Sony A6500 vs Zeiss ZX1
The Sony Alpha A6500 and the Zeiss ZX1 are two enthusiast cameras that were revealed to the public, respectively, in October 2016 and September 2018. The A6500 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera, while the ZX1 is a fixed lens compact. The cameras are based on an APS-C (A6500) and a full frame (ZX1) sensor. The Sony has a resolution of 24 megapixels, whereas the Zeiss provides 37.4 MP.
Below is an overview of the main specs of the two cameras as a starting point for the comparison.
|Sony A6500||Zeiss ZX1|
|Mirrorless system camera||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Sony E mount lenses||35mm f/2.8|
|24 MP, APS-C Sensor||37.4 MP, Full Frame Sensor|
|4K/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO 100-25600 (100-51200)||ISO 80-51200|
|Electronic viewfinder (2359k dots)||Electronic viewfinder (6221k dots)|
|3.0" LCD, 922k dots||4.3" LCD, 2765k dots|
|Tilting touchscreen||Fixed touchscreen|
|11 shutter flaps per second||3 shutter flaps per second|
|In-body stabilization||No shake reduction|
|Weathersealed body||Not weather sealed|
|350 shots per battery charge||250 shots per battery charge|
|120 x 67 x 53 mm, 453 g||142 x 93 x 46 mm, 800 g|
Going beyond this snapshot of core features and characteristics, what are the differences between the Sony Alpha A6500 and the Zeiss ZX1? 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 Zeiss ZX1 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 Zeiss ZX1 is considerably larger (64 percent) than the Sony A6500. It is worth mentioning in this context that the A6500 is splash and dust resistant, while the ZX1 does not feature any corresponding weather-sealing.
The above size and weight comparisons are to some extent incomplete and possibly misleading, as the ZX1 has a lens built in, whereas the A6500 is an interchangeable lens camera that requires a separate lens. Attaching the latter will add extra weight and bulk to the setup. You can compare the optics available for the A6500 and their specifications in the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog.
The power pack in the A6500 can be charged via the USB port, so that it is not always necessary to take the battery charger along when travelling.
The following table provides a synthesis of the main physical specifications of the two cameras and other similar ones. If you would like to visualize and compare a different camera combination, just use the right or left arrows in the table to switch to the respective camera. Alternatively, you can also navigate to the CAM-parator app and make your selection from the full list of cameras there.
|Sony A6500»||4.7 in||2.6 in||2.1 in||16.0 oz||350||Y||Oct 2016||1,399||Sony A6500|
|Zeiss ZX1«||5.6 in||3.7 in||1.8 in||28.2 oz||250||n||Sep 2018||4,199||Zeiss ZX1|
|Canon G1 X Mark III« »||4.5 in||3.1 in||2.0 in||14.1 oz||200||Y||Oct 2017||1,299||Canon G1 X Mark III|
|Fujifilm X-Pro2« »||5.6 in||3.3 in||1.8 in||17.5 oz||350||Y||Jan 2016||1,699||Fujifilm X-Pro2|
|Leica Q2« »||5.1 in||3.1 in||3.6 in||25.3 oz||370||Y||Mar 2019||4,995||Leica Q2|
|Leica M10« »||5.5 in||3.1 in||1.5 in||23.3 oz||210||Y||Jan 2017||6,595||Leica M10|
|Leica Q Typ 116« »||5.1 in||3.1 in||3.7 in||22.6 oz||300||n||Jun 2015||4,249||Leica Q Typ 116|
|Olympus PEN-F« »||4.9 in||2.8 in||1.5 in||15.1 oz||330||n||Jan 2016||1,199||Olympus PEN-F|
|Panasonic GX8« »||5.2 in||3.1 in||2.5 in||17.2 oz||330||Y||Jul 2015||1,199||Panasonic GX8|
|Panasonic FZ1000« »||5.4 in||3.9 in||5.2 in||29.3 oz||360||n||Jun 2014||899||Panasonic FZ1000|
|Sony A6600« »||4.7 in||2.6 in||2.7 in||17.7 oz||810||Y||Aug 2019||1,399||Sony A6600|
|Sony A9« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.5 in||23.7 oz||650||Y||Apr 2017||4,499||Sony A9|
|Sony A6300« »||4.7 in||2.6 in||1.9 in||14.3 oz||400||Y||Feb 2016||999||Sony A6300|
|Sony RX1R II« »||4.4 in||2.6 in||2.8 in||17.9 oz||220||n||Oct 2015||3,299||Sony RX1R II|
|Sony A7« »||5.0 in||3.7 in||1.9 in||16.7 oz||340||Y||Oct 2013||1,699||Sony A7|
|Sony A77« »||5.6 in||4.1 in||3.2 in||25.8 oz||470||Y||Aug 2011||1,399||Sony A77|
|Sony NEX-7« »||4.7 in||2.6 in||1.7 in||14.1 oz||430||n||Aug 2011||1,349||Sony NEX-7|
|Note: Measurements and pricing do not include easily detachable parts, such as interchangeable lenses or optional viewfinders.|
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. 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 imaging sensor is a crucial determinant 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 Zeiss ZX1 a full frame sensor. The sensor area in the ZX1 is 135 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.
