Best Sony Cameras
Throughout the last several decades, Sony has made their presence felt across several different platforms and mediums and really stapled their name to technological devices. Of course, they may be best-known for their PlayStation video game consoles but they happen to flourish in another technology, as well. Clearly, this is alluding to digital cameras and whether you are talking about pro-grade models or simple compact and affordable options, the global juggernaut known as Sony makes them all.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 14 hrs of research
Features a new front-end LSI
Equipped with a 42.4-megapixel sensor
Designed with a five-axis image stabilization system
Top 10 Picks
1. A7R III
Features a new front-end LSI
Equipped with a 42.4-megapixel sensor
Designed with a five-axis image stabilization system
The touchscreen control is limited
There is only one SD slot that supports UHS-II cards
To say the A7R III Mirrorless Camera is a beast is a vast understatement. Its technical specifications are utterly marveling and when it comes to quality, this delivers.Read more
To ensure the best photos possible, the A7R III utilizes a high-resolution, 42.4-megapixel Exmor R CMOS image sensor. In addition, it uses a gapless on-chip lens design for enhanced efficiency.
This indeed offers 4K video across the full width of the full-frame sensor. But, you can also shoot Full HD (which is 1920 x 1080) video at an insane 120 frames per second.
While the new front-end LSI essentially doubles the readout speed of the sensor, the five-axis image stabilization system has been fine-tuned to deliver enhanced quality.
Not only does the built-in high-capacity battery sport around double the capacity as other models, but the Xtra Fine LCD display also allows you to easily see what you are capturing. This camera is built to last for a long time with proper care.
Thanks to the built-in wireless LAN and NFC compatibility, this is equipped for digital transfers and access.
It is difficult to summarize the A7R III as there is so much to like about it. However, the best way would be to explain it as a pro-ready model that will probably be too much for casual users.
Features five-axis image stabilization
Capable of recording 4K video
Designed with a 42.4-megapixel sensor
The battery life is a bit limited
Sports an electronic viewfinder rather than an optical version
In terms of quality, the A99II is nearly identical to the previous model. Deciding which model is best is honestly a tossup as the A99II also sports the goods that professional photographers look for.Read more
As with the last model, the Exmor R CMOS sensor that is equipped produces stunning images with its 42.4 megapixels. Plus, its advanced front-end LSI enables continuous shooting at impressive speeds.
If the image quality is impressive, it may only be outdone by the video quality. Even when not shooting in 4K, which can be done at 100 megabits per second, it can shoot Full HD videos at 120 frames per second.
What adds to the already impressive image sensor is the five-axis image stabilization system and also the ability to shoot RAW image files. This combination adds even more quality.
The A99II is able to combine a durable body that is both rugged and lightweight. Plus, there is adequate sealing around the main buttons and ports to create a dust and moisture-resistant core.
To make the file transfer system even easier, this supports both Wi-Fi and NFC pairing.
Are you beginning to see why this is a tossup? You really can’t go wrong with either of the top two models here and perhaps the only aspect the A99II falls short in is its battery life.
3. Alpha a6500
Features a new touchscreen operation
Uses a five-axis image stabilization system
Protected by its internal magnesium alloy body
The exterior controls could be better
Can be awkward to handle it with the big lenses
This is another mirrorless model from Sony and while it is not designed with quite as advanced an image sensor as the previous two, it supports the RAW format and can shoot 4K video.Read more
To boost the light collection efficiency of the Alpha A6500, it has been designed with an APS-C Exmor CMOS sensor with enhanced circuit processing. Also, the sensor shoots at 24.2 megapixels.
For the A6500, video shooting may be the way to go. The produced images are spectacular but this is another model that can either shoot 4K videos or Full HD videos at 120 frames per second.
Thanks to the 4D focus system integrated into the A6500, it can lock on a target in as little as 0.05 seconds. In addition, the OLED electronic viewfinder can deliver continuous shooting at 11 frames per second.
As with some of Sony’s other models, this also sports a rugged magnesium alloy body for durability. Plus, its main buttons, doors, and ports are sealed for protection.
All you need to do is install the PlayMemories Mobile app onto your NFC-enabled Android device and then you can wirelessly transfer your videos and images.
