First Look at the Sony a6500

Sony reveals the new a6500 mirrorless camera, with more robust video shooting, image processing, and in-body 5-axis image stabilization
By Brent Durand

Sony has just announced the a6500 mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. This announcement comes fairly soon after the recently released Sony a6300, which we just put through 3 weeks of testing underwater (review coming shortly).

The a6500 will feature several important updates from the a6300, discussed below. The camera will be available for pre-order starting next week (per B+H) and will be shipping starting in November.

The Sony a6500 specs indicate that the body will be more thin than the a6300, so as of now we do not think it will fit in a6300 housings.  We expect to see the first a6500 housings shipping in early 2017.

Availability: November 2016

U.S. Retail Price:  $1,499


Sony a6500 Key Upgrades

  • 5-Axis Image Stabilization
  • Touch Screen Focusing
  • Newly Developped Front-End LSi (image processing algorithm)
  • Higher quality 4K video recording (Super 35 feature now uses 6K of data before recording at 4K)

Sony a6500 Complete Specs

  • 24.2-megapixel APS-C Exmor CMOS sensor 

  • 425-point phase detection autofocus points

  • 4D Focus picks up both space and time to capture moving subjects quickly with new clarity

  • BIONZ X™ image-processing engine delivers blazing speed and performance, combined with new front-end LSi

  • ISO 100 - 25,600 (expandable to 51,200)

  • 5-axis in-body image stabilization

  • 2.95" wide-angle LCD monitor with brightness control for sharp vivid color in any light

  • Touch screen focusing

  • Electronic XGA OLED Tru-Finder™

  • 4K video recording with no pixel binning (sampling from full sensor for increased detail)

  • 11 FPS burst

  • Built-in WiFi for easy sharing

  • Battery life approximately 350 shots using LCD screen

* View the full details for each of these highlights on the Sony a6300 website.

Thoughts for Underwater Photo and Video

The Sony a6500 will likely prove popular with underwater photographers. One of the best aspects of the a6300 is the great image quality and camera features in a body that costs less than $1,000. The a6500 will retail about $400 more, but the increased still image and video quality will likely prove worth the additional cost. The touch screen focus and 5-axis image stabilization will prove really useful for those who shoot topside as well. Fun features from the a6300, like Slow & Quick (slow motion and fast motion), remain in the a6500.

The a6500 will be a great camera for those who are upgrading from a compact or buying their first underwater system. The a6300 doesn't perform in the same league as a DSLR, so the only reason to switch from DSLR to the a6500 would be if the slightly smaller size is critical.

I'm excited to see the image quality coming from the a6500, as the a6300 can produce some very crisp shots with vibrant color. The 1.5 crop factor helps fill the frame with small macro subjects (when compared to full frame) providing more detail, while the Super 35 video recoding mode combined with S-Log2 and S-Log3 gamma settings will deliver the video quality, and post-processing latitude, that pros are looking for.

All in all, this will be an excellent camera for both underwater photography and video.

Be sure to check out our Guide to Manual White Balance on the Sony a6500.


Sony a6500 Underwater Housings

We expect to see the first housings announced when the camera starts shipping in November. Ikelite and Nauticam housings will likely be the first to ship in early 2017, followed by Aquatica, Sea&Sea and Acquapazza. Because the a6500 body looks to be more thin than the a6300, we don't think it will fit in the older housings. The team at Bluewater Photo is always available to answer questions on Sony a6500 housings.

We'll update this section as we learn more!


The Best Service & Prices on u/w Photo Gear


Visit Bluewater Photo & Video for all your underwater photography and video gear. Click, or call the team at (310) 633-5052 for expert advice!


The Best Pricing, Service & Expert Advice to Book your Dive Trips


Bluewater Travel is your full-service scuba travel agency. Let our expert advisers plan and book your next dive vacation. Run by divers, for divers.