Sony Alpha A6300 review - Quality

Quality

On this page I’ll compare the quality of the Sony A6300 with its predecessor the A6000. I’ve also included a comparison with Fujifilm’s X-Pro 2, another 24 Megapixel APSC mirrorless camera, not because it’s targeting the same buyers but because the Fuji sensor will almost certainly be featured in future X-bodies aimed at the same audience as the A6300.

Both the A6000 and A6300 were fitted with the same Zeiss 16-70mm f4 zoom, set to 16mm f5.6 in aperture priority for the optimal quality. I fitted the X-Pro 2 with the XF 10-24mm f4, zoomed to 16mm to match the field-of-view and also set to f5.6 for the optimal quality. I used this lens on the Fuji as it was the only one I had available at the time of testing with a matching focal length. I realise it’s higher-end than the Sony lens, but I decided to include it here out of interest. If you want to minimise the impact of the optics in this comparison, please pay most attention to the crops taken from nearer the middle of the frame where both lenses perform well.

All three cameras were set to their base sensitivities: 100 ISO for both Sonys and 200 ISO for the Fujifilm. As always I’ll start with out-of-camera JPEG comparisons using the default settings, but will update the review with RAW results once the new cameras are fully supported by Adobe Camera RAW.

 

sonya6000_vs_a6300_vs_xpro2_outmain_3000

 

Above is the main view, captured by the Sony A6300 with red squares indicating the areas I’ve cropped for presentation below at 100%. Note a minor difference in the focal lengths used here means the Fuji crops show a slightly tighter area. The three columns show the cropped results from, left to right, the older Sony A6000, the new Sony A6300 and the Fujifilm X-Pro 2.

All three cameras sport sensors with APSC areas and 24 Megapixel resolution, but the Fuji sensor employs a different colour filter array and also lacks a low-pass filter. Meanwhile the A6300 sports a newer sensor than its predecessor. The Fuji architecture allows it to deliver typically crisper results than most rivals, especially when coupled with a higher quality lens like the XF 10-24mm. This is most obvious in the first two rows where the Sony crops look comparatively soft in comparison. I’d say most of this is due to differences in optics towards the edges of the frame – where the Fuji lens is clearly performing better – but also in terms of the sharpness delivered by the Fuji sensor and its subsequent processing. Look closely at the second row and while the Fuji crops initially appear much crisper, there’s evidence of greater sharpening with outlining of edges.

As you judge the remaining crops towards the centre of the frame where both lenses perform more similarly, there’s roughly the same degree of detail recorded by all three models. Certainly the Fuji sensor and processing are delivering a crisper-looking result using the default settings, but I wouldn’t say there’s more detail in there – it’s more that Fuji’s in-camera processing is doing a better job at delivering a crisper result, if of course that’s what you want. I reckon you could get a similar result from all three if you adjusted their in-camera JPEG settings or processed a RAW file with similar parameters.

 

sonya6000_vs_a6300_vs_xpro2_outcrop1

Above left: Sony A6000 / 16-70mm, above middle: Sony A6300 / 16-70mm, above right: Fuji X-Pro2 / 10-24mm. All 100% crops at f5.6

 

sonya6000_vs_a6300_vs_xpro2_outcrop2

Above left: Sony A6000 / 16-70mm, above middle: Sony A6300 / 16-70mm, above right: Fuji X-Pro2 / 10-24mm. All 100% crops at f5.6

 

sonya6000_vs_a6300_vs_xpro2_outcrop3

Above left: Sony A6000 / 16-70mm, above middle: Sony A6300 / 16-70mm, above right: Fuji X-Pro2 / 10-24mm. All 100% crops at f5.6

 

sonya6000_vs_a6300_vs_xpro2_outcrop4

Above left: Sony A6000 / 16-70mm, above middle: Sony A6300 / 16-70mm, above right: Fuji X-Pro2 / 10-24mm. All 100% crops at f5.6

 

sonya6000_vs_a6300_vs_xpro2_outcrop5

Above left: Sony A6000 / 16-70mm, above middle: Sony A6300 / 16-70mm, above right: Fuji X-Pro2 / 10-24mm. All 100% crops at f5.6

 

sonya6000_vs_a6300_vs_xpro2_outcrop6

Above left: Sony A6000 / 16-70mm, above middle: Sony A6300 / 16-70mm, above right: Fuji X-Pro2 / 10-24mm. All 100% crops at f5.6

 

As for the two Sonys, I’d say they’re performing essentially the same here, as you’d expect in good light with the same lens. The bigger question is what happens at higher sensitivities and you can find out in my Sony A6300 noise results below, or skip straight to my Sony A6300 sample images or verdict.

My final word here though would be to ensure you couple all of these cameras with decent lenses for the best results. This particularly applies to the Sony APSC mirrorless bodies which are often sold in a kit with the 16-50mm power zoom. This lens may be small and light, but compromises the quality, especially towards the corners at wider focal lengths. If I were buying the A6300 (or indeed the older A6000), I’d try to couple it with the far superior, albeit larger, 16-70mm f4.

