Sony a6100 vs a6400: Which Should You Buy?

The Sony a6100 and a6400 are both remarkable, feature rich cameras, but some of you will not need (or want) the features that increase the price of the a6400.

Sony’s brand new a6100 is a full featured camera with a pro-level sensor, but was released into an already crowded Sony camera lineup, and is priced at only $150 or so below the impressive a6400. With Sony, it can be hard to keep track of all of the differences between models, and hard to decide which to buy. Let me simplify things.

First, here’s a quick chart of the significant differences between the two cameras. Explanations can be found below.

FeaturesSony a6400Sony a6100
Price (body) $898.00$748.00
Electronic Fiewfinder Resolution2.4 Million Dots1.4 Million Dots
Body MaterialMagnesium AlloyPlastic
Dust/Weather Sealed BodyBasic SealingNone
Body Weight403g396g
S-Log Profile AvailableYesNo
Battery Life360 shots CIPA Standards380 shots CIPA Standards
Matthew Gore | Light And Matter I shot this with an a6600 and the new Sony 16-55 f/2.8 lens, but the sensor (and image quality) would be identical with the a6100 and a6400. ISO 1250

The Basics

In fact, the Sony a6100 and a6400 are almost identical: they use the same sensors, the same autofocus systems (including real-time eye detection for humans and animals), they can both shoot action at 11fps, and they will produce the same quality photos. Period.

However, there are some differences in build quality, and there are some differences in the video features.

Sony The flip-up screens on the a6100 and a6400 are identical.

Body & Build Quality

If you’re paying attention you may notice that the Sony a6100 body is lighter (396g) and made primarily of polycarbonate, while the a6400 has a magnesium alloy body (403g) and basic weather-sealing. However, the weight difference is tiny: just 7g (0.25 oz.), not something that you’ll appreciate while traveling or backpacking.

Comparison of Sonya6100 and a6400 Top Views
Sony The two cameras look nearly identical from the top.

The rear LCD screens of the two cameras are identical, but the OLED electronic viewfinder (EVF) of the a6400 has significantly higher resolution (about 63% higher) than that of the a6100. The a6100’s EVF has 1.44 million dots, and while that is sufficient, it is disappointingly low compared to the more common 2.4 million dot OLED EVFs on the market today.

Matthew Gore | Light And Matter

Otherwise, the bodies and controls of the cameras are virtually identical. On the back of the camera, the a6400 offers a switch to change the “Exposure Lock” button into an AF/MF button where the a6100 just as an “Exposure Lock” button. They’re identical otherwise.

Video Quality

Both cameras can shoot a wide range of video sizes and frame rates, and both can shoot high-quality 4K video at 24 or 30fps or 1080p video at up to 120fps. However, only the a6400 can shoot with the S-log and HLG (Hybrid Log Gamma) profiles, a flat profile that is typically use by professional film makers who expect to tone and color-grade the video in post-processing.

Why Get One of These Cameras?

There are a lot of cameras on the market, but few of them can begin to match the features, flexibility and image quality offered by Sony’s APS-C cameras. They offer action shooting at 11 frames per second, the best autofocus system in their class with excellent tracking, and sensors with excellent resolution, dynamic range, and low-light performance.

Sony has been producing compatible E-mount lenses for about a decade, including the professional-class G Master lenses for their full-frame cameras that can also be used on the a6100 and a6400. Sony recently announced the 16-55 f/2.8 lens for APS-C E-mount, which is not cheap but is the equivalent of a professional quality 24-70 f/2.8 for a 35mm camera.

Matthew Gore | Light And Matter Again, I shot this with the Sony a6600 and 16-55 f/2.8 lens, but this time in even lower light. ISO 3200

Nikon and Canon, on the other hand, have very lens limited offerings for their mirrorless cameras, as Nikon only launched their Z-system last year (the Z50 is a good option if you can live with the lens options), and Canon’s “M” mount cameras are aimed at the amateur market and require adapters to use lenses from the R or EF mount systems.

Fuji produces the best cameras to compare with the Sony, with the Fuji X-T30 the best competitor in the same price range.

Which One Should You Get?

North Head Lighthouse at Cape Disappointment
Want a Better Lens?
Although a kit lens is nice and compact, there are huge advantages to getting a lens that will let in more light and give you better resolution.
I think that the Tamron 17-70 f/2.8 is the best all-around lens for these cameras on the market right now. Watch my video below to see why.
Video / Review

My general camera buying advice is this: buy the least expensive camera that will meet your needs and the best lenses that you can afford. But beyond the low price, there is nothing to recommend the a6100 over the a6400.

