The Sony A6400 is a compact APS-C camera with a Sony E mount. If we look at the naming, this camera falls between the A6300 and A6500, but you can actually say that this is the new entry camera from Sony. It does not have the built-in image stabilization of the A6500, but it does have a folding screen, making the A6400 suitable for selfies and vlogging. The autofocus system is even the best of all Sony APS-C models. What are the best lenses that we have tested for the Sony A6400?
Lens advice for the Sony A6400
The Sony A6400 is a competitively priced camera with an interesting mix of capabilities. It has the trusted 24-megapixel APS-C sensor from Sony. The image quality and the dynamic range of the sensor are excellent, even though it is not a BSI sensor like we find in full-frame cameras from Sony.
The A6400 has a new BIONZ X processor and a sensitivity of 100-32,000 ISO. The camera is fast, with a maximum of 11 images per second, and has a timelapse option for very long and slow series. The electronic viewfinder has a resolution of 2.36 megapixels. But the real highlights are the new autofocus system with 425 phase detection AF points and Sony’s Real Time Tracking and the foldable, touch-sensitive rear screen.
The Real Time Tracking ensures that you can follow moving subjects better than with other APS-C cameras from Sony. The system is so good that, after the introduction of the A6400, Sony also released it as a firmware upgrade for the Sony A7R III and the Sony A9.
The foldable screen ensures that you can also use the A6400 as a compact selfie and vlog camera, something that was previously not possible with a Sony system camera with viewfinder.
The A6400 trumps the camera above it on all these points. In fact, the only thing that the Sony A6500 can offer is built-in image stabilization. As a photographer or filmmaker, you can best estimate yourself which options you prefer and which camera is best for you. If you combine the Sony A6400 with good lenses, you can assure yourself of high-quality images. Of all the lenses that we have actually tested, these are our favorites for the Sony A6400:
How do we choose?
The Sony A6400 is a camera with which you can effortlessly take pictures with a very high quality, if you use good lenses. The good sensor and the excellent autofocus system make that possible. In addition, thanks to its low weight and compact dimensions, it is a very nice camera for documentary photography or to take with you on a trip. The Sony A6400 only has no built-in image stabilization.
In our choice of the best lenses for the A6400, we therefore have a strong preference for lenses with image stabilization. Also, lenses that are specially made for the Sony E-mount are preferred, because you can then use all the capabilities of the autofocus system. You also bypass the use of adapters. Three of the zoom lenses that we selected are not available with an E mount. We chose them anyway because of the special options in the case of the fisheye and the good optical performance in combination with image stabilization. Although we have not tested them, we do mention alternatives here, if you really do not want to work with adapters.
How are the best lenses for the Sony A6400 selected?
The lenses we recommend are all ones that we have reviewed ourselves. When choosing the lens for the Sony A6400, we mainly looked at lenses that score well. We also looked at whether the lenses fit with the A6400. This means that we have made a selection of lenses with a high image quality, but that we have also considered dimensions and weight. At the same time, we also have a slight preference for lenses that can also be used on full frame. Sometimes, you pay just a little more for a lens that can also be used on the A7 and A9, and that’s nice if you ever think about switching. If you want to know which other lenses we have reviewed and how they scored, check out our overview of more than 300 lenses.
Fisheye: Tokina Fisheye 10-17mm f/3.5-4.5 AT-X
The Tokina Fisheye 10-17 mm f/3.5-4.5 AT-X is a very good fisheye, and you can also zoom with it for different effects. At 10 mm, you get a nearly round image with the edges forming a black vignette. When you zoom in slightly, the fisheye image fills the entire frame, and as you zoom all the way to 17mm, then the fisheye effect slowly becomes a little less strong. You can use the Tokina for special effects, and it is also very suitable for underwater photography. You will have to purchase an adapter for the Tokina, since this lens is not available in E-mount.
Wide-angle zoom: Tamron 10-24mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II VC HLD
The Tamron 10-24 mm f/3.5-4.5 Di II VC HLD is a very sharp wide-angle zoom with good autofocus and image stabilization. The lens also has a nice range, from 15mm to 36mm in 35mm equivalent and good brightness, with f/3.5 at the wide-angle setting. The image stabilization ensures that you can also take great photos by hand with the A6400 using slow times. This lens also requires an adapter to be able to use it on the A6400. Sony’s alternative to this is the Sony E 10-18 mm f/4 OSS. However, we have not tested this lens. The Sony is slightly more expensive than the Tamron, and you can buy an adapter with AF for the difference in price. The range of the Sony is also smaller. However, the Sony is slightly brighter in the long zoom range.
Telephoto zoom: Tamron 70-210mm f/4 Di VC USD
The Tamron 70-210 mm f/4 Di VC USD is very sharp and quite bright. The image quality is almost comparable with fixed focal length lenses. These are strong assets of this affordable and compact zoom. This lens also has image stabilization, which certainly helps in getting sharp telephoto shots by hand. This lens is not available in a Sony mount and must therefore be used with an adapter. An alternative to this is the Sony EF 70-200 f/4 G OSS or the Sony E 55-200 mm f/4.5-6.3 OSS. The first is, just like the Tamron, also suitable for full frame, but it costs almost twice as much. The second is cheaper and lighter than the Tamron but also much less bright and in a different quality class. We have not yet tested either of the Sonys.
