The Sony Alpha 6300 adds weather-sealing and 4K video to the popular midrange Alpha 6000. It’s the premium mirrorless camera that Sony photographers have been waiting for.The Alpha 6300$998.00 at Amazon looks a lot like the Alpha 6000 and the NEX-7. Available in black only, it’s a squat mirrorless camera with a corner EVF, a tilting LCD, and a modest handgrip. It measures 2.6 by 4.7 by 1.9 inches (HWD) and weighs 14.3 ounces without a lens. We’re reviewing the camera as a body only, but it can also be bought in a bundle with the 16-50mm$299.99 at Crutchfield power zoom lens for $1,149.99.
Two dials sit on the top—a standard Mode control and a control dial that can adjust aperture, shutter speed, or program shift. The top of the front handgrip is slightly lower than the rest of the top plate. It houses the shutter release, which is surrounded by the On/Off switch and a programmable C1 button.
The mechanical flash release, Menu button, and dual-function button form a row that runs across the top of the rear plate. The dual-function button is surrounded by a toggle switch that changes its purpose—when the button is held it can override autofocus to allow manual control (AF/MF) or lock exposure (AEL). During playback it is used to zoom in on photos for review. Like most of the controls it can be remapped. I don’t find myself overriding autofocus that often, so I switched the AF/MF function to activate Sony’s EyeAF function, which identifies and locks onto a portrait subject’s eyes. Sitting apart from the rest of the controls, at an angle that puts it almost flush on the right side of the body, is the Record button to start and stop video clips.
Wi-Fi and Apps
Integrated Wi-Fi is a strong point of Sony’s camera system. The Alpha 6300 can pair with an Android device via NFC, or with an iOS device by connecting to its broadcast network. Once connected you can copy images and MP4 videos to your smart device, connect the camera directly to the Internet to download apps, or use your phone as a remote control. You can copy images shot in Raw—they’ll be converted to JPG for the transfer—but you can’t move XAVC S videos, so don’t have dreams about wirelessly beaming 4K video from camera to phone.
The Alpha 6300 ships with the Smart Remote app pre-installed. It’s a basic remote app that lets you view the feed from the camera, adjust EV compensation, and fire a photo, all from your smartphone’s display. I recommend connecting to the Sony PlayMemories store (via the Alpha 6300 and your home Wi-Fi connection) and updating the app. The update adds support for full manual exposure control, as well as the ability to tap your smartphone’s screen to select a focus point. It requires you to create an account, but the update is free.
The Alpha 6300 features the most advanced autofocus system that Sony has put in a mirrorless camera to date. There are 425 phase detect focus sensors that work in conjunction with 169 contrast detect areas. The focus area covers almost the entirety of the frame, a big plus for tracking moving subjects—there’s less chance that your subject will move out of the area of the image covered by the focus system.
Lenses and Adapters
Given how much development Sony has put into its E and FE lens system over the past few years, I’d no longer call it weak.
Image and Video Quality
I used Imatest to check how well the Alpha 6300 performs at its varying ISO sensitivities. The 24-megapixel sensor has a base ISO of 100—useful for shooting in bright light at wide apertures, especially when you take its quickest 1/4,000-second shutter speed into account—but can be pushed as far as ISO 51200. When shooting JPGs, noise is kept below the acceptable 1.5 percent threshold through ISO 12800. There’s some in-camera noise reduction applied to JPGs, and there is some smudging of detail at ISO 12800. But, as you can see if you look at the crops from our ISO test scene that are included in the slideshow that accompanies this review, it isn’t overwhelming at ISO 12800. Image quality is stronger at ISO 6400, with only very fine lines showing loss of detail, and stronger still at ISO 3200 and below. Pushing the camera in the opposite direction, I’d be comfortable shooting at ISO 25600 for output to the Web, but you’ll notice the loss of detail when printing or making heavy crops to photos. Try to avoid ISO 51200 when shooting JPGs, as all fine detail gives way to blur.
The Alpha 6300 is another strong, forward-thinking mirrorless camera from Sony. Its 24-megapixel image sensor offers plenty of resolution, performs well at higher ISOs, and can capture video at 4K resolution. It also houses an autofocus system that can track targets effectively at speeds of up to 11.1fps, and a more moderate 8.2fps burst mode that minimizes finder blackout to help you better track fast-moving subjects. When you consider the price—around $1,000 as a body only, or $1,150 with a bundled starter lens—and the tough, dust- and moisture-resistant design, you end up with a camera that’s easy to recommend, and to do so highly. That makes the Alpha 6300 our new Editors’ Choice.