Sony a6400 Brings 120fps AF tracking to the Masses!

Sony a6400 slow motionThe newly announced Sony a6400 is what the a6300 should have been almost two years ago. It is still missing a key feature that was introduced with the a6500 that of IBIS or Sensor Stabilization which works with any lens added to the system. However, if you remove the IBIS fail from the equation this is a killer camera for just $900 which in this day and age of $1000+ cellphones, it is quite a bargain for the body only.

We were amazed by the 120fps full HD quality of other sony alpha cameras like the a9 and the a7 III which fully track subjects while recording in super slow motion which really makes the feature stand out compared to other cameras which force you to go manual while on that mode.  The codec quality has also been bumped in this camera for 120p to 100Mbps from 60Mbps on earlier cameras like the a6300 which should preserve more detail while sacrificing little in image crispness.

a6400 Main Features:

  • 24.2MP APS-C Exmor CMOS Sensor
  • BIONZ X Image Processor
  • Real-Time Eye AF & Real-Time Tracking
  • XGA Tru-Finder 2.36m-Dot OLED EVF
  • 3.0″ 921.6k-Dot 180° Tilting Touchscreen
  • Internal UHD 4K Video, S-Log3, and HLG
  • S&Q Motion in Full HD from 1-120 fps
  • Built-In Wi-Fi with NFC
  • 425 Phase- & Contrast-Detect AF Points
  • Up to 11 fps Shooting and ISO 102,400

a6400 Video Mode:

Format MPEG-4, H.264
Modes
  • 3840 x 2160 @ 30p / 100 Mbps, XAVC S, MP4, H.264, Linear PCM
  • 3840 x 2160 @ 30p / 60 Mbps, XAVC S, MP4, H.264, Linear PCM
  • 3840 x 2160 @ 24p / 100 Mbps, XAVC S, MP4, H.264, Linear PCM
  • 3840 x 2160 @ 24p / 60 Mbps, XAVC S, MP4, H.264, Linear PCM
  • 1920 x 1080 @ 120p / 100 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM
  • 1920 x 1080 @ 120p / 60 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM
  • 1920 x 1080 @ 60p / 25 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM
  • 1920 x 1080 @ 60i / 24 Mbps, AVCHD, MTS, H.264, AAC
  • 1920 x 1080 @ 50i / 17 Mbps, AVCHD, MTS, H.264, AAC
  • 1920 x 1080 @ 30p / 16 Mbps, MOV, H.264, Linear PCM

Yes, 4k 60p is missing from this entry level camera but it still generates oversampling in 4k from its 25MP sensor and down converts to 4k UHD for a beautiful image with less noise and no perceptible moire/aliasing artifacts.

This a6400 camera is really crying to have IBIS in the sensor but with a small gimbal stabilizer, it should work wonders for their intended Vlogger audience.

NEW SONY a6400 CAMERA with a FLIP SCREEN by Jenna Ezarik:

The video above by Jenna Ezarik shows why IBIS is needed in a camera like this, it is quite shakey and the rolling shutter is apparent. The audio from the built-in microphones is very acceptable as is the video quality which rivals some of the best 4k out there.  Which means the higher-end model which is planned for the alpha line will probably have IBIS and even better features for under $2000 USD.

Sony a6400 Slow Motion 120fps 1080 Samples:

Sony A6400’s BEST New Feature (not flip screen) – First Review by Max Yuryev:

The video above by the excellent and unbiased Max Yuryev has a few great 120fps 1080p samples and also points out that the touch screen AF tracking selection will not work in the slow-motion mode so you will have to use the area AF modes to track.  The screen will also remain fully lit and not dim like in the previous a6300 and a6500 cameras which was a trade-off for recording and not overheat while doing it.   The battery remains the same which is also a bummer as it rarely lasts enough for serious video shooting. So plan accordingly and get a few extra batteries.

New firmware for Alpha cameras:

Sony also announced firmware updates that will be delivered soon for the a7 III, a9 and a7R III which will really improve the already great AF capability and add the much needed timelapse feature to the bodies. The press release for that is below:

Sony Announces α9 Camera Upgrade Through Major Firmware Updates

New Firmware Releases will Deliver Enhanced Autofocus Performance and New Functionality for Sony’s Acclaimed Full-frame Camera

SAN DIEGO — Jan. 15, 2019 — Sony Electronics Inc. today announced a major upgrade to its α9 mirrorless camera that will be available via a firmware updates.

Sony’s revolutionary α9 camera will receive several major enhancements to its award-winning autofocus (AF) performance and image quality, as well as receive a variety of new features that are designed to improve the overall workflow for professional photographers. In addition, new firmware updates for α7R III and α7 III will be available that update these cameras with the latest enhancements including Real-time Eye AF performance 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.”

Firmware Ver. 5.0 and Ver. 6.0 for α9

The upcoming firmware version 5.0 for α9 adds Sony’s newly developed Real-time Tracking mode for object tracking. This mode utilizes Sony’s latest algorithm—including Artificial Intelligence-based object recognition—and processes color, subject distance (depth), pattern (brightness) as well as spatial (distance) information to ensure that all subjects can be captured with extreme accuracy and precision. 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. In addition, “Tracking On” helps initiate real-time tracking at any time by simply pressing a custom-assigned button and “Touch Tracking,” which quickly activates through the touch screenii.

