Sony Alpha A6100 vs A6400 vs A6600 Comparison – the Differences and Similarities

sony alpha a6100 vs a6400 vs a6600

all images from Sony

In 2019, Sony released three great new compact mirrorless cameras. These were the Alpha 6100, the Alpha 6400, and the Alpha 6600.

As you can see from the image above, they all look pretty similar at first glance, with perhaps the most noticeable physical difference being the larger grip on the A6600. Once you dig into their specifications though, you’ll find a number of things that set each one apart.

If you’re thinking of buying one of these cameras and wondering which is the best for you, with the features you need and without paying for things you don’t, this guide is here to help you out.

Before we get into the meat of the whole Sony Alpha A6100 vs A6400 vs A6600 story, the table below gives you a quick overview. Give that a scan and then read on to dig even deeper and learn even more if you need to.

Sony Alpha A6100 Mirrorless Camera with 16-50mm Zoom Lens, Black (ILCE6100L/B)
Sony Alpha a6400 Mirrorless Camera: Compact APS-C Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera with Real-Time Eye Auto Focus, 4K Video, Flip Screen & 16-50mm Lens - E Mount Compatible Cameras - ILCE-6400L/B
Sony Alpha A6600 Mirrorless Camera
Year
2019
2019
2019
Sensor Size
APS-C
APS-C
APS-C
Mount
E-mount
E-mount
E-mount
Megapixels
24.2
24.2
24.2
Frames Per Second
11
11
11
Shots Per Charge
380
360
720
Maximum ISO
32000 / 51200
32000 / 102400
32000 / 102400
Size
120 x 67 x 59 mm
120 x 67 x 60 mm
120 x 67 x 69 mm
Viewfinder
IBIS
Weather Sealing
Built-in Flash
Prime Delivery
-
Sony Alpha A6100 Mirrorless Camera with 16-50mm Zoom Lens, Black (ILCE6100L/B)
Camera
Year
2019
Sensor Size
APS-C
Mount
E-mount
Megapixels
24.2
Frames Per Second
11
Shots Per Charge
380
Maximum ISO
32000 / 51200
Size
120 x 67 x 59 mm
Viewfinder
IBIS
Weather Sealing
Built-in Flash
Prime Delivery
Buy on Amazon
Sony Alpha a6400 Mirrorless Camera: Compact APS-C Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera with Real-Time Eye Auto Focus, 4K Video, Flip Screen & 16-50mm Lens - E Mount Compatible Cameras - ILCE-6400L/B
Camera
Year
2019
Sensor Size
APS-C
Mount
E-mount
Megapixels
24.2
Frames Per Second
11
Shots Per Charge
360
Maximum ISO
32000 / 102400
Size
120 x 67 x 60 mm
Viewfinder
IBIS
Weather Sealing
Built-in Flash
Prime Delivery
-
Buy on Amazon
Sony Alpha A6600 Mirrorless Camera
Camera
Year
2019
Sensor Size
APS-C
Mount
E-mount
Megapixels
24.2
Frames Per Second
11
Shots Per Charge
720
Maximum ISO
32000 / 102400
Size
120 x 67 x 69 mm
Viewfinder
IBIS
Weather Sealing
Built-in Flash
Prime Delivery
Buy on Amazon

Key differences between the Sony A6100, A6400, and A6600

Current prices – A6100 cheapest, A6600 priciest

The most obvious difference between these three Sony mirrorless cameras, and the one that might well be the deciding factor for you, is the price.  As you might expect, the higher the model number, the more you’ll need to pay.

You do of course get more features and a few higher specifications for your money, so it’s ultimately up to you where the sweet spot of budget vs bang-for-your-buck lies.

Actual prices will change over time so it might be wise to see what they’re at currently before continuing to read, to frame up in your mind which of the rest of these differences and similarities are worth it for you.

Build quality – A6100 plastic, A6400 and A6600 metal

The cheaper A6100 differs from the more expensive A6400 and A6600 in that its body is made of plastic rather than metal. That said, it is a sturdy polycarbonate plastic that Sony refers to as engineering plastic, so it’s still tough enough for everyday shooting providing you avoid any major mishaps.

