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The Friedman Archives Guide to Sony's Alpha 6400

The Friedman Archives Guide to Sony's Alpha 6400

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The Friedman Archives Guide to Sony's Alpha 6400

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1,226 pages
8 heures
Éditeur:
Sortie:
Jul 2, 2019
ISBN:
9780359765270
Format:
Livre

Description

New! Updated to include new features of Firmware v2.

Gary Friedman's ebooks for Sony cameras are known for their thoroughness and their readability, helping you cut through the complexities of your new digital camera and help you focus (pun intended) on how to get shots that make people say, "Wow!"
Éditeur:
Sortie:
Jul 2, 2019
ISBN:
9780359765270
Format:
Livre

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The Friedman Archives Guide to Sony's Alpha 6400 - Gary L. Friedman

The Friedman Archives Guide to Sony’s A6400

Professional insights for the experienced photographer

by Gary L. Friedman

Version 1.2

ISBN 978-0-359-76527-0

On The Cover

A track meet showing off the camera's amazing tracking ability.  To the right is the original image, before compositing.  I felt that the background was too distracting, and the expression on this jumper's face was so much better than any other action shot from that day.  So I made it work.  Hey, it's a book cover, not photojournalism.   As I mention in my blog at https://bit.ly/2Glp5lu , it's OK to do this kind of manipulation as long as I'm up front about it.

For Those of You Who Bought the Printed  or E-Reader Edition

There are a LOT of demonstrative illustrations in this book that kind of lose their effectiveness when converted to black-and-white.  And some are difficult to see on e-book reader screens like the original Kindle.

And so to offset these problems I’m offering a free, full-color, instantly-downloadable .pdf file of this ebook to all customers who bought printed books (be they color or black-and-white), or who purchased this work through the Amazon Kindle, Apple, Barnes and Noble, or any other e-reader store.  (The original .pdf file really does offer a superior user experience.  Think of it as the director’s cut regarding how the author intended the work to be seen.) 

To get your free .pdf file, just email me (Gary@FriedmanArchives.com) with a copy of your receipt and I’ll send you a download link.  Such a deal!

About the Photos

The photo pages preceding each chapter are images from the www.FriedmanArchives.com stock photo website, and were taken with a wide variety of different cameras over the past 30 years.

About the Author

Gary L. Friedman is a professional photographer who has traveled the world with both film and digital cameras.  He runs the stock image website www.FriedmanArchives.com, is associate editor of CameraCraft magazine (a thoughtful periodical which provides tremendous insights as well as showcasing inspirational images), and gives highly-acclaimed digital photography seminars worldwide for those who wish to improve their creative photography and learn the essentials in an intuitive manner.  Because he teaches seminars worldwide, Mr. Friedman stays in touch with the concerns and frustrations of serious amateurs – the kinds of people who buy cameras like the A6400.

Before graduating to photography he was a rocket scientist for NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (you know, those guys who landed probes on Mars and sent robots like Pioneer, Voyager, Galileo, Pathfinder, Spirit, and Discovery to explore the outer solar system), where he patented the image authentication system used in high-end Canon and Nikon cameras. He has been published in books, newspapers and magazines worldwide, and was listed in the Guinness Book of World Records while in college (go ahead and search the FriedmanArchives.com website if you want to find out what he did to get included). 

Despite his mastery of the technical background, Mr. Friedman has an approachable and easy-going teaching style that makes his books a pleasure to read. You can read more about his background at http://friedmanarchives.com/bio.htm.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1      Don’t Panic!

1.1

      

Major Features

1.1.1      Best Tracking AF

1.1.2      An Impressive 24 megapixel sensor

1.1.3      Improved Eye AF

1.1.4      Animal Eye AF

1.1.5      Better TouchScreen Operation

1.1.6      Flip-Up Screen

1.1.7      11 Pictures per Second

1.1.8      Rate your Images, then Jump Around

1.1.9      No More Overheating

1.1.10      No more 29 Minute Videos!

1.1.11      Time-Lapse Interval Function

1.1.12      New Gamma Curves for Video

1.1.13      Tethered Shooting

1.1.14      My Menu and My Dial

1.1.15      AWB Lock

1.1.16      New Metering Modes

1.1.17      RAW + XFINE JPEGS

1.1.18      Bluetooth-based GPS Alternative

1.1.19      S&Q (Slow and Quick) movie modes

1.1.20      Much better Out-of-Camera .JPGs

1.1.21      4K and Other Video Features

1.1.22      14-bit RAW

1.1.23      Can shoot 2 Kinds of videos simultaneously

1.1.24      Three Different Low-Light Modes

1.1.25      Handheld High Dynamic Range (HDR)

1.1.26      Peaking Color

1.2

      

Software

1.2.1      For your Smartphone

1.2.2      For Your Computer

Chapter 2      Essential Configuration

2.1

      

My Personal Camera Settings

2.2

      

Suggested Configurations For…

2.2.1      Touchscreen Shooting

2.2.2      Kids and Pets

2.2.3      Birds in Flight

2.2.4      Shooting Video

2.2.5      shooting portraits

2.2.6      Landscapes

2.2.7      Legacy Glass

2.3

      

Just Pick Two

2.4

      

My Button Assignments

2.4.1      Back Button Focus

2.5

      

My Menu Settings

2.6

      

What’s Incompatible with RAW?

