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Sony A7S II versus Sony A6500

The Sony Alpha 7S II and the Sony Alpha A6500 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2015 and October 2016. Both the A7S II and the A6500 are mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that are based on a full frame (A7S II) and an APS-C (A6500) sensor. The A7S II has a resolution of 12 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 A7S II vs Sony A6500

An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Sony A7S II and the Sony A6500 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 size dimensions 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 A7S II – represents 100 percent across all the size and weight measures).

Compare Sony A7S II vs Sony A6500
Compare A7S II versus A6500 top
Compare A7S II and A6500 rear

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 A7S II. Moreover, the A6500 is markedly lighter (28 percent) than the A7S II. 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 (A7S II) 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 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.

Camera Body Specifications
  Camera
Model
Camera
Width
Camera
Height
Camera
Depth
Camera
Weight
Battery
Life
(CIPA)
Weather
Sealing
(yes/no)
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Sony A7S II» 127 mm 96 mm 60 mm 627 g 370 Y Sep 2015 2,999 i i Sony A7S II
Sony A6500« 120 mm 67 mm 53 mm 453 g 350 Y Oct 2016 1,399 i i Sony A6500
Olympus E-M1 II« » 134 mm 91 mm 67 mm 574 g 440 Y Sep 2016 1,999 i i Olympus E-M1 II
Olympus PEN-F« » 125 mm 72 mm 37 mm 427 g 330 n Jan 2016 1,199 i i Olympus PEN-F
Panasonic GX8« » 133 mm 78 mm 63 mm 487 g 330 Y Jul 2015 1,199- i Panasonic GX8
Sony A7 III« » 127 mm 96 mm 74 mm 650 g 610 Y Feb 2018 1,999 i i Sony A7 III
Sony A7R III« » 127 mm 96 mm 74 mm 650 g 650 Y Oct 2017 3,199 i i Sony A7R III
Sony A9« » 127 mm 96 mm 63 mm 673 g 650 Y Apr 2017 4,499 i i Sony A9
Sony A99 II« » 143 mm 104 mm 76 mm 849 g 490 Y Sep 2016 3,199 i i Sony A99 II
Sony A6300« » 120 mm 67 mm 49 mm 404 g 400 Y Feb 2016 999- i Sony A6300
Sony A7R II« » 127 mm 96 mm 60 mm 625 g 290 Y Jun 2015 3,199- i Sony A7R II
Sony A7 II« » 127 mm 96 mm 60 mm 599 g 350 Y Nov 2014 1,999- i Sony A7 II
Sony A7S« » 127 mm 94 mm 48 mm 489 g 380 Y Apr 2014 2,499- i Sony A7S
Sony A77 II« » 143 mm 104 mm 81 mm 647 g 480 Y May 2014 1,199 i i Sony A77 II
Sony A7« » 127 mm 94 mm 48 mm 474 g 340 Y Oct 2013 1,699- i Sony A7

The camera’s price is obviously a critical decision-making factor. 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 53 percent) than the A7S II, 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.

 

Sensor comparison: Sony A7S II vs Sony A6500

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 A7S II 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.

Sony A7S II and Sony A6500 sensor measures

Despite having a smaller sensor, the A6500 offers a higher resolution of 24 megapixel, compared with 12 MP of the A7S II. This megapixel 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 II). However, it should be noted that the A6500 is a somewhat more recent model (by 1 year) than the A7S II, and its sensor might have benefitted from technological advances during this time that partly offset its pixel-size disadvantage.

