Sony a6400 Review (in 2024)

Releasing quite a few years ago, the Sony a6400 strikes a good “middle ground” between the cheaper a6000 and a more pricey full-frame. For this reason, I opted to rent out the camera for about a month to put it through its paces to see if it’s actually a good mid-budget pick.

Why You Can Trust Me

Chance (that’s me) has been practicing photography for 10 years and has been a paid professional for most of it. I got my first Sony in 2018 so this website is the culmination of about 5 years of Sony experience (full site history). I held onto this particular camera (a6400) for about a month (read how I review and test gear).

In this review, I’ll be covering literally everything from image quality down to my nitpicks and opinions on button layout, ergonomics, etc. All images are taken by me with this camera (mostly using Sigma’s 16mm). So, let’s dive in!

  • Incredible image quality
  • Compact and strong build
  • Ridiculously fast AF system
  • Fun and diverse lens selection
  • No in-body image stabilization
  • Better options for video shooters
  • Poor battery life (as usual)

Verdict: For pure photography, this camera delivers everything you need at a great pricetag. I highly recommend it (affiliate link!).

Size & Weight

First off, we’ll start this review like I do literally all my others: by talking about the size and weight specs of the camera. After all, this is a compact mirrorless body!

In terms of size, my measurements are roughly 4.7×2.6.2.4in or 120x67x60mm (yes, I do break out a tape measure for all my reviews). While this is a bit chunkier than its predecessors (thanks to the larger grip, more on that later), it’s still incredibly small.

Without a lens, this thing is literally pocketable. Heck, even if you get a small lens like the Meike 35mm F1.7, it’s STILL pocketable!

sony a6400 with sigma 16mm f1.4 lens sitting on fence with water in background
My a6400 with the (fantastic) Sigma 16mm F1.4 lens.

According to my kitchen scale, the a6400 comes in around 18.3oz (519g). While still really lightweight, the camera certainly feels pretty hefty despite the small size, thanks largely in part to the solid build quality. That being said, much of the weight of your setup will actually come from the lens anyway.

Although the typical kit lens may only add a few ounces, some big zooms will add a LOT more heft. I’ve personally been primarily rocking the Sigma 16mm F1.4 since I picked up this camera and it has been great. The lens is fairly heavy and well-built, but it balances nicely on the body.

This might be getting a bit off-subject here, but you really can’t go wrong with the Sigma trio of primes for any Sony APS-C camera (I have reviews on every Sigma APS-C lens besides the 56mm). Either that or their fabulous 18-50mm F2.8 lens. Anyways, back to the camera…

Weather Sealing/Longevity

Next up, let’s talk about weather sealing! Although Sony’s older a6x cameras lacked anything more than basic sealing, the company claims the a6400 actually has “full environmental weather sealing”.

So, the Sony a6400 is fully sealed, except for one place: the lens mount. For this reason, you’ll only have full weather sealing if you have a lens to match it. Typically, you’ll rarely find sealed lenses on APS-C, primarily just full-frame.

That being said, I the Sigma 16mm F1.4 (that I coincidentally used to test this camera) is the only E-Mount APS-C lens that is entirely sealed. Besides that, there’s literally nothing wrong with using full-frame sealed lenses on your a6400, they just tend to be a bit larger, heavier, and more expensive.

lake michigan coast
The a6400 is weather sealed, so as long as you have a sealed lens to match, it’s a mighty kit. (no sand got in the lens/sensor here)

So, after all this chatter of weather-sealing and specs, do I think the camera is actually built to last?

Absolutely and there’s not a doubt in my mind. The body is made out of magnesium alloy, which is a material that’s rather well-known for being both durable and long-lasting (Sony uses it on a lot of their bodies).

You don’t really see Sony’s other cameras falling apart after a few years, so I reckon this one should last a long time as well. I bumped my rental around quite a bit and it wasn’t any worse-for-wear.

