Sony recently announced an exciting new 4K mirrorless camera that is already generating a lot of buzz – The a6300. With a list price of under $1000, this is one of the most affordable interchangeable lens 4K cameras on the market, and it doesn’t come with many compromises.
Since the original A7S, Sony has gained a ton of momentum with their camera lineup and have won over many former Canon and Panasonic users. In the past couple of years we have seen multiple iterations of the A7, A7R, and A7S, the release of both the FS7 and FS5, and notable improvements to their professional line – the F5 and F55.
While it’s pretty incredible to see what Sony has been able to do in such a short period of time, the amount of camera options they now offer is almost overwhelming, and it leaves some potential customers unsure of where to invest their money.
Personally, I bought into the A7S II last fall and have generally enjoyed shooting with the camera. The low light capabilities and dynamic range are very strong, and the overall image quality is great. As I’ve mentioned before on this site, I don’t love Sony’s color science and generally don’t find the images off their cameras to look “filmic” right off the bat, but with some love in the color suite, they can look pretty fantastic.
With that said, had the Sony a6300 been available when I purchased the A7S II, I certainly would have considered it as a viable alternative. In many ways the specs of the a6300 are on par with the A7S II, with a few exceptions.
Take a look at some highlighted camera specs before we continue:
- 24.2MP APS-C Exmor CMOS Sensor with Max Res of 6000 x 4000
- BIONZ X Image Processor
- XGA Tru-Finder 2.36m-Dot OLED EVF
- 3.0″ 921.6k-Dot Tilting LCD Monitor
- XAVC S: 3840 x 2160p / 30 fps (100 Mbps) / 30 fps (60 Mbps) / 25 fps (100 Mbps)
/ 25 fps (60 Mbps) / 24 fps (100 Mbps) / 24 fps (60 Mbps)
- XAVC S: 1920 x 1080p / 120 fps (100 Mbps) / 120 fps (60 Mbps) / 100 fps (100 Mbps)
/ 100 fps (100 Mbps) / 60 fps (50 Mbps) / 50 fps (50 Mbps)
/ 30 fps (50 Mbps) / 25 fps (50 Mbps) / 24 fps (50 Mbps)
- S-Log3 Gamma and Display Assist Function
- Built-In Wi-Fi with NFC
- 4D FOCUS with 425 Phase-Detect Points
- ISO 100-25600 (Extended Mode: 100-51200)
- Up to 11 fps Shooting
- Clip Length Max: 30 minutes
- Weather-Sealed Magnesium Alloy Body
Clearly there’s a lot to be excited about here. An interchangeable lens camera that records 4K internally with S-Log3 will be enough to win over a lot of potential buyers – especially with a price tag of under $1K. Not to mention, other features like 1080/120p recording, 4D Focus, and a weather sealed body will make this camera a no brainer for many filmmakers.
At the same time there are some important differences between the a6300 and it’s bigger brother, the A7S II:
For starters, the A7S II comes equipped with a full frame sensor, while the a6300 features an APS-C sized (or Super 35mm) sensor. The A7S II also has built in 5-axis image stabilization, an innovative feature that will not be found on the a6300.
Low-light performance on the a6300 will likely be relatively strong, but certainly won’t be a match for the A7S II which can shoot up to 409,600 ISO in extended mode (whereas the a6300 tops out at 51,200). This is largely due to the lower megapixel count on the A7S II (12MP vs. 24MP on the a6300), which means the A7S II can make use of larger pixels for cleaner low-light results.
But by the same token, many of the differences between the two cameras won’t be deal breakers for most shooters, and in fact in some ways they could be seen as advantages for a6300 users.
Take the sensor size for example. Many filmmakers that came up during the 5D era/DSLR revolution have grown accustomed to shooting on full frame, but many others prefer a Super 35mm sensor, myself included. Super 35 means less challenging focus pulls, a more traditional cinematic aesthetic, and far more lensing options.
In-camera stabilization is certainly an excellent feature to have, but in my opinion it’s more of a luxury than a necessity. When I bought my A7S II, one of the big selling features was the internal stabilization, but after several months of working with the camera I actually found I wasn’t using it very often. Any time the camera was set up on a rig (which was most of the time), I was able to achieve better results by turning the stabilization off and letting the rig/counterbalance do the work.
The same goes for the low-light capability of the A7S II. Understandably for some users the ability to shoot at such crazy high ISOs is advantageous, but many users it really doesn’t matter all that much. Personally, I rarely need to shoot above ISO 1600, only occasionally bumping up to 3200 as needed. A well lit image at a low ISO is always going to look better than a poorly lit image at a high ISO, no matter how noise-free it may be.
The point is there really isn’t all that much difference between the A7S II and the a6300 from a practical standpoint. Yes, the A7S II has more bells and whistles (as it should for nearly 3x the price), but the a6300 is nothing to scoff at.
If you’re in the market for a mirrorless camera and don’t absolutely need some of the added features of the A7S II, I would highly recommend considering the a6300. Spending less on the camera means you have more money left over for lenses, lighting, or other gear that will likely be a better investment in the long run.
Once the a6300 is actually released and I get a chance to shoot with it, I’ll be sure to post some updates and test footage as a follow up. For now, let me know your thoughts below!
Noam Kroll is an award-winning Los Angeles based filmmaker, and the founder of the boutique production house, Creative Rebellion. His work can be seen at international film festivals, on network television, and in various publications across the globe. Follow Noam on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook for more content like this!