However, with Sony equipping the Alpha A6400 with some of its latest tech, most notably the advanced AF system, this camera could actually prove a more tempting proposition than the top-of-the-range A6500, a camera that’s now more than two years old.
|1||Sony Alpha a6400 Mirrorless Camera: Compact APS-C Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera with Real-Time Eye Auto Focus, 4K Video, Flip Screen & 16-50mm Lens - E Mount Compatible Cameras - ILCE-6400L/B||Check Price|
- 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor
- 4K video recording
- Tilt-angle touchscreen and electric viewfinder
The Exmor CMOS APS-C sensor maintains the same 24.2MP pixel count as the one inside the A6000, although the sensor itself is newly developed, and features copper wiring in its construction to boost readout speed and light-gathering efficiency.
Sony has also said that refinements to the camera’s BIONZ X processing engine mean it can squeeze all the goodness out of the new sensor, with particular focus on low-noise, high-resolution results in the upper range of the camera’s ISO100-51,200 sensitivity span. These enhancements have also allowed Sony to stretch the new camera’s ISO ceiling to an expanded upper limit of 102,400, compared to the A6500‘s 51,200 (the A6400’s native range is 100-32,000), while Sony also says colour reproduction has been greatly improved.
One big omission from the A6400 is any form of in-body image stabilization, something the A6500 enjoys with its 5-axis system. A6400 users will have to rely on lens-based stabilization, and while a lot of Sony’s APS-C-specific zoom lenses feature the company’s Optical SteadyShot (OSS), many of its primes do not.
The Alpha A6400 features the same electronic viewfinder (EVF) because of the A6300 and A6500, with a 2.36 million-dot unit with 0.7x magnification. There’s also a 3.0-inch display on the rear of the camera with a modest 921K-dot resolution. This screen is touch-enabled, unlike the one on the A6300, but a little annoyingly it still has the same 16:9 aspect ratio – that’s great if you’re going to be shooting video regularly, but it sees the display shrink for stills, with black bars at either side of the picture. Something vloggers will welcome, meanwhile, is the fact that the display can be tilted upwards 180 degrees, enabling you to frame yourself easily.
It’s not just the screen that’s likely to appeal to vloggers though, with the A6400’s solid video credentials certain to be a big draw. These include 4K video capture (using 6K oversampling) at 100Mbps, while there’s also S-log3 and S-log2 support for post-production, as well as 4K HDR (HLG) recording. The A6400 also has a microphone jack and is compatible with XLR adapters; however, as on previous A6000-series cameras, there’s no headphone jack. You’ll be able to transfer 4K video directly to your smartphone via Sony’s new Imaging Edge Mobile app when it launches in March – this replaces the PlayMemories app, and will also offer remote camera control, and also has an overhauled user interface.
Photographers will also welcome the arrival of built-in interval recording on the Alpha A6400. This can be set to anywhere between 1 and 60 seconds, with the total number of shots able to be captured ranging from 1 to 9,999. To avoid the risk of changes to exposure over the shooting period, the AE tracking sensitivity can be adjusted to High, Mid or Low during interval shooting.
The Alpha A6400 features a single SD card slot that’s compatible with UHS-I cards (not the faster UHS-II variants), while there’s also Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC connectivity.
- Sensor: 24.2MP APS-C CMOS
- Lens mount: Sony E-mount
- Screen: 3.0-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 921,000 dots
- Burst shooting: 11fps
- Autofocus: 425-point AF
- Video: 4K
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth
- Battery life: 360 shots
- Weight: 403g
- 11fps burst shooting
- Improved buffer over A6300
- 360-shot battery life
To partner, its advanced AF system, the Alpha A6400 can shoot at up to 11fps with both AF and AE. The buffer performance has been improved over the A6300’s, with the A6400 able to shoot a total of 116 JPEG images compared to the A6300’s 30, while for raw shooting, the capacity has been increased from 21 to 46 shots (although interestingly the A6500 has the upper hand here, capturing 200 JPEGs in a single burst at 11fps or 107 raw files). Should you want to shoot silently, you can do so at 8fps.
As far as metering goes, we found the A6400 to mostly be a reliable performer, with just an occasional bias towards underexposure; this is negligible though, and it’s often by only around half or a third of a stop, so can easily be remedied with a touch of exposure compensation, or in post-capture natural processing.
The A6400’s auto white balance system, meanwhile, does a good job of faithfully reproducing colours in a range of conditions, even impressing under typically problematic artificial sources.
As Sony has stuck with the same EVF as on both the The6300 and A6500 there are no surprises here, with a decent resolution and magnification for a camera at this price point. We did find that noise and lag improved in darker conditions, but this isn’t unique to the A6400, and the image is still perfectly useable.
The battery hasn’t been upgraded to the newer Z-series power packs found in the latest full-frame Alpha cameras, so battery life is a modest 360 shots if you’re using the viewfinder regularly, while this can be stretched to 410 shots if you are happy to rely on the rear display. The Alpha A6400 is charged via USB, although a mains electric battery charger is sold separately.
Check Out: Best Sony Alpha a6400 Lenses
You could be forgiven for thinking that the Sony Alpha A6400 is only a minor upgrade over The a6300, with the most notable additions being the flip-out screen and a few other tweaks. It also still has some of the A6300’s shortcomings, most notably the absence of any in-body image stabilization. However, what’s really exciting here is the A6400’s incredibly advanced autofocus system – the number of phase-detect points may be the same, but it’s the clever work behind the scenes that really shift things along. It’s certainly one of the most sophisticated systems we’ve seen on any camera, and more impressive for the fact that it’s on a camera costing under $1,000 / £1,000.
The greatly improved focusing makes this a much more accessible camera than its predecessors. We’d still like to see better touchscreen integration to help deliver a more streamlined shooting experience, but if this digital camera can help you to increase your hit rate thanks to its advanced AF, regardless of the subject you’re capturing, that can only be a good thing.