With this new firmware version 5.0, Sony’s acclaimed α9 camera will receive advanced “Real-time Eye AF,” the latest version of Sony’s acclaimed Eye AF technology. This exciting new capability employs AI-based object recognition to detect and process eye location data in real time, resulting in improved accuracy, speed and tracking performance of Eye AF. In all autofocus modes, the camera can automatically detect the eyes of the subject and activate Eye AF with a half press of the shutter button, and the camera will seamlessly track the eyes at all times when in AF-C mode. The new firmware will also enable photographers to select the preferred eye (left or right) of their subject as the focus point.

Other focusing capabilities that will be available with the new firmware include Touch Pad, Touch Tracking, an extended phase-detection AF aperture range that has been increased from F11 to F16, and Fast Hybrid AF for movie shooting that provides smooth, automated focusing for movies.

Image quality will also be enhanced with the new α9 firmware version 5.0, specifically in the areas of color reproduction. The camera will more accurately account for subtle changes in light for smoother, more natural tonal gradations in elements like the sky. There is a new auto white balance algorithm that gets added as well, which produces more consistently balanced images while burst shooting. Other new functions for efficient controls and data management include My Dial and Dual Slot media menu improvement, rating and protect functions.

In addition to the several new capabilities, the firmware also adds compatibility with Sony’s new Imaging Edge Mobile application – the successor to the PlayMemories Mobile™ application. The new Imaging Edge Mobile application features a ‘Transfer & Tagging add-on’ function to assist professional workflow. This allows photographers to transfer images from their camera to their smartphone during capture using the FTP transfer functionality ,and adds support for including IPTC metadata on transferred images.

Version 6.0 firmware for the α9 camera will add Eye AF for animal eyesi, an exciting new feature for wildlife photographers that will enable interval shooting functionality for creating time-lapse movies.

The new system firmware update version 5.0 is scheduled for launch in March 2019, and version 6.0 is scheduled for Summer 2019.

Firmware Ver. 3.0 for α7R III and α7 III

Sony’s popular α7R III and α7 III full-frame cameras will both receive enhanced Real-time Eye AF performance with the upcoming firmware version 3.0. This will be available in AF-C mode with a simple half-press of the shutter button. Real-Time Eye AF for animals will also be available.

The cameras will also receive interval recording functionality that will allow for simple creation of time-lapse moviesvii. The new feature can be set for anywhere between 1 and 60 seconds, with a total number of shots from 1 to 9999. AE tracking sensitivity can also be adjusted to “High”, “Mid” or “Low” during interval recording, allowing for reduced changes in exposure over the shooting interval.

The new system firmware update version 3.0 is scheduled in April 2019.

A variety of exclusive stories and exciting new content related to all of Sony’s exciting announcements can be found at www.alphauniverse.com, a site built to educate and inspire all fans and customers of the Sony α brand. The new content will also be posted directly at the Sony Photo Gallery and the Sony Camera Channel on YouTube.

1. Accurate focus may not be achieved with certain subjects in certain situations
2. Function must be set via the menu beforehand
3. A successor application of PlayMemories Mobile. Existing PlayMemories Mobile users can use this by updating PlayMemories Mobile
4. Add-on mobile application for ‘Imaging Edge Mobile’. Available countries: US/Canada/UK/France/Germany/Hong Kong/China/Australia/Japan. User registration is required to use this application. Compatible with ILCE-9 with firmware update Ver.5.0 or later, ILCE-7RM3, ILCE-7M3
5. Compatible with ILCE-9 with firmware update Ver.5.0 or later
6. IPTC metadata for digital image metadata is a standard created by the IPTC (International Press Telecommunications Council)
7. The latest version of “Imaging Edge” ‘Viewer’ and PlayMemories Home desktop applications is required

Should I get it?

In a word, maybe… but we believe you should wait for Sony’s new IBIS equipped camera if you can spend more. There is a chance the a6600 or whatever it may be called will shoot 240fps which will put it in the running for our camera guide top spots.

If this camera fits your needs then the price tag of $900 is an incredible bargain. The video and photo quality afforded by this kit is really unbelievable compared to the options just 4 years ago. Technology does start to trickle down from the high-end to the low end faster every year.  We still would like to see more attention paid to frame rates like having a stacked sensor with 960/1000fps capability on APS-C as a start and then Full frame as Sony is a pioneer in that technology.  The RX series is also in need for new sensors as they have recycled what essentially is the same die in several generations with slight tweaks in capabilities and big changes in form factors.  We really would like to see at least 1080p quality at 480fps from Sony this year.

2019 might be the year for new leaps of technology in both photo and video that have taken years to develop, CES was muted except for Sharp’s 8k camera with a m4/3 mount which is certainly interesting and will come with a $3k price tag. If they are able to use that bandwidth for slow motion we should see higher quality frame rates than other technologies but it may also not be a sensor designed for higher frame rates in order to be cooler. We will have to wait and see.  Let us know your thoughts below. -HSC


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