It is tough to find legitimate gripes with the A6500 but you could say that its awkwardness can take a while to get accustomed too. But, in terms of its specifications, its right up there with the best.
4. A9 Full Frame
It sports a full-frame stacked CMOS sensor
The controls have been refined for intuitive operation
There are two SD media card slots
Sports limited touchscreen control
The battery life could be better
Let’s just say that the price tag of this next model will probably scare 90 percent of you away. That is fair as, to be honest, the A9 is not an ideal camera for casual users as it is simply too advanced.Read more
The A9 actually integrated the very first full-frame stacked CMOS sensor. Outside of its 24.2-megapixel capabilities, it combines with the refined BIONZ X image processing engine.
As a video recorder, the A9 is as amazing as it gets. Again, if you do not feel the need to record in 4K video, even though this can, you can opt for Full HD at 120 frames per second.
On the back of the camera, there is a joystick that allows you to shift the focus within the frame. Also, the A9 sports several updated and new focus functions for more efficient focusing.
The top, front, and rear covers (in addition to the internal frame) are comprised of magnesium alloy. Not only does this enhance the A9’s durability but it also does not add unnecessary weight.
While this does have wireless LAN capabilities, there is also an Ethernet terminal that allows you to transfer your files via a wired LAN connection (for enhanced speed).
It is easy to see why this can be as expensive as some used automobiles, is it not? Understandably, not all of you will be willing to chunk over so much cash. As such, consider this a splurge purchase.
5. Cyber‑Shot RX10
Features a large maximum aperture
Designed with lighting fast acquisition speed
It can shoot up to 120 frames per seconds in Full HD
Quite large and heavy
The touchscreen limitations are apparent
Now, we reach a stretch where the Cyber-Shot series is going to get a lot of attention. It is one of Sony’s better model lineups but perhaps none of them shine brighter than the RX10 IV.Read more
The RX10 IV uses a front-end LSI and a BIONZ X processing engine to produce high-quality 20.1-megapixel images.
When shooting 4K video, you can do so at up to 30 frames per second. But, when dropping down to Full HD, the frames per second jump up to 120.
The autofocus acquisition speed of the RX10 IV is lightning quick, at 0.03 seconds. Plus, the sensor also sports image stabilization and a maximum aperture of F2.4-F4.0.
You need to charge the battery in this camera via a USB port. When fully charged, it is usually good for around 400 shots (with the rear LCD) and around 75 minutes of video (depending on settings).
This camera has a great hand feel and reviewers say they feel very comfortable and confident with it. It is made from strong materials, like all Sony cameras and is built to last.
As this model integrates NFC, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi technologies, it can pair up with any device you can imagine. This makes the file transfer process much easier.
The RX10 IV is an impressive device, is it not? Truth be told, with its 4K video, 0.03-second autofocus speed, and large maximum aperture, it can compete with practically any model in the world.
6. Cyber-shot DSC-RX1
The Xtra Fine display makes viewing easier
Supports RAW formatting
Sports a retractable OLED Tru-Finder viewfinder
Does not record 4K video
Does not have image stabilization
The Cyber-Shot DSC-RX1 RII sports one of the most impressive image sensors in the world. Yet, a few limitations, such as no 4K video or image stabilization, prevent this from ascending any higher.Read more
With the use of a powerful BIONZ X processing engine and a back-illuminated 42.4-megapixel sensor, the images produced by this camera are nothing short of stellar.
Despite the amazing image sensor, the DSC-RX1 RII is not outfitted to shoot 4K video. With that said, it can shoot Full HD videos at 50 megabits per second.
Even though this does lack image stabilization, it can shoot in uncompressed RAW formats. Additionally, this sports the world’s first optical variable low pass filter.
Thanks to the three-inch display, that can swivel up to 109 degrees up and up to 41 degrees down, you can easily see what you are shooting and it is easy to record in a crowd of people.
This camera is a bit heavier than others on our list and is constructed from durable materials. There is also a textured grip on one side of the camera to keep it from slipping out of your hands.
In conjunction with the free to use PlayMemories Mobile app, you can use the built-in Wi-Fi to sync this device to any compatible iOS or Android smartphone.
