My Sony A6500 Review – Long Term Real World Perspective and How To Use Camera

89
Best APS-C Mirrorless Camera for 2018

Hello everybody and welcome to my Sony A6500 Written Review! In this extended long term review I will be covering the Sony A6500 from a real world perspective using many different lenses and scenarios. I included an absolute ton of sample photos, so be sure to scroll down for those and be sure to click on the images for a high resolution version. In addition to the review itself, I also included a How-To use the camera video tutorial for those new to the Camera or Sony camera systems in general.

The various optics I used over the course of several months are as follows: For the Pro oriented user I went with the Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens w/ and without FE 2x Teleconverter. Then for the average hardcore enthusiast that would be considering such a camera as the Sony A6500, I testing with relatively newer Sony E 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS Lens, which you can get as a kit lens option. I also tested the A6500 with my Sony E 16mm f/2.8 Pancake lens. Then for those wondering what can be done using super fast prime lenses I thoroughly tested the A6500 with the Sigma E 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Lens, and Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN Lens. Last but not least, I really wanted to show how versatile the Sony APS-C mirrorless system is and went down the top quality macro photography road with the Zeiss Touit 50mm f/2.8 Macro Lens.

I tested the A6500 autofocus abilities as it pertains to fast moving objects like drag racing snowmobiles, but I also took real world video and regular photos as well as lab testing. I published my youtube version of this review a while back, and due to laptop issues and wanting to test the camera with more lenses, this written review is a bit late to the party, but offers way more detail and sample photos. Sorry about that for those waiting patiently…

In the meantime Sony has come out with the more affordable Sony A6400, and is another option on the table for those in the APS-C sensor size mirrorless market. Check out my breakdown and other A6400 Articles Here >>

Sony A6500 Key Features:

  • 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
  • Touch to focus
  • Internal UHD 4K Video & S-Log3 Gamma
  • Bit Depth = 14-bit
  • 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
  • Much Larger Buffer for up to 107 raw frames in one burst! 
  • Price = $1398 US

First lets go over some of the new features the Sony A6500 offers…

For starters the Sony A6500 goes for $1198 US for the camera body only at the time of this review. You can however, save some cash on optics and get the A6500 bundled with several different lens combinations at various price points. The E 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS Lens kit would offer the most lightweight compact solution and goes for $1496 US. However, I would recommend the E 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS lens kit which goes for $1598 US. That kit is a much better all-in-one solution with significant focal range, but does weigh a bit more and take up larger footprint if compact size is a major factor for you.

Sony A6500 See Thru Sensor Stabilization

The sensor is the same unit as the one found in the Sony A6300. So’ it a 24mp APS-C Exmor R CMOS Sensor with 425 Phase Detection AF points embedded… Yes the AF performance is awesome, but the 5-Axis Steadyshot sensor stabilization is the new stand out feature for the A6500 I would say!

The A6500 also has a much larger buffer than the more affordable Sony A6300, for up to 301 standard JPEG frames or 107 raw frames in a single burst with AF and AE, and permits 14-bit raw file output for a wider tonal range and color scale.

The A6500 also features a large 3 inch tilting LCD on the back which is a Touchscreen now! This feature was the second most requested by users in general I would say, next to the stabilization. The touchscreen has been a long time coming and I really enjoyed using it the more I got comfortable with it’s features and real world applications where it helps out. It does not full articulate however, and that was disappointing.

Sony answers the sensor stabilization and touchscreen requests, but still leaves the door open for the next generation sensor to be unveiled in future models I’m thinking.. If you are not aware, it would be know as the Exmor RS sensor architecture version like the one found in the smaller 1″ sensor equipped Sony RX10 IV which I reviewed here, and of course the Sony flagship Full Frame Sony A9 I recently reviewed here >>

On the left side of the camera Sony included a Microphone jack for those looking to incorporate better audio quality into their video footage, but they did not include a headphone jack which is really required for proper monitoring of the audio while recording. So, it’s a great addition, but video enthusiast and pros want the headphone jack as well. Also note the Micro HDMI Out and Micro USB charging/ data port and lamp which illuminates orange when charging. In addition to that we have the WiFi antenna and speaker below that indicated by the three holes.

For a way more detailed hands-on look of the camera body features and how to use it all, be sure to check out my videos below!

