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Sony A6400 Review

Sony A6400 Review

June 13th, 2019

Sony A6400 Camera Review

Sony A6400 Camera Review

Sony has been focusing their efforts on crushing the full-frame mirrorless camera market for the past two years and now they have finally found the time to take another look at the smaller APS-C format. The Sony A6400 is Sony’s newest cropped sensor, mirrorless camera. It boasts many of the features from their full-frame line, yet at half the cost.

As the name would suggest, the A6400 falls in line just above the A6300 and just below 2016’s A6500. Although it is lower-end compared to the A6500, Sony’s new A6400 benefits from being a newer camera with some cool new features like the 180-degree flip LCD screen and faster autofocus.

 


Specifications | Features | Comparison

Lens Recommendation | Underwater Housings | Camera Settings

Final Thoughts


Why We Love Sony's New A6400

The list of things to love about this camera is long and varied but we’ll focus a few of the more obvious ones.  First is the image quality.  The APC-S sensor is a serious step up from compact and smaller mirrorless cameras and combined with a broad array of lens options, you’re ready for anything.  Second is the auto-focus.  Offering a massive 425-point phase detection AND 425-point contrast detection autofocus system, combined with a variety of focus modes and areas, there is a setting for every photography situation you might need. Lastly is the video capabilities. Sony cameras are continually the top contenders when discussing video capabilities and features, and the Sony A6400 doesn't disappoint. 
 
 
Wolf eel photographed with the Sony a6400, 16-50mm lens, UWL-09F wet lens, single Sea & Sea YS-D1 strobe and Fantasea Sony a6400 underwater housing. f/8, 1/160, ISO-400
 

Shop all Sony A6400 Camera & Housing options.


Key Specs:

  • 24.2 Megapixel APS-C type Exmore CMOS sensor for outstanding light sensitivity.

  • 425-Point Phase-detection Fast Autofocus with Real-Time Tracking AF A.I. Technology

  • 4 Focus modes with 6 focal area settings

  • 4-speed Sequential Shooting.  Hi+ – 11fps; Hi – 8 fps Mid 6 fps; Lo: 3fps.

  • 4K Cinema Video at 30/25/24 fps

  • 1/160th Shutter Sync for flash

  • Lightweight and Weatherproof Body

  • Lens mount: Sony E-mount

  • 3" 180-degree flip touchscreen / 921,000 dots

  • Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth Connectivity

  • Weight: 403g

Topsnail photographed with the Sony a6400, Sony 90mm macro lens, dual Ikelite DS-161 strobes, and Ikelite Sony a6400 underwater housing. f/10, 1/160, ISO 200

 

A6400 Pros & Cons

Pros

  • Highly advanced autofocus - animal eye AF tracking

  • Decent burst shooting speed

  • Expanded ISO range up to 102,600

  • 180-degree flip screen

  • Bright viewfinder

  • Good video features

  • Fantastic value for the specs ($899 for body only)

Cons

  • No built-in image stabilization

  • No headphone jack

  • 16:9 aspect ratio screen

  • Bad JPEG color rendering (i.e., JPEG white balance)

Similar Style, New Technology 

Design

To the untrained eye, one would be hard-pressed to find differences in physical appearance between the A6400 and A6500. The one notable difference however is the new LCD screen. The A6500 had an LCD screen that could flip up and down, while the new A6400 flips a full 180-degrees into “selfie” mode. Although this proves useless for underwater photographers, one might find this to be a fantastic feature if you wanted a cheap camera for vlogging your upcoming dive trip!
 
The control scheme of the A6400 remains largely the same as that of its precursor, including the particularly small movie record button wedged into the thumb rest – a feature some A6500 shooters were hoping would change.
 
