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The best Sony camera in 2020: from Alphas through to simple Cyber-shots

Best Sony camera
(Image credit: Sony)

Sony is one of the biggest names in digital imaging, but which is the best Sony camera to get? It's not necessarily the most expensive! It all depends on what you want in a camera and how much you want to spend. 

In this guide we pick out our top recommendations from right across the Sony range, from its pocket-sized point-and-shoot Cyber-shot models through its mirrorless APS-C models for vloggers and enthusiasts, right through to its full frame Alphas for enthusiasts, filmmakers and professional photographers.

Sony is certainly keen to push its full frame mirrorless cameras. The big news of 2019 was the amazing new 61-megapixel Sony A7R Mark IV, but Sony has also announced a raft of updates in its new high-end Sony A9 Mark II professional sports camera. We also hear continuing rumors about a new Sony A7S Mark III camera for video.

These models are important for experts and professionals, but Sony has not neglected its more affordable APS-C mirrorless cameras either. These include the new entry-level Sony A6100 and the top of the range Sony A6600. These join the Sony A6400 vlogging camera and the long-running original Sony A6000, which is now cheaper than ever and superb value for money – though we're not sure how much longer this model will remain on sale.

Read more: Sony A6000 vs A6100 vs A6300 vs A6400 vs A6500 vs A6600: how do you choose?

These Sony Alpha mirrorless cameras take interchangeable lenses and are aimed at keen photographers, but Sony also makes Cyber-Shot compact cameras with fixed lenses for all kinds of users, from family snappers to travel photographers and vloggers who want high-quality results in a camera small enough to fit in a pocket or with a zoom range you just can't get from a mirrorless camera lens.

Use the section headings at the top of this page to go straight to the section you need, or just keep scrolling!

The best Sony cameras in 2020

Sony Alpha full frame

Sony Alpha cameras are available with either APS-C or full-frame sensors. The APS-C models are smaller and more affordable and designed more like traditional rectangular ‘rangefinder’ cameras – but they still pack plenty of power. Sony’s full frame Alpha cameras are more like mini DSLRs, with a conventionally placed electronic viewfinder on the top. These are larger and more expensive and more orientated towards expert and professional users – though there are still bargains to be had for enthusiasts because Sony has a policy of keeping older models on sale alongside newer replacements, and at extremely tempting prices!

Guide: The best Sony lenses

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1. 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

Image quality and speed
5-axis image stabilisation
Unbalanced by larger lenses
24MP no higher than APS-C models

It might not have the blinding speed of Sony’s top-flight A9 II or the ultra-high-resolution of the A7R Mark IV, but the A7 III camera grabs many of the best bits from these 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 good, though some may find the body a little small when paired with pro lenses, but that applies across the Alpha range. For top performance at a sensible price, it’s the best Sony camera out there... but it is holding its price very firmly, and for stills photographers the older A7 and A7 Mark II are extremely tempting – and cheaper – alternatives.

Read more:
Sony A7 III review
The 10 cheapest full-frame cameras right now

Best Sony cameras: Sony A7R Mark IV

(Image credit: Sony)

2. Sony A7R Mark IV

Yes, it's expensive, but Sony's 61MP full frame camera is stunning

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Full frame CMOS | Megapixels: 61MP | Lens mount: Sony FE | Screen: 3-inch tilting touchscreen, 1,440,000 dots | Viewfinder: Electronic, 5.76m dots | Continuous shooting speed: 10fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Professional

61 megapixel resolution
10fps continuous shooting
Advanced Eye AF
Unbalanced with bigger lenses
Quite expensive – of course!

The 'R' models in Sony's A7 series cameras are designed first and foremost for resolution – and the Sony A7R Mark IV certainly delivers. The previous A7R Mark III set the standard for a time, but the A7R Mark IV brings a new record-breaking 61-megapixel that has the highest resolution of any Sony – or indeed any full frame camera. The detail rendition is spectacular, though the gain is perhaps not quite as obvious as the bare numbers might suggest, so although the A7R Mark IV beats the older A7R Mark III model on paper, in reality the differences in outright detail rendition are smaller than you might suppose. This does mean that although the A7R Mark III is technically superseded, it's still a high-resolution camera by any standards, and likely to be available at much reduced prices now too. The A7R Mark IV has prompted many people to compare it to the best medium format cameras, but we think the larger sensors in medium format models are still a very telling difference – it's not just about megapixels.

