Sony A6500 vs A7S III
The Sony Alpha A6500 and the Sony Alpha 7S III are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in October 2016 and July 2020. Both the A6500 and the A7S III are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on an APS-C (A6500) and a full frame (A7S III) sensor. The A6500 has a resolution of 24 megapixels, whereas the A7S III provides 12 MP.
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 Sony Alpha A6500 and the Sony Alpha 7S III? 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.
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Sony A6500 and the Sony A7S III is provided 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 dimensions 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 A7S III is considerably larger (53 percent) than the Sony A6500. Moreover, the A7S III is substantially heavier (54 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 compare the optics available for the two cameras in the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog (A6500) and the Sony FE Lens Catalog (A7S III). 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.
Concerning battery life, the A6500 gets 350 shots out of its NP-FW50 battery, while the A7S III can take 600 images on a single charge of its NP-FZ100 power pack. The battery packs of both cameras can be charged via USB, which can be very convenient when travelling.
The adjacent table lists the principal physical characteristics of the two cameras alongside a wider set of alternatives. In case you want to display and compare another camera duo, you can use the CAM-parator app to select your camera combination among a large number of options.
|1.||Sony A6500||120 mm||67 mm||53 mm||453 g||350||Y||Oct 2016||1,399|
|2.||Sony A7S III||127 mm||97 mm||81 mm||699 g||600||Y||Jul 2020||3,499|
|3.||Olympus PEN-F||125 mm||72 mm||37 mm||427 g||330||n||Jan 2016||1,199|
|4.||Panasonic GX8||133 mm||78 mm||63 mm||487 g||330||Y||Jul 2015||1,199|
|5.||Sony A7R IV||129 mm||96 mm||78 mm||665 g||670||Y||Jul 2019||3,499|
|6.||Sony A6600||120 mm||67 mm||69 mm||503 g||810||Y||Aug 2019||1,399|
|7.||Sony A7R III||127 mm||96 mm||74 mm||650 g||650||Y||Oct 2017||3,199|
|8.||Sony A9||127 mm||96 mm||63 mm||673 g||650||Y||Apr 2017||4,499|
|9.||Sony A6300||120 mm||67 mm||49 mm||404 g||400||Y||Feb 2016||999|
|10.||Sony RX10 III||133 mm||94 mm||127 mm||1051 g||420||Y||Mar 2016||1,499|
|11.||Sony A7R II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||625 g||290||Y||Jun 2015||3,199|
|12.||Sony A7S II||127 mm||96 mm||60 mm||627 g||370||Y||Sep 2015||2,999|
|13.||Sony RX10 II||129 mm||88 mm||102 mm||813 g||400||Y||Jun 2015||1,299|
|14.||Sony A7||127 mm||94 mm||48 mm||474 g||340||Y||Oct 2013||1,699|
|15.||Sony A77||143 mm||104 mm||81 mm||732 g||470||Y||Aug 2011||1,399|
|16.||Sony NEX-7||120 mm||67 mm||43 mm||400 g||430||n||Aug 2011||1,349|
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 60 percent) than the A7S III, which puts it into a different market segment. Normally, street prices remain initially close to the MSRP, but after a couple of months, the first discounts appear. 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. 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. 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 are more costly to manufacture and tend to lead to bigger and heavier cameras and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Sony A6500 features an APS-C sensor and the Sony A7S III a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the A7S III is 131 percent bigger. As a result of these sensor size differences, the cameras have a format factor of, respectively, 1.5 and 1.0. Both cameras have a native aspect ratio (sensor width to sensor height) of 3:2.
Despite having a smaller sensor, the Sony A6500 offers a higher resolution of 24 megapixels, compared with 12 MP of the Sony A7S III. This megapixels advantage comes at the cost of a higher pixel density and a smaller size of the individual pixel (with a pixel pitch of 3.91μm versus 8.40μm for the A7S III). Moreover, it should be noted that the A7S III is much more recent (by 3 years and 9 months) than the A6500, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Sony A6500 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the A6500 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 30 x 20 inches or 76.2 x 50.8 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 24 x 16 inches or 61 x 40.6 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 20 x 13.3 inches or 50.8 x 33.9 cm. The corresponding values for the Sony A7S III are 21.2 x 14.2 inches or 53.8 x 36 cm for good quality, 17 x 11.3 inches or 43.1 x 28.8 cm for very good quality, and 14.1 x 9.4 inches or 35.9 x 24 cm for excellent quality prints.
