Video

The following are the options while the camera is in NTSC mode. Switching to PAL replaces 120/60/30 options with 100/50/25 respectively (24p is not available in PAL mode).

The camera also offers a Dual Video REC option that captures a lower-quality, more sharable MP4 movie in parallel with your main clip, if you're shooting at 30p or lower frame rate.

Format Resolution Frame Rate Bitrate (mbps)
XAVC S
  • 3840 x 2160
  • 30p*
  • 24p
  • 100/60
  • 100/60
  • 1920 x 1080
  • 60p
  • 30p
  • 24p
  • 120p*
  • 50
  • 50
  • 50
  • 100/60
AVCHD
  • 1920 x 1080
  • 60i
  • 60p
  • 24p
  • 24/17
  • 28
  • 24/17
MP4**
  • 1920 x1080
  • 60p
  • 30p
  • 28
  • 16
  • 1280 x 720
  • 30p
  • 6

* Taken from a cropped region of the sensor (4K/25p is not)
** MP4 videos can be transferred from the camera via Wi-Fi but are limited to 4GB in size

Video crops:

• 4Kp/25/24
• 1080p/60/50/30/25/24
• 1080p/120/100 • 4Kp/30

Much like the a6300, most of the a6500's video modes are taken using the full width of the sensor meaning that your horizontal angle of view is not changed when you switch to video mode. However, the 120p and 100p modes of Full HD video are shot using a smaller, 1.14x crop in from here and 30p 4K imposes a still tighter, 1.23x crop.

Cropping has several effects: it means you need a shorter focal length to achieve a wide-angle shot and also means that your noise performance worsens, since you're effectively using a smaller sensor area. In 4K/30p mode, the a6500 is using a sensor area a fraction larger than a Four Thirds sensor. However, the benefit of using this smaller crop is that it can be read-out faster and consequently displays less rolling shutter.

Video handling

The camera offers focus peaking to aid manual focus, zebra warnings to help set exposure and can use Auto ISO and exposure compensation in manual exposure mode, making it a very powerful and flexible camera to shoot movies with. It's also able to use its phase detection autofocus in video mode, which provides the camera with an understanding of the distance between objects in the scene, meaning it rarely has to hunt, which would disrupt the footage it captures.

AF-C is the only autofocus mode available. You can either position the focus point manually or you can use Center Lock-on AF to specify the target that the camera will try to follow. Tapping the screen locks onto a target. There's no option to use AF Lock but the camera tends to err on the side of holding focus, rather than jumping around and there are menu options to define the speed of refocusing and how tenaciously the AF tracking will stick to its subject.

Sample Reel

Video Quality

Like the a6300, the a6500 is able to shoot highly detailed 4K footage. In 24 and 25p modes, it samples the full width of the sensor, demosaics and then downsizes, which gives an excellent level of detail, albeit with significant rolling shutter. These modes are highly prone to rolling shutter. The 30p mode (on the right) is slightly less detailed, with a touch more aliasing but exhibits considerably less rolling shutter.

1080 video is surprisingly poor by current standards, even taking a step backward from the original a6000, and falling far behind what the company's own RX100 cameras are capable of.

120p and Q&S mode video

The a6500 can shoot 1080/120p or 100p video at either 100 mbps or 60 mbps. This uses a slightly smaller crop from the sensor than the lower frame rate options, though not quite as tight a crop as the 4K/30p mode. There are some restrictions imposed by 120p shooting, including a loss of Center Lock-on AF and the loss of the Black Gamma option. In most respects it can be shot like any other footage.

The camera's S&Q mode exists as a separate series of exposure modes. This makes switching to and from S&Q mode fairly simple, but we'd suggest avoiding it completely. Capturing 1080/120p video in normal shooting modes gives you access to a higher quality 100 mbps mode.

The camera also has an S&Q (Slow and Quick) movie mode. This exists as a set of four movie exposure modes and allows video captures ranging from 120fps down to 1fps to be recorded such that they play back as fast or slow motion video.

The capture and output frame rates of S&Q mode are defines in a menu option called 'S&Q Settings' and can be assigned to the Fn Menu or a Fn button. 120p and 60p can be slowed down to 30p or 24p, while anything slower can be sped-up to 24, 30 or 60p.

Unlike normal 120p shooting, engaging one of the S&Q modes drops the capture bitrate to 60 mbps (which ends up as 16 mbps or 12 mbps, once it's been slowed down to 1/4 or 1/5th speed). If your editing software offers any option to speed up or slow down clips, it makes much more sense to capture 100 mbps 120p or 100p footage and slow it down yourself rather than restricting yourself to the lower quality setting by letting the camera do it.

Picture Profiles

The Picture Profile system includes a range of settings that adjust the tone curve and color response of the camera, with options to tweak the shape of the available tone curves' highlight and shadow responses and a choice of industry-standard color responses. These are likely to be pretty overwhelming to anyone coming from a stills background but, thankfully, Sony includes a series of presets that provide a good place to start.

Preset Name Description
PP1: [Movie] gamma
PP2: [Still] gamma
PP3: Natural color tone using the [ITU709] gamma
PP4: Color tone faithful to the ITU709 standard 
PP5: [Cine1] gamma
PP6: [Cine2] gamma
PP7: [S-Log2] gamma 
PP8: [S-Log3] gamma and [S-Gamut3.Cine] color mode.
PP9: [S-Log3] gamma and [S-Gamut3] color mode.

We'd highly recommend shooting some test footage and attempting to grade it before you just jump to the flattest profile and embark on a big project. Thankfully, the SLog gamma and gamut are widely used on Sony's professional line of video cameras so look-up tables (LUTs) that correct for these profiles are widely available.

An uncool solution to thermal management

The a6500, like many small cameras trying to shoot 4K video, is somewhat limited by its ability to dissipate heat.To help with this, the rear screen automatically dims when you shoot 4K footage, making it very difficult to shoot with, in bright light.

As with the a6300, the instruction manual states that, in standard mode, it can shoot 4K footage for approximately 20 minutes (in ambient temperatures 20-40°C / 68-140°F), which still puts it slightly ahead of many of its rivals. This figure is likely to be lower if you've had the camera switched on beforehand or have just been shooting footage.

To further extend this time, there's a menu option (Auto Pwr Off Temp) that allows you to over-ride the camera's temperature limit and keep shooting. This mode is only recommend when shooting on a tripod as it could allow the camera to become too hot to hand hold.