Whether you're looking to buy your first Sony camera or it's time for an upgrade, we've curated this list of the best Sony cameras to help you pick the right one – no matter your budget or skill level.
Right now, we think the Sony A7 III is the best Sony camera out there, giving you top performance at a sensible price. But the right model for you depends on what you intend to use your camera for. So what type of camera does Sony do?
Sony mirrorless cameras
Since dropping out of the conventional DSLR market a few years ago, the company has been ramping up its range of mirrorless (compact system camera) bodies, along with their companion E-mount interchangeable lenses.
These Alpha cameras are available with APS-C and full-frame sensors, the latter designed like mini DSLRs, with a conventionally placed electronic viewfinder. There are top-spec A9 and wide-ranging A7 options to choose from, and these suit everyone from wedding, portrait, landscape and architecture photographers to those shooting sports and other action.
The APS-C models, meanwhile, are fitted with viewfinders that are placed around the back or have a pop-up design. They also take E-mount lenses – and they include the popular A6000, A6300 and A6500 models. They’re great for all-round use, but their superb AF systems and fast burst rates make them great for sports, while their electronic viewfinders make them suitable for outdoor conditions with harsh light and dimly lit environments alike.
Guide: The best Sony lenses in 2018
Sony also still markets an SLT (Single Lens Translucent) camera with a full-frame image sensor, in the full-sized, DSLR-style shape of the A99 Mark II, but it takes A-mount rather than E-mount lenses. Its sensor resolution makes it ideal for anything that requires plenty of detail – think landscapes or still-life – but its speedy frame rate means that it’s equally ripe for fast-moving subjects.
Sony compact cameras
While much of the recent interest has been focused on Sony’s interchangeable-lens cameras, the company still markets some particularly impressive regular compacts with permanently attached lenses. These are mostly divided into two groups of Cyber-shot cameras.
The first is the RX series, which aims for powerful performance and professional-quality results in a pocketable build. They’re targeted towards enthusiast users that demand a high standard of image and video quality, together with masses of control over both, without the burden of a bulky and heavy body.
The other is the H/HX/W/WX series, which consists of cameras that typically sport a big optical zoom range but maintain a small, stylish and simple design. Their optics make them ideal for holiday, travelling or the kinds of nature and wildlife photography where one would need to keep their distance from the subject, although the pocketable ones are perfectly suitable as general walkaround cameras too. There’s also a tough new RX0 ultra-compact action camera.
So which type is right for you? Here are the best Sony cameras out there, no matter what you want it for.
The best Sony cameras right now
Best Sony camera overall
Sony A7 III
This full-frame model gets our vote for the best Sony camera overall
Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Full frame | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Lens mount: Sony E | Screen: 3in tilting touchscreen, 922k dots | Viewfinder: EVF, 2,359k dots | Continuous shooting speed: 10fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Enthusiast
It might not have the glamour of Sony’s top-flight A9 and ultra-high-resolution A7R III bodies but the A7 III camera grabs most of the best bits from both pricier models and delivers them in a more affordable package. Headline features include highly effective 696-point AF system and a 5-axis image stabilisation system that promises 5EV of compensation. There’s a new 24.2MP back-illuminated image sensor, coupled with the latest generation of image processor, and the two deliver amazing tonal range and make super-high-ISO settings possible. Handling is excellent, with a design that combines easy access to important camera settings with a typically compact and lightweight Alpha build. For top performance at a sensible price, it’s the best Sony camera out there.
Read more: The 10 cheapest full-frame cameras right now
Best top-spec Sony camera
Spectacular performance to rival or beat top-notch DSLRs
Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Full frame | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Lens mount: Sony E | Screen: 3in tilting touchscreen, 1,440k dots | Viewfinder: EVF, 3,686k dots | Continuous shooting speed: 20fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Professional
If ever there was a camera to prove that you can get professional-grade performance and image quality without the need for a reflex mirror, this is it. Sony’s flagship A9 has the same megapixel count as the A7 III, but it boasts a higher-resolution electronic viewfinder and tilting touchscreen, both of which are beauties. As well as being a fabulous all-rounder, the A9 is a properly sporty camera, its stacked sensor design enabling a blistering 20fps continuous drive rate, while a cavernous memory buffer can keep you going for up to 241 Raw shots. The only real minus point is that the camera costs twice the price of the (also excellent) A7 III.