Excellent detail and dynamic range with the Sony a6400. Sony a6400, 16-50mm lens, UWL-09F wet lens, single Sea & Sea YS-D1 strobe and Fantasea Sony a6400 underwater housing. f/9, 1/160, ISO 400
Excellent detail and dynamic range with the Sony a6400. Sony a6400, 16-50mm lens, UWL-09F wet lens, single Sea & Sea YS-D1 strobe and Fantasea Sony a6400 underwater housing. f/9, 1/160, ISO 400

Tech

What Sony lacks in design, they make up with pure technological prowess. One feature that loyalists praise is Eye-AF, where the camera impressively focuses on the subject’s eye even if the person is moving within the frame. Sony took their AF technology further and created what they call “Real-Time Tracking”. This AF feature uses algorithms and A.I. to recognize subjects and follow them as they move throughout the frame (no eyes necessary). This feature proves particularly useful for fast-moving subjects underwater as well.
 
Sony’s A6400 boasts the fastest autofocus of any Sony camera to date, with a stated .02-second acquisition speed. Furthermore, the battery life has improved with a stated 360 shots, as compared to the 310 shots of the A6500. The A6400 also has 1 stop higher extended ISO range verses the A6300 and A6500.
 

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Sony A6400 vs the Competition

Is the Sony A6400 the right option for you? Take a look at the specifications compared against other similar mirrorless cameras. The A6400 excels in many areas including price, battery life, auto-focus points, weight and dimensions.

 

  

Sony A6500

Sony A6400

Sony A6300

Panasonic GH5

Price

$1,199

$899

$749.99

$1,999

Max Resolution

6000 x 4000

6000 x 4000

6000 x 4000

5184 x 3888

Effective Pixels

24 MP

24 MP

24 MP

20 MP

Sensor Size

APS-C

(23.5 x 15.6mm

APS-C

(23.5 x 15.6mm)

APS-C

(23.5 x 15.6mm)

Micro Four Thirds

(17.3 x 13mm)

ISO

Auto, 200-25,600

(Expands to 100 & 51,200)

Auto, 200-25,600

(Expands to 100 & 102,600)

Auto, 200-25,600

(Expands to 100 & 51,200)

Auto, 200-25,600

(Expands to 100)

Custom White Balance

Yes (4 Slots)

Yes (4 Slots)

Yes (4 Slots)

Yes (4 slots)

Image Stabilization

5 Axis

None

None

5 Axis, supports Dual IS 2, up to 5 stops with compatible lenses

Auto-focus

165 Contrast & 425 Phase Detection pts

425 Contrast & 425 Phase Detection pts

165 Contrast & 425 Phase Detection pts

Contrast Detection, 225 pts

Flash Sync Speed

1/160

1/160

1/160

1/250

Burst Shooting

11 fps

11 fps

11 fps

12 fps

Video Formats

MPEG-4, AVCHD, XAVCS

MPEG-4, AVCHD, XAVCS

MPEG-4, AVCHD, XAVCS

MPEG-4, AVCHD, H.264

Max Video

Resolution

3840 x 2160 (30p) 3840 x 2160 (30p) 3840 x 2160 (30p) 4096 x 2160 (24p)

LCD Screen Size

3” Tilting

(touch-enabled)

3” 180-degree Flip

(touch-enabled)

3” Tilting

3” Fully Articulated

Screen Dots

921,600

921,600

921,600

1,620,000

Electronic Viewfinder

100% Coverage at 0.71x magnification

100% Coverage at 0.71x magnification

100% Coverage at 0.71x magnification

100% Coverage at 0.76x magnification

Viewfinder Resolution

2,360,000

2,360,000

2,360,000

3,680,000

Battery Life (CIPA)

310

360

350

410

Weight

453g 

403g

404 g

725g

Dimensions

120 x 67 x 53 mm (4.72 x 2.64 x 2.09")

120 x 67 x 60 mm (4.72 x 2.64 x 2.37″)

120 x 67 x 48 mm (4.72 x 2.64 x 1.77")

139 x 98 x 87 mm (5.47 x 3.86 x 3.43″)

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Best Lenses with the Sony A6400 Camera

There is a wide range of lens choices for using the Sony A6400 underwater. This provides more flexibility with shooting, allowing different focal lengths for both macro and wide lenses with multiple options for each style of lens. Our Camera Review on Sony A6500 on the Underwater Photography Guide covers all the great lens choices that are available, but here are our top three favorites for the compatible E-M1 Mark II Camera.

