Audley Jarvis takes a closer look at Sony’s flagship APS-C mirrorless camera
Sony A6500 review – Build and handling
While some manufacturers remain keen to explore the retro rangefinder school of design, Sony has long taken a distinctly modern approach to design. The A6500 duly follows suit with its sharp lines, functional controls and distinctively flat top-plate. Whether or not this aesthetic appeals to you is, of course, purely subjective. Its predominantly magnesium alloy construction lends it a premium feel in the hand, and gives it a surprising yet reassuring degree of heft too. The metal lens mount is solidly engineered to bear the weight of larger telephoto lenses, while the handgrip is coated in hard-wearing textured rubber and large enough to afford a comfortable and secure grip. Externally the A6500 benefits from being moisture and dust resistant, including seals around all of the buttons and dials along with what Sony describes as a “protective, double-layered structure” designed to keep foreign objects at bay. Our only minor quibble is with the battery compartment door, which is plastic and feels a little flimsy compared to the rest of the body.
In terms of size the A6500 is slightly deeper than the A6300 on account of the handgrip being more pronounced, however width and height remain identical. Overall, it remains impressively small. Sony has made a couple of minor tweaks to the control layout, with the main point of interest being that the shutter button is larger and more pronounced than on the A6300. In addition, an additional Custom function button has been added to the top-plate, bringing the total number of customisable buttons to ten (compared to nine on the A6300). There are two control wheels, with one located on the top-plate and the other encircling the directional pad. While this does allow you to adjust shutter and aperture settings independently while the camera is in Manual mode, you will need to hold the camera with two hands and reposition your grip slightly when moving from one wheel to the other – unless you have an abnormally long and dexterous thumb that is. The tiny Movie Record button is still in the same hard-to-reach place on the side of the handgrip too.
Sony A6500 review – Viewfinder and screen
As with the A6300, the A6500 is equipped with a 2.36m-dot OLED Tru-Finder EVF that provides 100% coverage at 0.70x magnification. While this provides very good colour accuracy and contrast, the resolution of fine detail is still no match for an optical viewfinder. The refresh rate of the EVF (and rear LCD display) can be set to either 100fps or 50fps, and while the former does increase battery drain it is definitely useful when shooting action. An eye-sensor is also present that enables the EVF to automatically switch on when holding the camera to your eye, on top of which Sony also supplies a rubber eyecup in the box that slots over the viewfinder to help block out light.
On the back it’s all change with the addition of a tiltable touchscreen. While this is certainly a welcome development that many users have been calling for for some time, its capabilities are sadly rather limited on the A6500. While you can use it to reposition the active focus point, or to move around captured images in Playback mode, you cannot use it to change key camera settings or navigate the in-camera menu. If you’re shooting through the viewfinder then you also need to remember to turn the focus point selection option off (via the Select button), otherwise it’s all too easy to inadvertently reposition the active AF point with the tip of your nose when holding the camera to your eye.