Sony a6300 vs Panasonic GX8 vs Olympus PEN-F vs OM-D E-M5 II

February 4, 2016

Sony a6300 camera on dotty brown background

In this article I’ll compare the new Sony a6300 mirrorless camera versus three other Micro Four Thirds ILCs, the Panasonic GX8, Olympus PEN-F and the Olympus OM-D E-M5 II.  The Sony Alpha a6300 brings some interesting updated compared to the a6000, but it’s very interesting to see how it stacks up against a few of its direct competitors.

Sony a6300 Price Comparison

Before we move on, let’s first check the prices for these four cameras. The prices are for body only via B&H website as for February 3, 2016.

  • Sony Alpha a6300 — $998.00
  • Panasonic Lumix GX8 — $997.99
  • Olympus PEN-F — $1199.00
  • Olympus OM-D E-M5 II — $899.00

As you can clearly see, the the GX8 is the most direct competitor, priced the same as the a6300. The PEN-F which was announced a week before the a6300 costs $200 more. The popular E-M5 Mark II costs $100 less than the a6300. Anyways, I’m pretty sure that many people who plan to get the A6300 has also considered those three MFT cameras. It’ll be interesting to see whether the PEN-F has something useful to offer over the other model considering its higher price tag. You’ll get an answer to that and many other question in this article.

So now that you’ve got an overview about the pricing, let’s meet our new child in the E-mount camera series, the α6300.

Sony a6300

The new Sony a6300 is an interesting addition to the α Interchangeable-Lens Cameras lineup. With this new α6300 model, Sony focused on improving the AF, low-light and video performance in most part.  In its core, the a6300 features a newly developed 24.3-megapixel Exmor CMOS image sensor. It’s not a BSI sensor as some have hoped for, but it uses the same Copper wiring design as the X-Pro2 sensor (some say it’s the same sensor, I didn’t verify this). This means that the photo-diode area is larger and therefore has better light collection efficiency compared to a conventional wiring design.

Sony a6300

Sony a6300

The a6300 uses the same BionZ X image processor as its predecessor and was designed to produce very clear and detailed images and video, especially when shooting at mid to high ISO sensitivities.

One of the features that got the most attention in the media was the new AF system. The a6300 employs an advanced 4D Focus system, and although we have this 4D Focus in the previous model, this one uses 425 phase-detection AF points and 169 contrast-detect AF points as a superior hybrid AF solution. This provided photographer with superior subject tracking performance, measured by Sony as 0.05 sec and has 7.5 times the density than its predecessor. The AF points cover almost the entire frame, allowing the camera to focus on subject that aren’t necessarily at the center of the frame. Due to the focal place phase-detection autofocus function, the can activate the High-Density Tracking feature that provides concentrated AF points surrounding the subject and follows it. The result is a superb target acquisition performance.

The a6300 can shoot at 11 fps and the photographer can view the continuous shooting as its captured on the EVF or rear LCD display (up to 8fps). With the introduction of the new 70-200mm F2.8 ‘G Master’ lens, the a6300 can serve as an excellent tool for shooting sports. Speaking of which, the a6300 features a 2359K-dots OLED viewfinder with 120fps refresh rate.

Sony also made sure that Video enthusiasts aren’t left behind and spoiled us with some large arsenal of useful video features. This includes: 4K video recording with full pixel readout and no pixel binning, S-Gamut/S-Log shooting, Enhance Fast Hybrid AF for movies which provides an adjustable AF drive speed and AF tracking sensitivity.  We get Clean HDMI output for both 4K and full HD which outputs the uncompressed movie to an external recorder or monitor. There is slow-motion video recording, XAVC S codec (100Mbps recording) mic input and compatibility with audio devices with XLR terminal using the adaptor kit (XLR-K2M/XLR-K1M). There is no headphone jack though.

