AM Video's newest camera is the Sony a6300 so I figured that it would be a good idea to write up an in depth review on it! The a6300 is a small mirrorless camera that is an upgrade to its predecessor the a6000.
The a6300 boasts a 24.2 mega pixel APS-C sensore, 4K video up to 30fps, and 1080p up to 120fps, as well as lightning fast 0.05 second 4D focus that utilizes phase detection and 425 auto focus points. It can also shoot photos continuously at up to 11 frames per second.
This camera is using a Exmor CMOS sensor and a BIONZ X processor. What does that mean? Well those are the same ingredients as the a7s II, which means that the a6300 has some of the same amazing features as the a7s II, just slightly minimized.
The a6300 isn't quite the low light beast that the a7s II is, but for its size, sensor size, and price point, it is still a low light beast of its own. It can shoot a wide range of ISOs from 100-51,200. In video mode it maxes out at 25,600 ISO, which is still impressive.
It also features an SGA OLED viewfinder that can be used during video recording when the screen may not be the most visible (like I don't know, shooting in daylight).
As for video quality, well it is superb. It can record in multiple formats including AVCHD for lower bit rates, and XAVC S at up to 100mb/s. It also features the very popular S-LOG 3 for recording video with wider dynamic range.
I shot a review video that talks about the camera and the image quality and shows examples of the footage from the camera that is included below.
The camera body itself is quite nice. It isn't overly small but is smaller than a DSLR yet it is a bit heavier feeling in the hand than a DSLR. The handle on the camera is not great though unless you have absolutely tiny hands.
As for the overall design, again, good but not great. Most of the controls are well placed such as the dial for the shutter and scrolling through menus. But then what threw me for a bit of a loop was that the second dial, on the top of the camera is to control the iris.
This is nice actually so that you don't have to hold a button then scroll to change the aperture like you do on certain DSLRs. So after getting used to that, it is nice to have a dedicated dial for the aperture.
For a quick menu it has a button that is labeled "Fn" which I had to click just to find out what it was, because let's be honest here, who really reads the manual? But their quick menu is really nice and can pretty much control everything important in the camera. This is good because the actual full menu is so overly convoluted. It's really quite awful.
My biggest complaint, just like everyone else, is the placement of the record button. Talk about awkward. Rather than put the record button on the back of the camera where it is easy to push, it is on the corner of the grip.
This means that to push record, if you are holding the camera by the grip, you have to move your thumb to an awkward position and loosen your grip in order to hit record.
The button itself is also sort of stiff and it can be hard to feel if you actually clicked the button. The camera has a beep that happens when you start recording which at first was sort of annoying, but after shooting for a bit I found that I appreciated knowing for sure that I had started recording without having to check the screen. So for that reason alone I won't be turning off that setting.
The other nice aspect of the camera body design is the swivel screen. Although it does not swivel out from the camera body like the screen on a t3i, it does at least come out far enough that you can effectively use it to capture high and low angle shots.
It is also nice that the screen will automatically turn off when you look through the viewfinder, even though this isn't a fancy new feature or anything
The camera also has a hot shoe mount on the top of the camera that can be used to mount accessories including specialty on camera microphones being sold by Sony.
There are a few features that I mentioned at the beginning that are the features that Sony boasted specifically for this camera. I've tested them and overall have found that Sony has been right on the money with all of them.
Fast 4D FOCUS
When using a Sony lens compatible with continuous auto focus, the focusing abilities of this camera are absolutely insane. You can set a focus point on the screen and the camera does a really good job of keeping that spot in focus even with camera movement.
The only time that it seemed to flop with this was when the camera had been recording for a while when I was shooting the video review. Despite the camera being locked off it eventually stopped focusing pretty much at all and wouldn't even hunt for the proper focus.
But other than that one incident, it has been very good for focusing continuously or when pushing the auto focus button. When using compatible lenses it is really nice being able to click the focus button and having it instantly focus on that spot.
This feature is great for shooting interviews or really any type of shoot with non moving subjects so that you can quickly and accurately set your focus.
But the best use for the continuous auto focus will probably be gimbal work. Being able to track your subject and keep them easily in focus will come in very handy for low budget and indie shooters.
4K Resolution Video
The 4K video from this camera is absolutely fantastic. It is very sharp and the detail in the video looks really good. In the video review you can see shots in 4K that show it's low light capabilities as well as it's color.
When filming with people, it handles skin really well. So far I have only been using the SLOG 3 gamma setting since it gives so much more dynamic range than shooting in a standard Rec.709 color space.