Chapter 3      Quick Guide for the Impatient User

3.1

      

Names of Parts

3.1

      

Exposure Mode Dial

3.2

      

The Two AUTO Modes

3.2.1      Intelligent Auto

3.2.2      Superior Auto

3.3

      

The Function Button

3.4

      

P,A,S,M Modes

3.5

      

Focusing Essentials

3.5.1      Face Detection

3.5.2      Eye AF

3.5.3      Touch Screen Operation

3.5.4      Touch Focus

3.5.5      Touch Focusing using the EVF

3.5.6      Focusing Modes

3.5.7      Focus Area

3.5.8      Quickly Switching between Wide Area AF and Spot AF

3.5.9      Focus Confirmation

3.5.10      A Primer – Phase Detect vs. Contrast Detect

3.6

      

Drive Modes

3.6.1      Single-Shot Advance

3.6.2      Continuous Advance (4 Speeds)

3.6.3      Self-Timers

3.6.4      Bracketing

3.6.5      Bracketing for HDR

3.6.6      What exactly changes when you bracket?

3.6.7      White Balance Bracketing

3.6.8      DRO Bracketing

3.7

      

Metering Modes

3.8

      

Reassignable Buttons and Hidden Features

3.9

      

Flash

3.10

      

Things You Probably Didn’t Know about Playback Mode

3.11

      

Playing Back a burst

3.12

      

Configuring the DISPlay

3.13

      

Quick Guide for Video

3.14

      

The Panorama Mode

3.15

      

Shooting Tethered(ly)

3.16

      

Remote Methods

3.17

      

The Images Remaining Counter

3.18

      

Lens Nomenclature

3.19

      

Available APS-C Format Lenses

3.20

      

Viewfinder Eyepiece Diopter Correction

3.21

      

Memory Cards

3.21.1      Memory Card Corruption Issues

Chapter 4      Wi-Fi and NFC

4.1

      

What is NFC?

4.2

      

Setting Things Up – Smartphone Functions

4.2.1      Install Imaging Edge Mobile

4.2.2       Transferring an Image To your Smartphone

4.2.3      Configuring NFC on your Smartphone

4.3

      

Now What?

4.3.1      Send (resized) images to your smartphone for social Media

4.3.2      Control With Smartphone

4.4

      

Uploading Files to your Home Computer

4.4.1      Configuring PlayMemories Home

4.4.2      Initiate your Download

4.4.3      Throughput Rates

4.5

      

Geotagging your images via your smartphone

Chapter 5      The Camera Settings 1 Menus

5.1

      

File Format

5.2

      

RAW File Type

5.3

      

JPEG Quality

5.4

      

JPEG Image Size

5.5

      

Aspect Ratio

5.6

      

Panorama Functions

5.7

      

Long Exposure NR

5.8

      

Hi ISO NR

5.9

      

Color Space

5.10

      

Lens Comp.

5.10.1      Shading

5.10.2      Chromatic Aberration

5.10.3      Distortion

5.11

      

Auto Mode

5.12

      

Scene Selection

5.12.1      Portrait

5.12.2      Sports Action

5.12.3      Macro

5.12.4      Landscape

5.12.5      Sunset

5.12.6      Night Scene

5.12.7      Handheld Twilight

5.12.8      Night  Portrait

5.12.9      Anti-Motion Blur

5.13

      

Superior Auto Image Extraction

5.14

      

Drive Mode

5.15

      

Bracket Settings

5.15.1      Selftimer During Bracket

5.15.2      Bracket Order

5.16

      

Interval Shoot Func.

5.16.1      Suggested Intervals for Various Subjects

5.16.2      How to Turn Your Interval Sequence into a Movie

5.17

      

Camera1 / Camera2 Recall

5.18

      

Camera1 / Camera2 Memory

5.19

      

Reg Cust Shoot Set

5.20

      

Focus Mode

5.21

      

Priority Set in AF-S / AF-C

5.22

      

Focus Area

5.22.1      Wide

5.22.2      Zone

5.22.3      Center

5.22.4      Flexible Spot (S, M, or L)

5.22.5      Expand Flexible Spot

5.22.6      Tracking

5.23

      

Focus Area Limit

5.24

      

Switch V/H AF Area

5.25

      

AF Illuminator

5.26

      

Face / Eye AF Setting

5.27

      

AF w/ shutter

5.28

      

Pre-AF

5.29

      

Eye-start AF

5.30

      

AF Area Registration

5.31

      

Delete Registered AF Area

5.32

      

AF Area Auto Clear

5.33

      

Disp. Cont. AF area

5.34

      

Circulation of Focus Point

5.35

      

AF Micro Adj. (A-mount Lenses Only)

5.36

      

Exposure Compensation

5.37

      

ISO Setting

5.37.1      ISO

5.37.2      Multi-Frame Noise Reduction (MFNR)

5.37.3      AUTO ISO Settings

5.37.4      Setting ISO to a Fixed Value

5.37.5      ISO Range Limit

5.37.6      ISO Auto Minimum Shutter Speed

5.37.7      High ISO Noise Levels

5.38

      

Metering Mode

5.38.1      Average, Center-weighted and Multi-Segment Metering

5.38.2      Spot Metering And AEL

5.38.3      Highlight

5.38.4      A Different Method of Handling Difficult Lighting

5.38.5      Summary of Metering Modes

5.39

      

Face Priority in Multi-Segment Metering

5.40

      

Spot Metering Point

5.41

      