It probably wouldn’t fare as well as the magnesium alloy A6400 and A6600 bodies if you dropped it on its corner from a reasonable height, but how often have you done that with your camera anyway?

The potentially more significant difference in how this build quality may affect how long your camera lasts until it dies is explained next. As an aside, this plastic body does mean the A6100 is a touch lighter than the other two models, but only by a negligible 7 grams, or 0.25 ounces.

sony a6600 front view

Weather sealing – on A6400 and A6600 only

With the polycarbonate plastic rather than magnesium alloy construction, the A6100 is the only model of these three to not have weather sealing.

Achieved through a series of rubber seals and gaskets in vulnerable places across the camera and lens, weather sealing protects from humidity, moisture, dust and sand, which can be important if you travel a lot and like to shoot in forests or on mountains, or on beaches and in busy cities.

If you buy any separate lenses though, you need to ensure they too are weather-sealed to maintain the full integrity of it on your A6400 or A6600. These lenses are usually more expensive, which is something to consider when thinking how important weather sealing will be to you in the long run.

Sony Alpha A6600 Mirrorless Camera with 18-135mm Zoom Lens
  • World’s fastest AF at 0. 02 sec. W/ real-time AF & Object tracking
  • 24. 2MP APS-C Exmor sensor w/ front end LSI and is up to 102, 400
  • Wide 425-phase/425-contrast detection AF points over 84% of sensor

Battery life – A6600 double that of A6100 and A6400

One reason for the A6600 having a noticeably larger grip is that it needs to house a larger battery – and the reason for Sony making a larger battery is for it to have a longer life. Around two times as long, as it turns out.

You can expect to get around 720 shots per charge from the A6600’s NP-FZ1000 battery compared to 380 from the A6100 and 360 from the A6400 with their NP-FW50 battery. The former will also give you around 140 minutes of video compared to the latter’s 70.

And because the A6600 battery is physically larger, you can’t just buy one separately and use it in an A6100 or A6400. If you want that extra power, you need to buy an A6600 from the outset.

sony a6600 top view

Viewfinder quality – A6400 and A6600 better than A6100

While all three of these Sony mirrorless cameras have a built-in viewfinder, they haven’t all been created equally. And in this case, it’s again the cheaper A6100 that is different to the A6400 and the A6600.

All three have a 23mm eye-point, a 0.39-inch OLED panel, and 0.70x magnification, but the A6100’s has much lower resolution with 1.44 million dots compared to the 2.4 million of the A6400 and the A6600.

Quite how important this is might depend on the type of photography you do. It’s probably more helpful for shallow depth of field macro work than it is landscape at f16. But if it is something you need, it might be a reason to go for the A6400 over the A6100 if you don’t want to stretch to the A6600.

Sony Alpha a6400 Mirrorless Camera: Compact APS-C Interchangeable Lens Digital Camera with Real-Time Eye Auto Focus, 4K Video & Flip Up Touchscreen - E Mount Compatible Cameras - ILCE-6400/B Body
  • Next Gen speed: experience the world’s fastest 0. 02 sec AF with real-time AF and object tracking
  • Enhanced subject capture: wide 425 Phase/ 425 contrast detection points over 84% of the sensor
  • Fast & accurate: up to 11Fps continuous shooting at 24. 2MP raw with crisp, clear natural colors

In-body image stabilisation – on A6600 only

Another feature not present across the whole range is in-body image stabilisation, or IBIS, which allows the camera to compensate for shake or other movements by making tiny adjustments to the sensor along 5-axes – known as yaw, pitch and roll – when an image is taken.

Including this technology is another reason the A6600 has that slightly chunkier body size, which should give you a clue to which of these small Sony mirrorless cameras have it. That is, only the A6600.

