Sony fix overheating issue with new setting on the a6500

I’ve just got back from a day of testing the new a6500 and RX100 V at Sony’s European HQ near London.

There’s lots to talk about but the biggest news is that Sony appear to have fixed the single biggest complaint users have about its predecessor, the a6300. When recording in 4K the a6300 tends to overheat and shut itself off after several minutes. This is a safety feature designed to protect the sensor and camera, but the inability of the a6300 to record for long periods has deterred many from using it for serious work.

The new Auto Pwr OFF Temp setting on the a6500
The new Auto Pwr OFF Temp setting on the a6500

The new a6500 solves this with a new ‘Auto PWR OFF Temp’ setting. When set at ‘High’ it allows the camera to continue recording all the way up to its 29 min 50 second limit. According to Sony reps you can then start to record again immediately for another half hour in normal conditions. If you then start recording again a third time Sony make no promises about how long it will record for.

Of course I had to test this for myself. I came prepared with my own a6300 for comparison.

The setup for the test with the a6500 (left) and a6300 side by side
The setup for the test with the a6500 (left) and a6300 side by side

I set up a pre-production a6500 and the a6300 side-by-side with matching 28-135mm f4 lenses and identical Sandisk 64GB UHS-1 U3 Extreme Pro cards.

I then pointed both cameras at the same subject and timed how long they could record for in 4K 25P at 100 Mbps to the SD card.

The temperature in the room was warm, but not unpleasantly so. There were LED lights on the cameras but again they were not excessively hot.

The same lenses and settings were used on both cameras.
The same lenses and settings were used on both cameras.

You can watch a sped up version of the test above. You may recognise the voice of a certain Mr Bloom on the recording, who was live streaming the whole thing.

As expected the a6300 stopped recording and shut down around the 12 and a half minute mark. The a6500 continued to roll and got all the way to the end of the half hour. A temperature icon did pop up on screen around half way through, but with no apparent issues. This is great news.

The a6500 reaches its 29 min 50 second limit
The a6500 reaches its 29 min 50 second limit

In the ideal world I would like to re-run the test with an image with more motion to stress the processor a bit more, but any which way this is obviously an improvement over the a6300.

The a6300 (right) lasted around 12 minutes before shutting down.
The a6300 (right) lasted around 12 minutes before shutting down.

I wanted to start recording again for another half hour but Sony needed the camera for something else and I had to give it back. That said I imagine 29 mins and 50 seconds is long enough for most users anyway.

Sony reps didn’t know if the high ‘Auto PWR OFF Temp’ setting had any minor negative effect on sensor noise or other aspects of the image (like the Canon 5D mkII or 7D did). I wasn’t able to take away recordings from the a6500 as it was a pre-production sample, so couldn’t check this myself. After the half hour test the camera was pretty warm to the touch, but certainly not too hot to hold. I hope the effects of heat on the camera and image will be negligible. I can only assume that the sensor tech is better these days and that Sony know what they are doing.

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