I posted an article about 3 weeks ago about why I am planning to buy the new a6300 mirrorless camera forthcoming from Sony. Today a demonstration model of the camera became available for the first time to test out at the Sony shop in Bangkok. I went to see the camera and, if you want all the details about why I am buying this camera, you can read my previous article entitled “Why I Am Buying A Sony a6300 Mirrorless Camera” by clicking here.
For those of you who live or have visited Thailand, then some of the price and location references that follow will be familiar.
I held it and tested it today at the Sony shop on the second floor in Paragon shopping mall in Bangkok. It is the biggest Sony shop in central Bangkok and they normally receive the newest Sony products first once they are released in Thailand.
The camera has great performance I can say. Everything is very fast about it. You power it on and it is ready to go immediately. It focuses fast, shoots fast, nice. A solid feeling build as well. I felt as if you almost don’t need to use your brain anymore with a camera like this. It has 425 phase detection auto-focus points and they cover the entire viewfinder. It is the most focus points offered on any camera in the world at the moment. And so there isn’t anywhere in the viewfinder that the camera can’t focus. Plus the auto-focus follows a subject amazingly well and fast. You don’t get this troublesome auto-focus hunt that you often do with other cameras that use a contrast based auto focus system and/or have a lack of auto-focusing points in parts of the frame where you often need them. I believe the auto-focus system is even faster and more effective than what is on the Sony A7 series full frame mirrorless bodies. They claim it is the fastest in the world at only 0.6 of a second, and it may be. I also saw a high ISO low-light video comparison test today with this camera and the Sony A7S II, which is known as Sony’s full-frame low-light monster for video, and I couldn’t tell the difference in video quality. That really impressed me, and for less than 1/3 the price.
Exposure is also very accurate from what I could see on still photos. You pretty much just hold it up, press the shutter, and it does the rest. In burst mode I was able to fire off about 15 RAW files at 24MP before the buffer got filled up and then it started to slow down. You really shouldnt miss a fleeting moment with this camera it seems. And it was amazing for me to be shooting stills at 11fps. I have never had that kind of speed before. I am used to just 5-6 frames per second with Canon 5D series bodies.
The lens you see on the a6300 camera I am holding above is the 16-70mm F/4 Sony Zeiss lens which I bought for it today. It is a lens designed for Sony E-Mount APS-C crop sensor bodies like the a6300 and, with this body, it provides a 24-105mm focal length equivalent. In case you are interested in knowing more about this lens and why I chose this one from the Sony lineup then I recommend reading a review on it here on the Sony Alpha Lab website. The review gives it a very high rating with lots of lab test shots to look at on the site. Surprisingly it seems to perform even better than the more expensive 24-70mm F/2.8 Sony Zeiss lens that is made for full frame Sony cameras.
I was not able to purchase the body yet today though as the stock of the bodies has not come in yet and it will be another 2-3 weeks (or less hopefully) until I can purchase the body as well. The body alone in Thailand will be priced at 40,000 Baht.
I bought the lens first though because it is on sale at the moment for 32,000 Baht (which is actually a bit less than the B&H price). The sale could end before the camera body becomes available, or current stock levels on the lens could run out, so I didn’t want to take a chance and not be able to get a lens when I buy the body later. I also earned some points with Sony Thailand from purchase of the lens today, which I can use to reduce the cost of the body a bit later when I buy it.
The Sony Zeiss lens is made in Japan and all the a6300 bodies are made in Thailand. Each has a 1 year Sony warranty, which they will extend by 3 months if you apply for a free Sony Thailand membership card. The warranty also includes free cleanings for both the body and the lens during the warranty period, which is nice.
I mentioned in my previous post that I would probably not be buying an adapter for it to use it with some of my existing Canon lenses as many people do with Sony bodies. But since I will probably end up shooting some still photos with the camera, I will probably buy the Metabones Mark IV Lens Mount Adapter to attach my Canon 70-200mm F/4 lens to it for outdoor shooting.
A friend of mine asked me a few questions about it, which are below, along with my answers. If you have more questions just post them below and I will answer.
Q – Does it have a rear wheel like the A series? If so, it is possible to use the front for aperture and the rear for shutter?
A – This is an A series camera, but yes, it does have a rear wheel on it. I did not try and swap the settings though. I will let you know more on this when I get the camera.
Q – Is the articulating screen always in that position or did you have it pulled out?
A – I had it pulled out. It goes flat against the camera body like any DSLR would if you don’t want to pull it out. See a shot of the screen in the flat position below.
Q – Do you have a shot of just the back?
A – Yes, see below.
Q – Was it just on display with no stock for sale?
A – Yes, no stock for sale yet. This body was just for demonstration purposes. They said they would be available before the end of the month.
Q – How is the AF control? I don’t think I always want it to select the AF unless I was shooting video. If it’s like Canon, it chooses AF based on what is closest.
A – The AF is great and has various tracking modes. That is the one thing about Sony, there is never a shortage of options. Usually more than you need. You can set it to track the closest subject or you can select a subject and tell it to track that subject only. You can also set it to track a person by their eye and always stay focused on their eye as they move. You can also just choose to activate a small group of focus points, a larger group, or all 425 of them.
Q – Have you handled the A series? If so, any pluses for the A over it?
