Sony Alpha A6300 Digital Camera Review
Newer. Better. Faster. Stronger.
By the Numbers
Much like the A6000, the A6300 doesn't have many areas that it struggles in. World's fastest focusing? Check. Incredibly sharp 4K video? Done. Pro-level burst shooting? Got it. Its only kryptonite is low-light performance, but even that can be curved some with the built-in noise reduction. The A6300 proves once again that Sony knows how to build a powerhouse camera.
Color Accuracy & White Balance
Historically Sony cameras have been a little aggressive with color–usually landing on the oversaturated side of the spectrum–and the A6300 isn't too much better. However, the most accurate mode "Deep" is quite accurate with a ∆C00 (saturation corrected) of just 2.28 and saturation of 102.3%. The saturation is still a little more than ideal, but not something most users will fret over. Most other modes, including the default mode, were pushing colors a bit too far for our liking.
White balance carried over the same struggles as the A6000 in incandescent light (what most homes are lite by), but to a slightly lesser degree. While shooting auto white balance in incandescent lighting we observed an average error of around 2022 kelvins. This isn't a rare thing for cameras to struggle with due to being tuned for outdoor lighting conditions, but it's a slightly higher error than usual. Shooting in daylight or custom white balance, scores were normal. If you can, shooting RAW is typically the best way to combat white balance issues, as you can fix it in post production.
Back in 2014, Sony bragged that the A6000 achieved the world's fastest autofocus speed with 0.6 seconds. Well this time around Sony has claimed to have pushed even further by shaving a hundredth of a second off, for a focus speed of 0.5 seconds. While we don't test focusing speeds specifically, the A6300 does focus exceptionally fast.
Being able to notice the 0.1 second increase that Sony claims isn't possible in a real world setting, but coupling the fast autofocusing with it's blazing continuous shooting makes for an action photographers dream. The A6300 can fire at a rate of 11 frames per second–on par with many pro cameras. Although capacity will vary based on what kind of SD card you are using, we were able to capture 46 JPEG images on a class 10 card before the camera slowed down. That dropped to 21 shots when we were shooting JPEG + RAW and RAW.
The best part of the A6300 is that the mirror doesn't lock if you're shooting continuously at 8 fps. This will help greatly when trying to capture subjects on the more. Unfortunately the 11 fps mode does lock your focus which can result in shots that (if the subject is moving) are out of focus, but you should get a few shots that are in focus and useable.
Noise & Noise Reduction
The A6300 has an APS-C sensor with an ISO range of 100-51,200 and three noise reduction levels: Off, Low, and Normal. We always test cameras with all the noise reduction settings to see how the modes compare and if the trade off of quality for less noise is useful on that particular camera.
The A6300, like the A6000, has a real off settings. I say this because some cameras will have an "off" setting, but they still apply noise reduction to cut back on the grain, leaving us with less of an idea of what the camera is truly capable of. That's not the case for the A6300.
With noise reduction off, the A6300 turned in a 0.98% noise level at ISO 100. That percentage slowly rose to 1.85% at ISO 1,600, but then things turn ugly. Immediately jumping from 1.85% to 2.53% at ISO 2,400 and not stopping until it was at 5,98% at ISO 51,200. We consider 2% our cutoff for images to still look good when printed. That means with no noise reduction, we can safely use ISO 100-1,600. Unfortunately that's less than half of the total ISO range.
Bumping up to the "Low" NR level is an option if you're shooting in low-light situations. That will keep the noise below 2% all the way up to ISO 12,800 before hitting 2.07% at ISO 25,600 and 2.79% at ISO 51,200. That will give you nearly the entire ISO range to work with, but it will come with a hit to fine details that you'd usually enjoy with NR off. Switching to "Normal" should be used in the most dire situations. While it allows you to shoot with the entire ISO range more comfortable, your images will look more abstract than detailed.
Video captured by the A6300 is absolutely gorgeous and incredibly sharp when shooting in 4K as our tests showed. In our video resolution test we observed up to 1550 line pairs per image height horizontally and vertically while shooting in 4K/30p XAVC S 4K. Low light, dropped that number slightly–down to 1250 lpph vertically and horizontally–but still produced very sharp images.
In motion test the A6300 produced smooth images with very little trailing or artifacting. Despite its poor low-light performance for still images, it produced a usably (50 IRE) image with just 1 lux of available light. That's basically complete darkness. Keep in mind the image in that low of light isn't going to be something that will retain a great amount of detail, but it's useable in an emergency.
While the A6300 did add a microphone jack, it still has a long way to go before we'd consider it a great choice for filmmakers that care about audio. It still doesn't have a headphone jack, though there is a $600 way to hack around that (mentioned in the full review). But it does offer a large range of recording options from 4K/30p to 1080/120p. Being able to shoot 1080/120p will certainly be a feature that sport shooters will love, given the slow motion possibilities.
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