June 21, 2024

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All the best Sony cameras in 2024

25 min read

The range of Sony’s best cameras – in particular its mirrorless series – has grown to be one of the most varied and comprehensive for photo and video. There is a Sony camera for pretty much anyone, at every skill level. Many of them are highly specialised, so there is an excellent Sony choice for all genres of photography.

Sony was not the first manufacturer of mirrorless cameras, yet was a pioneer in its own way. It launched the full-frame mirrorless movement that brought about the end of the DSLR’s dominance. Our recent piece on 10 years of Sony A7 – the camera that killed the DSLR looks into how that developed – suffice to say, a decade on, Sony shows no signs of letting up.

The sheer number of cameras in the Sony range makes choosing one a challenge; hence, this guide. We recommend a Sony camera for all applications, and every single entry is a camera we’ve tested and reviewed. So, whether you’re shooting landscapes, starting a YouTube channel, shooting photos for social media, or whatever else, you should be able to find something here for you.

The cream of the crop

We’ve picked out a selection of Sony cameras with recommendations for which ones suit which kinds of user. We’ve picked out the best model for wildlife photography, the best camera for landscape photography, and plenty more besides. While our list includes all of Sony’s newest models, we’ve also made sure to include some fantastic second-hand options for those working to a tighter budget.

Scroll to the bottom of this page for our explainer section on how to choose a Sony camera if you need an intro to the key specs. Now let’s jump in to an up to date look at the best Sony cameras you can buy…


Best Sony cameras: our quick list

Want to cut to the chase? Here’s our quick list of the best Sony cameras to buy, along with links to get the best prices…

Read on to learn more about each of these excellent cameras…


Best Sony camera for photography all round: Sony A7 IV

Best Sony camera, Sony A7 IV

The Sony A7 IV might not the best-specified camera in the Sony line-up, but its combination of features, performance and price make it our top pick for all-round use.

At a glance:

  • Mirrorless camera
  • 33MP full-frame Exmor-R CMOS sensor
  • 10 frames per second shooting
  • ISO 50-204,800 (extended)
  • 4K 30p video recording
  • $2,398 / £2,399 body-only

The Sony A7 cameras have always been good for a bit of everything. While the A7R models focus on resolution, the A7S models on low-light video and the A9 models on speed, the A7 cameras have quietly gone about the business of being some of the best full-frame all-rounders on the market.

The Sony A7 IV is great, kicking it up a gear in response to increased competition from Canon and Nikon. This translates to a revamped 33MP sensor, with 10fps burst shooting and super-fast autofocus to play with, as well as handling improvements like a fully articulating LCD screen and a higher-resolution viewfinder.

The impressive range of full-frame E-mount lenses allows you to customise the system according to what you plan to shoot. For serious photographers, it’s one of the most fully-featured cameras you can buy right now without getting into ultra-pro territory.

In our review, our verdict was that with the A7 IV, Sony ‘has produced a substantially improved camera that offers enough updates not only to tempt its existing users to upgrade, but also to turn the heads of DSLR users who might be considering making the transition to mirrorless.’

Pros:

  • Excellent image quality
  • Intelligent, flexible autofocus
  • Articulated screen

Cons:

  • AF system complex to configure
  • No in-camera raw conversion

Best for: enthusiast photographers who want to shoot all kinds of subjects


Best Sony camera for resolution: Sony A7R V

Sony A7R V review image by Andy Westlake

The Sony A7R still holds the record as the highest resolution full frame camera you can get (alongside the Leica M11 and Sigma fp L).

At a glance:

  • Mirrorless camera
  • 61MP full-frame Exmor R CMOS sensor
  • 10 frames per second shooting
  • ISO 50-102,400 (extended)
  • 8K 24p video recording
  • $3,898 / £3,999 body-only

The Sony A7R V is the latest in the high-resolution line of A7R cameras. However, given that the A7R V boasts class-leading AI autofocus, increased buffer capacity and 8K video capability, the lines between different Sony cameras are becoming more and more blurred.