Exposure Step

5.42

      

AEL w/ Shutter

5.43

      

Exposure Std. Adjust

5.44

      

Flash Mode

5.44.1      Flash Off

5.44.2      Auto Flash

5.44.3      Fill Flash

5.44.4      Slow Sync

5.44.5      Rear Sync

5.44.6      Wireless Flash

5.45

      

Flash Compensation

5.46

      

Exp.comp.set

5.47

      

Wireless Flash

5.48

      

Red Eye Reduction

5.49

      

White Balance

5.49.1      Auto White Balance and Pre-Set White Balance

5.49.2       Tweaking the Pre-Set White Balance

5.49.3      The Color Temperature setting

5.49.4      Custom White Balance

5.50

      

Priority Set in AWB

5.51

      

DRO / Auto HDR

5.52

      

Creative Style

5.52.1       Frequently Asked Questions

5.52.2      Combining Settings

5.52.3      B&W Mode

5.53

      

Picture Effect

5.53.1      Toy Camera

5.53.2      Pop Color and Posterization

5.53.3      Retro Photo

5.53.4      Soft High-Key

5.53.5      Partial Color

5.53.6      High-Contrast Monochrome

5.53.7      Soft Focus

5.53.8      HDR Painting

5.53.9      Rich-Tone Monochrome

5.53.10      How do these effects differ from before?

5.53.11      Miniature Mode

5.53.12      Watercolor and Illustration Mode

5.54

      

Picture Profile

5.54.1      Gamma Options

5.54.2      The Ten Profiles

5.55

      

Soft Skin Effect

5.56

      

Shutter AWB Lock

5.57

      

Focus Magnifier

5.57.1      AF with Focus Magnifier

5.58

      

Focus Magnification Time

5.59

      

Initial Focus Mag.

5.60

      

AF in Focus Magnification

5.61

      

MF Assist

5.62

      

Peaking Setting

5.63

      

Face Registration

5.64

      

Register Faces Priority

5.65

      

Smile Shutter

5.66

      

Auto Object Framing

5.67

      

Self Portrait/ -timer

Chapter 6      The Camera Settings 2 Menus

6.1

      

Movie Exposure Mode

6.2

      

S&Q Exposure Mode

6.3

      

(Movie) File Format

6.4

      

Record Setting

6.5

      

Slow and Quick Settings

6.6

      

Proxy Recording

6.7

      

AF Drive Speed

6.8

      

AF Track Sens

6.9

      

Auto Slow Shutter

6.10

      

(Movie) Initial Focus Magnification

6.11

      

Audio Recording

6.12

      

Audio Rec Level

6.13

      

Audio Level Display

6.14

      

Wind Noise Reduction

6.15

      

Marker Display / Marker Settings

6.16

      

Movie w/ Shutter

6.17

      

Silent Shooting

6.18

      

e-Front Curtain Shut.

6.19

      

Release w/o Lens

6.20

      

Release w/o Card

6.21

      

SteadyShot

6.22

      

Zoom

6.23

      

Zoom Setting

6.23.1      Differences between CIZ and Digital Zoom

6.24

      

Zoom Ring Rotate

6.25

      

DISP Button

6.25.1      Graphic Display

6.25.2      Level

6.25.3      Histogram

6.25.4      For Viewfinder (Rear LCD only)

6.26

      

FINDER / MONITOR

6.27

      

Finder Frame Rate

6.28

      

Zebra Setting

6.29

      

Grid Line

6.30

      

Exposure Set. Guide

6.31

      

Live View Display

6.32

      

Auto Review

6.33

      

(Image) Custom Key

6.33.1      Bright Monitoring

6.33.2      Flash Exposure Lock / Hold

6.34

      

(Movie) Custom Key

6.35

      

(Playback) Custom Key

6.36

      

Function Menu Set.

6.37

      

My Dial Settings

6.38

      

Dial / Wheel Setup

6.39

      

AV/Tv Rotate

6.40

      

Dial / Wheel EV Comp

6.41

      

Function Of Touch Operation

6.42

      

MOVIE Button

6.43

      

Dial / Wheel Lock

6.44

      

Audio Signals

Chapter 7      Network Menu

7.1

      

Send to Smartphone Func.

7.1.1      (Px) Sending Target

7.2

      

Send to Computer

7.3

      

View on TV

7.4

      

Ctrl w/ Smartphone

7.5

      

Airplane Mode

7.6

      

Wi-Fi Settings

7.6.1      WPS Push

7.6.2      Access Point Settings

7.6.3      Disp MAC Address

7.6.4      SSID/PW Reset

7.7

      

Bluetooth Settings

7.7.1      Setting up Bluetooth / Geo-Tag feature for the first time

7.7.2      How do I see the geo-tagged Coordinates?

7.8

      

Location Information Link Settings.

7.9

      

Edit Device Name

7.10

      

Reset Network Set.

7.11

      

Bluetooth Remote Control

Chapter 8      The Playback Menu Settings

8.1

      

Protect

8.2

      

Rotate

8.3

      

Delete

8.4

      

Rating

8.4.1      The Menu Method

8.4.2      The Pre-Assigned Key Method

8.4.3      Recalling the Rated Images

8.5

      

Rating Setting (Custom Key)

8.6

      

Specify Printing

8.6.1      Printing the Date on the image

8.6.2      Canceling DPOF files

8.7

      

Photo Capture

8.8

      

Enlarge Image

8.9

      

Enlarge Init. Mag.

