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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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]

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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?