Sony A99 versus Sony A6500
The Sony Alpha SLT-A99 and the Sony Alpha A6500 are two digital cameras that were announced, respectively, in September 2012 and October 2016. The A99 is a DSLR, while the A6500 is a mirrorless interchangeable lens camera. The cameras are based on a full frame (A99) and an APS-C (A6500) sensor. Both cameras offer a resolution of 24 megapixel. 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 A99 vs Sony A6500
An illustration of the physical size and weight of the Sony A99 and the Sony A6500 is provided in the side-by-side display below. Three consecutive views from the front, the top, and the rear side are shown. All width, height and depth measures are rounded to the nearest millimeter. If you prefer, you can also use the toggle button to switch to a comparison in percentage terms (in this case, the camera on the left – the A99 – represents the basis or 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 (51 percent) than the Sony A99. Moreover, the A6500 is substantially lighter (44 percent) than the A99. 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. Hence, you might want to study the specifications of available lenses in order to get the full picture of the size and weight of the two camera systems.
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 A99»||5.8 in||4.4 in||3.1 in||28.6 oz||500||Y||Sep 2012||2,799||-|
|Sony A6500«||4.7 in||2.6 in||2.1 in||16.0 oz||350||Y||Oct 2016||1,399|
|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||-|
|Pentax K-3« »||5.2 in||3.9 in||3.0 in||28.2 oz||560||Y||Oct 2013||1,299||-|
|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 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 A77« »||5.6 in||4.1 in||3.2 in||25.8 oz||470||Y||Aug 2011||1,999||-|
|Sony A850« »||6.1 in||4.6 in||3.2 in||31.6 oz||880||Y||Aug 2009||1,999||-|
|Sony A900« »||6.1 in||4.6 in||3.2 in||31.6 oz||880||Y||Sep 2008||2,999||-|
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 50 percent) than the A99, 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 A99 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. 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 associated with larger, more expensive camera bodies and lenses.
Of the two cameras under consideration, the Sony A99 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.
Even though the A99 has a larger sensor, both cameras offer the same resolution of 24 megapixel. This implies that the A99 has a lower pixel density and larger individual pixels (with a pixel pitch of 5.96μm versus 3.91μm for the A6500), which gives it a potential advantage in terms of light gathering capacity. It should, however, be noted that the A6500 is much more recent (by 4 years) than the A99, and its sensor will have benefitted from technological advances during this time that at least partly compensate for the smaller pixel size.
Consistent information on actual sensor performance is available from DXO Mark for most cameras. 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 A99 has a notably higher overall DXO score than the A6500 (overall score 4 points higher), which gives it an advantage in terms of imaging quality. This advantage is based on 0.5 bits higher color depth, 0.3 EV in additional dynamic range, and 0.1 stops in additional low light sensitivity. 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 A99»||Full Frame||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||25.0||14.0||1555||89|
|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|
|Pentax K-3« »||APS-C||24.1||6016||4000||1080/60i||23.7||13.4||1216||80|
|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 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 A77« »||APS-C||24.0||6000||4000||1080/60p||24.0||13.2||801||78|
|Sony A850« »||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||-||23.8||12.2||1415||79|
|Sony A900« »||Full Frame||24.4||6048||4032||-||23.7||12.3||1431||79|
Many modern cameras are not only capable of taking still images, but also of capturing video footage. Both cameras under consideration are equipped with sensors that have a sufficiently high read-out speed for moving images, but the A6500 provides a better video resolution than the A99. It can shoot movie footage at 4K/30p, while the A99 is limited to 1080/60p.
Feature comparison: Sony A99 vs Sony A6500
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 A99 offers a slightly higher resolution than the one in the A6500 (2359k vs 2300k dots). The following table reports on some other key feature differences and similarities of the Sony A99, the Sony A6500, and comparable cameras. If needed, the dpreview camera hub, for example, contains further detail on the cameras' specs.
|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|
|Pentax K-3« »||optical||Y||3.2||1037||fixed||n||8000||8.3||Y||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 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 A77« »||2359||Y||3.0||921||full-flex||n||8000||12.0||Y||Y|
|Sony A850« »||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||8000||3.0||n||Y|
|Sony A900« »||optical||Y||3.0||922||fixed||n||8000||5.0||n||Y|
The A6500 is a current model that online retailers, such as amazon, will have in stock. In contrast, the A99 has been discontinued (but it can be found pre-owned on eBay). As a replacement in the same line of cameras, the A99 was succeeded by the Sony A99 II.
Review summary: Sony A99 vs Sony A6500
So what conclusions can be drawn? Is there a clear favorite between the Sony A99 and the Sony A6500? Below is a summary of the relative strengths of each of the two contestants.
Reasons to prefer the Sony Alpha SLT-A99:
- Better image quality: Scores markedly higher (4 points) in the DXO overall assessment.
- Easier setting verification: Has an LCD display on top to control shooting parameters.
- More detailed LCD: Has a higher resolution rear screen (1229k vs 922k dots).
- More flexible LCD: Has full-flex screen for odd-angle shots in portrait or landscape orientation.
- Faster shutter: Has higher mechanical shutter speed (8000/sec vs 4000/sec) to freeze action.
- Longer lasting: Can take more shots (500 versus 350) on a single battery charge.
- More heavily discounted: Has been available for much longer (launched in September 2012).
Arguments in favor of the Sony Alpha A6500:
- Better video: Provides higher definition movie capture (4K/30p vs 1080/60p).
- Fewer buttons to press: Has a touchscreen to facilitate handling and shooting adjustments.
- Faster burst: Shoots at higher frequency (11 vs 6 flaps/sec) to capture the decisive moment.
- More compact: Is smaller (120x67mm vs 147x111mm) and will fit more readily into a bag.
- Less heavy: Has a lower weight (by 359g or 44 percent) and is thus easier to take along.
- More legacy lens friendly: Can use many non-native lenses via adapters.
- Easier fill-in: Has a small integrated flash to brighten shadows of backlit subjects.
- More affordable: Was introduced into a lower priced category (50 percent cheaper at launch).
- More modern: Reflects 4 years of technical progress since the A99 launch.
If the number of relative strengths (bullet points above) is taken as a guide, the A6500 emerges as the winner of the match-up (9 : 7 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 technical specifications can provide a useful overview of the capabilities of different cameras, it remains incomplete and does no justice, for example, to the way the A99 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 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). You can find the full text of the reviews by clicking on the site logo in the table header.
|Sony A99»||-||84/100||4.5/5||rev||4.5/5||Sep 2012||2,799||-|
|Sony A6500«||HiRec||85/100||4.5/5||5/5||4.5/5||Oct 2016||1,399|
|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||-|
|Pentax K-3« »||-||83/100||5/5||4.5/5||5/5||Oct 2013||1,299||-|
|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 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 A77« »||91/100||81/100||-||4.5/5||5/5||Aug 2011||1,999||-|
|Sony A850« »||-||75/100||-||4/5||4.5/5||Aug 2009||1,999||-|
|Sony A900« »||HiRec||HiRec||4.5/5||4/5||5/5||Sep 2008||2,999||-|
The above review scores should be interpreted with care, though. The ratings are only valid when refering to cameras in the same category and of the same age. A score, therefore, has to be seen in close connection to the price and market introduction time of the camera, and comparisons of ratings among very different cameras or across long time periods have little meaning. It should also be noted that some of the review sites have over time altered the way they render their verdicts.
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Did this review help to inform your camera decision process? In case you are interested in seeing how other cameras pair up, just make your choice using the following search menu. An an alternative, you can also directly jump to any one of the listed comparisons that were previously generated by the CAM-parator tool. 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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