Sony A6300 Review
This is a Sony a6300 review by adventure photographer Usnea Lebendig, who shot extensively with the camera to investigate its suitability for the average photographer.
When I first received the Sony a6300 to review, I didn’t yet know I was looking for a smaller, lighter camera. I’d already downsized from a Nikon DSLR to a Sony a7III and was completely happy with it…
I’m also not much of a gearaholic. How many different cameras does a wilderness and travel photographer need to take with them, after all?!
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Not only is the size and weight a huge bonus, but the Sony FE lenses I need for my a7III definitely aren’t cheap. When I travel with all three of them (all I can afford at the moment), my kit’s worth well over $5,000. That’s a bit much to be carrying on me for some of the places I go…
So now I’m quite set on the idea of a secondary travel camera that can take advantage of cheaper lenses designed for the APS-C sensor.
The question is – is the Sony a6300 the one? Read on to find out…
Sony a6300 Review | Index
There are quite a few pieces to this review, so I’ve provided a bit of a table of contents in the event you’re more interested in some aspects than others.
Click the links below to jump ahead to the section that interests you the most:
First, let’s get the specs out of the way:
- Dimensions: 2.63 x 4.72 x 1.92 in (WxHxD)
- Fast autofocus with 425 phase-detection AF points/169-point auto contrast
- High-Speed live-view continuous shooting
- Anti-dust system: Charge protection coating on Optical Filter and ultrasonic vibration mechanism
- 24.2-megapixel Exmor® CMOS sensor
- FPS: 11.1 with continuous autofocus and exposure tracking.
- 4K movie recording with full pixel readout/no pixel binning
- Movie recording format: XAVC S/AVCHD format Ver. 2.0 compliant/MP4
- ISO for still images: 100-25600 (up to ISO 51200 in expanded ISO range.)
- ISO for movies: ISO 100-25600
- Battery Life: Approx. 310 shots (Viewfinder); 350 (LCD monitor)
- Buffer: up to 307 images (around 36 seconds) of high speed continuous shooting
- Eye AF available with AF-C
- Multi-slot reader for Memory Stick Duo™/SD memory card
- Max resolution 6000 x 4000
- Lens Mount: Sony E
- Viewfinder: Electronic XGA OLED, 1.0 cm (0.39 type)
- Face Detection
- GPS: None
- Format: MPEG-4, AVCHD, XAVC S
- Articulated LCD: Tilting
- Max Shutter Speed: 1/4000 sec
- Bracketing: 3 frames, H/L selectable
- Flash Sync Speed: 1/160 sec
- Capable of silent shooting
The Sony a6300 is a small, compact mirrorless camera that came out in March 2016. It’s not the most current in the a6000 line, with the a6500 coming out just seven months later.
There was a lot of hubbub around the a6500 getting released less than a year after the a6300, as many folks had upgraded to the a6300 and were hoping to stick with it a while. The a6500 does add a number of features, but the price point is low enough that it’s still worth considering.
Let’s get into the nitty gritty.
Build & Handling
Outwardly, the Sony a6300 is largely identical to its successor, the Sony a6500. It’s half-metal, half-plastic, built around a magnesium frame. The components (i.e. the power switch, controls, battery hatch, etc.) are plastic, which is not surprising at its price point.
Still, it feels sturdy enough and good in the hand. All of the buttons and dials work well and feel solid. Everything pretty much worked as expected.
I haven’t yet learned to be rough with expensive cameras, so I can’t speak to dropping them or simply “tossing” them into my pack like so many reviewers do, so I can’t speak to that part of things.
Also, the camera I was trying out for a month clearly had seen some use (as you can see in the photos). It still performed perfectly. Not a hitch. So while I haven’t dropped the camera or thrown it around to test its build quality, it’s clear that the a6300 I was using has been around and still made it through just fine.
As far as handling is concerned, it took a little getting used to for me. At this point I’m pretty accustomed to my a7III and it took a while to get used to the arrangement of the control dials. You have to reposition your hand when going from one dial to the other. Since I shoot in manual, that means I’m losing my composition each time I have to switch between the dials (unless I’m shooting on a tripod). Not quite fun.
The other thing that bothered me was that it was easy to miss the control I was going for and end up on a another one. For example, I would hit the display rather than the drive mode or the ISO when moving quickly. I imagine that’s simply because I’m used to a larger camera and control wheel and that I’d get used to it over time.
Otherwise, I really liked how the a6300 handled. It felt good in the hand and the controls all worked as expected. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised. It was much easier to work with than other smallish cameras I’ve shot with (point-and-shoots as well as mirrorless).