8.10

      

Enlarge Initial Pos.

8.11

      

Continuous Playback for Interval

8.12

      

Playback speed for Interval

8.13

      

Slide Show

8.13.1      PhotoTV HD and Bravia Sync

8.14

      

View Mode

8.15

      

Image Index

8.16

      

Display as Group

8.17

      

Display Rotation

8.18

      

Image Jump Setting

Chapter 9      The Setup (Toolbox Icon) Menu Settings

9.1

      

Monitor Brightness

9.2

      

Viewfinder (EVF) Brightness

9.3

      

Finder Color temp.

9.4

      

Gamma Display Assist

9.5

      

Volume Settings

9.6

      

Tile Menu

9.7

      

Mode Dial Guide

9.8

      

Delete Confirm.

9.9

      

Display Quality

9.10

      

Power Save Start Time

9.11

      

Auto Pwr OFF Temp.

9.12

      

NTSC/PAL Selector

9.13

      

Cleaning Mode

9.14

      

Touch Operation

9.15

      

Touch Panel / Pad

9.16

      

Touch Pad Settings

9.16.1      Operation in V Orien. (Vertical Orientation)

9.16.2      Touch Position Mode

9.16.3      Operation Area

9.17

      

Demo Mode

9.18

      

TC/UB Settings

9.19

      

IR Remote Ctrl

9.20

      

HDMI Settings

9.20.1      HDMI Resolution

9.20.2      24p / 60p Output

9.20.3      HDMI Info. Display

9.20.4      TC Output

9.20.5      REC Control

9.20.6      CTRL FOR HDMI

9.21

      

4K Output Select

9.22

      

USB Connection

9.23

      

USB LUN Setting

9.24

      

USB Power Supply

9.25

      

PC Remote Settings

9.26

      

Language

9.27

      

Date/Time Setup

9.28

      

Area Setting

9.29

      

Copyright Info

9.30

      

Format

9.31

      

File Number

9.32

      

Set File Name

9.33

      

Select REC Folder

9.34

      

New Folder

9.35

      

Folder Name

9.35.1      If ‘Standard Form is’ Selected

9.35.2      If ‘Date Form’ is Selected

9.36

      

Recover Image DB

9.37

      

Display Media Info.

9.38

      

Version

9.39

      

Setting Reset

Chapter 10      My Menu Setting

Chapter 11      Movie Mode

11.1

      

Video Nomenclature Simplified

11.2

      

So How Do I Know What Video Format to Choose?

11.3

      

Choosing a Frame Rate and a Bit Rate

11.4

      

What is Super35?

11.5

      

4K Shooting

11.6

      

Capturing a 4K Freeze Frame

11.7

      

Manual Control in Movie Mode

11.8

      

Slow- and Quick-Motion Videos

11.8.1      The in-camera way

11.8.2      The higher quality way (Slowdown only)

11.9

      

S-Log2 and S-Log3 Primer

11.9.1      The Gamma Curves

11.9.2      Gamma Curve Nomenclature

11.9.3      HDTVs have Much Less Dynamic Range

11.9.4      S-Log2 and S-Log3

11.9.5      Grading

11.10

      

Shooting 2 Video Formats At Once

11.11

      

Playing back Videos

11.12

      

External Microphones

11.13

      

Monitoring Video and Audio

11.14

      

Importing your Files to your Computer

Chapter 12      Wireless Flash and Advanced Flash Topics

12.1

      

Introduction

12.2

      

Flash Models

12.3

      

Bounce Flash

12.3.1      Diffusing your Light

12.4

      

Wireless Flash

12.5

      

Radio Wireless Flash

12.5.1      Pairing the Flashes

12.6

      

As Simple As It Gets

12.7

      

The New Wireless Protocol

12.8

      

Groups and Channels

12.9

      

Will the Control Bursts Affect Exposure?

12.10

      

Manual Flash Mode

12.10.1      To Put the 60 Into Manual Slave Mode

12.10.2      To put the 43 into Manual Slave mode

12.11

      

A Portable Studio Setup

12.12

      

High Speed Sync (HSS) flash

How it works

12.13

      

How to Activate HSS

12.14

      

To Probe Further

Chapter 13      DRO and HDR

13.1

      

Dynamic Range Optimization

13.1.1      How it Works

13.1.2      More DRO examples

13.1.3      Frequently Asked Questions about DRO

13.1.4      So When Does DRO kick in?

13.1.5      When DRO is bad

13.1.6      Combining with Sunset Image Style

13.1.7      DRO on Your Computer

13.2

      

High Dynamic Range (HDR)

13.3

      

DRO vs. HDR

Chapter 14      Digital Imaging Topics

14.1

      

Introduction

14.2

      

An Introduction to RAW

14.3

      

The Bayer Filter and Demosaicing

14.4

      

How Your Camera Creates A JPG

14.5

      

RAW, TIF, and JPG Compared

14.6

      

JPG Compression Artifacts

14.7

      

Any Other Upsides to Shooting .JPG?

