If you are confused by all the camera buttons and the long list of menu options in your Sony A6400, you are not the only one struggling with it. The Sony A6400 is an advanced mirrorless camera designed for both enthusiasts and professionals, so it has many complex functions and features. In this article, we will go over important information on what settings are recommended for day-to-day photography and videography needs, as well as explain what some of these settings do.
Before we dive deep into the camera menu, let’s first go over the external controls. Similar to its predecessor, the A6400 has many menu options, but there are some things that you can only control through external controls.
1) Camera Mode Dial and C1 / C2
The top plate on the Sony A6400 is uncluttered, which thankfully makes it easy to figure things out. Aside from the hot shoe and camera’s built-in flash, there are only two dials and one function button you will be dealing with. The first dial close to the flash unit is the camera mode dial. This is where you set the main camera operating mode, whether it is Program, Aperture Priority, Shutter Priority, Manual, Auto, Scene or Memory Recall modes.
As explained in our aperture priority mode article, Spencer and I usually choose Apertuire Priority over other camera modes, since it gives us control over lens aperture and the camera does the rest of the exposure calculation work, which works really well in most cameras, including the Sony A6400. There are other modes that are specifically used for things like panoramas and movies, but you will rarely use those.
This leaves three modes that I find to be the most useful on the A6400: Aperture Priority, Manual and Memory Recall. Although the Memory Recall (labeled as “1” and “2” on the dial) mode is targeted at more advanced photographers who want to store settings for different situations, I would encourage every A6400 owner to explore this mode, since it can be very useful when changing from one shooting scenario to another. All you have to do is access the camera menu, as shown in the camera menu below, save your settings in one of the memory banks and you will be good to go. If you don’t want to go that route yet, I would encourage you to try using the Aperture Priority mode instead of the Program Mode, Auto or Scene modes.
The right dial is a function dial that can be used for different purposes depending on what mode you are in. In Aperture Priority and Manual modes, for example, the dial is used to adjust lens aperture, while in Shutter Priority mode, it changes the camera shutter speed. Once you set your camera to Aperture Priority mode, you just use this right dial to tweak the lens aperture.
The C1 function button next to the camera on/off switch / shutter release is used for changing the Focus Mode by default. I personally prefer to keep that function in the C1 button, but you can change it to one of many other available functions through the camera menu, as explained below.
2) Rear Buttons
The rear side of the Sony A6400 is a lot more functional compared to others, thanks to a number of different navigation and function buttons. Similar to its predecessor, the A6400 is definitely “right-heavy” on the back, with almost all buttons located to the right of the camera LCD. The flash button (the one with flash icon) is a physical button that opens up the pop-up flash. It is not programmable like most other buttons. The Menu button located right next to it obviously opens up the camera menu – that’s where you make changes to the camera. Here is how the back of the camera looks:
At the top right side of the camera you will find the AEL (Auto Exposure Lock) / AF/MF (Autofocus / Manual Focus) switch with a button in the middle. This button is meant to be used in conjunction with the switch and its function changes depending on what you set the switch to. By default, if you keep the switch on AF/MF, the button will perform “AF/MF Control Hold”. While this can be handy for holding the button and rotating the focus ring to make quick focus adjustments (the camera switches to manual focus when the button is pressed), I personally prefer changing this button to “AF On”. This way, the button is used purely for back-button focusing and can also be used to focus and recompose (although you don’t really need to do that anymore thanks to such superb focus point coverage). When the dial is set to “AEL”, I let the camera hold my exposure, which is the default behavior (AEL hold). This can be useful when shooting manual panoramas, where each image must have the same exposure. We will go through the process of configuring all this further down below.
To the right of this switch, almost on the side of the camera, you will find a red button that is used for recording videos.
