Panasonic S1H vs Sony A6500
The Panasonic Lumix DC-S1H and the Sony Alpha A6500 are two enthusiast cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in May 2019 and October 2016. Both the S1H and the A6500 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a full frame (S1H) and an APS-C (A6500) sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 24 megapixels.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Panasonic Lumix DC-S1H and the Sony Alpha A6500? Which one should you buy? Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their body size, their imaging sensors, their shooting features, their input-output connections, and their reception by expert reviewers.
The physical size and weight of the Panasonic S1H and the Sony A6500 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. The two cameras are presented according to their relative size. Three successive views from the front, the top, and the rear are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter.
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Sony A6500 is considerably smaller (53 percent) than the Panasonic S1H. Moreover, the A6500 is substantially lighter (57 percent) than the S1H. In this context, it is worth noting that both cameras are splash and dust-proof and can, hence, be used in inclement weather conditions or harsh environments.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete since they do not consider the interchangeable lenses that both of these cameras require. Hence, you might want to study and compare the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
Concerning battery life, the S1H gets 400 shots out of its DMW-BLJ31 battery, while the A6500 can take 350 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 power pack. The battery packs of both cameras can be charged via USB, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you want to switch the focus of the display and review another camera pair, just select a new right or left comparator from among the camera models in the table. Alternatively, you can also move across to the CAM-parator tool and choose from the broad selection of possible camera comparisons there.
|Panasonic S1H||151 mm||114 mm||110 mm||1052 g||400||Y||May 2019||3,999|
|Sony A6500||120 mm||67 mm||53 mm||453 g||350||Y||Oct 2016||1,399|
|Leica SL2||146 mm||107 mm||42 mm||953 g||370||Y||Nov 2019||5,999|
|Olympus E-M1X||144 mm||147 mm||75 mm||997 g||870||Y||Jan 2019||2,999|
|Olympus PEN-F||125 mm||72 mm||37 mm||427 g||330||n||Jan 2016||1,199|
|Panasonic S5||133 mm||98 mm||82 mm||714 g||440||Y||Sep 2020||1,999|
|Panasonic S1||149 mm||110 mm||97 mm||1017 g||400||Y||Feb 2019||2,499|
|Panasonic S1R||149 mm||110 mm||97 mm||1016 g||380||Y||Feb 2019||3,699|
|Panasonic G90||130 mm||94 mm||77 mm||536 g||290||Y||Apr 2019||999|
|Panasonic FT7||117 mm||76 mm||37 mm||319 g||300||Y||May 2018||449|
|Panasonic GX9||124 mm||72 mm||47 mm||407 g||260||n||Feb 2018||849|
|Panasonic GX8||133 mm||78 mm||63 mm||487 g||330||Y||Jul 2015||1,199|
|Sigma fp||113 mm||70 mm||45 mm||422 g||280||Y||Jul 2019||1,899|
|Sony A9 II||129 mm||96 mm||76 mm||678 g||690||Y||Oct 2019||4,499|
|Sony A6600||120 mm||67 mm||69 mm||503 g||810||Y||Aug 2019||1,399|
|Sony A6300||120 mm||67 mm||49 mm||404 g||400||Y||Feb 2016||999|
|Sony A7||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||474 g||340||Y||Oct 2013||1,699|
Notes: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as add-on or interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.
(1) Number of images that can be taken on a full battery charge according to the CIPA-standard; (2) Official announcement.
Any camera decision will naturally be influenced heavily by the price. The manufacturer’s suggested retail prices give an idea on the placement of the camera in the maker’s lineup and the broader market. The A6500 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 65 percent) than the S1H, which puts it into a different market segment. Usually, retail prices stay at first close to the launch price, but after several months, discounts become available. Later in the product cycle and, in particular, when the replacement model is about to appear, further discounting and stock clearance sales often push the camera price considerably down.
The size of the sensor inside a digital camera is one of the key determinants of image quality. A large sensor will generally have larger individual pixels that offer better low-light sensitivity, provide wider dynamic range, and have richer color-depth than smaller pixels in a sensor of the same technological generation. Further, a large sensor camera will give the photographer additional creative options when using shallow depth-of-field to isolate a subject from its background. On the downside, larger sensors are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Panasonic S1H features a full frame sensor and the Sony A6500 an APS-C sensor. The sensor area in the A6500 is 57 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.0 and 1.5. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Even though the S1H has a larger sensor, both cameras offer the same resolution of 24 megapixels. This implies that the S1H has a lower pixel density and larger individual pixels (with a pixel pitch of 5.94μm versus 3.91μm for the A6500), which gives it a potential advantage in terms of light gathering capacity. In addition, the S1H is much more recent (by 2 years and 7 months) than the A6500, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time.
The A6500 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
Unlike the A6500, the S1H has the capacity to capture high quality composite images (96MP) by combining multiple shots after shifting its sensor by miniscule distances. This multi-shot, pixel-shift mode is most suitable for photography of stationary objects (landscapes, studio scenes).
The Panasonic Lumix DC-S1H has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 51200, which can be extended to ISO 50-204800. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha A6500 are ISO 100 to ISO 25600, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 100-51200.
