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The Sony A6300 feels like it focuses faster than my eyes

Hands-on with Sony's newest mirrorless shooter

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Sony fans have wanted a new version of the popular A6000 mirrorless camera for a long time, and today the company finally delivered. It's not as revolutionary a step forward as some might have hoped — you only have to Google "Sony A7000" to see how deep the rumor mill went on this one — but it is a substantial upgrade that makes Sony's camera lineup look very attractive.

The A6300 announcement event Sony held in Lower Manhattan today was all about the new camera's lightning-fast autofocus. Sony hired a live band, a basketball player, and two boxers in order to let the press test out the 425 phase-detection autofocus points. The company says the A6300 can autofocus in just 0.05 seconds, which makes it the "world's fastest." Here's what I can tell you — if it's not the fastest, it's damn near it.

Sony A6300 hands-on photos

As I trained the camera on the sparring boxers, the green boxes that represent the autofocus points were keeping up with the moving subjects faster than my eye could. By the time I'd look at the part of the image I wanted in focus, the autofocus had beaten me to it. Couple that with the fact that the A6300 can shoot stills at 11 frames per second, and you have an incredibly powerful camera at a completely reasonable price.

The A6300 will cost $1,150 (with the kit lens) when it ships in March, which puts it right around the price of the RX100 Mark IV — Sony's most popular pocket camera — and just north of the Fujifilm X-T10. The RX100 will still beat the A6300 on convenience, but if you're looking for a lot of flexibility at this price point, Sony's newest camera wins out. It has a bigger, 24.2-megapixel APS-C sensor, and is compatible with Sony's E and A-mount lenses. (You will need an adapter for the A-mount lenses, however.)

Sony's been focusing on video lately, and the same goes for the A6300

Sony has been pushing high-end video capabilities to basically all of its cameras over the past few years, and the same is true for the A6300. There's an external microphone input, it can shoot 4K footage, and it allows S-Log gamma recording, which gives videographers a much wider dynamic range to edit with in post-production. The RX100 does hold the edge on slow-motion video; it can shoot 1,000 frames per second at 1080p, whereas the A6300 tops out at 120 frames per second.

The A6300 also has a much better electronic viewfinder. Sony says it's the same quality as the one on the A7 series, but with a little less magnification. That really doesn't matter — it looks really beautiful. Users will also be able to toggle the refresh rate of the EVF between 60 or 120Hz. On the back of the A6300 is also a tilting LCD screen. It isn't a touchscreen, and it doesn't flip around 180 degrees, however.

The overall build quality of the A6300 is great, too. The body is made entirely out of magnesium alloy (the A6000 only had magnesium alloy on the front), which makes it feel sturdy without making it too heavy. It's not crowded with knobs and dials, but the controls are far from sparse.

The A6300 might not be the A7000 that Sony fans were waiting for, but it's a powerful camera in an extremely compact form factor. If you already own another E-mount body and a few corresponding lenses, it's practically an impulse buy at $1,000 for just the body. But even if you don't, the A6300 looks like it would make a great option for someone looking to start shooting with mirrorless cameras.

Sony A6300 hands-on photos