A7S II versus A6500 MP

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 image quality. The table below summarizes the physical sensor characteristics and sensor quality findings and compares them across a set of similar cameras.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera
Model
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Camera
Model
Sony A7S II» Full Frame 12.0 4240 28324K/30p23.613.3299385Sony A7S II
Sony A6500« APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.513.7140585Sony A6500
Olympus E-M1 II« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.712.8131280Olympus E-M1 II
Olympus PEN-F« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38881080/60p23.112.489474Olympus PEN-F
Panasonic GX8« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.512.680675Panasonic GX8
Sony A7 III« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p25.014.7373096Sony A7 III
Sony A7R III« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p26.014.73523100Sony A7R III
Sony A9« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.913.3351792Sony A9
Sony A99 II« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p25.413.4231792Sony A99 II
Sony A6300« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.413.7143785Sony A6300
Sony A7R II« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p26.013.9343498Sony A7R II
Sony A7 II« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.913.6244990Sony A7 II
Sony A7S« » Full Frame 12.0 4240 28321080/60p23.913.2370287Sony A7S
Sony A77 II« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p----Sony A77 II
Sony A7« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.814.2224890Sony A7

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, and both provide the same movie specifications (4K/30p).

 

Feature comparison: Sony A7S II vs Sony A6500

Apart from 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 A7S II offers a slightly higher resolution than the one in the A6500 (2400k vs 2300k dots). The table below summarizes some of the other core capabilities of the Sony A7S II 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 in the dpreview camera hub.

Core Features
  Camera
Model
Viewfinder
(Type or
'000 dots)
Control
Panel
(yes/no)
LCD
Size
(inch)
LCD
Resolution
('000 dots)
LCD
Attach-
ment
Touch
Screen
(yes/no)
Shutter
speed
(1/sec)
Shutter
flaps
(1/sec)
Build-in
Flash
(yes/no)
Build-in
Image
Stab
Camera
Model
Sony A7S II»2400 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y Sony A7S II
Sony A6500«2300 n 3.0 922 tilting Y 4000 11.0 Y Y Sony A6500
Olympus E-M1 II« »2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 8000 18.0 n Y Olympus E-M1 II
Olympus PEN-F« »2360 n 3.0 1037 swivel Y 8000 10.0 n Y Olympus PEN-F
Panasonic GX8« »2360 n 3.0 1040 swivel Y 8000 10.0 n Y Panasonic GX8
Sony A7 III« »2359 n 3.0 922 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n Y Sony A7 III
Sony A7R III« »3686 n 3.0 1440 tilting Y 8000 10.0 n Y Sony A7R III
Sony A9« »3686 n 3.0 1440 tilting Y 8000 20.0 n Y Sony A9
Sony A99 II« »2400 Y 3.0 1229 full-flex n 8000 12.0 n Y Sony A99 II
Sony A6300« »2300 n 3.0 922 tilting n 4000 11.0 Y n Sony A6300
Sony A7R II« »2400 n 3.0 1229 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y Sony A7R II
Sony A7 II« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 5.0 n Y Sony A7 II
Sony A7S« »2400 n 3.0 921 tilting n 8000 5.0 n n Sony A7S
Sony A77 II« »2359 Y 3.0 1229 full-flex n 8000 12.0 Y Y Sony A77 II
Sony A7« »2400 n 3.0 1230 tilting n 8000 5.0 n n Sony A7

One differentiating feature between the two cameras concerns the touch sensitivity of the rear screen. The A6500 has a touchscreen, while the A7S II has a conventional panel. Touch control can be particularly helpful, for example, for setting the focus point.

Both the A7S II and the A6500 write their imaging data to SDXC or Memory Stick PRO Duo cards.

Input-Output Connections
  Camera
Model
Hotshoe
Port
Internal
Microphone
Internal
Speaker
Microphone
Port
Headphone
Port
HDMI
Port
USB
Type
WiFi
Support
NFC
Support
Bluetooth
Support
Camera
Model
Sony A7S II»YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7S II
Sony A6500«YstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-Sony A6500
Olympus E-M1 II« »YstereomonoYYmicro3.0Y--Olympus E-M1 II
Olympus PEN-F« »Ystereomono--micro2.0Y--Olympus PEN-F
Panasonic GX8« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-Panasonic GX8
Sony A7 III« »YstereomonoYYmicro3.1YYYSony A7 III
Sony A7R III« »YstereomonoYYmicro3.1YYYSony A7R III
Sony A9« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YYYSony A9
Sony A99 II« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YYYSony A99 II
Sony A6300« »YstereomonoY-micro2.0YY-Sony A6300
Sony A7R II« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7R II
Sony A7 II« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7 II
Sony A7S« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7S
Sony A77 II« »YstereomonoY-mini2.0YY-Sony A77 II
Sony A7« »YstereomonoYYmicro2.0YY-Sony A7