Whereas different Sony cameras used to be specialists in different areas, we’re seeing more cameras like the A7R V and A1 that are simply good at everything – and are priced accordingly. Is this good strategy? We’ll find out in years to come, but in the meantime, the result is undeniably great cameras like the A7R V.

61MP full frame sensor

So, what we get here is the same 61MP sensor as the A7R IV. While some might be disappointed that it’s not an upgrade, that many pixels are difficult to argue with. If you want higher resolution than that, you’re probably looking at medium format anyway.

Elsewhere on the camera is an upgraded autofocus system, with enhanced subject detection powered by a new AI processing unit. It’s capable of recognising a huge range of subjects, including cars, trains, airplanes and insects as well as the usual humans, animals and birds. According to Sony, this unit also improves metering and auto white balance.

Low-res shooting options

Stabilisation has been dramatically improved, now delivering up to 8 stops of effective exposure compensation with the right lens. Users also have more image recording options to help manage those huge 61MP files, including lossless raw compression, and lower resolution options (26MP and 15MP) for those times you don’t need all that detail.

It all adds up to a hell of a camera. Is it worth almost $4,000/£4,000? That’s up to the individual user. Our conclusion in our review was as follows: ‘If your needs are tilted more towards image quality than outright speed, it’s difficult to argue against the Sony Alpha 7R V being the best full-frame stills camera available… if you can justify the A7R V’s price, you’ll be blown away by just how good it is.

Pros:

  • 8K video
  • AI-enhanced autofocus
  • Big buffer capacity
  • Huge resolution

Cons:

  • Very expensive…
  • And you probably don’t need everything it’s offering

Best for: making large prints


Best Sony camera for beginners and vlogging: Sony ZV-E10

Best Sony cameras, Sony ZV-E10

The Sony ZV-E10 was the firm’s first vlogging-centred mirrorless camera and is a very affordable route into video and filmmaking. Photo credit: Richard Sibley

At a glance:

  • Mirrorless camera
  • 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor
  • 11 frames per second shooting
  • ISO 64-51,200 (extended)
  • 4K 30p video recording
  • $798 / £749 with 16-50mm PZ lens

Sony’s ZV series of cameras are expressly designed for vlogging, delivering a highly portable video setup. The Sony ZV-E10 is the first mirrorless camera in the series; like the A6000, it sports a 24MP APS-C sensor. It takes a lot of design cues from the first camera in the series, the Sony ZV-1 compact, but having the option to swap out E-mount lenses gives you a great deal more flexibility.

Ideal for run-and-gun vloggers

The ZV-E10 packs in a lot of vlogger-specific features. Its built-in 3-way capsule microphone gives it on-board audio recording performance that is head and shoulders above most consumer cameras. You can also attach an external mic if you prefer. While its video capabilities won’t match those of flagship cameras like the Sony A7S III, the ZV-E10 works brilliantly as an agile setup for run-and-gun vloggers.

You can also think of it as a vlogging-focused evolution of Sony’s A6000-series cameras, and while it doesn’t have a viewfinder, its vari-angle screen and lower price make it a very compelling alternative.

As we said in our review, ‘For content creators there are few creative things that the ZV-E10 won’t allow you to do.’

Pros:

  • Fully articulating 3-inch touchscreen
  • Lightweight build
  • Good high-ISO performance

Cons:

  • No viewfinder
  • No mode dial

Best for: vloggers who want an agile, portable rig


Best lightweight full frame Sony camera: Sony A7C II

Sony A7C II with Sony 40mm lens, in-hand

Sony A7C II with the Sony FE 40mm F2.5 G lens. Credit: Andy Westlake

At a glance:

  • Mirrorless camera
  • 33MP full-frame Exmor R CMOS sensor
  • 10 frames per second shooting
  • ISO 50-204,800 (extended)
  • 4K 30p video recording (4K 60p with ‘Super 35’ 1.5x crop)
  • $2,498 / £2,349 with 28-60mm kit lens

The original Sony A7C was the smallest, cheapest full-frame mirrorless camera in Sony’s stable. Despite being an impressive technical achievement, our review left us a little disappointed: the size of the camera made it unnecessarily frustrating to operate. Nevertheless, Sony has committed to this format, and in 2023 we saw the arrival of the Sony A7C II.

