Gear Reviews

Head-to-head; Sony a6500 v Sony a6600

Two premium APS-C mirrorless cameras go head-to-head; which one is right for your photography?

Most photographers know that Sony is great at making full-frame mirrorless cameras, but the brand also does a fantastic job when it comes to crop sensor bodies too. In 2016, the a6500 became Sony’s flagship crop-sensor model, offering amazing features in a portable, compact body. In 2019, the line up got a new flagship model in the shape of the a6600, but how much exactly has changed and which of the two models would suit your photography better? Let’s drill down into the spec sheets to help you make an informed buying decision…

One – Resolution: 

So, this one may surprise you a little because although the a6500 is three years older than the a6600, both cameras actually share the same resolution with each model featuring a 24-megapixel APS-C sensor, meaning that photographers using each model will easily be able to make prints up to A3 in size without any issues. What’s more, at the core of the cameras you’ll find Sony’s powerful Bionz X image processing engine, which helps the cameras run quickly and efficiently.

Two – Size and weight:

The size and weight of the a6500 and a6600 are, as you may have suspected, actually pretty similar – although when both cameras are placed on the scales, the a6500 comes out a little lighter at 453g compared to the 503g a6600. That’s not likely to make a huge difference out in the field, so photographers can expect to carry around either camera all day without it being a burden. The a6600 is a tiny bit deeper in profile, but in height and length the cameras measure up the same.

Three – Battery life:

This is one of the biggest areas of difference between the cameras and could well sway a buying decision. The older a6500 is able to deliver up to 350 shots on a single charge, which is still a decent amount and should serve most photographers for a full day out with the camera. However, the newer a6600 blows this out of the water, serving up a whopping 810 shots on a single charge. This would be far more advantageous to users who are capturing a lot of shots via burst mode or who are using the a6600 for video.

Four – Focus options:

Sony has always been great when it comes to autofocus systems and the a6500 others advanced options, locking onto subjects in as little as 0.05 seconds using 425 phase-detection AF points. The newer a6600 however is on a different level, offering Real Time AF technology for both humans and animals, making portraits and wildlife photography much easier. What’s more, along with 425 phase-detection AF points, the a6600 also boasts 425 contrast-detection AF points (compared to 169 on the a6500), giving the newer model a much better chance of locking on accurately to a subject.

Both the a6500 and a6600 are lightweight and compact in their design and use Sony’s E-mount lenses.

Five – ISO Range:

A higher ISO range enables photographers to shoot in low light conditions, reducing the risk of camera shake that can be a problem when darkness falls. The a6500 offers a decent ISO range of 100-25600 (which can be expanded up to 51200), but the newer a6600 goes even further with an ISO range of 100-32000, which can be expanded all the way to a whopping 102400.

Both the a6500 and a6600 feature a touch-sensitive 3-inch LCD.

Six – Built-in flash:

A built-in flash offers photographers the ability to add artificial light to subjects who are close by and isn’t restricted to low light imagery either as a pop of flash on a bright day can add fill-in light to a portrait. Interestingly, it’s the older a6500 that features a built-in flash, which features a Guide Number of 6. Although a built-in flash is missing from the a6600, like the a6500, it does feature a hotshoe mount, enabling users to add an external flashgun or a radio trigger to trip strobe lights, so there are plenty of lighting options.

The a6500 features a built-in flash, which is missing from the a6600.

Seven – Burst rate:

Both cameras are speedy and actually offer the same maximum burst rate of 11 frames per second. What’s more, both cameras can sustain this speed to capture around 100 JPEGs, which will be of great interest to wildlife and sports photographers who want to capture sequences so that they don’t miss any split-second moments. Both cameras feature a single SD card, where stills and video are recorded.

Both the a6500 and a6600 shoot 4K video and are excellent choices for a useful B-Camera.

Eight – Video options:

The a6500 fast became a popular B-Camera for videographers thanks to its ability to shoot 4K video and because it featured a port for an external microphone, enabling enhanced audio to be recorded. The a6600 goes even further, and others a port for headphones so audio can also be monitored. Along with both cameras shooting 4K video, the a6500 and a6600 can also shoot slow motion sequences at 120p too, further reinforcing the camera’s credentials as a competent B-camera.

Nine – LCD design:

Along with an Electronic Viewfinder, both the Sony a6500 and a6600 feature a 3-inch touch-sensitive LCD. However, there is a key difference as while the screen on the a6500 flips up 90 degrees to help with awkward compositions, the screen on the a6600 is even more versatile and flips up 180 degrees. This also gives the photographer the option to shoot selfie-style portraits or present to the camera if they are filming a Vlog.

The LCD on the a6600 can flip up 180 degrees to help with selfie-style portraits.