One thing some folks won’t like is that the a6300 doesn’t have a touch screen. While that will be a deal breaker for many, I don’t tend to use a touchscreen all that much so I don’t really miss it. (I’ve only recently started using it on my a7III.)
Something I didn’t like about the screen on both the a6300 and the a6500 is that it wasn’t easy to see in bright sunlight. Obviously bright sunlight isn’t the light I prefer, but sometimes it can’t be avoided. In fact, there were times that even late in the evening I’d have a hard time seeing the screen if the sun was somehow shining on it. It also looks pretty washed out due to low contrast.
Also, the grip on the a6300 is a bit shallow. It takes a bit of getting used to if you’re stepping down from a larger camera. If you’re stepping up however, it’s still light years better than a point-and-shoot or phone camera.
Over all, a neat, clean design that works surprisingly well for its small size.
The a6300’s autofocus has 425 phase-detection points as well as 169 contrast-detect points. This isn’t any different than the newer a6500, and it’s quite impressive.
With all of these points, AF times can be as short as 0.05 seconds. Translated to day-to-day use, it certainly feels lightening fast – especially when using prime lenses.
Practically speaking, I couldn’t really tell much difference between it and the a7III, except in low light situations or other challenging focus situations.
The main autofocus issues I had with the a6300 were when I was trying to get it to focus on smaller things like plant fronds or tree branches. Still, it immensely outperformed my old Nikon DSLR when photographing plant starts:
Another plus with the a6300‘s autofocus is that its face recognition really works. It’s fast and accurate, video or still. It also works well in low light situations and doesn’t need its AF illuminator. (Really, that matters. The AF illuminator drives me nuts when I’m trying to be low profile.)
Video autofocus is also stellar. To see it in action, check out these videos from AOJOPhotography and Max Yuryev:
The verdict? I rarely had to think twice when using autofocus on clear subjects. It simply worked, regardless of the light level.
The only times it missed were in situations that every camera I’ve ever had struggled. Small subjects with larger, clearer subjects in the same frame (i.e. tree branches with a building in the background).
Sony a6300 Image Quality
Coupled with Sony’s new processing algorithms, the results are exceptional image sharpness, amount of fine details, and noise-handling.
In fact, I was particularly surprised at the image quality. I wasn’t expecting much – I’m more accustomed to the quality of a full frame sensor. Still, whether I was shooting in Jpeg or Raw, the images were close to what I’d come to expect from my Sony a7III.
Even in low light the details are sharp and crisp, with few visible sharpening artifacts. The contrast is nice too. To round it out, the dynamic range is fantastic – a whopping 13.7 stops!
As someone who shoots almost exclusively in Raw, I was pleased to find the Jpegs quite easy to work with. In fact, just about all of them were pretty nice straight out of the camera.
I was thrilled to get such high quality images out of a camera that fit in one hand. It definitely made me think twice about wanting a smaller travel camera as an everyday backup.
This little guy takes up next to no space in the bag, especially when paired with a prime lens.
In the photo above, I was trying to see just how far I could push without IS. At 1/3 of a second, it’s no surprise that the shot came out slightly soft.
Still, the the level of sharpness is surprisingly high for a handheld at that speed (especially with the Sony 10-18mm wide open at 10mm).
The photo above was just taken in play, but you can see there’s lots of crisp detail.
As mentioned before, the dynamic range of the Sony a6300 is delightfully broad. It was a joy to use both indoors and outside on the streets at night. Sure, most modern cameras these days can handle incredibly high ISOs, but that doesn’t mean I don’t expect at least a little noise.
Though you can’t see it at this size, the Jpeg above came out quite clean. Apparently this is due in part to Sony’s new image processing algorithms which apply aggressive noise reduction while retaining image details. (You can get these in the firmware update, I think). Either way, I didn’t notice noise in any of the high ISO/low light images I took.
One thing I did notice, however, is that no matter how perfectly I set my exposure settings (based on the histogram, internal camera meter, etc.), I almost always came out with some blown-out highlights. I’m not sure what that’s about.
Still, all things considered I was quite pleased with the image quality. Together with the super fast autofocus, compact size and the great feel in the hand, the Sony a6300 was a joy to shoot with.
The Sony a6300 has the same video capabilities as its successor, the a6500. Both cameras shoot amazing video. The only difference is that the a6500 comes with 5-stop IS. Obviously if you tend shoot on a tripod, the lack of IS won’t be a deal breaker.
