Sony A6500 versus Olympus E-M5
The Sony Alpha A6500 and the Olympus OM-D E-M5 are two enthusiast cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in October 2016 and February 2012. Both the A6500 and the E-M5 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on an APS-C (A6500) and a Four Thirds (E-M5) sensor. The Sony has a resolution of 24 megapixel, whereas the Olympus provides 15.9 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-M5
The physical size and weight of the Sony A6500 and the Olympus E-M5 are illustrated in the side-by-side display below. 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. You can also use the toggle button to switch to a percentage comparison if you prefer that the measures are being expressed in relative 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-M5 is notably larger (35 percent) than the Sony A6500. However, the E-M5 is markedly lighter (6 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-M5). 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)||120 mm||67 mm||53 mm||453 g||350||YES||2016||1,399||latest||check|
|Olympus E-M5 (⇒ lft)||122 mm||89 mm||43 mm||425 g||360||YES||2012||1,299||discont.||check|
|Nikon D7500 (⇒ lft | rgt)||136 mm||104 mm||73 mm||720 g||950||YES||2017||1,299||latest||check|
|Olympus PEN-F (⇒ lft | rgt)||125 mm||72 mm||37 mm||427 g||330||no||2016||1,199||latest||check|
|Olympus E-M10 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||120 mm||83 mm||47 mm||390 g||320||no||2015||799||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||124 mm||85 mm||45 mm||469 g||310||YES||2015||1,099||latest||check|
|Olympus E-M10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||119 mm||82 mm||46 mm||396 g||320||no||2014||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-M1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||130 mm||94 mm||63 mm||497 g||350||YES||2013||1,399||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-P5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||122 mm||69 mm||37 mm||420 g||330||no||2013||999||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||139 mm||98 mm||87 mm||725 g||410||YES||2017||1,999||latest||check|
|Panasonic GX8 (⇒ lft | rgt)||133 mm||78 mm||63 mm||487 g||330||YES||2015||1,199||discont.||check|
|Sony A9 (⇒ lft | rgt)||127 mm||96 mm||63 mm||673 g||650||YES||2017||4,499||latest||check|
|Sony A6300 (⇒ lft | rgt)||120 mm||67 mm||49 mm||404 g||400||YES||2016||999||discont.||check|
|Sony RX10 III (⇒ lft | rgt)||133 mm||94 mm||127 mm||1051 g||420||YES||2016||1,499||discont.||check|
|Sony RX10 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||129 mm||88 mm||102 mm||813 g||400||YES||2015||1,299||discont.||check|
|Sony A7 (⇒ lft | rgt)||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||474 g||340||YES||2013||1,699||discont.||check|
|Sony NEX-7 (⇒ lft | rgt)||120 mm||67 mm||43 mm||400 g||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 E-M5 was somewhat cheaper (by 7 percent) than the A6500 at launch, but both cameras fall into the same price category. 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-M5
The size of the imaging sensor is a crucial determinant of image quality. A large sensor will tend to have larger individual pixels that provide better low-light sensitivity, wider dynamic range, and richer color depth than smaller pixel-units in a sensor of the same technological generation. Furthermore, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more possibilities to use shallow depth-of-field in order to isolate a subject from the 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-M5 a Four Thirds sensor. The sensor area in the E-M5 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-M5 offers a 4:3 aspect.
With 24MP, the A6500 offers a higher resolution than the E-M5 (15.9MP), but the A6500 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 3.91μm versus 3.76μm for the E-M5) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the A6500 is a somewhat more recent model (by 4 years and 7 months) than the E-M5, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels.
For most cameras, data on sensor performance has been reported by DXO Mark. This service determines an overall sensor rating, as well as sub-scores for low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"), dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), and color depth ("DXO Portrait"). Of the two cameras under review, the A6500 provides substantially higher image quality than the E-M5, with an overall score that is 14 points higher. This advantage is based on 1.7 bits higher color depth, 1.4 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.8 stops in additional low light sensitivity. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
|Sony A6500 (⇒ rgt)||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.5||13.7||1405||85|
|Olympus E-M5 (⇒ lft)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60i||22.8||12.3||826||71|
|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-M10 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.1||12.5||842||73|
|Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/60p||23.0||12.5||842||73|
|Olympus E-M10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.3||884||72|
|Olympus E-M1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||23.0||12.7||757||73|
|Olympus E-P5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||15.9||4608||3456||1080/30p||22.8||12.4||895||72|
|Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/60p||23.9||13.0||807||77|
|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 can also record movies. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the A6500 provides a higher video resolution than the E-M5. It can shoot video footage at 4K/30p, while the Olympus is limited to 1080/60i.
