Sony a6100 vs a6400 – What’s The Difference?

In Product Reviews by Jerad HillLeave a Comment

It has been a busy week as far as camera announcements. Not only did Canon finally announce a successor to the 80D, now they have the 90D; and there’s a new camera by Panasonic, the Lumix line of cameras; but today, Sony announced a couple of new APS-C model cameras that’s has leaving some of us scratching our heads. But I wanted to talk a little bit about them and give you some of the differences.

Sony a6400 vs a6100 – What’s The Difference?

Buy it, Peep The Specs:
Sony a6100:
Sony a6400:

Those of you that are following me here on YouTube or on Instagram know that I shoot a lot with the Sony a6400 but what I do want to talk about is why there are now four APS-C cameras and actually five if you count the a5100, which was in their lineup when they did their a livestream this morning, which I watched. Sony now offers an a6600, a6500, a6400 and an a6100 and you can actually still buy the a6300. So, they just have a whole slew of cameras. They also still sell the a5100, which was included in that lineup.

So, the a6100 is an upgrade from the a6000, which is still a big seller for Sony. The a6000 has been out for a long time. That camera has been around for a while. It’s been kind of like their cornerstone as far as their Alpha 6 lineup. That camera can be purchased still in Best Buys and all sorts of big-box stores all over the United States or even the world. And it’s a good seller because it’s a good-priced camera.

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The a6500 and the a6400, even the a6300 is closer to and above the $1,000 mark. And what they were doing there is kind of getting away from being able to have a good offering for those people that wanted something maybe in the five to seven or $800 range as far as a camera goes. Canon and Nikon have that price point covered.

When somebody asks me what camera to buy, I always ask them what their budget is and often it is in that 600 to $800 range. And a lot of times, I will recommend something like an a6000. But with the a6100 coming out, they’re essentially saying, “Look, we still want to have a budget offering but we’re going to give you some more premium APS-C line cameras.”

In their live stream this morning, they kept saying over and over again, “We haven’t forgot about APS-C. We’re dedicated to APS-C. I’m going to give you what I think the main differences are, and this is looking at the specs that are available, and then I’ll give you some of my opinion on what I think the differences are between the a6100 and the a6400 because now that there are four different APS-C model cameras in the 6000 range that are actively able to be purchased, of course, some of them are available for preorder still, that leaves the person trying to decide what camera to go with with a lot of options. And it’s really kind of crazy. Sony kind of gets themselves in these predicaments sometimes.

What’s The Difference?

So, I’m going to talk about the differences between the a6400 and the a6100 because the price isn’t really too big of a difference there. You’ve got the a6100, which is a $750 camera body. And then you have the a6400, which you can get for $900 and sometimes maybe even $850. So, let’s talk about the differences that I was able to tell based on the information that’s been released so far.

Sony a6100 vs a6400 Comparison Front Body
Sony a6100 vs a6400 Comparison Front Body

Same Shape & Size

So, the cameras themselves are pretty much identical in size and shape. The a6100 is ever so slightly lighter weight than the a6400. The dimensions of the camera appear to be pretty much the same.

Sony a6100 vs a6400 Comparison Back Body
Sony a6100 vs a6400 Comparison Back Body

Same Battery

It’s going to take the same battery. Even though the a6600 is going to take the new Z-style battery that is available for the a7 lineup of cameras, the newer a7 releases, the a6100 is going to maintain that smaller battery that we’ve been used to with the APS-C-style cameras. So, the battery stays the same. Hopefully it has the optimizations the a6400 has that brought improved battery life.

Sony a6100 vs a6400 Comparison Body Bottom
Sony a6100 vs a6400 Comparison Body Bottom

Tru-View Viewfinder

The viewfinder on the a6100 is a lower resolution than what you’re going to get on the a6400. You’re going to get an SVGA viewfinder on the a6100. So, when you look in the little electronic viewfinder, it’s going to be a little lower resolution. I don’t necessarily know if that’s going to make a dramatic difference for people. It’s such a small viewfinder anyways. I don’t think it’s going to be a huge difference. But the difference between SVGA and XVGA is as far as resolution goes is a decent difference so if you want a higher resolution playback image when you’re looking through the viewfinder, you want higher resolution, the XVGA is going to be a better option. But I don’t think SVGA is really going to be too terribly bad.

