Updated: Aug 18
We finally got our hands on the Sony A6400, a camera that does everything well except one. The A6400 was released a few months ago and it has a quite a few features that the (weirdly-named and older) A6500 doesn’t have, despite the A6500 being part of a higher-end line.
The design is relatively similar, but the grip is still on the smaller side. If you have big hands, your pinky finger most likely won’t have anything to hold onto. But aside from it, it’s a compact camera, the eyepiece is big enough and if your hand really is too big, there’s always the option of a third party grip.
Retaining the same sensor from the A6500, a 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor, users are really getting a lot of the tech that’s from the A6500 but with improvements. It’s particularly noticeable with the sensor; images render a bit more, dynamic range is a little better, and you can see Sony has used this camera to work on their shortcomings with the A6500.
You now have 425 contrast and phase-detection autofocus points, ISO up to 102400, great noise handling and even better AF tracking thanks to the AF points.
11 fps shooting is great for action and wildlife photographers, there’s also 4K for videographers, real time tracking and real time eye AF. Sony has nailed their eye tracking technology and instead of having to dig through menus to turn eye detection on, just hold the shutter button slightly and let it prefocus, then the eye detect and tracking will turn on automatically.
An issue with the camera is the lack of APS-C lenses from Sony. If you really want a wide variety of lenses, you’ll be reliant on third party manufacturers. But you can put FE lenses on the A6400; they fit and work great although there will be a crop factor.
The Sony E 50mm F/1.8 is a great APS-C lens, however. There’s good image rendering, decent bokeh, sharp images and it just works well. Using the FE lenses, the disparity becomes a bit obvious between the bigger lenses and the smaller body. A battery grip would be very welcome here to balance out the weight since it’s top heavy.
The A6400 is a well made camera, but there are a lot of moveable parts like the tiltable display which perhaps make it a less-than-ideal camera for extreme weather conditions. For everyday shooting however, it’s great.
The biggest change to the A6400 is actually the screen; it’s now able to flip upwards to double up as a selfie camera, which works great for vloggers and the like. But throw a professional mic setup into the mix and attach it to the hot shoe mount on top like most people would, and the screen is no longer able to be used in this way. Perhaps a side-swivel would have been better.
A thing to note is that Sony chose not to include a headphone jack in this camera, so videographers are stuck using the levels to check if volumes are peaking or not.
The A6400 will do pretty much everything you want a camera to do, and do it extremely well. Eye tracking, subject tracking, 4K video, better colour science, more autofocus points, great dynamic range, one of the best APS-C sensors. But here’s the one thing we think it doesn’t do great.
And that’s the x-factor. Some people buy cameras for the specs because they need it to work well, and so the looks of the camera doesn’t factor into their decision, but the x-factor does mean something to a lot of people. The A6400 lacks that; it does everything well, but we feel it doesn’t draw people to it. The design, ergonomics and the build quality, while not bad, could still be improved on.
The Sony A6400 (starting from S$1,299) is available at Sony’s online store.