Everything We Know About Sony's New a6500 4K Camera
Sony brings 4K UHD to Super 35mm format.
The a6500 is Sony's latest top-of-the-line APS-C E-mount mirrorless camera. Similar to the a6300, it touts an updated version of the 24.2MP CMOS sensor, as well as adding new features like in-body image stabilization, revised menus, touchscreen control, and 4K UHD (3840x2160p) in Super 35mm format, using the full width of the image sensor.
The camera combines an interchangeable lens system with internal 4K recording. When shooting 4K in Super 35mm (25p/24p), the camera uses the sensor's full pixel readout without pixel binning to collect 6K of information—roughly 2.4x as many pixels as 4K UHD. The oversampling provides users highly detailed imagery. In 30p, it takes about 1.6x the data to produce 4K. The sensor is a APS-C sized 24.2 MP8 Exmor CMOS with a BIONZ X image processor providing a sensitivity range of ISO 100-25600 (expandable to 51200 in stills mode).
You can work in S-Gamut for a wider color space, Rec 709, S-Log2 or S-Log 3 (14 stop latitude) gamma curves while recording internally 8-bit 4:2:0 4K up to 100 Mbps or uncompressed through its HDMI output at 8-bit 4:2:2. As you might imagine, it also offers 1080p at 24, 30, 60, maxing at 120fps 100 Mbps—supporting the XAVC S codec at 50 Mbps in HD and 100 Mbps in 4K. To record 100 Mbps, you'll need UHS-I (U3) SDHC/SDXC rated cards, and Class 10 or higher for everything else.
One of the the more notable additions is the touchscreen control, allowing you to specify which of the 425 phase detection points the AF should focus on. While Sony has improved its auto focus system, offering the ability to adjust speed and sensitivity, it still won't track a subject after touch. The only option for this is the Lock-On AF that will track the center. Sony says the camera can focus on a subject in as little as 0.05 seconds but I'm curious to see how well the focus shift performs. Samsung had a similar feature on its NX cameras and when turning to its slowest setting it did provide a more cinematic feel.
They've also added a 'Slow and Quick' (S&Q) mode that, as advertised, supports both slow and quick motion. In this mode, you can select frame rates from 1fps to 120fps before outputting video, and up to 60x quick motion or down to 5x slow motion recording. Shooters can also select, extract and save still images directly from the movie footage at 8 MP and 2 MP in 4K/HD.
A 5-axis stabilization helps steady your image and, according to Sony, the updated gyro sensor provides an image stabilization effect equivalent to a 5-steps-faster shutter speed using a 55mm F1.8 ZA lens. There is a built-in stereo mic to provide a scratch track for audio, but they skipped out on the headphone port again—a choice that still baffles us.
As for its body, it keeps a similar form factor to the a6000 series, while adapting functionality from the a7 II series. A magnesium alloy body accompanies the same recessed grip and lens mount from the a7 II, with a larger release button and ten total custom buttons. A high contrast, high res 2.4 million dot XGA OLED electric viewfinder and a LCD screen supports the views. The a6500 is also equipped with wifi, QR and NFC to help transfer images to mobile devices.
The price tag is around $1,400 and the camera is expected to ship November.
- APS-C type (23.5 x 15.6 mm) Exmor CMOS Sensor
- Approx. 24.2 Megapixels
- Built-in 5-axis Image Stabilization
- 425 phase-detection AF points
- BIONZ X Image Processing Engine
- ISO 100-25600
- 4K Recording
- Sony E-mount lenses