Sony a6300: A nearly perfect camera if you can live with the controls

Sony a6300: A nearly perfect camera if you can live with the controls

Sony Alpha a6300 Mirrorless Digital Camera with 16-50mm LensAlmost every photographer I know wishes their camera was smaller and lighter. But of course they don’t want to give up speed or features. This is particularly true with those of us clinging to our DSLRs, but constantly eyeing the mirrorless category for new models, as they creep up on our larger cameras in capability. With the launch of its , yet another set of barriers to moving to mirrorless have come down. I’ve been shooting with one since its launch and while I’ll be doing a more-detailed review, I wanted to get my preliminary thoughts out.

The has good dynamic range for an APS-C camera, even in this standard JPEG shot.

In short, the camera is amazing marvel of technology. It is wicked fast (hundreds of phase and contrast detect AF points, and up to 20fps, for example), and the image quality is as good as you’d expect from a flagship Sony APS-C 24MP sensor. Also typical of Sony, it is chock full of video features, and supports all those cute little apps that Sony loves to market as part of its PlayMemories brand. Unfortunately, the complexity slows down the camera’s turn on time, so you’d better be prepared for something to happen before it does. The supports the increasingly-impressive line of Sony lenses.

However, the camera has a really-glaring dark side. The controls are basically those of a point and shoot. Instead of the friendly, fast, and well-placed control buttons and dials you’d find on a Nikon or Canon (or even Sony) DSLR, it has the toy-like interface typical for a compact camera. If you’re used to a Sony RX100, or even a Sony NEX model, and have learned to live with those controls, you’ll have no trouble. If you’re coming from a DSLR, you’ll likely be frustrated, at least for awhile. As a simple example, the top-right control dial (useful for Aperture in A mode, etc.) is placed very near the edge of the camera, so your forefinger doesn’t rest on it comfortably. And instead of a DSLR-typical back dial near your thumb, you need to fiddle around to find the ridged-ring. Inside that ring, you’ll also find the 4-way rocker used by many compact cameras (although with different meanings to each direction), instead of the easier-to-use separate buttons you’d expect from a high-end model. Of course, the smaller size of the camera compared to a DSLR is part of the reason for the compressed controls, and I’m sure Sony is also looking to get its compact camera users to feel comfortable with it, but they’re not doing serious photographers any favors.

The does a remarkably good job “out of the box” with tricky backlit scenes like this one.
Image untouched (except for scaling) from original JPEG taken with standard “kit” zoom

Stay tuned for my more complete review after I’ve had a chance to shoot some assignments with it. In the meantime, if you are okay with compact-camera-type controls, the is a nearly perfect mirrorless camera.