Review of the Sony α6300.
As a travel content producer, I don’t consider myself a professional photographer or videographer. Those people have kick-ass skills and really know what they are doing. But at the same time, I also consider myself more than an amateur because I take so much footage for work that I inevitably gain a basic understanding of photography and videography.
I remember struggling when I first decided to take travel blogging more seriously. My GoPro and iPhone had served me well enough, lasting through many memorable trips like my 76 days in South America and climb of Mount Kinabalu. Even helping me to create a couple of cool videos (click on the previous links).
But there were tons of limitations. In South America, I remember struggling to capture the wildlife without a proper camera with telephoto lens. At Mount Kinabalu, I couldn’t capture the beautiful stars because the GoPro and iPhone simply isn’t equipped for extreme low light situations like that. So I wanted to get a better camera.
Captured this after getting my Sony α6300 at Mount Penanjakan near Mount Bromo – ISO 2500, f/4.0, 30s
The problem though, was that point and shoot cameras weren’t powerful enough, and full frame DSLRs cost way too much. As a professional amateur, I needed something in-between. After researching and playing with a few semi-pro cameras for awhile, I found that the Sony α6300 fit my needs perfectly.
Since people frequently ask me what camera I use, here’s a quick (not too techie) review of it.
It’s small, light, and durable.
Whenever possible, I like to travel as light as possible. Full frame DSLRs while powerful, can get quite bulky. The body of the Sony α6300 weighs only 360g and is about the size of my spectacle case, which makes it super light and compact. While of course it ultimately depends on which lens I choose to use, the base is pretty good.
It’s a pretty hardy camera as well, which is important since I mainly use it while travelling. I’m not exactly the most careful person and have accidentally knocked the camera around a couple of times since getting it 2 months ago (Jul 2016). The body is made up of a strong magnesium alloy, and has a decent sealing mechanism around the buttons and dials, giving me the confidence to film in slightly wet or dusty conditions.
For it’s size, it’s a really powerful camera.
Dusty conditions at Mount Bromo, where volcanic ash was everywhere – ISO100, f/5.6, 1/560s
Perfect for travel videos
Yes it shoots videos in 4K at standard frame rates. While most of my videos are exported in 1080p, I do prefer to record in 4K as it gives me more flexibility in cropping my videos. The compression is really good as well, so I don’t get ginormous file sizes filming in 4K. The 4K also makes the camera future proof. Hope to continue using this for the next 2-3yrs at least!
At 1080p full HD, I can even film in slow-mo at 120fps, ~5 times the actual speed for those epic action shots. Not to forget it has a pretty decent microphone for audio.
And travel photography too
Photography wise, the new 24.2MP image sensor and processor allows the camera to function really well under low light conditions. While you probably don’t want to do this, it can shoot at ISO 51200. No longer do I have to miss out on a shot because of camera limitations.
Taking images of sushi in a restaurant with relatively low light
The auto focus is the fastest in the market
One of the best features of camera is it’s ultra fast 0.05s auto focus, so no problems when you need to capture a moment quickly. That’s almost literally focussing at the speed of sight. While travelling, things often happen unexpectedly, so this is pretty useful.
Capturing a moment at the Philosophers Walk in Osaka – ISO 250, f/4.0, 1/60s
It also has a high density auto focus tracking feature as well, allowing you to capture things with accuracy even while it’s moving quickly across your frame. No more unfocussed action shots.
Trademark pike shot at Bhangarh Fort in India – ISO500, f/5.0, 1/4000s
Most importantly, it’s affordable
At just S$1,479 for the body (or S$1,699 for body + 16-50mm Power Zoom lens), you’re getting a lot of value for what you are paying. I would go as far to say that for a professional amateur, you’re getting close to DSLR features for a fraction of the cost. For most of us, it simply isn’t worth spending 3-5k on a camera if you aren’t using it professionally for work.
As for me, it has the perfect price point with all the features I need.
As much as I love the camera, the batteries simply die too fast. Compared to using a standard DSLR, you’ll probably have to carry a couple of batteries around if you’re going to be using it for long. In fact, I have 3 batteries and can finish using them all if I’m filming a lot while travelling the entire day! Most days only uses 1.5 batteries though.
Sony lenses have some catching up to do
While this isn’t that relevant to me yet (until I turn pro), friends in the industry have been keen to point out that the Sony lenses are still falling a little behind their competitors. The good thing though, is that if I eventually improve enough, I can still easily use lenses from other brands by simply using an adapter. So I guess this isn’t really a problem.
If you have a strong interest in travel photography and videography but do not want to invest too much at the start, the Sony α6300 is probably your best bet at the moment.