Sony A6500 Review

Sony A6500 Review – The Best Mirrorless Camera APS-C Ever!

The Sony a6500 is a faster, more awesome version of the Sony A6300

In the last couple of years, Sony has gone from being a competitor to Canon and Nikon to the leading innovator in photography. The Sony a6500/ ICLE-6500 is another example of how they keep pushing the envelope while the others sit back and fade away. The Sony a6500 mirrorless camera is a faster and more powerful version of the Sony A6300. In this Sony a6500 review, we will show you why this camera is hands down the best APC-C mirrorless camera ever.

Let's Jump into the Sony a6500 Review!

The Sony a6500 was released only eight short months after the a6300, introduces an enhanced interface, better shooting action, and new features that make it crush all of the APS-C cameras in its price range. 

Sony α6500 - Product Feature

Professional Looking Aesthetics

When it comes to the look of the Sony A6500, it is not very different than the previous model. It has a rugged all-magnesium alloy body. This design offers professional durability protecting the interior components of the camera.

The camera only weighs a little more than a pound, so it is easy to carry in your pack when you are hiking as well as in your hand when you are looking for the perfect shot. The small dimensions of the Sony A6500 make it easy to hold as well. It is less than five inches wide, and less than three inches thick, so even individuals with small hands can easily hold the camera.

Breathtakingly Sharp Images

The Sony A6500 is a great camera for capturing stills that are can be saved as a JPEG, RAW or JPEG, and RAW files. The a6500/ ILCE-6500 boasts a powerful 24-megapixel sensor that creates impressive images that are hard to imagine comes from such a small profile camera.

As you would expect, the colors and detail are incurably realistic. Obviously, this this is an important feature that you should expect a camera of this quality to have. The shadows and highlights that the Sony A6500 captures are quite stunning. When taking a shot of the edge of a lake, you can see the shadows and the sunlight hitting the water clearly

Sony a6500 Noise Reduction Setting

In low light situations, the clarity is a bit less but only enough to give the images a softer feel that some photographers look for in their art. There is a noise reduction option that you can use in these situations, or you can choose the multi-frame noise reduction option that reduces the overall noise from a few photos at once. I prefer to apply noise reduction in post vs. in camera.

The only thing that I did not like about his setting is that it does not work for motion shots. In fact, the image will become quite blurry if any movement occurs during the shot. For moving images, shutter speed mode is going to be the optimal option. The clarity that you can get in this mode is just amazing.

When this setting is not being used, there is an image stabilization system that allows the subject being captured to move on an axis that has a five directional leeway. This can help keep the image as sharp as possible.

The Sony A6500 Produces Amazing Videos

This would be a complete Sony a6500 review if we didn't talk video.The highest quality video that you can capture is 4K. When you are recording in this mode, the Sony A6500 actually captures video in 6K so that cropping does not need to be done to the finished video. Once the recording is complete, the video is reduced down to a 4K format.

Sony α6500 - High quality 4K movie

You can also record in full HD, which means that the recording will be in a smaller file than the higher quality video. In fact, recordings in 1080 only take up about half of the space.

There are three video formatting options that are offered with this camera, which are:​

VIDEO RECORD OPTIONS

File Format - Record Settings

XAVC S 4K - 30p 100M, 30p 60M, 24p 100M, 24p 60M

XAVC S HD - 60p 50M, 30p 50M, 24p 50M, 120p 100M, 120p 60M

AVCHD - 60i 24M (FX), 60i 17M (FX), 60p 28M (PS), 24p 24M (FX), 24p 17M (FH)

MP4 - 1080 60p 28M, 1080 30p 16M, 720 30p 6M

When you use the HD settings, you will also be able to record and play it back in slow motion, which is great for catching those priceless moments that are easy to miss. If you are capturing quick action video, the shutter button is in a relatively awkward position, so you may see a bit of shifting at the very start of the video that you are recording.

Sony α6500 - 5x Slow Motion in Full HD

Autofocus is fast and accurate.