14.8

      

Reducing Noise via RAW processing

14.8.1      RAW Processing using Sony's Imaging Edge software

14.8.2      RAW Processing using catpure One Express

14.8.3      RAW Processing using Lightroom or Adobe Camera RAW

14.8.4      So which process won?

14.9

      

Image Size and Resolution

14.10

      

Hot Pixels

Chapter 15      Additional Resources

15.1

      

Some Cool Accessories

15.1.1      Smallrig

15.1.2      Shutterbands

15.1.3      Side Microphone Bracket

15.1.4      Shooting Grip with Mini Tripod

15.1.5      Vertical Grip

15.1.6      3rd Party Batteries

15.1.7      External USB Battery

15.1.8      Dirt Cheap Battery Chargers

15.1.9      Underwater Housings

15.1.10      Leather Cases

15.1.11      External Microphones

15.1.12      And more…

15.2

      

Upsells

15.2.1      Books on Other Cameras

15.2.2      An Introduction to Sony’s Wireless Flash (video)

15.2.3      Ways to ‘Wow!’ with Wireless Flash

15.2.4      Cameracraft Magazine

15.2.5      The Friedman Archives Seminars

15.2.6      The Friedman Archives Blog

15.2.7      The Road to China

15.2.8      The Maui Xaphoon

15.3

      

Epilogue

Appendix A      A Condensed Guide to the Basics

A.1

      

Shutter Speeds

A.2

      

F/Stops

A.3

      

ISO

A.4

      

Focal Length

A.5

      

Tradeoffs

A.6

      

Program Shift

A.7

      

The Histogram Display

Brightness range, sensors, and the human eye

Using the Histogram for a finer degree of control

A.8

      

The Secrets of Light and Composition

A.9

      

Writing with Light

A.10

      

Composition – The Rule of Thirds

Out of place shot

Texture

Classical Portrait

Environmental Portrait

Hey, Look at Me!

Appendix B      A Cookbook for Special Shooting Situations

B.1

      

Introduction

B.2

      

Fireworks

B.3

      

Artistic Waterfalls

B.4

      

Stage Performances / Rock Concerts

B.5

      

Nighttime Time Exposures

B.6

      

Shooting in Snow

B.7

      

Outdoor Group Portraits

B.8

      

Street Photography

B.9

      

Sunsets and Silhouettes

B.10

      

Nighttime or Indoor Sports

B.11

      

Product Shots

B.12

      

Christmas Lights

B.13

      

Candlelight Shots

B.14

      

Star Trails

Appendix C      Using Legacy Glass

Appendix D      Tip Cards

Chapter 1      Don’t Panic!

Let me guess.  You bought the A6400 for its amazing autofocus abilities (so amazing that Sony’s Flagship Alpha 9 camera, whose body alone costs $5,000, couldn’t do as well until a recent firmware update) and its ridiculously affordable price.  But then you got the camera, went through the menus, and a sense of unease began to set in.  Do I have to understand all of these settings in order to take great pictures?

I’ve been writing books about these cameras since before Sony bought Minolta, and every year the cameras get more complex and more customizable.  It’s to the point that even when I start deleting or condensing content, the books end up being over 700 pages long, which most paperback printing companies can’t handle. 

So let me set your mind at ease right away.  About 80% of all these functions need only be set once (or not at all if you’re OK with the factory defaults), and never thought about again.  And in Chapter 2 I actually go through each menu item, explain what it does, and also give you how I personally set my camera.  Thus, this book is designed from the ground up to get you up and running with this camera as quickly as possible. 

The camera is so customizable because a lot of people who grew up using different camera brands are now switching to Sony but they still want the camera to work the way they’re used to.  So really, it’s a good thing.

The A6400 has so many noteworthy features that it’s hard to list them all.  But I’m going to try to list just the highlights:

1.1      Major Features

1.1.1      Best Tracking AF

Normally I’d start with the sensor, but the sensor is very similar to that in its predecessors, the A6300 and A6500.  No, the headline-grabbing news here is this camera has flagship-level subject tracking and focusing in a tiny and affordable body.  This applies to both video and stills.

Point the camera to a person and it recognizes a face.  If the light is good and the face is close enough it will identify the eye and focus on that.  Then it can track the subject across the frame using distance, color and pattern recognition, even if that person looks away or goes out of frame momentarily.  It can do all of this while shooting at 11 pictures per second.

How did Sony do it?  According to their press releases, they’re now employing Artificial Intelligence to recognize and track objects.  Of course the term A.I. is the buzzword of the day and doesn’t really mean anything; but I would guess that this major improvement in tracking was the result of thousands of hours of training a computer model, and embedding the resulting learned behavior in the camera’s firmware.

What’s special for me, though, is that all of its capabilities – the ability to track, the ability to recognize faces and eyes, to bias the exposure toward the subject and to handle difficult lighting on its own – ALL of it is pretty much on by default, and you need not dig into menus nor invoke special modes in order to reap the benefits of all this capability.

I did discover a small pitfall when I used the camera to photograph a track and field event.  With the new tracking ability, I was expecting to be able to have it track athletes running directly into the camera.  Which it did remarkably well for relay races, javelin throwing, and pole vaulting events.  That is, until I zoomed out a little while shooting in continuous drive mode and AF-C.  In most cases, the second I changed the focal length, it threw off the camera's tracking ability – it couldn't find the subject, and because I had MENU --> 1 --> 5 --> Priority Set in AF-C set to AF, the camera wouldn't take a picture unless the subject was in focus.  To continue, I had to take my finger off the shutter release button and then press it down again, re-acquiring focus tracking and allowing me to continue.  (Figure 1-1.)

