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Our Verdict

In-body image stabilization finally comes to the Sony APS-C flagship. Add bucketloads of buffer and a touchscreen, and the A6500 arguably surpasses Sony’s A7 Mark II.

For

  • Lightning-quick AF system
  • Respectable buffer capacity
  • Expansive video options

Against

  • Dim rear LCD
  • Noticeable rolling shutter
  • Still lacks a headphone port

The Sony A6300 was announced six months ago, and Sony hasn't left it long before bringing out its new mirrorless APS-C camera, the A6500. While this might sound like a premature update, the Alpha 6500 gains in-body image stabilization to further blur the line between Sony’s APS-C lineup and its Alpha 7 full-frame range of mirrorless cameras.

Sony has also equipped its new camera with a greatly enhanced buffer to make it a tempting proposition for shooting action, while there's also the welcome addition of a touchscreen interface. The inclusion of these new features makes the A6500 one of the most fully featured crop-sensor cameras on the market right now.

Key features

  • APS-C CMOS sensor, 24.2MP
  • 3.0-inch, vari-angle touchscreen, 921,000 dots
  • 4K video capture

While the Sony A6500 sticks with the Alpha 6300’s 24.2MP APS-C sensor and 4D focus system (with 425 phase detect AF points), there are welcome improvements elsewhere.

It’s notably the first Sony APS-C camera to come with 5-axis in-body image stabilization, just as we've seen with Sony's second-generation Alpha 7 series of cameras. And the great news is that this not only works with Sony's non-stabilized optics, but can be used in conjunction with Sony's OSS stabilized lenses.

Sony has also overhauled the buffer of the A6500, delivering a considerable boost in performance that sees the camera capable of capturing 307 full-size JPEG files or 107 raws, all at a quick 11fps burst rate – quite an improvement from the A6300's 44 JPEG and 22 raw limit.

That's still a far cry from the Nikon D500's bottomless 200-raw buffer, but it beats out most cameras – including absolutely crushing the Canon 7D Mark II's buffer capacity of 31 raw files.

A faster large-scale integration (LSI) chip and image processing algorithm improve texture reproduction while reducing noise. With this new chipset and code, the A6500 specifically produces less noise in the mid-to-high portions of the camera’s ISO100-25,600 (expandable up to ISO51,200) sensitivity range.

The Alpha 6500 also gains a touchscreen, allowing you to change your focus point on the fly when shooting video. Aside from the newly integrated digitizer, the screen resolution remains at the same 921k-dot resolution.

Likewise, there's the same XGA OLED Tru-Finder, with a 2.36-million dots resolution and 120hz maximum refresh rate, as on the A6300, although the eye cup is a little softer.

The Sony A6500 gains no additional video capabilities over its predecessor. However, users will find themselves well equipped to shoot 4K at 25p and 30p, plus Full HD footage at up to 120p for slow motion action.

In an effort to address the A6300’s infamous overheating issues, Sony has come up with a new ‘Auto PWR OFF Temp’ setting that prioritizes recording over keeping the camera cool.

This effectively turns off the camera's thermal limiter, so that you can shoot 4K footage for 29 minutes and 50 seconds straight. After that you can record another half-hour session, assuming the camera is operating within normal conditions.

It removes a major restriction, but this is only a sticking plaster solution at best. While we haven’t seen the same overheating problems with the Sony A6500, we have noticed it getting decidedly warm in the winter conditions in which we've been testing it, which leaves us wary of how it will perform in warmer months or under a hot sun.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kevin has been a writer for the better part of five years covering everything from green energy to high octane cars, videogames and tech, biohacking, and even city politics. At TechRadar he's settled into a life as the Computing Editor while also covering cameras and shooting video. He can be often found in the lab testing a half dozen laptops at a time or deciding which camera bags to carry for the day.