Since 2007, DXO Mark has published sensor performance measurements that have been derived using a consistent methodology. This service assesses and scores the color depth ("DXO Portrait"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports") of camera sensors, and also publishes an overall camera score. The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Panasonic S1H||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||6K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|Leica SL2||Full Frame||46.7||8368||5584||4K/60p||..||..||..||..|
|Olympus E-M1X||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|Olympus PEN-F||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||1080/60p||23.1||12.4||894||74|
|Panasonic S5||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/60p||..||..||..||..|
|Panasonic S1||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/60p||25.2||14.5||3333||95|
|Panasonic S1R||Full Frame||46.7||8368||5584||4K/60p||26.4||14.1||3525||100|
|Panasonic G90||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|Panasonic GX9||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|Panasonic GX8||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.5||12.6||806||75|
|Sigma fp||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||..||..||..||..|
|Sony A9 II||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.0||3434||93|
|Sony A7||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.8||14.2||2248||90|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the S1H provides a higher video resolution than the A6500. It can shoot video footage at 6K/30p, while the Sony is limited to 4K/30p.
Beyond body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The two cameras under consideration are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the S1H offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the A6500 (5760k vs 2359k dots). The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Panasonic S1H and Sony A6500 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras.
|Sony A9 II||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
One feature that is present on the S1H, but is missing on the A6500 is a top-level LCD. While being, of course, smaller than the rear screen, the control panel conveys some of the essential shooting information and can be convenient for quick and easy settings verification.The S1H has an articulated LCD that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in snapping selfies. In contrast, the A6500 does not have a selfie-screen.
The reported shutter speed information refers to the use of the mechanical shutter. Yet, some cameras only have an electronic shutter, while others have an electronic shutter in addition to a mechanical one. In fact, both cameras under consideration feature an electronic shutter, which makes completely silent shooting possible. However, this mode is less suitable for photographing moving objects (risk of rolling shutter) or shooting under artificial light sources (risk of flickering).
The Panasonic S1H has an intervalometer built-in. This enables the photographer to capture time lapse sequences, such as flower blooming, a sunset or moon rise, without purchasing an external camera trigger and related software.
The S1H writes its imaging data to SDXC cards, while the A6500 uses SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards. The S1H features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the A6500 only has one slot. The S1H supports UHS-II cards (on both slots), while the A6500 can use UHS-I cards.
For some imaging applications, the extent to which a camera can communicate with its environment can be an important aspect in the camera decision process. The table below provides an overview of the connectivity of the Panasonic Lumix DC-S1H and Sony Alpha A6500 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
|Sony A9 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
It is notable that the S1H has a headphone jack, which is not present on the A6500 This port makes it possible to attach external headphones and monitor the quality of sound during the recording process.
Studio photographers will appreciate that the Panasonic S1H (unlike the A6500) features a PC Sync socket, so that professional strobe lights can be controlled by the camera.
The S1H is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Panasonic. In contrast, the A6500 has been discontinued (but can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the A6500 was succeeded by the Sony A6600. Further information on the two cameras (e.g. user guides, manuals), as well as related accessories, can be found on the official Panasonic and Sony websites.
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Panasonic S1H and the Sony A6500? Which camera is better? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Advantages of the Panasonic Lumix DC-S1H:
- High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
- Better image quality: Features a larger and more technologically advanced imaging sensor.
- Richer colors: The sensor size advantage translates into images with better, more accurate colors.
- More dynamic range: Larger sensor captures a wider spectrum of light and dark details.
- Better low-light sensitivity: Larger sensor produces good images even in poorly lit environments.
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (6K/30p vs 4K/30p).
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (5760k vs 2359k dots).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.78x vs 0.70x).
- Easier setting verification: Features an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (3.2" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (2330k vs 922k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has a swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- More selfie-friendly: Has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/8000s vs 1/4000s) to freeze action.
- Easier time-lapse photography: Has an intervalometer built-in for low frequency shooting.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (400 versus 350) on a single battery charge.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.1 vs 2.0).
- More solid recording: Has a full-sized HDMI port for a sturdy connection to an external recorder.
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- Better studio light control: Has a PC Sync socket to connect to professional strobe lights.
- Greater peace of mind: Features a second card slot as a backup in case of memory card failure.
- Faster buffer clearing: Supports a more advanced SD data transfer standard (UHS-II vs UHS-I).
- More modern: Reflects 2 years and 7 months of technical progress since the A6500 launch.
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A6500:
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 9 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (120x67mm vs 151x114mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 599g or 57 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (65 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in October 2016).
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the S1H is the clear winner of the match-up (24 : 8 points). However, the relevance of individual strengths will vary across photographers, so that you might want to apply your own weighing scheme to the summary points when reflecting and deciding on a new camera. A professional wildlife photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a family photog, and a person interested in architecture has distinct needs from a sports shooter. Hence, the decision which camera is best and worth buying is often a very personal one.
How about other alternatives? Do the specifications of the Panasonic S1H and the Sony A6500 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera listing whether the two cameras rank among the cream of the crop.