A – As I said, this is an A series camera, but I did I pick up a couple of other small ones, including the older a6000 while I was there. This one felt really good and solid in the hand for a small camera. The a6000 was a plastic build. This one is an all metal build. A bit thicker and heavier too than the older a6000.
I actually never shot with a Sony body before, so today was the first time. And when I started shooting I immediately put it in fully manual mode and instinctively (from so many years of shooting Canon) I started spinning the wheel closest to the shutter, as well the wheel on the back of the camera, in order to change aperture and shutter speed, and it worked just like a Canon does. That was great because it means there won’t be a steep learning curve for me to get comfortable shooting with this camera.
Last point to note is that, as far as I know, Adobe does not yet support the RAW file type from this camera. So it may be a little while before you can process RAW files from this camera with Adobe products. I also bought a 64GB SanDisk Extreme 90MB/s SDXC card for it (less than $35 on eBay) and a 55mm UV protective filter for the Sony lens. I expect I will need to pick up a couple of extra batteries for it too since a single battery will only give you about an hour of video shooting, or about 300 still photo frames shots, on a single charge.
All the stock photos of the camera I have are below again in case you didn’t see them yet. Please note I have no affiliation or receive any incentives from Sony whatsoever for giving positive feedback on this camera.
UPDATES: I am going to start adding updates to this post as things develop rather than adding more posts for every new bit of information I have on it. Eventually I will do a full update once I get the camera and start shooting with it, but for now the shorter updates can be seen below:
*UPDATE #1 / 11-March-16* – For those of you primarily interested in the 4K video capabilities of this camera, it is worth noting the advantage that the a6300 has over the A7S II (Sony’s current flagship mirrorless camera for video) is that the higher sensor resolution of the a6300 (which is 24MP) leverages a full 20MP (6000 x 3376) resolution of the Super35mm image area of the sensor for 2.4x oversampling. This results in greater captured and recorded detail and resolution from the sensor in the final UHD 4K image from the a6300 versus the A7S II. The A7S II only has a 12MP sensor. This means its sensor actually captures far less recorded detail when shooting 4K video than the a6300 does. I am not sure what the Super35mm image area resolution is of the A7S II, but it is only about half of the a6300. This means that on the A7S II, oversampling is not possible at all when shooting 4K. Oversampling improves the image & reduces noise, which gives the a6300 that advantage for 4K. The A7S II has a full frame sized sensor though, so at least the pixel receptor sites on the A7S II sensor are bigger than the a6300.
*UPDATE #2 / 11-March-16* – Great news! The Sony shop called me back today and told me they have a body for me and so I went and picked it up already. I never expected to be able to buy one a day after the camera’s release. Apparently they got a few of them in today, but all the other ones they have available are packaged with the kit lens. I was lucky enough to get the one they had which was packaged as just the body only.
It is going to take me a few days to go through the manual, all the settings, and fully get my head around the camera, but I just had a scroll through the menu settings and I can honestly say it is not nearly as complicated as I expected. I think it will be fairly easy to get on board with. Also, there is an area where you can load your most frequently used settings into a quick menu for easy access.
The few quick observations I made are that the camera does not come with a separate battery charger. It needs to be charged in the camera unless you buy a separate battery charger from Sony. Then you can remove the battery from the camera to charge it. The good thing is you can charge the battery by using a USB cable connected to a powerbank if you want. You can even charge the battery while you are shooting with the camera. This makes things very convenient and means no down time for charging if you have a powerbank with you when the battery runs low. You could also charge your battery while driving, or in transit, because a power outlet isn’t needed. I have a 13,000 milliamp power bank and the camera battery is only 1,000 milliamp. So I can charge the battery many times before the powerbank runs out.
Sony has a free app you can download for your Smartphone or tablet to control the camera via Wifi or preview photos you have already shot. Wow. I gave it a quick try at the shop. Amazing how well it works. I can trigger the camera or start the video recording from the app. Great for all kinds of things and now I don’t need any separate remote triggers for it either.
Lastly, I was surprised when I discovered the camera comes with a pretty decent Sony 8GB SDHC card with transfer speeds of up to 70MB/s. It isn’t much, but not bad in a pinch if you need another card as a backup. So it’s good to have.
I am going to stop here, spend a bit of time with the camera over the next couple of days, and I will start posting more observations soon.
*UPDATE #3 / 11-March-16* As I mentioned, Adobe products don’t support the RAW files yet from the a6300. Nor does the Capture One software from Phase One, which works closely with Sony. Rumor has it though that it will be added to the next release of Camera Raw, which will be version 9.5 and to the next version of Lightroom as well. When the update will come out is unknown though. It could be a few months. So for the time being I will shoot RAW and JPG both on any photos I shoot. This way I can just use the JPG files now and the RAW files later when Adobe supports it. Sony’s own free software called Image Data Converter (which can be downloaded here) will develop the RAW files now, but I will just wait for Adobe to make it easier. It is a shame that Image Data Converter can’t convert them to DNG or some other RAW file container that Adobe can work with. It only will output to TIF or JPG.
*UPDATE #4 / 11-March-16* If you’re interested, you can download the a6300 user manual in English here in PDF form. I typically load all camera manuals into my iPhone so I can reference them quickly when I am out shooting.