You can still use lenses with Sony’s Optical SteadyShot system with the A6100 and A6400, but any lenses without that will give you an unstabilised set-up. This makes the A6600 perhaps a good choice if you like to shoot with vintage lenses too.

sony alpha 6600 5 axis ibis

Built-in flash – on A6100 and A6400 only

In most circumstances, be it when buying a camera or almost any other product, the more you pay, the higher spec and the more features you get. As we’ve already seen, some may be equal, but you wouldn’t expect to miss out on any at the higher price point.

So it may seem odd at first glance that the Sony A6600 doesn’t come with a built-in flash while the A6100 and A6400 do. There are some good reasons for this, though. Otherwise they wouldn’t have done it. First is that they may have needed the space and resources for the IBIS that’s missing from the cheaper models.

Second is that the low-light performance is good enough that you might not need a flash as much as you think you will. And third is that, with this being the most expensive camera in the range and aimed at the prosumer market, many who buy it and do flash photography may prefer to use an external flash anyway.

sony a6400 flash

Video capabilities – A6400 and A6600 better than A6100

In one aspect, all three of these compact Sony mirrorless cameras have the same video shooting capabilities. That is, they all give you 4K video up to 30fps and 100Mbps.

Where the A6400 and the A6600 offer more than the A6100 though is with Sony’s extra settings for video production, known as Picture Profiles. These include things like S-Log2 and S-Log3, which give you a greater dynamic range, and HLG, which is like an easier-to-use version of HDR.

It’s also worth noting if you plan on buying one of these cameras to shoot a lot of video with that, while they all have a 3.5mm input for an external microphone, only the A6600 has an output for headphones.

Sony Alpha A6600 Mirrorless Camera with 18-135mm Zoom Lens
  • World’s fastest AF at 0. 02 sec. W/ real-time AF & Object tracking
  • 24. 2MP APS-C Exmor sensor w/ front end LSI and is up to 102, 400
  • Wide 425-phase/425-contrast detection AF points over 84% of sensor

Similarities between the Sony A6100, A6400, and A6600

Release date – all in the same year

Although these three cameras were all released in the same year – 2019 – they weren’t all released at exactly the same time. The A6400 came first in February of that year, with the A6100 and A6600 joining it in October.

So while there were nine months between those dates, the fact they came out in the same calendar year means I’m putting this in the similarities section – ‘similar’ of course meaning ‘not exactly the same’.

With firmware updates having already happened for the A6400 and with more likely for all three models in the future, it’s not like it will always be nine months behind with its capabilities. Simply put, I don’t think the staggered original release dates are anything to worry about with your buying decision.

Size and weight – negligible real world difference

We’ve already mentioned that the A6100 is a little lighter than its siblings due to its polycarbonate rather than magnesium alloy construction, and that the A6600 has a larger grip due to the larger battery it has to house.

In the real world though, whether you’re carrying your camera in your bag or holding it in your hand, these differences in weight and size are so negligible that they too are going in the similarities section.

The actual size and weight (including batteries) of the three cameras are laid out below. They’re so close to one another that none of them would enter my consideration for which to buy and which not to.

  • Sony A6100: 120 x 67 x 59 mm / 396 grams
  • Sony A6400: 120 x 67 x 60 mm / 403 grams
  • Sony A6600: 120 x 67 x 69 mm / 503 grams

Sensor size – all the same APS-C

One of the main benefits to these cameras is their diminutive size when compared to Sony’s full frame mirrorless cameras with their bigger sensors, and also when compared to DSLRs that have the same size sensor that these have.

If you don’t know how an APS-C sensor will affect your shooting, you can read up on focal length here or more on choosing the right mirrorless camera for yourself here. That second guide explains how it would affect you when shooting vintage lenses, should you want to do that.

If you stick to native Sony lenses though, the APS-C sensor will be absolutely fine. You can buy a 35mm lens to act similar to a 50mm, for example. Ultimately though, you have no choice if you’re buying an A6100, an A6400, or an A6600, as they all have the same sensor anyway.

