Sony Alpha a6500

24MP APS-C CMOS sensor | Hybrid AF system | 4K video capture

What we like:

  • Excellent JPEG and Raw image quality
  • Top-notch AF system
  • 5-axis in-body image stabilization
  • 4K video capture with extensive controls

What we don't:

  • Laggy and unresponsive touchscreen
  • No in-camera Raw conversion
  • Single top plate control dial
The a6500 is Sony's premium APS-C mirrorless offering. Its design and 24MP sensor might lead you to believe that it is a replacement for the mid-level a6300, but it is not: it's a higher-end product. Though it maintains the same hybrid AF system, viewfinder, video spec and 8 fps burst rate of the a6300, the a6500 adds a touchscreen, 5-axis image stabilization, more processing power and a deeper buffer.
Handling isn't the a6500's strongest point. The small body has a good number of control points but the user experience certainly benefits from extensive customization of the camera's function buttons and its Fn menu. The touchscreen can be used to select an AF point, which is a good answer to the lack of a joystick, however the touch interface is not as sensitive as we've come to expect from modern cameras.
For action photography the a6500's AF system, fast burst rate and a deep buffer make it a very tempting/capable choice
The a6500's autofocus performance is on par with similar-priced sports-oriented crop-sensor DSLRs : it's extremely quick to focus, highly dependable when subject tracking and particularly good at focusing wide-aperture lenses on people at close range, making it easy to get the shot you want in a wide variety of circumstances. 11 fps shooting (8 with live view) and a deep buffer than its mid-level sibling makes the a6500 a tempting choice for shooting sports.
Image quality is excellent, with class-leading detail retention and noise reduction in JPEGs, and flexible Raw files with plenty of dynamic range. JPEG processing is also very good, with class-leading sharpening and noise reduction, though the color could still use some work. The lack of in-camera Raw conversion is disappointing at this level.
The a6500 can shoot very impressive 4K/UHD footage or slightly less spectacular 1080 (though the ability to shoot 1080/120p can be useful, despite the middling quality). It also has a wide range of support tools and image parameters, including super-flat Log gamma curves, to help users capture some excellent video footage. Rolling shutter and temperature-limited shooting duration count against its otherwise impressive capability.
The Sony a6500 requires a greater degree of customization to get the best out of it than most of its rivals, and its ergonomics can't compare to DSLRs whose ergonomics have been iterated over decades. The touchscreen's lack of responsiveness is also a bit of a let down. However, its sheer capability and flexibility is outstanding. It has an excellent autofocus system, superb image quality and kicks out some of the best video footage we've seen.

Studio Test Scene | Specifications Compared

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