The Sony a6500 Vs. the Sony a7ii: Battle of the Popular Pics!

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Sony is a well-known manufacturer of a wide variety of consumer electronic products, including a number of still and video cameras.

In recent years they have introduced a number of very well received cameras including a series of mirror-less camera bodies that use interchangeable lenses.  Two of the most popular of these cameras is the a6500, which was introduced in 2016  and the a7ii that was introduced in 2014.  Let’s take a look at these two cameras and see how they stack up against each other.

The Similarities Between the Sony a7ii and a6500

Although Sony makes both cameras, the a6500 and the a7ii are very different cameras, but they do share a surprising number of similarities, with the most significant being the resolution of the two cameras.  While not exactly the same they are very close with the a6500 capturing images at 24.2 megapixels, while the a7ii captures images at 24.3 megapixels.  In both cameras, the image quality is exceptional!

The a6500 and a7II both share the same Bionz X™ processor, which processes still images as either JPEG or RAW files.  Interestingly although both cameras share basically the same resolution and the same processor, the a6500 can shoot at 11 frames per second, while the a7ii  is limited to 5 frames per second.  Still images are processed as either JPEG or RAW files and are stored on both cameras single memory card.  The a6500 and a7ii both can use SD, SDHC , SDXC or a variety of Sony memory sticks.

Another similarity between the two cameras is in regards to their native ISO range.  In both cameras the range is 100 – 25,600 with the ability to expand to 51,200, however no downward expansion is found in either camera.  The a6500 and a7ii both produce excellent image quality even when moderately high ISO settings are used.  In both cameras the noise reduction software does a good job at reducing noise without reducing image quality, which is often a problem when cameras use high ISO settings.

Since both cameras are mirror-less, neither camera features an optical viewfinder, instead using a very good electronic viewfinder.  The finders in both cameras are bright and offer a fast refresh rate as the camera is moved while composing images.  In addition, both cameras the electronic viewfinders provide 100% coverage, meaning that the image in the viewfinder is the exact image captured on the camera’s CMOS sensor.

The a6500 and a7ii both feature excellent video capabilities although the a6500 has the newest 4K or ultra high definition capabilities and is capable of shooting in other formats as well at speeds ranging from 1 to 120 frames per second.  Due to its age, the a7ii is not capable of shooting video at 4K instead using standard HD, as well as other formats and shoots at speeds ranging from 24 to 60 frames per second.  In both cameras video files are written to the camera’s memory storage devices as XAVC S, AVCHD orMP4 files.

Additional similarities include the tilting rear LCD screen found in both Sony cameras, which are very similar in size.  In the case of the a6500 the screen measures 2.95” and is a touch screen, while the traditional screen non-touch screen found on the a7ii is slightly larger at 3.0”.  In both cameras, the screen is used to preview still and video images, as well as to compose images and video using the “live view” function.  The rear LCD screen is also used to navigate both cameras extensive menu system, which is fairly easy to navigate and is quite intuitive.

Other similarities include a robust build featuring a tough magnesium shell, as well as extensive weather and dust sealing.   Both cameras also feature C1 and C2 settings, which allow the photographer to store and instantly recall their favorite camera settings.

While neither camera has GPS, both do feature WIFI and wireless capabilities, which allows image transfer, remote camera operation and geo-tagging using a Smartphone. Finally, in addition to having the standard exposure modes, the a6500 and a7ii both feature creative and scene modes, which are very useful and fun to use.

The Differences

While the [easyazon_linkidentifier=”B01M586Y9R”locale=”US”tag=”thecameraguide-20″]a6500[/easyazon_link] and a7Ii are similar in many ways, there are several significant differences between the two cameras beginning with their format.  In the case of thea6500, the camera is based on the APC-C format which uses a sensor that measures 3.5mm x 15.6mm, while the a7ii is based on the full frame format that uses a larger sensor that measures 25.0mm x 23.9mm.  Traditionally the APS-C format has been used in less expensive cameras, due to the lower cost to manufacture the sensors, which were lagging in performance to full frame sensor.  That being said, technological advances have closed the gap between APS-C and full frame sensors, making it virtually impossible to differentiate between the sensors found in a6500 and the a7ii as far as image quality is concerned.

Another significant difference is in regards to the available autofocus points in each camera, with the a6500 having up to 425 points that are evenly distributed throughout the electronic viewfinder.  The a7ii “only” has up to 117 points, which are also evenly distributed in the camera’s electronic viewfinder. Thankfully the camera can be configured where all of the autofocus points are not visible at the same time!

Interestingly Sony elected to use a slower shutter in the newer 6500, which has a range of 1/4,000 -30 seconds, while the a7ii has a range of 1/8,000 – 30 seconds.  Photographers who shoot serious sports and action photography will appreciate the faster shutter of the a7ii.  In other types of photography, the shutter speed of the a6500 will be more than sufficient.

Finally, the a6500 features an excellent built-in flash, which is especially useful in low light conditions, as well as in bright conditions where fill in flash is necessary.   Sony elected to not include a built-in flash in the a7ii, which is not surprising as many other manufacturers have elected to eliminate the built-in flash in their high-end full frame cameras.  Both cameras do have a hot shoe on the top of the camera, which will accept a speed light or other accessories.

The Pros and Cons

As with the other camera manufacturers, Sony has yet to make the perfect camera and while the a6500 and the a7ii are both excellent cameras, they do have both positive and negative aspects.  Any photographer considering either of these cameras should closely examine these characteristics and determine how they will interact with their style of photography.

As far as the Sony a6500 is concerned, the biggest “pro” or positive characteristic is the camera’s 4K video capabilities.  All Sony cameras have excellent video capabilities, which is no surprise given Sony’s long history with video cameras.  The a6500 has the absolute latest video technology, which produces spectacular results!