Read more: Sony A7R Mark IV review

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3. Sony A7

Sony’s original Alpha A7 is still on sale, and amazing value for money

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Full frame | Megapixels: 24.3MP | Lens mount: Sony FE | Screen: 3in tilting touchscreen, 922k dots | Viewfinder: EVF, 2,359k dots | Continuous shooting speed: 5fps | Max video resolution: Full HD | User level: Enthusiast

Full-frame image quality
Amazing value for money
No in-body stabilisation
270-shot battery life

If you do want to step up to a full frame camera but you’ve been put off by the cost, then the original Sony A7 is the camera for you! It was launched way back in 2013, so it can’t rival the sensor technology, autofocus systems or continuous shooting speeds of the latest Alpha models, and it doesn’t have in-body image stabilisation, but it is a powerful, well-made full frame camera at a silly price – Sony has a policy of keeping older cameras on sale, and in production, at steadily decreasing prices, just to get new users into the brand. If you go for the Sony A7, we’d recommend getting it with the Sony 28-70mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS as a good, cheap ‘starter’ kit lens. Prices do go up and down, but as long as the A7 remains on sale, it's likely to remain one of the digital camera market's best ever bargains.

Read more: Sony A7 review

Read more:
Sony A9 II review
Best cameras for professionals
The best mirrorless cameras right now

Sony Alpha APS-C

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4. Sony A6000

An amazing APS-C bargain from Sony’s back-catalog

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

Small and lightweight build
Built-in electronic viewfinder
No 4K video
Relatively old model

Although it was launched way back in 2014, the A6000 is still one of Sony’s best cameras. Moreover, it significantly undercuts the newer A6400 and even the 'basic' A6100 which will ultimately replace it. Indeed, it’s currently little more than a third of the price of the top A6600. 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 from the 24.3MP image sensor is good, though the 1,440k-dot electronic viewfinder and 921k-dot tilting screen (shared by the other models in the series) now look distinctly low-res. The A6000 lacks the ability to record 4K movies but overall performance and image quality are very impressive, and it’s terrific value for money.

Read more:
Sony A6000 review
The best cameras under £500/$600 right now
Best mirrorless camera

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5. Sony A6400

Perfect for vloggers with its 4K video and a 180-degree screen

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

Great 4K video and AF
180-degree screen
No in-body stabilisation
Design feeling dated

The Sony A6400 is effectively Sony’s ‘middle’ A6000-series camera, fitting in above the A6000 and newer A6100 model and below the new top-of-the-range A6600. But it still packs a super-fast, super-high-tech autofocus system, and great 4K video capabilities. Its still image quality is very good, but really this camera’s strength is as a blogging/vlogging tool for single-handed content creation. Its 180-degree screen is the key here, flipping up and over to face you to help your framing, facial expressions and delivery as you present video pieces to camera. The specs of the top-of-the-range A6600 are better, but you have to be careful with any camera, and with Sony models in particular, not to pay for high-tech features you don't need yourself, such as cutting-edge AF or burst modes.

Read more:
Sony A6400 review
Best cameras for vlogging

Best Sony camera: Sony A6100

(Image credit: Sony)

6. Sony A6100

The successor to the A6000 is more advanced... but also more expensive

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: APS-C | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Lens mount: Sony E | Screen: 3in 180-degree touchscreen, 1,440k dots | Viewfinder: EVF, 1,440k dots | Continuous shooting speed: 11fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Beginner/enthusiast

Real-Time Tracking Autofocus
4K video recording
180-degree screen
No in-body sensor-shift stabilization
Low resolution EVF
Much pricier than the older A6000

This is the entry-level successor to the Sony A6000, and while the older model remains on sale, we hear rumblings that it may not be for much longer. Six years on, the A6100 has brought a host of improvements, sharing many of the same upgrades featured in the latest mid-range A6400 and top-end A6600 bodies, including a 180-degree touchscreen for selfies and vlogging, 4K video and a faster and more advanced autofocus system. However, these improvements don't come cheap, as the A6100 is nearly twice the price of the original A6000, somewhat limiting its appeal as an entry-level camera. As we've seen previously with Sony cameras, however, steady price discounting over time can make them very attractive buys.

