If you had to solve a CAPTCHA challenge every time you opened an app on your phone, would you still use that app? That's how I tried using the new Sony a6400, where leafing through settings and submenus to change vital settings makes using an otherwise solid mirrorless camera unreasonably frustrating.
Sony a6400 is a follow-up to the three-year a6300 and shares some features with the more expensive a6500. It has a lot of things to do for this – like a reliable image quality and a fast hybrid AF system – but these positive traits are buried by a twisted menu base and uncomfortable ergonomics. Everything exceptional about this camera is hidden under a menu, obscured by warnings or not present at all.
The main highlights are the real-time AF autofocus and tracking features, an updated image processor and a 1
Using the 6400 in the last few weeks, I discovered that it was not exactly the compact mirrorless camera that I was hoping to change, but rather a harmless camera with some good qualities.
Most improvements to the 6400 wheel around its updated hybrid autofocus system with more points of focus; a total of 425 contrast points and 425 phase detection, which achieved the maximum of 169 contrast points AF a6300 and a6500. It can even stand comparison with the best full-frame cameras from Sony, covering 84% of the image area compared to 93% of Alpha A9.
Sony supports a 0.02 second focus acquisition and I can confirm that the a6400's autofocus is really fast, reacting immediately to a half-press of the shutter button and correctly identifying its targets most of the time.
Number of points of focus apart, the real meat of the new AF system of a6400 are the new features of real-time AF and Eye Tracking AF by Sony. Real-time monitoring on a6400 uses Sony's algorithms and artificial intelligence to recognize subjects and follow them.
Similarly, "Real-time Eye AF" tracks the subject's eyes and body using artificial intelligence, and will be updated to support animals by the end of the year. Both features are useful in portrait photography, where a model could move gradually or entirely to a different area of the frame.
Having real-time Eye AF activated meant I simply had to follow my subject with the camera, making sure the photo was framed at my leisure, rather than having to refocus each time and adjust the settings if the subject has ever moved from the position.
But before I can do this, I need to actually turn on the features and they are not enabled by default. It shouldn't be that hard, right? After going through fourteen pages of still images (don't worry, there are another 14 pages for video only ) using only the navigation buttons, I was able to activate continuous autofocus, I & # 39 ; eye and subject tracking throughout the frame. It's March of 2019 and Sony still refuses to allow their Alpha touchscreens to be compatible with system menus, for reasons unknown and that I can't understand.
If you are asking for the quality of the image: it is solid. Not much has changed in Sony's Alpha cameras in recent times; the a6400 is no exception and largely uses the same image sensor as a6500. Pop colors, objects and subjects appear sharp, ISO can be set from 100-32.000 in native mode, with an ISO expanded up to 102.400 for dimmer scenarios. Most of the shots look good in my test scenes, but the quality drops noticeably around ISO 12,800, where the details appear stained. The effect is reduced with RAW images compared to JPEG files (RAWs are always better for editing), although this is predictable due to the additional data available in the file.
Video operators they should know that a6400 is no longer suitable for video, despite the support for S-Log 2, S-Log 3 and Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG) .There are also 4K 24/30 fps shooting modes and they look great, but not c & # 39; is a headphone jack – c & # 39; is just a microphone port – which is a real annoyance if you want to check the audio status of the video you're recording.
Also, the card slot I6400 SD only supports up to UHS-I, which means that if you have new UHS-II SD cards, you will only write fast files like the first one, not the second one.
If you were to hold down the shutter button in continuous shooting mode at 11 fps, a buffer of 116 frames of standard JPEG or 46 frames of RAW images compressed will be reached when writing to l SD card. Having a small buffer didn't interfere with my footage, but compared to the 300 JPEG and 107 RAW of the a6500, it's much less.
Furthermore, the real nail in the coffin for the video recording capabilities of 6400 is its lack of image stabilization in the body. This is the biggest difference between the 6400 and the 6500, and is something that is certainly worth considering when deciding between the two. The lack of stabilization inside the camera means that you will have to rely on your lens and its stabilization features, which approximately three dozen Sony lenses have, fortunately.
Bad roll-up is another problem I encountered while recording a video. Simply moving the camera around will show a clear 4K image, albeit with a gelatinous movement.
The display with a resolution of 921,000 points on the a6400 is bright, clear and able to move 180 degrees in a selfie position, but I have more than a pinch with it. In addition to missing the touch control in the menus, the screen enters the viewfinder eyepiece when you try to get the full 180 degree position. You can get around this by sliding the eyecup, but now you are able to lose it.
The design of the hinge also makes the use of a6400 for vlogging difficult. Videographers often place a shotgun microphone on the hot shoe support of their cameras. Turning the screen upside down would mean that the microphone completely blocks the screen, making it useless. The solution to this is an articulated screen with a hinge mounted on the side of the camera, but Sony will then have to redesign the microphone and USB inputs, which are currently on the left side of the camera.
Also, if I want to use a6400 mainly for video, I suggest you set the programmable "C1" button as a video recording button. It is right next to the shutter button and is much less complicated than the default option, positioned in the middle of the thumb.
A compact camera body is one of the great things about mirrorless cameras that are reflected by DSLRs. Usually, the problem is that the lenses add weight, leaving you with a disproportionate camera, with an even smaller grip. Ultimately, the a6400 will work best with smaller lenses, such as the wide-angle OSS lens E 10-18mm F4 or the compact Vario-Tessar T E 16-70mm F4 ZA OSS zoom.
Otherwise, if you choose a heavier accessory like the $ 2,200 FE 2.8 / 16-35 GM zoom lens with which I tried the camera, you will find that the small grip on the i6400 is too awkward to take advantage of extra weight in a glass. Most of the grip side of the camera is occupied by buttons, leaving little space for a user's thumb and in the case of someone wearing a glove, completely absent. Both for me and some of my video team colleagues, the small a6400 socket was inadequate and uncomfortable.
During a shoot, I realized that connecting a flash with a hot shoe and having the zoom fitted simultaneously would have been even more difficult to manage, so I memorized the largest lens switched to a Carl Zeiss 24mm f / 1.8 wide-angle lens. This is where the a6400 shines, mainly due to weight reduction. Now you can hold the camera with one hand and really feel like you have a powerful and handy tool.
On the plus side, the body of the a6400 is weather sealed for humidity and dust – like before the a6300 and a6500 – but only Sony's large and expensive lenses are waterproof, so you should recheck your lenses before going out to shoot in the next downpour.
Battery life is another problem, however. The a6400 uses the same battery as the old a6300 at three years and so is rated at only 360 shots, which I found to be accurate the moment it died in the middle of a shoot with some friends. Fortunately, it is relatively easy to find cheap third-party versions of this battery, so I recommend picking up some spare parts to keep in the camera bag.
The Sony a6400 is a well-equipped camera with a solid image quality and a great price considering its specifications. I was impressed by the real-time tracking capabilities and focusing times, but it is absolutely far from perfect. While some of the new features of a6400 (such as real-time monitoring) are particularly exciting for a camera of this size and price, its flaws like the screen and menu system are annoyances that make it difficult to get into.
It really seems that Sony has reached the limit of the line with what it can do using this camera model. The a6400 has largely the same physical design as the NEX cameras that debuted almost ten years ago and has problems adapting to larger lenses or new video shooting styles, such as vlog.
Sony has done a good job updating the technology inside its APS-C cameras, in particular the auto-focus system, but now it needs to turn its attention to the body and to the body. user interface. If things go well, then it could have the latest camera for photography and video enthusiasts.
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