Sony A6300 first impressions

Discussion in 'Sony Alpha E-Mount Cameras' started by Adam B, Mar 11, 2016.

  1. Adam B

    Adam B TalkEmount Regular

    Dec 27, 2015
    Came home from work, to an Amazon box waiting for me...

    I'm far from ready to post a full review. I haven't gotten to try the camera in daylight. And lightroom doesn't support the raw files yet, so I've only looked at jpegs.

    But some first impressions:

    25660403766_2de7a1d950_h. DSC_6408.jpg by Adam Brown, on Flickr

    First off, it is definitely heavier than the A6000. Noticeably. The moment I took it out of the box, even without the battery, it was heavier than I expected. First I put the 50/1.8 on it, and put on the Optech cross body strap. It's a good combination, and overall lightweight and compact. I think I chose the right strap for the camera... I prefer cross-body. And this is cross-body without being too bulky, and attaches to just 1 side of the camera, without having to use the tripod socket.

    In the shot, above, I was testing the feel with the 70-200, which i also just got. I feared the 70-200 would be too big and balance poorly on the A6300... But it seems to be a good combination. I wouldn't want to go any bigger, but it balances pretty nicely, especially WITHOUT the tripod collar and hood.

    The autofocus does indeed seem exceptional, especially eye-AF in AF-C mode. In the past, I do 90% of my shooting in AF-S, so I can focus and re-compose. But I suspect I'll leave this camera in AF-C, without ever needing to re-compose since I can focus anywhere on the image, and can use eye-AF to get the eye without re-composing.
    Now while it's good... I was using it at night, indoors -- so very low light. And it eventually got focus almost every time, but at times, it hunted very slowly before getting focus.

    The EVF is great.... the 8 fps live view truly works. But the buffer SUCKS. And clears really slowly. Granted, I was shooting Raw+jpeg. But it felt like the buffer filled very very quickly, and then took a very long time to clear.

    I don't want to comment much on IQ until I test in daylight, test with RAW, etc... But preliminary findings: ISO 25600 is surprisingly good. ISO 6400 is pretty bad. Yes, I know that sounds crazy. And this is just preliminary looking at a few jpegs... But here is what I mean:
    IQ takes a quick turn down at ISO 6400. A couple ISO 6400 portraits looked really bad. And certainly, higher ISO portraits would be equally bad. But from 6400-25600, you do get usable non-portrait images. (I have a higher standard for portraits). Not images I would blow up. But images that look perfectly fine for sharing online, etc.
    Eventually, I'll do side by side with the Nikon D750.. full frame. I have no doubt that ISO 6400-12800 will be far better on the D750 than on the D6300. But at super high ISO.. 25600... The A6300 may be pretty close. I'll need to test more.

    On a side note, the 70-200 does indeed seem like a great optic. But I need to test it in good light. Still, excellent build. Good match to the A6300. And the IQ seems excellent.

    Not exactly an impressive shot --- But with the 70-200, at ISO 25,600, and still looks ok:

    25687704965_a8352afc6e_h. DSC00039.jpg by Adam Brown, on Flickr

    Second morning:

    Looked out the window for something to shoot this morning, expecting some birds on the nearest trees, but instead I saw a wolf walking through the woods:

    25579846092_e1c8ec6eae_b. DSC00071.jpg by Adam Brown, on Flickr

    Despite all the branches in the way, focus grabbed well. Yes, I lost many shots to focus on the branches instead, but that will happen with any camera. So once again, I'm happy with the AF.

