Welcome to the 3rd and final part of my series of articles covering my first impressions shooting with the new Sony a6300 camera. If you missed the first 2 parts, here is Part 1 and here is Part 2. Also, make sure you read my Warning post here about one troubling issue with this camera.
In this last post I am going to focus partly on the video aspects of the camera as I haven’t touched on that subject nearly at all yet.
Since the camera has been out in the market for nearly a month now, and a lot of sample video footage from other shooters already exists, I decided to do something different to make my video tests a bit more interesting.
I shot everything at 120 frames per second for slow motion instead of at the usual 24, 30, or 60 frames per second that many people shoot at. I also decided to shoot everything using a Canon lens with the camera, instead of a native Sony lens, since many people are curious how a Canon lens will perform when shooting video with this body. I also changed up the gamma profile a bit from the typical Slog2 and Slog3 color profiles that most people are using nowadays when shooting video on Sony cameras.
So here is what I did: I first connected a Metabones Mark IV adapter to the Sony a6300. Then I connected my Canon 24-105mm F/4 L Lens. After that I shot everything at 1080p, 120 frames per second, using a bit depth of 100 megabits per second, and then slowed it down by a factor of 5 times to just 24 frames per second to make it slow motion. I had the camera convert it to slow motion for me though when recording to save time, but you can choose to do it later yourself if you prefer.
Lastly, as my chosen Picture Profile for video, I used my own picture profile that I created and saved on the camera where I set the gamma to the Cine4 Gamma setting and with S-Gamut3.Cine as my Color Mode. This also allowed me the ability to capture video at ISO 200. I will explain further.
If you shoot in either Slog2 or Slog3 the camera forces you to shoot at ISO 800. That is not ideal for shooting outdoors in the daytime (as I was doing) and would also require use of a neutral density filter to reduce the impact of high sensitivity to light at high ISO.
Personally, I don’t like to bother with filters if I don’t have to. Plus I don’t see any reason to shoot at ISO 800 in broad daylight when you already have good light. Slog2 and Slog3 remove all the color saturation and contrast to give you a very flat image, which means it provides the advantage of more dynamic range. The idea is that it will then result in less clipping of highlights when you do your color grading later.
But Slog modes also mean more noise in my opinion because you are forced to capture video at ISO 800 at all times. I also found that shooting with Cine4 gives you more dynamic range than a standard Cine1 Gamma with the Cinema Color Mode that most people use as their all purpose setting. But Cine4 also allows you the beauty of going down to ISO 200 instead of being stuck at ISO 800 as you are when shooting in Slog. So 2/3 the dynamic range of Slog with Cine4 and without the forced high ISO. Win/Win.
The other thing about the Slog picture profiles on this camera is that there appears to be no difference in dynamic range between Slog2 and Slog3. And since the a6300 uses an 8-bit codec, it is recommended that, if you do want to shoot in Slog, you simply avoid Slog3 and just use Slog2.
So here is my sample test footage. It is a montage of about 5 segments of slow motion footage and lasts a total of about 2.5 minutes. Click on the arrow below to start playing the video.
Video focusing on this camera is excellent when using Sony lenses. But on the Canon 24-105mm F/4 L lens that I shot this footage with, and the Canon 70-200 F/4 L lens, the auto focus doesn’t work for video. It only works for still photos. But when using a Sony lens with the a6300, unless you want to focus on a specific subject, I would recommend setting it to the Wide auto focusing mode (with all 425 phase detect autofocus points active). With video and Sony lenses, the autofocus automatically switches to continuous autofocus to track moving subjects. So you don’t have to worry about the focus getting locked in one position if you are filming a moving subject. And that’s it. Just start shooting your video and it does the rest. It also adjusts exposure automatically on video when needed.
The only thing you may want to do is to turn on the face detection focusing if you are trying to follow a moving person when shooting video with a Sony lens. Or if you want to focus on something in a particular part of the frame then you could set it to flexible spot or zone focusing, but that wouldn’t work if the subject is going to be changing positions within the frame. Or if you are recording an interview, and you don’t want the focus to change at all, then you could just focus it once then switch to manual focus to lock down the focus completely.
One thing to note though is that the slow motion video gets quite a bit of noise if shooting at high ISO and in low light. The first footage I captured for my slow motion tests was in low light and I later discovered it was full of noise. So I decided to re-shoot some new slow motion video in good daylight for this series.