Technology-wise, both cameras are equipped with CMOS (Complementary Metal–Oxide–Semiconductor) sensors.
With 37.4MP, the ZX1 offers a higher resolution than the A6500 (24MP), but the ZX1 nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.81μm versus 3.91μm for the A6500) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the ZX1 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year and 11 months) than the A6500, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixel-units.
The resolution advantage of the Zeiss ZX1 implies greater flexibility for cropping images or the possibility to print larger pictures. The maximum print size of the ZX1 for good quality output (200 dots per inch) amounts to 37.4 x 25 inch or 95.1 x 63.4 cm, for very good quality (250 dpi) 30 x 20 inch or 76.1 x 50.7 cm, and for excellent quality (300 dpi) 25 x 16.6 inch or 63.4 x 42.3 cm. The corresponding values for the Sony A6500 are 30 x 20 inch or 76.2 x 50.8 cm for good quality, 24 x 16 inch or 61 x 40.6 cm for very good quality, and 20 x 13.3 inch or 50.8 x 33.9 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 Zeiss ZX1 are ISO 80 to ISO 51200 (no boost).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for many cameras. This service is based on lab testing and assigns an overall score to each camera sensor, as well as ratings for dynamic range ("DXO Landscape"), color depth ("DXO Portrait"), and low-light sensitivity ("DXO Sports"). The adjacent table reports on the physical sensor characteristics and the outcomes of the DXO sensor quality tests for a sample of comparator-cameras.
|Sony A6500||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.5||13.7||1405||85||Sony A6500|
|Zeiss ZX1||Full Frame||37.4||7488||4992||4K/30p||..||..||..||..||Zeiss ZX1|
|Canon G1 X Mark III||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||..||..||..||..||Canon G1 X Mark III|
|Fujifilm X-Pro2||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||..||..||..||..||Fujifilm X-Pro2|
|Leica Q2||Full Frame||46.7||8368||5584||4K/30p||26.4||13.5||2491||96||Leica Q2|
|Leica M10||Full Frame||23.8||5952||3992||none||24.4||13.2||2133||86||Leica M10|
|Leica Q Typ 116||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.3||12.7||2221||85||Leica Q Typ 116|
|Olympus PEN-F||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||1080/60p||23.1||12.4||894||74||Olympus PEN-F|
|Panasonic GX8||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.5||12.6||806||75||Panasonic GX8|
|Panasonic FZ1000||1-inch||20.0||5472||3648||4K/30p||22.1||11.7||517||64||Panasonic FZ1000|
|Sony A6600||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||23.8||13.4||1497||82||Sony A6600|
|Sony A9||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.9||13.3||3517||92||Sony A9|
|Sony A6300||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.4||13.7||1437||85||Sony A6300|
|Sony RX1R II||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||1080/60p||25.8||13.9||3204||97||Sony RX1R II|
|Sony A7||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.8||14.2||2248||90||Sony A7|
|Sony A77||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.0||13.2||801||78||Sony A77|
|Sony NEX-7||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60i||24.1||13.4||1016||81||Sony NEX-7|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. Both cameras under consideration have a sensor with sufficiently fast read-out times for moving pictures, and both provide the same movie specifications (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 ZX1 offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the A6500 (6221k vs 2359k dots). The adjacent table lists some of the other core features of the Sony A6500 and Zeiss ZX1 along with similar information for a selection of comparators.