Essentially, a Sony A7 IV crammed into a similarly tiny body to its predecessor, the Sony A7C II performs extremely well. It produces fantastic image quality, with impressive noise control at high ISOs. It inherits the subject-detect autofocus that has made its way into recent Sony cameras, and it can shoot at up to 10fps (though you need to use the lossy compressed raw in Hi+ mode to get this rate).

Awkward handling

While definitely an improvement over what came before it, the A7C I still exhibits several of the problems of the original A7C. Handling is undeniably awkward, with a small handgrip, paucity of control buttons and lack of an AF joystick. The screen and viewfinder are also both quite small and low-res for a camera at this price. Once again, there’s also the conceptual question surrounding a full-frame mirrorless camera of this size, given that it needs to be used with full-frame lenses, many of which will negate the weight-saving.

Pros:

  • Big improvement on original A7C
  • Subject-detection autofocus
  • Stabilisation works very well
  • Reduced-resolution RAW options are genuinely useful

Cons:

  • Small grip and no AF point controller / joystick
  • Small, low-res viewfinder and screen

Best for: Travel photography and video


Best APS-C Sony all round: Sony A6700

Sony Alpha A6700 in use

The Sony A6700 is the company’s most advanced APS-C model to date, with a new 26MP sensor, advanced AI AF and excellent video features – though it can still be somewhat frustrating to use. Credit: Andy Westlake

At a glance:

  • Mirrorless camera
  • 26MP BSI-CMOS sensor
  • ISO 100-32,000 standard, 50-102,400 (extended)
  • Up to 11 frames per second shooting
  • 2.36m-dot, 0.7x OLED EVF
  • 3in, 1.04m-dot fully articulated touchscreen
  • 4K video recording up to 120fps
  • $1498 / £1549 with 16-50mm lens

The Sony A6700 is the latest model in Sony’s line-up and replaces the previous flagship A6600 model. It has a new 26MP sensor first seen in the company’s FX30 cinema camera, but in body designed for hybrid shooting – i.e. both stills and video photography. The body is slightly thicker than the previous A6600 but still very compact, thanks to its ‘rangefinder’ design which incorporates an electronic viewfinder set into the back corner rather than mounted on the top of the body.

AI processor

This is a camera designed for video as well as stills, and it offers a big step up in technical specifications, notably the ability to capture full-width (no crop) 4K video and 30p and 60p oversampled from the camera’s full 7K resolution, and even 4K 120p video, albeit with a crop. This camera incorporates Sony’s latest AI-driven subject-detect autofocus and the dedicated AI processor first seen in the mighty Sony A7R V.

The A6700 is a very mighty camera indeed, and the only thing stopping it from hitting top spot in our list is its handling and controls, which are improved over previous versions but still sometimes frustrating.

Pros:

  • Much improved design and control layout compared to A6600
  • Compact body size relative to its peers
  • Vari-angle rear screen
  • In-body stabilization
  • Powerful video features

Cons:

  • Controls can be frustrating
  • 11fps burst shooting adequate but no more
  • Only a single card slot

Best for: vloggers, hybrid content creators and filmmakers


Best lightweight high-resolution Sony camera: Sony A7CR

Sony Alpha A7CR with Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G lens.

