Sony A6500 versus Olympus E-M1 II
The Sony Alpha A6500 and the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II are two enthusiast cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in October 2016 and September 2016. Both the A6500 and the E-M1 II are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on an APS-C (A6500) and a Four Thirds (E-M1 II) sensor. The Sony has a resolution of 24 megapixel, whereas the Olympus provides 20.2 MP. Read on to find out how these two cameras compare with respect to their size, their sensors, their features, and their reception by expert reviewers.
Body comparison: Sony A6500 vs Olympus E-M1 II
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Sony A6500 and the Olympus E-M1 II is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the A6500 – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).
If the front view area (width x height) of the cameras is taken as an aggregate measure of their size, the Olympus E-M1 II is considerably larger (52 percent) than the Sony A6500. Moreover, the E-M1 II is markedly heavier (27 percent) than the A6500. 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. A larger imaging sensor will tend to go along with bigger and heavier lenses, although exceptions exist. You can find an overview of optics for the two cameras in the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog (A6500) and the Micro Four Thirds Lens Catalog (E-M1 II). Mirrorless cameras, such as the two under consideration, have the additional advantage of having a short flange to focal plane distance, which makes it possible to mount many lenses from other systems onto the camera via adapters.
The table below summarizes the key physical specs of the two cameras alongside a broader set of comparators. 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.
|Camera Body Specifications
|Sony A6500 (⇒ rgt)||4.7 in||2.6 in||2.1 in||16.0 oz||350||YES||2016||1,399||latest||check|
|Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft)||5.3 in||3.6 in||2.6 in||20.2 oz||440||YES||2016||1,999||latest||check|
|Nikon D7500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.4 in||4.1 in||2.9 in||25.4 oz||950||YES||2017||1,299||latest||check|
|Olympus PEN-F (⇒ lft | rgt)||4.9 in||2.8 in||1.5 in||15.1 oz||330||no||2016||1,199||latest||check|
|Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||4.9 in||3.3 in||1.8 in||16.5 oz||310||YES||2015||1,099||latest||check|
|Olympus E-M1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.1 in||3.7 in||2.5 in||17.5 oz||350||YES||2013||1,399||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.5 in||3.9 in||3.4 in||25.6 oz||410||YES||2017||1,999||latest||check|
|Panasonic G85 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.0 in||3.5 in||2.9 in||17.8 oz||330||YES||2016||899||latest||check|
|Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.2 in||3.1 in||2.5 in||17.2 oz||330||YES||2015||1,199||discont.||check|
|Sony A9 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.5 in||23.7 oz||650||YES||2017||4,499||latest||check|
|Sony A6300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||4.7 in||2.6 in||1.9 in||14.3 oz||400||YES||2016||999||discont.||check|
|Sony RX10 III (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.2 in||3.7 in||5.0 in||37.1 oz||420||YES||2016||1,499||discont.||check|
|Sony RX10 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.1 in||3.5 in||4.0 in||28.7 oz||400||YES||2015||1,299||discont.||check|
|Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt)||5.0 in||3.7 in||1.9 in||16.7 oz||340||YES||2013||1,699||discont.||check|
|Sony NEX-7 (⇒ lft | rgt)||4.7 in||2.6 in||1.7 in||14.1 oz||430||no||2011||1,349||discont.||check|
The price is, of course, an important factor in any camera decision. The listed launch prices provide an indication of the market segment that the manufacturer of the cameras have been targeting. The A6500 was launched at a markedly lower price (by 30 percent) than the E-M1 II, 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. Then, after the new model is out, very good deals can frequently be found on the pre-owned market.
Sensor comparison: Sony A6500 vs Olympus E-M1 II
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors of image quality. All other things equal, a large sensor will have larger individual pixel-units that offer better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and 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 tend to be more expensive and lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Sony A6500 features an APS-C sensor and the Olympus E-M1 II a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-M1 II is 39 percent smaller. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 2.0. The sensor in the A6500 has a native 3:2 aspect ratio, while the one in the E-M1 II offers a 4:3 aspect.
With 24MP, the A6500 offers a higher resolution than the E-M1 II (20.2MP), but the A6500 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.91μm versus 3.34μm for the E-M1 II) due to its larger sensor. It is noteworthy in this context that the two cameras were released in close succession, so that their sensors are from the same technological generation. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the E-M1 II has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
Unlike the A6500, the E-M1 II has the capacity to capture high quality composite images (50MP) 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).
For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. 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. Of the two cameras under review, the A6500 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the E-M1 II (overall score 5 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.8 bits higher color depth, 0.9 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.1 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The following table provides an overview of the physical sensor characteristics, as well as the sensor quality measurements for a selection of comparators.
|Sony A6500 (⇒ rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.5||13.7||1405||85|
|Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft)||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.7||12.8||1312||80|
|Nikon D7500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||20.7||5568||3712||4K/30p||24.3||14.0||1483||86|
|Olympus PEN-F (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||1080/60p||23.1||12.4||894||74|
|Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.0||12.5||842||73|
|Olympus E-M1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||23.0||12.7||757||73|
|Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/60p||23.9||13.0||807||77|
|Panasonic G85 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.8||4592||3448||4K/30p||22.8||12.5||656||71|
|Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.5||12.6||806||75|
|Sony A9 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.9||13.3||3517||92|
|Sony A6300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.4||13.7||1437||85|
|Sony RX10 III (⇒ lft | rgt)||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||23.1||12.6||472||70|
|Sony RX10 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||23.0||12.6||531||70|
|Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.8||14.2||2248||90|
|Sony NEX-7 (⇒ lft | rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60i||24.1||13.4||1016||81|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, and both provide the same movie specifications (4K/30p).
