Sony’s latest APS-C mirrorless features some remarkable technology, says Andy Westlake, but is let down by its out-dated body design.
Sony A6400 at a glance:
- £950 body-only
- 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor
- ISO 100-32,000
- 11 fps shooting
- 2.36m-dot electronic viewfinder
- 3in, 921,600-dot tilting touchscreen
- £1000 with 16-50mm lens
- £1300 with 18-135mm lens
Sony has been incredibly busy over the past few years building up its full-frame mirrorless system, but this has left the more-affordable APS-C strand of its E-mount range somewhat in limbo. In January 2018 the firm introduced its first new APS-C lens for over 4 years, in the shape of the E 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 OSS, and now at the start of 2019 we have its first APS-C body in more than two years: the Sony Alpha 6400. It’s a fast, high-end rangefinder-style camera with lots of external controls, and at a body-only price point of £950, it seems squarely pitched at serious enthusiast photographers. However Sony says it’s targeting a wide range of potential buyers from beginners to professionals.
Sony currently has three models in its Alpha 6000-series range, and in a rare moment of clarity, Sony says the A6400 will completely replace the A6300 in the European market. It will therefore slot neatly between the veteran entry-level A6000 that dates from 2014 and costs £429 body-only, and the high-end A6500 from late 2016 (£1279 body-only). As a result, the firm will continue to have three similarly-named and almost identical-looking cameras on sale simultaneously. The A6400 will be available either body-only, or in kits with 18-135mm or 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 zooms. The latter is very compact and will get you started for minimal extra outlay, but optically it’s very compromised. I’d advise spending more on a better lens if at all possible, such as the aforementioned E 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 OS, E 18-105mm F4 G OSS (£470), or E 16-80mm F4 ZA OSS (£670).
While the A6400 looks very much like its predecessor, inside it gains one of the most sophisticated autofocus systems we’ve ever seen, debuting Sony’s latest Real Time Tracking and Real Time Eye AF technologies. Indeed this new AF system is so advanced that it’s going to be ported over to Sony’s latest full-frame models, including the £3400 Alpha 9 sports-and-action flagship, via firmware updates. But is this cleverness enough to make the A6400 the best buy in its class?