First Impressions: Sony A6400 (with Tons of Image Samples)

Sony is targeting the vlogging crowd with their latest crop sensor Sony A6400 camera

At their headquarters in San Diego, the Sony A6400 was unveiled, the company’s latest APS-C Mirrorless camera. Situated between the Sony A6300 and A6500 Crop Sensor cameras, Sony is incorporating quite a lot of cutting edge technology into their brand new A6400. The Sony A6400 features the company’s latest generation 24.2 megapixel BIONZ X image processor with enhanced skin tone reproduction, as well as a tiltable, flip up touch screen capable of facing forward. This clearly indicates Sony designed the camera with the vlogging crowd in mind. According to the statements made at the press conference, the Sony A6400 is capable of achieving a blazingly fast autofocus speed of 0.02 seconds, shooting continuously at 11 FPS with AF & AE tracking using the mechanical shutter, and features enhanced Real-time Eye AF, and newly developed Real-time Tracking as well as Real-time Eye AF for animal subjects. For the video shooters out there, the A6400 can record 4K HDR videos as well as make time lapse recordings.

Full disclosure: Sony paid for our lodging and flights to and from San Diego, where we joined fellow members of the photography press for this product announcement. The Phoblographer’s staff are specifically trained and encouraged to give their full, honest opinion. We also do not finish our reviews of products on a manufacturer’s tab. We will be conducting an independent, in depth review of the Sony A6400 back in NYC once we receive an evaluation unit for exhaustive testing.

Tech Specs

Tech specs for the Sony A6400 are taken from Sony’s official product page.

  • Fast 0.02 sec4 AF, with 425 phase-detection AF points

  • Real-time Tracking and Real-time Eye AF, to detect and hold onto moving subjects

  • 24.2-megapixel10 Exmor CMOS sensor with outstanding light sensitivity

  • High-resolution 4K movie recording to support serious video production

  • 180 ° tiltable LCD touchscreen for easier self-portraits and high- and low-angle shots

LENS COMPATIBILITY
Sony E-mount lenses
SENSOR TYPE
APS-C type (23.5 x 15.6 mm), Exmor® CMOS sensor
NUMBER OF PIXELS (EFFECTIVE)
Approx. 24.2 megapixels
ISO SENSITIVITY (RECOMMENDED EXPOSURE INDEX)
Still images: ISO 100-32000 (ISO numbers up to ISO 102400 can be set as expanded ISO range.), AUTO (ISO 100-6400, selectable lower limit and upper limit), Movies: ISO 100-32000 equivalent, AUTO (ISO 100-6400, selectable lower limit and upper limit)
BATTERY LIFE (STILL IMAGES)
Approx. 360 shots (Viewfinder) / Approx. 410 shots (LCD monitor) (CIPA standard)20
VIEWFINDER TYPE
1.0 cm (0.39 type) electronic viewfinder (color)
MONITOR TYPE
2.95 in (3.0-type) wide type TFT

Ergonomics

For any photographer who has used one of the cameras in Sony’s Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens APS-C camera lineup, the A6400 will feel very familiar in terms of ergonomics. It will also look really similar to Sony’s previous products.

Here’s another look at the front of the A6400 from the grip side. You will find the on off toggle, the shutter release, and one of the customizable function buttons on top of the hand grip.

Looking at the top of the A6400, moving from left to right, you will find the A6400 logo, the hot shoe, the small pop up flash, and the mode dial and settings adjustment dial.

Moving towards the rear of the A6400, the first thing you will notice is the 2.95″ tiltable touch screen (more on that later). Along the top of the rear are the Electronic Viewfinder, pop up flash release button, Menu button, and the toggle switch for Autofocus/Manual Focus hold & AEL hold. To the right of the touch screen are the Function button, the multi-function settings adjustment wheel that is used to adjust Shutter Speed, ISO, as well as to change the display setting of the EVF and touch screen, Drive Mode, and Exposure Compensation. Below the wheel is a Playback button as well as the Delete button that double duties as another customizable function button.

Here’s what the A6400 looks like when from the left when the tiltable rear touch screen is fully extended and facing the front. The Micro USB port, Mini HDMI port, and microphone jack are also located on the left of the camera body.

Here’s what the touch screen looks like from the rear once it is in front facing mode. For those of you gawking at this as hard as we are, this is a feature from older Sony cameras. The company’s old Sony a5000 camera had this.

It’s pretty obvious that Sony created the A6400 with vloggers in mind. With how they’ve been coming up more and more in popularity, the company now has a great target market and Canon has also gone after them.

A 1/4″-20 screw mount is located on the bottom of the A6400 for attaching a tripod, L brackets, and other accessories to the camera. The battery compartment and single SD card slot are located within the hand grip, accessible via a door on the bottom of where the hand grip is. The A6400 uses the older NP-FW50 batteries, and that means the battery life theoretically won’t be as great.

Here’s a look at the A6400’s sensor, which sadly isn’t stabilized.

 

Build Quality

While not fully weather sealed, the A6400 features the same level of weather resistance found on the A6300 and A6500. It was raining almost nonstop in San Diego while we were in town for the A6400’s launch, with very sporadic periods of decent weather while we were testing the cameras in a variety of scenarios, but our preview unit performed without incident. We will be conducting more exhaustive testing of the A6400’s weather resistance once we receive our review unit in NYC, please stay tuned for our full review.

 

Ease of Use

The Sony A6400 will feel immediately familiar to anyone who has used other cameras in the Sony A6000 series of Crop Sensor camera bodies. The camera’s response time felt noticeably faster when stacked up against older A6000 series cameras, allowing you to scroll through menu items very quickly. The redesigned menu system in the A6400 now gives you a visual guide when you’re assigning Custom Keys, helpful for anyone not yet familiar with where all the buttons are located on the A6400. The hand grip on the A6400 felt pretty solid, although since the camera is compact in size, photographers with larger hands may find the grip to be less than desirable.

 

Autofocus

While we’ve only had a few hours worth of hands-on time with the Sony A6400, the autofocus performance feels quite remarkable so far. Acquiring focus with the A6400 felt almost instantaneous, and the hit rate was excellent even when photographing fast moving subjects. Even while idling, the A6400 is able to identify faces in the crowd as they pop into frame. We can’t wait to put the A6400’s autofocus system to some extensive testing once we get our review unit in.

 

Image Quality

Since camera profiles for the Sony A6400 are not yet available for Capture One and Adobe Lightroom, all sample images seen within this First Impressions article were shot in JPEG using a production model Sony A6400 running Version 1.0 firmware.

 

First Impressions

By finally including a tiltable touch screen capable of facing the front of the camera, it’s apparent that Sony designed the A6400 with vloggers in mind. While we’ve only gotten to spend a few hours with the A6400 so far, the camera definitely felt very responsive in terms of general operation as well as autofocus performance. We look forward to conducting an in depth review of the A6400 later this year once review units are available. The Sony A6400 will be available in three different configurations: A6400 camera body only, A6400 camera body with the SELP1650 16-50 mm f3.5-5.6 OSS Power Zoom lens, and A6400 camera body with the SEL18135 18-135mm f3.5-5.6 OSS Power Zoom lens.

Stay tuned for our upcoming full review, which we will finish when we get back to NYC.