Sony a6100 vs a6400 Comparison Body Top
Sony a6100 vs a6400 Comparison Body Top

Expanded ISO Range

The a6400 is going to have a higher expanded ISO. If you’re going to shoot in lower light situations, a lot of times you may need to rely on that expanded ISO range. Now, the expanded ISO range on the a6400 goes up significantly higher, almost double, of what the a6100 goes up too. If you’re going to have to go up above 51,200 ISO, you’re kind of getting a useless image at that point anyways. So, I don’t think that the difference is going to be that big but I am interested to compare the ISO of this camera to the a6100. So, for example, if you set your ISO to 1,600, what is the image going to look like compared between the two? Considering they both have the same sensors and processors, you would think that there wouldn’t be much of a difference there but you never know. We kind of have to test that stuff out to tell. There is a limitation on the a6100 over the a6400 so we’ll have to see how that plays out in real life experiences when the camera is available.

Sony a6100 vs a6400 Comparison Body Selfie
Sony a6100 vs a6400 Comparison Body Selfie

Metering Modes

The a6400 has more metering mode options for gaining exposure. You use metering modes inside the camera to be able to see where your exposure is and set the exposure compensation appropriately. There are more options in the a6400 than in the a6100. Now, those metering options are something that a professional, somebody that shoots in manual mode even, would take advantage of, so I don’t think it’s that big of a downside. It comes with the metering options that you typically would use as a person who just uses a camera occasionally to shoot some things from time to time. So, I don’t think it’s really a deal-breaker but it is one of those specs that is a difference and I wanted to bring it up.

Sony a6100 vs a6400 Comparison Body Port Side
Sony a6100 vs a6400 Comparison Body Port Side

Continuous Shooting

The a6400 has higher continuous shooting limits. For example, when you go in a continuous shooting mode, which means you’re going to press down the shutter and it’s going to take photos as fast as it can until it runs out of buffer memory, the a6400 has the ability to shoot more in a sequence than the a6100. The a6100 stops a bit short of the a6400. So, if you shoot sports, if you shoot fast-moving objects and you want to be able to shoot in that high-speed continuous mode, you’re going to get more shots out of your a6400 continuously than you will the a6100.

Sony a6400:

Up to 11 fps at 24.2 MP for up to 46 Exposures (Raw)
Up to 11 fps at 24.2 MP for up to 116 Exposures (JPEG)
Up to 11 fps at 24.2 MP for up to 115 Exposures (JPEG)
Up to 11 fps at 24.2 MP for up to 99 Exposures (JPEG)

Sony a6100:

Up to 11 fps at 24.2 MP for up to 33 Exposures (Raw)
Up to 11 fps at 24.2 MP for up to 77 Exposures (JPEG)
Up to 8 fps at 24.2 MP
Up to 6 fps at 24.2 MP
Up to 3 fps at 24.2 MP

Video Bitrates

Even though the price point is really good on that a6100, it still shoots 4K video, which is awesome. It shoots 4K at up to 30P, which is great, but there are some limitations I noticed with HD video. It shoots up to 60P so you get that ability to make some slow-mo video footage out of your HD footage, but the a6400 has 120P. There is also lower bitrate for shooting in HD on the a6100. On the a6400, you can go up to 100, you can only go up to 50 on the a6100. So, there seems to be, in HD mode, some limitations there. However, in 4K, which I only shoot in 4K, it is the same bitrate. You get either 100 or 60 bitrate option for the a6400 and the a6100 in 4k. So, if you shoot a lot of video in HD, most specifically for slow motion, you’re probably going to want to go with the a6400 to get that higher bitrate.

