Sony steps up with the new a6500, serious speed in a very small mirrorless package. The a6500 comes with 5-axis in-camera image stabilization and touchscreen capability; the two major points everyone asked for after the a6300 was released in February. Considering Canon and Nikon’s release schedules are yearly it seems a bit early for a new model but with a 24.2MP sensor, 11 frames per second, and 4k video it’s the little camera that can make a mark.
Sharing the same 4D FOCUS as the a6300 you get fast autofocus times in as little as 0.05 seconds. Not too unexpected considering the a6500 has 425 phase detection AF points and a 169-area contrast detection system. The highest number of AF points on any interchangeable lens camera. Even while tracking fast subjects in continuous autofocus the 11 frame per second speed can capture up to 307 photos. A large part of the boost thanks to using a new front-end LSI chip like the A99 II announced during Photokina.
You also get 4k Super 35mm format video and 1080p 120fps with the a6500. Touch focusing and adjustable focus transitions for video make recording a breeze. Grab any shot you need while recording with 8MP stills available from recording in 4K. A S&Q (Slow & Quick) Motion setting allows full HD video from 1-120fps to control speed and pace your shot for slow motion for faster action. S-Gamut and S-Log shooting allow for post production color grading with a wide dynamic range for better editing for the advanced videographer. With a new magnesium body design to fit ibis hopefully the overheating and rolling shutter issues found in the a5300 were fixed as well in the update.
The first Sony APS-C sensor camera to get Sony’s great in-body stabilization. The a6500 gets a step closer to it’s higher end counterparts while barely increasing the camera’s size. With approximately five steps of stabilization, it can handle any lens you can get to fit on the camera. A feature sure to be a major selling point with adapters such as metabones as it allows a giant lens ecosystem of third party lenses to choose from that ibis can provide stabilization.
One major complaint of the a6300 has always been that people get the camera then come to realize that it does not have a touch screen. Something available both on Nikon and Canon entry level DSLR’s making it a bit of the odd man out with the competition. Sony’s updated the a6500 with this in mind adding a 3” OLED tilting touchscreen that should fit that bill fine. Touch focus is available even when using the viewfinder, swipe while shooting to move the focus point where needed without looking at the screen. Unfortunately while it is touch to focus for photo and video it cannot be used to select menu settings.
The a6300 to a6500 upgrade has gotten a few other tweaks. The menu system is now rearranged and colored for quick access when you need to find a setting. With the body redesign you gain another custom button, improved grip, better eyepiece, and updated weather sealing (but not listed to what degree). It’s slightly larger to fit everything in as well, making it a bit less pocketable while adding a bit more balance with larger lenses (a6300 4.7 x 2.6 x 1.9 in vs a6500 4.75 x 2.75 x 2.125 in).
Time to sell the a6300 to upgrade for that touch screen and stabilization you always wanted? Despite sharing names the a6500 has enough going on that it’s another camera almost. At least on paper with 5-axis stabilization, 11fps shooting, a 300+ shot buffer, 4k video, and weather sealing you can’t complain that the specifications are not impressive. The a6500 will be available in November starting at $1,400 body only with pre-orders starting soon.
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