D500 > A6400 for Wildlife

Started 3 months ago | Discussions thread
zackiedawg
zackiedawg Forum Pro • Posts: 31,481
My personal situation and experience
7

I personally really love the Sony A6xxx system for wildlife and birds, and after starting out using one as a second body alongside DSLRs, I eventually decided to just go all in with the E-mount system as it just worked best for me all around as a compact travel system, all purpose system, and once the lenses became available, it did birding, wildlife, and focus tracking better than my other systems.

However, I would always say that it's best if you can get your hands on any A6xxx body to at least see how it fits you.  Ergonomics, despite all the reviews that try to put a definitive on it, is NOT something that can be summarized for all people - and the A6400 body may end up just fitting you like a glove and you can fall in love with it, or it can be jarring, awkward, or too small and you don't fine it comfortable at all.  That's for only you to decide.

The other complaint on the E-mount system in my opinion isn't lens availability or compatibility, but rather price-to-lens-availability ratio.  The lenses available for E-mount for wildlife are excellent lenses, and the reach is up to 840mm equivalent, so actually competitive to most systems except for the very top birders who invest in the high-end 500-600mm primes...obviously those folks wouldn't be worried about the price of Sony's lenses since they buy lenses that cost $8K plus.  With adapters, wildlife and birding can be done quite well with Canon and Sony Alpha lenses, with the only demerit being that the adapted lenses won't track as well as native lenses when it comes to BIF work...it can still be done, but it's not as good as native.  But the E-mount lenses are not cheap - if the goal with the system was to get into cheap, entry-level photography and stay on a budget while stretching into birding and wildlife, no mirrorless system is the way to go.  I suspect budget isn't all that much of an issue for you if you were shooting a D500, as that's not a cheap body.

The big question I'd have is why you wouldn't want to go back to a D500?  What's the motivation to switch systems?  If it's to get better tracking, better focus, or more resolution, you won't see any significant gains or losses from your D500 which is already one of the most competitive systems out there for wildlife.  The A6400, and some other mirrorless bodies, are excellent, but not necessarily BETTER, actually none of these systems is ridiculously better than another - it's all just increments.  If the goal is to downsize the system, or lighten the load, the A6400 can definitely accomplish that, when shooting with other lenses, and for overall packing for travel - but when shooting with the birding lenses, the differences won't be all that much.  Obviously, the longer the reach, the more the weight and bulk resides in the lens and not the body.  I find the wonderful part of the A6xxx series for overall compactness is that I  can travel with a medium shoulder bag containing up to 9 lenses plus body and all accessories...when I had my DSLR, that same shoulder bag could accommodate 4 lenses plus body, and that's it...I needed a large backpack to carry the same amount of kit.  When I go birding, and use the FE70-300mm or 100-400mm, I'm not saving that much anymore on weight or bulk over a DSLR, but it's still a bit of weight savings, and I find the ergonomics with big lenses to work out very nicely for me as all the weight is usually supported under the lens, not the body.

For me, birding and wildlife with the A6xxx system has been wonderful, and I stopped using DSLRs and any other system in favor of it for the past year or two...and I have no intention of returning to DSLRs as the mirrorless system works better overall as a travel and all-around system while having reached parity in birding and wildlife.  The system is a little more expensive especially when big lenses are involved, but it's within my personal budget so that's not an issue.  And the overall lens selection has grown very quickly and now covers my birding needs with up to 560mm of optical reach - very rarely do I need more, and I suspect more lenses are still to come soon that would satisfy that itch.  And I've never had a system that I enjoyed shooting BIF with more - it's just absolutely solid at acquiring in all situations, and continuously focusing against all scenarios while letting me still watch the exposure and control the shots at up to 11fps...and the EVFs have finally gotten good enough to provide real-time live view that lets me keep up with fast and erratic birds in flight.

Hope all of that helps you figure things out one way or the other!

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Justin
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 zackiedawg's gear list:zackiedawg's gear list
Sony a6300 Sony E 18-55mm F3.5-5.6 OSS Sony E 16mm F2.8 Pancake Sony DT 18-250mm F3.5-6.3 Voigtlander 35mm F1.4 Nokton +22 more
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