Sony A7R III versus Sony A6500
The Sony Alpha A7R III and the Sony Alpha A6500 are two enthusiast cameras that were officially introduced, respectively, in October 2017 and October 2016. Both the A7R III and the A6500 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a full frame (A7R III) and an APS-C (A6500) sensor. The A7R III has a resolution of 42.2 megapixel, whereas the A6500 provides 24 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 A7R III vs Sony A6500
The side-by-side display below illustrates the physical size and weight of the Sony A7R III and the Sony A6500. Three consecutive perspectives from the front, the top, and the back are presented. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter. You can also toggle the display 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 A7R III – 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 Sony A6500 is considerably smaller (34 percent) than the Sony A7R III. Moreover, the A6500 is markedly lighter (30 percent) than the A7R III. 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 FE Lens Catalog (A7R III) and the Sony E-Mount Lens Catalog (A6500). 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 A7R III»||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.9 in||22.9 oz||650||Y||Oct 2017||3,199|
|Sony A6500«||4.7 in||2.6 in||2.1 in||16.0 oz||350||Y||Oct 2016||1,399|
|Hasselblad X1D« »||5.9 in||3.9 in||2.8 in||25.6 oz||..||Y||Jun 2016||8,995|
|Olympus PEN-F« »||4.9 in||2.8 in||1.5 in||15.1 oz||330||n||Jan 2016||1,199|
|Panasonic GX8« »||5.2 in||3.1 in||2.5 in||17.2 oz||330||Y||Jul 2015||1,199||-|
|Sony A7 III« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.9 in||22.9 oz||610||Y||Feb 2018||1,999|
|Sony A9« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.5 in||23.7 oz||650||Y||Apr 2017||4,499|
|Sony A99 II« »||5.6 in||4.1 in||3.0 in||29.9 oz||490||Y||Sep 2016||3,199|
|Sony A6300« »||4.7 in||2.6 in||1.9 in||14.3 oz||400||Y||Feb 2016||999||-|
|Sony A7R II« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||22.0 oz||290||Y||Jun 2015||3,199||-|
|Sony A7S II« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||22.1 oz||370||Y||Sep 2015||2,999|
|Sony A7 II« »||5.0 in||3.8 in||2.4 in||21.1 oz||350||Y||Nov 2014||1,999||-|
|Sony A7« »||5.0 in||3.7 in||1.9 in||16.7 oz||340||Y||Oct 2013||1,699||-|
|Sony A7R« »||5.0 in||3.7 in||1.9 in||16.4 oz||340||Y||Oct 2013||2,299||-|
|Sony A99« »||5.8 in||4.4 in||3.1 in||28.6 oz||500||Y||Sep 2012||2,799||-|
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 56 percent) than the A7R III, 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 A7R III vs Sony A6500
The imaging sensor is at the core of digital cameras and its size is one of the main determining factors 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. Moreover, a large sensor camera will give the photographer more control over depth-of-field in the image and, thus, the ability to better isolate a subject from the background. On the downside, larger sensors tend to be associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Sony A7R III 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.
With 42.2MP, the A7R III offers a higher resolution than the A6500 (24MP), but the A7R III nevertheless has larger individual pixels (pixel pitch of 4.52μm versus 3.91μm for the A6500) due to its larger sensor. Moreover, the A7R III is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year) than the A6500, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that further enhance the light gathering capacity of its pixels. Coming back to sensor resolution, it should be mentioned that the A7R III has no anti-alias filter installed, so that it can capture all the detail its sensor resolves.
Unlike the A6500, the A7R III has the capacity to capture high quality composite images 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).