Sale
Sony SEL35F18 35mm f/1.8 Prime Fixed Lens
  • Compact, lightweight fixed F1.8 lens.Angle of View (APS C) 44 °
  • Minimum Focus Distance : 0.99 ft (0.3 m), Maximum Magnification ratio : 0.15x, Focal Length : 1.38 in
  • New optical design for excellent peripheral sharpness and contrast, Built in image stabilization

Lens mount – all Sony E-mount

Speaking of lenses, all three of these cameras have the same lens mount – that is, Sony’s own E-mount that they developed especially for this type of compact mirrorless camera. They did have an A-mount too for their DSLRs, but that has since died off.

On one hand, having an E-mount means having to stick to Sony’s own relatively expensive lenses, or third party E-mount lenses like this one from 7artisans, unless you want to use an adapter for any others you might have with a different mount.

On the other hand though, Sony’s compact mirrorless cameras are really good for using with vintage lenses, thanks to the small distance between flange and sensor, and the fact you’ll find an E-mount adapter for almost any old lens you come across.

sony a6100 sensor

Number of megapixels – exactly the same

Back when the digital camera was a novel thing, the number of megapixels a model had was more important than it is now. The difference between 2 megapixels and 6, for example, was quite telling. It then became a bit of a pointless arms race though, where higher numbers were used to sell cameras to people who didn’t need them just for their Facebook uploads.

Regardless, the Alpha 6100, 6400, and the 6600 all have 24.2 megapixels. This makes this particular specification a complete non-issue when deciding between these three cameras because they’re obviously all the same.

Alongside the 24.2 megapixel APS-C sensor is Sony’s BIONZ X image processor, which gives you a package that won’t compete with the likes of the far more expensive Sony a7R IV, but that will be more than good enough unless you’re planning on shooting for 30-foot high billboards.

Maximum ISO – not something to worry about

Another number used more for new camera marketing purposes than for the actual taking of photographs is the maximum aperture. And although the A6400 and the A6600 do go one stop higher than the A6100, it is another thing that’s so similar and at the same time quite unimportant that it’s in this section too.

Digital cameras have a native ISO and an extended one too, to help you shoot in low light. The first of these values is what the sensor can reach, and the second is what the software can then push it up to with some further processing. The specs for these three cameras, with the native followed by the extended, are as follows:

  • Sony A6100: ISO 32000 / ISO 51200
  • Sony A6400: ISO 32000 / ISO 102400
  • Sony A6600: ISO 32000 / ISO 102400

For most cameras though, even going near that native ISO 32000 value is going to result in a lot of noise and loss of quality in your image. And I’ve never found it necessary to go above ‘just’ ISO 3200, even when shooting street photos at night. So for reasons of both usefulness and how often you’ll use it, I would say don’t worry about the maximum ISO of these cameras.

Sale
Sony Alpha A6100 Mirrorless Camera with 16-50mm Zoom Lens, Black (ILCE6100L/B)
  • World’s fastest AF at 0 02 sec W/ real-time AF & Object tracking
  • Wide 425-phase/425-contrast detection AF points over 84% of sensor
  • 24 2MP APS-C Exmor sensor w/ front end LSI and ISO up to 51 200

LCD touchscreen – same resolution, same flip-up

While the viewfinder on the A6100 has an inferior resolution to those on the A6400 and the A6600, the LCD screen on the back of all three cameras is exactly the same in terms of both form and function.

To elaborate, they all have 2.4 million dot touchscreens and they all include Sony’s Touch Tracking feature, which allows you to easily focus on and then track a subject moving across the frame. This is available for both photo and video shooting.

I’ve always found a slightly tilted screen very useful for shooting street photography from the hip, but these three go a lot further than that. With a full 180-degree flip-up mechanism, they’re all ideal if you’re planning on vlogging or shooting a lot of selfies with your compact Sony mirrorless too.

sony alpha 6400 flip screen

Autofocus performance – only slightly better on the A6600

Autofocus was first released to the mass market in the late 1970s, in the Konica C35 AF point ‘n’ shoot. In 2006, it was taken a step further with face detection technology. And in 2013, Sony raised the bar again with the first eye detection autofocus.