    I am not thrilled with the OOC jpegs. This was at ISO 2500

    Let's pixel peep a bit:

    25673602246_c1eb835529_b. DSC00071.jpg by Adam Brown, on Flickr

    Especially if my lens only goes to 200mm, I need the ability to crop extensively. ISO 2500 isn't that high. But at least in the jpeg rendering, the noise reduction and sharpening are ugly. Paint-by-numbers effects. As I looked more closely in other images, it really starts to get ugly at pretty low ISO... Again, I haven't done enough testing to draw any serious conclusions. But above ISO 800, maybe even above ISO 400, things start to suffer.
    Now, of course I'm comparing to full frame... So it's not a "fair" comparison. In theory though, full frame should give about 1 stop of improvement. I don't know how much of it is full frame, and how much might just be better jpeg processing, but I find the OOC jpegs from the Nikon D750 far superior, and at much higher ISO.
    But really, I rarely shoot jpegs. Maybe I'm imagining the difference and need to do side by side comparisons.
    And once lightroom updates, I'll go back to raw. And then I'll be able to judge the differences better. I suspect I'll be happy with ISO 2500 when I process raw myself. (It was fine on the A6000, so shouldn't be any worse). But I really really don't like the jpegs at even medium ISOs.

    Another complaint... and I had the same issue with the A6000. It is the same body, after all. I hate the memory card placement, where and how it is placed in the battery compartment. It makes it rather awkward to remove the memory card. (And I don't use USB to upload.. I always just insert the card into my computer).

    I'm not meaning to be negative. Just sharing my impressions as I go. Overall, it is certainly a great camera. I suspect I'll appreciate it more, when I go back to raw. And also when I take more advantage of the AF system.

    Fuller coherent review to come...
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  2. WT21

    WT21 TalkEmount Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Aug 7, 2011
    The only trick I've found with the memory card on the a6000 is to push it fully in, and then let it "pop" out from the spring. It comes out much farther that way, and makes it possible to retrieve.
  3. unlo

    unlo Sony ******

    Jan 19, 2014
  4. Adam B

    Adam B TalkEmount Regular

    Dec 27, 2015
    Actually, I don't think you can remove it without "popping" it. But I still feel like I need smaller fingers to dig it out (and unlike Trump, I can admit I don't have huge hands), as it is squeezed between the battery and the battery door hinge.
    I know there are design sacrifices to keep the size down. But I wish they had found a better way to place the memory card.

    One more thing.. pro and con. I like that the AEL/MF-AF button now has a dial so you can dual-customize it. But I find the button itself hard to press. I mapped Eye-AF to it. But I actually find it hard to keep the button pressed down while holding the camera to my eye.
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  5. davect01

    davect01 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 20, 2011
    Fountain Hills, AZ
    Look forward to your reports. :) 

    1- I will probably get the A6300 at some point, but nothing about it is demanding I go get it today as the A6000 is still doing just fine.

    2- I agree about the card placement, very irritating to pop out but I have gotten used to it.
  6. Adam B

    Adam B TalkEmount Regular

    Dec 27, 2015
    I'm going to comment on whether the A6300 is worth the higher price than the A6000. But basically, from my experience so far:
    There are lots of upgrades, and almost every type of photographer will find some upgrade they like. But most of the upgrades aren't game changing for most shooters. I don't know that the upgrades are worth the price difference for many people.
    For example, a portrait shooter might really really like the fully functional AF-C eye-AF. But if you are primarily shooting portraits, this is really the only major upgrade you're getting. Maybe also silent shooting mode. Is it worth paying double the price?
    Casual shooters will really benefit from the improved AF system. A good AF system seems to have become a great AF system. But is that enough to pay double the price?
    A sports/action shooter will benefit from the AF improvements and the REAL 8fps live-view. I'd say this is the type of shooter who will get the most benefits from the improvements, and most likely to get value out of the upgrade. But even for a shooter like that, I'm not totally convinced it is worth double the price.
    4k video... Huge upgrade for videographers. But many of us, don''t really make substantial use of video anyway.

    So there are tons of upgrades. It is definitely a superior camera.... But different upgrades will benefit different types of shooters, and it's a real question of whether those particular upgrades will be worth the price difference.

