Action-packed: Sony a6500 review
The Sony a6500 is the company's top-tier APS-C mirrorless model, a 24MP stills and video camera with image stabilization. It sits above the similar-looking a6300 in Sony's lineup, adding touchscreen capability and stabilization for enthusiasts willing to dig a little deeper into their pockets.
- 24MP APS-C CMOS sensor with 425 phase detection points
- 2.36M-dot OLED EVF
- Tilting rear touchscreen
- 5-axis in-body image stabilization
- 11 fps continuous shooting for up to 300 JPEGs / 100 Raws
- 1/4000 sec maximum shutter speed
As should be apparent, many of its core specifications are shared with the a6300 - itself a DPReview Gold winning camera. The biggest differences are the touchscreen, the image stabilization and a 'Front End LSI' (processing chip) to allow faster and more complex processing. There are also a few small tweaks, such as the addition of a highlight spot metering mode.
The touch sensitivity of the rear screen can be used for your choice of two things: as an touchscreen for positioning the focus point or triggering focus and shutter, or as a touchpad, when the camera is held to your eye.
The added processing oomph promises a more responsive camera: one that allows immediate image review even when shooting bursts of images. The a6500 also gains a much-needed update to Sony's menu system, adding color-coding to make it easier to recognize and remember different parts of the menu.
This change to the menu, and the addition of a quick way of setting AF point immediately address two of our biggest frustrations with the a6300. However, Sony is making no claims about improvements in terms either of rolling shutter or of recording longevity. With the most recent firmware, the a6300 can often record 4K video for the full 29:59 duration that the camera allows but this is not always possible in warm conditions or if you've just shot a long clip. Sony only claims 'about 20 minutes' of 4K recording for both cameras.
Despite being positioned significantly further up the market, the a6500 uses the same form factor (and dial arrangement) as both the mid-range a6300 and the entry-level a6000. Although all three cameras have two control dials, they are arranged so that both must be controlled using the thumb and, for many people, requiring the hand to be repositioned when switching from one to the other. Such a limitation is reasonable at the a6000 end of the market but seems an odd fit for a $1400 camera.
The other similarity with the 6300 that seems even more odd at this level is Sony's decision to only offer lossy compressed Raw, limiting their processing latitude.
This table compares how the a6500 compares with Fujifilm's fairly similarly-priced X-T2 (probably the most capable rival in terms of stills and video shooting).
|Sony a6500||Fujifilm X-T2||Sony a6300|
|MSRP (Body only)||$1400||$1600||$1000|
|ISO Range||100-25600 (51200 with multi-shot NR)||200-51200||100-25600 (51200 with multi-shot NR)|
|AF Point control||Touchscreen/touchpad||Joystick||4-way controller|
|Card slots||1 x UHS I||2 x UHS II||1 x UHS I|
|USB||USB 2.0||USB 3.0||USB 2.0|
|Continuous Shooting rate||11fps||14fps (e-shutter)
|Rear screen||Tilting up/down touchscreen||Dual tilt: Up/down/right||Tilting up/down|
|Image stabilization||In-body (+In-lens where available)||In-lens||In-lens|
|4K video capability||UHD 4K at 24/25/30p||UHD 4K at 24/25/30p||UHD 4K at 24/25/30p|
|4K video crop||
24/25p Full Width
|1.17x crop||24/25p Full Width
30p 1.23x crop
|4K video duration||Up to 20 minutes (temperature dependent)||~10 minutes
(Up to 29:59 with optional grip)
|Up to 29:59 (temperature dependent)|
|Video log profile||S-Log2 & S-Log3 with extensive video-focused Picture Profile settings||F-Log (over HDMI only)||S-Log2 & S-Log3 with extensive video-focused Picture Profile settings|
|USB Charging (USB Power?)||Yes/Yes||Yes/No||Yes/Yes|
|Battery life - CIPA (Rear screen/EVF)||350/310||340||400/350|
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