Ergonomics/Comfort

Alright, so the camera is built like a tank, but is it comfortable to use on a day-to-day basis? Yep, it certainly is.

First off, the a6400 carries over the larger grip originally introduced by its predecessor (the a6300). This grip, while not as hefty and easy to hold as a full-frame body, is still quite adequate. You’ll find a lot of photographers complaining about small grips on APS-C cameras but, to be frank, that’s kind of the trade-off.

You’re getting a smaller and lighter camera, with more compact lenses, so of course the grip is going to be a bit tighter. Heck, if you want a bigger grip, just buy a dedicated battery grip or even a Smallrig kit (I had one for my a6000, it was great).

In any case, I never really had any major discomfort when lugging the a6400 around. The grip is big enough for my mid-sized hands (at least… I think they’re mid-sized…) and, as I mentioned, the camera just isn’t really heavy enough to weigh me down.

sony a6400 with wrist strap held in hand
The grip, in my opinion, is big enough to be comfortable.

Button Layout & Accessibility

Next up, let’s go over all the custom buttons/features/thingies on the body of the camera.

Top
Hotshoe/Flash
Mode/Top Dial
Power/C1

Back
Lever Button
Dial/Menu/Flash
Playback/Trash/FN

Ports
Micro-HDMI
Microphone
USB Port

A new feature on this camera is that you now have this cool little lever thing (that I mentioned in the table). By flipping it up or down, you can actually choose what the custom button does based on the position of the lever. I found this incredibly useful (more on that in a bit).

Now, let’s talk about customizability. If you’ve ever used another Sony camera, you’ll know that almost ALL the buttons are customizable. Many photographers complain about Sony’s menu system (well-deserved, as it is absolutely awful).

However, you can largely avoid having to dig through the awful menu system after you’ve got your custom buttons set up. On the top, you can customize C1, and on the back, there are 8 (I believe) customizable button slots.

As they’re customizable, you can set them to whatever you want, but here’s a quick list of the ones that I have set up:

  • C1 (top) is Silent Shot mode
  • Lever-Up is Drive Mode
  • Lever-Down is Focus Mode
  • Trash button is Monitor Brightness
  • Right dial is ISO Auto Min. SS

And beyond that, I kept them at their defaults. I absolutely love the custom button system since, as I said, it prevents me from having to dig through Sony’s terrible menus whenever I need to switch a setting.

sony a6400 custom button setup
My personal custom button setup (for photo mode).

Focusing System

Alrighty ya’ll, next up we’re going to focus on focusing (pun absolutely intended). If you’ve ever used any other Sony camera, you’ll be completely unsurprised to know that the autofocus on the a6400 is absolutely insane.

It rocks a cool 425 contrast & phase-detection points, which is really just a fancy way of saying, “it can focus on a lot of very specific areas”. I’ve thrown my camera through all sorts of situations and I haven’t had it trip up in anything besides extreme low light.

Dark conditions are really the only time you’ll have any sort of hunting. I’ve had some low-light situations where the camera has tripped up.

Here are a few sample portraits showing off the AF (from the Ren Faire!).

On that subject, EyeAF is spectacular. It’s super precise and even works on animals! When shooting with telephoto lenses, it locks onto eyes with almost terrifying precision.

Even with wide angles, I also found it to still be surprisingly accurate.

When it comes to subject tracking, AF-C was pretty accurate as well. Naturally, you shouldn’t expect the same performance as a pro-level camera, but it comes pretty close.

I found that the camera could track a slow-ish moving target (a jogger) flawlessly, and tracking faster subjects (vehicles, etc.) was pretty accurate most of the time.

woman walking through woods
Subject tracking is SUPER accurate unless the subject is fast (like a quick moving car).

For photographers who like to manually focus (like myself), the a6400 offers the standard suite of options, including focus peaking and a focus magnifier (which can be bound to any button).