One of the best features of this camera is the autofocus feature. When you use the auto focus option, you have the choice between seven different modes, which are:​

  • Wide​
  • Zone
  • Center
  • Three Flex Spot Options
  • Expanded Flex Spot
  • Each one has a lock-on mode that can be used as well that will help you maintain your focus.

If you want to customize the auto lock a bit more, you can use features such as face detection and eye autofocus to pinpoint the subject of your photo. I find that these features are amazingly quick; in fact, you can prioritize faces and track eyes quicker than you can manually focus. Since this is a touchscreen device, tapping the screen will force the device to focus, which could override any autofocus settings that you have enabled.

The 4D focus system that is present in the Sony A6500 is perfect for focusing on sports and wildlife. Filming or capturing these things typically means that a lot of movement could occur. There are 425 points of detection in this camera as well as 169 points of contrast that can be tracked. This means that the focus speed of this camera will exceed its competitors.

Sony alpha 6500 Fast Hybrid AF in 4K movies

Easy to Use Menus​

If you have used the A 6300, the first thing that you will notice on the Sony A6500 is that the menus have been redesigned. In fact, they have actually been color coded to make navigating them easier. Going from left to right on the display, you will see:

  • A red camera tab​
  • A purple camera tab
  • A dark green connectivity tab
  • A light green tab where your apps will be stored
  • A blue tab that is reserved for playbacks of your video
  • A yellow tab where you can adjust your setup

The two camera settings are designed with subsections that group the selections into logical categories. Camera one is mostly for images. Here are the subcategories:

  • Quality / Image Size​
  • Shoot Mode / Drive
  • AF
  • Exposure
  • Flash
  • Color / WB / Image Processing
  • Focus Assist
  • Face Detection / Shoot Detection

The second camera tab is where you can adjust your video options. These subcategories fall under that tab:

  • Movie​
  • Shutter / Steady Shot
  • Zoom
  • Display / Auto Review
  • Custom Operations

These menus may seem a bit confusing at first, but the subsections make it easy to find settings once you understand how the features are organized in the system. The Sony A6500 also has a lot of physical buttons on the camera that you can use instead of looking through the menus. Most of the buttons are located in a convenient place that you can easily access, even quicker than using the menus in some cases.

If you prefer to use the actual buttons, there are nine on the camera that you can customize. This allows you to have quick access to the photo needs that you use the most. You can even assign the same button to different functionalities that change when you change modes. Any function that you need to hold the button down to use cannot be assigned to a quick select button.

You can also customize the function menu if you choose. With this feature, you can set the menu to display up to 12 of the settings that you change frequently. I find this feature convenient for changing focus modes, flash modes, and shooting modes.

Touch Screen Capabilities​

One of the new features that makes this model a big improvement from the last one created by Sony is the fact that it has a touchscreen display that you can use to control most of the camera functions. There are three menu options that you can use to adjust the touchscreen to your liking, which are:

  • Touch operations- This option allows you to set the sensitivity of the LCD screen as well as determine whether the settings affect the touch panel, the touch pad, both, or neither.
  • Touch Pad (Vertical) – This allows you to either enable or disable the touch functionality when the camera is in vertical mode.
  • Touch Pad Area Setup – This allows you to set where the touch functionality works. You can apply touch options to your entire screen, but if you prefer less of an area, you can set it to half or one fourth of the screen as well. If you set it to a portion of the screen, it will always be enabled on the right most side of the LCD.

One of the best uses of this touch functionality is the fact that you can simply touch the screen to focus your camera. It is a quick method of focusing, but I have found that it does occasionally lag a little bit when you change the focus in still mode, so it is best to wait a second until you know that the camera has regained its point of focus. In addition, if you tap the screen by mistake, the focus point will lock.

The touch screen also works with the video mode. Touch focus is nice for pulling focus between two subjects. The lock-on modes that are great for recording video is not available at all, so you may have to re-center the focus as you are filming.

