Camera

Sony a6300: Great camera at affordable price

With the powered zoom kit lens, it weighs 535g, around 140g heavier than its predecessor. The powered zoom lens retracts when the camera shuts down, so it becomes quite compact and easily slots into most backpacks or handbags.
With the powered zoom kit lens, it weighs 535g, around 140g heavier than its predecessor. The powered zoom lens retracts when the camera shuts down, so it becomes quite compact and easily slots into most backpacks or handbags.PHOTO: SONY

It responds quickly, takes superb images, but button locations can be improved

The Sony a6300 is the latest flagship in the company's APS-C mirrorless camera series, replacing the two-year-old a6000.

The major highlight of the a6300 is its 425 phase detection autofocusing (AF) points, compared with its predecessor's 179 AF points.

The result is super-fast AF for a camera of its class. Using the basic 16-50mm, f/3.5-5.6 powered zoom kit lens, it locks focus onto a subject instantly in bright sunlight.

You can point anywhere or zoom the lens quickly and it will lock on instantly. The speed and accuracy at which it tracks moving subjects are also admirable for a camera at this price. For example, you can finally capture your kids running around in sharp focus. Even in dim lighting, the camera can secure a focus in around one second most of the time with the aid of the AF-assist light.

Operation is slightly faster than its predecessor. The a6300 takes 1.4 seconds for both start-up and shutdown, compared with the 1.6 and 1.8 seconds of its predecessor for the respective functions. This is also a tad quicker than the two-second start-up and shutdown times of most mirrorless cameras.

  • TECH SPECS

  • PRICE: $1,699 (with 16-50mm powered zoom kit lens)

    IMAGE SENSOR: 24.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS

    SCREEN: 3-inch LCD screen with 921,600 dots; electronic viewfinder with 2,359,296 dots

    SENSITIVITY: ISO 100 to 51,200

    SHOOTING SPEED: Up to 11 frames per second

    CONNECTIVITY: Wi-Fi, Near Field Communication

    WEIGHT: 404g (body only, with battery and memory card)

  • RATING

  • FEATURES: 4/5

    DESIGN: 4/5

    PERFORMANCE: 5/5

    BATTERY LIFE: 3/5

    VALUE FOR MONEY: 4/5

    OVERALL: 4/5

Using an SD card with a writing speed rated at 45MB per second, the a6300 could capture 24 RAW images in 2.2 seconds before the buffer ran out - as fast as advertised.

The a6300 looks almost like its predecessor. But the abody is more solid and sturdier, thanks to its magnesium-alloy shell, instead of the a6000's metallic composite body.

The rubberised grip can accommodate all my fingers. Together with the ergonomic rear thumb rest, it makes for a really comfortable grasp of the camera.

Button layout is well thought out. The top Mode dial and command dial, along with a plethora of buttons in the rear, are within easy reach when you want to change settings.

But it retains two flaws of its predecessor. First, the awkward location of the rear command dial forces you to stretch your thumb to change the shutter speed in Manual mode.

I would prefer this second command dial to be in the front grip so users can use their index finger to change settings easily.

The other flaw is the location of the dedicated video recording button on the thumb rest's top right corner. I found myself taking many unwanted video clips as my thumb pressed on it accidentally. Placing it at the current C1 function button beside the shutter release would have solved this problem.

The a6300's electronic viewfinder (EVF) has a better resolution than its predecessor - matching the sharp and clear EVFs of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 and Panasonic GX8. Moreover, the EVF cannot be tilted, unlike the GX8's EVF.

The rear 3-inch LCD display can be tilted down by 45 degrees and flipped up by 90 degrees - not very convenient for taking selfies. It is also not a touchscreen, which may irk some users.

With the powered zoom kit lens, it weighs 535g - around 140g heavier than its predecessor. As the powered zoom lens retracts when the camera shuts down, it becomes quite compact and easily slots into most backpacks or handbags.

Image quality is superb with good dynamic range. Pictures look sharp and vivid with great amount of details, even in the darker areas.

Noise performance is excellent as well. During the review, I saw very few noise artefacts even at ISO 3,200. At ISO 6,400, noise artefacts were evident, but there was little detail loss and only slight blurring. Only at ISO 12,800 and above did the detail loss become really evident.

Battery life is average, at 350 still images on a full charge - 50 frames fewer than its predecessor. But this camera uses micro-USB charging, which is really convenient when you are travelling.

• Verdict: Apart from some handling quirks, the Sony a6300 is a fantastically fast camera with great image quality at an affordable price.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 27, 2016, with the headline 'Sony a6300: Great camera at affordable price'. Print Edition | Subscribe