The Sony A6300 is almost exactly 3 years old so a replacement was on the cards. It’s come in the guise of the A6400, a camera that looks a lot like the A6300, but promises a big improvement in the autofocus performance. To be fair, the A6300 wasn’t a slouch in that department, but Sony is really leading the pack in this area, so it’s not really a surprise that it’s an area of attention for the A6400. I’ve not got a sample of the A6400 and I’ve added some images to this review, which I’ll update over the coming days.
- 24.2Mp APS-C format sensor
- 425 Phase detection AF points and 425 Contrast detection AF points
- Real-Time Eye AF
- 11fps continuous shooting with continuous AF/AE 8fps in silent mode
- ISO 100-32,000 expandable to 102,400
- 4K HDR (HLG) recording, 30fps, 8-bit
- S-Log3 and S-Log2 gamma
- 180-degree tilting touchscreen
- 0.3-inch OLED with 2,359,296 dots viewfinder
- In-body timelapse
Like the A6300, the A6400 has a 24.2Mp APS-C format sensor, however, this is a more modern chip. It’s also paired with an updated version of the Bionz X processor. As a result, Sony has pushed the sensitivity range further, hitting ISO 32,000 in the native range and ISO 102,400 in the expanded range.
There are also new image processing algorithms on-board to help deliver better image quality.
One of the most exciting developments is with the autofocusing. It draws on the technology in the Sony A9, A7R III and A7 III. There’s a total of 850 AF points, 425 that use phase detection and 425 that use contrast detection. These are said to be packed together tightly and cover 84% of the image area.
That dense coverage should make the A6400 good at identifying and tracking a subject.
Sony also claims that the new-generation BIONZ X image processing engine enables the camera to achieve focus in just 0.02sec.
In addition, there’s ‘Real-time Eye AF’, the latest version of Sony’s excellent Eye AF system. This uses artificial intelligence (AI) to help recognise subjects and located the eyes in real time. You can even set a preference for focusing on the left or right eye. It should result in fast and accurate focusing in a wide range of situations and it will allow the photographer to concentrate on getting the composition just right.
Excitingly, Sony will also add Animal Eye AF support with a firmware upgrade in Summer 2019. That’s great news for keen wildlife photographers.
Like the A6300, the A6400 can shoot at up to 11fps (frames per second). However, there’s a big jump in the burst depth as the A6400 can shoot up to 99 Extra Fine Jpegs, or 46 raw files. This compares well with the 44 Extra Fine Jpegs or 21 raw files possible with the A6300. However, both cameras can shoot up to 21 images when recording raw and Jpeg files simultaneously.
There’s good news with the screen of the A6400. First up, it’s touch-sensitive. I’m not sure how much touch control Sony has given the camera at this stage. My hunch is that it’s limited to setting AF point and the like. It would be nice if you could also use it to navigate the menu and make setting selections, but I think it’s unlikely.
Further good news is that screen can be tilted through 180-degrees vertically to enable it to be viewed from the front. That’s nice for selfie-shooters and vloggers who want to be able to see themselves in front of the camera.
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It’s great that Sony has been putting the work in on the autofocus system. It’s something that can really help photographers of all levels. Further good news is that the Animal Eye AF will be rolled out to the new camera in the summer. As well as being useful for budding wildlife photographers, it should be useful for family photographers who want to include their pet in their images.
I was hoping that Sony would adopt a mini-DSLR design for the next round of its APS-C format cameras. I find this design more comfortable to hold and use. Having the viewfinder in the middle of the top plate would probably rule out having a flip-up selfie screen, but I was hoping for a vari-angle monitor anyway. A vari-angle monitor is more useful for photographers who want to shot portrait format images.
Those issues aside, the A6400 looks like a good camera for anyone starting to get serious about photography. It’s attractively priced at under £1000/$1000 body only and it has a comprehensive range of features for both photographers and videographers. As is often the case, it doesn’t seem to offer enough for owners of the previous camera, the A6300 to upgrade, but time will tell.