Sony Alpha A7CR with Sony FE 20-70mm F4 G lens. Credit: Andy Westlake

At a glance:

  • Mirrorless camera
  • 60MP full-frame CMOS sensor
  • 8 frames per second shooting
  • ISO 50-102,400 (extended)
  • 4K 60p video recording
  • $3,000 / £3,200 body-only

If browsing this guide, you like the sound of the A7R V’s resolution but wished it could come in a camera body the size of the A6700 – then your weirdly specific dreams have been realised. The Sony A7CR is of a piece with the A7C II, in that it’s another camera that crams a lot of tech into a very small body.

Here, we get a 61MP full-frame sensor and Bionz XR processor, an on-sensor phase-detection autofocus system boasting 693 autofocus points. The AI-powered subject-detection system is present and correct, though the simplified shutter mechanism means a top speed of 1/4000sec rather than 1/8000sec. It also lacks a mechanical front curtain, and while this generally isn’t much of a problem, the electronic front curtain can sometimes cause unattractive background blur when you’re shooting at large apertures (a problem that can be fixed by switching to the electronic shutter, though you then run the risk of rolling shutter effects).

Small is king?

Once again, if you’re as obsessed with smaller-than-ever cameras as Sony is then you probably love the sound of the Sony A7CR – and if not, you’re probably wondering what you’re missing here. It’s true that this camera offers the same image quality as the A7R V in a smaller package, but you also have to put up with a lack of an AF joystick, a single card slot and a rather poky viewfinder. We have to wonder whether these cameras really provide such an advantage with a big full-frame lens attached.

As we said in our review, ‘The A7CR offers stunning image quality in a compact package, just as long as you’re prepared to accept the compromises this entails.

Pros:

  • Exceptional image quality
  • Subject-detection autofocus
  • Useful reduced resolution options

Cons:

  • Compromised controls and small handgrip
  • One SD card slot (on a camera that creates big files)
  • Small, low-res viewfinder and screen

Best for: pro shooters who need to travel light


Best Sony camera for professionals: Sony A1

Best Sony cameras, Sony A1

The Sony A1 is the flagship of the Sony range and a technological tour-de-force, combining resolution, burst speed, and 8K video – though newer, cheaper models in the Sony range have eroded its advantages. Credit: Andy Westlake

At a glance:

  • Mirrorless camera
  • 50.1MP full-frame Exmor RS CMOS sensor
  • 30 frames per second shooting
  • ISO 50-102,400 (extended)
  • 8K 30p video recording
  • $6,498 / £5,879 body-only

On release, the Sony Alpha 1 was one of the most technologically advanced cameras ever made. It still makes a convincing case for itself as Sony’s professional flagship because of its ability to shoot at 30 frames per second, maintaining that full 50MP resolution, while adjusting focus and exposure between shots. This is basically cheat mode for wildlife photography, and while it has been arguably bettered by the likes of the Nikon Z9, the Sony A1 is still a hell of a camera, no question.

We also have to highlight its 8K video capture, and while that’s no longer unique in itself, when you combine it with the A1’s resolution and burst-speed, it’s a pretty spectacular all-round package.

Premium price

Of course, the Sony A1 is designed for professional budgets too, and costs more than almost any two other cameras on this list combined. Not only that, there are signs that its dominance is, or was, short-lived. Already we have the Sony A7R V, which can’t match the A1’s burst speed or 8K video, but does have higher resolution and, for the first time in a Sony camera, a dedicated AI processor for its cutting-edge subject recognition and tracking capabilities.

Nevertheless, we had no choice but to give the Sony A1 the highest possible score in our review; as our Technical Editor Andy Westlake said, it’s ‘a truly remarkable technological tour de force.