2.1) Fn / Function Button
The Fn (Function) button is a very useful button that you will be using a lot to make quick changes to the most important camera settings such as ISO, White Balance, Drive and Focus modes, etc. Although you can modify and customize the function menu when the button is pressed, I personally find the default values to work quite well. Let’s go through these real quick:
Drive Mode: I mostly keep it at “Single Shooting”, but sometimes switch to Self-Timer when photographing on a tripod to avoid camera vibrations.
Focus Mode: The default “AF-A” (Automatic AF, which is a combination of AF-S and AF-C modes) should work well for most scenarios, but if you need to switch to continuous or manual focus, this is where you do it from.
Focus Area: Flexible Spot: M. This mode works great for selective focusing. Unfortunately, by default, there is no quick way to change the focus point. But don’t worry, there is a way to set the center button of the rear rotary dial (the one below the “Fn” button), so that when you press the button, you will be able to easily move the focus points. We will set this up later on in the camera menu
Exposure Compensation: 0.0, I prefer to use the rear bottom button on the rotary dial for accessing exposure compensation instead.
ISO: Set this one to “ISO Auto”, so that the camera chooses ISO automatically for you. The ISO Auto feature works really well and has all the features of modern Auto ISO implementations found on Nikon and Canon cameras. I usually leave Minimum ISO at 100, while setting Maximum ISO to 3200 – anything above ISO 3200 is too noisy for my taste. While you can only see the minimum and maximum ISO options within this setting, you can also navigate to the camera menu and set the minimum shutter speed in ISO Auto mode (ISO AUTO Min. SS option in Exposure1 sub-menu). By default, the camera will set the shutter speed using the reciprocal rule, but you can change values from “Slower” all the way to “Faster”, as well as being able to set a particular shutter speed you want to stick to.
Metering Mode: Multi, but sometimes I change to Spot metering when a situation calls for it (see my article on metering modes)
Flash Mode: Auto. Don’t like using that small pop-up flash!
Flash Comp: 0.0
White Balance: AWB (Auto White Balance)
Creative Style: Standard. Don’t bother with creative styles, as they are irrelevant when shooting in RAW.
Quality: RAW, of course.
Shoot Mode: Aperture Priority (changes depending on your shooting mode)
2.2) Navigation and Other Rear Buttons
The multi-functional navigation dial on the back of the camera is very useful and can be used to navigate through the camera menu, make quick exposure changes, as well as access specific functions by pressing each of the four corners. “DISP” switches between different views on the camera LCD; “ISO” allows changing camera ISO; the left side is used to access camera drive mode, while the bottom side is for making exposure compensation adjustments.
There are two extra buttons beneath the multi-functional navigation dial – Playback and C2 / Trash. Playback is obviously to play back images on the LCD and the C2 / Trash button can be used to delete unwanted images during playback. When the camera is not in Playback mode, the C2 serves as another programmable function key. By default, this button is set to nothing on the A6400, but I changed mine to serve as “ISO AUTO Min. SS”, so that I can make quick adjustments to my minimum shutter speed when using ISO Auto. Again, we will go over the custom button configuration further down below.
3) Camera Menu
As stated before in other articles, I do not find Sony’s menu system particularly user-friendly – it is a rather cluttered and out of place menu system. Although the Sony A6500 adopts the newer menu system from the third generation Sony A7-series cameras, it is still a rather cluttered and out of place menu system. Lots of menu options to go through, with different functions thrown under random menus. Even the menu system of Olympus cameras, which I find to be rather complex to navigate through, is more organized in comparison. Sony really needs to hire a good UI designer to take care of this. Let’s go through each menu setting.
3.1) Shooting Menu 1 (Page 1, Quality/Image Size1)
- File Format: RAW
- JPEG Quality: Extra fine
- JPEG Image Size: Default (-), grayed out in RAW
- Aspect Ratio: 3:2
- Panorama: Size -> Standard (only visible in Panorama mode)
- Panorama: Direction -> Right (from Left to Right, visible in Panorama mode)
3.2) Shooting Menu 1 (Page 2, Quality/Image Size2)
- Long Exposure NR: On
- High ISO NR: Default (-), grayed out in RAW
- Color Space: Although color space does not matter for RAW files, I use AdobeRGB because it gives a slightly more accurate histogram to determine the correct exposure (since the camera shows histogram based on camera-rendered JPEG image, even if you shoot exclusively in RAW).
