I am currently shooting most of my pro work -catalogs, look books, product shots and video- with two Sony A7rII’s. So how does the A6300 fit in? Is it a serious tool, can it hang with the best and perhaps even add something?
another bts from our East Harlem shoot, with the A7rII (all bts shots courtesy Millie’s mom)
So this will be my angle of evaluation and bear with me while I talk about how I use the A7rII’s.
A quick reminder, the reason I switched to mirrorless was to cut down on size/weight and have ONE camera (system) to shoot stills and video, without the need for additional attachments and the option to get smooth, reliable auto focus, let’s face it, focus pulling just isn’t for every gig.
By now we all know Sony makes the best sensors. Unfortunately Capture One and Adobe haven’t released a plug in yet, all I am looking at are jpegs. Although what I see is very impressive, especially the files I am getting from the Sony 10-18mm f4 wide open, sharp across the field, this is reason enough for me to keep the camera I will hold off on pixel peeping until I can compare raw files.
I won’t talk about still image quality and low light performance, instead I will focus on ergonomics and af.
Since I switched to the A7rII, I find myself in APSC mode a lot, especially on high volume shoots where we don’t need so much resolution.
Another way of looking at this is that we are getting two lenses in one, for example, the Zeiss FE 55mm in full frame mode for full figure shots and in crop mode for detail shots. I do the same with the Zeiss FE 24-70mm and end up with a much more practical range of 36-105mm equiv and only switch to ff mode when I need to go wider.
I can see myself shooting with one A7rII and one A6300 when I don’t need super high res files.
Let me mention two things I don’t read much about when browsing reviews about mirrorless systems.
1) Lens changes and sensor dust.
I find this to be a serious problem especially on location, and particularly when shooting video since retouching/spotting would be very costly. Changing lenses in a dusty/windy environment is a problem I didn’t have when shooting Nikon or Canon DSLR’s due to the mirror and closed shutter. Whenever possible I try not to change lenses on location and if I do, I am very careful. Due to the short flange distance, even dust on the rear element of a lens will show up as a dust spot at smaller apertures.
2) Color rendering:
As of today, color rendering on Sony lenses is all over the place. Zeiss branded Sony lenses have a pleasant warm tone to them, indistinguishable from the Batis lenses I tried.
Sony branded G and first generation Nex lenses render colors much cooler. Now this might not cause a problem for most shooters, I certainly don’t think about it when shooting a concert in a raunchy club, however, for technical assignments this can be a nuisance. My workaround, I use Zeiss lenses for still shoots, Sony lenses for video and don’t mix them for color sensitive assignments.
both shots of the amazing Jon Batiste with the A7rII and the Zeiss FE 24-70mm f4 wide open and ISO 25.6k
3) Sensor color rendering A6300 & A7rII.
Since I can’t compare raw files yet, I am pleased to report that I didn’t see a difference shooting video when comparing creative styles and picture profiles.
This is one of the two, actually three, areas the A6300 disappoints, especially if you are used to shooting with the A7/r/s/II.
Missing a wheel in front, only has one thumb wheel and no +- dial.
We have to use the rear dial to change +-compensation and shutter speed.
It also lacks a few custom buttons which impacts
Af accessibility and speedy af changes. This is a major mess up, too many buttons to press, not intuitive at all, the A7rII is much better in this respect.
5)Continuous shooting, silent shooting, buffer, EVF:
Big thumbs up, we get continuous shooting in silent mode, although only at the slowest frame rate. The 120fps EVF refresh rate makes you almost forget your old OVF. Tracking subjects in high continuous shooting mode and following them on screen or through the EVF is bliss, until you reach your buffer limit.
Buffer: rather disappointing, considering the frame rates this camera is capable of, shooting in small bursts to avoid blinks, as long as one can keep it there, it’s fine,
however, once filled up, which appears to happen around 25~33 frames, the camera locks up.
6) Legacy lenses: Since AF performance has been vastly improved on the A7rII I sold most mf lenses and only have a few left, one of my favorites, the Nikon E 75-150mm, focus peaking works very well, the high resolution EVF is a joy to use and it produces beautiful files. Unfortunately I don’t have an ultra wide mf lens at the moment, I might be testing the Samyang 12mm f2.0 soon, stay tuned, based on how it renders files from the 10-18mm we can assume it will deliver.
7)AF speed and accuracy, stills.
shooting with the 10-18mm is a joy, af speed it lightening fast and spot on at all frame rates during movement or moving subjects. Of course this is probably the most forgiving lens. The Zeiss FE 55mm isn’t far behind the 10-18mm, speedy and accurate, I love this lens on the A7rII and now on the A6300.
Turns it into a great portrait lens at 24mp vs 18mp on the A7rII.
Terrible. By now I have a bag full of batteries, so you might ask why bother complaining?
Video. The wait on video sets, this is the only time I get nervous, looking at the remaining battery power display, on the A7rII I use the grip and I have a few spare inserts loaded. The only option with the A6300 is something like this,
my DIU battery holder, it clamps to the quick release bracket, feeds juice from the NPF970 or F750 to the inserted dummy battery.
A quick summary for now:
once set, impressive AF speed and good tracking capabilities-on par with the A7rII, best tracking achieved in zone mode, good face detection, great accuracy shooting wide open.
Excellent continuous shooting modes and the ability to see what I am shooting.
Continuous shooting in silent mode (slowest frame rate)
This sensor appears to be optimized for wide angle, files from my Sony 10-18mm f4
never looked so good.
4k video, although we get a 1.2 crop mode when shooting 30fps, only super 35mm in 24fps.
The not so good:
You can also consider this a positive if you are a Sony shooter, menu structure is as confusing as on the rest of their cams, no relearning required . Someone please send a Panasonic LX100 to their software engineering department and have them take a look at the menu and remote application which is light years ahead of play memories and while at it, check out the ergonomics!
Battery life appears to be worse! then on the A7rII.
No battery grip option.
Not enough custom buttons to allow for quick af mode changes.
This will certainly keep the camera out of many pro bags.
So is this a mini A7rII? Yes, but a seriously crippled one when it comes to ergonomics.
The big question for the ones who want to travel as light as possible, even on assignments, can it act as a back up in a pinch? In my case, I would say it can, it certainly will make a fantastic 4k b cam, great for use on a small gimbal stabilizer,
great for landscapes, I consider 24mp plenty and if you don’t need extreme shallow depth of field only ff can produce and work in a controlled environment where you have time to fiddle with buttons and go into the menu to change your set up. It can also double as a descent street camera, (all we need is a nice 18mm f2.0 af lens). This is it for now, I will update this post if I come across any gotchas and post images as soon as I have a raw converter.
Hopefully we will get raw converter plug ins shortly, can’t wait to test it with a few legacy and mf wide angle lenses.
There is room for the A6300 in my bag :). Don’t hesitate to ask questions, I check the comment section regularly and will reply!
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