Here are the stats:
- 4K (3840 x 2160) at 25p
- 30p recording in a Super 35mm format
- Full HD recording (if you need smaller files)
- the option to go up to 120p (allows you to capture slow motion video)
- sampling of 4K footage at 4.2.0 internally and 4.2.2 externally over HDMI.
- all the flat picture profiles you would want for grading footage later
I’m not much of a video shooter, so if you’re really looking into the a6300 for its video capabilities, check out this well-regarded review by Caleb Pike:
Sony a6300 Price
When it was first released, the Sony a6300 went for around $1500. Definitely at the upper end of the CMOS world. It’s come down a bit since then to less than $800 (see latest price here), which honestly is a bargain for a camera with all of these features…. especially when you consider the price can also include a lens.
If you already use a Sony full-frame mirrorless (i.e. something in the A7 series) and are simply looking for a lighter shooter for travel, you won’t have to invest in any other lenses.
The FE lenses work just fine on the a6300. They’ll be a bit heavier, but can definitely save you the money and hassle of investing in a new system. (This is one of my primary hesitancies of going with a Fujifilm camera as my secondary.)
On the flip side, there’s something to be said for simply slapping on the excellent Sony 35mm f/1.8 and having a tiny, full-functioning setup with you everywhere you go.
Sony a6300 Bundle
If this is your first mirrorless interchangeable less camera and you’re starting from scratch, you can often save a lot of money with bundles.
The best one I’ve found is this one (the description may have changed since I wrote this review, but here’s thing kind of thing you can expect to be included when getting a Sony a6300 bundle:
- a camera bag
- 2 batteries
- 64GB Extreme SD Memory UHS-I Card
- slave flash
- 12-inch Spider Tripod
- microfiber cloth
- and a lens cleaning pen
- memory card wallet
Among other things.
In many ways the a6300 is quite similar to the a6500. The 24.2MP APS-C sensor and 4D focus systems the same, as are its video capabilities, 11 FPS, and viewfinder. Its form factor and dial arrangement are also the same as both the a6300 and the entry-level a6000.
That being said, there are few important differences.
The most noticeable is the in-body 5-axis stabilization. That’s big, especially for those who really don’t want to lug around a tripod.
Another key addition is the touch screen. It’s quite basic, but it really is a game changer, especially given that there’s no joystick.
While the sensor is the same as in the a6300, the a6500 has a faster large-scale integration (LSI) chip and image processing algorithm. This is a serious help in the noise-reduction arena, where it keeps detail while effectively reducing noise at the mid-high ISOs. Still, as I said before, I didn’t really have a lot of noise issues with the a6300.
Why go with the a600 instead of the a6500? The biggest reason is price. While the Sony a6500 is coming in at around $1100 right now (body only), the Sony a6300 is less than $800 (with kit zoom lens). That’s a substantial difference.
As a secondary camera, that works for me. If I need phenomenal low-light performance or IS, I can always default back to my a7III. If you’re looking for a primary camera, however, I’d probably go with the a6500. The IS and the improved LSI chip are more than worth the extra $300.
Full frame or crop sensor – which to choose? There are a lot of similarities between the APS-C a6300 and the full-frame Sony a7III, with a key difference being the price tag. (The a7III is still hovering just short of $2000, body only.)
Both cameras have an E-mount, have decent continuous burst speeds (10fps for the a7iii and 11fps for the a6300), and live view with blackouts up to 8fps. They also both have WiFi, NFC, Bluetooth connectivity.
But there are a lot of differences also – and not just the sensor and body size.
To begin with, the design and ergonomics are considerably different between the two models.
The a6300 has a the flat-topped design of all the a6000 APS-C models. It also has a viewfinder at the top left of the body rather than in the middle. The grip is also quite small when compared with the a7III.
The Sony a7III, on the other hand, has a bigger, sturdier build. The increased size (and weight!) allow it to offer more dials and buttons for easier control. These include an additional control dial, as well as an AF-ON button and an AF joystick.
The a7III’s larger body also allow give it room for a dual SD card slot. One slot is standard UHS-I while the other is UHS-II compatible. The a6500 only has one slot and it’s only UHS-I compliant.
The a7III also comes with a welcome headphone output, making monitoring the sound for video infinitely easier.
Both cameras have an OLED electronic viewfinder but the a7III’s is larger and has a higher magnification (0.78x vs. 0.70x). The resolution is the same, however, at 2359k dots.
