If you read our recent Sony a6000 review then you know that the a6000 was great for pictures, but not the best for video. The a6500? It’s several hundred dollars or euros more expensive, but it’s also the most premium version of the a6000 series. So is the Sony a6500 worth the upgrade in 2019? Or should you perhaps get (or stay with) the Sony a6000 or the newly released a6400 instead?
Is the Sony a6500 Worth the Upgrade If Looking for Pictures
Compared to the Sony a6000, which is around half the price, there’s only minimal improvement when it comes to pictures.
Sure, continuous shooting is much faster, the autofocus is much better with 425 AF points instead of 179 allowing for catching the exact moments you want to catch, and the shots overall do look slightly better as far as quality goes due to improvements in sector such as color depth and dynamic range, but frankly, even with those improvements, the Sony a6000 was already incredible at taking photos, and is overall much better than any competition at that price range.
If you are looking for pictures and wondering is the Sony a6500 worth the upgrade in 2019, for pictures alone, it isn’t.
It will take amazing pictures like the ones we are showing below, but it just won’t take them on a significantly higher level than the a6000.
And after all, it does still ultimately have the same 24 MP sensor which is why for most, especially if on a budget, it will make more sense to buy the Sony a6000 and spend that $400 or €400 on lenses which will make a real difference.
Seriously. We’ve seen some people on Google wonder as to why the camera doesn’t take great pictures. The kit lens is the reason. Sony just isn’t great at creating kit lenses.
All the photo examples here were taken on either the Sony 50mm 1.8f or the Sigma 16mm 1.4f which are our top 2 lens recommendations whether looking to get the Sony a6000, a6500, or the a6400 which we hope to review in the future.
Without great lenses, you will be vastly limited when it comes to taking pictures.
Perhaps my favorite thing about this Sony line is how easy it is to take a great picture. You could give this camera to a randomer, and they’d be able to take some great looking pictures without too much hassle, which isn’t the case with a lot of cameras. I’ve tested Olympus and Nikon cameras that I had to read instructions just to take good enough pictures.
With that said, while it’s easy to take great pictures if you want to get more advanced, the Sony menus are organized badly and not great to deal with when trying to do something in a rush.
Is the Sony a6500 Worth the Upgrade Video Wise?
This is where the Sony a6500 makes a real difference, especially over the a6000.
Why? For one, it has a microphone jack which isn’t perhaps anything special, but something that was missing in the a6000 and made the camera not good enough for videos. The overall video quality on the a6000 was good enough, but you can’t have a camera for video without a microphone jack.
Great video is great, but if you don’t also have great audio, it’s for nothing. That’s why having a microphone jack is so important. Which microphone should you choose? We’ve been testing out the Sennheiser XSW-D set which allows for wireless audio, and we’ll have a review of it coming soon. (Subscribe to the newsletter for that.)
Of course, if really needed, it’s possible to get away without a microphone jack, but it makes life tremendously harder, and justs waste a tremendous amount of time.
The built-in microphone? It’s average. Like expected. It works if you have nothing else, but unless you have perfect conditions, the audio won’t sound great.
Quality-wise, the Sony a6500 shoots amazing footage. And the camera is able to shoot at a higher-bitrate, at 4K, and has the ability to shoot in slow motion which was one of the things that I missed badly in the a6000. However, getting to these options through the menus, well, it’s not pleasant at all.
A very important thing that this camera has that the a6000 lacked is color profiles (things like S-log) which is basically like raw for pictures, except for videos, giving you great color grading abilities if you want even more cinematic looking video. Personally, most of the time, I don’t dive into it and am happy with how Sony footage looks already, but I am diving a lot more into it as I use the camera more.
The a6500 also comes with 5-axis stabilization which isn’t present on the other models of the series which is one of the reasons for why we got this camera over the a6400 first. But after using it, frankly, it doesn’t make enough difference to need it. Sure, it helps slightly, but the difference is minimal. It will help with tiny movements but don’t expect to shoot butter-smooth b-rolls with it unless you have steady hands and apply the likes of warp stabilizer in Adobe Premiere. If you want those, you should probably get a gimbal instead. Something we are going to dive into on our blog, in the near future.
Looking for stable content right now? Perhaps check out our review of the DJI Osmo Pocket that is incredibly tiny and comes with a gimbal.
Vlogging wise? For sure get some small tripod to give you that extra reach. The Sony a6500 is fantastic for vlogging, but if you don’t have something to hold on to, you will end up over shaking the camera which will result in footage that doesn’t look as great as it could.
Is the Sony a6500 worth the Upgrade video-wise? Absolutely. It’s the best there is, for its size on the market, out of all that we tried so far. In an incredibly small and light package that sometimes even fits in jacket pockets.
What About Features?
The a6500 also comes with a touchscreen, a feature I wanted so badly as a sony a6000 owner. I fell for the marketing. Turns out I had to turn that feature off relatively quickly because I would often press it by accident when I didn’t want to, which at times resulted in my footage not being in focus.
We are talking about features, but one of the anti-features that for some makes the question of is the Sony a6500 worth the upgrade in 2019 a solid “no” is the lack of a fully rotating screen. Personally, with a 16mm lens on, I mostly didn’t have issues being in the frame even with someone else being there too, but it is something that some people might want, and for now, the newly released a6400 is the only camera that offers that ability out of the a6000 series or even the a7 series.
A crucial feature the Sony a6500 comes with that for me makes the Sony a6500 worth the upgrade? Weather seal. One of our Sony a6000 cameras broke while in Iceland this year due to rain. We aren’t going to stop taking products out in bad conditions. You probably aren’t either. And they survive it well. The Sony a6000 didn’t. The screen on it broke. That won’t be the case with the Sony a6500. It’s able to handle rain now. And that’s crucial to have.
As to other features, the camera does also come with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, but we like to focus on things that make a difference, and most people don’t care about small features like that.
Does the Sony a6500 Have Overheating Problems?
If you live in warm countries and are wondering is the Sony a6500 worth the upgrade, this is probably important for you.
We tested the Sony a6000 in places like Thailand, and it failed. Miserably. After a few minutes in over 33 degrees Celcius, the camera wasn’t able to record anymore.
The Sony a6500? We didn’t take it to Thailand, but we were lucky enough (or rather unlucky) to be in Paris when it was 38 degrees Celcius, and the Sony a6500 did not have any issues with that temperature at all. (I did, though.)
Perhaps that has something to do with the slightly bigger body over the a6000.
And since we are on the topic of overheating, it’s worth talking about battery life. The a6500 has a poorer battery life than the a6000 when it comes to pictures, with both having poor battery life when it comes to video. To be expected, though. These are tiny cameras. You should always have spare batteries anyway.
Is the Sony a6500 Worth the Upgrade in 2019?
If looking for a camera for pictures, get the Sony a6000. If you want videos though, there’s no better option than the Sony a6500 out there, for its size. Or is there? The Sony a6400 might be something to consider too. It’s slightly cheaper. It sacrifices the somewhat working stabilization for a fully rotating screen though. And that might make it worth it for you, depending on your needs.
Found this useful? Make sure to subscribe to our newsletter as make useful reviews like this that cover the things that matter while skipping the things that don’t.