Top positive review
The best apsc hybrid camera
7 June 2018
For my youtube production Count'NCook Maverick (check out my latest videos for 4K shot on a6300), I decided to take a plunge into the world of 4K. I was looking forward to a 4K camera which was budget friendly, light and compact with good low light capabilities and high dynamic range for high contrast scenes. I was eyeing Sony a6300 since 6 months for its amazingly 6K downsampled 4K but held back due to its possibly overheating issues. But firmware 2.0 launched previous year and after watching the reviews on Youtube after the firmware update, I went ahead and purchashed this awesome little beast, as rest of the competition barring Panasonic has nothing to offer for prosumers at below 1000 dollar range. Let me break down this review into 2 parts for Video and Photo.
Video: This camera right out of the box is for intermediate to advanced users who have had previous experience with mirrorless or DSLR cameras. Even for new users, loads of information and instructions that are available on Youtube are extremely helpful. But this camera is not for someone who wants just point and shoot functionality out of this camera.
1) Low light: The sensor with copper wiring technology gives commendable low light performance for any Apsc camera for video. ISO 12800 is usable at least for Youtube. You get best performance at super 35 mode. But with super 35 mode you are limited to cinematic 24 frames per second with downsampled video from 6K to 4K. But with 30fps you loose super 35 mode and also 6K downsampling. There is a slight crop at 30fps and loses a stop of low light performance as compared to 24fps. The low light performance at 1080p is nowhere as good as 4K.
2) Frame rate: Though I love higher framerate videos for my cooking channel I am limited here at 24fps for the advantages mentioned above. But believe me it is worth the tradeoff. Though people criticize this camera for poor and soft 1080p, I believe it is as good or bad as Canon 1080p where I am coming from. I personally use 1080p at 120fps and record at 100Mbps for higher quality. Don't use the feature which slows down the footage in the camera as bit rates are low and quality is poor.
3) Dynamic range: The sensor in this camera is capable of recording around 14 stops of dynamic range. I personally like using Slog 3 for scenes involving windows with highlights and indoors with shadows. The dynamic range captured in Slog 3 is amazing. Beware, it is only 8 bit codec and data rate is only 100Mbps for heavy color correction and grading. For videos shot on log or which requires color grading, I shoot 100Mbps. For rest of the footage I use 60Mbps as it saves space on my hard drive.
4) Autofocus: Autofocus for video is extremely fast and snappy. But you should know to use the options Sony has given us for best performance. You could change autofocus sensitivity or autofocus speed and also dedicate autofocus zones for best performance. Focus peaking is a good feature for manual focusing.
5) Color science: Coming from Canon, I agree with most that the Canon color science is the best. But, in this camera Picture profile PP4 gives colors closer to Canon with footage vibant, contrasty, punchy and colors true to life. I shoot mostly in PP4 and for scenes requiring high dynamic range in shoot Slog 3 with PP9.
6) Functionality and Ergonomics: Though people criticize Sony for their clunky dials and cluttered menus, I don't blame Sony. That's because Sony has to cramp all those features into a small camera like this. I personally find Sony a6300 interface more uselful and intuitive than my previous Canon as you have many customization options.
7) Overheating: Since I shoot recipe videos, I don't have to shoot long clips. I have shot multiple 20 to 25 minutes clip in 4K in succession during my House warming pooja in hot summer of coastal Karnataka. The camera didn't even show overheating icon let alone shut down on me. I think Sony has upgraded some technology or maybe sensor for later Sony a6300 models, because nobody in India is reporting overheating in India despite extreme climates. I think Sony is not revealing it to not attract ire from people who bought this camera long time ago in 2016. I am not sure if the camera would overheat while recording long ceremonies or stage functions. But, why on earth would anyone buy a DSLR/mirrorless camera for those purposes anyways. Further, battery would die down much before it overheats. Dedicated camcorder is better for those jobs. This camera is for budget conscious prosumers who value picture quality over anything else and who make a living out of their videos or photos.
8) Rolling Shutter: Worst rolling shutter of any cameras, For severe panning or for shooting traffic or for any scenes requiring fast action, avoid 4K super 35 mode completely though it could be fixed in post. 4K 30fps has much lower rolling shutter than at 24fps. At 1080p this camera has probably the best rolling shutter performance than other DSLR/mirrorless camera in this price range.
Photo: People usually associate a6300 for its amazing video capabilities but this is equally good photography camera too. The points that I mentioned above for dynamic range, low light also holds true for photos too as it is the same sensor which does both photos and videos right? Autofocus for photos is one of the best for general purpose DSLR or mirrorless (not comparing to high speed fast action cameras like Canon 7D ii etc.,). I personally like to use HDR mode with+-3EV for static scenes, and have even dedicated a button for that. For other scenes I use DRO optimizer with high setting. But I mostly shoot raw and the amount of highlight recovery you get from arw files is amazing. And for shadow recovery, the noise levels are considerably lower for recovered shadows. Zebras are extremely useful to expose the shots properly both for videos and photos.