Sony giveth and they taketh away with this specific Cyber-Shot. On one hand, its 42.4 generated megapixels is amazing. Yet, the lack of image stabilization hurts in the long run.
7. Cyber-shot DSC-RX100
Eight-megapixel stills can be taken from 4K videos
It can shoot 4K movies
Utilizes over 300 Auto Focus points
Can take a long time to buffer
Some competing models sport longer zoom lenses
As compared to some of their other models, the DSC-RX100 is one of the more affordable options from Sony. At least, affordable in the sense that it can still deliver professional-type quality.Read more
The large one-inch stacked back Exmor RS image sensor enhances speed and efficiency. Also, it sports 20.1 megapixels which is pretty good, all things considered.
Unlike the previous Cyber-Shot model, the DCS-RX100 can shoot ultra high-definition, 4K video. Plus, it has direct pixel readout and no binning of the pixels.
Integrated into this model is one of the most advanced autofocus systems on the market. Adding on to this is the OLED Tru-Finder viewfinder, which ensures excellent playback functionality.
If you wanted to perform some underwater shooting, you can invest in an underwater housing unit. As for the screen, it measures three inches and can be rotated in multiple angles.
As with most other units on this list, this will work with the PlayMemories Mobile app. Thanks to the built-in NFC pairing support and Wi-Fi, it can sync with your compatible smartphone.
It is great that a camera at this price range shoots 4K video, even though it is still far from cheap. Plus, with its advanced autofocus system, you do not have to spend costly time waiting for the system to buffer.
8. A77II Digital SLR
Equipped with the BIONZ X image processing engine
Features Wi-Fi and NFC pairing
Built with professional quality
The interface takes some getting used to
GPS tagging has actually been removed
A few notable features that stand out when you first assess the A77II are its incredible build quality and advanced image processing engine. Then again, it does lack 4K video and is limited to just 60 frames per second.Read more
Sony integrated a plethora of their cutting-edge technologies into their A77II and the result could not be any sweeter. Headlining this is the gapless on-chip lens structure and the 24.3-megapixel sensor.
At Full HD, which again is 1920 x 1080, you can capture video with your choice of the frame rate. But, know that the max you can achieve is 60 frames per second.
Thanks to the use of SteadyShot image stabilization, the A77II will adjust for user motion. Plus, with its wide sensitivity range, it can handle faster shutter speeds.
The A77II is yet another Sony camera that is made with a magnesium alloy body and weather-resistant. The latter is thanks to the sealing around the main buttons and ports.
With the simple touch of the screen, you can transfer your files from the A77II to your compatible NFC device. Of course, it also supports Wi-Fi technology.
At this point in the list, the impressive models are not slowing down. To admit that the A77II is the eighth best digital camera that Sony has manifested says it all, really.
9. Sensor Ultra-Compact
Shutter speeds capable of 1/32000 of a second
Features an intuitive operation
Can be recorded at 100 frames per second in Full HD
Will not internally record 4K video
Does not integrate image stabilization technology
Without a shadow of a doubt, the DSC-RXO stands out on this list due to its compact size alone. Now, it is actually not an action camera as it is targeted more for professional (or semi-professional) users.Read more
For a compact camera, it becomes apparent with its Exmor RS image sensor and DRAM chip that it can still deliver exceptional image quality.
While you can record 4K video, you will need an external recorder for it to be possible. But, the DSC-RXO can naturally record Full HD at either 20, 50, or 100 frames per second.
With the integrated super slow motion7, you can record at frame rates up to 1000 per second. Imagine the type of content that you could create with that.
In addition to its compact nature, this is also waterproof down to 33 feet. Furthermore, its extra rigid body is shockproof for drops up to 6.5 feet in height.
Both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth technology are built into this model and because of this, you can control it through your smartphone or tablet.
Do not be fooled; this is not like a GoPro. While it sports the compact nature of one, its technical specifications can rival full-fledged digital cameras which is beyond impressive.
