Sony’s latest APS-C mirrorless features some remarkable technology, says Andy Westlake, but is let down by its out-dated body design.
Sony Alpha 6400: Performance
Once you’ve got it set up to your liking, in practical use the A6400 is a quick, reliable camera that operates with minimal fuss. It’s not especially discreet, though: in stereotypical Sony fashion, the shutter fires with a relatively loud clack. This is another area where the firm has stood still, while the competition has worked towards making quieter cameras.
The camera takes a second or so to turn on, and thereafter responds to control inputs without any lag. About the only time it’ll hold you up is when recording a burst of images to the card. In this respect, it’s disappointing that the SD slot doesn’t support the faster UHS-II format, which means that a full burst can take a while to write; almost 40 seconds with a 90MB/s Sandisk Extreme Class 10 card. While Sony has ironed out one bug, and it’s now possible to access the onscreen Fn menu during this time, you still can’t change drive mode while the camera is writing, or initiate video recording.
The A6400 creates pretty good images, though. In typical Sony fashion, auto white balance tends to err on the cool side, and the standard JPEG colour palette is noticeably subdued compared to the punchier, more attractive output you’ll get from the likes of Canon, Fujifilm or Olympus. But with a bit of tweaking the quality can be truly excellent, with minimal noise and plenty of fine detail in good light.
High-ISO image quality is also extremely good. Not only does Sony manage to maintain colours extremely well up to ISO 6400, its JPEG processing provides an unusually strong impression of fine detail. But while ISO 12,800 is usable at a push, I’d avoid going any higher.