    My first impression is that the camera is overpriced -- If you compare it to the D500 or 7dii, yes, it is much cheaper. But it is clearly far behind those cameras in many of the reasons people buy those cameras (no long telephoto lenses in the system, horrible battery life, poor buffer). Meanwhile, the A6300 is priced a bit above cameras like the A77ii, the D7200, etc... And is it better than those cameras? I think it's debatable. Seems to be "better" in some respects, but worse in other respects. (For example, the buffer seems worse than the A77ii and the D7200.. which is kinda important to sports shooters).
    Now, I'm not saying the camera is dramatically overpriced or a rip off. But it just feels like $750-$850 would be a more appropriate price, compared to the competition.
  7. soeren

    soeren TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Dec 12, 2014
    Næstved, Denmark
    Patience. Price will settle eventually. The can't wait price is steep but its not what the majoritet will Pay for the A6300.
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  8. WestOkid

    WestOkid TalkEmount All-Pro Subscribing Member

    Jan 25, 2014
    New Jersey, USA
    The price may go down some, but there is no reason to believe it will ever be in the same price range as the a6000. Let's look at the facts. The a6000 intro price was $800 which included the kit lens and $650 for the body only (Sony's A6000 is the mirrorless camera you'll want to own, ships this April for $800 with lens). After 2 years, the a6000 is now $648 for kit and 500 for body only when Sony runs the $50 off promotion. That means the price for the a6000 has only dropped $100-$150 in 2 years. Basically it was never an expensive camera.
    The a6300 has an intro price of $1150 for the kit and $1000 for the body only. That means the a6300 intro price cost $350 more and over %50 more than the original. That was not the case with the a7 series unless there was a drastic change in the offering.
    Bottom line is that the a6300 seems aimed at a different segment of the photography world than the original because it is unlikely it will ever be the bargain the original was no matter how patient you are.
  9. HabsFan

    HabsFan TalkEmount Veteran

    Apr 10, 2013
    Ontario, CAN
    It sounds like Sony is going to keep going with the A6000 sale for the foreseeable future. There is a pretty good price spread so it still makes it attractive to anyone who does not need the newest tech. I'd be interested to see if Sony rolls out a Firmware update after a few months for the A6000. One would think that the AF system in the A6000 would be capable of handling PDAF with non native lenses like the A7rii/A7ii/A6300 if a firmware update was provided.
  10. Adam B

    Adam B TalkEmount Regular

    Dec 27, 2015
    With a few exceptions, Sony has generally not been good about adding significant features to older cameras with firmware updates. For example, I had the A55.. they never added focus peaking to it, which should have been a simply firmware update. They prefer to make you buy the newer models. Yes, they will offer some significant firmware updates to their new cameras, while they are still somewhat new. But once they become the old model... I seldom see significant updates.
  11. MAubrey

    MAubrey TalkEmount Top Veteran

  12. Adam B

    Adam B TalkEmount Regular

    Dec 27, 2015
    Got a whole 5 minutes to use it in daylight today....
    Before I post some sample photos, some thoughts:
    The new auto-ISO implementation is very good. I have been spoiled by my Nikon. Being able to set shutter speed parameters, even in A-mode, makes A-mode much more useful. Especially when you have a non-stabilized body... some lenses you may want to shoot faster than other lenses. Anyway, the new auto-ISO implementation is very very good.

    Second, Big HOORAY for the return of the level. It is one of the best features of an EVF, in my opinion. Without realizing it, it's amazing how much I can tilt the camera back and forth. The full X-Y level right in the middle of the frame, really really is super helpful.

    Next, a mixed bag... Where you previously had a customizable AEL button, that button is now attached to a dial. By default, it is MF/AF, or dial it to AEL. Or you can customize both. In theory, that's great. And I have already mapped eye-AF to the button. The problem is, the way the button is in-laid into the dial, it can actually make it a bit more difficult to push the button. Will definitely need to get used to the feel of it.

    So in my 5 minutes of shooting today, there were lots of black birds circling in the sky a few hundred feet away. Against the bright sky, I really only got black bird shapes. So not exactly great bird photos, and I was quite distant. But it was a great test of the AF system, and it was VERY VERY impressive. I stuck to expanded flexible spot, AF-C. With the new 8 fps live stream, it was MUCH easier to follow the birds, than with prior EVF cameras. A surprising number of my shots with the 70-200/4 got perfect focus.