10. DSCHX80/B High Zoom
You can transfer files directly to your mobile device
Record Full HD video at 60 frames per second
Features five-axis image stabilization
There is no RAW shooting
Lacks the specifications to compete with top-end models
For some of you, we have finally come to a model that may intrigue you. This is because the DSC-HX80 is not going to cost you an arm and a leg. While it can’t quite compete with the top-end models, it is more than suitable for casual users.Read more
Combining its BIONZ X image processor and 18.2-megapixel Exmor R CMOS image sensor, the DSC-HX80 is able to deliver fantastic photos for the price point.
While this can’t shoot 4K content, which should not be much of a surprise, it can record Full HD videos at 60 frames per second (which is still impressive).
For improved picture quality, this does have a built-in five-axis image stabilization system. Plus, its OLED Tru-Finder allows you to view every scene in rich detail. Because the Xtra Fine LCD display of this unit can rotate 180 degrees, it is made easier to take and record content of yourself.
This camera is strong but less than others. It is not water resistant nor shockproof.
Even at an affordable price, this does sport both Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity. Transferring your content has never been easier.
At the end of the day, it would not be a surprise if this ended up being the most popular model on this list. Not everyone is looking to spend thousands of dollars on a camera, after all.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
There are certainly a number of key factors that make any type of camera elite. But, when it comes down to it, their most important feature may just be their lenses. Without the lenses, they would literally be an overblown and over expensive device that would be good for just about nothing. So, to say you need to carefully assess the design of the lens is an understatement of epic proportions. No matter if it is for a Sony model or a Nikon or any other brand, you need to assess the size of the lens and its megapixels. For the most part, the size of the lens will be more important and for perfectionists out there, you may want to look for one-inch sensors.
But, the megapixel count is also important. In short, more megapixels can help to increase the image quality if a sensor. The top models on this list eclipsed 40 megapixels and will produce image quality that is just about unprecedented. What is funny about Sony, though, is that they produce sensors for rival companies but only keep the precious ones to themselves.
Okay, so you may not be interested in a Sony camera just to gather images. You may also be looking to shoot and record short videos or maybe even full-length short films. Either way, this is where the video quality comes into play. While it is similar to the image quality, there are different specifications to keep an eye out for. But, there are really only two main ones that you need to focus on so that is not too bad. The first, of course, are the resolutions at which the camera can record video. Today, the standard is becoming 4K. While there are different variations of 4K, in terms of the actual resolution, all of them are considered to be ultra high-definition.
But, if you did not have any 4K-compatible devices (that would be able to show off the 4K videos you capture) you may want to stick with Full HD (which is classified as 1080p). This actually leads to the second feature you need to keep a sharp eye out for and that is the frame rate. Basically, the frame rate is the frequency at which frames will appear on display. The more frames per second, the smoother the video will run. For 1080p video, you may see the frame rate jump as high as 120 per second.
Now that we have discussed the image and video quality, let’s talk about the plethora of design features you should look out for. Spoiler alert, there are quite a few and all of them can be important. But, let’s start with arguably the most important and that is image stabilization. No matter how steady your hands are, there will be shaking during videos and abnormalities in your photos without this technology. It will produce sharper images and neutralize any shaking. Next up, how about autofocus? Sometimes, you do not have time to wait for the camera to focus in as you need to shoot within the literal second. So, having a system with a 0.03-second autofocus time (for example) could be vital for timing scenarios. Speaking of time, why not look for a burst mode?
This allows you to take multiple shots in succession to provide you a better chance of landing the perfect photo. Also, look for models that support RAW formatting. This type of formatting contains minimally processed data (as opposed to JPEG) and will be of better quality. Of course, you can also look for different types of shooting modes such as shutter speed and f-stop.
Moving onto the actual physical design, there are a few points of emphasis. Firstly, let’s discuss the build quality. As with anything you ever invest in, it is ideal if it lasts you a long time. Clearly, this is indicative on the manufacturing and the type of product being discussed but the point remains. For this type of a device, Sony typically likes going with a magnesium alloy body. Part of the reason why is on top of being an alloy of magnesium and other metals, magnesium itself is the lightest structural metal.
In addition, you can also assess the battery life and the screen display. Even some of the top-end models on this list have a somewhat limited battery life so it is not the most critical feature but it is still important. As for the screen, look for a size that is large enough to see and also one that swivels.