Feature comparison: Sony A6500 vs Olympus E-M1 II
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a range of features. The two cameras under review are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the E-M1 II offers a slightly higher resolution than the one in the A6500 (2360k vs 2300k dots). The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Sony A6500 and Olympus E-M1 II in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. If you need more detail on the specs, you can find comprehensive listings, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.
|Sony A6500 (⇒ rgt)||2300||no||3.0||922||tilting||YES||4000||11.0||6||YES|
|Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft)||2360||no||3.0||1037||swivel||YES||8000||18.0||no||YES|
|Nikon D7500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||optical||YES||3.2||922||tilting||YES||8000||8.0||12||no|
|Olympus PEN-F (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1037||swivel||YES||8000||10.0||no||YES|
|Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1037||swivel||YES||8000||10.0||no||YES|
|Olympus E-M1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1037||tilting||YES||8000||10.0||no||YES|
|Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||3680||no||3.2||1620||swivel||YES||8000||12.0||no||YES|
|Panasonic G85 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1040||swivel||YES||4000||9.0||6.2||YES|
|Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1040||swivel||YES||8000||10.0||no||YES|
|Sony A9 (⇒ lft | rgt)||3686||no||3.0||1440||tilting||YES||8000||20.0||no||YES|
|Sony A6300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2300||no||3.0||922||tilting||no||4000||11.0||6||no|
|Sony RX10 III (⇒ lft | rgt)||2359||YES||3.0||1229||tilting||no||2000||14.0||10.8||YES|
|Sony RX10 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||2359||YES||3.0||1229||tilting||no||3200||14.0||10.2||YES|
|Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2400||no||3.0||1230||tilting||no||8000||5.0||no||no|
|Sony NEX-7 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2359||no||3.0||921||tilting||no||4000||10.0||6||no|
Both the A6500 and the E-M1 II are current models that good online retailers will have in stock. You can check the latest prices, for example, at amazon. The E-M1 II replaced the earlier Olympus E-M1, while the A6500 followed on from the Sony A6300.
Review summary: Sony A6500 vs Olympus E-M1 II
So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Sony A6500 or the Olympus E-M1 II – has the upper hand? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A6500:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 20.2MP) with a 11% higher linear resolution.
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (5 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (0.9 EV of extra DR).
- More compact: Is smaller (120x67mm vs 134x91mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 121g or 21 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (30 percent cheaper at launch).
Advantages of the Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II:
- Maximized detail: Lacks an anti-alias filter to exploit the sensor's full resolution potential.
- High quality composites: Can combine several shots after pixel-shifting its sensor.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1037k vs 922k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has swivel screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (18 vs 11 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (440 versus 350) out of a single battery charge.
If the count of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a measure, the A6500 comes out slightly ahead of the E-M1 II (8 : 7 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.
In any case, while the comparison of the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the A6500 and the E-M1 II in practical situations. At times, user reviews, such as those published at amazon, address these issues in a useful manner, but such feedback is on many occasions incomplete, inconsistent, and unreliable. This is why expert reviews are important. The table below summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). The detailed reviews can be accessed by clicking on the site logo in the table header.
|Sony A6500 (⇒ rgt)||HiRec||85/100 Silver||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2016||1,399||latest||check|
|Olympus E-M1 II (⇒ lft)||HiRec||85/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2016||1,999||latest||check|
|Nikon D7500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||86/100 Silver||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2017||1,299||latest||check|
|Olympus PEN-F (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||82/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2016||1,199||latest||check|
|Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||81/100 Silver||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2015||1,099||latest||check|
|Olympus E-M1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||84/100 Gold||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2013||1,399||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||85/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||2017||1,999||latest||check|
|Panasonic G85 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||84/100 Gold||5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2016||899||latest||check|
|Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||82/100 Silver||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2015||1,199||discont.||check|
|Sony A9 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||89/100 Gold||5/5||5/5||5/5||2017||4,499||latest||check|
|Sony A6300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||85/100 Gold||5/5||5/5||5/5||2016||999||discont.||check|
|Sony RX10 III (⇒ lft | rgt)||Rec||84/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2016||1,499||discont.||check|
|Sony RX10 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||82/100 Gold||4.5/5||4.5/5||4/5||2015||1,299||discont.||check|
|Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||80/100 Silver||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2013||1,699||discont.||check|
|Sony NEX-7 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||81/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||2011||1,349||discont.||check|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings were established in reference to similarly priced cameras that were available in the market at the time of the review. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, please note that some of the review sites have changed their methodology and reporting over time.
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