With that in mind, the first thing is to check and see if you like the viewfinder of the a6100 (it will still be much better than EVFs from digital point and shoot cameras and video cameras from several years ago). If you do, great. If not, then you can forget everything else; the EVF such an important feature of a mirrorless camera that it’s not worth buying a camera if you don’t like the EVF. Buy the a6400.

If either EVF is fine for you, consider how important shooting video is to you. If you’re going to want S-log or similar flat gamma profiles, get the a6400. Otherwise, stick with the a6100 and save yourself some money so that you can buy better lenses.

Questions? Let me know!

If you’re having trouble deciding on a camera, or have any questions that I haven’t addressed above, just let me know in the comment section below, and I’ll answer as soon as I get a chance!


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John Knight

Hi there, having had both these cameras there is one very significant difference that every review I have seen so far has missed. The a6100 will auto-bracket at up to 0.7EV for 5 exposures, this is 2.8 EV of bracketing. On the other hand the a6400 brackets up to 9 images at 1.0 EV for 8 EV of bracketing, or up to 5 exposures at up to 3 EV, so 12 EV of bracketing. If you ever produce HDR images or just like to bracket your shots there is no contest, the a6400 is the one to buy.

isroiboosD

Hello, really nice article!
I usually shoot holiday/family photos whenever we go on vacation. Having tried out the a6600 + 18-135mm this last summer I was really impressed with the size and quality.

I started out with a NEX-6 (with a Sigma 19mm, very happy with it!) many years ago but for the last ~5 years I’ve been a Fuji shooter (which I really like for the controls and the colors).

But now, after testing that 18-135 from Sony, and the 18-135 and 16-70 from Fuji, it seems that the Sony lens is a much better fit for my purposes.

Now, I’ve been looking at what body to get, and I’m a bit torn between a6000 (which I can get used for $250), the a6100 (~$580, recent release), and the a6400 (~$820, is more recent, a bit weather sealed); the A6600 is too expensive for my hobby usage.

So my main lens will be the Sony 18-135, considering the prices do you think it’s worth the difference from the A6000 (used, maybe a few months of warranty left) to the A6100 or A6400 (both new)?

I don’t care about video, so purely from an IQ/autofocus quality in photos (landscape and zooming in on my kid, wife etc).

Many thanks in advance, appreciate your input.

isroiboosD

Thank you, appreciate it!
The Tamron sure seems interesting, but so far no reviews; looking forward to that video.

James

Hi Matthew,

This is a really helpful article, thanks!

I’m trying to find the right camera and lens for filming conducting tutorial videos (been using a good webcam), as well as taking close up product photos (my wife makes jewellery and uses an iphone 7 to photograph it).

We want to buy a camera we can share for this, and are wondering about the a6400, but have some questions (about things we’re not sure we fully understand).

The 1080p at 120fps sounds ideal for picking up conducting movements smoothly, but how would the auto-focus behave. If my arms are moving quickly, would it cause them to be more, or less, blurry?

Also, I’ve had a problem with the brightness of my backdrop changing as I move. I think it may be due to our restricted space – I have to stand with the backdrop about 50cm behind me, and the camera about 2m in front of me, and the webcam has an auto-brightness and auto-focus (Logitech Brio).

Can I avoid this issue with a mirrorless camera, or is there a lighting/spacing issue I need to fix first?

Pannaga Simha

Hi Matthew,

Thanks for the nice, detailed comparison. I’m looking for a replacement for my Sony A6000 with a camera that has a fully articulating screen (for vlogging) and mic port. Will mostly use it for occasional vlogging and photography. I was deliberating between the Fuji X-T30 and Sony A61/6400, but the Fuji does not have a fully articulating screen. Meanwhile, the X-S10 has just been launched, and while it clocks all bells and whistles, it costs around $1600 with the 18-55 f2.8-4 lens here in India. Now, should I pick the Sony A6400 and buy a nice fast prime for vlogging or invest in the more expensive X-S10? I’ve read that the 18-55 is almost like a bag of primes. Appreciate your insights.

Pannaga Simha

Thank you very much Matthew. That was both insightful & helpful. I’m not comfortable using a Gimbal (haven’t used one but reviews on how to use them put me off!), and hence IBIS becomes an important factor. Therefore, I’m leaning towards the Fuji X-S10, which I could pair with the soon to be available Tokina 23mm F1.4 or the Fujinon 23mm F2 (Tokina has the E-mount lens mentioned in their roadmap, but that is yet to be announced)

A couple of follow-up questions

  1. In case I decide to pick the X-S10, should I drop the 18-55 and get the body alone? Just wondering if the kit lens is of much use on top of the prime? (Same goes for the A6600, in case I decide to pick that)
  2. Does having a stabilised lens make up for a camera without IBIS or is the latter a lot more effective? While I understand that choice of lenses with OSS is limited, I really don’t see myself owning more than 2 sets of glass in the foreseeable future.