    A few examples:

    25411923900_f6a674575f_h. DSC00094.jpg by Adam Brown, on Flickr

    25082244294_00fb6423dd_h. DSC00098.jpg by Adam Brown, on Flickr

    25617608501_682bb17c00_h. DSC00102.jpg by Adam Brown, on Flickr

    These are all basically 100% crops. If I had RAW support, I could probably pull out quite a bit of detail in the bird bodies. So this isn't a great judge of IQ, but the AF was mostly really a winner, especially with the 8 fps live view... EXCEPT..

    Yes, there is an except. At first, I was shooting in single shot. Stopped down to F8. Quickly and accurately got focus. Then switched to 8 fps... At F8, I had a surprising amount of AF hunting, especially considering it was a sunny day, and I was shooting a high contrast subject. Maybe I'm wrong, but if I recall, when shooting in high drive mode, the camera may keep the lens stopped down, instead of acquiring AF wide open (anyone know if this is true?) Thus, at F8, it seemed to hunt quite a bit for AF, even in good light. I opened up the aperture a bit, and AF returned to being snappy. I'd like to test this a bit more. But for shooting sports and wildlife, I really want to be able to get great AF at F8 and 8fps.

    Next, really boring, I just wanted to check the sharpness of the 70-200 at base ISO.

    These are 100% crops:
    200mm, at F4, center of the frame:
    25411922870_78724d37fd_b. DSC00087.jpg by Adam Brown, on Flickr

    Tad soft, but not bad at all.

    Stopped down to 5.6, 200mm, the center of the frame is excellent:
    25617611641_02baef3eb0_b. DSC00124.jpg by Adam Brown, on Flickr

    I wouldn't quite say tack sharp, but excellent for a zoom lens.

    The corner at 5.6 (shooting the same sign, moving the focus point):
    25712671575_323aa90445_b. DSC00125.jpg by Adam Brown, on Flickr

    It's a little soft, but not the worst I've ever seen. I suppose I should have stopped down a bit more and tested the corner again .

    So hopefully this weekend, I get to do some real testing.
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  13. Adam B

    Adam B TalkEmount Regular

    Dec 27, 2015
    Last update for today..

    More A6300 first impressions..
    Some high ISO indoor portaits!
    And because I love unfair comparisons, I simultaneously did portraits with my D750. So Sony A6300 + 50/1.8. The camera chose ISO 6400. On the D750, I used the Tamron 45/1.8 and moved closer to the subject for somewhat similar framing. Knowing the DOF would be much narrower on the D750, I stopped down just a teeny tiny bit (still leaving less DOF on the D750). Shutter speed was just slightly faster on the Sony.. but I would have expected the Nikon to use higher ISO. Instead, the Sony went with ISO 6400 and the D750 went with ISO 5000. Still, that's only a fraction of a stop apart.

    These are SOOC Jpegs from both the Sony and Nikon. I would expect very different results if processing RAW.

    (for full disclosure, my daughter wasn't thrilled to pose)

    First the Sony:

    25593698162_e8409f9226_h. DSC00137.jpg by Adam Brown, on Flickr

    Now the Nikon:
    25593702032_1943b14659_h. DSC_6409-2.jpg by Adam Brown, on Flickr

    Comments thus far:
    I greatly prefer the white balance on the Nikon. They are VERY different. Maybe I'm just used to the Nikon after shooting it for a year and a half.
    I used continue eye-AF on the Sony. And it really really really is fantastic for portraits. No need to recompose. On the Nikon, I moved my AF point over the eye. No need to do that.

    Now let's pixel peep:
    25088105663_ec22cf2cf3_b. DSC00137-2.jpg by Adam Brown, on Flickr

    Comment: Since the focus was truly perfect with eye-AF, it really does help. I changed NR to low after my earlier shots, and it does look a little better. Still pretty noisy, with jpeg artifacts.

