The A6500 is the latest in Sony’s interchangeable lens mirrorless camera line up and is the update to the popular A6300. Many were surprised with the release of the A6500 as it was released a mere 6 months after the A6300, however there are some key features to justify the new lofty price tag which we will explore in more detail below. Firstly, let’s start by saying that if you loved the Sony A6000 and A6300, you will feel right at home with the A6500. The A6500 features the the same body as the A6300 however the grip has been extended further, making it even more comfortable to hold the camera. Another notable change is that the position of the customisable button next to the shutter button has been moved to next to the mode dial and another customisable button has been added alongside it. These changes are both welcome addition to the A6500 iteration as they give you added comfort and control over your shooting. The camera shares the same auto-focus system as the A6300, however the buffer has now been expanded, meaning you can now lock focus on a subject in as little as 0.05 seconds. Sony’s auto focus system has long been considered a market leader and we expect this to continue.
5-axis in body optical stabilisation is the headline feature for the Sony A6500 which many photographers and videographers will appreciate. Less shake will help you take sharper photos and will make your videos look smoother however don’t expect this added stabilisation to be perfect. While the in-body stabilisation does make a difference, it cannot be compared to the stabilisation that a gimbal would offer for example. In particular with video, panning shots while the camera is in your hands will make a notable difference, however walking while filming with the camera will still produce bumpy video. Many of Sony’s E and A mount lenses feature optical stabilisation however Sony have confirmed that with the A6500 pitch and yaw will still be compensated in the lens and horizontal, vertical and roll axes are compensated in the camera body, resulting in optimal 5-axis stabilization.
A touchscreen has been added to the LCD screen on the back of the Sony A6500 which allows the user to lock focus on a subject simply by touching the desired area on the screen. In practise, the touchscreen does work well and perhaps is more useful when shooting video as the slight delay when you lock on to a new subject adds a pleasant effect to your video. For photography however, this is only likely to be useful when your A6500 is mounted to a tripod when your shooting still subjects.
The on-screen settings have also been rearranged and relabelled on the A6500 by Sony which many users will appreciate, however it still fills more complicated than it should to change your settings at first. Thankfully the A6500 comes with endless customisable options to change some of the key button assignments and organise the settings you need to change the most in the customisable function menu.
The A6500 is a great all-round camera however for professional photography we would prefer Sony to release lenses where we can change the aperture directly from the lens rather than on one of the clunky dials on the top or rear of the A6500. With a strong feature set, the Sony A6500 is a genuine alternative to a full-size DSLR. Stunning 4K video with high frame rates, sharp and vibrant photo’s all make the Sony A6500 a solid offering in a compact offering, however if the extra features of the A6500 are not essential for your projects, the A6300 is the better value option until Sony releases a more significant upgrade to the A6000 line up.