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Gear & Apps

Sony’s New a6500: A More Powerful Flagship APS-C with IBIS & Touchscreen

By Bing Putney on October 6th 2016

Today in New York, Sony announced their new flagship APS-C body, the A6500. The camera retains the sensor, major design elements, and many of the features of its predecessor, the only 8 month old a6300, which is still garnering attention and positive reviews, and will likely remain in the Sony lineup for some time to come. Its brand new bigger brother sports some exciting new advancements and capabilities to differentiate the two, including a version of the 5 axis in-body image stabilization system from the A7 series, but optimized for the APS-C sized sensor. Sony has rated this new SteadyShot™ system at 5 stops of stabilization. Considering the extra reach afforded by the APS-C focal length multiplier, this stabilization could be hugely useful.


Another key addition is a new, more powerful LSI image processor, which, along with a larger buffer, will allow users to shoot 300 JPGs or 100 RAW + JPGs at 11 frames per second. This new muscle, partnered with the already class-leading 425 point, on-sensor phase detect autofocus system from the a6300 will make this new body an even more impressive action shooter.

The third headline feature is the addition of a touch sensitive rear OLCD screen. The main use of this, of course, will be to quickly move your autofocus point. In video mode, users can easily rack focus from one subject to another, with control of the speed of the focus change. It will also work as a trackpad when the camera’s EVF is in use, negating the need to use the directional pad when changing focus points. I’ve never been a huge fan of touchscreens on cameras, but when navigating through 425 AF points, it could certainly come in handy.


Also worth noting is a new level of customization, and a new menu system. Two custom function buttons have been added to the top of the camera, behind the shutter button, similar to the layout of the second generation A7 series cameras, increasing the number of customizable buttons to 10. It seems that no one has had a chance to explore the new menu system, but Sony’s system has long been a gripe among reviewers, and this new update promises to be easier to search and navigate.


Another hand-me-down feature from its siblings is the a99 mark II’s “Slow and Quick” mode, allowing for video frame rates from 1-100 fps. In this mode you can create slow slow motion, or time lapse videos with no need of post-processing, and view them with the desired effect in-camera.


The remainder of the A6500’s specs align with the a6300 before it, and include:

  • 24.2MP APS-C Exmor CMOS Sensor
  • BIONZ X Image Processor
  • XGA Tru-Finder 2.36m-Dot OLED EVF
  • 3.0″ 921.6k-Dot Tilting Touchscreen LCD
  • Internal UHD 4K Video & S-Log3 Gamma
  • S&Q Motion in Full HD from 1-120 fps
  • 5-Axis SteadyShot INSIDE Stabilization
  • Built-In Wi-Fi with NFC
  • 4D FOCUS with 425 Phase-Detect Points
  • Up to 11 fps Shooting and ISO 51200

The a6300 was, and is, a highly impressive APS-C camera. This new, improved and updated successor seems to be blurring the line between APS-C enthusiast camera and professional-grade performance. As a Sony shooter myself, already invested in their E-mount, I may even consider this as a travel/ backup body to my a7RII. With any luck, we’ll have one in the office in the near future for a test drive, and be back with a review.

[REWIND: Hands On With the Sony a6300 | Initial Impressions and Sample Images]

sony-a6500-alpha-release-mirrorless-apsc-9 sony-a6500-alpha-release-mirrorless-apsc-2


The A6500 is already available for pre-order from B&H for about $1400, and expected to begin shipping at the end of November. What do you think of this new flagship? If you’re in the market for this type of camera, is the A6500 enough of an upgrade to warrant the extra $400 and couple months of wait time over the a6300?

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Bing is a professional portrait and on-set still photographer who lives in Los Angeles, and frequently travels the world to explore new and interesting cultures and pastries.

Instagram: @bingputney

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Peter McWade

    I like the fact that they are listening but I don’t like the fact that they release a killer 6300 then dump a 6500 so soon after. At the price of these cameras its awful expensive to try to keep up with the latest and greatest. Since I have upgraded to the A7RII I’d be hard pressed to buy the next only a year or less later. I’d love to see an even better A7RII but I would take a monetary loss if I replaced it today. Too much invested and too many new cameras. I’d like to see firmware updates to keep one good camera on the market for awhile so when they do make the improvements we can justify the sale of a lesser to get the greater. I so want the A6500 too. But I think I must wait until they do the same and with dual card slots for the next A7R series upgrade. Until then keep the software updates coming to keep those that have these appeased so when you do come out with the next latest and greatest you will have an audience that will jump on the new camera.

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  2. Aliza Keya

    I understand what are you saying in your article.and I also agree with your point of view.So I appreciate your thinking.

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  3. adam sanford

    So they took an a6300 and…

    1) Solved the 4K heat issues (we must presume)
    2) Improved the screen
    3) Gave it IBIS
    4) Increased the buffer

    Lovely. But why do this 8 months after you launch the a6300? It’s not much of a ‘big brother’ if it has the same sensor, same fps, same AF system, etc.

    Too much of a very new design was recycled into this one, which leaves me wondering if the a6500 is a fix for the a6300, or if the a6300 was rushed to market and this a6500 is what they really wanted to make all along.

    Either way, Sony keeps out spitting out new bodies. They are consistently relentless on this front.

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    • Wendell Weithers

      I agree. This makes the a6300 seem like a prototype that probably shouldn’t have gone to market.

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    • Bing Putney

      I would disagree. I think that the IBIS and touchscreen make this a significantly different camera from the a6300, and since both will continue to exist in the lineup, with a noticeable price difference, photographers can decide which they need.

      Many camera makers put the same sensor into multiple bodies with similar form factors, why not Sony?

      If the a6300 were receiving negative reviews, that would be one thing, but it’s not. It’s a class-leading camera, which will continue to be produced and sold, and now the a6500 will join it as another solid option.

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    • Wendell Weithers

      I agree on all those points. However, the main reason I took that stance is the over-heating issue and the release so soon after the a6300. Had this been 6 mo from now I’d be less suspicious.

      I imagine that the 6300 works fine for most users, but the issue has been mentioned by a variety of sources. It seems like something that could have been worked out before release…I guess we’ll see if they fixed it on this camera…Thanks for responding Bing.

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    • terry stahly

      Typical whining photographers who complain about everything. Who cares how long the a6300 has been on the market it is a different camera for people with different needs and budgets. Why not applaud Sony for bringing out a a6500 with the major improvements that they have added. Who can bitch about adding IBIS or the buffer and high frame rates, touch screen etc. I applaud any company who improves their products not matter what they sell. Try being positive instead of negative.

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