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Sony A6500 brings stabilization, high-speed shooting to APS-C E-mount cameras

Create: 10/07/2016 - 11:08
Sony A6500

HIGHLIGHTS

  • First Sony E-mount APS-C camera to have in-camera image stabilization
  • Has large buffer for continuous JPG or RAW shooting
  • 3.0-inch touchscreen LCD allows selection of focus point

Barely eight months after releasing the A6300, Sony has one-upped it with the A6500.

Although the body is nearly identical in size and appearance to its predecessor, the A6500 has made some significant changes internally and a few externally.

The A6500 uses the same 24.2-MP Exmor CMOS APS-C sensor with an ISO range of 100-25,600, which can extended upward to 51,200. This is a Sony E-mount body, and full-frame lenses will mount to the camera without any problems. Just remember the 1.5x crop factor, which means that a 50mm lens, for example, provides a 75mm full-frame equivalent field of view.

The A6500 uses a vertically traveling shutter with available speeds of 30 seconds to 1/4,000 plus B. There is an electronic front curtain shutter, and the camera has a “silent” mode that can be enabled.

The camera is a fast shooter in that it can record 11 frames per second with autoexposure and autofocus for each shot. It drops to 8 frames per second when using Live View. That’s the same as the A6300. However, the maximum number of shots is now 307 JPGs or 107 RAW frames thanks to a much larger memory buffer in the A6500. By comparison, the A6300 could shoot a maximum of 21 RAW images before the buffer filled.

The A6500 introduces five-axis image stabilization. This is the first time that a Sony E-mount APS-C camera has had in-camera image stabilization. Sony claims a five-stop advantage.

Carried over from the A6300 is the 425-point phase-detection autofocus system. Sony claims a 0.05 second time to lock focus on a moving subject.

TOUCHSCREEN LCD MONITOR

The camera has a built-in electronic viewfinder, as well as a 3.0-inch LCD monitor with a limited vertical tilt range. It doesn’t tilt upward for selfies. The LCD monitor is now touchscreen for those who like to use it in a smartphone-like manner to navigate menus and select the focus point by dragging your finger across the screen. The eyecup on the A6500 is made of a softer material.

The A6500 can record 4K video, as well as Full HD and up to 100 Mbps for 4K and 50 Mbps for Full HD.

The A6500 can record quick and slow-motion video with selectable frame rates of one to 120 frames per second (in eight steps). It also supports S-Log gamma recording for wider dynamic range for video.

Still images can be extracted from video: 8-MP for 4K and 2-MP for Full HD. There is a microphone port but no headphone jack to monitor audio.

The A6500 has a small pop-up flash, as well as Sony's proprietary Multi Interface Shoe to attach an external flash unit.

Sony said it borrowed many design aspects and build from its A7 models when creating the A6500. The body is constructed of magnesium alloy, and the shutter is rated for 200,000 actuations. Sony also said the A6500 has a larger shutter release, an improved feel to buttons and dials, a recessed grip and a robust lens mount.

One thing that Sony still doesn’t offer for its APS-C E-mount cameras is an optional battery grip to allow for extended shooting. As it is, the NP-FW50 battery provides enough power for 310 still shots using the viewfinder and 350 with Live View or 65/70 minutes of video using either the viewfinder or Live View, respectively.

The battery can now be charged in the camera via the USB connection.

The camera has built-in GPS, NFC, WiFi and Bluetooth. The WiFi can be used to share photos with Android and iOS devices, as well as computers. A Micro-USB 2.0 connection is available for downloading photos and videos to a PC in the traditional manner.

The camera is 4 3/4 x 2 3/4 x 2 1/8 (120.0 x 66.9 x 53.3mm) and weighs about one pound (453 grams).

The A6500 body will begin shipping in November 2016 for US$1,400 (C$1,750).

About the Author

Mike Elek is a longtime journalist and was one of the original editors for The Wall Street Journal Online. He also has worked as a reporter and editor in Pittsburgh; Philadelphia; Vineland, N.J.; Poughkeepsie, N.Y.; New York City; and Hong Kong. He is a U.S. Air Force veteran. He shoots with film and digital cameras.