Thoughts on the New Sony A6500 and RX100V
When the rumours of the new Sony A6500 surfaced a few days before it was announced, I have to say, I was a little skeptical. I really didn’t think Sony would release another camera in the range so soon after the A6300 but I was happy to be proven wrong. The newly announced A6500 is a step above the 6300 and pretty much addresses all the criticism of the 63000 which is also still fairly new.
The general reaction to it has been pretty positive. Some people of course are complaining, but then it wouldn’t be the internet without complaints. I’m glad I didn’t get a 6300 now, and I’m sure some 6300 owners aren’t happy. I know it’s a bone of contention for some people, but I think it says something about Sony that they keep pushing the ball forward, and they’re not afraid to compete with themselves. They could have sat on this for another six months and released it next year, but instead they released it any way.
What is really impressive about the A6500 is that Sony seems to have addressed pretty much every complaint about the A6300 (bar one), and they did so in a record amount of time. People asked for a touch screen, check. People asked for in body stabilisation, and check! People used for better menus, and again, check. I know some people feel that these thing should have been in the 6300, but it’s a higher end and more expensive camera, so I think it’s fair enough. If I had one issue with the way it was released, it would be with Sony’s naming conventions. I think they could have moved this to a A7XXX naming scheme, to separate the models, but then that could well be reserved for another line next year.
The obvious headline feature is of course the 5 axis in-body stabilisation. Sony claim that this offers the equivalent of a 5 stop shutter speed advantage in terms of stability, and it matches what’s available in their larger cameras.
One of the features that seems to have impressed some people who have used the sample models at the announcement is the increased buffer size. I saw one video from the event where the reporter was shooting full speed and it seemed to go on forever. The new camera’s buffer allows up to 307 full-size JPEG images or up to 100 RAW + JPEG images, all at an impressive 11fps.
Video from SteveHuff Photo
One of the most requested features, aside from the in body stabilisation system, is the addition of a touch screen. People have been calling puny out on this for years. The new 6500 has a touch screen which also features as a touch pad for when you’re looking through he viewfinder.
The bulk of the improvements in the camera seemed geared towards video shooters, which is fair enough. The 6300 has gotten high marks for its video capabilities, with the exception of the overheating issue, and the A6500 builds on top of that. The in-body stabilisation should help a bit with rolling shutter when using it hand-held, and the touch screen should make it easier to switch focus. On top of that, it gains the variable frame rates that were announced with the A99II a few weeks ago. Coupled with the already extensive feature set including internal log recording this makes for a great small format video camera. I do wonder if the overheating issue has been resolved though, as the camera is slightly bigger according to reports.
The only thing really lacking on the camera is a headphone jack. Sony claim it is a lack of space, and to be fair, it’s a small camera, but it would be nice if they found a way, even through some kind of accessory. Maybe Sony should have a conversation with Apple about that one.
(I’m not sure if the XLR mic adaptor features a headphone jack or not?)
The other (relatively) surprise announcement was the RX100V. This latest incarnation of Sony’s highly regarded compact camera reads almost too good to be true on paper. The camera can shoot an almost ridiculous 24fps in stills mode. That’s fast enough to use the stills for filming. Of course, you could only shoot a couple of seconds this way, but still, that’s really impressive.
I think the RX100 series has to be one of Sony’s most successful and well regarded products throughout the company’s entire product range. The camera has consistently gotten high praise, and much like the rest of the lineup, they are not afraid to keep pushing forward with it.
The new version contains a new sensor, and a new hybrid AF system which Sony claim is the first for a 1” sensor equipped camera. In addition to the 315 dedicated autofocus points on the sensor, the camera now also comes with a new co-processor which aids in the implementation and speed of autofocus.
They’ve also added a new option when shooting using the electronic shutter. Called “Anti-Distortion Electronic Shutter” it aims to reduce the rolling shutter artifacts you can currently get when using an electronic shutter.
I could go on a and on and list the various technical specs and features, but the proof is in the pudding, and the few samples that have been posted online look fantastic. To be fair, the RX100 line has always produced great images given the size of the sensor, and this version looks to continue that trend. The little compact really is a swiss army knife of a camera. It can pretty much do anything: 4K video, S-Log, 20mp stills at 24fps, High Speed Video… all in a tiny compact body. A lot of emphasis has been on mirrorless cameras in recent years, but the rise of premium compact cameras shouldn’t be underestimated.
I was just discussing this with a friend today who owns the original RX100, and he still thinks it’s one of his favourite cameras to shoot with (and he uses a Nikon D800 and Sony A7). The sheer flexibility of having everything you need in a tiny little compact body can’t be underestimated. I know that is what people want cell phones to be, but the RX100 series really does give you near DSLR quality in a pocketable body. It’s something you can have with you all the time for a no compromise solution when you don’t have a bigger camera handy.
We’ve already seen Canon and Panasonic also release cameras in this space, and Nikon are aiming to as well if they can ever manage to get the DL series out the door. I really think that this will be the market to watch over the coming years.
Help Support the Blog
All of the work I do here, and the information on this blog is done entirely free of charge and takes up quite a bit of work. I want to spend more and more time on this blog, and offer more and more of this kind of information, tips and so on, so If you like what I'm doing here and want to show support, then you can do so by buying something from my Digital Download Store. I have Lightroom Presets, and e-books all available for download.
If you're a Fuji X-Trans shooter and Lightroom user, check out my guide to post processing X-Trans files in Lightroom. I also have a guides for processing X-Trans files in Capture One and Iridient Developer.
For Sony Alpha shooters I have a new guide with tips on how to get the best from processing your A6000 Images in Lightroom.
If you want to get regular updates, and notices of occasional special offers, and discounts from my store, then please sign up for the Newsletter.