At the beginning of 2019, Sony renewed its mid-range hybrid camera with the Sony a6400. This Sony hybrid offers interesting improvements for any photo enthusiast, including autofocus and ISO enhancement. This Sony hybrid camera is aimed directly at beginners looking for progress, but not only. Interested by this camera, we bought the Sony alpha 6400 to test it while travelling. What price for the Sony a6400? Which lens(es) should I buy with the Alpha6400? What are the features and improvements of this camera? After several weeks of photographing our son, our walks and our last holidays in Barcelona, here is our test and review of the Sony a6400 !
Sony a6400 Test Conditions
We have been photographing with Panasonic Lumix cameras for several years. Attracted by the APS-C sensors, we wanted to test the all-new Sony a6400.
Namely, we are NOT paid by Sony or any other brand to write photo articles. Mid-range camera with a very interesting technical sheet, especially in autofocus and ISO, we bought the Sony alpha 6400 to take it with us on a trip and test it.
Duration of the test: 4 months (still in use)
Frequency of use: daily and while travelling
Lens(s) used: 16-50 mm kit lens f3.5-5.6 PZ, Sony E 50-210 mm lens
Type of shooting: child portrait, monument, landscape.
Shooting conditions: mainly good weather, indoor.
Temperature during shooting: 10°C to 28°C
Battery autonomy: 350 photos
Charging time: 2 hours (the case is immobilized while the battery is being charged)
Sony alpha 6400 Technical Specifications
- Sensor size: APS-C (23.5 x 15.6 mm)
- Sensor: Exmor® CMOS sensor
- Pixels: 24 Million
- Weight: 403 grams
- Viewfinder: YES
- Stabilization: NO (supported by the lens kit)
- Touch screen: YES
- Screen size: 7.5 cm
- Adjustable screen: tiltable 180° upwards, ideal for selfie.
- Tropicalized: NO
- WIFI: YES
- Bluetooth: YES
- Built-in flash: YES
Sony a6400 Specific Features
- Video 4K 25 frames/second
- Eye AF focus / real-time subject tracking
- Timelapse Video
- Full HD 120 fps
Getting started with Sony Alpha 6400
Look of the a6400
With Sony, the alpha APS-C boxes have a very modern look. For lovers of the old, no reference to the era of film. Faithful to the design this series, we have the impression to have a compact camera, a little bigger. I must admit I have a little crush on cameras with a retro look. However, it is still very pleasant to take pictures with the Sony Alpha 6400. And during our holidays in Spain, we met more than one Sony a6400!
However, the camera is supplied without a cover. The sensor is therefore in the open air when no lens is mounted on it. Same for the lens when it is not fixed on the camera… I find it surprising for a camera at this price.
Ergonomics, wheels and buttons of the Sony a6400
The Alpha6400 is immediately comfortable to hold, even without putting the strap around your neck. The grip is sufficiently advanced to perfectly fit the shape of a woman’s or a man’s hand. The granular coating provides a secure grip. Even if the camera is lightweight, Sony has taken care of an ideal grip. No risk of letting go of it, even when you turn the screen 180° for a selfie or vlog.
The buttons are all well positioned and there is no risk of inadvertently pressing any of them. Clever, the video button is placed on the right side of the box. Its access is therefore much more direct, easy to push with the thumb or index finger if you are in vlog mode!
The buttons are small enough but perfectly spaced so as not to entangle the fingers. And for my pleasure, all the important settings are easily accessible. Contrary to the NEX series that made me leave Sony with their exclusively tactile menus. There is a wheel to choose the shooting mode: automatic, scene, pan, aperture, speed, manual, etc. And a knob for adjustments. They are well notched, which makes it easy to change the settings while remaining in the viewfinder.
Alpha 6400 Menus
The menus are dense but quite simple to use. I advise you to take the time to read the user manual with the camera in front of you if you are a beginner. However, I regret that the manual is rather brief. The complete manual must be downloaded online. Finally, the menus are not tactile but we can easily navigate thanks to the wheel in the different menus. And once you’ve made your first adjustments, you don’t have to access them too often!
Ideal handling, quick access to the main settings by knobs or buttons. Video triggering at the end of the thumb, you can easily get used to taking pictures or filming with the Sony A6400 in a few moments!
The tilting screen is the great innovation of this new model! It can be rotated 180° for selfies or vlogs (videos in selfie mode). In a few seconds, we put it back up above the box and let’s go for a group photo in 24 million pixels! Better than a smartphone. And, don’t think it’s a gadget for egomaniacs. When we travel, what we miss most when we get back is having pictures all three of us. And there’s nothing more fun for a child than seeing yourself on the camera screen. To get pictures of successful families, the tilting screen was a great ally! So there, we loved bringing back memories of the three of us from Barcelona, which we couldn’t do in London, for example.