Pros:

  • Incredible burst speeds
  • Class-leading viewfinder
  • Excels at everything

Cons:

  • Absurdly expensive
  • Some more recent Sony models bring newer tech

Best for: big-budget pros


Best Sony camera for sports photography: Sony A9 II

Best Sony camera, Sony A9 II

With blistering burst speeds, the Sony A9 II is a sports photography specialist. Image credit: Sony

At a glance:

  • Mirrorless camera
  • 24MP full-frame stacked CMOS sensor
  • 20 frames per second shooting
  • ISO 50-204,800 (extended)
  • 4K 30p video recording
  • $4,498 / £3,999 body-only

Sony shook up sports and action photography with its blisteringly fast A9, and the Sony A9 II is an even more impressive mirrorless camera. The A9 II is designed to be able to capture basically any subject, no matter how fast-moving – its autofocus system is capable of making up to 60 AF calculations per second, and it can shoot at up to 20fps with the electronic shutter, or 10fps with the mechanical. This means you’ve still got a competitive burst rate in play in situations where you might run the risk of encountering a banding effect due to the quality of the light.

The A9 II burst-shoots with no viewfinder blackout, meaning you can keep laser-focused on your subject. With this and the generous ISO range, it’s difficult to think of many other cameras that can match the A9 II for its ability to nail the shot in basically any situation.

End of the line?

The Sony A9 II is now a few years old, having made its debut back in 2019. With no new model on the horizon, it’s possible that Sony is thinking of retiring this line of cameras. The newer Sony A1 outstrips it for speed, and it lacks the AI-powered focusing technology of cameras like the A7R V. However, we’re keeping the A9 II on the list as a sports option for the time being, as it’s significantly less expensive than the A1, and makes more sense for sports than the A7R V due to its lower resolution.

Pros:

  • Fast burst with no blackout
  • Good high-ISO performance
  • Incredible auofocus

Cons:

  • Relatively expensive
  • Eclipsed at pro level by A1

Best for: sports pros


Best Sony camera for video: Sony ZV-E1

Sony ZV-E1 full-frame vlog camera. Image credit: Sony

The Sony ZV-E1 is a full-frame vlogging camera in the style of the ZV-E10, but with the tech of the mighty Sony A7S III. Image credit: Sony

At a glance:

  • Mirrorless camera
  • 12.1MP full-frame back-illuminated CMOS sensor
  • 10 frames per second shooting
  • ISO 80-409,600 (extended)
  • 4K 60p video (120p coming in firmware update)
  • $2,198 / £2,349 body-only

This came as something of a surprise. Whereas previously Sony’s vlogger-pitched ZV series had stuck to using APS-C sensor, the Sony ZV-E1 spectacularly bucked the trend, housing the same 12.1MP full-frame sensor as found in the pro-grade A7S III and FX3. While it came with a corresponding price hike compared to other ZV cameras, it’s still a good deal cheaper than either of the models it borrowed its chip from.

Fundamentally, the Sony ZV-E1 is a pitch towards serious aspiring YouTubers – those who want to produce high-quality video footage but aren’t necessarily all that au fait with the technical ins and outs of doing so. It’s small enough to be agile and portable, but still packs in effective stabilisation for run-and-gun vlogging.

AI-powered framing

There are also plenty of features invoking the buzzword of the year – AI, including AI-powered automatic framing, which creates a crop in 4K footage and then uses it to follow a moving subject through the frame – effectively giving the appearance of camera movement even when the ZV-E1’s body is completely static. Clever.

There are gripes we have with the camera – we’ve never been fans of the practice of manufacturers announcing cameras with top-of-the-line features, then revealing that it doesn’t actually have those features yet, but will in a few months’ time when the firmware update rolls out. But this isn’t a practice unique to Sony – they’re basically all at it – so we won’t gripe too much, and will look forward to the ZV-E1 getting 4K 120p and Full HD 240p when the firmware update arrives in June of this year.

Pros:

  • A cheaper way to get the A7S III / FX3 sensor
  • Makes it easy to get high-quality results
  • Small, but packs in stabilisation

Cons:

  • Some features locked behind future firmware
  • Only one card slot

Best for: Video and vlogging


Best Sony for travel photography: Sony RX100 VI

Best Sony cameras, Sony RX100 VI

Technically the Sony RX100 VI has been superseded by the RX100 VII, but we think the VI is better value and worth getting where still available.