Read more: The best mirrorless cameras right now
Best-value Sony camera
There are big savings to made with this older model.
Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: APS-C | Megapixels: 24.3MP | Lens mount: Sony E | Screen: 3in tilting screen, 921k dots | Viewfinder: EVF, 1,440k dots | Continuous shooting speed: 11fps | Max video resolution: Full HD | User level: Beginner/enthusiast
Although it’s now over four years old, the A6000 is still one of Sony's best cameras. Moreover, it significantly undercuts the newer A6300 and A6500 models for price. Indeed, it’s currently little more than a third of the price of the A6500. With its APS-C format compact camera styling, and access to Sony’s range of interchangeable lenses, it’s a small body that packs a big punch. Resolution is good in every area, from the 24.3MP image sensor to the 1,440k-dot electronic viewfinder and 921k-dot tilting screen. It lacks the ability to record 4K movies but overall performance and image quality are very impressive, and it’s terrific value for money too.
Read more: The best cameras under £500/$600 right now
Best Sony landscape camera
Sony A7R III
Mighty resolving power to capture every detail
Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Full-frame | Megapixels: 42.4MP | Lens mount: Sony E | Screen: 3in tilting touchscreen, 1,440k dots | Viewfinder: EVF, 3,686k dots | Continuous shooting speed: 10fps | User level: Enthusiast/Professional
There are 42.4 million reasons why this camera is so popular. The ultra-high megapixel count enables you to capture the finest detail and texture in images, which makes the A7R III excellent for everything from architectural and landscape shooting to high-end portraiture and fashion photography. Even the view through the electronic viewfinder is deliciously detailed, thanks to the camera having the same EVF as the range-topping A9. Indeed, some of the image sensor technology is taken from the A9 too. Highly effective 5-axis image stabilisation helps you to retain ultimate sharpness in handheld shooting, and the camera is no slouch either, with fast-reacting autofocus and a speedy 10fps maximum drive rate. It’s pricey to buy, however, with a body price that’s around 50 per cent dearer than the lower-resolution A7 III.
Best Sony action sports/wildlife camera
Sony A99 II
The A99 II proves there's still life in Sony's SLT range
Type: SLT | Sensor: Full-frame | Megapixels: 42.4MP | Lens mount: Sony A | Screen: 3in tilting screen, 1,229k dots | Viewfinder: EVF, 2,359k dots | Continuous shooting speed: 12fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Enthusiast/Professional
Something of a holy grail for action sports and wildlife photography, the A99 II combines a super-high 42.4MP sensor with a rapid 12fps continuous drive speed. This enables you to capture the defining moment in an unfolding scene, and in the greatest possible detail. While it may not have quite the same appeal as its newer mirrorless cousins, the bulkier SLT (Single Lens Translucent) design does at least enable a better balance with large telephoto lenses. Build quality is very solid and all-round performance is excellent, but considering that the mirror is fixed and enables an uninterrupted feed to the autofocus system, it’s surprising that AF tracking for erratically moving objects is no better than with some leading DSLRs, such as the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and Nikon D5.
Best Sony travel camera
A simply brilliant camera for travel photography
Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: APS-C | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Lens mount: Sony E | Screen: 3in tilting touchscreen, 922k dots | Viewfinder: EVF, 2,359k dots | Continuous shooting speed: 11fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Enthusiast
The flagship model in Sony’s APS-C line-up of compact system cameras with interchangeable lenses, the A6500 is an absolute delight. Despite its compact, lightweight build, handling is excellent, with comfortable, ergonomic grip areas. Handling is further enhanced by the superb high-resolution electronic viewfinder and tilting touchscreen. A crucial upgrade over earlier cameras in the A6xxx stable is sensor-shift image stabilisation, a high-performance 5-axis system. This enables you to get sharp handheld shots on your travels, even indoors or at twilight, without the need to lug a tripod around. Further attractions include a fast 11fps drive rate for stills and 4K capture for movies.
