Sony unveils new a6400 camera and major firmware updates for Alpha lineup

Sony today has just announced its newest camera, the Sony a6400, along with a series of major firmware updates for the a9, a7 III and a7R III.

The a6400 comes with a 180-degree rotatable screen that looks to attract vloggers. Additionally, Sony claims the camera “brings a number of enhancements in autofocus performance, subject tracking and workflow” making it a great camera for online video production.

Sony a6400: the vlogger’s camera

The a6400 is the latest entry in Sony’s lineup of compact, lightweight APS-C cameras. The camera claims to have the fastest autofocus in the world, with an acquisition time of 0.02 seconds. That’s is lighting fast. It also sports 4K video recording, “Real-time Eye AF” and “Real-time Tracking,” and of course the 180-degree tiltable LCD touch screen.

Sony's a6400
Sony’s a6400

“The α6400 represents another important step in the growth of Sony’s overall interchangeable-lens camera lineup,” said Neal Manowitz, Vice President of Imaging Solutions at Sony Electronics. “By bringing so many of our latest and most advanced technologies from full-frame cameras to a brand new APS-C model, we are giving today’s creators more options than ever to realize their vision.”

Lightning fast performance like no other

The a6400 inherits many technologies from the a9, a7R III and a7 III. It features 425 phase-detection AF points and 425 contrast-detection AF points that cover about 84 percent of the image area. The camera is paired with the new-generation BIONZ X image processing engine that essentially allows the a6400 to focus in just 0.02 seconds, all the while tracking the subject in the camera’s frame.

The camera debuts Sony’s advanced Real-time Eye AF and newly developed Real-time Tracking. The new AF system is the latest version of Sony’s Eye AF tech, employing AI based object recognition to detect and process eye data in real time. Sony says this results in “improved accuracy, speed and tracking performance of Eye AF.” As for the Real-time Tracking tech, it uses Sony’s latest algorithm, which includes Sony’s AI-based object recognition, to process color, subject distance (depth) and pattern (brightness) as spatial information.

“… when photographing or videographing humans or animals, face and eye position information is recognized by AI and the subject’s eye is monitored in real time with extremely high tracking precision,” says Sony.

For shooting speeds, the camera can shoot stills at up to 11 fps with full AF/AE tracking with the mechanical shutter. Also, it can shoot up to 8 fps with full AF/AE tracking while silent shooting. In either mode, the a6400 can shoot up to 116 frames JPEG Standard / 46 frames RAW compressed.

Image quality

The camera sports a 24.2 MP APS-C sized image sensors with an upgraded BIONZ X processor. Its standard ISO ranges up to ISO 32000 for both stills and video. The ISO is expandable up to ISO 102400 for still images. And, with the image processing algorithms of Sony’s other full frame cameras, noise should be greatly suppressed.

4K recording with fast hybrid autofocus

As for the video shooting, the a6400 shoots 4K video with full pixel readout. There is no pixel binning, allowing the camera to collect about 2.4 times the amount of data that is required for 4K videos. This is also the first APS-C mirrorless camera to include Hybrid Log-Gamma picture profile. Both S-Log2 and S-Log3 are available as well as Zebra functionality, Gamma Display assists and proxy recording. This last feature should make editing large video clips in post much easier.

The camera’s focusing system uses upgraded Hybrid AF tech. Sony says the new Hybrid AF system will “[keep] the subject in constant smooth focus no matter the scene, even if an object crosses in front of the camera.”

Sony a6400 sitting on wooden baord
The a6400 seem like it will be a great vlogging camera

When shooting time-lapse, the camera offers built-in interval recording. It can be set anywhere between 1 to 60 seconds with a total number of shots from 1 to 9999. The AE tracking sensitivity can be switched from “High”, “Mid” or “Low” during interval shooting. This reduces changes in exposure over the shooting interval.

Also, the a6400 can record in Full HD at 120 fps at up to 100 Mbps.

A versatile design for vloggers

The 180-degree tiltable screen is a 3.0-type LCD flip screen, with 921k-dots of resolution. The screen is equipped with touch functionality. It comes with options for Touch Pad, Touch Focus and Touch Shutter. Also included, new Touch Tracking, which quickly activates Real-time Tracking through the touch screen. The camera’s viewfinder is an XGA OLED Tru-finder.

The camera additionally features 89 functions that are assignable to 8 custom keys and is built with magnesium alloy.

Pricing and Availability

The a6400 will start shipping this February for $900. There will be an option to buy it with a 16-50mm F3.5 – 5.6 lens for $1,000, or with an 18-135mm F3.5 – 5.6 lens for $1,300.

Firmware update for the a9, a7 III and a7R

Three Sony cameras are getting major updates. Let’s go over what updates those are:

a9 updates

The a9 will be getting a big boost to its AF performance and image quality. Plus, it will be getting the latest Real-time Eye AF tech and add interval recording capacities.

“These new firmware upgrades demonstrate the strong commitment that Sony has to our customers,” said Neal Manowitz, Vice President of Imaging Solutions at Sony Electronics. “Their voice is critical to everything we do, and being able to provide our customers with new capabilities is a source of great pride for Sony.”

In addition to the Real-time Eye AF, the version 5.0 firmware update will give the a9 Real-time Tracking mode.

Image quality and the a9’s color reproduction will also be improved with the update. Sony says the camera will “more accurately account for subtle changes in light for smoother, more natural tonal gradations in elements like the sky.” The camera will have a new auto white balance algorithm that “produces more consistently balanced images while burst shooting,” says Sony.

Also, the version upcoming 6.0 firmware update will add Eye AF for animal eyes to the a9. It’s a new feature Sony says is for “wildlife photographers” that will enable interval shooting functionality for creating time-lapse movies.

The version 5.0 update will launch in March and version 6.0 will launch this summer.

α7R III and α7 III updates

The α7R III and α7 III are also getting enhanced Real-time Eye AF performance in their upcoming version 3.0 firmware update. It will be available in AF-C mode.

They will also get interval recording functionality.

The version 3.0 firmware update will be out this April.

Sean Berry
Sean Berry
Sean Berry is Videomaker's managing editor.

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