Sony's announcement earlier this week came with new firmware updates, new mobile and desktop apps and one new entry-level camera: the Sony A6400, an affordable stills/motion camera aimed at photographers, vloggers and YouTubers.
I got a couple days to play with the new Sony A6400 and its main new features — Real Time Focus Tracking and Interval (time lapse) Shooting mode. Here are my impressions and information I've gathered on the A6400 compared to its predecessors:
- Affordable at just ~$900.
- No more 30-minute recording time limit.
- Doesn't dim the display during recording like its predecessors.
- 180° tiltable flip-up screen for monitoring yourself (selfie mode).
- Built in interval recording for time-lapse is intuitive and easy.
- Faster menu navigation and overall operation due to faster processor.
- S-Log2, S-Log3, CineGamut and HLG profiles come standard.
- No in-body image stabilization (present only on the A6500 & A6000).
- New "real-time" Touch Focus Tracking is very inconsistent and is unusable in low-light.
- Rolling shutter and jello effect is very noticeable.
- Relatively low battery life when shooting video (around 1 hour per battery).
Touching the screen activates Focus Tracking (the grey box with vertical lines) that moves with your selected subject.
The touch focus tracking is gimmicky and does not work well in low-light. The tracking point seems to fall off quickly and gets confused if any other texture crosses its path. Best uses include outdoor or brightly lit subjects that are isolated and not moving amongst traffic, which makes the feature not unlike regular (old-fashioned?) auto-focus.
The issue seems to be that the processing power in the A6400, despite major improvements over its predecessors, is still too slow to fully accommodate the new focus features. The Sony A9, for example, handles these same features with much more aplomb (the Touch Focus Tracking works incredibly well on the A9). Despite all this, since the A6400 is a camera aimed at vloggers, the focus tracking might be useful for those who are filming themselves in the foreground exclusively as there aren't as many opportunities to lose the tracking point.
Overall I think this is an interesting entry level video camera for people who are just starting out, and especially those who have an interest in vlogging or YouTubing (or any scenario where you're filming yourself). Its price point makes it really easy to start working with the Sony mirrorless system, though if you've used the A7 or A9 line before, this thing feels like a toy in comparison.
The new focus features are weak and inconsequential on this camera — it just doesn't have the power to make use of them, but the standard auto-focus is still quite good, especially when paired with Sony lenses. The best new feature with the new Sony firmware (coming to A9 and a7iii later this Spring) seems to me to be the time-lapse recording, a welcome addition to the A6400's photo/video capability out of the box.
Sony A6400 Specs:
- 24.2MP APS-C Exmor™ CMOS sensor
- Latest-generation BIONZ X™ image processor
- 180-degree fully tiltable LCD touch screen for self-recording
- ISO up to 30,000
- Up to 11 fps mechanical shutter / 8 fps silent shooting with continuous AF/AE tracking
- 4K movie recording with full pixel readout and no pixel binning (up to 30fps)
- HD movie recording up to 120fps
- Interval recording for time-lapse videos
- World’s Fastest 0.02 seconds AF acquisition speed plus 425 phase-detection points
- Advanced Real-time Eye AF
- New Real-time Tracking for object tracking