The A6500 has on-sensor phase detect pixels, which results in fast and reliable autofocus acquisition even during live view operation.
The Sony Alpha A6500 has a native sensitivity range from ISO 100 to ISO 25600, which can be extended to ISO 100-51200. The corresponding ISO settings for the Sony Alpha 7S III are ISO 80 to ISO 102400, with the possibility to increase the ISO range to 40-409600.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. 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 Overall DXO ratings for the two cameras under consideration are close, suggesting that they provide similar imaging performance. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.
| DXO |
|2.||Sony A7S III||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/120p||23.7||13.9||2520||86|
|3.||Olympus PEN-F||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||1080/60p||23.1||12.4||894||74|
|4.||Panasonic GX8||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.5||12.6||806||75|
|5.||Sony A7R IV||Full Frame||60.2||9504||6336||4K/30p||26.0||14.8||3344||99|
|7.||Sony A7R III||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||14.7||3523||100|
|8.||Sony A9||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.9||13.3||3517||92|
|10.||Sony RX10 III||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||23.1||12.6||472||70|
|11.||Sony A7R II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||13.9||3434||98|
|12.||Sony A7S II||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/30p||23.6||13.3||2993||85|
|13.||Sony RX10 II||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||23.0||12.6||531||70|
|14.||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 can also record movies. The two cameras under consideration both have sensors whose read-out speed is fast enough to capture moving pictures, but the A7S III provides a faster frame rate than the A6500. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/120p, while the A6500 is limited to 4K/30p.
Beyond 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 A7S III offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the A6500 (9440k vs 2359k dots). The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Sony A6500 and Sony A7S III along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|2.||Sony A7S III||9440||n||3.0||1440||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|5.||Sony A7R IV||5760||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|7.||Sony A7R III||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y|
|10.||Sony RX10 III||2359||Y||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/2000s||14.0||Y||Y|
|11.||Sony A7R II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|12.||Sony A7S II||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||Y|
|13.||Sony RX10 II||2359||Y||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/3200s||14.0||Y||Y|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The A6500 has one, while the A7S III does not. While the built-in flash of the A6500 is not very powerful, it can at times be useful as a fill-in light.The A7S III has an articulated screen that can be turned to be front-facing. This characteristic will be appreciated by vloggers and photographers who are interested in taking 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 A6500 writes its imaging data to SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards, while the A7S III uses CFexpress or SDXC cards. The A7S III features dual card slots, which can be very useful in case a memory card fails. In contrast, the A6500 only has one slot. The A7S III 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 Sony Alpha A6500 and Sony Alpha 7S III and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
| WiFi |
| NFC |
|2.||Sony A7S III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||full||3.2||Y||-||Y|
|5.||Sony A7R IV||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|7.||Sony A7R III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||3.1||Y||Y||Y|
|10.||Sony RX10 III||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|11.||Sony A7R II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|12.||Sony A7S II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
|13.||Sony RX10 II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-|
It is notable that the A7S III has a headphone jack, which makes it possible to attach external headphones and monitor the quality of sound during the recording process. The A6500 lacks such a headphone port.
The A7S III is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Sony. 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 Sony website.
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Sony A6500 and the Sony A7S III? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha A6500:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (24 vs 12MP) with a 41% higher linear resolution.
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- More compact: Is smaller (120x67mm vs 127x97mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Less heavy: Is lighter (by 246g or 35 percent) and hence easier to carry around.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
- Easier device pairing: Supports NFC for fast wireless image transfer over short distances.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (60 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in October 2016).
Advantages of the Sony Alpha 7S III:
- Better low-light sensitivity: Can shoot in dim conditions (0.8 stops ISO advantage).
- Better video: Provides higher movie framerates (4K/120p versus 4K/30p).
- Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
- More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (9440k vs 2359k dots).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.91x vs 0.70x).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1440k 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.
- Longer lasting: Gets more shots (600 versus 350) out of a single battery charge.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.2 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.