 

Sony FE90mm f/2.8 Macro G OSS Lens - This lens offers 1:1 magnification and is the go-to macro lens for Sony shooters. This lens is infinitely better than other existing Sony macro options, way more magnification than the 16-50mm or Zeiss 50mm macro lens.

 
 
 
 
 
Painted greenling photographed with the 90mm macro lens. Sony a6400, dual Ikelite DS-161 strobes, Ikelite underwater housing. f.10, 1/160, ISO 200
 
 

Sony E 16-50mm Power Zoom Lens - Standard kit lens with the camera, works great for video with smooth power zoom control. Pair it with a flat port and wet wide angle lens for increased flexibility.

 

 

 

Great sculpin photographed with the Sony 16-50mm kit lens. Sony a6400, single Sea & Sea YS-D1 strobe, Fantasea Sony a6400 underwater housing

 

 

Sony E 10-18mm F4 Lens - This offers a nice wide angle of view and the ability to zoom when you can't get close enough to your subject as you'd like.

 

 

 

Reef scene photographed with the Sony 10-18mm rectilinear wide angle lens. Sony a6400, dual Ikelite DS-161 strobes, Ikelite a6400 underwater housing. f/8, 1/125, ISO 400

 


Our Sony Cropped Sensor E-Mount Lenses Buyer's Guide outlines all the great lens choices we recommend for underwater use with the Sony A6400.


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Underwater Housing Options

A wide range of housing options for the a6400 will be available from most major underwater housing manufacturers. Currently, there are housings offered from Ikelite and Fantasea, with housings from Nauticam and other manufacturers expected to come out soon.

 

 Ikelite Sony A6400 Underwater Housing

 
Ikelite offers an affordable Sony a6400 housing manufactured in the USA with a corrosion-free ABS-PC (polycarbonate) blend for durability and lightness. The housing offers full control of the camera with controls designed for ergonomics. This housing is great for use with Ikelite strobes and acessories like the Ikelite-Sony TTL converter. The housing is compatible with a DLM Type A port system offering compatibility with many Sony E-mount lenses.
 
*Compatible with the Sony a6300/a6400/a6500!
 

 


 
 
 

Fantasea Sony A6400 Underwater Housing

 
Fantasea offers an affordable, rugged, and ergonomic Sony a6400 housing. It's very compact and lightweight - perfect for dive travel! The housing features a Fantasea hybrid safety system which includes leak detection throughout the dive and a vacuum valve/pump for a better underwater seal. The housing features an interchangeable lens port and gear system for use with a wide range of lenses.
 

 


 

Shop all Sony A6400 Camera & Housing options.

 

Ikelite Sony A6400 Underwater Housing

Nauticam NA-A6400 Underwater Housing

Fantasea A6400 Underwater Housing

Fantasea A6400 Housing / Port Kit


Recommended Sony Lenses For Underwater Photography

Sony has undoubtedly established itself as a leader in the underwater photography market with their excellent mirrorless cameras. We highly recommend the Japanese brand's cameras because of their compact design, functionality, compatibility with a wide range of underwater housings, and the wide range of high-quality lenses available. Below are a few of our top recommendations for shooting underwater.

Macro

  • Sony 90mm Macro F2.8 FE OSS - Undoubtably the best macro lens Sony make for underwater photography, it's able to focus with pin-sharp accuracy and produces beautifully smooth bokeh.

Wide-Angle

Recommended Topside Sony Lenses

While we love to dive with Sony lenses, they perform to the same high standard on dry land too. If you're considering adding to your topside kit bag, look through the options below.

