Sony A1 vs A6400
The Sony A1 and the Sony Alpha A6400 are two digital cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in January 2021 and January 2019. Both the A1 and the A6400 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a full frame (A1) and an APS-C (A6400) sensor. The A1 has a resolution of 49.8 megapixels, whereas the A6400 provides 24 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Sony A1 and the Sony Alpha A6400? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Sony A1 and the Sony A6400. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth dimensions are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A6400 is considerably smaller (36 percent) than the Sony A1. Moreover, the A6400 is substantially lighter (45 percent) than the A1. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Sony FE Lens Catalog (A1) and the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog (A6400). Mirrorless cameras, such as the two under consideration, have the additional advantage of having a short flange to focal plane distance, which makes it possible to mount many lenses from other systems onto the camera via adapters.
Concerning battery life, the A1 gets 530 shots out of its NP-FZ100 battery, while the A6400 can take 410 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 power pack. The battery packs of both cameras can be charged via USB, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, you can navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from a broad list of cameras there.
|1.||Sony A1||129 mm||97 mm||81 mm||737 g||530||Y||Jan 2021||6,499|
|2.||Sony A6400||120 mm||67 mm||50 mm||403 g||410||Y||Jan 2019||899|
|3.||Canon R5||138 mm||98 mm||88 mm||738 g||320||Y||Jul 2020||3,899|
|4.||Canon M50||116 mm||88 mm||59 mm||390 g||235||n||Feb 2018||779|
|5.||Canon M5||116 mm||89 mm||61 mm||427 g||295||n||Sep 2016||979|
|6.||Sony A7S III||127 mm||97 mm||81 mm||699 g||600||Y||Jul 2020||3,499|
|7.||Sony A7C||124 mm||71 mm||60 mm||509 g||740||Y||Sep 2020||1,799|
|8.||Sony A9 II||129 mm||96 mm||76 mm||678 g||690||Y||Oct 2019||4,499|
|9.||Sony A7R IV||129 mm||96 mm||78 mm||665 g||670||Y||Jul 2019||3,499|
|10.||Sony A6100||120 mm||67 mm||59 mm||396 g||420||n||Aug 2019||749|
|11.||Sony A7 III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||610||Y||Feb 2018||1,999|
|12.||Sony A7R III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||650||Y||Oct 2017||3,199|
|13.||Sony A9||127 mm||96 mm||63 mm||673 g||650||Y||Apr 2017||4,499|
|14.||Sony A99 II||143 mm||104 mm||76 mm||849 g||490||Y||Sep 2016||3,199|
|15.||Sony A6300||120 mm||67 mm||49 mm||404 g||400||Y||Feb 2016||999|
|16.||Sony A7R II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||625 g||290||Y||Jun 2015||3,199|
|17.||Sony A6000||120 mm||67 mm||45 mm||344 g||360||n||Feb 2014||599|
|Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The retail prices at the time of the camera’s release place the model in the market relative to other models in the producer’s line-up and the competition. The A6400 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 86 percent) than the A1, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Sony A1 features a full frame sensor and the Sony A6400 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the A6400 is 57 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
With 49.8MP, the A1 offers a higher resolution than the A6400 (24MP), but the A1 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.16μm versus 3.91μm for the A6400) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the A1 is a much more recent model (by 2 years) than the A6400, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the A1 has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
The resolution advantage of the Sony A1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A1 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 43.2 x 28.8 inches or 109.7 x 73.2 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 34.6 x 23 inches or 87.8 x 58.5 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 28.8 x 19.2 inches or 73.2 x 48.8 cm. The corresponding values for the Sony A6400 are 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm for good quality, 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm for very good quality, and 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm for excellent quality prints.
Unlike the A6400, the A1 has the capacity to capture high quality composite images (YESMP) by combining multiple shots after shifting its sensor by miniscule distances. This multi-shot, pixel-shift mode is most suitable for photography of stationary objects (landscapes, studio scenes).
The Sony A1 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 32000, which can be extended to ISO 500-102400. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha A6400 are ISO 100 to ISO 32000, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-102400.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
| DXO |
|1.||Sony A1||Full Frame||49.8||8640||5760||8k/30p||..||..||..||..|
|3.||Canon R5||Full Frame||44.8||8192||5464||8k/30p||25.3||14.6||3042||95|
|6.||Sony A7S III||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/120p||23.7||13.9||2520||86|
|7.||Sony A7C||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3407||95|
|8.||Sony A9 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.0||3434||93|
|9.||Sony A7R IV||Full Frame||60.2||9504||6336||4K/30p||26.0||14.8||3344||99|
|11.||Sony A7 III||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3730||96|
|12.||Sony A7R III||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||14.7||3523||100|
|13.||Sony A9||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.9||13.3||3517||92|
|14.||Sony A99 II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92|
|16.||Sony A7R II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||13.9||3434||98|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, but the A1 provides a higher video resolution than the A6400. It can shoot video footage at 8k/30p, while the A6400 is limited to 4K/30p.