Both the A7S II 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 A7S II replaced the earlier Sony A7S, while the A6500 followed on from the Sony A6300.

Review summary: Sony A7S II vs Sony A6500

So how do things add up? Is the Sony A7S II better than the Sony A6500 or vice versa? A synthesis of the relative strong points of each of the models is listed below.


Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha 7S II:

  • Better low-light sensitivity: Requires less light for good images (1.1 stops ISO advantage).
  • Better sound control: Has a headphone port that enables audio monitoring while recording.
  • More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1229k vs 922k dots).
  • Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
  • More heavily discounted: Has been on the market for longer (launched in September 2015).


Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha A6500:

  • More detail: Has more megapixels (24 vs 12MP), which boosts linear resolution by 41%.
  • Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
  • Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 5 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
  • More compact: Is smaller (120x67mm vs 127x96mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
  • Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 174g or 28 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 (53 percent cheaper at launch).
  • More modern: Was introduced somewhat (1 year) more recently.

If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A6500 emerges as the winner of the match-up (8 : 5 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.

A7S II 05:08 A6500

In any case, while the specs-based evaluation of cameras is instructive in revealing their potential as photographic tools, it says nothing about, for example, the handling, responsiveness, and overall imaging quality of the A7S II and the A6500 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 hands-on reviews by experts are important. The adjacent table relays the overall verdicts of several of the most popular 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.

Review Scores
  Camera
Model
cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
Sony A7S II»Rec-4.5/55/55/5 Sep 2015 2,999 i i Sony A7S II
Sony A6500«HiRec85/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Oct 2016 1,399 i i Sony A6500
Olympus E-M1 II« »HiRec85/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Sep 2016 1,999 i i Olympus E-M1 II
Olympus PEN-F« »-82/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Jan 2016 1,199 i i Olympus PEN-F
Panasonic GX8« »Rec82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jul 2015 1,199- i Panasonic GX8
Sony A7 III« »HiRec89/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2018 1,999 i i Sony A7 III
Sony A7R III« »HiRec90/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2017 3,199 i i Sony A7R III
Sony A9« »HiRec89/1005/55/55/5 Apr 2017 4,499 i i Sony A9
Sony A99 II« »-85/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2016 3,199 i i Sony A99 II
Sony A6300« »Rec85/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2016 999- i Sony A6300
Sony A7R II« »HiRec90/1005/54.5/55/5 Jun 2015 3,199- i Sony A7R II
Sony A7 II« »Rec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Nov 2014 1,999- i Sony A7 II
Sony A7S« »-86/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Apr 2014 2,499- i Sony A7S
Sony A77 II« »-80/1004.5/54/55/5 May 2014 1,199 i i Sony A77 II
Sony A7« »HiRec80/1005/54.5/55/5 Oct 2013 1,699- i Sony A7

The review scores listed above should be treated with care, though. The ratings are only valid when referring to cameras in the same category and of the same age. Thus, a score needs to be put into the context of the launch date and the launch price of the camera, and comparing ratings of very distinct cameras or ones that are far apart in terms of their release date have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.

 

Other camera comparisons

Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make a corresponding selection in the search boxes below. There is also a set of direct links to comparison reviews that other users of the CAM-parator app explored. If you cannot find the camera you are interested in, please send me an email, and I will try to update the database with the necessary infos.

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