Best Sony compact camera
Sony RX100 IV
Here's a little something to slip into your pocket
Type: Compact | Sensor: 1in type | Megapixels: 20.1MP | Lens: 24-70mm (equiv) f/1.8-2.8 | Screen: 3in tilting screen, 1,229k dots | Viewfinder: EVF, 2,359k dots | Continuous shooting speed: 16fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Enthusiast
Sometimes even a compact system camera can feel a bit on the bulky side. The RX100 Mark IV is a svelte and streamlined camera from Sony’s acclaimed line of premium compact cameras with a permanently attached lens. It aims for the highest levels of image quality, utilising a 1in-type image sensor that’s relatively large for a compact camera, which has a respectable 20.1MP sensor resolution. There are two newer versions of the RX100, the most notable being the RX100 VI, which boosts the effective focal range from 24-70mm to 24-200mm, in 35mm terms. For our money, however, the RX100 IV gives the best overall performance-to-price ratio.
Best Sony travel compact camera
Travel light without making compromises
Type: Compact | Sensor: 1/2.3in type | Megapixels: 18.2MP | Lens: 24-720mm (equiv) f/3.5-6.4 | Screen: 3in tilting screen, 922k dots | Viewfinder: EVF, 638k dots | Continuous shooting speed: 10fps | Max video resolution: Full HD (1080p) | User level: Beginner
Despite being small enough to fit into a spare pocket, the slimline HX90V compact camera features an 18.2MP image sensor, a pop-up viewfinder, a 3in screen that tilts and a mighty optical zoom range that's equivalent to 24-720mm on a full-frame camera. There’s also a 5-axis image stabiliser on hand, which helps to keep things steady, especially towards the long end of the mighty zoom range. Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity are also shoehorned into the camera, and the ‘V’ edition includes built-in GPS for geo-tagging your images. As a further bonus, the screen has a selfie-friendly 180-degree tilt mechanism, which ultimately makes it ideal for the traveling photographer who occasionally wants to put themselves in the frame.
Best Sony bridge camera
Take a long shot with Sony’s sturdy bridge camera
Type: Compact | Sensor: 1/2.3in type | Megapixels: 20.4MP | Lens: 24-500mm (equiv) f/2.8-6.3 | Screen: 3in tilting screen, 922k dots | Viewfinder: EVF, 201k dots | Continuous shooting speed: 10fps | Max video resolution: Full HD (1080p) | User level: Beginner
A big zoom range can sometimes seem hard to handle when it’s crammed into a tiny compact camera. Sony’s bridge cameras take their styling cues from the company's now-retired DSLRs and have a chunkier build for more natural handling. The RX10 series of cameras is undeniably excellent but recent editions are very expensive to buy. The smart money is on the relatively inexpensive HX400V, which delivers very good performance and image quality at a much more attractive price. Highlights include a monstrous 50x zoom range, equivalent to 25-500mm in full-frame terms, and a speedy 10fps continuous drive rate. A drawback for some, however, is that the maximum video resolution is 1080p rather than 4K.
Read more: The best bridge cameras right now
Best Sony rugged/waterproof camera
Small and lightweight but versatile and enormously tough
Type: Action camera | Sensor: 1in type | Megapixels: 15.3MP | Lens: 24mm (equiv) f/4 | Screen: 1.5in screen, 230k dots | Viewfinder: None | Continuous shooting speed: 16fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Beginner
The words ‘action camera’ have become almost synonymous with GoPro, but this new Sony aims to redress the balance. It’s waterproof down to 10m (100m with the optional waterproof housing), shockproof to 2m and crushproof for loads up to 200kg. Remarkably compact and lightweight at just 60x41x30mm and 110g, it’s a real take-anywhere-and-do-anything camera. Although physically small, it goes large on image quality with a ZEISS 24mm lens and relatively large 1in-type image sensor. 15MP stills shooting is available at a rapid 16fps and you can shoot video at 4K, or take advantage of 960fps super-slow-mo. Bring on the action!
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