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First Impressions Of Sony’s a6300 & How It Stacks Up To The A7S II

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.

a6300 vs a7s ii

Sony a6300 Alpha Mirrorless Digital Camera – $998 at B & H

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!

About Author

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!

23 Comments

  • Dan
    September 15, 2016 at 9:08 pm

    Since I own an a6300 and am learning to deal with overheating and rolling shutter issues one of the real bugaboos is the color science of Sony.
    – I found a guy over on RED user forum that developed a series of LUTs for Cine4 pp, guy knows his stuff. Check out Omeneo Primers for Cine 4 & slog2. Very nice look for a Sony.
    -Also there is a thread over on DVXUser about various slog2 pp especially the one by Kholi. They have a pdf(A7s list) of all the pp(s) that people have come up with… decent starting place.
    -Lastly on the RAW camera side PSKiss Cross Camera Color profiles are a nice way to start your images in PS by experimenting between different camera “looks”.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      September 19, 2016 at 2:42 pm

      Hey Dan! Thanks so much for sharing all this. I’ll need to check this out in the near future, and I appreciate the note.

      Reply
  • Alex
    May 7, 2016 at 11:20 am

    Surprised you didn’t mention the two biggest caveats of the a6300 (imo);

    1. Insane rolling shutter.

    2. Almost unusable level of overheating.

    The specs look amazing and had the camera been usable in a reliability sense I would have considered it for sure, but I feel Sony missed the mark big time with the a6300 from a video standpoint. GH4 is still a far better option for most Pro-sumer/ Pro shooters I feel.

    Do you think Canon will bring an A7/ a6xxx range competitor to the table any year soon? I like you love Canons colour science and reliability, if there was a similar Canon option I would buy it. I still shoot with 7D quite a bit between shoots with GH4.

    Love your blog btw.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      May 16, 2016 at 7:24 pm

      Thanks a lot for the note Alex. This post was written without having shot on the camera (my impressions were purely based on specs), so I will certainly try to do an update once I get my hands on one. Either way, I appreciate you pointing out some of the issues here.

      I would love to see Canon come out with a try competitor to the A6300/GH4, etc. but I honestly doubt we will see that this year, or even next year for that matter. I hope I’m wrong, but it just seems like Canon is moving away from high end features on their lower cost cameras, which in the long run could cause some major issues for them… At least in my opinion. Thanks again for sharing this!

      Reply
  • Flaaandeeers
    April 1, 2016 at 10:10 pm

    Hi Noam.
    I finally cancelled my A6300 pre-order mostly due to the overheating issue but also the rolling shutter was really really bad.
    Almost gone with the NX1 but here in my country is impossible to get.

    And then I’ve bought a Nikon D750 and could not be happier, since it has really nice 1080p, decent RS performance, amazing DR, color and rolloff and extraordinary stills.
    I’m happy that I’ve trade pure resolution, slomo and some video features for that image attributes.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      April 17, 2016 at 4:17 pm

      Really cool! And interesting to hear… I’ve never used the D750 but hear very good things, so I’ll have to give it a spin sometime soon.

      Reply
  • Kim
    March 13, 2016 at 9:12 am

    Any info on how rainproof is the A6300 and the combo lens is interesting too. I think it could be a great match for a rain proof gimbal http://www.levitezer.com/styled-2/blog-2/index.html , but can not fins any detailed information what level of dust/rain protection the A6300 and lens has

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      March 19, 2016 at 12:17 am

      Note quite sure myself, but will definitely look into this in the future!

      Reply
  • Shrigg
    March 8, 2016 at 8:45 pm

    Thanks for sharing your insights Noam. This camera seems about as big a deal as the GH4 was when it hit… It certainly has my attention. Is there a recommended best adapter to get Nikon glass on it?

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      March 10, 2016 at 6:13 pm

      Anytime! Have you checked out the Metabones adapters?

      Reply
  • Dan
    March 8, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    The online review over at cinema 5d isn’t so great in two categories. Really undesirable rolling shutter in 4k & HD is undesirably soft. Image quality is very good. Let the real world feedback begin. Kinda bummer.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      March 10, 2016 at 6:12 pm

      Interesting to hear – I’ll need to check that out… Too bad, but hopefully issues can get resolved with firmware updates.

      Reply
  • Flaaandeeers
    March 3, 2016 at 10:50 pm

    I’ve pre-ordered the a6300 and 35mm 1.8. Planning to get the 10-18 and 18-105 zooms to cover range from wide to tele and the prime for low light.
    I’m also letting my m43 glass go in order to get Nikon manual primes to compliment the Sony AF stabilized glass and build a long proof set.
    I haven’t been this excited with a camera since my GH2. We’ll have to wait and see…

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      March 6, 2016 at 5:59 pm

      Awesome! You’ll have to let us know how it goes, and congrats on making the purchase. I think you’ll love it, at least based on what I can tell so far.

      Reply
  • Joe 1008
    February 29, 2016 at 10:24 pm

    I am personally getting used to shoot in 4k as an acquisition formate (with my RX10 mk II) for a final HD master. That gives me internally more than 4:2:2 and exceeding 8 bit (not really 4:4:4 after stabilizing and maybe not really 10 bit – but definitely exceeding what 8 bits can do).

    I really think that the old HD-codec issues with 4k acquisition are gone forever.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      March 6, 2016 at 5:52 pm

      I find I’m doing the same thing. Even though I know I don’t need 4K, when shooting on a lower-end camera I often want the added resolution/color information as it looks that much better when downscaled to 1080p.

      Reply
  • Adriano
    February 26, 2016 at 4:21 pm

    The a6300 is 4:2:0 internally, but if you do HDMI out it goes up to 4:2:2… both at 8-bit though.

    Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      March 6, 2016 at 5:48 pm

      Good to know Adriano.

      Reply
      • Va
        March 21, 2016 at 8:50 am

        Isn’t the A7 S II also 8bit out?

        Reply
  • trey e
    February 25, 2016 at 8:53 pm

    If the dynamic range is as good as the fs7 then this camera will have an amazing value. I just wish it had 10-bit output with hdmi out.

    But for $1000 4:2:2 is good.

    I have the a6000 and fs700. I am not a fan of the color science but I love the Black and white look and sutble desaturated look of these cameras.

    Based on the info given about the a6300 would your custom a7s2 lut work with a6300?

    Reply
    • Alex Morean
      February 26, 2016 at 5:37 am

      Isn´t it 4:2:0?
      Anyway, for that money, it’s just the perfect camera.

      Reply
      • Noam Kroll
        March 6, 2016 at 5:44 pm

        I think you’re right that it is 4:2:0. And agreed, for $1000 it’s hard to beat.

        Reply
    • Noam Kroll
      March 6, 2016 at 5:44 pm

      Great question – it technically should work, but there might be some subtle differences between the two images that could throw off the final results. That said, if I can get my hands on an a6300 soon I will certainly take a look!

      Reply

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