For beginners who likely don’t know, focus peaking is a feature that more or less attempts to highlight what is currently in focus in the frame. This allows you, the photographer, to get a very quick visual “confirmation” that you’ve properly focused on the scene. It’s not perfect, of course, but it’s better than nothing.

The other feature, the focus magnifier, can be assigned to a custom button. What it does is just zooms in the frame by 5x or 10x (can be changed in the menu) so you can always ensure you’ve nailed the focus 100% correctly.

By the way, if you are a beginner, don’t be afraid of manual focus! Feel free to check out my full manual focus guide if you want to learn. Despite just being fun as heck, learning manual focus opens up the huge world of vintage lenses and also allows you to save a boatload of money by opting for modern manual lenses over their more expensive autofocus counterparts.

Burst Mode (JPEG/RAW)

As for burst mode, the a6400 can shoot around 11 frames per second in RAW (buffer kicks in around 40ish frames and takes around 30 seconds or so to clear). For JPEG, you’ll still get 11 frames per second, but the buffer will take a lot longer to kick in (85ish pictures typically).

You can also adjust the speed of burst mode, just like other Sony cameras. On the rare occasion I do use burst, I like to leave it at Low speed (which I think is around 3 frames per second?).

LCD & Viewfinder

Next up, let’s talk about the flippy screen! The LCD screen, although not quite the same resolution or brightness as competitors (jealously looking at you, Panasonic), is still more than adequate.

Over the years, many Sony users have complained about poor screen resolution and, while I agree, I also don’t see it as a huge issue. On an expensive camera, yes, a screen should be high-quality, but on an APS-C camera, I really don’t think it matters quite as much.

In any case, the screen flips upward! This allows you to get some really tight angles or, more importantly, to capture easier selfies or self-portraits. I absolutely love flippy screens, and I really wish my primary A7iii had one.

train tracks on a cloudy day
Instead of a boring image of the camera, here’s some nice train tracks I captured.

Speaking of the screen, the Sony a6400 has touchscreen features… kind of. For some reason, the touchscreen can only be used to select an autofocus point. It can’t be used to navigate menus, nor can it be used to preview (and pinch to zoom) on images. Why Sony limited it to just focusing is beyond me.

Regardless, it’s quite handy if you’re taking pictures in a crowded location and you want to lock down focus on something very specific. Instead of having to take the time to switch to manual focus, you can just tap the screen and let autofocus do the work.

Finally, let’s talk about another “screen” of sorts: the electronic viewfinder. Just like the LCD, Sony’s viewfinders often get a bit of flack for being “weaker” than some of their competitors. I’ll be honest, I have used a few Lumix bodies, and yeah, their viewfinders are huge and crystal clear.

However, the a6400 is still good enough. There’s minimal blackout, it’s fairly large, and extremely bright even in broad daylight. Actually, as a matter of fact, I typically use the viewfinder to playback/preview images as it is so much brighter and sharper than the rear LCD.

Oh, and as a bonus feature, you can tap the “Disp” button on the rear of the camera a few times to get a built-in level in the viewfinder. Seriously, never underestimate how many of your pictures are actually slightly off-level.

beautiful sandy beach
On really sunny days, I’ll typically use the EVF to playback images and tweak settings, since it’s a lot brighter than the LCD screen. (featuring the beauty of Lake Michigan)

Battery Life

Next up, we’re going to talk batteries. Unfortunately, this camera still uses Sony’s old style of battery: the NP-FW50. This battery does the job, but it’s not nearly as strong as the batteries that the company’s newer cameras are using.

Still though, Sony rates the a6400’s battery as being able to take around 410 shots with the LCD or 360 with the EVF. In practice, I’ve found that to be fairly accurate. If you’re shooting 4k video, you can expect it to die MUCH faster.

There are ways, however, to extend your battery life a bit. This may seem like common sense but try to remember to turn off your camera between shots. The a6400 takes a little bit less than 2 seconds from startup-to-shutter so you’re unlikely to miss out on too many shots by turning it off.

