Sony a6300 – good value camera

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Sony alpha a6300 is the middle range offering as far as Sony’s APS-C bodies go. It has the same basic look as the older a6000 and a6500, with some differences.

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Sony a6300 + Sony Zeiss 16-70 F4

When compared to a6000, the a6300 is a bit thicker and is built ou tof magnesium alloy, as opposed to plastic. The buttons on the back are also sturdier, although not as well made as the ones on the A7 mk3 series.

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Sony a6300 + Samyang 12mm F2.0

Other important advantages over the a6000 are:

  • new sensor, producing better quality images with livelier colors, although with the same amount of detail (24mpix)
  • almost 2 times better resolution in the EVF, the LCD screen remains the same though.
  • faster and more reliable autofocus. The one on a6000 is a hit or miss, the a6300 AF is very reliable and can take on any other mirrorless system. Sony a6300 also has 2x more focus points
  • continuous Eye AF – a true game changer for any type of portrait shots. No more chasing the model around with your focus point, no more recomposing. Just hold the eye AF button (you need to program it yourself first) and get portraits with eyes tack sharp every time.
  • silent shutter – a real must have for any type of candid photography. It is however important to stress that the readout is fairly slow and you will see alot of rolling shutter, even if the objects do not move that fast.
  • Video – the a6300 can shoot 4K in 30fps and Full HD in 120fps (24fps and 100fps respectively for PAL)
  • bigger buffer – although bigger does not necessarily mean big.
  • weather sealing, which the Sony a6000 doesn’t have. I said it before and I’ll say it again, WS is a gimmick made up by marketers to make larger markups on their products, there is nothing Weather Sealing does that cannot be replicated by a regular plastic bag.
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Sony a6300 + Sony 18-135 F3.5-5.6

In comparison to its bigger brother, the Sony a6500, the main thing that the  a6300 lacks is of course the In Body Image Stabilization. the IBIS is great and once you use a camera that has one you will really want it in your body, but sometimes you wioll need the extra €500 in your pocket more, so this decision is solely up to you although I have to say that I really miss it in my a6300, especially when shooting at the long end with flash (more on that later)

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Sony a6300 + Sony Zeiss 16-70 F4

In all the Sony a6300 is a great camera, it produces great quality RAW files that can really be molded into whatever you want. The image quality is great and although it may not be as sharp as the new Fujifilm cameras are, it has much more dynamic range to work on and produces cleaner images at base ISO, which is 100 as opposed to 200 for Fuji. The autofocus is fast and reliable, it simply just works. There are however some gripes I have with it, some of them really apply to the whole Sony APS-C range:

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1. Ergonomics – I personally detest the multi functional buttons. The focusing, although much improved over the a6000 and even the A7II, still uses the same basic idea of the multi functional wheel. Sometimes you use the wheel to choose a function, sometimes a focus point. This of course creates some unconvenient situations when you need to quickly change focus point and change ISO instead, blocking your view with menus in the meantime. In A and S mode the wheel changes exsposure (or doubles as a dial), in manual it changes shutter and for exposure you need to press additional button. This all creates needless confusion.

2. Shadows – although the files get much dynamic range out of the box, if you try to recover some dark places you will see nasty noise creeping up, even if you shoot at low ISOs. I made a comparison with Fujifilm and it seems like the Fuji RAF files handle shadow recovery better, even though they don’t retain as much information due to lower dynamic range span.

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3. LCD screen format is 16:9, which is great for video and also a necessary compromise given the body form factor, it however leads to your images being smaller and both screen edges remaining black and unused most of the time. At the same time all the info is being displayed on the actual image.

4. The lack of IBIS which really should not be something extra nowadays. Granted the camera was released 2 years ago and this wasn’t industry standard back then, but still.

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Sony a6300 + Sony 16-50 F3.5-5.6 (standard kit lens)

5. Flash syncs only to 1/160 of a second, which is quite cumbersome when shooting long lenses.  I myself am a coffee drinker and an owner of the SEL85F18 portrait lens, which itself relies on IBIS and does not have optical stabilization. Using it with my a6300 is shaky as it is, and if in addition to any lack of stabilization you cannot go faster than 1/160s, this really changes your shooting session to an all out war with camera shake. And if you try to reduce shutter shock by using electronic shutter, the rolling shutter will more than make up for it in frustration.

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6. Lack of lenses – to this day there is no decent telephoto lens for Sony APS-C e mount. It is clear that Sony did not anticipate its Full Frame success and now treats their APS-C lineup very poorly. They recently released a great 18-135 travel lens which I am using with this camera and will be reviewing later, but other than that there has been nothing for years. At this point if 3rd party manufacturers don’t step up, the system will die and only exist as a second body provider for the FF people.

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Sony a6300 + Sony Zeiss 16-70 F4

All in all I really like the camera and will be using it until I buy myself the A7III. I like the menu and the handling, I find it much more responsive than for an example Fuji, although this might simply be caused by the fact that I learned my photography on NEX cameras and feel at home there. Although the lens lineup is not so great, you can find whatever you need there and supplement with FF lenses if need be. The lenses will also be cheaper and mostly smaller than their Fujifilm counterparts (e.g. SEL18135 is almost half as heavy as Fujifilm 18-135 and uses a filter thread that is 12mm smaller, just don’t buy the Sony Zeiss 16-70 F4 – it is a good lens although surely not €900 good).

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Sony a6300 + Sigma DN 19mm F2.8

 

If you’re looking for help deciding which camera system you want, here’s an algorhythm for you:

Do you

  1. like night photography, don’t like tripods? – buy a6500
  2. want to switch to FF eventually but don’t have the money? – buy a6300 (this is where I am at)
  3. shoot mostly in good light or a tripod? – buy a6300
  4. want to stay APS-C but want access to better dedicated glass (but don’t mind the cost and size)? – buy Fujifilm X-T2
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