    Now the Nikon:
    25619658951_79a6b1fb5e_b. DSC_6409.jpg by Adam Brown, on Flickr

    To me, its very hard to judge sharpness comparisons at high ISO, since you are also looking at noise, sharpening, noise reduction. Does appear the Tamron 45/1.8 is sharper than the Sony 50/1.8 -- no big surprise. But the 50/1.8 does well. And the noise and noise reduction is a bit uglier on the Sony -- Again, no surprise since we are comparing to full frame. In fact, while the Nikon is clearly better to my eye, the difference isn't necessarily that massive. I'd like to do a RAW comparison, so I could compare both images, at their best.

    Anyway, I continue to be impressed with the A6300, but it's definitely not perfect. And I hope to do some real testing this weekend.
    • Like Like x 1
  14. davect01

    davect01 Super Moderator Subscribing Member

    Aug 20, 2011
    Fountain Hills, AZ
    For me the A6000 was a huge upgrade, the A6300 less as much. There is nothing that says, "I have to buy this camera today."

    As I mentioned, I will probably own the A6300 at some point, but right now, I'll wait.
  15. Adam B

    Adam B TalkEmount Regular

    Dec 27, 2015
    Today's test...
    Side by side, the Nikon D750 with Nikon 70-200/4 and the Sony A6300 with Sony 70-200/4.
    According to DXOMark:
    The D750 combo should be a fair bit sharper than the Sony.
    Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/4G ED VR on Nikon D750 vs Sony FE 70-200mm F4 G OSS on Sony A6000 | DxOMark
    (the scores are much closer if you test the Sony lens on a Sony full frame body... I don't fully understand why a lens would be sharper on a FF body than an APS-C body, but it seems true of all lenses. Maybe someone can explain it to me)

    Anyway, my testing confirmed the DXO maps. I did a little boring testing at F5.6. I shot the Sony at about 100 and 140, and the Nikon at 150 and 200, to get similar field of view.

    So here is some pixel peeping:

    Center Sony:

    25098697954_9126a8f1ee_b. DSC00141-2.jpg by Adam Brown, on Flickr

    Looks really good at 5.6

    Center Nikon:
    25703063556_6dbca6039a_b. DSC_6412-2.jpg by Adam Brown, on Flickr

    The Sony in the center, may actually be just a tiny bit sharper than the Nikon.

    Now at 140/200:

    Sony looks very good:

    25634064811_07b41d897f_b. DSC00144-2.jpg by Adam Brown, on Flickr

    25634069181_b88168b071_b. DSC_6413-2.jpg by Adam Brown, on Flickr

    So center, I give the edge to the Sony. Of course, I'm using shorter focal lengths on the Sony, and shorter focal lengths are sharper on those lenses as well.

    But looking at the corners/edges, you see a clear advantage to the Nikon, even though it is full frame:

    25102670713_dc59848f21_b. DSC00141.jpg by Adam Brown, on Flickr

    25098865364_527cbd592a_b. DSC_6412.jpg by Adam Brown, on Flickr

    25703235536_d1f961639f_b. DSC_6413.jpg by Adam Brown, on Flickr

    25428573920_0649908002_b. DSC00144.jpg by Adam Brown, on Flickr

    So at least for low ISO jpegs... you get similar center performance, with the Nikon having the edge at the edge.

    But in real world use, the Sony combination will often be sharper. Partially because of the greater DOF on the APS-C camera. But also due to the greater accuracy of on-sensor focus.

    25703086136_5c41aa2619_h. DSC_6417.jpg by Adam Brown, on Flickr

    25428421230_45224c3933_h. DSC00151.jpg by Adam Brown, on Flickr

    Pixel peeped, Sony:
    25428847530_952f704003_b. DSC00151.jpg by Adam Brown, on Flickr

    Peeping at the Nikon:
    25102935093_a9a8678046_b. DSC_6417.jpg by Adam Brown, on Flickr

    Might be the more accurate focus on the Sony, may be slightly better center performance on the Sony, and greater DOF on the Sony, but the Sony image is definitely sharper here.