Also, not using battery-heavy features like AF-C helps a lot. Plus, if you’re really feeling battery starved, there are some really nice third-party grips made for this camera.

nature path through the woods from above
If you’re going on a fairly long excursion, you may want to bring an extra spare battery.

Image Quality

Finally, let’s get to the real meat and potatoes of a camera: the image quality! The Sony a6400 uses Sony’s standard 24mp sensor that they’ve used for a long time and that’s ok. It works great.

There have been times in my life when I’ve thought about buying a camera with more resolution, but then I realized that 24mp is about the perfect ratio. It’s 6000×4000, which gives a pretty high amount of detail (and crop potential) without slowing down my computer while editing.

You won’t be printing billboards or giant posters, sure, but the megapixel count is more than adequate for the prints that 99% of photographers will make. Plus, you still have a good amount of detail to work with when editing (sometimes I’ll crop my images up to 50% to get more “zoom” in post).

As far as file size goes, I’ve noticed that uncompressed raws typically run around 20-25mb, which is pretty standard. Trust me, your computer won’t struggle to edit these like it might with 4k footage or the a7r’s 42mp images (ask me how I know!).

lighthouse under stormy sky
Typically, 24mp is more than enough for more people.

As for low light performance, the Sony a6400 offers a native ISO range of 100 to 32000 (this is expandable up to 102400 but your images will look like garbage at that high of ISO). If you’re coming from an older camera like the a6000 (or any Canon/Nikon DSLR), you’ll probably be pretty impressed.

In my experience, images up to around 3200 ISO look fantastic. Beyond that, you start to get a lot of noticeable noise. Even with higher noise, however, it’s pretty easy to clean up. I think images only start to become “unsavable” past 8000 ISO. Typically, I’ll take a bit of grain in order to secure a good shot.

Next up, let’s look at dynamic range. Dynamic range, if you’re new to photography, is pretty much the ratio between the darkest and brightest parts of an image.

To put it more simply, think of a picture at mid-day. The sky will be extremely bright and the ground with be comparatively more dark. Dynamic range is how well the camera handles this extreme difference in lighting. Sony cameras have always handled this quite well, and the a6400 isn’t an exception. Although not perfect, I could typically get pretty decently exposed shots even in rough, high-contrast situations.

Actually, quick tip: Sony cameras (and most brands) tend to overexpose their images. Try setting your “exposure comp” to -0.3EV or -0.7EV. I’ve found, with all my Sony bodies, that this allows me to darken the sky (or whatever the bright part of an image is) while still being able to recover details from the shadows (dark parts of the image). Not only that, but you can also use bracketed exposure mode and then merge images in post-processing for an HDR-style shot (and yes, HDR done right can actually look good).

Finally, the last image-quality-related thing to touch on is the camera’s silent shoot mode. This allows you to turn off the shutter sound so the camera is completely quiet. Although I absolutely love the sound of a loud shutter (the sound on this camera is pretty decent), there are some situations where you need to be quiet. Photographing a historic church, fancy restaurant, a library with gorgeous architecture, etc.

The only downside of silent shutter mode is that you’ll get slightly more banding, dynamic range is marginally weaker, and you may get some weird distortion while doing panning shots. This is all VERY minor, however, so if you just really hate shutter sounds, there’s virtually no harm in keeping this setting on all the time.

starry sky with clouds
Silent shutter mode is nice when you’re trying to be quiet (like when you’re trying not to disturb other star-gazers!).

Video Performance

So, the camera can shoot some awesome photos, but what about video? Quality-wise, the a6400 can shoot either 4k 30fps or 1080 120fps.

The 4k video footage looks fabulous and the 1080p still looks great (while being much easier on my computer to edit…). Typically, I can push to around 1600 ISO in video mode until things start to look a bit muddy. This is pretty typical and I’m quite happy with it. In a pinch, I’d set my limit to 3200 ISO.