Super-telephoto zoom: Sony FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS or Sigma 100-400mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary
The Sony FE 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS is the ideal zoom for nature photographers. On the A6400, this lens offers a range of 150-600 mm compared to 35mm. And you can extend that range with the 1.4x and 2x teleconverters from Sony. The lens performs optically excellent, has fast autofocus and is resistant to weather and wind. It is a full-frame lens, so it can also be used on the A7 and A9 models. It is also a GM lens. It therefore meets Sony’s highest requirements. There’s a price for that. For those looking for a lens with this range with a lower price tag, there is the Sigma 100-400 mm f/5-6.3 DG OS HSM Contemporary. Optically, this is also a great lens and usable on the Sony A6400 with the MC-11 converter from Sigma.
Fixed focal point
Extreme wide angle: Laowa 12mm f/2.8 Zero D
The Laowa 12mm Zero D is an extreme wide-angle on full frame. On the A6400 with its APS-C sensor, the 12mm works like an 18mm (35mm equivalent). That’s still a lot of wide angle. To use the Laowa on the A6400, you can opt for a simple, inexpensive adapter without coupling, because you have to focus the 12 mm manually anyway. Laowa also offers a special shift adapter for Sony cameras. This makes the 12mm a 17mm, and you can adjust the lens for architectural photography, for example.
Super-wide angle: Samyang AF 14mm f/2.8 for Sony FE
The Samyang AF 14 mm f/2.8 FE is also suitable for full frame. On the A6400, it gives a field of view that is comparable to that of a 21mm in 35mm format. The image quality is good, and the auto focus is quiet and fast.
Wide angle: Samyang AF 24mm f/2.8 for Sony FE
The Samyang AF 24 mm f/2.8 FE is also a full-frame lens. This lens is much smaller, lighter and cheaper than the Sony E 24mm f/1.8. The Samyang certainly offers very good quality on APS-C and, with a weight of only 100 grams, this is a very fine, compact lens on the A6400. On the A6400, this lens works like a 35mm, converted, which is nice for documentary work.
Standard: Samyang AF 35mm f/2.8, Sony FE 28mm f/2.0, Samyang AF 35mm f/1.4
You can buy a standard lens for various reasons. If you are looking for a compact, light lens so that you can always have the camera with you, then the Samyang AF 35 f/2.8 FE and the Sony FE 28 mm f/2.0 are good choices. Both are light and small and relatively inexpensive. Despite that, they are both also suitable for full frame. The same applies to the Samyang AF 35 mm f/1.4, but it is a lot bigger. You buy the Samyang AF 35 mm f/1.4 for the excellent image quality and the beautiful bokeh at full aperture.
Portrait: Sony FE 55mm f/1.8 or Sony FE 85mm f/1.8
Sony makes great short telephotos. The brightest ones are big, heavy and expensive. But just below that are two beautiful lenses that fit perfectly on the A6400: the FE 55 mm f/1.8 and the FE 85 mm f/1.8. The 55 mm works as an 85 mm on 35 mm. That is a classic focal point for portraits. Thanks to its slightly longer focal length, the FE 85 mm f/1.8 provides an even nicer background blur, but corresponds – when converted to 35 mm – to a 135 mm. And that might be a bit long for portraits.
Macro: Sony FE 50mm f/2.8 Macro or Sigma 70mm f/2.8 Macro DG HSM Art
The Sony FE 50 mm f/2.8 Macro is a very good, compact macro that really goes to 1:1. In addition, you can also use it as a short telephoto. If you want a bit more distance from your subject and therefore a slightly longer focal point, then the Sigma 70 mm f/2.8 Macro DG HSM Art is a good choice. This lens is also available in FE mount. The Sigma is a lot bigger than the 50mm macro from Sony.
Medium Telephoto: Zeiss Batis 85mm f/1.8 or Sony FE 85mm f/1.8
The Zeiss Batis 85 mm f/1.8 and the Sony FE 85 mm f/1.8 are both very good telephotos with comparable optical performance. Both work very nicely as a medium telephoto lens on the A6400, with a focal point that is comparable to 135 mm on 35 mm. The Sony is the smaller of the two and also the cheapest. However, it lacks the fine OLED screen of the Batis and more importantly: image stabilization. The Zeiss Batis does have image stabilization, which makes it easier to photograph with less light.
Long Telephoto: Zeiss Batis 135mm f/2.8
Few fixed focal lengths longer than 100 mm are available for the Sony A6400. And currently, almost all of them are very bright and therefore also big and heavy. The only exception is the Zeis Batis 135 mm f/2.8. That is not really small either, but it is a very nice lens with an image quality that you will not find on a zoom.