Sony a6400 review
|What we like||What we don't|
It's hard to overstate just how good the autofocus system is on the Sony a6400. It's got one of the best implementations out there: not just in its price range, but on the market, period. Once you set the system up, you can pretty much leave it alone for almost any type of photography, whether you're photographing people, landscapes, sports, you name it.
And Sony didn't stop at autofocus; relative to its predecessor, the a6400 sports an updated menu system, a touchscreen that tilts all the way up for the all-important selfie, reduced risk of overheating while shooting 4K video, and more. But as we stated in our first impressions, at least as much of the story about the a6400 is about what Sony hasn't changed, and really should have.
Sony 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 | ISO 100 | 1/160 sec | F5.6
The ergonomics of the a6x00 series of cameras has never been our favorite, and there have been no substantive changes on this new model. Though the 4K video is very detailed, Fujifilm's X-T30 has far less rolling shutter and will allow you to monitor audio with headphones. The menus have been updated, but other manufacturers' menus are easier to navigate. Lastly, and perhaps most crucially, the a6400 is still lacking in overall responsiveness compared to the likes of the X-T30 and Panasonic Lumix GX9, and this makes for a rather detached shooting experience.
So that's the full story of the Sony a6400. It is absolutely one of the most capable APS-C interchangeable lens cameras on the market today, with game-changing autofocus capabilities, in an affordable package. If you're after a camera at this price point that is most likely to just 'get the shot,' this is the one. If you're looking for a camera that is engaging and fun to use - a camera that you just want to pick up and take with you - you may want to try out some of the a6400's competitors, and see how you get along with them before making a decision. In the end, the a6400's overall capability nudges it past our handling reservations and into 'gold' territory, if only just.
What we think
Compared to other midrange mirrorless cameras
As we stated in our Fujifilm X-T30 review, that camera is the a6400's most natural competitor. They're similarly priced, with similar spec sheets, but couldn't be more different in use. The Fujifilm is far more engaging and responsive, with faster burst rates and better video, but the Sony's autofocus system is really best-in-class. Raw shooters may lean equally one way or the other, but JPEG shooters should take a close look at the Fujifilm - its film simulations are fun to experiment with, and it offers pleasing color out-of-camera in most any situation.
Panasonic's Lumix DC-GX9 is another natural point of comparison. It's a little less expensive than the Sony, but it has a similar rangefinder-inspired design and overall size. The difference between 24MP and 20MP isn't all that much in real-world use, but you may find the difference in sensor size is. Though the JPEG color is fantastic out-of-camera, the GX9 won't be as good an option for high ISO photography, but its in-body stabilization will help you keep ISO values down in low light if you're not photographing moving subjects. The GX9 is a less impressive video camera thanks to a crop in all 4K modes (though the a6400 has a 1.2x crop in 4K/30p), but its built-in stabilizer will give you smoother footage. The autofocus system can't hold a candle to the a6400, but it's a pleasant camera to use and has excellent ergonomics.
Scoring is relative only to the other cameras in the same category. Click here to learn about the changes to our scoring system and what these numbers mean.
Category: Mid Range Interchangeable Lens Camera / DSLR
Ergonomics & handling
Metering & focus accuracy
Image quality (raw)
Image quality (jpeg)
Low light / high ISO performance
Viewfinder / screen rating
Movie / video mode
The Sony a6400 is a near-universally capable midrange camera that offers some of the best autofocus performance we've ever seen, backed up by solid image and video quality in most situations. We'd really like to see some further refinement on ergonomics, as Sony has done with its full-frame models over the years, but the a6400 remains an excellent option for a variety of types of photography.
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