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 using a software hack. Go here to read my new article entitled Sony Cameras – Fixing Problems By Using Aftermarket Software, which will provide links to the software and explain more about fixing the NTSC Warning message.
*UPDATE #2 / 2-February-18* I just posted a new article covering 5 more downsides of the Sony a6300. The new article also provides information about a new firmware update for this camera just released by Sony yesterday on 1-February-2018. Note though that the new firmware update does not address any of the issues I have discussed about this camera, but it does significantly improve the speed of the camera boot-up time. Go here to read the new post.
*UPDATE #3 / 10-March-18* See my latest article here about the 5 reasons why I switched back to Canon from Sony.
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Thanks a lot for this great article and website!
I purchased last monday, an Sony a6500, in France. So, like many people I switched it to the NTSC mode, to have better options and have the possibility to shoot in 24,60 and 120fps.
It’s been a few days now that I’m looking, “why I have this annoying message when i power up the camera”!!??
Thanks for all the time you took to make this article and for having shared it around you, man!
I just have one question, maybe you could help me..
I’m a bit worry.. As you know, there isn’t 24fps in PAL mode.
I’m going to use PAL mode only by night, to don’t have flickering problems, with “the europeans lights”.
What the best way to have a cine rendering? I must shoot in 25FPS and convert in Premiere Pro CC in 23,976FPS..?
Thanks in advance and keep up the great work!
Thanks for writing Julian and for your kind words. Congratulations on your purchase and hope you are enjoying your new a6500.
Before I answer your question, a couple of points to consider:
1 – Flickering lights is usually fixed by slowing down the shutter speed. For example, if you were shooting at 30FPS with the correct shutter speed of 1/60th and you see flicker, then you could slow it down to 1/50th, then 1/30th, etc until you see the flickering stops. Same goes for shooting 25FPS and a shutter speed of 1/50th a second. The only negative to slowing down the shutter speed is that if you slow it down too much the video starts looking a bit mushy since none of your frames will actually be sharp anymore.
2 – Visually there wouldn’t be much noticeable difference between 25FPS and 23.976FPS anyway, so I wouldn’t bother slowing down the frame rate in post.
But to answer your question, yes, you can slowdown the frame rate easily once you do all your editing and then render it out from Premiere Pro CC at a slower frame rate if you like. Or you can simply use Adobe Media Encoder to just render any video at a slower frame rate. Then you can skip using Premiere Pro if you don’t plan to do any editing to the footage first.
Lastly, you might like to look into a program called “Film Convert”. It’s very useful for color grading your footage to give it different types of cinematic film looks.
I hope that helps and best wishes with your shooting.
You can “fix” this by using OpenMemories-Tweak – https://github.com/ma1co/OpenMemories-Tweak
It has an option to show or hide the PAL/NTSC selector as I understand NTSC devices don’t normally allow you to switch unlike PAL, but this also controls the warning note too.
So I changed both my A6000 and A6300 into NTSC mode, then remove the option, and no more warnings any more.
You still can’t have PAL and NTSC format videos on the same SD card mind you, so it’s not a fix if you truly want to be able to mix and match between NTSC and PAL from video to video, but if you want to stick with one setting for a session, it works great.
Brilliant tweak! Thank you so much for sharing. I am always in favor of aftermarket tweaks for cameras. I have been running Magic Lantern on my Canon 5D II for long.
The function to remove the 30 minute time limit on recording is great too.
The card reformat issue isn’t such a big worry though. I just carry two 64GB cards and swap them if I need to instead of having to reformat.
anybody can help me because I cant go over 25600 iso in moive mode but I have seen that most footage on you can go over 25600 to 50000 iso in movie mode, I cant seem to find the solution, sorry for bad English.
The next and highest ISO setting above ISO 25600 is ISO 51200. It is in the ISO settings in the menu. Just go to where you set it to 25600 and change it to 51200.
Thanks for this detailled explanation. A while ago, it also took me a moment to understand why I am only capable to shoot at 100fps where the advertisement was telling about 120fps.