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The two cameras under consideration are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the A1 offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the A6400 (9437k vs 2359k dots). The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Sony A1, the Sony A6400, and comparable cameras.
|6.||Sony A7S III||9440||n||3.0||1440||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|8.||Sony A9 II||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|9.||Sony A7R IV||5760||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|11.||Sony A7 III||2359||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|12.||Sony A7R III||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|14.||Sony A99 II||2400||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||n||Y|
|16.||Sony A7R II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
One feature that differentiates the A1 and the A6400 is in-body image stabilization (IBIS). The A1 reduces the risk of handshake-induced blur with all attached lenses, while the A6400 offers no blur reduction with lenses that themselves do not provide optical image stabilization.The A6400 has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking selfies. In contrast, the A1 does not have a selfie-screen.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, both cameras under consideration feature an electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The Sony A1 has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The A1 writes its imaging data to CFexpress or SDXC cards, while the A6400 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The A1 features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the A6400 only has one slot. The A1 supports UHS-II cards (Ultra High Speed data transfer of up to 312 MB/s), while the A6400 can use UHS-I cards (up to 104 MB/s).
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Sony A1 and Sony Alpha A6400 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|6.||Sony A7S III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||full||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|8.||Sony A9 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|9.||Sony A7R IV||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|11.||Sony A7 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|12.||Sony A7R III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|14.||Sony A99 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y|
|16.||Sony A7R II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the A1 has a headphone jack, which is not present on the A6400 This port makes it possible to attach external headphones and monitor the quality of sound during the recording process.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Sony A1 (unlike the A6400) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
Both the A1 and the A6400 are recent models that are part of the current product line-up. The A6400 replaced the earlier Sony A6300, while the A1 does not have a direct predecessor. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Sony website.
So what conclusions can be drawn? Which of the two cameras – the Sony A1 or the Sony A6400 – has the upper hand? Is one clearly better than the other? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Sony A1:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (49.8 vs 24MP) with a 44% higher linear resolution.
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
- Better image quality: Features a larger and more technologically advanced imaging sensor.
- Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (8k/30p vs 4K/30p).
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (9437k vs 2359k dots).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.9x vs 0.70x).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1440k vs 922k dots).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (530 versus 410) on a single battery charge.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.2 vs 2.0).
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports a more advanced SD data transfer standard (UHS-II vs UHS-I).
- More modern: Reflects 2 years of technical progress since the A6400 launch.
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha A6400:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- More compact: Is smaller (120x67mm vs 129x97mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 334g or 45 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (86 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in January 2019).
If the count of individual advantages (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A1 is the clear winner of the match-up (21 : 8 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Sony A1 and the Sony A6400 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras can be instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the A1 or the A6400 perform in practice. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is why expert reviews are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular camera review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|1.||Sony A1||..||..||..||..||..||Jan 2021||6,499|
|2.||Sony A6400||4/5||+||85/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jan 2019||899|
|3.||Canon R5||4.5/5||..||91/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2020||3,899|
|4.||Canon M50||..||+||79/100||..||3.5/5||Feb 2018||779|
|5.||Canon M5||4/5||+||82/100||4/5||4/5||Sep 2016||979|
|6.||Sony A7S III||..||+ +||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2020||3,499|
|7.||Sony A7C||3.5/5||..||86/100||4/5||4/5||Sep 2020||1,799|
|8.||Sony A9 II||..||..||90/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2019||4,499|
|9.||Sony A7R IV||5/5||+||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2019||3,499|
|10.||Sony A6100||..||..||82/100||4/5||5/5||Aug 2019||749|
|11.||Sony A7 III||..||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2018||1,999|
|12.||Sony A7R III||..||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2017||3,199|
|13.||Sony A9||5/5||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||Apr 2017||4,499|
|14.||Sony A99 II||..||..||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||3,199|
|15.||Sony A6300||4.5/5||+||85/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2016||999|
|16.||Sony A7R II||5/5||+ +||90/100||5/5||5/5||Jun 2015||3,199|
|17.||Sony A6000||5/5||+||80/100||4.5/5||5/5||Feb 2014||599|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
Specifications: Sony A1 vs Sony A6400
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Sony A1||Sony A6400|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Sony E mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||January 2021||January 2019|
|Launch Price||USD 6,499||USD 899|
|Sensor Specs||Sony A1||Sony A6400|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||35.9 x 24.0 mm||23.5 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||861.6 mm2||366.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||43.2 mm||28.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||49.8 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||8640 x 5760 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||4.16 μm||3.91 μm|
|Pixel Density||5.78 MP/cm2||6.55 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||no AA filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||8k/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 32,000 ISO||100 - 32,000 ISO|
|ISO Boost||500 - 102,400 ISO||100 - 102,400 ISO|
|Image Processor||Dual BIONZ XR||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||83|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||24|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||13.6|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||1431|
|Screen Specs||Sony A1||Sony A6400|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||9437k dots||2359k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||1440k dots||922k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Sony A1||Sony A6400|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||On-Sensor Phase-detect|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||10 shutter flaps/s||11 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||500 000 actuations||200 000 actuations|
|Electronic Shutter||up to 1/32000s||YES|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||Lens stabilization only|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||CFexpress or SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||UHS-II||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Sony A1||Sony A6400|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 3.2||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||mini HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||no Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Sony A1||Sony A6400|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||530 shots per charge||410 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||USB charging|
129 x 97 x 81 mm
(5.1 x 3.8 x 3.2 in)
120 x 67 x 50 mm
(4.7 x 2.6 x 2.0 in)
|Camera Weight||737 g (26.0 oz)||403 g (14.2 oz)|
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