The point of this history lesson is that the A6100, A6400, and the A6600 all feature Eye AF. This works when shooting animals as well as humans. All three cameras have 425 phase and 425 contrast detection points, and are said to acquire focus in 0.02 seconds in normal circumstances.

The only difference between the three models when it comes to autofocus is the A6600 supports Eye AF when shooting video while the A6100 and A6400 don’t, although they do still have great video tracking and face detection. Simply put then, if Eye AF in video is important, go for the A6600. If it isn’t, you can leave autofocus capabilities out of your buying decision.

Sony Alpha A6600 Mirrorless Camera with 18-135mm Zoom Lens
  • World’s fastest AF at 0. 02 sec. W/ real-time AF & Object tracking
  • 24. 2MP APS-C Exmor sensor w/ front end LSI and is up to 102, 400
  • Wide 425-phase/425-contrast detection AF points over 84% of sensor

FPS and buffer – pretty much the same in real terms

The number of photographs you can continuously take is determined by two metrics. First is the FPS, which dictates how many shots – or frames – you can fire off per second. All three cameras here offer 11 frames per second at the high end, although you do lose live view with that, or you can go with 8 frames per second on a more normal setting.

The other factor here is the buffer, which holds these frames until they can be processed onto the memory card. When the buffer is full, the frames per second rate will slow down until it’s emptied out a little. This means having a bigger buffer will help you shoot at your maximum FPS for longer.

This is where the slight difference is found between these cameras, with the A6100 having a slightly smaller buffer. At full speed, it can process standard 77 JPEGs or 33 RAW files. The A6400 and the A6600 can both get through 116 standard JPEGs or 46 RAW files in the same time.

When you consider how long you’d need to continuously shoot to see this difference though, I do wonder how much it matters in real terms.

sony alpha 6400 back

Image quality – no difference in most cases

The last of our similarities between the Sony A6100, the A6400, and the A6600 is one that can get overlooked when you get bogged down in the weeds of all the different features they have. But it’s also one of the single most important things to keep in mind when deciding which one to buy.

With the same sensor giving you the same number of megapixels – for what they’re worth – the image quality of a well-taken photograph on all three of these cameras is going to be pretty much the same. And if you’re only going to be publishing them online or making small prints, there’ll be no discernible difference at all.

Yes, the battery life on the A6600 means more shots between charges and the IBIS will help you keep things steadier. The weather sealing on the A6400 and the A6600 will help protect your camera. Every advanced feature can help you get your shots in some way. But the image quality of those shots, whichever model you have, is going to be the same.

Sony Alpha A6100 vs A6400 vs A6600: which to buy?

So even with all that said and all those aspects covered, you might still be wondering which of these cameras to buy. I can’t answer that for you, but I can give a simple piece of advice to hopefully help you out.

You should buy the cheapest one that has the features you really need. For me, that would rule out the A6600. The battery life on the A6100 and the A6400 is plenty and I’ve always been just fine without in-body image stabilisation too.

Spending less on your camera body frees up some cash to do one of the single best things you can do to produce better photographs too. And that is to buy a prime lens like the Sony 35mm f1.8 or the Sony 50mm f1.8.

To read more on why this is recommended, check out this article on 35mm lenses and also this one on 50mm lenses.

That said, it might be that you need everything the A6600 brings that the other two don’t. If that’s the case, I’m sure you’ll be very happy with your purchase of that too.

The Sony Alpha A6100 vs A6400 vs A6600 question is one that can take a lot of research to figure out, and even after doing some, only you can decide which one to go for.

I just hope this guide has helped you to make your decision.  🙂  If it has, you can check the current prices of all three of these cameras at Amazon and B&H Photo through the links below:

If you found that guide to the differences between the A6100, A6400, and A6600 useful and want to dig deeper into the topic of mirrorless cameras, why not take a look at these other posts too:

  1. The best mirrorless cameras for shooting vintage lenses
  2. The best mirrorless cameras for your street photography
  3. Complete guide to buying a mirrorless for vintage lenses camera

And if you think others will also find this useful, help them find it by sharing or pinning.  😀

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