    1 more photo for now, just to show some of the rendering of the lens on the A6300:

    25703075296_c110c29874_h. DSC00146.jpg by Adam Brown, on Flickr
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  16. MAubrey

    MAubrey TalkEmount Top Veteran

    Let's say you have two 24MP sensors and one lens you can use on both. One FF and one APS-C. Now, both have the same maximum resolution of 24MP--identical potential resolution. However, there are two additional factors that come into place, each related to sensor size.

    First: the 24MP on the smaller APS-C sensor has a higher pixel density. That results in the possibility of finer detail information being recorded than large FF pixels can even distinguish. That gives APS-C a chance to out resolve the FF. So let's say that while the FF sensor can resolve a maximum of 65 line pairs per millimeter, the APS-C sensor can resolve, say, 90 line pairs per millimeter, each using the same lens. APS-C wins!

    Second: the 24MP on the FF sensor, while it doesn't resolve as many line pairs per millimeter, has more millimeters. vertically, FF has 36mm and the APS-C has 15.6mm. That results in 2,340 lines/picture height for the APS-C sensor, but the FF because of its extra space, can then resolve 2,880 lines/picture height. For the final total image resolution, FF wins.

    Now this is all made up, of course, I don't have numbers for these cameras with an identical lens, but the concept is sound. The important piece here is that they're both using the same lens. The lens is likely to be the limiting factor. If the lens isn't designed to handle the higher frequency detail that the denser APS-C sensor enjoys, it cannot take advantage of it. Even most APS-C lenses aren't really designed to that kind of spec. At least, not enough to make up the size gap. There are other factors, too, like resolution fall off from the center to the edge of the picture (which will hurt FF more) and the fact that more money is invested into developing high performing FF lenses rather than APS-C (compare, for example the Batis & Loxia lenses vs. the Touit lenses from Zeiss). It's a complicated world...

    I hope that makes perhaps a little bit of sense...
    Last edited: Mar 12, 2016
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  17. WNG

    WNG TalkEmount Hall of Famer

    Aug 12, 2014
    Arrid Zone-A, USA
    Adam, I'm having trouble reading your follow up posts after the street there a reason your text is formatted dark blue?
    I am running the Old Default Dark Style.
  18. Jefenator

    Jefenator TalkEmount Top Veteran Subscribing Member

    Nov 23, 2012
    Oregon, USA
    Thanks very much for sharing your impressions!
    I'd be curious to see a low light AF test. IME focus errors are THE single biggest detriment to IQ. If this 6300 can focus reliably in conditions a couple of stops dimmer than my old NEX-7 - and render good usable captures at a couple of stops higher ISO - that would make a very compelling case (to me) for upgrading.
  19. nidza

    nidza TalkEmount Regular

    Nov 1, 2013
    I must say I am a bit confused with edge to edge performance you get from 70-200/4G on crop sensor, since it uses only center part of the lens, where it is sharpest. Lens has a bit soft extreme borders, but it shouldn't be affected on APS-C as this sensor simply doesn't use these rays of light.

    You shouldn't be worried about AF performance. I had pro session with A7ii last night, in famous theater here in Belgrade, and A7ii + 70-200G combo worked quite well. But, surprisingly, favorite photos actually were made by Nikon 85mm AF-D old f1.8 lens, I still didn't sell with my old Nikon fullframe equipment. So many keepers, despite very shallow DoF at F/2 most the time and no AF made me thinking that for my work I could actually live without AF - which is such a surprise from my personal point of view. I was never fan of manual focus, officially.

    But, IBIS helps so much, it is amazing. Sorry for partial off-topic. New APS-C flagship must have it, and A7 line must end up with a touchscreen.
  20. SRHEdD

    SRHEdD TalkEmount Veteran

    Nov 25, 2012
    Viera, Florida, USA
    Say what you want about the 70-200/4, I'm not in that discussion. But when I can use the lowly 55-210 to grab these shots for my son's teammate's families, I'm a hero. This is reduced to 95dpi for posting around our league, but my new A6300 is a BLAST!!! Fast, sharp, and a joy to shoot with.

    • Like Like x 8
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