There is one major downside when shooting video on the Sony a6300 camera. After exploring the issue with Sony Support, I have come to the unfortunate conclusion that there is no reasonable way to solve the problem. The problem has to do with the video recording settings on the camera, which control the different video frame rate options it offers.
The camera has the different video frame rate settings split into 2 different menus. For example, if you want to shoot at 25, 50 or 100 frames per second then you need to set the camera to the PAL video mode. If you want to shoot at 24, 30, 60, or 120 frames per second then you need to set the camera to the NTSC video mode.
If you buy the camera in a country where PAL is the analog broadcast signal standard, and it happens to be the default hard-coded video setting on your Sony a6300, then the camera is setup to mainly shoot video at only 25, 50 or 100 frames per second. In Asia this would be countries such as Hong Kong, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, China, etc, and there are also a number of PAL standard countries in Africa, parts of Eastern Europe, and the Middle East. You can see a full list of the PAL standard countries on Wikipedia here. Sony gives their own list here.
Here is why this is a problem:
1 – If you purchased the Sony a6300 in a PAL standard country then, anytime you want to shoot at 24, 30, 60, or 120 frames per second, you have to first go into the NTSC/PAL Selector menu function and switch it from PAL to NTSC. You then have to go into a different menu area on the camera and set your frame rate separately. So it is two different settings and two different menus to change between the PAL and NTSC video frame rates offered. But this is only the start of it.
2 – Anytime you switch the setting between PAL and NTSC it immediately causes the camera to reboot, which takes about 15-20 seconds before you can even go to change the video frame rate and start shooting. It also forces you to reformat the memory card that is currently inside the camera (an additional 10-15 second delay) because it has to create a different data base for NTSC when changing from PAL to NTSC. This also is the case when changing from NTSC to PAL. But the worst is that any photos or video already recorded and stored on the memory card will be forcibly erased/deleted and completely lost whenever you change your NTSC/PAL settings.
To prevent losing any of your files on the card when switching the NTSC/PAL video settings you would need to switch memory cards first instead of reformatting. This means you would need to buy two separate memory cards for the camera, preformat one for NTSC and the other one for PAL, and carry both of them with you at all times. This involves extra cost and inconvenience.
3 – But the biggest problem is that every time you power up the camera (if the video signal setting on the camera is not set to the camera’s own regional default video signal setting), or you bring the camera out of the low power mode (my camera is setup to go into low power mode after 10 seconds of inactivity to save battery power), then you will get a notification on the screen which says “Running on NTSC.” If you purchased the camera in most of the other countries of the world where the video standard is NTSC, and you switch it to PAL, then it will give you a reverse warning message saying “Running on PAL.”.
4 – These warning messages cannot be disabled according to Sony and the only way to cancel the message is to press the shutter button halfway down or press one of the other buttons on the camera each time the warning message appears. This process takes up about 10 seconds each time you start up the camera or bring it out of low power mode, it slows down your workflow, and prevents you from being able to turn the camera on and immediately start shooting. In a live action situation it means you could easily miss the opportunity to shoot an important one-off moment while you are waiting for the camera to cancel the warning message.
The time it takes to cancel the warning message can be reduced if you turn the camera on and immediately start pressing the shutter button down halfway 3-4 times, before the message appears. But you will still have to wait a few seconds for the warning message to load and cancel itself. It can’t be avoided completely.
So regardless of which country you buy the camera in, whenever you switch it to the other video signal mode (which isn’t the default mode for your country) then you are going to have these warning messages appear every time.
In my case, I mainly shoot video at 24, 60, or 120 frames per second. So this means I will have the camera set to NTSC most of the time. If you are like me then I suggest you don’t buy the camera in any of the countries where the standard is PAL. I am stuck now with this problem and Sony has not offered me any solution. Sony only sent me this link which explains what I already know. I also asked them if I could change the firmware on the camera to the one for NTSC countries in order to get rid of the error message and they said “There is no firmware update that can change the region of your camera”.
In my opinion, the only reason to change the setting on the Sony a6300 from PAL to NTSC (or vice versa) is simply to get access to the other video frame rate settings provided by the camera. If all the frame rates could be accessed from just one of the video signal modes then there would be no reason for anyone to ever change the region setting on the camera in the first place and none of this would even be a problem.
The regional settings exist on digital cameras in the first place in the event people want to capture their video in multiples of either 25 Hz (PAL) or 29.97 Hz (NTSC) for purposes of different regional broadcast signals. But PAL and NTSC are only relevant if you are still broadcasting using an analog signal. Since nearly the whole world has gone digital for most all video applications, this issue of choosing a broadcast signal is practically irrelevant. So still having regional settings on DSLR and mirrorless cameras at this stage is mainly a hindrance for the reasons I mentioned.
Final note. If you are using any of the other Sony A7 models like the A7R, A7S, etc, then the same problem exists.
*UPDATE #1 / 19-June-16* I just posted a new article on how to fix the NTSC Warning message issue with a hack. Go here to read the new article entitled Sony Cameras – Fixing Problems By Using Aftermarket Software.
*UPDATE #2 / 5-August-16* Sony just released a firmware update for this camera which Sony states addresses the following issues:
1 – Improves overall stability and operability of the camera
2 – Improves stability in picture shooting mode by optimizing temperature control (effects vary according to temperature).
You can go here to download the new firmware from the Sony website. First select your operating system on the Sony website and then click on the firmware drop down menu to reveal the firmware download button.
Make sure you have a fully charged battery in your a6300 before you start the firmware update process and remove your memory card from the camera.
Note that this firmware update does not address any of the issues I mentioned above in this post.