Sony a6500 review

Sony a6500 Review: the small great mirrorless

The newest addition to Sony’s a6000 and a6300 mirrorless camera family, the a6500 is a delight for everybody traveling or hiking around a lot and not wanting to break their back dragging around a heavy camera.

This little camera body weighs less than a pound and comes with a 24 megapixel APS-C Exmor sensor, a tilting 3” touchscreen, in-body image stabilization and 11.1fps burst shooting.

It has received a lot of positive feedback regarding its dynamic range abilities and bright colored images, thus making it a camera very suitable for landscape photographers on the go.

Sony a6500

PROS

  • Tilting touch screen with live view
  • Electronic viewfinder
  • Very light, easy to carry around
  • 5-axis in-body image stabilization
  • Excellent image quality, dynamic range, color brightness

CONS

  • Not the easiest menu system
  • Poor battery life
  • Body weather sealing only with full frame FE lenses

The Sony a6500 detailed review

LCD Screen

To start off, let me dive straight into one of my favorite things about this camera: the LCD screen.

This touch screen is 3”and does a resolution of 921K pixels. It is not only used to enter the menu (which is not the best, but more about that later), you can also use it to choose an autofocus point.

The great thing about this feature is that it is not only usable when you’re shooting with live viewing, you can still use it when using the electronic viewfinder.

Just move your finger on the screen (even though it goes black when it detects your face, the right side of the screen will still be sensitive to touch) move the little square box to where you want your focus to go, and there you go: the easiest way to focus ever.

Sony a6500 review

The Electronic Viewfinder

Which brings me to the next point that I always look for in a camera: the electronic viewfinder.

Being able to see what your picture is going to end up like is a huge plus for me, and very useful for any kind of photographer to make sure you get your exposure exactly right.

The viewfinder on this little camera does all that. The only drawback is the awkward placement of it (see above image).

If you are a spectacle-wearing photographer, you will probably experience some trouble with this viewfinder as it is hard to see the full coverage it does offer, but is only visible if your eye is really pressed to the viewfinder.

Otherwise you’ll miss corners and lack a complete overview of your composition, which might make for a perfectly exposed picture with a weird, distracting detail in the bottom-left corner.

Image Quality

When you do pull of your perfect exposure and great composition, you will guaranteed have a high quality image that is suitable for print.

Even though the sensor on the a6500 is not a full frame one, the RAW and JPEG files are both of good quality.

Like we’re used to from most of Sony’s newer mirrorless cameras, the a6500 offers a very high quality of colours, guaranteed to make your image look beautiful, even without any post-production work.

Furthermore, this camera is praised for it’s dynamic range, providing very well-defined details in both highlight and shadow areas of the picture.

This is very useful when shooting a scene with high contrast. With some other cameras you might have to shoot twice with different exposures, layering the images later to achieve the wanted result.

With a camera like the a6500, you can skip this most of the times.

Camera Body

Moving on to one of the biggest advantages of this camera, and probably the reason most of you are looking into it in the first place: the size and weight of the body.

The a6500 measures only 2.6 by 4.7 by 2.1 inches, and weighs just about a pound (with battery, without lens attached), making is slightly smaller and lighter than one of its rivals the Olympus OM- D E-M1 Mark II.

This Sony, however, does not give you the option of attaching a vertical shooting grip, like the Olympus does.

The body is weather-sealed which protects it against dust and moisture, however, this is only complete when used with a full frame FE lens (A.K.A. a heavier, more expensive lens than a standard APS-C E lens).

When using another lens, I would be more careful when shooting out in questionable weather conditions.

The LCD screen does prove to be pretty water proof, but might not be able to take as many hits as a non-touch screen LCD would.

5-Axis Image Stabilization System

Lastly, the camera body is equipped with in-body 5-Axis image stabilization, protecting against 5 types of camera shake when shooting hand-held.

This highly praised stabilization system can also be found in more high-end cameras like the Sony a7R II, and is compatible with any lens.

A system like this one might really help you out if you for some reason are unable to take a shot from a tripod (or just enjoy shooting your landscape hand-held from time to time), and still want your shot to be steady and avoid image blur due to camera movement.

The Menu System

Like with every other camera, there are some minor issues with this camera, the first of which being the menu system which is not the most straightforward on the market.

Every feature this camera has seems to be hidden in a maze of options and sub-menus, and navigating quickly is made almost impossible in this menu.

Luckily, the a6500 comes equipped with a few customizable buttons near the shutter release button, to allow you to at least enter two features easily.

Since the camera body is so small, there’s not much space for other buttons that might improve on the workflow when shooting with this camera.

Battery Life

The battery on this camera is not too impressive either, with a life of only 310 shots. This will require you to carry spare batteries when going out shooting, and adds to the weight you’ll be carrying around (and wanted to avoid by buying this camera).

Alternatives

Canon EOS M5

Photography Ambition

A very decent mirrorless camera from Canon, with the same light-weight and small body advantages as the Sony a6500 and a 24MP APS-C CMOS sensor.

The M5 has more dials and buttons on the body, which allow you to access more features with ease. This camera is also slightly cheaper than the a6500, but lacks the 4K video capability.

It does come with a touchscreen which allows you to choose your focus point while shooting with live viewing or while using the electronic (2.36M-dot) viewfinder.

The screen also tilts, but only downwards, which is an awkward angle in almost every situation.

This camera would be a good option if you already own a lot of Canon glass, since this little mirrorless allows you to use all your other Canon lenses with the use of a simple adaptor.

Fujifilm XT2

Photography Ambition

A bit more expensive than the a6500 and M5, but still a reasonable price for the quality you’ll get out of this mirrorless camera from Fujifilm.

The 24MP X-Trans CMOS III sensor is capable of producing some high quality images and does 4K video shooting, and the body is light and small like the others.

What I like most about this camera is the possibility to add a “Power Booster Grip”, a vertical battery grip that allows you to add two batteries and extend your battery life.

This will of course add to the weight and price of the camera, but for the approximately 1000 more shots you’ll get out of it between charges I think it’s definitely worth it.

Photography Ambition

Olympus OM DE M1 Mark II

Photography Ambition

I’ve mentioned this great camera before in our review about the Sony 7R II.

Yes, it is almost twice as expensive as the a6500, but you’ll get twice the quality for it - the fact that it is comparable with a very high-end camera like the a7R II should hint at that.

The 20.4MP MOS sensor stands for some high quality image production with a fast RAW-speed, and the camera is highly customizable to suit your personal needs perfectly.

However, if your budget can stretch as far as the +/- $2000 you’ll have to lay down for this beauty and are expecting the highest image quality possible, I recommend searching a bit further for a comparably priced camera with a higher resolution sensor.

Conclusions

The a6500 is a great camera if you’re a landscape photographer that travels a lot or enjoys hooting while on long hikes, and you don’t want to be weighed down by your camera gear (don’t hike too long though, because the battery life in this camera is not outstanding).

The touch screen allows you to easily decide the AF point, even when using the electronic viewfinder.

If you don’t mind spending some time roaming the dense menu if it means you’ll get a light-weight and pretty affordable camera, this is the camera for you.

Sony a6500 Review

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About the Author Luca

Hi, I am Luca, founder and editor in chief at photographyambition.com. I am crazy about photography and I always have a camera with me. When I am not busy with my day job, enjoying my family or taking photos, I am on Photography Ambition to share what I have learnt so far.

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