The biggest negative or “con” of the a6500 is the size of the camera body, which is almost too small and light, especially when larger lenses are attached.   One of the benefits of mirrorless camera systems is their small size and light weight, but it gets to a point where there needs to be enough physical size and weight to make the camera comfortable to shoot.   Cameras that do not feel good ergonomically tend to gather dust in a closet!

The biggest “pro” or positive feature of the a7ii is the excellent CMOS full frame sensor, which produces excellent images in a wide variety of conditions including low light situations.  While CMOS sensors such as the one found in the a6500 are very good, there is still a difference between the APS-C and full frame formats!

The biggest “con” or negative feature of the a7ii is the slow speed of the camera as measured by the frame rate.  While 5 frames per second are sufficient for most shooting situations, it is significantly slower than the a6500 and lags behind many of the other cameras at this price point.  This hinders the camera’s usefulness as a serious sports or action camera.

Just the Facts, A side-By-Side Comparison: A6500 vs A7ii

While most serious photographers look at image quality over technical specifications, many feel that the specifications are equally important.  The Sony a6500 the Sony a7ii both have excellent image quality, as well as technical specifications, which are shown in the table below.

Item Sony a6500 Sony a7ii
Year Introduced 2016 2014
Format APS-C Full Frame
Megapixels 24.2 24.3
Sensor Type Exmor® CMOS Exmor® CMOS
Processor Bionz X™ Bionz X™
Image Format JPEG & RAW JPEG & RAW
Sensor Size 23.5mm x 15.6mm 35.0mm x 23.9mm
Sensor Cleaner Yes, But Not Traditional System Yes
Auto-focus Points Up To 425 Up To 117
Scene Modes Yes Yes
Creative Exposure Modes Yes Yes
Modes AUTO (iAuto / Superior Auto), Programmed AE (P), Aperture Priority (A), Shutter Speed Priority (S), Manual (M) AUTO (iAuto / Superior Auto), Programmed AE (P), Aperture Priority (A), Shutter Speed Priority (S), Manual (M)
Metering 1200-Zone Evaluative 1200-Zone Evaluative
View Finder Type Electronic Electronic
View Finder Coverage 100% 100%
Live View Yes Yes
Frames Per Second Up To 11 Up To 5
ISO 100-25,600 100-25,600
Lowest Expandable ISO Not Available Not Available
Highest Expandable ISO 51,200 51,200
Shutter Speed Range 1/4,000 – 30 Seconds 1/8,000 – 30 Seconds
Built In Flash Yes No
Card Slots 1 1
Card Type SD, SDHC, SDXC Or Proprietary Sony Memory Sticks SD, SDHC, SDXC Or Proprietary Sony Memory Sticks
LCD Size 2.95” 3.0”
LCD Fixed, Swivel or Tilt Tilting Tilting
Video Yes Yes
Video Type Ultra HD 4K As Well As Other Formats At Speeds Ranging From 1-120 Frames Per Second Full HD As Well AS Other Formats At Speeds Ranging From 24-60 Frames Per Second
Video Format XAVC S, AVCHD, MP4  XAVC S, AVCHD 2.0, MP4
Internal Autofocus Motor No No
GPS No No
Wireless Yes Yes
WIFI Yes Yes
Battery NP-FW50 NP-FW50
Battery Life 310 -350 Images Depending On Viewfinder Use 350 Images
Body Construction Magnesium Alloy Shell Magnesium Alloy Shell
Unique Features Touch Screen; In camera Image Stabilization; Buffer Of Up To 307 Images, Shutter Life Of Approximately 200,000 release Cycles; Slow & Fast Motion Video; Dust & Moisture Resistant; Bluetooth®; C1 & C2 Settings Light Weight and Compact Mirrorless Full Frame Camera; In camera Image Stabilization; Ability To Store A Variety Of User Defined Custom Settings; Dust & Moisture Sealing; C1& C2 Settings
Size Without Lens 4.75” x 2.75” x 2.12” 5.0” x 3.8” x 2.4”
Weight Without Lens Approximately 16 Ounces Approximately 19.61 Ounces
Manufactured In Thailand Thailand
Body Only or with Kit Lens Body Only Sold As Body Only Or Kit
Included Accessories Rechargeable NP-FW50 Battery, AC-UUD12 AC Adaptor; Shoulder Strap, Body Cap, Accessory Shoe Cap, Micro USB cable Rechargeable NP-FW50 Battery; Shoulder Strap, Body Cap, Eyepiece Cup, Accessory Shoe Cap, Micro USB cable
Cost, Body Only $1,399.00

Check out the latest discounts and prices.
$1,499.99

Check out the latest prices and discounts.
Cost With Kit Lens Not Available $1,799.99 (28mm-70mm Lens)

* Information from the Sony USA website, including pricing.

My Overall Recommendation

The Sony a6500and a7ii are two great cameras and it is easy to see why these two cameras are very popular, as they both pack lots of features into an affordable camera body that delivers excellent still and video images.

While the a6500 features the latest in technology and is $100 less expensive than the a7ii, I actually prefer the older Sony a7ii for one simple reason, which is the full frame sensor.  While the gap between APS-C or crop sensors and full frame sensors is very slight, I generally prefer a full frame sensor, especially when the price gap between the two cameras is so small.  That being said, either camera will meet the needs of just about any photographer looking for an advanced camera with excellent video capabilities.

Robert Alexander
 

A camera geek and freelance photographer, Robert (Aka "Rob" or "Bob") spends way too much time examining the finer points of cameras.

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