1.1.2      An Impressive 24 megapixel sensor

Sony has had 24 megapixel, APS-C-sized sensors for a few years now.  But don’t let that diminish the engineering achievement this sensor represents: A whopping 425 phase-detect pixel pairs are baked right in to give it fast AF no matter where in the frame your subject travels.  (Figure 1-2.)  And a data pipeline that sucks the data and phase information off the sensor so fast it can still do autofocusing and auto exposure at 11 frames per second.  AND it can provide revert live view between frames at all but the very highest continuous shooting rate.  I’m telling you, there’s a lot of high-powered data shoveling going on in there.

But it’s not a full-frame sensor!  Can you make giant enlargements from this camera?  The answer is yes, and for proof have a look at Figure 1-3.

1.1.3      Improved Eye AF

The Eye AF feature has been improved to the point where it happens completely automatically; you need do nothing to invoke it.  (This addresses one of my long-time criticisms of earlier implementations).  The feature is so good that I have permanently abandoned my previous technique of Spot Focus – Focus Lock – Recompose --> Shoot when shooting portraits. Now I just concentrate on getting the right expression and leave the automatedness (that’s a word!!) to the camera.

More about Face Detection and Eye AF can be found in Section 5.26.

1.1.4      Animal Eye AF

This is a much-heralded feature which works extraordinarily well.  Sony has trained learning algorithms by showing them thousands of pictures of cats and dogs with many different eye types; and when you set the camera to Animal Eye AF mode (MENU --> 1 --> 6 --> Face/Eye AF Set. --> Subject Detection --> Animal), it zeros in on the eyes of animals instead of those of humans.  Sony says more eye types of a greater variety of animals will be added in the future via firmware updates.  (Figure 1-6)

If you don’t have a pet around to try this out on, find a picture of an animal and try focusing on that. 

1.1.5      Better TouchScreen Operation

This is the first Sony camera that operates just like your smartphone: You can touch the screen to both focus on a subject and take a picture, or you can touch the subject and have it track the subject across the frame in both stills and movies.  (Compare this to previous models, where the subject tracking for video was slow and kludgy.)

The ability to touch the screen to identify the subject is used two different ways: One for when you’re looking through the electronic viewfinder, and one when you’re using the rear LCD display. 

Nuanced details about using the Touch Operation can be found in Section 3.5.4.

1.1.6      Flip-Up Screen

This is the first E-mount camera to have this feature.  Hinges of this type are notoriously difficult to design since you have to worry about the ribbon cable cracking if you flex the display too much.

This screen is great for selfies and (according to Sony) for people who make video blogs.  Vloggers have a different opinion however, since if you mount a good microphone to the hot shoe it blocks the screen when it is up (see Figure 1-6).

Many people wonder aloud why Sony didn't put the screen hinge on the side where God meant it to be, alleviating this problem altogether.  None of those people realize that they're identifying the wrong problem, for even if you DID have a side-hinged LCD (or just used a wireless lapel mic), you still would have a hard time starting / stopping video and zooming while holding the camera at arm's length.

Of course I propose a low-cost solution to that problem, which I propose in Figure 1-7.  This solution is comprised of two accessories:

Accessory #1: A Side Microphone Bracket, described in Section 15.1.3.  This is a bracket that mounts on the camera bottom, providing you a new flash mount for your microphone on the left side of the camera, away from everything.

Accessory #2: A shooting grip with mini tripod, described in Section 15.1.4.  This grip has buttons that allow one-handed control of the camera for start / stop and zoom (if a power zoom lens is attached), making it perfect for either you or that guy from Max Headroom who was his own cameraman.

This solution will not only solve this problem, but also make one-handed vlogging control of this camera infinitely easier:

1.1.7      11 Pictures per Second

The perfect compliment to the best focus tracking algorithms is the ability to shoot up to 11 frames per second and still have the camera autofocus and auto expose between frames!  Figure 1-8 shows how I was able to catch a flying soda bottle cap in mid-air at 11 pictures per second. 

This camera also has something called Silent Shooting mode, where there is no mechanical shutter activity happening at all.  A reasonable person might think, No shutter movement?  That means the camera should be able to take a sequence of imgaes MUCH faster than if that shutter has to open-and-close constantly!

Well, no.  Silent Shooting involves a lot of tradeoffs, one of which is a top speed of 8 pictures-per-second.  Section 6.17 explains the technical reasons for this.  And Figure 1-9 shows the difference: not as many shots in an action sequence. 

1.1.8      Rate your Images, then Jump Around

You can now rate your images!  1 to 5 stars with the press of a pre-assigned button.  Then you can quickly jump from one highly-rated image to another while playing back.  Full details in Section 8.4.

1.1.9      No More Overheating

The A6500 had an overheating problem when shooting 4K video – 20 minutes was the limit.  The A6400 fixed that problem – I was able to shoot 4K video for over an hour and a half at room temperature.  That's a tough engineering problem to solve.

1.1.10      No more 29 Minute Videos!

Once upon a time, the European Union decreed that any camera that is not classified as a camcorder must limit their video clip lengths to 29 minutes or face a tax.  That was probably meant to protect the camcorder industry from encroaching competition, but all it did is anger consumers, all the while doing nothing to keep the camcorder market from shrinking.

Anyway, that tax expired in early 2019 and so the only things keeping you from recording infinitely long videos are your battery and your memory card.  (Not even overheating, which plagued the A6400's predecessors.)