Manuals and Firmware Update Downloads:

More Camera Body Shots

My Sony A6500 Youtube Review

Sony A6500 How-To Use Camera Video – Focus Modes, Drive Modes, Touch Focus, and More…

My Sony A6500 Review – Long Term Real World Perspective and How To Use Camera
Conclusions
I had a blast using the Sony A6500 on several occasions over the last year or so. It has proven to be an awesome camera and a pleasure to use. The real world usability, features, build, and image quality is overall excellent in my opinion. I would highly recommend the Sony A6500 mirrorless camera for those in the market looking for the most features and quality in one package.
Bang For The Buck
95
Feature Set
95
Build Quality and Design
87
Menu System and User Interface
83
Auto Focus System
95
Image quality
88
Usability
91
Video Quality
85
Audio Quality
80
Low Light Performance
88
Battery Life
70
Fun Factor
95
Reader Rating2 Votes
100
Pros
Best In Class Autofocus System
5-Axis Image Stabilization
Touchscreen
Microphone Jack
Very Good Build Quality
Highly Versatile Camera System
Cons
Poor Battery Life Compared To Competition
No Fully Articulating LCD Screen
Menu System and User Interface is Still Lacking Compared To Competition
No Headphone Jack
89
Best APS-C Mirrorless Camera for 2018

Sample Photos

I included a ton of sample photos, because I have had the camera several times over the past year and had the opportunity to use it with a lot of different lenses. I really wanted to show you what the A6500 can do in the real world

High ISO Testing

Picture Effect Mode Sample Photos

Picture effects are a lot of fun and something you might not even consider if you did not know the camera had this feature. I really enjoy using them from time to time.

Real World Sample Photos using Various Lenses

I used several different lenses to test the Sony A6500, so be sure to note the image caption text for various lens info and settings.

Action

First some high speed action shots of some drag racing snowmobiles at the local ski slope where I live with the top quality Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens. I also took a pretty good photo of Bones Jones and a few snapshots of Jase and my old TDI VW Jetta wagon that I have since traded in.

Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens
Sony FE 70-200mm f/2.8 GM OSS Lens

Sony E 16mm f/2.8 Pancake Lens – Sample Photos

A few real world sample photos using my Sony E 16mm f/2.8 Pancake Lens, which I reviewed Here >>

Sony E 16mm f/2.8 Lens
Sony E 16mm f/2.8 Pancake Lens

Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Lens – Sample Photos

A few real world sample photos using the Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Lens which I reviewed Here >>

Sigma 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary Lens
Sigma E 16mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary Lens

Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN Lens – Sample Photos

A few real world sample photos using the Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN Lens which I reviewed Here >>

Sigma 30mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary Lens
Sigma E 30mm f/1.4 DC DN Contemporary Lens

Sony E 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS Lens – Sample Photos

A few real world sample photos using the Sony E 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS Lens which I reviewed Here >>

Sony A6500 w/ E 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS Lens
Sony A6500 w/ E 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS Lens

For the silky water shots below I was using the Hoya 55mm Variable ND Filter on the front of the lens which really helped slow the shutter speed way down. That slower shutter speed combined with the flowing water makes for some really cool motion blur effects.

Zeiss Touit E 50mm f/2.8 Macro Lens – Sample Photos

A few real world macro photography sample photos using the top quality Zeiss Touit E 50mm f/2.8 Macro Lens which I reviewed Here >>

Zeiss Touit 50mm f/2.8M Macro Lens
Zeiss Touit 50mm f/2.8M Macro Lens

HDR Photography Sample Photos

To learn more about HDR Photography and how to create such images, check out my detailed tutorials on the matter this way >>

Recommended Accessories:

Lenses:

If you are looking to really get the most out of your Sony A6500, then you must consider some addition optics for your tool chest. All the E-Mount Lenses available will work, but the APS-C Crop factor style lenses are a bit smaller and lighter when compared to the full frame e-mount lenses. You can also use lens adapters and utilize almost any lens on the Sony A6500 which is both remarkable and extremely versatile.

Power Related:

The Sony A6500 has pretty poor battery life overall, so I recommend getting at least 2 extra NP-FW50 batteries for those long days of shooting or recording video. You can also opt for a aftermarket Vello BG-S5 battery grip which holds two batteries and also helps with the ergonomics when using larger heavy lenses.

Ergonomics Related:

When it comes to ergonomics the A6500 is pretty good overall, but for extended use and when using with larger heavier lenses you can utilize a few different accessories to help yourself out.