As far as the LCD screen is concerned, both cameras have 921k-dot resolution. The a7III articulates a bit more, but that’s pretty much the only difference.
The sensor and processor is where some of the most obvious internal differences come.
The a7III comes with a brand new BSI full-frame CMOS sensor which allow for superior light collection. Combined with the latest BIONZ X image processor, the a7iii is just amazing in low light situations. Its base range ISO starts at 100 and goes to 51200, expandable down to 50 or up to 204800. (Extended values only go to 102400 for video.)
The Sony a6300, on the other hand, has a smaller, APS-C sized Exmor CMOS sensor. Its maximum native ISO sensitivity is 25600 (51200 when extended). That’s a big difference.
Also, both cameras offer 14-bit compressed Raw but only the a7III has an uncompressed Raw option. The a7III also has the new, front-end LSI chip that improves the processing speed and substantially reduces noise.
As far as autofocus is concerned, both cameras are strong performers, but the a7III has the beefier, faster system. To begin with, it has an incredible 693 phase detection and 425 contrast detection points across 93% of the frame. (It’s not known for amazing autofocus for nothing!) Based on the a9, a7III is quite possibly the best autofocus system on the mirrorless market.
The Sony a6300 uses fewer points (425 phase detection and 169 contrast detection), but still does an amazing job. In normal light I often couldn’t tell the difference.
Another key AF difference, though, is that the a7III comes with an AF Area Recognition mode. This allows you to assign frequently used focus point settings to custom buttons for fast recall. It also has an AF Track Sensor that allows you to adjust the responsiveness in continuous mode.
Both cameras feature EyeAF and Face Detection.
The buffer capacity is significantly different on each camera. The Sony a7III can up to 177 frames in JPG format and 89 in Raw format in a single burst, while the a6300 can go up to 44 JPEG and 22 Raw frames. That’s a huge difference.
Also, the Fn and menu buttons on the Sony a7III are available immediately after finishing a continuous burst, even while data writing is in progress. That’s super useful.
Shutter speed is another place where the two cameras differ substantially. They both use an vertical-traverse focal plane type shutter that produces fewer vibrations than previous shutters, but the Sony a7III is considerably faster, reaching into the 1/8000s. The a6300, in comparison, reaches its limit at 1/4000.
The Sony a7III also has flicker reduction at high shutter speeds and continuous shots. (It doesn’t work with video, silent shooting, or bulb settings.)
As far as the flash is concerned, the a6500 comes with a built-in flash. The a7III comes with a hotshoe. (This works for me, as I don’t use built-in flashes much at all.)
One of the biggest advantages the Sony a7III has over the a6300 (other than sensor size) is battery life. The a6300 uses the older NP-FW50 battery, which has notorious poor performance. The a7III uses the larger NP-FZ100 battery, which gives an average of 710 photos with the LCD monitor or 610 shots with the EVF. That’s more than double what the a6300’s battery can do.
In the video realm, the a6300 and the a7III are pretty similar. Both cameras can record in 4K up to 30fps and 100Mbps, and Full HD up to 120fps. (Here, the UHS-II cards will come in handy.) The only real differences that I can see are that the a7III has HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) and can record in both full frame and APS-C format.
That’s about it.
In the end, what it comes down to is function, price, and size. If I had to choose between the two, there’d be no question – give me the a7III any day. I love the full frame sensor, the AF, and superior handling the larger body affords.
For travel though – especially in places where I’d worry about the safety of my gear and/or want to carry around less, the Sony a6300 is a reasonable contender.
There are a number of great accessories available for the Sony a6300, many of which can seriously augment your camera’s abilities while still maintaining it’s relatively small, compact size.
Let’s take look at some of the most popular.
Given the Sony a6300’s poor battery performance, it makes a lot of sense to invest in a third party Sony a5000 battery grip. It can definitely extend your battery time – if you’re shooting video it can turn a 6-battery day into a 4-battery day when doing video.
My favorite is the Meike MK-a6300 Pro Grip. It’s both affordable ($60) and functional. It also lends a bit of added stability to the camera.
The position of the buttons and dials also makes portrait orientation shooting easier. Basically, improved ergonometrics all around.
As mentioned before, the Sony a6300 still uses the smaller batteries that Sony has been moving away from. The a6500’s battery life isn’t particularly impressive. Being used to the a7iii, I definitely noticed a big difference. I probably had to charge the a6300’s batteries 4x more than the a7iii’s. But it’s not really a fair comparison. The battery technology in the a7iii is still fairly new.
