Sony Announces New APS-C Flagship, Internal 4K-recording a6300 -- and 3 New G Master Series Lenses

Sony's a6300, the long-awaited upgrade to their outstanding a6000 features internal 4K recording, a new 24 megapixel sensor with 14 stops (!) of dynamic range, and a new 425 point phase-detect autofocus system. The even-longer awaited Sony answer to Canon’s renowned L glass – especially the 24-70/2.8 and 70-200/2.8 -- is a new lens line called G-Master. 

Sony invited us to a press event scheduled just days before New York's Fashion Week 2016 in the uber-hip Meatpacking district.  The new news? Sony announced their new a6300 and the G Master lens line. With the stage properly set, Sony launched into the reveal.

Pre-production Sony a6300, Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM, FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM, 70-200mm f/2.8 GM, 1.4 and 2x teleconverters 

Pre-production Sony a6300, Sony FE 85mm f/1.4 GM, FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM, 70-200mm f/2.8 GM, 1.4 and 2x teleconverters 

The New Sony APS-C Flagship: a6300

Let’s cut to the chase: this is a fascinating and compelling upgrade with four key areas of enhancement – and a new $1,000 price tag.

The new sensor is still 24 megapixels and is not back side illuminated. But with changes to the wiring and enhanced circuitry, this little pup now boasts internal 4K recording (up to 30p) without pixel binning at up to 100Mbps bit rate; 120fps in full HD; a purported 14 stops of dynamic range using S-Log3; and about one stop more light sensitivity (top ISO now rated at 51200). 

The new autofocus relies on a staggering 425 phase detect AF points, resulting in what is purported to be the fastest autofocus anywhere, at .05 seconds.

The viewfinder resolution has been restored to 2.4 megapixels, but with the ability to display images up to 120fps, Sony claims they’re getting into DSLR levels of viewfinder performance. Add improved zebras and gamma assist and it’s clear (pun intended) that Sony is very, very serious about this camera.

Ergos and robustness including better dust and moisture resistance, a “reinforced lens mount structure” (yeah, baby!), a mic line in, and improved shutter release and mode dial round out top line improvements.

This looks like the camera I was waiting for. 

New G-Master Lenses: FE 24-70mm f/2.8 GM, FE 85mm f/1.4 GM and FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM

Many people have been waiting for Sony’s answer to Canon’s venerable 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM  and 70-200mm f/2.8L II USM . Now they have it – along with the answer to the less frequently requested Sony version of the renowned, $1,999 Canon 85mm f/1.2L II USM 

While Sony’s $2,198 FE-24-70 f/2.8 GM  is a bit pricier than the $1,799 Canon and their $1,798 FE 85mm f/1.4 GM  is a little less expensive than Canon’s 85mm f/1.2 (the FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM  is not yet priced), they’re in the pricing ball park. What’s less obvious is that Sony is aiming to knock Canon out of the ring with superior autofocus speed, silence and resolution: these lenses appear to be a generation faster and quieter than Canon’s current L glass.

This is big.

We got to play with the 24-70mm f/2.8 and 85mm f/1.4 on a Sony a7R II, along with a pre-production version of the a6300. Because the a6300 was not final release, we weren’t able to download our images and because they were tethered, I really couldn’t get a feel for it. 

What I can say is that these three are rock solid, easy in the hand -- and as heavy as I've come to expect given Sony's 90mm f/2.8 Macro

Disappointments? They don't have the awesome auto/manual focus of Sony's FE PZ 28-135 zoom, one of my favorite lenses of 2015. But I can live with that.

Here are selected shots we took with the a7R II and the two lenses:

Bottom Line

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: Sony has the hot hand in the industry.  The speed with which they’re acting on their customers’ feedback is phenomenal, and the results are showing up in the marketplace: while DSLR sales continue to go down, Sony’s mirrorless camera and lens sales continue to rise.

With these three new lenses, Sony has mounted a serious challenge to Canon’s L glass hegemony for all but the highest end sports photographers.

And with the$1,000 a6300 (let alone the$2,998 a7S II, $3,198 a7R II, $5,599  FS5 and &7,999 FS7), how can you not look at Canon’s just announced, $5,999 1D X Mark II and ask “really?”