Sony A6500 Review: Is it Worth it in 2021?

This is a review guide covering the Sony A6500.

In this all-new guide you’ll learn about:

Let’s dive in.

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In a hurry? Here’s the quick summary

Sony Alpha a6500 ​

If you’re looking for a lightweight APS-C mirrorless camera the a6500 is a decent enough camera to look at.

It uses the Sony e-mount which is very popular and because of its compatibility with legacy lenses, you can easily upgrade to the a6500 and use your older A-mount lenses.

The only thing that does not work in favor of the camera is that it is a dated design and it’s no longer in production.

It has been replaced by the a6600. So, if you’re looking for the latest in the a6xxx series then you should go for the a6600. Otherwise, a6500 satisfies all other parameters.

Pros and Cons Sony A6500

Pros
  • 4K/UHD video capabilities
  • 5-axis in-body image stabilization
  • 11 fps continuous shooting speed.
  • XGA OLED viewfinder with a resolution of 2.36-M dots.
Cons
  • Discontinued as of August 2021
  • The rear LCD screen resolution is 921k-dots
  • Weird video button and location

Sony A6500 Specs

The Sony a6500 is a compact mirrorless camera based around the Sony E-mount and powered by a 24.2-MP APS-C CMOS Exmor sensor. Paired with the camera is a BIONZ X image processing engine.

Sony’s E-mount camera systems use proprietary E-mount lenses. Apart from that, they are capable of using the legacy A-mount lenses using adapters.

Third-party lenses are also possible to be used with this camera with respective adapters.

In short, you can use many lenses with your a6500. The good thing is even with an adapter and using Sony’s A-mount lenses you get to use all the 425-phase detection AF points.

So, if you have any of the Sony legacy A-mount lenses with you, you can use all of them without any compromise in performance.

Built-in image stabilization (IBIS) is one of the main features of this camera. Thanks to this the camera can compensate for up to 5 stops of image shake correction.

This will help you capture super smooth videos and blue-free stills in most kinds of lighting situations.

Speaking of lighting, the base ISO of the camera is 100 and it extends to 25600. There is an extended ISO range that goes all the way up to 51200.

Although I wouldn’t recommend that you use the camera at ISO 51200. Noise at that level will completely wash out your photos.

Mirrorless camera systems don’t have an Optical Viewfinder (OVF) because there is no mirror to reflect the image.

The image captured by the sensor in real-time is what is projected through the Electronic Viewfinder (EVF).

The 0.39-inch EVF on the a6500 has a decent enough resolution and offers 100% coverage of the scene.

Sony Alpha a6500
Copyright “Léon Rau”

There is a diopter adjustment option which is standard with all interchangeable lens camera systems. This allows the camera viewfinder to be adjusted between -4 to +3 power.

However, the 3-inch tilting touchscreen is what is going to be the most useful for composing and shooting videos. I am guessing with this camera that is what most people will be using.

The resolution of the rear LCD screen is 921k-dots. This is one of the gray areas of the camera.

There is a hot shoe on the camera that allows you to mount an external flash. The dedicated system works in TTL mode.

You can also use an external flash off-camera in wireless mode. This allows you to control multiple lights set up in an arrangement.

With a dedicated lighting setup, your a6500 is capable of working in any kind of ambient lighting situation.

I recommend investing in at least one flash that you can work TTL off-camera. This will add a completely new dimension to your photography.

Sony A6500
Example image using Sony A6500 Camera

Speaking of still captures the 11 fps continuous shooting speed is excellent. For photographers shooting wildlife, birding, and fast action the 11 fps burst speed gives an incredible number of captures.

You will rarely miss a moment on your adventures.

That said, when shooting at 11 fps you won’t live-view and that could be an issue with some users. If you do need live-view you will have to switch to 8 fps burst speed.

Next up is the autofocusing power of the a6500. There is never an issue with the autofocus in the performance of this camera.

In general autofocusing is snappy it locks focus on the subject in a very responsible manner.

Especially in good light autofocusing performance is very good. However, when you were shooting in darker conditions autofocusing performance tends to drop.

I have noticed that you miss about 4 to 5 images on average when shooting in low light conditions and especially when using a long lens.

Sony A6500 Design

Sony’s a6xxx series cameras are known for their lightweight frame and yet functional design. The a6500 is no different. It weighs just 453 grams with the battery and the memory card in place.

Overall, this is a compact simple design. Much of the elements from the older designs have been brought forward.

If you are familiar with any of the older cameras in this series you will be at home using the a6500.

The back of the a6500 is a simple design. A little too simple.

Almost all of the buttons and dials are positioned on the right. The top of the camera has the main shooting mode dial (also on the right), the control dia., and the programable C1 and C2 dials.

Just on top of the handgrip are the shutter release and the power on/off combined control.

My major complaint is the AF/MF and AEL buttons. The position of the lever just below the main shooting mode dial is weird.

People with large fingers will constantly find it an irritation. This is a subjective thing though.

Sony A6500
Example image using Sony A6500 Camera

I also have an issue with the location of the video recording button. I have detailed that in the video performance segment below.

The reason I said too simple above is that there are very limited physical control buttons and that can be a real issue out in the field.

I am not a big fan of having to dig deep into the menu section every time I need to change something. You have a touch-enabled LCD screen, but then even that is not the best option.

Oh, and one more thing. I did mention the EVF earlier in this discussion. I am not a fan of the design of the EVF. It tends to stick out.

The compact design of the camera is sleek and truly there isn’t space to fit in an EVF.

Perhaps the designers could have thought about a pop-up EVF like the ones we see on some compact cameras?

Anyways it is the only thing that sticks out in an otherwise super sleek design.

Sony A6500 Image Quality

Stills straight out of the camera is bright and the colors are accurate.

Of course, I recommend taking advantage of the RAW capabilities of the a6500.

With RAW captures you will be able to tune the images according to your taste and preferences.

Sony A6500
Example image using Sony A6500 Camera

Sony A6500 Video Quality

The a6500 is capable of shooting 4K/UHD videos at a frame rate of 30, 25, and 24 fps.

One of the good things about the a6500 is that the 5-axis IBIS that is available in the still mode also works in the video mode.

That means even without a gimbal or stabilizer you would be able to capture some decent smooth videos. This is important because a lot of users don’t use gimbals or stabilizers.

The a6500 comes with S-Gamut/S-Log which ensures that the camera offers a much wider gamut than what is possible otherwise.

Up to 1300% wider dynamic range is possible with S-Log3 and S-Log2 gamma. That’s an incredible advantage when you think about the amount of detail that you can extract out of the footage.

All said and done the location of the video button is weird. If you look at the body design the video button sits on the side at an angle where it is easy to miss.

I don’t know what was going through the minds of the designers when they decided to put the dedicated video button on the side. It is also very easy to activate by mistake.

Sony A6500 Overall Performance

While I have nothing major to say in a negative tone for this camera. The a6500 is a pretty decent camera and in the right hands, it is capable of capturing breathtaking images.

The a6500 uses both the e-mount system as well as the older legacy lenses used by the a-mount cameras.

Overall, still, the performance of the camera is very good.

I have not seen a major reason to discount the camera’s performance except maybe when you’re shooting in low light conditions. Handling is pretty good as well.

This is a very nicely built design with a decent handgrip except for the location of the video button which is very oddly placed all of the buttons and dials on the camera or where they should be.

Concluding Remarks

We hope you enjoyed this review guide on the Sony A6500.

Consider everything we’ve reviewed as to whether this is the right camera for you!

Also, check out the full list of best lenses for the Sony A6500.

Have fun, good luck, and keep photographing!

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