At a glance:

  • Compact camera with 24-200mm equiv. f/2.8-4.5 lens
  • 20.1MP 1-inch Exmor RS CMOS sensor
  • 24 frames per second shooting
  • ISO 125-12,800
  • 4K 25p video recording
  • Around $1100 / £849

Though this isn’t the most recent Sony RX100 compact camera (that title belongs to the Mark VII), the price of this sixth iteration has come down enough since release that we think it’s the smarter buy for travel photography. However, if you’re interested you might want to move fast, as stocks appear to be dwindling.

It’s got a much longer built-in lens than previous RX100 cameras, making it more versatile, and also packs in plenty of high-end features for a camera in this class. Having 24fps burst shooting with focus and exposure adjustment, up to a 233-shot JPEG buffer, is no small thing.

Slip it in your pocket

The little Sony RX100 VI is still pocketable, meaning it’s ideal for city breaks and hikes as it won’t add much weight to your bag. The pop-up viewfinder is a nice touch as well, and 4K video at 25p with full pixel readout is super handy.

In our review we were consistently impressed by how much technology was packed into the RX100 VI’s tiny body, saying, ‘There’s no doubt that the Sony RX100 VI is an astounding technological feat.

Pros:

  • Lens sharp throughout zoom range
  • Snappy autofocus
  • Pop-up viewfinder

Cons:

  • Small body makes for tricky handling
  • Pricier than competitors

Best for: world-explorer photographers who travel light


Best Sony camera for travel vlogging: Sony ZV-1 Mark II

Sony ZV-1 Mark II switched on with wind shield

The Sony ZV-1 Mark II switched on and with wind shield attached. Photo credit: Andy Westlake

At a glance:

  • Compact camera
  • 20MP 1-inch type CMOS sensor
  • 24 frames per second shooting
  • ISO 125-12,800 (ISO 80 extended)
  • 4K 30p video recording
  • $898 / £869

While it seems unlikely that Sony will produce any more stills-focused compact cameras in the near-future, in the vlogging world these cameras are having something of a renaissance. Enter from stage left the Sony ZV-1 Mark II, the latest release from Sony and a successor to the popular, vlogger-oriented ZV-1.

This isn’t so much a replacement for that camera as it is an update. The ZV-1 II offers a similar feature set in a lot of ways, fielding a 20MP 1-inch type CMOS sensor, a flip-around touchscreen.

Zoom range

The key difference though is in the lens – the ZV-1 II’s lens is significantly wider than that of the ZV-1, covering an 18-50mm equivalent focal range compared to 25-70mm equivalent. This makes it wide enough for arm’s length vlogging – a criticism levelled at the ZV-1 – and is unique among zoom compact cameras generally, making the ZV-1 Mark II potentially an interesting camera for stills shooters too.

Naturally it comes with drawbacks. While you do still get an f/1.8 maximum aperture, this drops to f/2.8 once you zoom past 24mm and f/4 at 35mm. This means you get less in the way of attractive background blur, even when you’ve activated Sony’s Background Defocus mode. This certainly isn’t a ruinous issue, but if you do want to capture images with a shallow depth of field and the background nicely thrown out, the original (and significantly cheaper) ZV-1 may be a better choice.

Ultimately though, this is still one of the best best cameras for vloggers. In our review we appreciated how Sony has overhauled the touch interface to make the camera much easier to use, and the new directionality settings on the built-in mics. Vloggers are unlikely to be disappointed with this one.

Pros:

  • Extra wide zoom lens
  • Improved touchscreen interface
  • Easy for vloggers to pick up and use

Cons:

  • No optical stabilisation
  • Better background blur on original ZV-1

Best for: vloggers and aspiring YouTubers


Best Sony bridge camera: Sony RX10 IV

Sony Cyber-shot RX10 IV - Image: Andy Westlake / AP

The Sony Cyber-shot RX10 IV has a high-quality long-zoom fixed lens and makes a great all-in-one hybrid content creation tool, though for the same money these days you can get some even better mirrorless cameras (though not with the same lens).