In any case, while the comparison of technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it says little about, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance of the S1H and the A6500 in practical situations. User reviews that are available, for instance, at amazon can sometimes shed light on these issues, but such feedback is all too often partial, inconsistent, and inaccurate.
This is where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall ratings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, and photographyblog). As can be seen, the professional reviewers agree in many cases on the quality of different cameras, but sometimes their assessments diverge, reinforcing the earlier point that a camera decision is often a very personal choice.
|Panasonic S1H||..||90/100||..||..||..||May 2019||3,999|
|Sony A6500||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2016||1,399|
|Leica SL2||..||..||4.5/5||..||4/5||Nov 2019||5,999|
|Olympus E-M1X||o||..||4.5/5||5/5||..||Jan 2019||2,999|
|Olympus PEN-F||..||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,199|
|Panasonic S5||+ +||..||4.5/5||..||4.5/5||Sep 2020||1,999|
|Panasonic S1||+ +||88/100||4.5/5||..||4/5||Feb 2019||2,499|
|Panasonic S1R||..||89/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2019||3,699|
|Panasonic G90||+||83/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Apr 2019||999|
|Panasonic FT7||+||..||3.5/5||..||3.5/5||May 2018||449|
|Panasonic GX9||+||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Feb 2018||849|
|Panasonic GX8||+||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2015||1,199|
|Sigma fp||..||..||4/5||..||4.5/5||Jul 2019||1,899|
|Sony A9 II||..||90/100||5/5||..||5/5||Oct 2019||4,499|
|Sony A6600||+||83/100||4.5/5||..||4/5||Aug 2019||1,399|
|Sony A6300||+||85/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Feb 2016||999|
|Sony A7||+ +||80/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,699|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
Other camera comparisons
Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you would like to check on the differences and similarities of other camera models, just make your choice using the following search menu. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored.
- Canon 1Ds vs Panasonic S1H
- Canon 500D vs Sony A6500
- Canon 850D vs Sony A6500
- Canon T3i vs Panasonic S1H
- Fujifilm GFX 50R vs Sony A6500
- Fujifilm X-A3 vs Panasonic S1H
- Fujifilm X100 vs Panasonic S1H
- Leica V-LUX 4 vs Sony A6500
- Olympus E-330 vs Panasonic S1H
- Olympus E-520 vs Sony A6500
- Olympus TG-6 vs Sony A6500
- Panasonic S1H vs Sony A7R IV
Specifications: Panasonic S1H vs Sony A6500
Below is a side-by-side comparison of the specs of the two cameras to facilitate a quick review of their differences and common features.
|Camera Model||Panasonic S1H||Sony A6500|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Leica L mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||May 2019||October 2016|
|Launch Price||USD 3,999||USD 1,399|
|Sensor Specs||Panasonic S1H||Sony A6500|
|Sensor Format||Full Frame Sensor||APS-C Sensor|
|Sensor Size||35.6 x 23.8 mm||23.5 x 15.6 mm|
|Sensor Area||847.28 mm2||366.6 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||42.8 mm||28.2 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24 Megapixels||24 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6000 x 4000 pixels||6000 x 4000 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||5.94 μm||3.91 μm|
|Pixel Density||2.83 MP/cm2||6.55 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||6K/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 51,200 ISO||100 - 25,600 ISO|
|ISO Boost||50 - 204,800 ISO||100 - 51,200 ISO|
|Image Processor||Venus||BIONZ X|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||..||85|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||..||24.5|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||..||13.7|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||..||1405|
|Screen Specs||Panasonic S1H||Sony A6500|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||5760k dots||2359k dots|
|Top-Level Screen||Control Panel||no Top Display|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.2inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||2330k dots||922k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Swivel screen||Tilting screen|
|Shooting Specs||Panasonic S1H||Sony A6500|
|Focus System||Contrast-detect AF||On-Sensor Phase-detect|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/8000s||1/4000s|
|Continuous Shooting||9 shutter flaps/s||11 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||400 000 actuations||200 000 actuations|
|Electronic Shutter||up to 1/8000s||YES|
|Time-Lapse Photography||Intervalometer built-in||no Intervalometer|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||no On-Board Flash||Build-in Flash|
|Storage Medium||SDXC cards||MS or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Dual card slots||Single card slot|
|UHS card support||Dual UHS-II||UHS-I|
|Connectivity Specs||Panasonic S1H||Sony A6500|
|Studio Flash||PC Sync socket||no PC Sync|
|USB Connector||USB 3.1||USB 2.0|
|HDMI Port||full HDMI||micro HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||Headphone port||no Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||no NFC||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||Bluetooth built-in||no Bluetooth|
|Body Specs||Panasonic S1H||Sony A6500|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||400 shots per charge||350 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||USB charging|
151 x 114 x 110 mm
(5.9 x 4.5 x 4.3 in)
120 x 67 x 53 mm
(4.7 x 2.6 x 2.1 in)
|Camera Weight||1052 g (37.1 oz)||453 g (16.0 oz)|
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