When I got my Sony a6300 camera back in early 2016, I posted an article entitled WARNING: Big Downside Of The Sony a6300 Camera.
Now, nearly 2 years later, Sony recently announced release of a new version of this camera, one with a partially silver colored body, and yet there have been some more downsides to the a6300 that I have recently discovered.
A few of the issues I will be discussing only occur when the camera is connected with an external field monitor, but others also occur when shooting 4K video. So far, there are no fixes or workarounds for the following issues that I am aware of, despite Sony having also released a new version of the firmware for this camera just yesterday (link at the bottom of the post for the new firmware).
1 – No “Center Lock-on Auto Focus” With External Monitors
The first thing I noticed recently is that you can’t use the “Center Lock-on AF” function when using an external monitor. This function is designed to focus lock onto a moving subject that is nearest to the center of the viewfinder. Once locked on, the camera will continue to focus track the subject even if it moves away from the center of the viewfinder. But when you plug the a6300 into an external monitor, and try to engage this function, the camera tells you that “This operation or setting is not available with XAVC S 4K”. So it is telling you it doesn’t work when shooting 4K video. The truth is it does work when shooting video in 4K, but it doesn’t work with 4K when the camera is connected to an external field monitor.
2 – No “Lock-on AF:Expand Flexible Spot” Focus In Video Program Mode
Another one of the camera’s best auto focus tracking modes, known as “Lock-on AF:Expand Flexible Spot” does not work when you turn the program mode dial to the video mode position. This is another focus tracking function (similar to Center Lock-on Auto Focus), but “Lock-on AF:Expand Flexible Spot” allows you to move a small focus area around within the viewfinder in order to choose which subject you want the camera to lock onto for focus tracking. The Center Lock-on Auto Focus function only allows you to lock onto a subject in the center of the viewfinder. So these two focus modes are a bit different.
But if you are shooting in the video program mode, and you try to engage the Lock-on AF:Expand Flexible Spot function, the camera tells you “This operation or setting is not available with Manual Exposure”. Essentially what it is telling you is that it does not work when you are shooting video using the video program mode. To get it to work at all when shooting video, you have to shoot video using either Shutter Priority mode, or one of the other automated program modes.
The reason I always shoot video with the dial set to the video program mode is because video mode allows the viewfinder to show you exactly how the video will be cropped and framed using the camera’s 16:9 video aspect ratio before you start recording. So, if shooting video in any of the other program modes, it simply shows you 2:3 aspect ratio framing in the viewfinder. But 2:3 is designed for still photos, not video. So it is not until you actually start recording video with one of the other program modes that you are then able to see your final video framing.
Seeing a 2:3 aspect ratio in the viewfinder when you are framing your video means that some of what you see will get cropped off once you start recording video at 16:9. As a result, it is always best to shoot video with the dial set to video program mode, but then Lock-on AF:Expand Flexible Spot auto focus tracking can’t be used. Makes no sense.
3 – No Settings Overlays Or Setup Menus When Shooting In 4K With An External Monitor
When the camera is connected to an external monitor, and the camera is set to record at 4K video in the video program mode, none of the standard setting overlays are visible on the external monitor. Things like current aperture setting, shutter speed, ISO, exposure levels, and etc are all not present. You also cannot pull up any of the menu settings on the external monitor. These things can only be seen on the back of the camera itself. In 4K, on an external monitor, all you see is an image of what is being captured through the lens. The settings overlays and setup menus can only be seen on an external monitor when shooting at the lower video resolutions of either 1080p or 720p.
4 – No Camera LCD Display Capability When Using An External Monitor With 720p or 1080p Video Shooting
When the camera is connected to an external monitor, and the camera is set to record video at 720p or 1080p in the video program mode, it is not possible to see an image of what you are shooting on both the external monitor and on the camera’s LCD screen at the same time. The only time you can have both internal and external monitors active together at the same time is when you have the camera set to record video in 4K. Not very convenient.
5 – No Continuous Video File Numbering When Shooting In 4K
I saved this one for last because it is something that effects both the a6300 and the newer a6500 and I have no idea why Sony has not addressed this issue. Both cameras are not capable of using a continuous file numbering system for 4K video file recording. You only get continuous file numbers if you are shooting still photos or either 1080p or 720p video. The video file numbering that the camera applies to 4K video files automatically resets back to 0001 every time you reformat a memory card or switch to using another memory card. This means, if you are shooting a large 4K video project, and you switch cards, you are going to end up with multiple files from the same shoot which have the same file numbers. If shooting using multiple cards this makes it impossible to store some of the 4K video files on your computer in the same folder from the shoot. It also becomes difficult to store the files from the shoot by filename following the order they were shot without having to manually rename some of the 4k video files first on your computer. All very inconvenient.
Last note, if you are running firmware Ver. 2.00, or an even older firmware version on your Sony a6300, there was new firmware just released by Sony for this camera yesterday as I mentioned. Firmware Ver 2.01 is now available and if you would like to update your a6300 firmware you can go here to the Sony website to download the 2.01 firmware installation file. After that, follow the firmware update instructions on the Sony website.
If you have the newer a6500 model, there was new firmware released for it yesterday as well, which is Ver. 1.05 that you can also download here from Sony.
I installed the new 2.01 firmware on my Sony a6300 already and I can confirm that it does not address any of the above problems I mentioned.
On a small positive note, I noticed the a6300 boots up much faster running Ver. 2.01, and is ready to start shooting quicker than when I was running the older firmware Ver. 2.00.
If you have found any workarounds for any of the problems I mentioned above please feel free to share them below.