Big AF improvements give Sony's new a6400 APS-C the fastest autofocus in town
Sony has introduced a new a6400 model to its mirrorless APS-C sensor range. Cheaper than the a6300, the new camera borrows a much faster processor and autofocus system from the barnstorming a9, and adds a selfie-friendly flip-up screen to the mix.
The a6xxx series has been hugely popular for Sony, as a friendly and fast introduction to photography and videography for newcomers, as well as a powerful, portable and affordable first step into the mirrorless realm for DSLR refugees.
When we last played with the a6300, we found it a "blisteringly fast" upgrade to the a6000, but two years is a long time in the mirrorless camera game, particularly at Sony where innovation seems to be happening at a brutally fast pace. So we're not surprised to hear that the a6400 is going to be significantly quicker again, as well as fuller-featured and a fair bit cheaper.
The a9 full frame's autofocus speed and acuity absolutely floored us when we tested it, and Sony is claiming world's fastest autofocus status now that a9 tech is being used with a smaller APS-C sensor and 425 phase-detect AF points. Real time tracking is enhanced both for stills and video shooting, and the a6400 gets eye and pattern-detect autofocus to go with the existing face detection. Eye AF can be set to track your subject's preferred eye, or switch between them, and it will soon be upgraded in a firmware update to work on animals as well as humans.
The a6400 will shoot 24.2-megapixel stills at up to 11 fps, or 8 fps in silent shooting mode with continuous autofocus tracking. It'll also do 4K video at 30 fps, or Full HD at 120p for slow motion. Timelapse shooting is back, having been dropped from the a6300.
One-man-show style video producers will be glad to see that the rear screen now flips fully upward. It's not a fully articulating screen – presumably to keep it as compact and light as possible – but it gives the a6400 a proper selfie mode to work with.
Pricing is exciting: US$900 for the body alone, $1,000 with a 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 lens and $1,300 with an 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. Considering the a6300 launched at $1000, you're getting more on your burger for less. One thing the a6400 does lack, however, is in-body image stabilization. For that, you'll need to step up to the a6500, with its 5-axis sensor shift IBIS system.