Options for Sharing​

​A lot of photographers like to quickly share their pictures on social media. Maybe you want to show your friends some of the videos and pictures that you took on your last vacation. Regardless of the reason that you are interested in sharing the content, you will be happy to know that the Sony A6500 makes it a very easy. The device has a wireless (WiFi) internet connection. This allows you to connect to your smartphone, computer, or tablet to transfer the pictures and videos.

If you are transferring to your phone, apps such as Play Memories can make the process even easier to complete. In fact, they can even upload the images that you want to share on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook instantly. To connect to the camera's Wi-Fi, you will need a security key.

I have found this method to take a lot of time, so I'd sooner connect directly to my computer, but if you do not have that option available, this method is great for transferring a few photos. In addition, if you are using MP4 format, then sharing a lower resolution file will take less time to transfer.

Connection Options​

The Sony A6500 has a USB 2.0 that can be used as well as a micro-HDMI. There is also an application that functions as a remote that you can download to use with the camera. This makes it easy to take a picture with you and your friends and family in the image. Many of my pictures leave me or someone that I am close to out of the image, so I love how easy the app makes it to take group photos.

Battery Life Expectancy

One of the biggest frustrations when creating this Sony a6500 review testing the battery life, especially when shooting video. Battery life is important for any electronic device, but specifically for a camera because a dead battery means that moments that you could have captured will be lost forever. So you know where I'm going, the battery life isn't  great, however keep reading there may be a easy workaround. 

This camera uses the NP-FW50 battery. Although the Sony A6500 is tiny, this camera eats power. A fully charged NP-FW50 lithium-ion battery pack should last for approximately 300 to 330 still shots or about 95 minutes of video shooting under normal temperature conditions.

If you are a heavy LCD user, the count drops. The battery life for the Sony a6500 isn't great. Solution? Buy more batteries. They are light and easy to carry around. On a typical shoot, I will use between 1-2 batteries. However, for video shooting, you will probably want a minimum of four. I have five NP-FW50 batteries, but, then, I also own a Sony a7R II that use the same batteries.

PROS for the Sony A6500

  • ​Fantastic image quality up to 25,600 ISO
  • Very fast autofocus. Most notable when using Sony glass, and preferably newer prime lenses
  • This camera produces excellent video quality, With 6k video downsampled to 4k.
  • The compact and ergonomic design is comfortable in your hand.The construction of this camera is durable so that it lasts through all of your important, memorable occasions.
  • You can customize the menu options and buttons on the Sony A6500
  • The newer menus have subcategories that help to de-clutter the interface.
  • The image stabilization is great, especially for still images and video.

CONS for the Sony A6500

  • The touch screen tends to lag a bit, especially when shooting stills using autofocus.
  • There is not a headphone jack that you can be used to monitor the audio when recording video. You do have audio meters, but there is nothing more reassuring when recording audio that listening to it over headphones.
  • No surprise on this one. Battery life. I understand with the small profile it's hard to get a larger battery, but it would be nice to have time, especially when recording video.
  • Sony doesn't include a battery charger with the purchase of the Sony A6500. They provide a plug (AC Adapter AC-UB10C/ D) that allows you to charge the battery while in the camera. I highly recommend buying the optional Sony BC-VW1 charger.

Sony A6500 Review Final Thoughts:

The Sony A6500 is a great option for a professional photographer to invest in, especially if you capture moving images. It has great image quality, video quality, fast autofocus, and it has touch screen functionality.

I love the option to shoot in 4K video. The downside is that this is an expensive camera, so it may be more than an amateur wants to invest. Hopefully, my Sony A6500 review has answered all of your questions about the product and helped you decide if it is a good purchase for you.

About the Author Fred Meek

Fred Meek is Security Consulting Engineer for a Cyber Security Company. Fred holds several industry certifications including Cisco CCNP, Palo Alto Networks PCNSE, EC-Council Certified Ethical Hacker and has over 20 years in the high-tech industry

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