Thus, I would try and avoid using slow motion in low light at all if you can. Just use it mainly for well lit situations. And since you need to get the shutter speed up to at least around 1/200th of a second for slow motion video (because you will be shooting at 120 frames per second), you are going to need a lot more light to shoot slow motion video versus shooting regular 30fps or 60fps video. Also, this camera definitely does have serious rolling shutter issues when shooting 4K video, but it is not so bad at 1080p and nearly non existent when shooting slow motion video.
I also want to talk a bit about the still photo quality from this camera. I had my doubts before about it as I mentioned in an earlier post, but frankly the still photo quality is fantastic. I feel when shooting RAW at ISO 100, and with good light, there is no noise. And sharpness, colors, and contrast are superb. Plus, dynamic range is everything one would expect.
Below is a shot I took on tripod at about a 35mm focal length on the lens (so about 53mm equivalent on this camera), ISO 100, F/11 and 1/125th shutter speed. This was shot with the Canon 24-105mm F/4 L lens. Click on the small image below to see a high-res image of this shot. I did replace what was an unpleasant sky in the original photo, but look at that sharpness on everything else. Simply amazing in my opinion.
I was also a bit concerned about the speed and accuracy of the autofocus for moving subjects. Plus when shooting sports and action photos. So see the photo below. It was shot at ISO 200, F/4, 1/640th shutter speed. Again, with the Canon 24-105mm F/4 L lens. I can honestly say the autofocus speed in my opinion is the same whether using a Sony or Canon lens on the a6300. The key though is setting the camera up correctly for shooting moving subjects. What I do is set it to having all 425 focus points active, put it into continuous autofocus mode to focus track the movement, activate face recognition (if shooting people), and then put it into high-speed shooting mode of 11 frames per second. This will yield the best results. Pretty much all you have to do after that is just press the shutter and no need to think at all except if you want to set exposure manually (as I always do) or let it set the exposure automatically through one of the priority shooting modes for you if you prefer.
So here are my final conclusions: Let me start by saying if you are looking for a full frame body then this camera isn’t for you. But if you are not a professional photographer, and not doing production work in a studio, then you could pretty much use this camera for anything; still photos and video. All is superb quality and good enough for almost any application.
If you are a professional then I would say you still might want a separate DSLR for shooting at least you still photos. I still plan to use a DSLR for my still photography work, but, whenever I travel, shoot outdoors, shoot any action photography, or shoot video, then I will almost definitely use this Sony camera for that.
One reason I wont use this camera for work though is because of its small form factor that I don’t like so much. But mainly I can’t really use it for work because it is not full frame, plus I don’t like using an electronic view finder for production work as it is far more difficult for me to judge exposure correctly.
It works great with Canon lenses as well though. But I would still get at least one Sony made lens with it as I did because some of the auto focus modes (like zone focus and a few others) are not going to work with Canon lenses when shooting photos. Also, autofocus video tracking does not work with Canon lenses it seems. Plus you may not always want to have to use an adapter with it because of the added size and weight.
So good to have at least one native Sony lens for it. The 16-70mm Sony Zeiss lens I bought is a great lens, not pricey, and has the advantage of being light weight for travel. It works with video autofocus, plus it gives you a 24mm wide focal length equivalent on the Sony camera. Unless you have any super wide Canon lenses, then you are not going to be able to get down to 24mm wide with this camera because of its crop factor sensor.
I also tested this camera with 6 of my Canon lenses and all 6 of them worked perfectly with autofocus for still photos using the Metabones Mark IV adapter. The lenses I tested it with are the Canon 15mm Fish Eye (older model), Canon 24-105mm F/4 L IS, Canon 24-70mm F2.8 L (older model no IS), Canon 100mm F/2.8 Macro (older model no L and no IS), Canon 135mm F/2 L (older model).
I hope you enjoyed this series of posts, and, as always, if you have questions on anything please post them below and I will be happy to answer.
*UPDATE #1 / 5-April-16* I just read that the Sony a6300 does not work with its phase detect autofocus system in video mode with a Metabones Mark IV adapter and Canon EF lens. In order for the video autofocus to work you need a native Sony E-Mount lens it seems. This is a shame. I have so far only tested the autofocus for video with 2 of the Canon lenses I have and neither of them worked. So I assume the others aren’t going to work either with video autofocus. But with all these Canon lenses you can still first autofocus before you start actually shooting video on the a6300 and that will work. It just means that the camera is not going to focus track a moving subject once you start shooting video with a Canon lens. Perhaps there is a way to disable the phase detect autofocus and switch the camera to contrast detect autofocus mode instead so that the autofocus might be able to work for video with Canon lenses. So far though I have not been able to locate anything for this option within the camera’s settings.