At a glance:

  • Bridge camera with 24-600mm (equivalent) f/2.4-4 lens
  • 20.1MP 1-inch sensor
  • 24 frames per second shooting
  • ISO 64-12,800 (extended)
  • 4K 25p video
  • $1698 / £1499

The Sony RX10 IV is one of the most powerful bridge cameras ever made. A great, self-contained choice for wildlife photography, it pairs a 20.1MP 1-inch sensor with a 24-600mm (equivalent) f/2.4-4 lens, and also sports an incredibly capable autofocus system that consistently nails moving subjects.

The asking price has come down a little since launch, making the RX10 IV a much more tempting prospect than it was in the past. Those who want a marriage of image quality and convenience in a camera should really consider the RX10 IV.

Impressive up to 600mm

In our testing, we found that the sensor/lens combination delivers excellent image quality across the board. Many bridge cameras offer an enormous shooting range, but in practice their image quality is overly compromised at the extreme ends of their big lenses. No such issues here – you can push the Sony RX10 IV to 600mm and still get great images, though there is some fall-off if you stop down past f/8.

Our verdict? ‘The Sony Cyber-shot RX10 IV sets a new standard for all-in-one superzoom models. If you’re interested in getting an all-in-one travel camera, or simply want to photograph your local wildlife without needing to buy a huge zoom lens for a DSLR, it’s the best you can buy.

Pros:

  • Huge, high-quality zoom
  • Fast burst shooting
  • Price has come down

Cons:

  • Screen tilts but is not fully articulated
  • No AF-area joystick or AF-on button

Best for: wildlife photographers who want an all-in-one package


Best used Sony cameras

Here’s a selection of Sony cameras which are no longer sold new but can be strongly recommended as used buys. There are plenty of these on the used camera market, often in excellent or as-new condition and showing few signs of wear. If your main interest is video, you might be better off going for one of the new Sony cameras above, but if you are principally interested in stills photography, these models deliver much of the resolution and performance of current models, but at a fraction of the price.

Best used Sony camera for beginners: Sony A6000

Best Sony cameras, Sony A6000

The Sony A6000 was the firm’s first APS-C mirrorless camera.

At a glance:

  • Mirrorless camera
  • 24.3MP APS-C CMOS sensor
  • 11 frames per second shooting
  • ISO 100-25,600
  • Full HD 60p video recording
  • Around $650 with lens / £419-499 with lens

This fantastic camera has been around since 2014, and the fact that it’s still one of the best mirrorless cameras for beginners is an indicator of how many things Sony got right with it. The Sony A6000 kicked off an entire series of APS-C mirrorless cameras for enthusiasts, and over the years its price has come down to the point where it’s one of the best budget cameras you can buy. There are also plenty of E-mount lenses designed specifically for APS-C cameras, so you won’t feel short-changed when it comes to the glass.

Competitive specs

It’s amazing how many of the A6000’s specs are still competitive today. The autofocus system can acquire a subject in as little as 0.06 seconds, and the burst mode can manage 11fps – all of which is more than enough for speedy action photography. The only area where the A6000 has started to fall behind is video, as it pre-dates the 4K boom, and doesn’t have a mic jack.

In our review when the A6000 came out, we said, ‘Top-spec technology and a host of cutting-edge features may just see the Alpha 6000 mirror the longevity and success of its predecessor and keep it competitive in years to come.‘ Not to toot our own horns, but we called that one pretty well.

