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Sony Alpha A6500 Full Review - Performance

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Sony Alpha A6500 Performance

The performance section is where we look at the image quality performance of the camera. Additional sample photos and product shots are available in the Equipment Database, where you can add your own review, photos and product ratings.

Speed - We took a number of shots to test the camera's responsiveness, from switch on to first photo, shot to shot, focusing speed etc. We take a number of shots and then use the average to ensure accurate and consistent tests, making it easy to compare with other cameras.

Shutter Response <0.05secs
Wide - Focus / Shutter Response 0.1secs
Full zoom - Focus / Shutter Response  0.05secs
Switch on Time to Taking a Photo 1.8secs
Shot to Shot without Flash 0.4secs
Shot to Shot with Flash 1.0secs
Continuous Shooting - JPEG
(shots before slow down)
11fps (316 shots) with C-AF
Continuous Shooting - RAW 11fps (112 shots) with C-AF

Shutter response and focus speeds are both excellent. Continuous shooting is very good at 11fps with continuous AF active. There is a much-improved buffer compared to the A6300, shooting 316 JPEG images, and 112 raw images. 


Sony Alpha a6500 Sample Photos

Sample Photos - Eye-AF is designed to focus on the subjects eye, however in our shooting experience, this feature did not make an appearance, and compared to other companies eye-detection focus, it is much less likely to confirm focus on the eye. Your experience may differ. Even saying this, the camera focuses well on subjects faces and can produce sharp photos, with pleasing skin tones. flash performance is good with no signs of red-eye in the photo.

Exposure is reliable, and the camera has a number of options to improve the dynamic range recorded in the photos, including DRO (Dynamic Range Optimisation) and HDR (High Dynamic Range). Colour is good, even when shooting at higher ISO speeds, and the camera produces good photos. 


Sony Alpha a6500 Lens test images

Lens Performance - We used the Carl Zeiss 16-70mm f/2.8 zoom lens which is equivalent to 24-105mm in 35mm terms, making it a versatile lens to use, with reliable focusing. Images were particularly sharp in the centre of the frame. Chromatic aberrations and purple fringing can be an issue into the corners of the frame, although switch on lens distortion correction and this problem should go away. The camera has options for shading compensation, chromatic aberration compensation, and distortion compensation. 

Better macro performance can be achieved by using a dedicated macro lens, and for ultimate image quality, a prime lens is recommended.


Sony Alpha a6500 ISO test images

ISO Noise Performance - The Sony Alpha A6500 produces images with low levels of noise, and good levels of detail from ISO100 to ISO1600. There's a slight drop in fine detail at ISO3200, but results are still good. Detail drops again at ISO6400, but noise is well controlled, and this should provide good images. ISO12800 is on the edge, as noise increases, and detail is reduced. You may find these images usable if resized, or further processing is applied. ISO25600 and above is best avoided if possible. 

There is a slight improvement over the A6300, with a little more detail retained as the ISO speed increases. ISO6400 produces usable images, and there is much better noise reduction at ISO12800, compare to the A6300. 


Sony Alpha a6500 White-balance test images

White Balance Performance - Auto White Balance (AWB) produces a warm result under tungsten light, with the Tungsten preset giving a more accurate result. AWB performs well under fluorescent lighting, and there are a number of fluorescent presets available if needed. 

There are now options that can be set for Auto White Balance so that you can choose whether you want the correction to be stronger or weaker. "Priority Set" in AWB options are now: Standard, Ambience (Warmer), and White. However the difference these settings make is quite subtle in our shots, and if you want truly accurate results, then you're still best using manual white balance or one of the presets. 


Sony Alpha a6500 Digital filters

Digital Filters - There are a number of customisable creative styles where you can alter contrast, saturation and sharpness. There are also a large number of picture effects, that let you apply digital filters to images including Retro, Toy camera, Posterisation, Miniature and selective colour to name a few, although when shooting using the creative effects, the camera will record JPEG images only. The camera features an automatic panoramic mode, that stitches the photo as you pan the camera from one side to the other and results are good. If you don't get the speed right then you can end up with the camera leaving a grey area at the end of your panoramic image, although this can easily be corrected later on your computer. 


Video - The camera offers 4K UHD video recording at a resolution of 3840x2160 pixels with frame rate options of 30p, 25p, and 24p. When using 25 or 24p, the camera will use the full sensor width which is a Super35 equivalent, and compress the 20 megapixels down into a 4K / 8mp resolution, giving extremely sharp and detailed 4K videos. There are a number of compression options including XAVC S, 100MBps (MP4 wrapper). You can also record high-speed FullHD video at 120fps (NTSC) /100fps (PAL). The focus performance of video is also very good, with 425 phase-detection AF points on the sensor. 

The addition of a stabilised image sensor will be welcome, and for this reason alone, the new camera will be interesting to Sony E lens users. This makes handheld video much more stable. The camera has a microphone socket, so that you can upgrade the sound quality compared to the stereo internal microphones.  

There are options to adjust AF drive speed, AF tracking sensitivity, as well as options for S-log3 gamma, S-log2 gamma, S-gamut3, Picture profiles, Timecode / User bit, Gamma display assist, Focus peaking, Zebra display, Clean HDMI output (QFHD 3840x2160), and the camera gives you an ISO range of ISO100-25600. However, there aren't as many options available as the recently reviewed Panasonic Lumix GH5

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Photographs taken using the Sony Alpha a6500

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1 Mar 2017 12:58PM
I am not an early adopter - I bought an A6000 used just a month ago, an A7 in 2014 and an A7II in 2016. I can see how many of the features of the A6500 make it much superior not only to other APS-C cameras in the Sony line, but - IMHO - superior to every other APS-C camera I've seen. It is priced high, but likely to be reduced - and at some point, I may purchase it. But for now, lack of it doesn't impede my ability to take the best photos I can.

One can admire a new product, and one can afford it without feeling compelled to purchase it immediately.

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hannu108 8 1 United Kingdom
1 Mar 2017 1:05PM
There seem to be a typo: Pros: 1fps continuous shooting with AF. It sould be 11 fps.
joshwa Plus
9 905 United Kingdom
1 Mar 2017 2:52PM

Quote:There seem to be a typo: Pros: 1fps continuous shooting with AF. It sould be 11 fps.

Sorry this has been fixed, thanks
6 Mar 2017 11:16AM
I own the A7R2 and spend half on still and half video I purchased the 6500 for the video enhancements, such as the Quick and slow motion.
My slow motion is on memory 2 and once set up can be used in an instant. I have had this camera since it was launched, and have only used the A7R2 since to compare image quality. 18 Months technology since the launch of the A7R2 shows such huge innovation and improvement.
I use the 6500 mainly with the 70-200GMaster and two converters. The image quality is unbeatable, the lens with converters give me up to 400mm on the A7R2 full frame up to 600mm with APSC and 1200 mm in clear image Zoom, with excellent quality.
The best camera I have ever owned. I have owned rather a lot.

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