Sony a6400:

UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 24p/25p/29.97p [60 to 100 Mb/s] 
Full HD (1920 x 1080) at 100p/120p [60 to 100 Mb/s] 
Full HD (1920 x 1080) at 24p/25p/29.97p/50p/59.94p [50 Mb/s] 
Full HD (1920 x 1080) at 50p/59.94p [25 Mb/s] 
Full HD (1920 x 1080) at 25p/29.97p [16 Mb/s] 

Sony a6100:

UHD 4K (3840 x 2160) at 24.00p/25p/29.97p/100p/119.88p [60 to 100 Mb/s] 
Full HD (1920 x 1080) at 24.00p/25p/29.97p/50p/59.94p [50 Mb/s] 

Sony a6100 vs a6400 Comparison Body Grip Side
Sony a6100 vs a6400 Comparison Body Grip Side

a6100 Video Recording Limit

Now, a pleasant surprise that the a6400 had when released was no time limitation on recording video. So, when you’re shooting video, the only limitation is going to be your battery, or running out of memory or perhaps maybe if the camera overheats, which I haven’t experienced yet. But the a6100 has a 30-minute record limit. So, the 30-minute record limit tells me that that’s a limitation of the camera because it’s either going to overheat if it goes over that 30-minute time limit or maybe it’s just a software limitation that they put in there to justify somebody spending a little bit more money on an a6400. But nonetheless, with the a6100, you can only shoot up to a 30-minute video file without having to stop and restart a new video file.

Popup Flash, Same or Different?

For those of you that shoot with the flash on your camera or want to shoot with the flash, it doesn’t appear that there’s really any difference between the flash on the a6400 and the a6100. Although, on the a6400 specs, there is a guide number listed. A guide number essentially is a measurement system for how effective a flash is on a camera as far as its brightness and its distance and that kind of gives you an idea of its usability. There is no information about that on the a6100 so I would believe that it probably has the same flash in it but we won’t necessarily know that until we get our hands on an a6100 and can test it. So, if the flash is important to you, I might consider either waiting or finding out later when I get my hands on one and I can do a test and bring that back and share that with all of you.

So, with those specs mentioned, there really aren’t any huge differences between the a6400 and the a6100. It’s more about a bunch of little things that kind of add up to maybe making a difference, depending on what you’re going to be shooting and your shooting style and your needs, of course. So, the a6100 obviously is priced really well. I think that that’s going to be the new camera that I recommend to everybody.

Sony even announced a couple of additional APS-C lenses that fill gaps that needed to be filled in what other cameras manufactures offer as far as APS-C lenses go and I think they’re great additions. The fact that you can also shoot with APS-C lenses on the a7 line of cameras and even the a9 make those lenses even future-proof should you decide to move up to a full frame camera later on.

Which One to Choose?

It really comes down to price and if those extra options necessary for you. If you’re thinking about picking up a new camera and you’re trying to decide between the a6100 and the a6400, really take just what I’ve said into account. Are those things a big deal to you? Or if they’re not, get an a6100 and put some more money towards a different lens so that you have some options.

I always recommend to people that they spend only what they need to spend on a camera body and spend the rest of the money on lenses because what it comes down to is the sensor is the exact same in the a6400 as it is in the a6100. Also, the processing much of the rest is the same there too. So, you should expect the same image out of both cameras in a normal situation. The only difference is going to be the lenses that you get.

So, if purchasing an a6400 means that you’re going to have to skimp on getting another lens or getting a better lens, I would prefer that you get the a6100 and spend a little bit more money on a new lens that’s going to really give you a more interesting look out of your image and give you more clarity to your image because you should keep in mind that everything has to go through the lens before it gets to the sensor of the camera. So, if you put a cheap lens or an inexpensive lens on the front of your camera, you’re limiting the quality of the light and the image that’s going to get to that sensor. So, I highly recommend spending a little bit more money on a lens and less on a camera body. So, that might also help you in your decision-making too as to choosing an a6100 over an a6400.

What’s Next?

So that’s it! If you’re interested in my thoughts on the a6600, I’ll be back soon with a post on that. You can subscribe to the YouTube channel to be notified when I put out new videos. The a6600 is for a slightly different type of photographer that has different needs. So, I’ll talk about the differences between the a6600 and the a6500 because, yet again, there’s a little bit of a price difference there between the two. I might touch on whether or not the a6600 is an option in compared to the a6400. I probably need to make a APS-C lineup video and post as well. So, if that’s something that’s interesting to you, definitely let me know down in the comment section below and I’ll start working on that. Sony has put out a lot of mirrorless cameras over the years and there’s a lot of camera options and many of them are great options so it gets a little confusing as to what would be the best fit. So, let me know what you think down in the comment section below.

Preorders are live for the a6100, so check out the links at the beginning of this article for pricing and specs.

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