1.1.11      Time-Lapse Interval Function

Time lapse photography is where you put your camera on a tripod and have it automatically take a picture every few seconds.  If you play this sequence back quickly (or convert it into a video and play it back) it will look like time has speeded up. Here's a quick youtube video I shot using this function, with the camera taking a picture every 10 seconds: https://youtu.be/ufpENC1oSLo .

Your camera can perform this function natively, and details on how to do it appear in Section 5.16.

1.1.12      New Gamma Curves for Video

You know those High Dynamic Range TVs you’ve been reading about?  Well, the A6400 can now shoot in the Hybrid Log-Gamma (HLG) format that such TVs look for and know about.  Which means you can shoot HDR video footage and have it play back properly on an HDR TV without need to grade or transcode the video on your computer first!  The 10th slot of the Picture Profiles function is pre-configured with optimum settings for this kind of shooting. 

Also included are Sony’s famous S-Log2 and S-Log3 gamma profiles for video  You can read more about this (and about the Picture Profile feature in general) in Section 5.54.

1.1.13      Tethered Shooting

Tethered Shooting refers to the ability to hook up your camera to your computer via a USB cable (the tether) and have the computer act as a full remote experience for your camera: You can see the live view on the computer screen, you can adjust several shooting parameters, and you can have the image automatically download to your computer after each shot.  Nikon and Canon have offered this for years, and in fact Sony has had it too to some degree, but now with the addition of free software (the Imaging Edge package, as mentioned in Section Software) the process is no longer an exercise in tedium.

Step-by-step instructions to shooting tethered using the new Imaging Edge software is provided in Section 3.15.

1.1.14      My Menu and My Dial

After using the camera for awhile you’ll find that there are only a handful of menu items you access on a regular basis.  You can assign those items to My Menu (the rightmost menu) and create your own customized menu for fast access.  Chapter 10 goes into how to configure and use it.

There's also a new feature called My Dial which allows you to temporarily reassign both dials /wheels at the push of a button.  (Section 6.37.

1.1.15      AWB Lock

You know how cameras tend to lock the exposure along with the focus when in AF-S shooting mode?  Well, the A6400 can now lock the white balance too when you hold the shutter release button down halfway.

Is this an important feature?  Well, up until now I’ve never identified it as a problem in need of solving.  (After now, too. :-) )  But now you have it.  More in Section 5.56.

1.1.16      New Metering Modes

In the past, spot metering coupled with AEL Toggle function has always been my go-to tool as the fastest way to handle difficult lighting: Just put my subject in the center of the viewfinder, hit AEL Toggle function to lock the exposure, then focus, recompose, and shoot. 

But now Sony has introduced a combination of new features that make this process of handling difficult light even easier.

Basically, here's how it works:

•      Set Fn --> Metering Mode to Spot: Standard

•      Set Fn --> Focus Area to either Flexible Spot or Expanded Flexible Spot

•      Set MENU --> 1 --> 8 --> Spot Metering Point to Focus Point Link

Now use the arrow buttons to specify your focus point.  Not only will it focus on what you specfied, it will also spot meter for that area as well!  (In the past, using Multi-Segment metering the camera would simply emphasize exposure a little bit around the focus point – now it can be more absolute.)  This can help when shooting rock concerts and stage shows where there's a huge difference between the light on your subject and on the background.

There are other metering modes as well: you can average the entire scene at once, which puts you spiritually closer to the Nikon F shooters of the 1950’s and practically guarantees a lower yield of perfect out-of-camera .jpgs.  There’s also a useful new mode that looks at the entire frame, identifies the brightest part, and then exposes just for that.  This produces the same results as my old AEL Toggle --> recompose --> shoot method but with even fewer steps.  This can be insanely useful when shooting theater and rock concerts where your subject is the brightest part of the composition.

(More about metering modes are explained in Section 5.38.)

1.1.17      RAW + XFINE JPEGS

This is only a big deal in theory.  Now when you shoot RAW+JPG (as so many photographers do, myself included) you can now specify the quality of the .jpg that’s produced – either Standard, Fine, or (my favorite) X.Fine (eXtra Fine). 

I say it’s a big deal in theory because I dare you to shoot a .jpg in all three quality settings, enlarge them to poster size, and see if you can tell which poster is which image quality setting.  (.jpg quality has improved tremendously over the past decade!) 

1.1.18      Bluetooth-based GPS Alternative

For a brief period of time Sony had built GPS receivers into their older cameras, and then suddenly stopped doing so.  The most likely reason was that it was too difficult to make certain versions for different markets to comply with local laws, and probably also that smartphones can improve upon GPS’ speed and accuracy by triangulating with local cell towers, something a camera without a phone connection can’t do. 

And so your A6400 has been graced with a Bluetooth link so it can communicate with your smartphone’s GPS.  It works reasonably well, although the camera has to be on for 10-15 seconds before the position can be established (which, ironically, was often the case with cameras that had GPS receivers).  If you shoot before the Bluetooth link is established, no positioning info gets recorded.

More details and how to set it up with your smartphone can be found in Sections 7.7 and 7.8.

1.1.19      S&Q (Slow and Quick) movie modes

Technically this isn’t a new feature – the A6300 had it as well, but it was called High Frame Rate in that camera, and represented an easy way to shoot slow-motion videos. 

In the A6400 that feature has been extended to make it easy to shoot fast-motion videos as well, so you can shoot your own Benny Hill chase scene (http://bit.ly/2liUtoq ).

