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First Look: Sony a6400

Hands on with a new mirrorless camera that's smaller and lighter than most, yet still very capable
First Look: Sony a6400
The resolution of the Sony a6400’s 24.2-megapixel sensor provides plenty of pixels to crop and recompose images, like this one, which was originally a vertical.

In mid-January, Sony announced the new 24.2-megapixel a6400, a mirrorless camera with an APS-C-sized sensor that’s priced reasonably for a camera with so many features: $900 body only, $1,000 with the 16-50mm F3.5-5.6 kit lens or $1,300 with the 18-135mm F3.5-5.6 kit lens. Sony wasn’t technically targeting pro photographers and filmmakers. Yet there are at least a few features that captured my attention and may be quite useful to event shooters, vloggers and other content creators, at the very least as a second camera to have as a backup.

Right off the bat, one aspect of the camera that vloggers took notice of was the fact that the a6400 mirrorless camera can capture video clips longer than 29 minutes and 59 seconds. In fact, when I questioned Sony if it could capture longer video clips, a company spokesperson stated, “This camera does not have that limitation.”

First Look: Sony a6400
In the past, shooting with a DSLR or mirrorless camera that had an APS-C-sized sensor might mean giving up the ultra-wide-angle end of your zoom due to the camera’s magnification factor, generally 1.5x or 1.6x. But as you can see when using Sony’s E 10-18mm F4 OSS lens on the a6400, the resulting crop factor is still an ultrawide zoom lens, effectively a 15-27mm zoom lens.

The removal of the cap is welcome news for many videographers and filmmakers, who up until now had few options other than the Panasonic Lumix GH5, which could record video to the capacity of the memory card or until the battery runs out. Now, Sony’s a6400 can do so as well.

Another feature I found impressive and useful was the a6400’s updated Eye Autofocus technology, or Real-time Eye AF, which lets you lock focus on your subject’s eye and track focus as your subject moves, letting you follow the action and concentrate on composition. In my trial tests, it didn’t work every time, but I felt it worked in most cases. (In a few months, Sony will release a firmware update to allow you to use this tracking with pets.) There are other impressive features, as well, like the 11 fps continuous shooting with the mechanical shutter or 8 fps in silent mode.

First Look: Sony a6400


However, it’s not a perfect mirrorless camera. For instance, it only provides one memory card slot, and it lacks sensor-shift image stabilization, which means you’ll want to be sure that most lenses, particularly telephoto and telephoto zoom, include optical IS built into the lens.

But overall, Sony’s a6400 continues the powerful and versatile feature set that’s found in the a6500 and a6300. 

Check the price and availability of the Sony a6400 at Amazon and B&H.

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