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Sony a6500 Over Heating Tests

I have owned a Sony a6500 for about 3 weeks and in that time it’s been put to a variety of uses including two camera interviews (B cam) and Ronin M gimbal use.

For one shoot it was used as a B cam when filming a workout session for a gym. Each workout lasted 15 to 20 minutes. The room we were in was fairly chilly as it is a converted beautiful old warehouse with no heating, in fact a lot of the windows had holes in the glass so there were drafts. Outside temperature was around 8ºC (early March) and inside was no warmer. In fact I wore 2 layers plus a jacket when filming. I remember my toes were cold! The A cam was a Sony A7Sii in a SmallRig cage connected to a Blackmagic Video Assist 4k as a monitor. Both cameras where set to record 4k 25p internally. The a6500 was in a SmallRig a6500 cage had a SmallHD 502 as a monitor fixed to a coldshoe. See photo above (A6500 top image).

I’ve provided that information so you can get a sense of the environment the a6500 was working in. It seemed to be the ideal cool mishap free shoot. However, at around 18 minutes into the first take the dreaded High Temperature Warning symbol appeared on the a6500’s screen. Rats! But its freezing in here I thought! I kept a close eye on it for the rest of the take which lasted 23 minutes in total and to my relief the camera kept recording and didn’t switch off. When the take ended I switched the camera off and immediately started troubleshooting the issue. I started by removing the SmallRig cage as I’d read it could cause overheating in hot sunny environments as it acted like a heat magnet – science tells me that dark objects get hot in the sun – what sun? Conversely I’d read the cage could help to dissipate heat from the camera itself. Confused? I was! I was in a cold room with no sun and no hot lights either.

I also replaced the battery with a new cool one and left the battery cover open.

Lastly I went in to the settings to check a new feature that is unique to the Sony a6500 relating to temperature settings. I found it was set to ‘Standard’ by default. Phew! Thats the problem I thought. I changed it to ‘High’ and soon started the next take hoping the issue would go away.

Unfortunately it didn’t. The temperature warning symbol appeared on the screen during most of the 20 or so takes that day. However, the interesting thing is the a6500 never switched off or stopped recording once. Thankfully.

Further Tests:

Since this event I have tested the camera at home in a warmer room (around 18ºC) and have noted the temperature warning on the screen and as before the camera hasn’t switched off or stopped recording. During that test I recorded two 30 minute takes followed by one 18 minute take. That adds up to recording 4k 25p for 78 minutes or 1 hour 18 minutes in total. I only replaced the battery after the first 30 minute take but didn’t rest or cool the camera between takes or open the battery compartment door. The camera was back in the SmallRig cage and it had the Video Assist mounted on a cold shoe for monitoring via HDMI.  The warning symbol came on at approximately 18 minutes into the first 30 minute take and remained on until the end of the last 18 minute take – it was on the screen permanently for 60 minutes by my rough calculations. As I said the camera didn’t turn off or stop recording due to high temperature once. I only stopped the test after the 2nd battery depleted.

On screen temperature warning light during testing:

Is this conclusive proof that this camera is a safe bet? I’m afraid not. I couldn’t confidently tell you that in a warmer environment you wouldn’t have problems with the a6500 recording internal 4k. By all accounts I’ve read that there are no over heating problems in 1080p recording mode or if you record 4k to an external recorder. I had the dreaded overheating experience when I first purchased the Sony A7Sii in a very hot recording studio where it actually did turn off during a take which is not nice and a little embarrassing. Thankfully after several firmware updates in the year and a half since, I have never experienced the warning symbol on the screen either in hot environments or during long 4k takes.

I like the little a6500 and to be honest most of the interviews I record don’t last anywhere hear 10 minutes never mind 20 minutes. I’m confident it will be a great little gimbal camera and a perfect partner for the A7Sii with its comparable spec and features.

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Drew Curran

Director at Pixol
Drew is a filmmaker and designer and the founder of Pixol. Pixol produces corporate and commercial promotional films as well as graphic design and print for clients across the UK and Ireland. Drew is also a freelance cameraman and video editor for other production companies as well as a self-confessed camera nerd.

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