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most 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. Of the two cameras under review, the A7R III provides substantially higher image quality than the A6500, with an overall score that is 15 points higher. This advantage is based on 1.5 bits higher color depth, 1 EV in additional dynamic range, and 1.3 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 A7R III»||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||14.7||3523||100|
|Hasselblad X1D« »||Medium Format||51.3||8272||6200||1080/25p||26.2||14.8||4489||102|
|Olympus PEN-F« »||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||1080/60p||23.1||12.4||894||74|
|Panasonic GX8« »||Four Thirds||20.2||5184||3888||4K/30p||23.5||12.6||806||75|
|Sony A7 III« »||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||25.0||14.7||3730||96|
|Sony A9« »||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.9||13.3||3517||92|
|Sony A99 II« »||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||25.4||13.4||2317||92|
|Sony A6300« »||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||4K/30p||24.4||13.7||1437||85|
|Sony A7R II« »||Full Frame||42.2||7952||5304||4K/30p||26.0||13.9||3434||98|
|Sony A7S II« »||Full Frame||12.0||4240||2832||4K/30p||23.6||13.3||2993||85|
|Sony A7 II« »||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.9||13.6||2449||90|
|Sony A7« »||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.8||14.2||2248||90|
|Sony A7R« »||Full Frame||36.2||7360||4912||1080/60p||25.6||14.1||2746||95|
|Sony A99« »||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||14.0||1555||89|
Many modern cameras cannot only take still pictures, but also record videos. 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 A7R III vs Sony A6500
Apart from body and sensor, cameras can and do differ across a variety of features. The two cameras under consideration are similar with respect to both having an electronic viewfinder. However, the one in the A7R III offers a substantially higher resolution than the one in the A6500 (3686k vs 2300k dots). The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Sony A7R III and Sony A6500 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 A7R III»||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||8000||10.0||n||Y|
|Hasselblad X1D« »||2360||n||3.0||920||fixed||Y||2000||2.3||n||n|
|Olympus PEN-F« »||2360||n||3.0||1037||swivel||Y||8000||10.0||n||Y|
|Panasonic GX8« »||2360||n||3.0||1040||swivel||Y||8000||10.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7 III« »||2359||n||3.0||922||tilting||Y||8000||10.0||n||Y|
|Sony A9« »||3686||n||3.0||1440||tilting||Y||8000||20.0||n||Y|
|Sony A99 II« »||2400||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||8000||12.0||n||Y|
|Sony A6300« »||2300||n||3.0||922||tilting||n||4000||11.0||Y||n|
|Sony A7R II« »||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||8000||5.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7S II« »||2400||n||3.0||1229||tilting||n||8000||5.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7 II« »||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||8000||5.0||n||Y|
|Sony A7« »||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||8000||5.0||n||n|
|Sony A7R« »||2400||n||3.0||1230||tilting||n||8000||4.0||n||n|
|Sony A99« »||2359||Y||3.0||1229||full-flex||n||8000||6.0||n||Y|
Both the A7R III and the A6500 are current models that good online retailers will have in stock. You can check the latest prices, for example, at amazon. The A6500 replaced the earlier Sony A6300, while the A7R III followed on from the Sony A7R II.
Review summary: Sony A7R III vs Sony A6500
So how do things add up? Is there a clear favorite between the Sony A7R III and the Sony A6500? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha A7R III:
- More detail: Offers more megapixels (42.2 vs 24MP) with a 33% higher linear resolution.
- 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.
- Better image quality: Scores substantially higher (15 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Richer colors: Generates images with noticeably better colors (1.5 bits more color depth).
- More dynamic range: Captures a larger spectrum of light and dark details (1 EV of extra DR).
- Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1.3 stops ISO advantage).
- More detailed viewfinder: Has higher resolution electronic viewfinder (3686k vs 2300k dots).
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1440k vs 922k dots).
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (650 versus 350) on a single battery charge.
- More modern: Is somewhat more recent (announced 1 year after the A6500).
Advantages of the Sony Alpha A6500:
- Better moiré control: Has an anti-alias filter to avoid artificial patterns to appear in images.
- More compact: Is smaller (120x67mm vs 127x96mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 197g or 30 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (56 percent cheaper at launch).
- More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in October 2016).
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A7R III is the clear winner of the match-up (12 : 6 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 remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the A7R III or the A6500 handle or 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 summarizes the assessments of some of the best known camera review sites (cameralabs, dpreview, ephotozine, imaging-resource, photographyblog). You can find the full text of the reviews by clicking on the site logo in the table header.
|Sony A7R III»||HiRec||90/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Oct 2017||3,199|
|Sony A6500«||HiRec||85/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2016||1,399|
|Hasselblad X1D« »||rev||-||-||-||4/5||Jun 2016||8,995|
|Olympus PEN-F« »||-||82/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Jan 2016||1,199|
|Panasonic GX8« »||Rec||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Jul 2015||1,199||-|
|Sony A7 III« »||HiRec||89/100||5/5||-||5/5||Feb 2018||1,999|
|Sony A9« »||HiRec||89/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Apr 2017||4,499|
|Sony A99 II« »||-||85/100||4.5/5||4.5/5||4.5/5||Sep 2016||3,199|
|Sony A6300« »||Rec||85/100||5/5||5/5||5/5||Feb 2016||999||-|
|Sony A7R II« »||HiRec||90/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Jun 2015||3,199||-|
|Sony A7S II« »||Rec||-||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Sep 2015||2,999|
|Sony A7 II« »||Rec||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Nov 2014||1,999||-|
|Sony A7« »||HiRec||80/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,699||-|
|Sony A7R« »||HiRec||82/100||4.5/5||5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||2,299||-|
|Sony A99« »||-||84/100||4.5/5||rev||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799||-|
Care should be taken when interpreting the review scores above, though. The assessments were made in relation to similar cameras of the same technological generation. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, 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.
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