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Sony Announces the RX100 V and a6500, Two New Ultra-Fast Cameras

Sony’s been doing some impressive things in photography for ages now, but we’ve really been impressed with what they’ve released in the last few years. That continues this week — today, Sony announced the RX100 V and a6500, both of which take jumps forward in shutter speed, enabling some pretty incredible continuous shooting options.

The a6500 is the latest entry in Sony’s flagship line of mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras (ILCs), and a direct follow up to the a6300 released earlier this year. The basics are the same — a 24.2 MP APS-C Exmor CMOS sensor, the Bionz X image processor, and a 100-25600 ISO range (up to 51200 for stills). The difference is a new front-end LSI chip Sony has added, which helps improve image and video quality while enabling much faster shooting. The phase-detect autofocus can focus on a subject in .05 seconds and has 425 focus points, like the a6300.

It can take stills at 11 fps in continuous shooting mode, which is also the same as the a6300, but the a6500 can do so for much longer. While the a6300 could only take around 40 frames in one go, the a6500 can take up to 307 frames in continuous mode at 11 fps. In other words, you can hold the shutter release down for 30 seconds, and the camera will take all those shots. The camera does this at full resolution, too, instead of just taking video and separating the video into individual still shots in processing.

The other huge addition is Sony’s 5-axis image stabilization, which comes close to doing the job of an entire stabilization rig — and keep in mind, the a6500 body isn’t all that bulky. It’s also getting a touchscreen on the back, along with the option to select focus points using touch.

Other features retained from the a6300 are NFC, QR, and Wi-Fi connectivity, 4k recording with no pixel binning in the Super 35 mm format, and wide color gamut recording settings. It’s going to be taking in tons of data from the scene around you, so if there’s anything negative to say about this camera, it’s that between video recording and the improved continuous shooting mode, you’re going to need a lot of storage. We’re going to need a bigger SD card, and probably more than one (or two) of them.

The RX100 V is the latest in Sony’s compact point-and-shoot Cyber-shot line. Like the a6500, it’s not a huge departure from the previous generation. It carries over the 20.1 MP Exmor CMOS sensor, DRAM chip, and Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* 24-70 mm f/1.8-2.8 lens. It also has the same new LSI chip found on the a6500, which really gives the RX100 V is a speed boost. It’s hard to believe, but the RX100 V is capable of taking continuous shots at 24 fps for up to 150 shots. So, for a little over six seconds, you can hold down the shutter button and get full resolution shots taken at video recording speed. Like the a6500, this isn’t just the camera taking video and processing it into still frames — the camera is actually taking that many 20.1 MP stills per second.

So, what does that mean for video? The camera can take slow-motion video at a pretty ludicrous 960 fps — again, this is on a compact point-and-shoot (not a cheap one, but still). It’s also capable of 4k video recording with no pixel binning, and uses fast hybrid auto-focus to stay focused when shooting scenes with a lot of movement. Like the more expensive Sony cameras, the XAVC S codec is used to encode the video, which ensures that the quality isn’t affected because of slow writing to your SD card.

Other features include Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity and 315 points of auto-focus, although it still lacks a touchscreen. Can’t have everything, I guess!

The a6500 body will ship in November and will cost $1,400, while the RX100 V will ship this month and cost $1,000. They both look terrific — getting 5-axis image stabilization in Sony’s smaller mirrorless ILC form factor is a huge win, while getting the sort of speed and performance the RX100 V offers in something that can fit into your pocket sounds really convenient. You’ll just have to part with a fair chunk of change to get your hands on them.