The Sony A6500 is the new flagship / big brother to the A6300 with the main difference being IBIS and touch screen. This last year Sony has made some great steps forward with memory card compatibility with their new firmware upgrades. They have expanded 4k compatibility to SDHC memory cards and improved some other reliability issues. However, still not every card will work the way we hoped.
In this guide, I've tested all the most popular memory cards in the Sony A6500 to see if speed matters and to find out which cards work best for 4k video.
Sensor: APS-C 24.2 MP / Processor: Exmor Cmos Sensor
Sensor SD Memory Card Type: UHS-I
Continuous Burst: 11fps
Est. Size of Buffer: 2.5GB
Shots To Fill Buffer (RAW): 107
Time To Clear Buffer: 1 minute 11 seconds
Video: 4k 100M
Best Memory Card For The Sony A6500
The Sony A6500 was one of the most time consuming cameras to test because of its massive buffer. The reason for this huge buffer is that Sony seems to be stuck using some old UHS-I memory card interface that bottlenecks write speeds around 32MB/s. We see this in all their cameras even the flagship A99II.
I'm not sure the reason behind this bottleneck, but Sony seems to be the only company that is crippled by it across their product line. Because of this, we don't ever really see competitive memory card write speeds which means there really isn't a "fastest memory card" for the A6500.
Check out the test.
All USB 3.0 tests done using CyrstalDisk – Windows 10, with the Lexar SR2.
|SD Memory Cards||USB 3.0 Read||USB 3.0 Write||Sony A6300 Write Speeds||See Price|
|Delkin 250MB 64GB||253.5 MB/s||219.6 MB/s||32.62 MB/s||Amazon|
|Lexar 64GB 2000x||272.7 MB/s||244.5 MB/s||32.47 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|Sandisk Extreme Pro 300MB 64GB||—||—||32.47 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|Delkin 100MB 64GB||—||—||32.20 MB/s||Amazon|
|Sony 64GB||253.2 MB/s||91.62 MB/s||32.17 MB/s||Amazon|
|Toshiba 64GB||258.8 MB/s||226.5 MB/s||31.88 MB/s||Amazon|
|Transcend 64GB||290.2 MB/s||182.1 MB/s||31.75 MB/s||Amazon|
|Sandisk Extreme Pro 280MB 64GB||260.5 MB/s||214.8 MB/s||31.43 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|Lexar 64GB 1000x||147.4 MB/s||78.4 MB/s||31.06 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|Sandisk Extreme Pro 64GB U3||98.6 MB/s||90.8 MB/s||32.23 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|Kingston 64GB U3||98.1 MB/s||90.4 MB/s||32.23 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|Samsung Pro 64GB U3||97.7 MB/s||78.6 MB/s||32.18 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|Samsung Pro+ 64GB U3||97.5 MB/s||87.3 MB/s||32.17 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|Delkin 633x 64GB U3||—||—||32.11 MB/s||Amazon|
|Sandisk Extreme Plus 64GB U3||99.0 MB/s||64.4 MB/s||32.01 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|Sandisk Extreme 64GB U3||72.43 MB/s||54.1 MB/s||31.93 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|Samsung Pro 64GB U1||96.3 MB/s||82.2 MB/s||31.30 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|Transcend 64GB U3||96.7 MB/s||68.4 MB/s||31.01 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|PNY 64GB U3||96.5 MB/s||66.1 MB/s||30.92 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|Lexar 633x 64GB U3||93.3 MB/s||67.3 MB/s||30.82 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|Lexar 600x 64GB U1||95.4 MB/s||64.8 MB/s||30.66 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|Sony 64GB U3 (Old Version)||96.5 MB/s||84.5 MB/s||30.53 MB/s||Amazon|
|Sony 64GB U3 (New Version)||96.7 MB/s||56.2 MB/s||29.81 MB/s||Amazon|
|PNY 64GB U1||96.5 MB/s||66.5 MB/s||29.06 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
|Samsung 64GB U1 EVO||47.7 MB/s||27.3 MB/s||18.11 MB/s||Amazon / Adorama|
Recommended SD Memory Cards For The Sony A6500
Best UHS-II Memory Cards
The Sony A6500 does not gain any speed benefits from using a UHS-II memory card. However I find them useful when you want to transfer data quickly to your computer when using a UHS-II memory card reader.
Toshiba UHS-II 64GB – Amazon
Transcend UHS-II 64GB – Amazon
Best UHS-I Memory Cards
All the UHS-I memory cards perform close enough to the same that you won't really notice any speed difference. Except for really old cards or specialty cards like the Samsung EVO. However, the Sony A6500 doesn't seem to like every type of card for 4k video. I'll get into this in a moment.
For now here are my recommended UHS-I cards.
Sony 64GB U3 (Old Model) – Amazon
Lexar 633x 64GB SDXC U3 UHS-I – Amazon
4k 100M Recording With Sony A6500
A lot of Sony shooters have a lot of trouble getting their memory cards to work properly when trying to shoot with the XAVC S codec with 4k 100M.
I believe this is because Sony cameras will aggressively check each card after it is inserted into the camera to determine if it's U3 capable or not. As I've found, it's often not the cards that are failing, but the cameras interface with the card. One camera will work fine with some of my cards, then another camera won't. This is possibly due to production cycles of the camera and the hardware that goes into them.
4k 100M Requirements
SDHC memory cards as well as SDXC memory cards all now work for 4k video on the Sony A6500 but you will still need U3 memory cards to consistently record 4K 100M video. Although some of my U1 cards still work fine.
SD Cards To Avoid
The only cards I personally had trouble with were my Samsung cards. So 4k shooters should avoid the Samsung cards for now, my camera just rejects most of them.
Everything else worked fine for me but that's not the case for all cameras or all cards. I have the least amount of trouble with Sony cards and Sandisk cards, However, if you want to almost guarantee your new card will work, you should stick with Sony brand.
Best Memory Cards For 4k Video
Although most of my cards work great for 4k, these cards will almost certainly give you no trouble.
Sony 64GB UHS-II – Amazon
Sony 64GB U3 (Old Model) – Amazon
Sony 64GB U3 (New Model) – Amazon
Best SD Memory Card Sony A6500 Conclusions
It's a little frustrating that Sony does not upgrade their camera to have faster memory card performances. You can do so much more with faster write speeds as seen with cameras like the Fujifilm X-T2. They brag about how fast this camera can shoot and how good the auto focus is, but then you have to wait an eternity for the buffer to clear compared to the competition, in the case of the A6500, it's slightly over a minute.
The good news is the buffer can fit 107 shots, so you'll likely not ever really hit your buffer limit.
Let's hope in the future Sony upgrades some of their cameras to support UHS-II or XQD cards so they can continue to compete with Fujifilm.
UHS-II cards with a 2GB buffer would be a game changer for the sports shooter.