 

Sony A6300 noise

To compare noise levels in low light I photographed this scene with each camera using their full range of ISO sensitivities. I’ve included Fujifilm’s X-Pro 2, another 24 Megapixel APSC mirrorless camera, not because it’s targeting the same buyers but because the Fuji sensor will almost certainly be featured in future X-bodies aimed at the same audience as the A6300.

Both the A6000 and A6300 were fitted with the same Zeiss 16-70mm f4 zoom, set to 19mm f5.6 in aperture priority for the optimal quality. I fitted the X-Pro 2 with the XF 10-24mm f4, zoomed to 19mm to match the field-of-view and also set to f5.6 for the optimal quality. I used this lens on the Fuji as it was the only one I had available at the time of testing with a matching focal length. I realise it’s higher-end than the Sony lens, but I decided to include it here out of interest. The cropped area is taken towards the middle of the frame where both lenses perform well.

Each camera was using its default processing style and the shutter speeds were matched for each sensitivity – so what you’re looking at below is directly comparable. The full view is shown below with the red square indicating the cropped area, presented below at 100%. I’ve compared out-of-camera JPEGs here but also recorded the scene in RAW for a future comparison when all the cameras are properly supported in Adobe Camera RAW.

 

sonya6000_vs_a6300_vs_xpro2_noisemain_3000

 

As we saw on the previous page, the Fujifilm is applying slightly higher sharpening to what was arguably slightly crisper output from the sensor to start with, resulting in a punchier-looking set of crops. But while initially attractive, if you look carefully you’ll see evidence of over-sharpening with edge artefacts which you may or may not find appealing. The bottom line is you can tone-down the Fujifilm sharpening or apply more to the Sony images either in-camera or on RAW files, and achieve a more similar-looking result if desired.

As for actual recorded detail and visible noise, I’d say all three cameras are fairly well-matched up to 1600 ISO. At 3200 ISO and above though, all three cameras have to deal with noise and I’d say all the way up from here to 51200 ISO the Fujifilm does the best job using the default settings. Sure its approach may result in more visible noise, but I personally prefer the retention of detail rather than smearing it out.

As for the two Sonys, I’d say the older A6000 is suffering a little more than its younger sibling, with rougher edges and patchier noise reduction. From 3200 ISO upwards I’d say the newer A6300 enjoys an advantage in quality of around one stop over its predecessor – so at 6400 ISO for example, the A6300 looks similar to the A6000 at 3200 ISO. It’s certainly not a standout difference and I wouldn’t upgrade from an A6000 to an A6300 based on this alone, but there are of course many other advantages to the new body over the old one. The good news at least is the addition of even more embedded phase-detect AF points on the A6300 hasn’t compromised its quality over its predecessor – judging from my two pages of results, the A6300 essentially matches the A6000 for resolution and slightly out-performs it above 3200 ISO for noise and retained detail. Not a bad result considering more of the sensor pixels are devoted to AF duties than before.

 

sonya6000_vs_a6300_vs_xpro2_noise_jpeg_100iso

Above left: Sony A6000, above middle: Sony A6300, above right: Fuji X-Pro2. All 100% crops at 100 ISO

 

sonya6000_vs_a6300_vs_xpro2_noise_jpeg_200iso

Above left: Sony A6000, above middle: Sony A6300, above right: Fuji X-Pro2. All 100% crops at 200 ISO

 

sonya6000_vs_a6300_vs_xpro2_noise_jpeg_400iso

Above left: Sony A6000, above middle: Sony A6300, above right: Fuji X-Pro2. All 100% crops at 400 ISO

 

sonya6000_vs_a6300_vs_xpro2_noise_jpeg_800iso

Above left: Sony A6000, above middle: Sony A6300, above right: Fuji X-Pro2. All 100% crops at 800 ISO

 

sonya6000_vs_a6300_vs_xpro2_noise_jpeg_1600iso

Above left: Sony A6000, above middle: Sony A6300, above right: Fuji X-Pro2. All 100% crops at 1600 ISO

 

sonya6000_vs_a6300_vs_xpro2_noise_jpeg_3200iso

Above left: Sony A6000, above middle: Sony A6300, above right: Fuji X-Pro2. All 100% crops at 3200 ISO

 

sonya6000_vs_a6300_vs_xpro2_noise_jpeg_6400iso

Above left: Sony A6000, above middle: Sony A6300, above right: Fuji X-Pro2. All 100% crops at 6400 ISO

 

sonya6000_vs_a6300_vs_xpro2_noise_jpeg_12800iso

Above left: Sony A6000, above middle: Sony A6300, above right: Fuji X-Pro2. All 100% crops at 12800 ISO

 

sonya6000_vs_a6300_vs_xpro2_noise_jpeg_25600iso

Above left: Sony A6000, above middle: Sony A6300, above right: Fuji X-Pro2. All 100% crops at 25600 ISO

 

sonya6000_vs_a6300_vs_xpro2_noise_jpeg_51200iso

Above left: Sony A6000, above middle: Sony A6300, above right: Fuji X-Pro2. All 100% crops at 51200 ISO

 

Now check out my sample images to see how it performs under a variety of real-life conditions!

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