- Lens Comp.: Irrelevant when shooting RAW
Shading Comp.: Off
Chro. Aber. Comp.: Off
Distortion Comp.: Off
3.3) Shooting Menu 1 (Page 3, Shoot Mode/Drive1)
- Auto Mode: Default (-), grayed out and only visible when switching to “Auto” mode on the top dial
- Scene Selection: Default (-), grayed out, but will show a bunch of scenes when in Scene mode
- S. Auto Img. Extract.: grayed out in Aperture Priorty. Only works in Superior Auto mode
- Drive Mode: Single Shooting
- Bracket Settings:
Selftimer during Brkt: 2 Sec
Bracket order: – -> 0 -> +
- Interval Shoot Func.: built-in intervalometer, configure as needed
3.4) Shooting Menu 1 (Page 4, Shoot Mode/Drive2
- Memory Recall (1 and 2): only available when when MR 1 or MR 2 mode is selected on the top of the camera.
- Memory (1 and 2): going here will save all the current settings in one of the selected presets. I usually toggle between two presets – for Landscapes and People. For landscapes, I set camera mode to Aperture Priority, Manual Focus, ISO to 100, turn Auto ISO off and turn off other irrelevant settings such as face registration. For portraits, I set the camera to AF-A focus mode, ISO to Auto, and tweak other relevant settings.
- Reg. Custom Shoot Set: default
3.5) Shooting Menu 1 (Page 5, AF1)
- Focus Mode: Automatic AF (AF-A)
- Priority Set in AF-S: Balanced Emphasis
- Priority Set in AF-C: Balanced Emphasis
- Focus Area: Flexible Spot
- Focus Area Limit: Default
- Switch V/H AF Area: Off
3.6) Shooting Menu 1 (Page 6, AF2)
- AF Illuminator: Auto
- Face/Eye AF Set.:
Face Priority in AF: On
Right/Left Eye Select: Auto
Face Detect. Frame Disp.: On
- AF w/ shutter: On – if you want to use the rear focus button and focus and recompose, set it to Off and use the button on the AF/MF dial on the back of the camera, as explained earlier.
- Pre-AF: Off
- Eye-Start AF: Off – do not enable this, as it could drain the battery. This setting will automatically detect if you are using the viewfinder and try to focus. And if you put it against your body, the camera will indefinitely try to acquire focus.
- AF Area Registration: Off
3.7) Shooting Menu 1 (Page 7, AF3)
- Del. Registr. AF Area: —
- AF Area Auto Clear: Off
- Disp. cont. AF area: On
- Circ. of Focus Point: Does Not Circulate
- AF Micro Adj: Off, don’t do this unless you want to calibrate a lens
3.8) Shooting Menu 1 (Page 8, Exposure1)
- Exposure Comp: 0.0
- ISO Setting:
ISO: ISO AUTO
ISO Range Limit: 100-12800
ISO AUTO Min. SS: Standard, but you can change it to “Fast” or “Faster” if you have shaky hands
- Metering Mode: Multi
- Face Priority in Multi…: On
- Spot Metering Point: Focus Point Link
- Exposure Step: 0.3EV
3.9) Shooting Menu 1 (Page 9, Exposure2)
- AEL w/ shutter: Auto
- Exposure Std. Adjust: Don’t touch this unless you know what you are doing
3.10) Shooting Menu 1 (Page 10, Flash)
- Flash Mode: Fill-flash
- Flash Comp. 0.0
- Exp.comp.set: Ambient&flash
- Wireless Flash: Off
- Red Eye Reduction: Off
3.11) Shooting Menu 1 (Page 11, Color/WB/Img.Processing1)
- White Balance: Auto
- Priority Set in AWB: Standard
- DRO / Auto HDR: Off
- Creative Style: Standard
- Picture Effect: Off (grayed out in RAW mode)
- Picture Profile: Off
3.12) Shooting Menu 1 (Page 12, Color/WB/Img.Processing2)
- Soft Skin Effect: Off (grayed out in RAW mode)
- Shutter AWB Lock: Cont. Shooting
3.13) Shooting Menu 1 (Page 13, Focus Assist)
- Focus Magnifier: Used for zooming in while focusing. I set my “C1” button to do this, as explained above.