Now renamed Slow and Quick Movie, this feature makes it easy to shoot video that plays back in slow or fast motion organically, without the need to re-encode the video footage later on (which is what you would have to do if you shot with Video File Format set to XAVC S HD and a Record Setting of 100p or 120p.).  You can read more about S&Q Movie in Sections 6.2 and 6.5.

1.1.20      Much better Out-of-Camera .JPGs

Ever since the A6300, Sony's out-of-camera .jpgs taken at high ISO are so good that I no longer de-noisify the RAW file in hopes of better results. 

Figure 1-10 shows a before-and-after comparison – the top row shows an ISO 10,000 .jpg from five years ago, with a straight out-of-camera .jpg on the left and processed RAW file on the right.  The bottom row shows an image taken at ISO 8,000 – the processed and sort-of-denoised RAW is on the left, the out-of-camera .jpg file on the right.  More people should be talking about this.

Another example of this appears in my blog from 2017: https://bit.ly/2BFLTLY http://friedmanarchives.blogspot.com/2017/08/my-personal-workflow-and-why-i-dont-use.html and scroll down to Better High ISO JPEGs.  The example there was with a different camera, but the improved jpg noise processing applies to all modern Sony cameras.

1.1.21      4K and Other Video Features

4K Video is quickly becoming a thing.  (Not every video advancement does.  Remember the 3D TV craze from a few years back that never got traction?) (Heck, remember quadraphonic stereo from the 1970’s?)

Anyway, word from Japan says young mothers just LOVE all the detail when watching 4K videos of their little babies.  Cinematographers seem to be embracing it as well.  Here are some other things to know about your camera's video capabilities:

•      You can save all video footage to the camera's memory card, or to an external digital video recorder.  Some compression occurs if you're saving to the internal memory card; but when using an external recorder the video is uncompressed.

•      You can shoot 4K as long as you have a fast enough memory card – and now for the first time Sony is allowing you to save 4K video to SDHC memory cards in addition to SDXC cards.  Just make sure you don't skimp on memory cards and use a fast one – your camera becomes much more responsive that way!  Memory card flavors are covered in Section 3.21.

•      There's also a XAVC S HD video format that records in HD (1920 x 1080) and a high bitrate (100 MB/s) and a high frame rate (up to 120 frames per second for NTSC), allowing for the creation of smooth slow-motion video. 

•      Picture Profiles are a series of settings designed for professional videographers who intend to post-process their video (usually referred to as 'grading' in the video world).  This includes the famous S-Log 2 and S-Log3 curves (which I explain thoroughly in Section 5.54).

•      Zebra Stripes, a feature which professional videographers have been using for decades (Figure 1-11). 

1.1.22      14-bit RAW

This isn’t a new feature.  But it’s one you should know about.  The A6400 takes pictures using 14-bits-per-channel automatically when you’re in single-shot mode and goes back to 12-bit mode in any other drive mode, or when shutter speed is set to BULB, Silent Shooting, or Long Exposure Noise Reduction is employed.

Is this a big deal?  The truth is you may not notice any difference in normal shooting.  (And when I say Normal shooting I mean if you have good light and your exposure is right for that light, which is much more important to good photography than noise performance at high ISOs). 

When Nikon first introduced this 14-bit feature back in 2008, many of their customers started looking for visible differences in the 14-bit mode, but visible differences proved elusive.  The extra bits only matter if your exposure is off by a lot and you’re trying to perform extreme manipulation in order to recover detail from the shadows.  If you want to see some tests showing what little difference there actually is, here are two articles written by a Nikon owner in 2008: http://tinyurl.com/2e4nss and http://tinyurl.com/4enno8.

1.1.23      Can shoot 2 Kinds of videos simultaneously

This is a feature made especially for videographers who are also social media moguls.  It is designed to address this very scenario: You’ve just shot some cool high-res video and you want to share it on Facebook while still in the field.  So you bump your phone to the Camera (using NFC) and transfer the video footage to the phone so that you may then upload it to Facebook.  The problem is that the high-res video footage is LARGE, it takes up a lot of space on your phone and it eats up your data plan in the process.  There’s GOT to be a better way!

Leveraging the fact that Facebook just crappifies (that’s a word!) video anyway, Sony has now given you the option of storing video in two different formats each time you shoot a video clip: The high-quality format (XAVC S 4K, XAVC S HD, or AVCHD), along with a much smaller proxy file that can be sent to your smartphone via WiFi.

More in Section 6.6.

1.1.24      Three Different Low-Light Modes

These three features are designed for when you’re shooting in low light and don’t have a tripod handy.  (And you just hate noisy pictures at high ISO.)  For years, professional photographers (astrophotographers in particular) had a trick up their sleeves when it came to reducing noise in static images – they would take several different shots in succession, and then merge them all in Photoshop.  The underlying principle was that each frame had the same subject but completely random noise, and by combining the images the noise would just get averaged away, while the subject, which appeared consistently in each shot, would be reinforced. 

Using the same intelligence found in the panorama stitching algorithms, your camera can use this very same technique.  Using either Handheld Twilight mode or the Multi-Frame Noise-Reduction function, the camera will take several handheld shots in rapid succession, line them all up (in case your hand wasn’t perfectly steady), merge them all together, and produce one high-resolution, low-noise, low-light image – all in-camera!

These all can get kind of confusing since these three features are all advertised to do the same thing.  The features are:

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