Feature comparison: Sony A6500 vs Olympus E-M5
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 A6500 offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the E-M5 (2300k vs 1440k dots). The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Sony A6500 and Olympus E-M5 in connection with corresponding information for a sample of similar cameras. The full specs-sheets can be found in the camera manual or, for example, in the dpreview camera hub.
|Sony A6500 (⇒ rgt)||2300||no||3.0||922||tilting||YES||4000||11.0||6||YES|
|Olympus E-M5 (⇒ lft)||1440||no||3.0||610||tilting||YES||4000||9.0||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-M10 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1040||tilting||YES||4000||8.0||5.8||YES|
|Olympus E-M5 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1037||swivel||YES||8000||10.0||no||YES|
|Olympus E-M10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||1440||no||3.0||1037||tilting||YES||4000||8.0||5.8||YES|
|Olympus E-M1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||2360||no||3.0||1037||tilting||YES||8000||10.0||no||YES|
|Olympus E-P5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||no||no||3.0||1037||tilting||YES||8000||9.0||7||YES|
|Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||3680||no||3.2||1620||swivel||YES||8000||12.0||no||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|
The A6500 is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the E-M5 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the E-M5 was succeeded by the Olympus E-M5 II.
Review summary: Sony A6500 vs Olympus E-M5
So what is the bottom line? Which of the two cameras – the Sony A6500 or the Olympus E-M5 – has the upper hand? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A6500:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 15.9MP) with a 25% higher linear resolution.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (14 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.7 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1.4 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (0.8 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60i).
- More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (2300k vs 1440k dots).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (922k vs 610k dots).
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 9 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (120x67mm vs 122x89mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- More modern: Reflects 4 years and 7 months of technical progress since the E-M5 launch.
Advantages of the Olympus OM-D E-M5:
- More heavily discounted: Has been around for much longer (launched in February 2012).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A6500 is the clear winner of the match-up (12 : 1 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 specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the A6500 or the E-M5 handle or perform in practice. User reviews, such as those found at amazon, can sometimes inform about these issues, but such feedback is often incomplete, inconsistent, and biased. This is where reviews by experts come in. The following table reports the overall rankings of the cameras as published by some of the major camera review sites. The detailed reviews can be accessed, respectively, on the websites of cameralabs.com, dpreview.com, ephotozine.com, imaging-resource.com, and photographyblog.com.
|Sony A6500 (⇒ rgt)||HiRec||85/100 Silver||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||2016||1,399||latest||check|
|Olympus E-M5 (⇒ lft)||HiRec||80/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||2012||1,299||discont.||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-M10 II (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||80/100 Silver||5/5||5/5||5/5||2015||799||discont.||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-M10 (⇒ lft | rgt)||-||80/100 Gold||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2014||699||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-M1 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||84/100 Gold||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||2013||1,399||discont.||check|
|Olympus E-P5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||78/100 Silver||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||2013||999||discont.||check|
|Panasonic GH5 (⇒ lft | rgt)||HiRec||85/100 Gold||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||2017||1,999||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|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The ratings are only valid when refering to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and rating-comparisons among cameras that span long time periods or concern very differently equipped models make little sense. Also, kindly note that some of the listed sites have over time developped their review approaches and their reporting style.
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. If the camera you are interested in is not available, kindly get in touch, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.
- Canon 5D Mark IV vs Olympus E-M10
- Canon G9 X vs Olympus E-1
- Fujifilm X-A5 vs Canon 5D Mark II
- Fujifilm X-Pro2 vs Fujifilm X70
- Fujifilm X100F vs Sony RX100 III
- Nikon D300 vs Leica S Typ 007
- Nikon D700 vs Leica X Typ 113
- Nikon D750 vs Leica M10
- Panasonic G3 vs Olympus PEN-F
- Pentax K-5 vs Pentax K-3 II
- Pentax Q vs Leica TL
- Sony HX400V vs Nikon P900