- Focus Magnif. Time: No Limit
- Initial Focus Mag.: x1.0
- AF in Focus Mag.: On
- MF Assist: On – a great feature that automatically zooms in when you move the focus ring in manual focus mode.
- Peaking Setting: focus peaking only works in MF mode
3.14) Shooting Menu 1 (Page 14, Shooting Assist)
- Face Registration: Access this to register people’s faces
- Regist. Faces Priority: On
- Smile Shutter: Off
- Auto Object Framing: Off (grayed out in RAW mode)
- Self-portrait/ -timer: On
3.15) Shooting Menu 2 (Page 1, Movie1)
- Movie Exposure Mode: Aperture Priority (only available in Movie Mode)
- S&Q Exposure Mode: —
- File Format: XAVC S 4K
- Record Setting: 24p 50M
- S&Q Settings:
Record Setting: 24p
Frame Rate: 120 fps
- Proxy Recording: Off
3.16) Shooting Menu 2 (Page 2, Movie2)
- AF Drive Speed: Normal
- AF Tracking Sens: Standard
- Auto Slow Shut.: On
- Initial Focus Mag.: x1.0
- Audio Recording: On
- Audio Rec Level: 25 (change depending on needs)
3.17) Shooting Menu 2 (Page 3, Movie3)
- Audio Level Display: On
- Wind Noise Reduct.: Off
- Marker Display: On
- Marker Settings: All Off (depending on your video shooting needs)
- Movie w/ shutter: On
3.18) Shooting Menu 2 (Page 4, Shutter/SteadyShot)
- Silent Shooting: Off
- e-Front Curtain Shut.: On. Good idea to keep Electronic Front Curtain Shutter turned On to avoid shutter shock.
- Release w/o Lens: Enable
- Release w/o Card: Disable
- SteadyShot: On. By default I would recommend to keep this setting On, but if you shoot from a tripod, you should turn SteadyShot Off.
3.19) Shooting Menu 2 (Page 5, Zoom)
- Zoom: Default (-), grayed out in RAW
- Zoom Setting: Optical zoom only
- Zoom Ring Rotate: Default, only available with some lenses
3.20) Shooting Menu 2 (Page 6, Display/Auto Review1)
- DISP Button:
Monitor: “No Disp Info”, “Histogram”, “Level” and “For viewfinder” checked. Display All Info is too cluttered and Graphic Display occupies too much of the screen.
Finder: “No Disp. Info”, “Histogram” and “Level” checked.
- FINDER/MONITOR: Auto – will automatically switch between viewfinder and LCD.
- Finder Frame Rate: Standard
- Zebra Setting:
Zebra Display: Off
Zebra Level: —
- Grid Line: Rule of 3rds Grid
- Exposure Set. Guide: On
3.21) Shooting Menu 2 (Page 7, Display/Auto Review2)
- Live View Display: Setting Effect ON
- Auto Review: 2 Sec
3.22) Shooting Menu 2 (Page 8, Custom Operation1)
- Stills Custom Key:
Custom Button 1: Focus Mode.
Custom Button 2: ISO AUTO Min. SS
Center Button: Focus Standard
Left Button: Drive Mode
Right Button: ISO
Down Button: Exposure Comp.
