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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).

Snapsort Sony A99 vs Sony A6500
Compare A99 versus A6500 top
Compare A99 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 (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.

Concerning battery life, the A99 gets 500 shots out of its NP-FM500H battery, while the A6500 can take 350 images on a single charge of its NP-FW50 power pack.

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
  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)
Sony A99» 5.8 in 4.4 in 3.1 in 28.6 oz 500 Y Sep 2012 2,799- i
Sony A6500« 4.7 in 2.6 in 2.1 in 16.0 oz 350 Y Oct 2016 1,399 i i
Olympus PEN-F« » 4.9 in 2.8 in 1.5 in 15.1 oz 330 n Jan 2016 1,199 i i
Panasonic GX8« » 5.2 in 3.1 in 2.5 in 17.2 oz 330 Y Jul 2015 1,199- i
Pentax K-3« » 5.2 in 3.9 in 3.0 in 28.2 oz 560 Y Oct 2013 1,299- i
Sony A9« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.5 in 23.7 oz 650 Y Apr 2017 4,499 i i
Sony A99 II« » 5.6 in 4.1 in 3.0 in 29.9 oz 490 Y Sep 2016 3,199 i i
Sony A6300« » 4.7 in 2.6 in 1.9 in 14.3 oz 400 Y Feb 2016 999- i
Sony A7R II« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 22.0 oz 290 Y Jun 2015 3,199- i
Sony A7 II« » 5.0 in 3.8 in 2.4 in 21.1 oz 350 Y Nov 2014 1,999- i
Sony A7« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 16.7 oz 340 Y Oct 2013 1,699- i
Sony A7R« » 5.0 in 3.7 in 1.9 in 16.4 oz 340 Y Oct 2013 2,299- i
Sony A77« » 5.6 in 4.1 in 3.2 in 25.8 oz 470 Y Aug 2011 1,999- i
Sony A850« » 6.1 in 4.6 in 3.2 in 31.6 oz 880 Y Aug 2009 1,999- i
Sony A900« » 6.1 in 4.6 in 3.2 in 31.6 oz 880 Y Sep 2008 2,999- i

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.

Sony A99 and Sony A6500 sensor measures

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.

A99 versus A6500 MP

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.

Sensor Characteristics
  Camera Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Horiz.
Pixels
Vert.
Pixels
Video
Format
DXO
Portrait
DXO
Landscape
DXO
Sports
DXO
Overall
Sony A99» Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p25.014.0155589
Sony A6500« APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.513.7140585
Olympus PEN-F« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38881080/60p23.112.489474
Panasonic GX8« » Four Thirds 20.2 5184 38884K/30p23.512.680675
Pentax K-3« » APS-C 24.1 6016 40001080/60i23.713.4121680
Sony A9« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.913.3351792
Sony A99 II« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p25.413.4231792
Sony A6300« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40004K/30p24.413.7143785
Sony A7R II« » Full Frame 42.2 7952 53044K/30p26.013.9343498
Sony A7 II« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.913.6244990
Sony A7« » Full Frame 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.814.2224890
Sony A7R« » Full Frame 36.2 7360 49121080/60p25.614.1274695
Sony A77« » APS-C 24.0 6000 40001080/60p24.013.280178
Sony A850« » Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032-23.812.2141579
Sony A900« » Full Frame 24.4 6048 4032-23.712.3143179

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.

Core Features
  Camera 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
Sony A99»2359 Y 3.0 1229 full-flex n 8000 6.0 n Y
Sony A6500«2300 n 3.0 922 tilting Y 4000 11.0 Y Y
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.

A99 07:09 A6500

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.

Review scores
  Camera cameralabs dpreview ephotozine imaging-resource photographyblog Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Sony A99»-84/1004.5/5rev4.5/5 Sep 2012 2,799- i
Sony A6500«HiRec85/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Oct 2016 1,399 i i
Olympus PEN-F« »-82/1004.5/54.5/55/5 Jan 2016 1,199 i i
Panasonic GX8« »Rec82/1004.5/55/54.5/5 Jul 2015 1,199- i
Pentax K-3« »-83/1005/54.5/55/5 Oct 2013 1,299- i
Sony A9« »HiRec89/1005/55/55/5 Apr 2017 4,499 i i
Sony A99 II« »-85/1004.5/54.5/54.5/5 Sep 2016 3,199 i i
Sony A6300« »Rec85/1005/55/55/5 Feb 2016 999- i
Sony A7R II« »HiRec90/1005/54.5/55/5 Jun 2015 3,199- i
Sony A7 II« »Rec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Nov 2014 1,999- i
Sony A7« »HiRec80/1005/54.5/55/5 Oct 2013 1,699- i
Sony A7R« »HiRec82/1004.5/55/55/5 Oct 2013 2,299- i
Sony A77« »91/10081/100-4.5/55/5 Aug 2011 1,999- i
Sony A850« »-75/100-4/54.5/5 Aug 2009 1,999- i
Sony A900« »HiRecHiRec4.5/54/55/5 Sep 2008 2,999- i

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.

 

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 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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