As for autofocus, just like for still images, video autofocus is lightning-fast. Sony has never fallen flat with autofocus before, and the a6400 is certainly no exception. There are even a few settings to adjust AF speed, lock time, tracking, and that sort of thing in the settings. By the way, the video review I had at the top of the article covers, well, video a lot more.

Other Video Features

Alright ya’ll, here is where things get really sad. The Sony a6400 doesn’t feature in-body image stabilization. Why? I have no idea! With a camera that has so many other video features, I’m shocked that Sony neglected to include this. I guess it would have pushed up the price too much to where they thought it would be too expensive for most people.

So yeah, that’s pretty unfortunate if you don’t already own a collection of stabilized lenses. Still, in my video tests, I still was able to mostly stabilize video in post, but it’s not quite the same as having it done in camera.

That being said, besides the lack of IBIS, there are some other good features, like the previously mentioned flippy screen! If you’re shooting any sort of vlog-style stuff, product reviews, or anything else where you need to record yourself, having that flip-up screen is invaluable.

With my main a7iii, there’s so much trial and error to get myself in the middle of the frame, but with the a6400 I can just… look at the screen and see myself.

wooden tower looking up
Again, instead of a boring photo of the camera, here’s a trippy tower I found.

In addition to the awesome flippy screen, the a6400 also features a mic jack so you can hook up any sort of microphone you want. Sony makes a few hot-shoe mics that mount directly on top, though I’ve always preferred to have a standard mic jack microphone myself. Oh, and there is a mini-HDMI port if you’re the type who likes to use external monitors for recording.

Finally, the last video feature is the ability to customize buttons exclusively for video mode. This is a feature that, I believe, older APS-C bodies lacked. This lets you keep all your standard custom buttons for photo modes, and have special ones only for video. This is awesome for quickly changing resolution/framerate on the fly or for tweaking AF modes.

Alright, so, is the Sony a6400 actually good for video? Yes and no. Although I hate the fact that there’s no IBIS, it’s hard to deny that every other video feature is perfect. We’ve got a flippy screen, mic jack (and HDMI port), and 4k30fps.

I would say that if you have stabilized lenses already (the kit lens actually isn’t terrible) or you’re primarily planning on shooting with a tripod/gimbal, then the a6400 is a fantastic video camera.

However, if you’re planning on doing a lot of hand-held footage, I’d honestly urge you to consider the ZV-E10 instead. Although that camera is primarily video focused, it can also shoot photos as well. It’s a really great hybrid body and I’m looking to get my hands on one soon to test properly.

sunset shoreline on lake michigan
So who is this camera good for?

So who is the Sony a6400 good for?

So who exactly is the Sony a6400 good for? First up: beginners due to ease of use and portability.

You can slap this thing in auto or P mode, and still get great shots with minimal effort. There’s a lot of built-in “easy-mode” tools (like picture profiles, heavy automatic JPEG editing, a guide that explains what stuff does, etc.).

It’s also really small, which may sound weird to say that’s appealing to a beginner, but hear me out. For me, at least, I’ve always been much more likely to take my camera with me if its small. When I used to shoot Canon (soooo many years ago), I always hated taking that thing anywhere because it was gigantic, heavy, and really clumsy (I really hate Canon, guys).

Then I bought my original a6000 and started tossing it in my bag anytime I went outside for anything since it was just so tiny. Never underestimate how great a small camera can be for motivating you to go shoot. And taking a lot of pictures is, after all, the best way to improve at photography.

Lastly, I really see the a6400 as a replacement for the good old a6000. For a long time, I would have suggested the a6000 to beginners, but you really can’t find it in stock anymore. Sony discontinued that camera a few years ago, and now the used prices are almost as much as you can buy the a6400 new for.

