video above, there are barely any full blackouts between the frames. This allows you to keep constant visibility of the subject you are tracking. The lag time response seemed excellent as well. You also have the option of 50fps or 100fps (60fps or 120fps in NTSC) for the refresh rate of the EVF.

sony a6300 review
An example of the continuous live view at 8fps. The screen goes darker but doesn’t black out.

Personally I am really curious to test this for some sports and bird photography. One of the negative aspects of an electronic viewfinder is that it doesn’t show you a real continuous live view in continuous shooting mode but rather a slower frame rate. The lag time becomes more important and you can also get full blackouts which further enhance the problem. If Sony has found a way to minimise or fix these limitations completely, the Sony a6300 could be the first mirrorless camera with an EVF that matches DSLRs and optical viewfinders.

Autofocus of the a6300

The a6300 has 425 phase detection points and 169 contrast detection points and becomes the mirrorless camera with the most number of focus points. Sony also claims to have improved the response time from 0.06s to 0.05s.

To be honest I didn’t find the camera much faster in comparison to the a6000. However I had a good impression about the new High-Density tracking feature. It concentrates more AF points on the subject once the camera detects it. It does seem to be very fast and to detect subjects easily even in low-light conditions.

sony a6300 review
The a6300 with the LA-EA3 and 70-200mm f/2.8 A-mount lens

Because of the phase detection points, the camera is compatible with A-mount lenses. Instead of the more expensive LA-EA4 adaptor, you can use the LA-EA3 which is also smaller. I tried it briefly with the 70-200mm f/2.8 A-mount. The speed wasn’t bad at all and reminded me of the A7r II’s performance with A-mount lenses. The only thing to take into account is that the a6300 is really a compact camera. It becomes quite unbalanced with such a heavy and bulky lens. That being said, the performance is very promising and it is compatible with any E or A mount lens.

I am also curious to see if the focus accuracy at 11fps or 8fps has been improved. If that’s the case, the a6300 could potentially become the best mirrorless camera for sports.

Conclusion: Sony’s sales and the APS-C system

During the press conference, Sony shared some interesting stats concerning the European market. First, Sony’s digital imaging department saw a growth of almost 25% in the last two years.

Sony is number one in the compact/travel camera segment thanks to the RX series with a 33% share. Even more interesting is the full-frame segment where they saw a growth from 13 to 23% in the last year and a half. Furthermore in some countries like Germany and Denmark, they have been number one in sales for the last few months, outperforming Canon and Nikon. It seems that Sony’s aggressive strategy is working. It will be interesting to see if these sales will keep increasing and how the situation is worldwide.

sony a6300 review

On paper the Sony a6300 looks promising and after playing around with it for a couple of hours, I can’t wait to put it through its paces. The only things that detract from its potential are the E-mount lenses. Some of the most interesting lenses have been designed for full-frame cameras and will be expensive (I’m thinking of the new 70-200mm f/2.8 GM especially). The only affordable professional telephoto lens for this camera is the FE 70-200mm f/4 and its compact size fits the small camera better.

If you want more reach and can’t afford the new 2.8 telephoto lens, the only solution is the A-mount lenses which are heavy and large for such a camera. I understand that Sony is concentrating its efforts on full-frame mirrorless lenses given all the A7 cameras it has released. However, with the exception of a few lenses, I find the APS-C line-up lacks a more complete offering. If the a6300 proves successful, I hope they will release some interesting APS-C lenses as well.

The a6300 will be available in March at the price of $1000, £1000 or €1250. It will also be available with the 16-50mm or 16-70mm f/4 kit lenses. It doesn’t replace the a6000 but is positioned in a higher segment.

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About the author: Mathieu Gasquet

Mathieu Gasquet is a professional photographer with French and Italian origins. Besides running his own video and photography studio 3Dit Lab, he is also the official photographer for the National Cinema Museum in Turin. You can follow him on Google+, Twitter or Facebook!

  • Mjane

    If you could explain something, I would appreciate it: the a6300 and a7II have an advanced zebra functionality: they have custom options for exposure confirmation and flare confirmation. When you write your review, could you explain what they do and when to use them? They sound very useful, but I don’t own those cameras to check. Thank you

  • Mathieu

    We should be able to test that combo rather soon 😉

  • Robert Moore

    Mat have you experimented with the A6300 any more?
    I’ve scoured the net looking for any info on it and the LAEA3 + 70-400gii, nothing.
    Also on a worse note, still no U.S. release of the Leica 100-400 :(

  • Mathieu

    Nice shots, especially the one of the owls 😉
    I’l definitely try the a6300, 2x tele and 70-200mm GM, I don’t know when yet but I’m planning of testing every mirrorless combo for BIF. I think the next in line is the X-pro2 + 100-400mm :)

  • Robert Moore

    That would be brilliant=all components FE mount/NO adapters in the chain. Well I’ve pre-ordered 1DXii and less than a month ago received the EOS 500ISii so that rules out any major ~FE 70-200 GM~ purchases for quite a while. It wouldn’t surprise me, considering the A-mount 70-200 is 3K and the Canon 70-200 2.8 is 2k that the FE GM will be $2700.
    I’m sure someone will try (you?) that combo and as a curiosity I’d love to hear about the results.
    In the end I’m going to be patient and hope for the e-mount 400, better yet a 100-400. I’d like to see that brought out with the A7Rii with an ability to double the frame rate in crop mode and with a trickled up (from the a6300) EVF refresh rate improvement.
    At that point I could begin divesting of EOS kit.
    Canon really has been good to me BIF wise, here if you’re ever bored:
    But there is a time coming when I too will out of physical necessity need to shed the weight.
    Hey Mat, maybe by then Panasonic or Olympus will have nailed AF-tracking and perfected the organic sensor!! We can all dream :)

