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Sony A6500 User's Guide

Here's how I set my A6500

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Sony A6500

Sony a6500 (15.8 oz./449g with battery and card, APS-C E-Mount, about $1,398) and PZ 18-105mm OSS. bigger. I got mine at Adorama. I'd also get it at Amazon, at B&H or at Crutchfield.

This ad-free website's biggest source of support is when you use those or any of these links to approved sources when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Sony's boxes are not sealed in any way, so never buy at retail or any source not on my personally approved list since you'll have no way of knowing if you're missing accessories, getting a defective, store demo, damaged, returned or used product. My approved sources ship from remote automated warehouses where no salespeople or lookie-loos can ever get their sticky fingers on your new camera before you do. Buy only from the approved sources I use myself for the best prices, service, return policies and selection. Thanks for helping me help you! Ken.


December 2016    Sony   Zeiss   Minolta   Nikon   Canon   Fuji   LEICA   All

Sony A6500 Review

Sony A6500

Sony a6500. bigger.

Adorama Pays Top Dollar for Used Gear

B&H Photo - Video - Pro Audio

I buy only from these approved sources. I can't vouch for ads below.

Power & Battery

The A6500 charges its battery inside the camera via a USB cord.

Put the battery in your new camera, and it never needs to come out again.

Plug the A6500 into any USB outlet in a car, a solar charger, a USB power bank, a computer or a wall adapter, and a yellow LED near the connector lights while charging. It turns off when done.

Sony NP-FW50 Battery

Sony NP-FW50 battery. bigger.


Sony A6500 battery & card compartment

Sony A6500 battery & card compartment. bigger.


Sony A6500 connectors

Sony a6500 connectors. bigger.

The top connector is the USB connector.


Fn Button, Frame Rates & More

Sony A6500

Sony a6500. bigger.

We set many things with their own buttons and with the MENU button, however many new users take a while to discover that many other important settings are hidden behind the Fn button.

Press Fn, and 12 settings appear across the bottom of your screen.

You set the advance mode, frame rate, white balance and many other things here.

To change the frame rate, press the Fn button, select the advance mode icon which is usually at the left, select the continuous mode (usually a bearded rectangle icon) and that's where you can select among LO, MID, HI and HI+. In Silent mode, MID, HI and HI+ are not available and therefore grayed-out.

You can customize what options appear at the bottom of the screen. I like to add Auto ISO Minimum Shutter Speed and Silent Mode to these options instead of some of the defaults. You assign these at the third item in the eighth page of the CAMERA 2 menu (MENU > CAMERA 2 > page 8/9 > Function Menu Set).


General A6500 Settings

Once the battery is in and charged, I set the time zone, time and date.

Then I set these away from their defaults:

What Set to Set in Why
Drive Mode Continuous LO Rear Fn button One press takes one picture, and holding the shutter takes a few. I may set higher Continuous speeds for people if there's action involved, but that runs the risk of always firing a few frames when I only need one.
AF Illuminator Off MENU > CAMERA 1 > page 5/14 > AF illuminator The A6500 is so sensitive that it doesn't need an AF illuminator.
Face Detect On MENU > CAMERA 1 > page 14/14 > Smile/Face Detect > Face Detection On I love Face Detect, but it's off by default.
Release w/o card Disable MENU > CAMERA 2 > page 4/9 > Release w/o Card I don't want the camera taking pictures when it has no card, which it will do by default.
Silent Shooting On MENU > CAMERA 2 > page 4/9 > Silent Shooting I prefer to shoot unnoticed, but you have to turn this OFF to use flash, Bulb or fast frame rates.
Dial/Wheel EV Comp Wheel MENU > CAMERA 2 > page 8/9 > Dial/Wheel Ev Comp This lets me set exposure compensation with the rear wheel. Otherwise there is no compensation dial.
Display Rotation Auto MENU > PLAY > page 1/2 > Display Rotation This lets the playback image rotate as you turn the camera, just like an iPhone.
Audio Signals Off MENU > CAMERA 2 > page 9/9 > Audio Signals Turns off the idiotic beeps.
Copyright Info My name, address and phone number MENU > SUITCASE > page 5/7 > Copyright Info I prefer my images be tagged with my ownership. Also if my camera is stolen and recovered, it's easy to show the police that it's mine by showing them my information in the menu system.
Set File Name A65 MENU > SUITCASE > page 6/7 > Set File Name I prefer my files name the camera instead of being generic. You may prefer to use your own name instead. I like to know what camera shot the images as I sort multi-camera jobs.
Folder Name Date Form MENU > SUITCASE > page 6/7 > Folder Name This option makes the A6500 create a new image folder each day to make my sorting and downloading much easier.