For that reason, the a6400 more or less acts as a direct replacement. It has all the appealing factors of the a6k (reasonable cost, small body, ease of use), yet packs a lot more powerful features and is overall a better camera.

person attempting to use camera
The a6400 is very beginner friendly and pretty much acts as the “official” replacement for the now-discontinued a6000.

For enthusiasts and hobbyists looking to upgrade from their starter cameras, I think the a6400 is a worthy candidate. It’s incredibly powerful still, but is likely a bit more familiar versus taking the huge leap into full frame.

You can still shoot in highly automated modes (like aperture or shutter priority) or you can toss it in full manual. This allows enthusiasts to tailor the camera exactly to their skill and comfort level.

In addition to that, you’ve got an insane selection of lenses. Sony’s ecosystem in general, thanks to their acceptance of third-party lens manufacturers, has pretty much any and every type of lens you’d ever want. Looking to shoot with a radioactive lens from 60 years ago? You can. Want a super cheap modern manual focus lens? There are a lot of good options.

Maybe you just want an easy lens that can autofocus, is lightweight, and razor-sharp? The Sigma trio (along with many more lenses) have got you covered. The diverse lens selection in Sony’s ecosystem allows for never-ending fun and experimentation, I love it.

Finally, the a6400 might be a little bit too limited for true professionals. Now, I mean photographers who are actually getting paid a high amount for their work. If you’re taking occasionally senior portraits or some casual paid event photos, the a6400 will probably be adequate for your needs, especially with the right lens.

However, if you’re photographing weddings, mega-corporate events, or doing client work for a high-end tourism agency, you’ll probably want to look at a full-frame camera instead. In other words, if every shoot pays you enough to buy a new camera outright, just pick up a full-frame. I can definitely vouch for the incredible a7iii. That camera has exceeded my expectations in every way.

me holding a camera
Pros-getting-paid may want to consider upgrading to full frame instead. For everyone else though, the a6400 is awesome!

My Final Thoughts

If I haven’t made it obvious by now, I really do think the Sony a6400 is a solid value. It takes everything that made Sony’s previous APS-C cameras great and just dials it all up a notch.

For the price, you’re not really going to find any camera that is comparable. The a6100 is only marginally cheaper and lacks a lot of features, the a6300 and a6500 are a little bit “behind” as well. The Sony a6600 or new a6700 are definitely upgrades, but they cost a lot more.

The a6400, like I’ve mentioned a few times in the article, falls really nicely into “middle-ground” territory between a lower-cost APS-C camera and a more expensive full-frame or high-end APS-C body.

sony a6400 with sigma 16mm f1.4 lens
The Sony a6400 is an awesome camera with tons of potential for beginners and experienced enthusiasts alike.

So yeah, now that you’ve read a few thousand words of me ranting about the camera, I hope I’ve convinced you to consider trying it out yourself. Whether you’re just a beginner dabbling in photography or if you’ve been practicing for a few years, this camera offers you pretty much anything you’ll ever need. Great build quality, fantastic images, fast AF and, of course, a good price along with a myriad of lens choices.

I honestly think that, for the price, you can’t do better than the a6400. Seriously, this camera covers pretty much all the needs most photographers will have (by the way, more samples are below). Anyways, if I’ve convinced you to grab one for yourself, I’ll leave purchase links below, thanks for reading! 🙂

Buy from Amazon <– this is an affiliate link, so I get a (small) commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you for the support. <3


Additional Sony a6400 Sample Photos

man smokin' meats
A buddy of mine smoking meat. Notice how it nailed the AF on his face.
man walking through nature preserve
A lovely pristine and natural prairie preserve.
pinterest pin for article
A nice pin for you Pinterest fans. 🙂

Hey, thanks for checking out all my sample photos too! If you’re interested in the camera, please consider buying through my link as that gives me a (small) commission at no extra cost to you. This allows me to do more of these honest, hands-on reviews. Thanks. 🙂