|Sony A6500||2359||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||1/4000s||11.0||Y||Y||Sony A6500|
|Zeiss ZX1||6221||n||4.3||2765||fixed||Y||1/1000s||3.0||n||n||Zeiss ZX1|
|Canon G1 X Mark III||2360||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/2000s||9.0||Y||Y||Canon G1 X Mark III|
|Fujifilm X-Pro2||2360||n||3.0||1620||fixed||n||1/8000s||8.0||n||n||Fujifilm X-Pro2|
|Leica Q2||3680||n||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||20.0||n||Y||Leica Q2|
|Leica M10||optical||n||3.0||1037||fixed||n||1/4000s||5.0||n||n||Leica M10|
|Leica Q Typ 116||3680||n||3.0||1040||fixed||Y||1/2000s||10.0||n||Y||Leica Q Typ 116|
|Olympus PEN-F||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y||Olympus PEN-F|
|Panasonic GX8||2360||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||1/8000s||10.0||n||Y||Panasonic GX8|
|Panasonic FZ1000||2359||n||3.0||921||swivel||n||1/4000s||12.0||Y||Y||Panasonic FZ1000|
|Sony A6600||2359||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||1/4000s||11.0||n||Y||Sony A6600|
|Sony A9||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||1/8000s||20.0||n||Y||Sony A9|
|Sony A6300||2359||n||3.0||922||tilting||n||1/4000s||11.0||Y||n||Sony A6300|
|Sony RX1R II||2360||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||1/4000s||5.0||n||n||Sony RX1R II|
|Sony A7||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||1/8000s||5.0||n||n||Sony A7|
|Sony A77||2359||Y||3.0||921||full-flex||n||1/8000s||12.0||Y||Y||Sony A77|
|Sony NEX-7||2359||n||3.0||921||tilting||n||1/4000s||10.0||Y||n||Sony NEX-7|
One difference between the cameras concerns the presence of an on-board flash. The A6500 has one, while the ZX1 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 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 ZX1 uses an internal SSD.
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 Zeiss ZX1 and, in particular, the interfaces the cameras (and selected comparators) provide for accessory control and data transfer.
|Sony A6500||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony A6500|
|Zeiss ZX1||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||none||3.1||Y||Y||Y||Zeiss ZX1|
|Canon G1 X Mark III||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y||Canon G1 X Mark III|
|Fujifilm X-Pro2||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-||Fujifilm X-Pro2|
|Leica Q2||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||none||none||Y||-||Y||Leica Q2|
|Leica M10||Y||none||none||-||-||none||none||Y||-||-||Leica M10|
|Leica Q Typ 116||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Leica Q Typ 116|
|Olympus PEN-F||Y||stereo||mono||-||-||micro||2.0||Y||-||-||Olympus PEN-F|
|Panasonic GX8||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Panasonic GX8|
|Panasonic FZ1000||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Panasonic FZ1000|
|Sony A6600||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||YES||2.0||Y||Y||Y||Sony A6600|
|Sony A9||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||Y||Sony A9|
|Sony A6300||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony A6300|
|Sony RX1R II||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony RX1R II|
|Sony A7||Y||stereo||mono||Y||Y||micro||2.0||Y||Y||-||Sony A7|
|Sony A77||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony A77|
|Sony NEX-7||Y||stereo||mono||Y||-||mini||2.0||-||-||-||Sony NEX-7|
It is notable that the A6500 has a microphone port, which is missing on the ZX1. Such an external microphone input can help to substantially improve the quality of audio recordings when a good external microphone is used.
The ZX1 is a recent model that features in the current product line-up of Zeiss. In contrast, the A6500 has been discontinued (but it 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 and Zeiss websites.
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Sony A6500 and the Zeiss ZX1? Which camera is better? The listing below highlights the relative strengths of the two models.
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha A6500:
- Better live-view autofocus: Features on-sensor phase-detection for more confident autofocus.
- Better sound: Can connect to an external microphone for higher quality sound recording.
- More flexible LCD: Has a tilting screen for odd-angle shots in landscape orientation.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (1/4000s vs 1/1000s) to freeze action.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 3 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More flexible: Accepts interchangeable lenses, so that lens characteristics can be altered.
- More compact: Is smaller (120x67mm vs 142x93mm) and thus needs less room in the bag.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (350 versus 250) on a single battery charge.
- Easier travel charging: Can be conveniently charged via its USB port.
- Better sealing: Is weather sealed to enable shooting in dusty or wet environments.
- Sharper images: Has hand-shake reducing image stabilization built-in.
- Easier fill-in: Is equipped with a small onboard flash to brighten deep shadow areas.
Advantages of the Zeiss ZX1:
- More detail: Has more megapixels (37.4 vs 24MP), which boosts linear resolution by 25%.
- Better image quality: Is equipped with a larger and more technologically advanced 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.
- More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (6221k vs 2359k dots).
- Larger viewfinder image: Features a viewfinder with a higher magnification (0.74x vs 0.70x).