Thanks,
Pannaga

Pannaga Simha

Thanks again Matthew.I really appreciate taking time to share your thoughts and insights. It really helped understand what I can expect to have from the options I have.

Atif

Hi Matthew
I am new to photography, considering between Fujifilm x-T30, Nikon Z50 and Sony A6400. I will be using mainly for family photos and traveling. Good video will be a bounce, But mainly interested in still photography. Also which camera is best suites for low light conditions.
Thanks

Mateusz

Hello,
which one will be the best option for amateur ?

  • Nikon z50
  • Fujifilm X-T30
  • sony a6100/a6400

I don’t like to change camera settings etc. amd i’m looking the best camera which will do the best photo without spending hours to set up the proper setting.I dont care about video only a quality of photos.
Thx for help!

Mateusz

Thank you, hmm choosing the best one in this price range do you think is it a possibility to choose another greater camera than these three above? Which lenses will be the best for a beginner? I know thats many hard questions, but it helped mi a lot :)
Best regards!

Mateusz

Thanks a lot for all informations.
I will buy a camera for making photos of my family, so in my opinion i dont need a zoom so much. So i will go for 50mm f/1.8. Can you give me some topic which will the best option for quality/money value?
In the camera topic i think i will choose something between nikon z50 or fujifilm x-t30.

Best regards

Catherine Pope

Thanks so much for your comparison, Matthew – that was incredibly helpful! I can’t wait to get started.

Catherine Pope

Well, actually, I went for the Canon EOS M50 in the end. It was significantly cheaper and did everything I needed (including connecting as a webcam in OBS). Your review helped me work out my requirements. Thank you again!

Denny

Thanks for the comparison. Helped me make a decision between the two cameras.

Tina Willis

Thank you for writing this blog post. I am a small business owner who wants to record quality videos for YouTube, mostly from my desk, but sometimes maybe outdoors (Florida, so possibly sun). I care about the look of my skin, so the softness option on the VZ-1 is nice. But I want interchangeable lenses. So that’s out. I also want good battery life and the ability to plug in. And I want quality and ease of use is essential, as I’m not experienced, at all, with cameras. More than a little learning curve will not be good.

Could you please recommend the best camera? Sony seems ideal but I can’t figure out all of their options.

Mellissa Willoughby

What one of the Sony Alpha 6000 series is best for low lighting with also maybe a lens for Macro shooting but easy to learn and for under 700-800$? Can not decide if I want to buy a kit with a lens or camera separate and then maybe a separate lens and accessory kit. Just so many options and cameras and sellers who or where is the best option for a beginner? Just so overwhelming. I would probably settle for a different name and model but as long as it was good for the low lighting and macro shooting.

DaVinzy Visuals

you mentioned in the above comment that the cheaper 30 mm macro is not really ideal. Any reasons for that? It is a native mount APSC 1:1 producing macro lens and is available at around 35% of the price of sigma 70 mm macro.

lester mitchell

Hi, great article but I have a question. I am looking to start making more pro quality guitar videos for YouTube, and I’m not sure what camera option is best for me. I really don’t know what to go with as far the 6100 or 6400. Is the video quality drastically different? Also how does it compare to canon m50? Thanks in advance.

David Davies

I’m looking at a mirrorless camera purchase in the near future. I shoot mainly landscape, occasionally macro. I’ve a budget of around A$1500. Want cheapest body with best wide zoom for my money. A6000 and ??? I had a Nikon d600 w/24 to 85 but had to sell on health grounds

Achim Leißner

What do you think for an upcoming Video Creator. Should i buy a used 6400 or a new 6100 they are about the Same Price Range.
My Priorities are cinematic shots and Professional produced ads.

Sankha Roy

Love the way you defined the specifications of this mirror-less models

Varun

Do both have same JPEG colors. I have seen side to side comparison where there are slight differences. A6100 is newer and maybe have latest color algorithms. I suspect A6100 to have slightly better colors compared to A6400. Let me know your views.

ajay

Hi Mathew, I am Ajay from India. I am new in photography. i have interest in bird photography. i also want to capture portraits, landscape etc. i want to buy sony a 6400 with 16-50 kit lens. should i go with sony 70-350 in order to capture birds keeping in mind my budget that is around 2000 dollar for two lenses and camera body. should i also go with a 35 mm or 50 mm prime lens for portraits and low light photography. please suggest

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