Sony just introduced a new camera! The A6400. Which is kind of surprising. Not surprising that Sony dropped a new camera – they seem to do that with incredible frequency – but they introduced a new APS-C camera. It has seemed, for a very long time that they had all but completely abandoned their APS-C line in favor of their multiple models and frequently released iterations and updates of the A7xx series of full frame cameras.
Not to say that a new APS-C camera hasn’t been expected. The internet has been very busy with rumors of a new Sony APS-C camera for a while now, but most expectations were for an A7000 or A6700. In other words, some form of a successor to the A6500 not only in model designation but in evolution.
So, is the A6400 an evolution? Well, no and yes. It uses the same short life W battery and the same 24.2 megapixel sensor as other members of the Alpha series, specifically the A6300 and A6500. It has the same ergonomics and the same 921,000 dot LED screen as its APS-C brethren. New is the Bionz-X processor along with 11 FPS continuous shooting (with 8 FPS max in silent, electronic shutter mode). For video shooters and vloggers they have added the flip up screen from the old A5100 (not full articulated a’la Canon or Panasonic), and an external mic input (though no headphone jack for audio monitoring). I would not call this camera an evolution as much as an attempt by Sony to address some of their previously perceived shortcomings.
Auto focus claims to be the fastest ever with a purported focus acquisition time of 0.02 seconds. The A6400 also offers the first continuous subject tracking focus (definitely useful for sports and action photographers) made possible with 425 focus points which virtually fill the entire viewfinder from edge to edge and top to bottom.
The coolest new feature on the A6400 seems to be “Auto Eye AF”. It’s pretty much accepted that Sony has the best eye AF in the industry and has traditionally been a feature that was activated via a custom function button. The new “Auto Eye AF” works in conjunction with Sony’s facial recognition. It’s active the entire time a subject is in the frame, and works cooperatively with continuous subject tracking. The new focus modes work for both video and stills which, is some fairly impressive tech.
Coming soon, supposedly, is “Animal eye AF”. I suppose this would be useful for wildlife photographers – if the Sony APS-C line of cameras was well suited to wildlife photography. However, it isn’t, mostly due to the lack of affordable good, fast, long glass for Sony crop sensor cameras. Actually, “Animal Eye AF” is supposed to be in a firmware update that is also applicable to the Alpha series of full frame cameras, including the A9 (which could be a good wildlife shooter).
Overall this isn’t the new camera we were expecting. It does show that Sony still has some interest in supporting their APS-C line and is priced attractively at about $900.00 USD (body only).
My impressions are based on what I’ve seen and read as I’ve not had the opportunity to go hands on with this camera.
So, should you buy it if you already own an A6500 or A6300? Maybe, if the focus features are worth it to you otherwise, I think it’s kind of a non-starter. Me? I’ll pass.