Telephoto

  • Sony 600mm F4 FE GM OSS - Ideal for capturing fast-moving subjects from a distance. This top-of-the-line telephoto lens is everything you'd expect from a flagship product.
  • Sony 200-600mm F5.6-6.3 FE GM OSS - The 200-600mm focal range is very versatile and can be used in a variety of situations.

Wide-Angle

  • Sony 12-24mm F4 FE Wide-Angle - A high-quality wide-angle zoom that's perfect for landscapes, interiors and other times when the goal is to get as much in the frame as possible.

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Underwater Settings for the Sony A6400:

Check that these key functions are set on your camera before diving with your Sony A6400.

  • Live View Display - Setting Effect OFF
    • On default, the camera doesn't recognize the use of your strobes, so as you set your exposure (with the consideration of your strobes) the screen will be completely black and you won't be able to see what you are doing. *Very Important!*
    • When using the LCD screen, turn the screen brightness down at least for underwater shooting. The LCD has a tendency to show the images brighter than it actually is.
  • EVF Auto Switch - OFF
    • This function switches between the LCD and the Electronic Viewfinder when the camera is raised to your eye. If left on, only the EVF will display. Turn off to allow for manual selection of either viewing screen. This is in the FINDER/MONITOR tab in the menu that lets you pick between manual viewfinder, manual LCD, auto viewfinder/lcd
  • Flash - When shooting with strobes do not forget to attach your flash or flash trigger.
  • Set up back-button focus for more flexibility with shooting
    • Reassign autofocus to the button on the AF/MF switch. Decouple autofocus from the shutter.

 


Shooting Macro:

Remember that aperture controls your depth of field, choosing a larger number aperture will mean more of the image will be in focus.

When shooting Macro with a strobe:

  • Manual Mode
  • Aperture between F16-22
  • Shutter Speed 1/160th (highest flash sync speed)
  • Auto White Balance
  • Strobe on TTL, Camera on Fill in Flash
    • Position the strobe(s) slightly above your camera and facing down and slightly towards (but not directly at) the subject for good even lighting and shadows.
  • If using a zoom lens and a diopter remember to zoom all the way in.

When shooting Macro with a video light:

  • Manual Mode
  • Aperture between F11-F22
  • Shutter Speed - start at 1/100th
    • Change shutter speed to get the best exposure without blurring.
  • Auto White Balance
  • Video Light on High Power
    • Position it above and pointing down at your subject for best coverage.
  • Get Close! Remember the Video light will not travel far through the water.

Shooting Wide Angle

Remember that shutter speed controls the amount of ambient light in the photograph. The faster the shutter speed, the less light in the background.

When shooting Wide Angle with a strobe:

  • Manual Mode
  • Aperture at F8
  • Shutter Speed at 1/125th (adjust shutter speed to get a well exposed background)
  • Auto White Balance
  • Camera on Fill-in Flash, Strobe on TTL (or manual if preferred)
    • Position dual strobes the same distance apart as you are from the subject (ie: 2ft from your subject, strobes are 2ft apart). Face them straight forward or slightly turned out to help eliminate backscatter.

When shooting Wide Angle with ambient light:

  • Adjust your aperture and shutter speed from the settings above properly expose the foreground (ie: let in more light).
  • Shoot with the sun behind you for better colors and fewer shadows.

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Final Thoughts:

The Sony A6400 offers great image quality without the high price tag of competing cameras. The capability of fast auto tracking combined with 4K video, and it's low light/ high ISO strengths all combine into this being a great camera option. Image resolution & quality, high-speed bursts, performance and controls set it above similar mirrorless cameras. Unless you desire the increased detail of a full frame sensor, it's a great contender within the micro 4/3 class.  Custom white balance control and the video features make it a great option for casual and serious videographers.

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Additional Sony a6400 sample underwater images: 

 

Hermit crab photographed with the Sony 50mm macro lens. f/2.8, 1/160, ISO 200

 

This bull kelp scene is the perfect showcase of the dynamic range ability of the Sony a6400

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