I have also only been recording in the high bit rate XAVC S in order to get the best image quality. Even when shooting at the highest bit rate the camera it doesn't eat through SD cards like crazy. Honestly on an average day long shoot I don't imagine that I will use more than maybe two 64 GB SD cards, and that's if it's all day coverage such as at a live event.
Slow Motion Video
Another awesome feature that the a6300 has is the ability to shoot continuously at 120fps in 1080p. This is a great feature for shooting slow motion video for many different project types.
One thing about this feature though is that it requires you to shoot the footage to either a 24p or 30p clip. This is neither a good or bad thing really but it did warrant noting. The plus to this is that it is easier to then use the footage in the rest of a timeline that is using either 24p or 30p footage.
But it does also mean that you have to set which you want to record to which has to be done through the annoying, giant, convoluted menu.
The footage shot in slow motion does look really great though. The 1080p is slightly softer than the 4K footage, but that is to be expected. If you haven't watched already, the video review does have two different test shots showing off the slow motion capabilities of the camera.
Low Light Abilities
Now this was one of the most important aspects to me when purchasing the camera, and important to many other shooters. This camera features the same type of sensor that is in the a7s II, only a crop sensor version instead of full frame.
With the amazing low light abilities in the a7s II, I could only imagine that the capabilities of this camera would be similarly good. In the end, this camera has definitely proven to be a good camera for low light shooting conditions.
The camera can shoot up to 25,600 ISO in video mode which is pretty crazy for me coming from a Canon DSLR and the Black Magic Pocket cinema camera which are not low light monsters like these new Sonys are.
I tested the camera in every ISO for noise and was actually very impressed across the board at the quality of the footage in low light. The noise from this camera is actually impressively similar to grain rather than noise.
I did not see any colorful noise or artifacts even when shooting at 25,600 ISO. At the higher ISOs the noise is definitely visible, but rather than detracting from the image quality it seems more reminiscent of film.
I also noticed that throwing a nice high contrast grade on the footage is a great way to minimize how noticeable the noise is at the higher ISOs.
I think what I found the most strange about the noise on this camera is that it shows up at basically every ISO when shooting in SLOG 3. At first this worried me when I was seeing a decent amount of graininess to the footage shooting at 800 ISO. But once I threw on even a basic log to Rec.709 LUT it really cleaned up.
As with any camera there are the big features that everybody knows they want, then there are the little features that people forget that they want. There is one very particular feature that this camera has that I almost forgot to review it seemed so minimal.
For white balance there are of course all of the presets for different white balances, but the big thing that it has for video production is the ability to select you white balance by Kelvin. You can also go even further than that and tweak the Hue of the white balance directly.
I've never seen that ability in a DSLR, let alone a $1K camera.
Another nice feature for video mode is the ability to shoot at pretty high shutter rates. You can shoot up to 1/4000 in video mode which is actually a nifty feature when shooting at high frame rates outdoors.
You can get very crisp movement while also maintaining shallow depth of field with a fast lens.
One last seemingly minor detail that I have been finding that I really like more and more is the on screen balance indicator. Again, not a feature that I have really seen in cameras that fall in the $1k price range.
This feature is great for both tripod shots and handheld shots to make sure that the camera is level. I know that sometimes I think the camera is level then I check that little indicator and realize that I definitely was shooting at a minor dutch angle.
Overall I am very happy with this camera. The video quality from it is really great, and the high bit 4K footage looks really good. I look forward to using it on more projects in the future.
As for the photography features, there are some really cool features but I have a lot more exploring to do with this camera in terms of photography.
If you are looking for a good starter camera, or a nice small, budget friendly 4K camera, I can not recommend this camera enough. It is an incredible camera especially for the $1K price tag.
8/5/2016 05:55:33 am
Great review! All the details help! I I have been looking for a set of budget live cameras for events, would you think the a6300 is a good alternative to a gh4? Will the camera maintain a constant live video output? My plans would be to switch between the cameras using a black magic atem switcher
8/5/2016 04:32:33 pm
Hi Joshua! I'm glad you enjoyed the review! The camera does put out a clean output in 4K or 1080P from the HDMI, but I have not tested it for live events where it is running to a switcher. My camera had to actually be sent out for repairs but once I have it back I'll be glad to test this and let you know!
8/7/2016 07:50:27 am
Awesome! That would great! Thanks for all the info!
10/21/2022 12:11:44 am
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Alan Meyer is an experienced cinematographer, but is no stranger to writing.