Auto ISO

Setting and using Auto ISO is important enough to warrant its own section.

If you're on a tripod and the subject holds still, always use ISO 100 for everything for the best results.

Setting ISO manually for hand-holding went away ten years ago. Today we program our cameras to do it for us automatically based on our preferences and subjects.

For each kind of shooting, pick the highest ISO to which you'd like your camera to go, and the slowest shutter speed at which you will get a sharp shot, and the camera does the rest.

You set this at MENU > CAMERA 1 > page 8/14 > ISO and ISO AUTO Min. SS

I let the camera go to ISO 51,200. You might want to set a lower maximum, like 25,600 or 12,800, for landscape shots.

I set 1/125 as the minimum shutter speed for people photos. At 1/60 and slower often you'll get some blur as people are talking and laughing.

For sports and action, I'll pick 1/250 or 1/500.

For nature and landscapes, I let my A6500 pick a minimum speed based on the focal length of my lens. That's the "Standard" option at the top of the Auto ISO Min. SS options.

If my lens has a stabilizer, I set the minimum shutter speed top option to SLOW or SLOWER, since I get sharp shots a stop or two slower than the Standard 1/focal length option.


Subject-Specific A6500 Settings

Sony A6500

Sony a6500. bigger.

Once the overall settings above are set, I set my A6500's Memory Recall modes (the big 1 and 2 on the top dial) for my styles of shooting. Now the Memory 1 and Memory 2 positions on the top dial let me recall these in one dial click.

I set 1 for photos of places and things, which I set to high resolution and slower shutter speeds and ultra high color saturation.

I set 2 for photos of people: moderate resolution and saturation, and set Auto ISO to a slowest speed of 1/125 to stop motion.

To set and save each, I set the A6500 as I like it, and then I save that by going to MENU > CAMERA 1 > page 4/14 > Cam1/Cam2 Memory and selecting the memory location into which I want to save my settings, and pressing the big rear central ● button.

  1 2 Set in MENU
Used for Places and Things People MENU > CAMERA 1 > page 4/14 > Cam1/Cam2 Memory
Exposure Mode Program Program Top mode dial
Image Size 24 MP 12 or 6 MP MENU > CAMERA 1 > page 1/14 > Image Size
Quality Standard Standard MENU > CAMERA 1 > page 1/14 > Quality
Creative Style Vivid Standard MENU > CAMERA 1 > page 11/14 > Creative Style, or Fn button
Saturation +3 +1 MENU > CAMERA 1 > page 11/14 > Creative Style, or Fn button
ISO Auto Auto MENU > CAMERA 1 > page 8/14 > ISO
ISO Auto Min Shutter Speed Slower 1/125 MENU > CAMERA 1 > page 8/14 > ISO AUTO Min. SS

If you're using the 1 or 2 mode, any changes you make are saved with the power off. It doesn't reset to your saved settings until you reselect M1 or M2 with the power on. This is good; it means you can change things for conditions, and when you return to either 1 or 2 mode that everything is then recalled to your originally saved values.

The A6500 locks up for a moment as you swap the top dial to either of the 1 or 2 memory recall positions.

This is bad because the whole point of these settings is to save time.

To make this faster, turn off the power, move the dial, and turn the a6500 back on. It will wake up and bypass the black screen you usually have to wait to clear out of your way.


More Tips & Hints


Sony A6500

Sony A6500. bigger.

The LCD flips up and down.

It doesn't flip left or right, and doesn't flip far enough for self-portraits.



The LCD is dim in daylight. You could try to find the Daylight option in the menus, but I just use the superb finder in daylight instead.

Use the top dial to swap images while zoomed.


Bulb Mode

The Bulb shutter option isn't grayed-out in Silent mode; it's simply not there!

There is no warning message; you have to know to turn off the Silent mode to get the Bulb option to appear!


Flash Mode

The flash won't fire in Silent mode.

There is no warning message; you have to know to turn off the Silent mode to get the flash to fire.


More Information

See also Sony's A6500 User's Manual.


Where to get your A6500

I got mine at Adorama. I'd also get it at Amazon, at B&H or at Crutchfield.

Unlike a bottle of milk or a roll of toilet paper, Sony doesn't seal its boxes in any way, so you have no idea if you're getting a used, returned, incomplete or damaged product if you risk buying at retail. Never buy at retail. Use only my personally approved sources for the best prices, service, return policies and selection— and they ship from secure remote warehouses where no customers or salesmen can get their sticky hands on your new camera before you do.

Thanks for helping me help you!



© Ken Rockwell. All rights reserved. Tous droits réservés. Alle Rechte vorbehalten.


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23 December 2016