- 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 3 years and 9 months of technical progress since the A6500 launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A7S III is the clear winner of the contest (16 : 8 points). However, the pertinence of the various camera strengths will differ across photographers, so that you might want to weigh individual camera traits according to their importance for your own imaging needs before making a camera decision. A professional wedding photographer will view the differences between cameras in a way that diverges from the perspective of a travel photog, and a person interested in cityscapes has distinct needs from a macro 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 Sony A6500 and the Sony A7S III 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 the spec-sheets of cameras can offer a general idea of their imaging potential, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the A6500 or the A7S III perform in practice. 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 where reviews by experts come in. The table below provides a synthesis of the camera assessments of some of the best known photo-gear review sites (amateurphotographer [AP], cameralabs [CL], dpreview [DPR], ephotozine [EPZ], photographyblog [PB]). 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.
|1.||Sony A6500||5/5||+ +||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2016||1,399|
|2.||Sony A7S III||..||+ +||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2020||3,499|
|3.||Olympus PEN-F||..||..||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,199|
|4.||Panasonic GX8||5/5||+||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2015||1,199|
|5.||Sony A7R IV||5/5||+||91/100||4.5/5||5/5||Jul 2019||3,499|
|6.||Sony A6600||4/5||+||83/100||4.5/5||4/5||Aug 2019||1,399|
|7.||Sony A7R III||..||+ +||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2017||3,199|
|8.||Sony A9||5/5||+ +||89/100||5/5||5/5||Apr 2017||4,499|
|9.||Sony A6300||4.5/5||+||85/100||5/5||5/5||Feb 2016||999|
|10.||Sony RX10 III||5/5||+||84/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||Mar 2016||1,499|
|11.||Sony A7R II||5/5||+ +||90/100||5/5||5/5||Jun 2015||3,199|
|12.||Sony A7S II||5/5||+||..||4.5/5||5/5||Sep 2015||2,999|
|13.||Sony RX10 II||5/5||+ +||82/100||4.5/5||4/5||Jun 2015||1,299|
|14.||Sony A7||5/5||+ +||80/100||5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,699|
|15.||Sony A77||5/5||91/100||81/100||..||5/5||Aug 2011||1,399|
|16.||Sony NEX-7||5/5||+ +||81/100||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2011||1,349|
|Notes: (+ +) highly recommended; (+) recommended; (o) reviewed; (..) not available.|
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. Hence, a score should always be seen in the context of the camera's market launch date and its price, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. 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 use the search menu below. As an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool.
Specifications: Sony A6500 vs Sony A7S III
|Camera Model||Sony A6500||Sony A7S III|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Mirrorless system camera|
|Camera Lens||Sony E mount lenses||Sony E mount lenses|
|Launch Date||October 2016||July 2020|
|Launch Price||USD 1,399||USD 3,499|
|Sensor Specs||Sony A6500||Sony A7S III|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.5 x 15.6 mm||35.6 x 23.8 mm|
|Sensor Area||366.6 mm2||847.28 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.2 mm||42.8 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24 Megapixels||12 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6000 x 4000 pixels||4240 x 2832 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.91 μm||8.40 μm|
|Pixel Density||6.55 MP/cm2||1.42 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/30p Video||4K/120p Video|
|ISO Setting||100 - 25,600 ISO||80 - 102,400 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100 - 51,200 ISO||40 - 409,600 ISO|
|Image Processor||BIONZ X||BIONZ XR|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||85||86|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||24.5||23.7|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||13.7||13.9|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1405||2520|
|Screen Specs||Sony A6500||Sony A7S III|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2359k dots||9440k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0inch||3.0inch|
|LCD Resolution||922k dots||1440k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Swivel screen|
|Shooting Specs||Sony A6500||Sony A7S III|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||Focus Peaking|
|Max Shutter Speed (mechanical)||1/4000s||1/8000s|
|Continuous Shooting||11 shutter flaps/s||10 shutter flaps/s|
|Shutter Life Expectancy||200 000 actuations||200 000 actuations|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||In-body stabilization|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||MS or SDXC cards||CFexpress or SDXC cards|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Dual card slots|
|UHS card support||UHS-I||Dual UHS-II|
|Connectivity Specs||Sony A6500||Sony A7S III|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.2|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||full HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||External MIC port|
|Headphone Socket||no Headphone port||Headphone port|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||no NFC|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Sony A6500||Sony A7S III|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Weathersealed body|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||350 shots per charge||600 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||USB charging|
120 x 67 x 53 mm
(4.7 x 2.6 x 2.1 in)
127 x 97 x 81 mm
(5.0 x 3.8 x 3.2 in)
|Camera Weight||453 g (16.0 oz)||699 g (24.7 oz)|