The Sony a6400’s extensive feature set meets the demands of a variety of photographers, particularly hobbyists looking to upgrade to a more advanced camera or switch from a DSLR to a smaller mirrorless camera. This camera will also be appealing to semipros—or perhaps full-time pros—looking for a cheap backup to their full-frame Alpha-series camera(s).
The Sony a6400 fits the demands of sports and wildlife photographers as well as parents who wish to capture their kids playing. The ability to tilt the Screen 180 degrees may appeal to certain vloggers, but this new feature has significant drawbacks.
My Favorite Features of the A6400
The Sony a6400 does a great job of tracking moving subjects because to its new “Real-Time Tracking” and “Real-Time Eye AF” features. The former employs a more advanced derivation of the company’s already superb eye AF, while the latter uses a multitude of criteria, including object identification, color, pattern, and others, to provide its quick and precise tracking. Both of the new tracking functions are quick and precise because to the 425 phase-detection AF points and 425 contrast-detection points (more than twice as many as the a6300’s contrast-detection points).
But the Eye AF truly impressed me. It is an excellent addition to the a6400 and is simpler to use once set up (a half-press of the shutter or a custom button). Though I didn’t think it was essential, you may select to have the camera concentrate on the left or right eye. Even better, if or when the eye isn’t visible in the frame, the camera automatically changes to face or object recognition, keeping your subject in focus. In order to improve this technology even more, Sony intends to provide Eye AF functionality for animals later this summer.
It’s simple to combine Real-Time Tracking and Eye AF to quickly take a number of shots while keeping the eye tightly focused, like I did in this instance.
Good picture quality
According to Sony, images now have more realistic skin tones and hues. Looking back at earlier a6300 files suggests that there have been some little improvements, albeit it is tough to measure. In either case, pictures had accurate yet realistic-looking colors and were well-exposed. Photos taken with the kit lens were also crisp. Nevertheless, even while photographing a black dog in direct sunshine, dynamic range was fairly impressive.
The ability to choose the focus point while looking through the viewfinder by touching or dragging on the camera’s 3-inch LCD is a tremendous plus. This function, while not unique to the a6400, enables you to quickly and accurately choose and shift the focus point without needing to spend additional time using a joystick or other hard control to adjust the focus point. Also, it’s a fantastic tool for adjusting focus in videos.
ependable custom choices
The a6400 now includes a few features from Sony that make using the Menu system less painful. The menu system on the new model is more efficient, much like the more expensive a6500. The a6400’s My Menu is unique among the a6xxx series cameras and was previously only accessible on a select number of Sony full-frame mirrorless cameras, including the a7 III, a7R III, and a9. You may save up to 30 different settings (focus area, focus mode, etc.) to the My Menu page, which is a distinct tab, allowing quick and simple access to your favorites without having to look for them.
Capture videos indefinitely
Several digital still cameras include a clip length restriction of 29 minutes and 59 seconds (or fewer). With the a6400, there are no such limitations, so you may keep recording until the SD card is full or the battery dies. Although though the majority of videos and movies are made from many shots or clips, this lets you record events like lectures and concerts without having to start the recording again. Although the majority of us seldom press the record button and allow the camera to record video for more than 30 minutes at a time, it’s a wonderful function to have just in case.
Optional external batteries
Although I’m not a great fan of USB charging, the good news is that if the camera’s battery goes out, you can still use an external battery pack to power it. A third-party battery charger costs $59 and includes two batteries.
Things I Found Disappointing About the A6400
In-body image stabilization is absent
The absence of in-body image stabilization on the a6400 is arguably its worst flaw. Image stabilization is available on a wide range of Sony e-mount lenses, but having it built-in means you can use IS with any lens. For this functionality, you must upgrade to the a6500.
A 180-degree Display tilt may be more beneficial.
Although the Display of the a6400 can be rotated up to 180 degrees for vlogging, this design element is not as helpful as it might be for more serious vloggers. A completely articulated, side-hinge LCD would address a number of problems. Examples include the Canon M50 and the upcoming, full-frame EOS RP. Initially, the screen is covered if an external microphone is mounted to the A6400’s hot shoe. (You could always use brackets to connect the microphone off to the side of the camera, but it requires other tools.)
limited touch screen functionality
Although I adore the touch focus on the a6400, the screen’s touch capabilities are quite constrained. For instance, neither swiping through photos during playing nor using touch to access menu options is possible. The latter simply lets you double tap a picture to make it larger before moving the image’s viewing area with the touch screen. These restrictions are quite annoying.
No stop-motion processing in-camera
The a6400 is the first device in the line to include a built-in interval timer, which is a huge improvement since Sony’s Play Memories software no longer supports the feature. Nevertheless, in order to make a stop-motion movie on your computer, you must use a different application (Nikon DSLRs can automatically put the movie together in camera). The free Image Edge program from Sony may be used to make a stop-motion video, although in-camera processing would be quicker and more practical.
Difficult menu system
Although while the My Menu and My Dial choices have helped Sony’s menu system, as mentioned above, finding your way around the a6400’s settings can be difficult, especially for people who are unfamiliar with Sony cameras. Be prepared to spend a lot of time getting accustomed to the menus. Regrettably, the online user manual falls short of expectations in this regard.
To sum up
The Sony a6400 is a reliable camera in the increasingly congested mid-range mirrorless market, which now includes products like the Nikon Z50 and Canon EOS M6 Mark II. This is despite some of its flaws, such as the absence of in-body image stabilization and restricted touch-screen functionality. Also, it’s encouraging to know that Sony is still producing APS-C cameras despite the popularity of full-frame cameras. Users may install smaller, lighter lenses than those on a full-frame camera to have the same field of vision because to the reduced sensor’s added telephoto reach.
However the a6400’s true selling point is its revolutionary tracking and eye AF technology. Although it is far from ideal, it puts the camera’s capabilities closer to those of more expensive mirrorless versions. If you must have in-body image stabilization, the $1,198 Sony a6500 would be a better option. Yet, one must ponder whether and when Sony will update the a6500 with the a6400’s performance upgrades. It could be worthwhile to wait for that camera.