- Larger screen: Has a bigger rear LCD (4.3" vs 3.0") for image review and settings control.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (2765k vs 922k dots).
- Ready to shoot: Has an integrated lens, whereas the A6500 necessitates an extra lens.
- Faster data transfer: Supports a more advanced USB protocol (3.1 vs 2.0).
- Easier wireless transfer: Supports Bluetooth for image sharing without cables.
- More prestigious: Has the Zeiss luxury appeal, which ensures a high resale value.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the ZX1 emerges as the winner of the match-up (13 : 11 points). However, the relative importance of the various individual camera aspects will vary according to personal preferences and needs, so that you might like to apply corresponding weights to the particular features before making a decision on a new camera. 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 Zeiss ZX1 place the cameras among the top in their class? Find out in the latest Best Mirrorless Interchangeable Lens Camera and Best Prime Lens Compact Camera listings 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 remains partial and cannot reveal, for example, the shooting experience and imaging performance when actually working with the A6500 or the ZX1. 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 why hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent summary-table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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.
The review scores listed above should be treated 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
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Specifications: Sony A6500 vs Zeiss ZX1
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||Sony A6500||Zeiss ZX1|
|Camera Type||Mirrorless system camera||Fixed lens compact camera|
|Camera Lens||Sony E mount lenses||35mm f/2.8|
|Launch Date||October 2016||September 2018|
|Launch Price||USD 1399||USD 4199|
|Sensor Specs||Sony A6500||Zeiss ZX1|
|Sensor Format||APS-C Sensor||Full Frame Sensor|
|Sensor Size||23.5 x 15.6 mm||36.0 x 24.0 mm|
|Sensor Area||366.6 mm2||864 mm2|
|Sensor Diagonal||28.2 mm||43.3 mm|
|Sensor Resolution||24 Megapixels||37.4 Megapixels|
|Image Resolution||6000 x 4000 pixels||7488 x 4992 pixels|
|Pixel Pitch||3.91 μm||4.81 μm|
|Pixel Density||6.55 MP/cm2||4.33 MP/cm2|
|Moiré control||Anti-Alias filter||Anti-Alias filter|
|Movie Capability||4K/30p Video||4K/30p Video|
|ISO Setting||100-25600 ISO||80-51200 ISO|
|ISO Boost||100-51200 ISO||no Enhancement|
|DXO Sensor Quality (score)||85||..|
|DXO Color Depth (bits)||24.5||..|
|DXO Dynamic Range (EV)||13.7||..|
|DXO Low Light (ISO)||1405||..|
|Screen Specs||Sony A6500||Zeiss ZX1|
|Viewfinder Type||Electronic viewfinder||Electronic viewfinder|
|Viewfinder Field of View||100%||100%|
|Viewfinder Resolution||2359k dots||6221k dots|
|LCD Framing||Live View||Live View|
|Rear LCD Size||3.0 inch||4.3 inch|
|LCD Resolution||922k dots||2765k dots|
|LCD Attachment||Tilting screen||Fixed screen|
|Shooting Specs||Sony A6500||Zeiss ZX1|
|Focus System||On-Sensor Phase-detect||Contrast-detect AF|
|Manual Focusing Aid||Focus Peaking||No Peaking Feature|
|Continuous Shooting||11 shutter flaps/s||3 shutter flaps/s|
|Electronic Shutter||YES||up to 1/8000s|
|Image Stabilization||In-body stabilization||No handshake reduction|
|Fill Flash||Build-in Flash||no On-Board Flash|
|Storage Medium||MS or SDXC cards||Internal SSD|
|Second Storage Option||Single card slot||Single SSD|
|Connectivity Specs||Sony A6500||Zeiss ZX1|
|USB Connector||USB 2.0||USB 3.1|
|HDMI Port||micro HDMI||no HDMI|
|Microphone Port||External MIC port||no MIC socket|
|Wifi Support||Wifi built-in||Wifi built-in|
|Near-Field Communication||NFC built-in||NFC built-in|
|Bluetooth Support||no Bluetooth||Bluetooth built-in|
|Body Specs||Sony A6500||Zeiss ZX1|
|Environmental Sealing||Weathersealed body||Not weather sealed|
|Battery Life (CIPA)||350 shots per charge||250 shots per charge|
|In-Camera Charging||USB charging||no USB charging|
120 x 67 x 53 mm
(4.7 x 2.6 x 2.1 in)
142 x 93 x 46 mm
(5.6 x 3.7 x 1.8 in)
|Camera Weight||453 g (16.0 oz)||800 g (28.2 oz)|
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