Top critical review
Great, but not amazing. May have problems!
on 16 June 2018
Don't let the size fool you!
I own a Sony Handycam HDRXR550VE for video, and a Nikon D5100 for stills. I was hoping the Sony A6300 would replace both of these cameras so I could have an 'all-in-one' solution. Was I wrong? Possibly. Read on...
Now don't get me wrong, this is one great camera! The specs are impressive, especially for it's compact size. Of course, the size changes depending what lens you're using, but it's packed with features – some you'll use, some you wont – but it is a good all-in-one camera that will suit a lot of people.
If you're moving up from a 'point and shoot' compact camera then this is a no-brainer, it will blow your mind. If you're moving over from a DSLR, it will take a few hours to get used to, but you will most likely love it, once you've customized the buttons and settings the way you want.
Don't let the size fool you, it is a heavy unit at 415g (with battery but without lens). It feels solid in the hand and not flimsy or cheap. It has all the physical features you would want in a camera. Although an extra custom button would never go to waste. There are two 'C' buttons (c1 + c2), but there is also an 'FN' button that can be programmed with (custom) quick menu functions too. I use this for things like white balance, picture profile, zebra peaking etc. I actually very much like this feature being there. And once you're used to it, it's very handy.
The view finder is awesome! There's no other way to put it. It beats any DSLR in every way I can think of. The picture is sharp and clear and you have options to customize what info is shown to you while looking through it too. The LCD screen is great too. Although it doesn't articulate 'front-ways' (for vloggers or selfies) it does angle up and down to help compose shots at angles. No more laying down on the floor to get a good low angle shot! It's also bight and clear and can, too, be customized as far as the info displayed. On both the view finder and LCD screen you can also have a digital, on-screen 'level' indicator, which is good and looks so cool!
Now then, on to the photos. I found this hit and miss! Some photos I took looked great! Others looked terrible. For a camera of this caliber, you'd expect sharp, clear, great quality photos, but a lot of the pictures looked like they were taken with my smartphone, my cheap Chinese smartphone! When zoomed in using photo editing app on my PC, the pictures were fuzzy and not sharp and clear like they should be. Some of them were sharp and high quality, but most of them weren't. This is a problem I thought. I have the Sony 20mm f2.8 lens and thought maybe it's the lens so I tried my Nikkor 35mm prime lens on it (with adapter) and the images suffered the same problem. Albeit maybe not as bad but still nowhere near as good as they should be at this price point!
Another issue I noticed in the photos is that there are 'lines' every so often. The kind of lines that are visible on Google Earth when they stitch images together. I guess they're called 'seams'. Well I've noticed these in the images I've taken. Some of them at least anyways (see photos below). This is strange. Maybe the camera works by taking multiple images and stitching them together, in-camera, so you have a large image at the end of it??? No idea! Will have to do further investigating.
So was it going to replace my Nikon D5100? There was only one thing to do to find out... FIGHT!! I mean... DUEL!! Yes, it was time for a shoot off!
I took both cameras out the back garden and shot a series of photos with both of them. Long story short... the Nikon Blew the Sony out of the water on every shot! Both on colour and sharpness (see photos below). WOW, I know! A £350, 16mp camera producing way better image quality than a £750, 24mp camera. So I thought, “what if the lens is causing the difference”. So I used the Nikkor 35mm on the A6300 with an adapter and although they were a little better, they still didn't fair up. Reading other peoples reviews and looking at photos and videos online I see other people are getting better results. Maybe mine is defective? I did, after all, get it as an Amazon warehouse deal due to the “box being damaged”. But when it arrived the box wasn't damaged. But it had been opened (the seal was cut and re-sealed by amazon). So maybe someone had returned it before as defective and it ended up being sold to me? Who knows. But I'm returning it and getting another one to see if it's the same. So stay tuned for the update...
Of course I can't leave it there. I must touch on the video side of it as it is a major function and selling point of this camera. So you have a lot of options here:
XAVC S HD,
XAVC S 4K,
If you shoot in PAL you get: 25/50/100fps. Or if in NTSC you get 24/30/60/120fps.
NOTE 1: In both modes the 100 or 120fps is only available in 'XAVC S' mode.
NOTE 2: There are also options of bitrate (image quality) for all modes (see example image below).
NOTE 3: This model HAS got an audio-in jack for ext. microphones. It works well. Also the sound quality from the built in microphone is very good.
NOTE 4: You'll want to remove the 'strap clips' from the sides of the camera body! These things rattle like mad and ruin your videos. They're easy to get off by just using your finger nail to pop the black plastic thing off, then then just remove the metal triangle thing (you'll see what I mean when you get it - if in doubt there are YT videos showing how to do it).
Anyway, on with it...
The video quality is beautiful. The higher quality file types take up quite a bit of storage so be sure to have a large, and fast for that matter, SD card inside it. You will need a U3 Class 10 card for 4k preferably. You should note though that this model doesn't have in-built stabilization. If you need that, then you will have to pay a few hundred more monies to get the A6500. Or just buy lenses with stabilization.
I'm not going to upload a video here on Amazon for you to see the quality as Amazon's video upload system sucks and it compresses video horribly, but you can go to my Youtube channel for that by going to YT and typing 'redreviewz' in the search box. If the video isn't up yet then why not sub and click the bell so you will be notified of it being posted ;) (shameless plugging going on here aye)
The auto-focusing when recording video is very good. Probably one of the best I've seen in any camera. It is also quiet so no annoying lens sounds in your videos :)
******************* Beware, RANT coming right up!!!! ***********************
A quick comment (or rant) about Sony's filing system...it sucks! Sony cameras, for some strange reason, feels the need to create a series of folders on the SD card and puts photos in one (great!), but then for the videos, it creates a folder called 'MP_ROOT', inside that is a folder named '100ANV01', inside that is your MP4 quality recorded videos. Then you have to back-up to the root of the card and then go into another folder named 'PRIVATE', then inside that there are 3 folders. 'AVCHD', 'M4ROOT' and 'SONY'. Seems simple enough right? Wrong! Inside AVCHD, there is a folder named 'BDMV'. Then inside that are three more folders, and you must go into the bottom one - 'STREAM' to find SOME of your videos. THEN!... you must back-up yet again to 'PRIVATE' in order to get to your other files. This time going into 'M4ROOT', then into the top folder (there are FOUR folders in here), 'CLIP' to find the rest of your videos!!!! I know this paragraph was long but that's how long it takes to see all of your files. It's ridiculous! SONY YOU MUST FIX THIS!!!! What is the point in this terrible filing system? You could of easily just created one file for photos and one for videos. We really don't care what file format it is! If it's a video, just put it in the same file as all the other videos! Anyway, rant over!
******************** END OF RANT****************************
One thing to mention... When recording some video clips, I noticed on one or two of them there was a strange noise. It sounded like digital processing going on in-camera. It was only quiet but you could hear it. So maybe this is another fault? I'll find out once I get the new one. If it is going to be an issue then this camera will definitely be dead in the water :( You can't have that noise on your videos that's for sure!
So in the end I like using this camera very much. But, the quality issues I've had with it are unforgivable. So I'll have to see if the replacement is the same or better and make my mind up for sure then.