Read more: 

Sony A6100 review
Cheapest full frame cameras
Best mirrorless camera

Sony Cyber-shot cameras

Sony’s Cyber-shot compact camera range is wide and varied! The ‘RX’ models are most likely to appeal to experts, the ‘HX’ series gives you a long zoom range for a modest outlay, while the WX series offers, cheap, effective point-and-shoot photography. 

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7. Sony RX100 V/VA

Almost as powerful as an Alpha, but it fits in 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: 24fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Enthusiast

Relatively large sensor for a compact
High-resolution EVF
Pretty expensive
Small size can be fiddly

Sometimes even a compact system camera can feel a bit on the bulky side. The RX100 Mark VA 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, utilizing a 1in-type image sensor that’s relatively large for a compact camera, which has a respectable 20.1MP sensor resolution. You can also get the RX100 VI, which boosts the effective focal range from 24-70mm to 24-200mm, in 35mm terms. For us, though, the Sony RX100 VA gives the best blend of size, features, performance and cost. Confusingly, Sony keeps practical every version of the Sony RX100 on sale, so the latest model – the RX100 Mark VII – is two versions ahead of this one – on paper. In practice, we reckon the RX100 V/VA still gives you more bang for your buck. You can pay more, but you'll be getting burst speeds, AF modes and video capabilities which we feel are overkill in a pocket camera.

Read more:
Sony RX100 III vs RX100 IV vs RX100 V vs vs RV V1 RX100 VII
Best compact digital camera

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8. Sony HX90V

A compact camera with a big zoom – the best Sony travel camera

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

Huge 30x zoom range
Built-in GPS for geotagging
No 4K video
No touchscreen

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.

Read more: Best travel camera

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9. Sony Cyber-shot WX220

A powerful little camera for novices – the best Sony family camera

Type: Compact | Sensor: 1/2.3in | Megapixels: 18.2MP | Lens: 25-250mm equivalent f/3.3-5.9 | Screen: 2.7in, 460k dots | Viewfinder: No | Continuous shooting speed: 1.5fps | User level: Beginner

10x zoom range in a slim body
Decent ISO range
Weak 1.5fps burst mode
Small 2.7-inch screen

Any point-and-shoot compact worth its salt has to differentiate itself from what a smartphone can do. The most useful advantage it can offer is an optical zoom, and the 10x zoom on the Sony WX220 goes way further than the lenses on most point and shoot compact cameras. It doesn’t have that many frills otherwise, and the 2.7in LCD screen seems a little small compared to what’s out there in the rest of the market, but what it does, it does well, with images turning out bright and punchy with a decent level of detail. If you want a small camera with a bigger-than-average reach that the whole family can use, the WX220 is worth a look.

Read more: Best point and shoot cameras

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10. Sony RX10 IV

It’s the ultimate Sony bridge camera both for sports/action and 4K video

Type: Compact | Sensor: 1-in type | Megapixels: 20.1MP | Lens: 24-600mm (equiv) f/2.4-4 | Screen: 3in tilting screen, 1,440k dots | Viewfinder: EVF, 2,360k dots | Continuous shooting speed: 24fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Expert

Phase detect AF system
Great still/video quality
Excellent lens
Very expensive

The RX10 IV is the latest incarnation of Sony’s RX10 high-end bridge/video camera series. The main highlight is the inclusion of a 315-point phase-detect AF system, and the introduction of a touchscreen display. The 24fps burst shooting capability is pretty amazing, and it’s this, combined with the bigger sensor, better autofocus and better lens that life the RX10 Mark IV head and shoulders above other bridge cameras. It’s excellent for 4K video as well, not least because of that long-range zoom lens and autofocus system. The price, however, means that this camera’s only likely to appeal to really serious enthusiasts or experts.

Read more: Best bridge cameras

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