The Alpha A6500 is Sony’s flagship APS-C mirrorless camera, and boy does it pack a lot of techs.
Sony left it just six months before updating the Alpha A6300 with the A6500, but while this might sound like a premature upgrade, the Alpha 6500 gains a number of key features, including in-body image stabilization to further blur the line between Sony’s APS-C lineup and its Alpha 7 full-frame range of mirrorless cameras.
Update: Sony Alpha a6600 Review
Check Out: Best Lenses for Sony a6500
Sony Alpha a6500: Price
Sony has also equipped its new camera with a greatly enhanced buffer to make it a tempting proposition for shooting action, while additionally, there is the welcome addition of a touchscreen interface. The inclusion of these brand-new features makes the A6500 one of the most fully-featured crop-sensor cameras on the market right now.
Sony Alpha a6500: Features
While the Sony A6500 sticks with the Alpha 6300’s 24.2MP APS-C sensor and a 4D focus system (with 425 phase-detect AF points), there are welcome improvements elsewhere.
It’s notably the 1st Sony APS-C camera to come with 5-axis in-body picture stabilization, just while we’ve seen with Sony’s second-generation Alpha 7 series of cameras like the Alpha A7R II. And the great news is that this not only works with Sony’s non-stabilized optics but can be used in conjunction with Sony’s OSS stabilized lenses.
Sony, in addition, has overhauled the buffer of the A6500, delivering a considerable boost in performance that sees the camera capable of capturing 307 full-size JPEG data files or 107 raws, all at a quick 11fps burst rate – quite an improvement from the A6300’s 44 JPEG and 22 raw limits.
A faster large-scale integration (LSI) chip and image processing algorithm improves texture reproduction while reducing noise. With this new chipset and code, the A6500 specifically produces less sound in the mid-to-high portions of the camera’s ISO100-25,600 (expandable up to ISO51,200) sensitivity range.
The Alpha 6500 also gains a touchscreen (though the resolution remains at the same 921k-dots), allowing you to change your focus point on the fly, which can be really useful when shooting video.
Likewise, there’s the same XGA OLED Tru-Finder, with a 2.36-million dots resolution and 120hz maximum refresh rate, as on the A6300, although the eyecup is a little softer.
Sony Alpha a6500: Build and handling
Outwardly, the Sony A6500 is largely identical to its predecessor. It’s still a half-metal, half-plastic building built around a magnesium framework, while elements such as the power switch, battery hatch, and settings are plastic.
The A6500 is a smidge thicker than the A6300, at 53mm compared with 49mm, to accommodate the in-body image stabilization system; both cameras are 120mm wide and 67mm tall. The extra components also add 49 grams to the weight, bringing the A6500 in at 453g (1lb).
A deeper hold is one notable modify that we actually appreciate, as it allows us to get a better hold of the camera. Where the A6300 had a single custom function button to the right of the shutter switch, the A6500 offers two, both located between the shutter key and the mode dial.
Because of relatively clean design on the top of the camera, the A6500 is able to present both a built-in flash and a multi-interface shoe in addition to the electronic viewfinder, together with two large dials – a control dial and another for changing the shooting setting.
As we’ve seen with the A6300, the back of the A6500 follows a tried-and-tested formula, with a handful of well-marked handles and the loosely moving control wheel enabling you to navigate menus and scrutinize images with ease.
The 3.0-inch display pulls away easily from the trunk of the camera, while it’s stiff enough to remain in the position to which it’s modified. That limited versatility of the touchscreen control is certainly disappointing though – it’s only useful for changing the concentrated point while taking photos and video, although you may also use it as a touchpad to change your focusing point while looking through the viewfinder – a feature we’ve seen on the Fujifilm X-T20 and Olympus Pen-F. If you’re wanting to swipe through photos, pinch to zoom and have more interaction with on-screen controls, forget it.
Sony Alpha a6500: Performance
While we’ve mentioned, the Sony A6500 is a veritable speed demon, thanks to processing speeds being comprehensively boosted over the A6300.
The A6500 has been treated to the Alpha A99 II’s potent processing engine. This gives the A6500 a burst shooting buffer of up to 307 JPEGs when shooting at 8fps, giving you 35 mere seconds of firepower. On the other hand, at 11fps the camera can capture 200 JPEGs in one bout or 107 raws.
The A6500’s multi-zone metering system didn’t get thrown by tricky lighting either, metering flawlessly on the dot without overexposure or underexposure.
As with most Sony cameras we’ve tested recently, the A6500’s auto white balance can be a little sticky and doesn’t change instantaneously, although it will adapt faster than previous models. There are about a dozen white balance modes, including three custom settings that you can meticulously tweak to the proper color heat range and tint.
Battery life about the Sony A6500 is average at best. Although it’s rated for 350 shots, we just got through about half a night of shooting pictures and a few minutes of 4K footage. You’ll need to pick up a few spare batteries, especially if you plan to shoot Ultra HD movies, which drains the camera at a rate of 1% per minute of video.
Sony Alpha a6500: Key Features
- 24.2 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
- 5-axis sensor-based image stabilisation
- 3inch tilting touch-screen (touch-AF), 921k dots
- 2.36m dot EVF, 0.7x magnification
- New front-end LSI and BIONZ X
- 425 Phase Detection AF points (with 84% sensor coverage)
- 0.05sec AF
- 11fps continuous shooting with AF
- 200,000 cycle shutter unit rating
- 4K video (30,25,24p) 100Mbps (from 20mp / 6K image)
- ISO100 to ISO51200
- Dust and moisture-resistant magnesium alloy body
- 3inch tilting touch-screen,
- Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, NFC
Sony Alpha a6500: Conclusion
There’s the paradox in the centre of the A6500. It’s styled just like a rangefinder but built with the energy and rate of a sports activities camera, plus 4K video features made to tempt serious and expert videographers.
Well, it’s simply the wrong form. With a little regular zoom or perhaps a prime lens, the A6500 handles pretty much, but with the type of zoom lens you’d make use of for severe sports digital photography, the balance will be hopelessly front-heavy. Sure, it is possible to improve the dealing with lengthy and/or weighty lenses by fitting the optional electric battery grip, but you’re paying additional.
Anyone doing your research for a fresh camera may also see that it is more costly than the full-frame The7 II design. This isn’t the only real instance where Sony offers crammed high-driven processing into a normally unassuming digital camera; the RX100 Tag V will be another example. It creates for amazing specifications but pushes the purchase price up method beyond more standard rivals.