Sony a6500 Hands-On Review by Mathieu Gasquet

The Sony a6500 and RX100 V cameras were announced completely “out of the blue” less than two weeks ago and now Sony are showing off the cameras at their HQ in the UK prior to the official shipping date sometime in December. The new a6500 comes just 8 months after the release of the a6300, which was no slouch when it comes to both stills and video, but the new a6500 adds even more features that both photographers and video oriented folks would certainly appreciate. The new a6500, much like its predecessor, is blazing fast in Auto-focus with the awesome 4D FOCUS system that combines high-speed phase detection AF with extremely accurate contrast AF and allows it to capture and lock on to moving subjects in as little as 0.05 seconds.

SOny a6500 front

The a6500 sits on top of the Sony APS-C mirrorless food chain with its  425 phase detection AF points and High-density Tracking AF Technology, which significantly improves subject detection and tracking performance and works even in video.

When it comes to the design of the body, not much has changed since the a6300 apart from a beefier grip and an extra custom button on the of the camera, the Sony a6500 is relatively the same body as the predecessor. Sure it maybe a few millimetres thicker, but that is necessary as to accommodate the new 5-axis image stabilisation built-into the a6500, which will greatly help photographers and video content creators get steadier images.

Mathieu Gasquet from Mirrorlessons.com recently had a chance to play with a pre-production model at Sony’s EU HQ in sunny England. You can check out his impressions in the video below.

Sony a6500 Quick Features at a Glance

  • 24.2MP APS-C Exmor CMOS Sensor w front-end SLI
  • BIONZ X Image Processor
  • 4K UHD/30p in XAVC-S 100Mb/s 8bit 4:2:0 internal 
  • 1080p/120fps plus NEW S&Q for 1-120fps Slow-Motion! 
  • XGA Tru-Finder 2.36m-Dot OLED EVF
  • 3.0″ 921.6k-Dot Tilting Touchscreen LCD
  • S-Log2/ S-Gamut3.Cine/S-Log-3 and S-Gamut3/S-Log3
  • 5-Axis SteadyShot INSIDE Stabilization
  • Built-In Wi-Fi with NFC
  • 4D FOCUS with 425 Phase-Detect Points
  • Records onto a single SDXC card
  • 3.5mm Audio mic input
  • No headphone input
  • Micro HDMI out – UHD 8bit 4:2:2 to external recorders
  • Up to 11 fps Shooting and ISO 51,200
  • US Price – $1,399 at B&H
  • EU Price – 1,700 Euro
  • UK Price – £1,499 inc. VAT

The new LSI chip should technically improve low-light performance in high-ISO’s but this remains to be tested with actual production models, while for video users, the overheating in long-form 4K recording remains to be tested as well.

The Sony a6300 overheated like hell and is still a major concert for video users; now it looks like Sony have added a Temperature control switch in the menu of the a6500, which isn’t a panacea remedy for overheating, but more like an option that lets the camera record at a higher operating temperature for longer periods of time before shutdown. Whether this is a safe way to use your camera in the long run remains to be tested.

sony a6500 touchscreen af

The touch screen functionality is a huge plus even for video users as you can track focus with your finger, while monitoring via the EVF. The redesigned menus may take a while to get used to but are a step in the right direction. I for one am pre-ordering for sure and hope to get my by Christmas.

What’s your take on the new Sony a6500? Do you have one for your Christmas wish list? Let me know in the comments below.

To read Mathieu’s full hands-on first impressions review head on over to Mirrorlessons.com

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  • Ricardo Díaz Bernal

    I think Sony created and almost great documentary camera… that overheats and has no headphones output. 🙁

    • Jesse

      Yep, I was tossing up between this and a GH4, I went the GH4, (for one it is already available) the overheating is a dealer breaker, I live in a pretty hot climate as it is.

      • Jimmy Goodwood

        Who said that this camera overheats?
        In fact Sony went the extra mile to re-design the grip / battery compartment just to make sure that it won’t overheat, so go and Troll somewhere else.

        • Jesse

          Jeez Jimmy, chill. I know the a6300 overheats, and I’m not going to wait for this to come out, buy one, then find it is overheating while I’m shooting. Did I offend you or something?

        • Jesse

          Also, for the record, Ricardo said it overheats.