In this day and age, a technology device seems vastly outdated if it does not integrate wireless technology. Well, Sony has adopted this technology in their best digital cameras and it allows for a much more convenient data transfer. But, you may see either Wi-Fi, NFC, or Bluetooth. Is there a difference between them? Yes, there is and while they do each offer specific advantages and some disadvantages, the main aspect is for there to be at least one of these technologies present. Without them, it becomes a little less convenient to transfer your videos and images to your smartphone, laptop, or tablet.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
Take time to read through the features of your camera to be sure you're getting the best shots possible. Most Sony cameras have a grid system, volume controls, zoom features, and an automatic light reader. Knowing how to use these features will result in quicker and better photos.
If you more a more advanced photographer, and don't want to rely on technology, you can turn off the automatic settings on the camera. This is great way to put your personal touch on your photogrpahy. You can adjust the exposure to allow more or less light in your photo.
Other Factors to Consider
Have you ever heard of an interchangeable lens camera? Think of it like a pair of glasses where you can switch out the lenses and change how to see things. You can add custom lenses to an interchangeable lens model. Well, perhaps you could. To further explain, these types of models have detached lenses so you can attach and detach them at will. This allows you to use different optics on the same model. But, they still need to be compatible, much like anything else.
Do not expect to attach any lens in the world and expect it to work because it will not. But, the versatility these types of cameras provide for you is amazing and remember, the lens is arguably the most critical component of the entire equation.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Can a printer handle these types of high-resolution photos?
You could easily be wondering why this question has any relevance in this guide. Well, with all of this talk of these digital cameras that can produce mind-blowing image quality, it is worth bringing up. After all, not all printers will be able to handle the quality of the image produced. Remember, when it comes to quality, each device you are using needs to be capable of outputting it. For example, if you attempt to play a 4K video on a 720p television, it really is not going to look all that great.
But, for spectacular images, you should be okay granted you have a new printer. Then again, if you are looking to produce the best physical pictures possible, you may want to opt for a photo printer with glossy paper. Do this and quality should never be a concern for you.
q: What is a refurbished camera?
Chances are, you have come across this word refurbished before. Whether it was when you were buying a laptop or even a camera, it is something you have probably seen before. However, what exactly does it mean for a device to be refurbished? Well, it essentially means that it is both new and old if you want to look at it that way. A few things can happen if a product is listed as a refurbished item. For one, it may have been received with damaged packaging or had a manufacturing defect. In either of these cases, the device will then be inspected, repaired, and repackaged.
The manufacturer can’t sell this as new anymore so it is then classified as refurbished. The main reason you would even consider this type of product is if you are looking to save some money, to be honest.
q: What is lens aperture?
One important parameter that has not been discussed in-depth yet is lens aperture. For anyone who is serious about their cameras, this is a term you need to familiarize yourself with. Basically, this is referring to the ratio of the focal length of the lens to the diameter of the light rays that pass through the aperture. The stopping point of the aperture can be adjusted in photography and it will change the dynamics of your imagery. You will see this measured in f-stop (such as f2.4) and this is measuring the lens opening.
So, if the number is larger (say f4.0) that means that more light is going to pass through the sensor. Thus, with a smaller aperture size, less light will be allowed to pass through.
q: How long will a certain model last?
Earlier, durability and longevity were documented in a general sense. However, is there a direct amount of time that you can expect a particular model to last? Given the fact that these devices are not exactly cheap, it is a logical question to ask. First off, understand that the camera itself comes second in importance to the actual lenses. That is where you will throw the money. Even still, though, most high-quality models are going to last you a significant amount of time.
The reality is, the most likely reason you would need to replace a lens or the entire camera is if it is damaged. For example, if it is dropped and cracked or allowed to be submerged in water (when not waterproof).
q: Where do you repair a Sony camera?
Okay, so let’s say that you do end up dropping or significantly damaging your Sony camera. What are you supposed to do? Well, if you head over to the company’s main eSupport page it can help you out. There, you will see phone numbers that you can call that will get you in direct touch with Sony. They have in-warranty repairs and out of warranty repairs so look up beforehand if the particular model you are investing in, comes with a warranty.
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- Buying Guide: The best lenses for Sony mirrorless cameras, Buying Guide ,