With 425 phase-detection AF points, continuous shooting at 11fps with autofocus, a 24.2-million-pixel APS-C CMOS sensor, 4K video capture and a whole host of other features, the Sony Alpha 6300 takes APS-C compact system cameras to a new level. Richard Sibley puts it through its paces.
Sony Alpha 6300 review – Performance
Being small and lightweight, I found that the Alpha 6300 travelled with me in my bag for most of my two weeks of testing the camera. With the program dial on the top of the camera, it was easy to switch between shutter, aperture and manual priority, and I also used one of the custom items for my preferred shooting settings. This made it very fast to switch between my video and still-image settings, without having to tweak menu items.
Having the combination of stills and video worked well, and the detail in the 4K video mode is excellent. It is a shame Sony hasn’t incorporated a 4K photo-extraction mode as Panasonic has. Being able to pull 8-million-pixel still images quickly from video files would be useful.
That said, the autofocus of the Alpha 6300, along with the 11fps burst mode, is good enough that you will usually be able to capture the exact moment you want, with a good-quality JPEG or raw file, that would be better than a compressed 8-million-pixel video frame.
The 1,200-segment evaluative metering system allowed me to pull the camera out and point and shoot when an opportunity arose. Generally, the exposures produced by the metering system were accurate, and especially when shooting landscapes it boosted the exposure to the point of highlighting clipping, producing nice detail in shadow areas. Occasionally, I did dial the exposure down slightly to produce darker, more brooding photos when shooting in overcast conditions.
For those who like shooting JPEG images and getting everything right in-camera, the Alpha 6300 has the standard Sony range of dynamic range optimisation (DRO) settings, with five different levels, as well as an auto feature. These adjust the contrast across the image by boosting the details in the shadow detail and pulling back highlights. Used at the weaker settings, the results look natural, but cranked up to level five you can get an almost HDR effect.
There is, in fact, a lot you can do in-camera to alter the look of JPEG images to your own taste. As usual, there are a numerous preset colour styles that can be applied and tweaked, and let’s not forget there are the PlayMemories camera apps, such as Sky HDR. Better still are the picture profile settings, which are actually designed for video capture, but can also be used for still images. There is a huge amount of advanced image detail that you can adjust within these settings, including the black and white points, as well as the contrast curve, saturation and the particular strength of each of the RGB colour channels. If you can get your head around what each of the settings does, then you can create your very own picture style that can be applied to your JPEG images. And for raw shooters, there is the option of 14-bit uncompressed raw files to eke out every last bit of detail.
Overall, my experience of using the Alpha 6300 was a good one. I didn’t come across any major issues, and the camera lived up to my expectations. I was able to transfer images via Wi-Fi quickly and post images from the Alpha 6300 to AP’s Twitter account while testing the camera. The autofocus is about the best I have used in a compact system camera, and few cameras can match the 11fps shooting rate. The 4K video capture along with 100/120fps slow-motion shooting rates are added bonuses to a comprehensive list of camera features. There really is a lot to alike about the Alpha 6300.
However, there are still a few niggles with the Alpha 6300. First, it is still time consuming to change the AF point. Come on, Sony! We have been asking for a touchscreen for this for around three years now – it would make life a lot easier. Currently, I find that using the AF tracking to centre focus and recompose is the best way of focusing quickly.
Second, I would like to see a front control on the Alpha 6300. This isn’t a huge deal, but an additional control dial is always a good thing, and it would really place the camera just below the Alpha 7 range.