I don’t know how many photographers are happy with the video features, but they are there if you need it. After seeing some sample videos, one thing is certain, the image quality is brilliant, I was really impressed with that I’ve seen. With a fast lens you’ll get a beautiful Bokeh and the AF works wonders to deliver smooth subject transitions.

The alpha a6300 incorporates dust and moisture seals that helps protect the camera when shooting under harsh weather conditions. It employs a full magnesium alloy durable body to further protect the camera against accidental bumps.

I know that some of you probably have wished the a6300 had a IBIS, but I think that overall Sony has delivered a good product. It improved in areas that are important for photographers, including bumping the EVF resolution, added silent shooting, improving the AF performance, adding 4K and lots of other video features, and phase-detect AF is now compatible with A-mount lenses via LA-EA3 adapter,  and Sony made the camera more durable and weather-sealed.  So there is not too much to complain about, is there? — I think you’ll get the bigger picture once you’ll see how it compared against the competition. This will give us a clearer view whether the a6300 is indeed worth its price tag, or whether the competition has a better offer.

We’ll talk about the other feature in more details in the next section, where I’ll compare the A6300 versus the GX8, PEN-F and E-M5 Mark II.

a6300 vs GX8 vs PEN-F vs E-M5 Mark II

No it’s time to see how well the a6300 can compete against two very popular MFT cameras, the Lumix GX8 and the OM-D E-M5 Mark II, as well as the new comer and the gorgeous looking, the Olympus PEN-F.

a6300, GX8, PEN-F and E-M5 Mark II cameras side by side

a6300, GX8, PEN-F and E-M5 Mark II cameras side by side (via camerasize.com)

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Conclusion

The key feature comparison table clearly shows us the Sony Alpha a6300 pros and cons compared to the other cameras. We can expect the a6300 to deliver better low-light performance, although as of the time of writing it’s too early to tell. The a6300 has the advantage of having a large sensor, that with an equivalent focal length lens, it results in a shallower DOF effect compare to the other cameras.  The build quality is excellent like he other cameras, except the PEN-F that lacks weather sealing. It’s not freezeproof, but unless you really need it, it obviously shouldn’t be an issue at all.

The a6300 also has the best AF system among the four cameras. It is the only one offering a Hybrid AF system and has considerably much more AF points and wider spread compared to the other cameras. This makes the a6300 a much better camera for sports and fast-action photography in general. It should result in considerably faster target acquisition time due to these specs and the utilization of both PDAF and CDAF technologies.

The viewfinder of all the cameras is very good. The a6300 is not the largest one, but the difference is small compared to the E-M5 Mark. The a6300 rear LCD is tiltable, and although I prefer a vari-angle, again, I assume it’s not a big issue for most photographers. The maximum shutter speed is slower than the MFT cameras, and you probably need to ask yourself whether you’ll be using a shutter speed faster than 1/4000 sec. The a6300 has a built-in flash, the other cameras don’t.

In terms of video specs, the a6300 not just holding well against the competition, even surpass them with a very large arsenal of advanced video specifications. The thing that I wanted to see is a built-in image stablization system, but Sony apparently thinks differently. All the other cameras in this comparison have IBIS, except the a6300. This means that you need to rely on the lens to provide you with optical stabilization.

As you can see, the new a6300 can give a good fight against those three MFT cameras, and in my opinion even win. Some photographers might prefer buying an MFT camera because they either already own MFT lenses or prefer the MFT lens selection. From what I’ve seen, Sony will be releasing some amazing lenses, including the high-performing ‘G Master’ lenses. Just watch the video on YouTube and you can see what’s the fuss about it.

I think that the camera is priced well to compete against the GX8 and the E-M5 II. The PEN-F is more expensive, but it seems that you are paying a premium price for its retro-style beauty.  I highly recommend the a6300 for any enthusiast photographer searching for a high-quality mirrorless that has superb Autofocus, great Low-light performance and advanced video features. It’s really an excellent Hybrid camera that will satisfy the demands of many enthusiast photographer that needs a tool that will help them unleash their creativity, whether shooting stills or recording videos.



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