Next to each tourist place, we improvised a selfie break with the family! The handling is good and thanks to the positioning of the “rec” button and we were also able to make nice funny videos with the family. Memories that we’ll be happy to show our son in a few years!
That is, as soon as you orient the screen in selfie mode, the camera switches to portrait mode and the shutter release is delayed by 3 seconds. Very practical to bring out your most beautiful smile. In short, the selfie mode, we can’t do without it anymore.
Finally, the screen is touch-sensitive for focusing. This is useful when choosing a particular focus point, especially in case of a close-up. Touch is responsive, it responds quickly. This compensates for the absence of a joystick and allows you to trigger in a few seconds. Gone are the days when you had to select the collimators via the wheel on the back of the case.
However, in the default setting, the color rendering of the screen is not accurate enough to view the pictures taken. Fortunately, the visualization is much better on the viewfinder. To remedy this, it is best to manually select the brightness of the screen to view your photos and there you will have a better color rendering.
Personally, I photograph 95% with the viewfinder. To progress in photography, the viewfinder is essential. Impossible to have a hybrid of this range without a viewfinder. Especially on an unstabilized body, when zooming, the viewfinder provides better stability. There, on the quality level, the 6400’s viewfinder is good, both for shooting and visualizations. It is a real pleasure to photograph with it, especially in bright light (which is often the case when travelling in Spain). And, with the camera, an eyepiece cover is provided, which allows more comfort, it’s a real plus. (It is not fixed on the photo below).
With the Sony a6400, we also have a built-in flash! Still in a rather modern style, the flash comes out by pressing the button with the flash logo.
To use it, several options are available. By selecting the “Fn” button, you can choose to have the flash automatic (in case of backlighting for example), to force the flash or to disable the flash, it is up to you. In any case, it is a positive point that this flash is integrated into the Alpha 6400.
Sony a6400, our review
The great new feature of the Sony Alpha 6400 is its hyper-reactive auto-focus close to a7 cameras, Sony’s top of the range… And Sony has not failed in its reputation. This autofocus is impressive. For more than two years now, I have been photographing my son with different cameras. And the Sony A6400 detects perfectly and very quickly not only his face but also his eyes. The eye is automatically detected as soon as the shutter release button is pressed. And even when my child looked down to focus on a game, the detection worked! I repeat myself but I was impressed by so much reactivity. We were able to immortalize our son’s first jumps. A child moves a lot then, to succeed in his photos, an autofocus that reacts quickly and well is essential.
As for the tracking, it’s amazing again! Even an aircraft in the sky in the distance is detected and followed by the camera by pressing the shutter release button. Same for a person on a bike, a child running…!
No more missed pictures, with the a6400 and its fast autofocus, I have almost no waste! Buying the Alpha 6400 means buying an ultra high-performance autofocus system that matches the Sony a7, Sony’s top-of-the-range cameras.
If you are looking for a camera to photograph your children, or grandchildren, for example, the a6400 is the one for you!
In addition, the Alpha 6400 allows you to obtain photos with a nice color rendering. And, even with the 16-50mm lens, you get a beautiful blur for successful photos. For the portraits, the colour rendering is softer and we were able to capture beautiful family memories with our son and his grandparents.
Between its good handling and the quality of the photos even with a first price lens, we have great memories of our son’s progress and our trip! For $200 less than its predecessor and one of the best autofocus systems on the market, with the Sony Alpha 6400, you get beautiful photos, easily, all in 24 Million Pixels!
Better in ISO than its predecessor (the a6300) you can go up to ISO 1600 without risk of having too much noise on your photo. This is quite classic for a camera in this price range to date. If you need to take pictures indoors or in low light, I advise you to choose a bright lens, such as the Sony E 50mm f1.8.
The compactness of the A6400 hybrid is partly due to the lack of sensor stabilization. Thanks to the stabilized SONY lenses, however, good quality videos can be produced by hand as here with the E 50-210mm. The image is not cropped when you start recording the video sequence. This is a real positive point on 4K (25fps). If you use Full HD recording you can shoot in 120 frames per second.
To watch with Chrome or Firefox to see the video in 4K quality.
Sony a6400 and beginners
During my ten-day vacation in Barcelona, I almost only used the scene modes: landscape, portrait, sports shooting, night shooting, etc. No need to manage the settings (speed, aperture), the camera manages for you. Ideal for a beginner, it avoids thinking about too many things at the same time by focusing only on the composition of the photo. These modes also allow you to progress by inspiring you to make the choices made by the camera.
As for the rendering of the pictures obtained, we returned with beautiful photos of Barcelona that we are eager to share. Perfect for quick and easy photography, I only had to focus on framing my photos, the most important element after all.