Protection and Cleaning:

Expanding your Creativity:

Conclusions

Overall:

I had a blast using the Sony A6500 on several occasions over the last year or so. It has proven to be an awesome camera and a pleasure to use. The real world usability, features, build, and image quality is overall excellent in my opinion. I would highly recommend the Sony A6500 mirrorless camera for those in the market looking for the most features and quality in one package. More Sony A6500 Reviews and related articles this way >> Unless of course you want to consider the full frame mirrorless cameras, which would then lead me to recommend the Sony A7 III for sure! Sony A7 III Reviews and other related articles This Way >>

Autofocus:

The Sony A6500 Autofocus abilities are excellent and you can certainly capture with ease high speed action with no problem using a fast focusing lens to match.

Image Quality:

The image quality is very good on the Sony A6500, but I do look forward to the next generation image sensor just to see how much better it can actually be. The Exmor RS is the next generation sensor technology, so hopefully future models will incorporate that. High ISO testing proved to be pretty darn good even all the way up to the max of ISO 51,200.

Build Quality and Design:

Overall the build quality and design of the Sony A6500 is very good. I would love to see a larger grip that incorporates the newer FZ100 series batteries found in the full frame mirrorless cameras, effectively killing two birds with one stone. Larger grip and way bettery battery life.

The LCD TouchScreen on the back of the camera is great, but I still want a fully articulating screen like the one found on the Sony A99 II which I reviewed here >>. Come on Sony!

The EVF is excellent and I had no issues with it at all whenever I decided to use it. Mostly for the action type of stuff or in the brighter conditions where it was a bit harder to see the LCD screen for an accurate exposure preview.

On the bottom of the camera we still have the non auto locking battery/ memory card door, which drives me crazy. Why can’t Sony make this little door lock automatically so when you close it you don’t then need to slide the little lock lever over. We all know why, it’s so when a future model finally has it, we will want it of course. This bothers me, and make customers like myself unnecessarily frustrated when changing batteries or memory cards.

We also need a headphone jack for those video enthusiasts out there.

Menu System and Customization:

The menu system still leaves room for improvement, but I have been using the Sony cameras for so long I don’t really mind it that much. However, when coming from another camera manufacture it’s still clearly lacking in the intuitiveness and ease of finding certain features. Sony has incorporated a My Menu area on all there new cameras which has helped the situation a lot, but the A6500 does not have that feature.

Customizing the camera is also harder than it needs to be, but can be customized in a number of ways to help you out with your preferred methods of shooting or recording video. The New model cameras offer a more visually intuitive interface when it comes to setting up customized buttons, but the A6500 does not have that.

The Future:

There are always rumors of new cameras coming out, and in this case the A7000 which will replace the A6500 as the flagship APS-C mirrorless camera from Sony. That fact is you just never know when Sony will make these announcements and official come out with anything. That being said, the A6500 was announced on Oct 6, 2016, so I do expect a new next generation APS-C camera to be released within this year of 2019. This will be great, because the price of the A6500 will most likely drop, but the camera itself is still awesome and will those that want the latest and greatest to update, while the rest can get a better deal on an excellent all around beast of a mirrorless camera.

Final Thoughts:

That is about it for my Sony A6500 review and I really hope you got what you were looking for. Please let me know if you have any questions and please share your experience with the A6500 if you own one. What features do you like best, and what would you like to see on the next generation model?

That is all for now and have a great day, Jay

My Sony A6500 Review – Long Term Real World Perspective and How To Use Camera
Conclusions
I had a blast using the Sony A6500 on several occasions over the last year or so. It has proven to be an awesome camera and a pleasure to use. The real world usability, features, build, and image quality is overall excellent in my opinion. I would highly recommend the Sony A6500 mirrorless camera for those in the market looking for the most features and quality in one package.
Bang For The Buck
95
Feature Set
95
Build Quality and Design
87
Menu System and User Interface
83
Auto Focus System
95
Image quality
88
Usability
91
Video Quality
85
Audio Quality
80
Low Light Performance
88
Battery Life
70
Fun Factor
95
Reader Rating2 Votes
100
Pros
Best In Class Autofocus System
5-Axis Image Stabilization
Touchscreen
Microphone Jack
Very Good Build Quality
Highly Versatile Camera System
Cons
Poor Battery Life Compared To Competition
No Fully Articulating LCD Screen
Menu System and User Interface is Still Lacking Compared To Competition
No Headphone Jack
89
Best APS-C Mirrorless Camera for 2018

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