Sony should deliver a software update to solve these issues, if you ask me.
Your welcome Simon. Legally Sony might be required to keep the different signal frame rates separate (PAL and NTSC) because of the different regions. But they could certainly get rid of the warning message that slows down the workflow.
Yes Sony have been very naughty! I have found a bit of a solution by shooting at 100 fps and then in After Effects remapping the time line to show the slow motion. I have put some examples on my 6300 web page – http://www.rtfract.com/sonya6300.htm. It may be possible to do it also in Sony Vegas.
Thanks for the idea Richard. Yes, you could shoot at 100fps and slow it down in post to 25 fps and get some good slow motion still. That would work. A bit less slow motion than when shooting at 120fps, but a good compromise. My bigger problem is I shoot most video at 1080p and 60fps, which is only available in NTSC. And if you want to shoot 4K in PAL you only get a maximum of 25fps. At least NTSC gives you 30fps in 4K. Cheers.
I personally found this SO frustrating too. If I have knew about this I wouldn’t have bought it in Hong Kong. One of the main reason of buying this camera is to get the 120p and the 4K. Which means I am now stuck with the “running in NTSC” FOREVER 🙄
I am sorry to hear that Alex. I am also stuck with the “running in NTSC” warning forever, but I have come up with a workaround that only shows the message once in a while now and it works pretty good. First thing is I switched the camera to go into Power Save after 5 minutes instead of just 10 seconds. 10 seconds is the way I had it set before to save maximum battery power. So the 5 minute setting now prevents the camera from going into sleep mode as often which then stops it from giving you that error message so often too. You could also change the Power Save mode to become active after 30 minutes if you wanted to. But what uses up the most battery power is the LCD screen once you change the setting to 5 minutes. It is because when you are not looking through the Finder the Monitor will stay turned on for the full 5 minutes before turning off and this will use up a lot of your battery power. So I then changed the FINDER/MONITOR setting in the menu to Monitor (Manual). By doing this it prevents the monitor (LCD screen) from turning on when you pull your eye away from the viewfinder. Then I switched the C1 (custom Button 1) button, which is next to the shutter release, to be used to switch between Finder/Monitor. So now, after I stop shooting, the camera stays running at full power for 5 minutes, but without turning on the LCD screen and using up a lot of battery power. So now I only get the NTSC warning if I don’t touch the camera for more than 5 minutes. But you can increase that to 30 minutes too if you want as I said. And whenever I want to turn on the LCD screen (Monitor) I just press the C1 button next to the shutter. Try that and let me know how it works for you. It isn’t a complete fix obviously, but it has worked out quite well for me so far.
There is more to it: If you shoot 60fps/120fps in an European country, the electric current is 50Hz. Many lights flicker at 50Hz. If you shoot at 60fps you will have very ugly stripes and flickers throughout your footage (google or YouTube for it). And vice versa.
This is also the reason why NTSC and PAL have different frequencies at the first place, it is simply due to different electriity.
Thank you. Agreed if you are shooting indoors with available light. But flicker can also be easily resolved by changing shutter speed in most cases.
This is yet again a confirmation of the horror Sony offers to its buyers in terms of shooting experience and software. I read so many times about how user unfriendly the menus and the interface in general are. I think you should send your article to dpreview because they missed to point out this problem in their review.
Thank you for pointing this out. We wouldn’t be able to manage with this issue. We have a small video production company in Hong Kong and we were considering buying some of these cameras to replace our older Canon DSLR bodies that we are using now for video. We will look for another brand of camera instead.
Thankfully I never use my cams for video – I use a videocam instead.
That’s a good solution. But many people are also interested in this camera particularly for its video capabilities because it can shoot 4K video and 120 frames per second slow motion video, both within a very low cost and compact body. Plus it can shoot 24mp still photos. So that helps to alleviate the need for 2 cameras that way.
Wow, that is terrible! Thanks for pointing this out. I can’t believe Sony does not let people disable this warning message or do something to offer some solution to those people in the PAL countries that are suffering from this problem. Shame on them.