Conversely, the longer lasting batteries of the Sony a7iii are considerably larger and heavier than the 6500’s.
The fastest way to drain the a6300’s battery is by shooting 4K video – you’ll get maybe 65 minutes tops. So if you’re planning on doing a lot of video, make sure you buy plenty of extra batteries and/or a battery grip.
Another option is to get a third-party. The a6300 comes with an 1100mAh battery (good for bout 310 shots without strobe) but third party 1500mAh options are easy to find. These increase battery life by around 30%.
One cool feature is that you can charge your camera battery over USB, which means you can charge it in your car without buying an expensive adaptor. Of course, this isn’t that unusual these days and it is pretty frustrating that Sony’s mirrorless cameras aren’t sold with separate battery chargers. For road trips, though, it’s pretty cool.
Unlike Fujifilm, Sony doesn’t often release firmware for it’s mirrorless cameras. I only check once in a blue moon for my a7iii.
That being said, there is indeed a firmware update available for the a6500 that was released in 2018 – v2.01. The only real change this update makes is improving the overall camera stability (Sony doesn’t go into detail as to what exactly that means.)
This link will bring you to the Mac/Windows download page.
There are a number of stellar lenses available for the Sony E-mount system, both ‘FE’ and ‘E’ lenses.
Sony “E” lenses are designed for Sony’s APS-C sensor in their mirrorless cameras (i.e. the a6300). Sony “FE” lenses, on the other hand, can be used on all Sony mirrorless cameras since they cover the entire 35mm frame of a full frame camera (albeit at a 1.5* focal length multiplication when used on an a6500).
While it’s helpful to invest in FE lenses if you’re planning to upgrade to a full-frame or already own one, the E lenses are generally smaller, lighter and much more affordable than their full frame (FE) counterparts.
Check out this post on the best Sony a6300 lenses if you have time, but here’s a brief summary:
Equivalent to a full-frame 36mm, 24mm f/1.8 is the perfect focal length for a do-everything lens. It pairs really well with the a6500, especially in low light conditions, giving sharp, detailed images in just about any light.
Great for shooting portraits, landscapes, family, and travel. Light enough to travel, but a higher build quality meant to last. It’s our #1 choice.
Some people are into primes, others like their zooms. If you’re a zoom lover, then the 16-70mm f/4 is the perfect mid-range zoom for everyday use. Equivalent to 24-105mm on a full-frame, it gives you the greatest versatility, covering a wide range of focal lengths while keeping a constant f/4 aperture.
Great for everything from landscapes (at the wide end) to portraits (at the telephoto end). Definitely the best all-around zoom.
A super compact pancake lens, the 20mm f/2.8 will make your Sony a6500 feel almost like a point-and-shoot. Equivalent to a full-frame 30mm, the focal length is versatile enough to go anywhere and do almost everything.
Every kit needs a wide angle lens, especially if you’re into landscapes or architecture. Compared to many other wide angle lenses, the Sony 10-18mm f/4 is small and compact, making it easy to zip up in a jacket pocket.
Equivalent to a full frame’s 15-27mm, the Sony 10-18mm f/4 is definitely one of my favorite lenses to take hiking around.
The Sony 50mm f/1.8 is an usual focal length (equivalent to 75mm) and when used well will compress a scene and direct the viewer’s eye.
If you want to make it feel like a backdrop is closer than it really is, this is the lens for you. Combine that with the f/1.8’s fantastic bokeh that separates the subject form the background and you get some amazing effects.
Great for taking head-shots or photographing people in general. It’s definitely become our favorite portrait lens.
Believe it or not, I really love the “nifty fifty” and this 52.5mm-equivalent worked perfectly with the a6300. Super sharp and fast, the Sony 35mm f/1.8 is both inexpensive and light.
During the month I used the Sony a6500, the Sony 35mm f/1.8 was really my favorite lens to carry around. Everything from movie posters to slugs came out sharp and crisp. Definitely a must-have for every kit.
The Sony a6300 is a surprisingly reasonable option for those looking for excellent performance in a small body.
Its image quality, dynamic range, amazing autofocus system, and excellent video capabilities make it a strong contender for an affordable secondary camera.
If you’re not needing the IS or touch screen, and you don’t need the improved low light capabilities of the a6500, this is definitely a camera worth considering.
|Great Value for MoneyExcellent performance in a compact body.||Check Price|
Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post may contain affiliate links.
Usnea Lebendig is a travel and landscape photographer who loves trekking in the wilderness, exploring other cultures, and using photography for social activism.