  • Mathieu

    I’m pretty curious to try the following combination for BIF:
    – a6300
    – 70-200mm 2.8 GM + 2x teleconverter.
    That would give a 210-600mm equivalent range and a f/4 aperture. If the camera is good with tracking and the AF holds well with the teleconverter, it could be a great solution. I’m just afraid about the 70-200 price 😀

  • Robert Moore

    The advent of the new FE GM lenses addresses the wedding photographers needs.
    The existing FE mount lenses + A7Rii easily addresses the landscapers needs.
    I’ve personally seen the A7Rii AF-track birds in flight–the only failure was the EVF refresh rate
    and the fps….this was using LAEA-3 and 70-400gii.
    Surely Sony has seen Oly and Pana offer up lenses aimed at birders and the sports photographer.
    The only thing missing now is a native e-mount 400/4 or a 100-400mm.
    The a6300 tells me either the 400 or 100-400 is now just around the corner.
    I bet the A7Riii will get the new tech of the a6300 and offer full framers the new BIF and sports abilities.

  • Wesley Coleman

    I think that the wide selection of fast (and affordable) primes for MFT makes the deletion of a built-in flash far easier to deal with (like you said, the bundled tilt-bounce flash with the E-M5 II is delightful). There aren’t many options when it comes to fast primes for APS-C E-mount, so I think Sony is pretty reluctant to let that built-in flash go.

    On the flip side, the lack of a second control wheel would definitely keep me from buying one. I’m not sure why they couldn’t move the power switch somewhere else and copy something like the GX8’s wheel around the shutter release button.

  • Boiz

    I’m not missing anything in the line up. Sure, more and broader choice would be nice. But for what it is, I’m not experiencing any unmet wishes. If you’re the zoom-guy, you got the 10-18, 16-70 and 70-200. We have the 20mm, 24, 28, 35 and 50mm prime, as well as glass from Zeiss, Sigma and more. And we have all the best lenses from the last 100 years of photography.

    And normally, you don’t need a broad range of focal length covered.

  • Boiz

    Just get rid of the Mode dial! No one uses it constantly. In fact, most people just stay in aperture mode or shutter or program most of the time. If you want to change mode, just use the Fn-menu. I’d rather see a direct exposure compensation dial somewhere.

  • Mathieu

    I admit I rarely use built-in flash that’s why I wouldn’t miss it. Plus Olympus shows how a small external unit included in the box can be a good solution: I love the little flash of the E-M5 II with a rotating/tilting head!

  • Mathieu

    Who knows what involves that partnership exactly… probably the IBIS although both companies deny 😀

  • Mathieu

    We wrote a comparison preview on our Curation website and once we get the a6300 we will try to do an in-depth comparison with the a6000 :)

  • Henrik Fessler

    Originally I was into MFT, but hadn’t any lightweight lenses available for spherical Panoramas. So I changed to Sony. This has changed: … Nevertheless the Samyang 7.5mm MFT fisheye lens converted and adapted to eMount optically is better, so I’ll be stuck in two worlds, both being still lightweight and each system having its benefits.
    For me, I don’t really see a benefit to upgrade, as I think the A6000 already is a very good camera delivering beautiful images …. some others might see enough reasons to upgrade. It could be well worth for Mathieu to do a comparison of A6300 vs. A6000 in one of his future posts :-)

  • Henrik Fessler

    I agree, but I haven’t dipped into quick moving things :-) … I also forgot to acknowledge the high Iso capabilities on the spec sheet, which possibly is also a big plus.
    So it’s up to Sony to issue an attractive Zoom lens for APS CV that will deliver some nice pictures.
    Think of, what Sony high dynamic range sensor technology and Olympus optical capabilities jointly could deliver ^^ ( … not sure whether they still have this kind of partnership…. )

  • Sean T

    I have an a6000 and Sony’s abandonment of APS-C (whoopee! A new camera after two years to go along with very expensive FF glass!) has me thinking really hard about m4/3. I don’t need to change and I won’t be changing soon, but I think I’m much more likely to go m4/3 for my next camera body than for a DSLR or Fuji or Sony FF.

  • Sean T

    I disagree about the dial replacing the flash – my a6000’s bouncy flash is wonderful around the house! I think it’s a good point about another dial on the front, but I bet that would cramp the already limited battery space (it has the IR receiver on the front below the shutter button).

  • Mathieu

    I think the a6000 is still a very valid camera. The a6300 will be worth if it is a real step forward concerning AF for those who shoot a lot of sports/action.

  • Peter F

    I too would like another dial on top. Why not take the easy approach. Do what the EM1 an GX8 have done. Use the dial around the shutter button! All Sony then needs to do is put an on/off switch somewhere else. Certainly that would be easier than creating another dial.

  • Henrik Fessler

    Looking at the lens offerings from Sony: In terms of pricing, weight and dimensions, the full frame Sony lenses do not attract me any more as a hobbyist photographer … and I became a mirrorless advocate when looking at the combined package of weight and image quality.
    As for the APS C segment the only attractive lens to me is the 16-70 which is reported to be a mixed bag in terms of quality at a relatively high price tag.
    In contrast to the A6000, the new camera doesn’t offer too many new stuff for me, since I mainly do landscapes that can’t run away (so i don’t need no super fancy AF)
    So concluding that: In the last days I became weak again to invest into MFT and got the 12-40 Olympus Pro lens. And I’ll happily continue using my aged A7 for vintage lenses, A6000 for Panorama Photography, and MFT for all the rest :-) !

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