AEL Button: AEL hold
AF/MF Button: AF On
Focus Hold Button: Focus Hold
- Movie Custom Key: Default
- Custom Key (PB): Default
- Function Menu Set.: This is what controls what the menu looks like when you press the “Fn” button on the back of the camera. Function Upper and Lower – leave these at default, unless you know what you are doing
- My Dial Settings: Default
- Dial/Wheel Setup: This is to control what the dials do in Manual Mode. Rear Dial SS, Top Dial F/no.
3.23) Shooting Menu 2 (Page 9, Custom Operation2)
- Av/Tv Rotate: Normal
- Dial/Wheel Ev Comp: Wheel – since the lens aperture is controlled with the top dial, I like to use the rear dial for exposure compensation.
- Func. of Touch Oper…: Touch Focus
- MOVIE Button: Always – will record movie any time without going into Movie Mode
- Dial / Wheel Lock: Unlock
- Audio signals: Off
3.24) Wireless 1 and 2
I don’t care for or use these, but if you are planning to transfer images to your smartphone from the camera, this is where you would do it all from. If you are not planning to do that, it might be best to keep “Airplane Mode: On” to save battery life.
I don’t usually use any applications, but you can use things like Smart Remote to remotely control the camera.
3.26) Playback 1 and 2
- Display Rotation: Off – I don’t like it when the camera flips verticals and ends up with all that dead space – I would rather rotate the camera myself and see the whole image.
- Other settings are used for accessing specific playback functions
3.27) Setup1 (Page 1)
- Monitor Brightness: Manual
- Viewfinder Brightness: Auto works pretty well
- Finder Color Temp.: 0
- Gamma Disp. Assist: Off
- Volume Settings: 7
- Tile Menu: Off – you don’t want extra icons to access the menu
3.28) Setup 2
- Mode Dial Guide: Off – won’t display the guide when changing camera modes
- Delete confirm: “Delete” first – don’t want to scroll when I need to delete something
- Display Quality: Standard
- Pwr Save Start Time: 1 Min
- Auto Pwr OFF Temp.: Standard
- NTSC/PAL Selector: Don’t touch unless you know what you are doing
3.29) Setup 3
- Cleaning Mode: used for cleaning the camera sensor
- Touch Operation: On
- Touch Panel/Pad: Touch Panel+Pad (change depending on your requirements)
- Touch Pad Settings:
Touch Pad Vertical: On
Touch Pad Area Set.: Right 1/2 Area
- Demo Mode: Off, grayed out
- TC/UB Settings: Don’t touch unless you know what you are doing
3.30) Setup 4
- Remote Ctrl: Off (turn on for remote control via a smartphone / tablet)
- HDMI Settings:
HDMI Resolution: Auto
24p/60p Output: 60p
HDMI Info. Display: On
TC Output: Off
REC Control: –
CTRL FOR HDMI: On
- 4K Output Sel.: Memory Card+HDMI
- USB Connection: Auto
- USB LUN Setting: Multi
- USB Power Supply: On
3.31) Setup 5
- PC Remote Settings: PC Only
- Language: English
- Date/Time Setup: Set up Date/Time
- Area Setting: Set up Timezone
- Copyright Info: For adding copyright info metadata to images
- Format: for formatting SD memory card
3.32) Setup 6
- File Number: Series
- Set File Name: DSC
- Select REC Folder: Skip this
- New Folder: Skip this
- Folder Name: Standard Form
- Recover Image DB: Skip this
3.33) Setup 7
- Display Media Info.: Shows what’s on the card
- Version: Display firmware version
- Setting Reset: will reset the camera settings or reinitialize the camera
I hope you found this recommended settings article useful. Keep in mind that the above settings work for me and they might not necessarily suit your needs. It is best that you explore your camera and learn about each function and button as much as you can in order to take advantage of all the available features and customization options your camera offers!