Back in early 2014, Sony took the mid-range mirrorless market by storm with the 24.3MP Alpha 6000, an extraordinarily feature-rich APS-C CSC with 11fps shooting, the world’s fastest AF and a very reasonable price-tag. In our original review, we described it as ‘a very rare instance, in today’s market, of a genuine bargain’, awarding it a five-star rating. With very big shoes to fill, we find out how its brand new replacement, the Alpha 6300, measures up.
The camera boasts an Exmor 24.2MP APS-C sensor the same size as the one found in most DSLRs. This gives it impressive low light performance, and helps you achieve attractive blurry backgrounds. Although the resolution is the same as its predecessor, it has seen a full redesign, with copper wiring to boost low light performance. Native ISO is 100-25,600, which is also the same as the Alpha 6000, although you can expand the range by 1 stop. At higher ISOs, images still hold clarity, detail and texture well without too much noticeable digital noise. We found image quality was impressive across the board with very sharp, clean results.
If you shoot fast-action subjects, the Alpha 6300’s high-speed burst can manage an impressive 11fps, the same as the Alpha 6000. An improved 2.4m-dot OLED electronic viewfinder, the technology for which is borrowed from the full-frame Alpha 7 range, has very little lag, helping you feel connected with your subject when the camera is to your eye. It’s great that Sony has upgraded the EVF on this model, as it was the only major criticism of the Alpha 6000.
The Alpha 6300 has a staggering 425 phase-detect AF points, more than any other mirrorless camera. This gives it a 0.05sec AF speed that Sony claims makes it the fastest-focusing CSC or DSLR ever. It’s accurate too, thanks to a hybrid system with 169 contrast-detect points, and a powerful BIONZ X processor.
One small niggle is the lack of a touchscreen for touch-focus, as is found on some of its competitors. It would also be nice to have the ability to use touchscreen for the menus. However, this is something most users will be able to live with. Other focusing features include lock-on AF for tracking moving subjects, and a function that automatically detects the subject if focus is lost. This can be very helpful when shooting subjects such as sports, action or wildlife. It even offers an AF magnifier using the EVF or LCD for manual focusing.
The Alpha 6300 is capable of recording in 4K at 30fps, or Full HD at 120fps for smooth slow-mo. It boasts a HDMI micro connector and multi interface shoe, supporting various video accessories, and there’s a mic port for high quality audio recording. It’s a shame there’s no headphone port for audio monitoring though.
Much like the Alpha 6000, the Alpha 6300 boasts an extremely compact design and weighs just 520g, making it ideal for street and travel photography. It’s easy to fit in a small bag, or carry around in your jacket pocket all day. It fits perfectly in the hand, with slight insets for fingertips on the grip. Although small, it retains detail in even the most intricate shots.
The Alpha 6300 boasts a very impressive spec that builds on its predecessor, bringing 4K and improved EVF to the table. Touchscreen would have been nice, as would a longer battery life, but this probably isn’t a deal-breaker for most. Unfortunately, Sony has set the price at £1349 with a lens, which is more than twice (yes, twice) that of the Alpha 6000 on its release. This puts it against much stiffer competition within its price range, so it’s definitely not the amazing bargain its predecessor was. It’s still a great camera, but many will feel the Alpha 6000 kit is currently a far more attractive buy at £499.
Fast, accurate autofocus
Excellent image quality
Full 4K video recording
In-camera menus are quite long and confusing
No headphone socket for monitoring audio
- Lens: 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6
- Price: £1349 with lens (as of September 2016)
- Effective resolution: 24.2MP
- Sensor: 23.5x15.6mm APS-C
- Processor: Bionz X
- LCD: 3in 921k-dot tiltable
- Viewfinder: 2359k-dot colour OLED EVF
- Autofocus: Hybrid (425 phase-detect points and 169 contrast-detect points)
- ISO: 100-25,600 (expands to 51,200)
- Shooting speed: 11fps
- Video: 4K at 30fps, Full HD at 120fps
- Pop-up flash: Yes
- Other features: Wi-Fi, stereo mic
- Battery life: 400 shots
- Card type: Memory Stick Pro Duo, Pro-HG Duo; SD, SDHC, SDXC; microSD, microSDHC, microSDXC
- Size (WxHxD): 120x67x49mm
- Weight: 404g
- Web: www.sony.com
This review was first published in the October 2016 issue of Practical Photography - download back issues here.