Another very practical feature when you start, the HDR! In case of high contrast (dark foliage and sunlighted buildings for example), it is complicated to take a successful picture. With the HDR mode selected, the camera takes several pictures of different exposures and overlays them to obtain a successful picture. In the shaded streets of Barcelona and with buildings in full sunlight, it is impossible to take our pictures without this mode!
Beginner, according to your budget, I advise you to take the kit camera + lens 18-135mm because it is a versatile lens that allows you to do all styles of photography. (Read our paragraph on lenses).
Travelling with the Sony Alpha 6400
Are you hesitating to buy this Sony camera to go on holiday? Back from Spain, we can say that it is a good camera to travel with. It is light and discreet, especially with the 16-50mm lens! In busy places like Barcelona’s Ramblas, I enjoyed walking around with a device that doesn’t attract attention.
Lightweight, I had no problem keeping it in my hand for hours while carrying my two-and-a-half-year-old son in a baby carrier.
In short, if you are looking for a hybrid camera to start with that is light and discreet but with a good grip while having a screen that can be tilted 180°, the Sony a6400 is the one for you!
And of course, with the Wifi option, you can easily transfer your photos to your mobile or tablet to share them instantly.
The photos we publish are not retouched and are in reduced quality so as not to make the page heavier.
With which lens(s) should I buy the Sony alpha 6400?
Are you convinced to buy the Sony a6400? In full doubt about the ideal lens to choose with the alpha 6400, here are our complete tips for each lens sold with the Sony 6400. I have only selected the best packs that allow you to make real savings on the price of the lenses.
Sony a6400 + Sony E 16 50 mm PZ
The A6400 + Sony E 16-50 mm PZ pack is the first price pack to buy the Sony A6400. You will have a lens with an essential focal length to travel! At 16mm, you are in a wide angle, ideal for photographing monuments or a landscape in its overall view. From 19mm to 35mm, you can take street pictures, for example. And between 35mm and 50mm, you will be able to take a few portrait photos.
This kit is the one you need only if you have a very tight budget and want to travel light because the Sony E 16-50 mm weighs only 116 grams (you can always afford a better range Sony lens compatible later!)
Moreover, personally, I don’t like motorized lenses because it feels more like having a compact camera than a hybrid in your hands. I like to be able to adjust my focal length by hand. And when you say motorized lens, you mean extra battery consumption and no sun visor, which is sometimes unnerving when it is very sunny.
Sony a6400 + Sony E 18 135 mm
The case kit a6400 + Sony E 18 105 mm is an ideal pack for beginners and travelers. This is the all-in-one lens of the traveller, no need to take and change lenses during the trip. The only drawback is that it’s not a wide angle. At 18mm, you can immortalize landscapes as a whole and monuments. Up to 35/40 mm, you can take street pictures, closer landscapes. And beyond 50mm, to you, portraits with beautiful bokeh, close-up photos, photos from afar for a subject that stands out. In short, it is a lens that allows you to work on your photographic eye to progress more easily. And this, without having to change lenses, a recurrent fear for a beginner. In addition the Sony E 18-135mm weighs only 325 grams!
Which memory card for the Sony A6400?
To go on a photo trip with the 6400 or on a trip, don’t forget to buy an SD card with a fast enough writing speed. Indeed, to take pictures quickly between two shots and especially to film in 4K, you need a SDXC card of class 3.
Finally, for a one-week trip, take a 64 GB card as a minimum. On our side, we prefer to leave with a 128 GB card, this avoids having to unload the card during the trip, especially to photograph in RAW.
What accessories for the Sony a6400?
Before you leave, you can’t fly away without an extra battery, for example!
Even if the battery supplied with the Sony A6400 holds a big half day of shooting, it is impossible to leave without an extra battery. There’s nothing worse than having a box without a battery and ending your day with pictures on a smartphone! So, even if it’s an additional purchase a little expensive, once you’re travelling you can’t do without the second battery.
That is, the battery is charged via the case but there are external chargers to avoid immobilizing the camera or to charge two batteries at the same time. It’s very convenient, especially when on holiday abroad.
Namely, the screen of the a6400 tilts but cannot be turned around to avoid any risk of scratches. So we bought a screen protector. A small essential accessory for travelling! Be careful, do not buy anti-reflective protection as it distorts the color rendering when viewing photos.
Peak Design wrist strap
If you are tired of a strap around your neck or for an optimal grip of the case, my essential little accessory is a Peak Design strap! In places with a lot of people or very touristic with malicious people, this limits the risks since even if you pull hard, everything remains attached via the handle. I, who have always been afraid to take a camera out in certain places, no longer hesitate. The strap is locked around the handle, impossible to drop the case. I can even drop it to have both hands free… Which is very useful when travelling with a child.