While we hesitate to use the word ‘affordable’ for a $1,000 camera, we have to admit that Sony is competing on price pretty well with the a6300, which they unveiled today in New York. The new mirrorless interchangeable lens camera improves on the cheaper a6000 model, adding a better sensor, more auto-focus and contrast detection points, and 4k video recording.
The a6300 uses an updated 24.2 MP APS-C Exmor CMOS sensor with BIONZ X image processing and an ISO range of 100 – 51200. That’s not too much of a departure from the a6000, but it’s in the auto-focus system where this new camera shines. The a6300 blows past its predecessor’s 179 auto-focus points with 425 phase detection auto-focus points, which Sony claims is the highest number on any interchangeable lens camera. No less impressive are the 169 contrast-detection auto-focus points, which should be a huge help in drawing out details of darker objects up against bright backgrounds. Oh, and that auto-focus works incredibly fast — it can lock on to objects in .05 seconds, another best-in-class stat Sony is claiming. That auto-focus performance enables continuous shooting at 8 fps (11 fps otherwise) in Live View mode, so you can use either the viewfinder or the LCD display.
Video should be equally impressive. Sony is adding 4k resolution video recording in the Super 35 mm format, without pixel binning. The sensor actually takes in a 6k resolution image, then oversamples to get to a 4k image. In order to handle that kind of recording, the a6300 uses the XAVC S codec, which writes at 100 Mbps during 4k recording and 50 Mbps during 1080p recording to make sure the video is recorded clearly. 4k video can be recorded in 24 fps or 30 fps, while 1080p recording can get up to 120 fps for something approaching slo-mo recording. There’s also S-Log gamma recording and S-Gamut settings to improve color range and contrast. Sony added a port for use with an external microphone, so this could be a handy option in a pinch for professionals and semi-professionals.
This is all housed in a sturdy magnesium alloy case, which makes the whole thing feel more premium and gives you extra protection from drops (although I’d still be pretty horrified to drop this thing). The camera also has Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity for quick offloading and sharing of photos.
As for lenses, the a6300 should work with most of Sony’s offerings, including their A-mount lenses with an adapter. It’ll also work with Sony’s new G Master lenses, which were also announced today. These E-mount full-frame lenses are meant to be Sony’s highest-end interchangeable lenses, with curvature that cuts down on noise and maximizes color fidelity while working with the high-powered auto-focus technology in the a6300. There will be three G Master lenses hitting the market this year — an FE 24-70 mm f/2.8 GM standard zoom lens, an FE 85 mm f/1.4 GM telephoto prime lens, and an FE 70-200 mm f/2.8 GM OSS telephoto zoom lens suited for action shots of wildlife or sports. All three lenses are moisture and dust resistant to help make sure their performance stays consistent over time.
G Master Gallery
The a6300 itself isn’t too bad at $1,000, considering how good the image quality is going to be. There will also be a kit with a 16-50 mm f/3.5 – f/5.6 lens available for $1,150. Both the body and the kit will be available in March. The G Master lenses will set you back a lot further — the standard zoom and telephoto prime lenses will cost $2,200 and $1,800, respectively, and will also be available in March. 70-200 mm telephoto zoom lens will launch in May, with pricing still to be determined.