Pros:

  • Fantastic value for money
  • Good burst speeds
  • Sleek, attractive design

Cons:

  • Showing age in video
  • No in-camera raw processing

Best for: cash-conscious beginners and enthusiasts


Best used Sony camera for image quality: Sony A7R II

Sony Alpha 7R II front angle view with lens

The Sony A7R II can be picked up at a significant discount on the second-hand market.

At a glance:

  • Mirrorless camera
  • 42.4MP Exmor R BSI-CMOS sensor
  • 5 frames per second shooting
  • ISO 50-102,400 (extended)
  • 4K 30p video
  • Around $1,200-$1,300 / £750-950 (used, body-only)

Released in 2015, the full-frame Sony A7R II has since been discontinued. However, it is still widely available on the second-hand market, and if you’re looking for high-resolution full-frame shooting, we reckon it’s one of the best bargains you’ll find.

It’s a camera that demands plenty of accuracy on the part of the user. 42 megapixels is an unforgiving resolution, and if you’re a hair off on your focusing, it’s going to be noticeable. Fortunately, the Sony A7R II was the first high-resolution mirrorless camera to come sporting 5-axis image stabilisation, meaning it’s easier to shoot at slow shutter speeds and still get pin-sharp shots.

Impressive detail at ISO 25,600

We published a special feature not long ago on why the Sony A7R II is one of the best used cameras you can buy, and one of the features we singled out was its high-ISO performance. You can push the A7R II all the way up to ISO 25,600, and it’ll still handle detail really well.

The A7R II proved something of a favourite among the professional photography community. Landscape pro Joe Cornish was blown away by the high-ISO performance of the A7R II, and appreciated its lightweight build for use out in the field. Meanwhile, we also saw motorsport photography pro Nick Dungan put the A7R II through its paces on the track. It’s not really designed for this genre, but the A7R II did well at nailing challenging shots, and Nick ended up concluding he would seriously consider adding it to his kit bag.

Pros:

  • Superb resolution for the money
  • Does very well at high ISOs
  • Relatively lightweight and portable

Cons:

  • Only one card slot
  • Pedestrian 5fps burst rate

Best for: getting ultra-high resolution as cheaply as possible


Best used Sony A-mount camera: Sony A77 II

Sony A77 II

The Sony A77 II may be something of a technological dead end, but it’s a cheap and capable camera. Photo credit: AP

At a glance:

  • SLT (single-lens translucent) camera
  • 24.3MP APS-C Exmor CMOS sensor
  • 12 frames per second shooting
  • ISO 50-25,600 extended
  • Full HD 60p video
  • $300 / £400 (used, body-only)

Ah, A-mount. Once a vital component of Sony’s camera line-up, long since discarded in favour of the much more successful E-mount mirrorless cameras. Sony may not have ever quite admitted that there won’t be new A-mount cameras and lenses in the future, but the ones that were released are still perfectly solid in their fundamentals, and can be picked up for a great price on the second-hand market.

The Sony A77 II is one of the last A-mount cameras ever released. Not the very last – that was the A99 II, but that one still costs too much even on the used market to be really worth buying. The A77 II, on the other hand, can be picked up for a very reasonable outlay indeed. It’s an SLT camera, which is short for single-lens translucent, and in form and function it very much resembles a DSLR. With 24MP of resolution and 12fps burst shooting, it still has pretty competitive specs today.

Autofocus

The sensor is APS-C, and the A77 II was clearly pitched to compete with contemporary APS-C speedsters like the Canon EOS 7D and Nikon D7100. As such, it sported a pretty spiffy autofocus system, with 79 phase-detection points. At the time, we described this as ‘staggering‘. Naturally, it does not come close to being staggering in 2023, but it’s still pretty good, especially with subject tracking.

The A77 II is a bit of a curio of a camera, and won’t be one for most people due to the lack of a decent upgrade path. However, it provides decent value for money on the second-hand market, and is worth looking into, particularly if you like the look of A-mount lenses.

Pros:

  • Good burst speeds and autofocus
  • Solid APS-C resolution
  • Reasonable used prices

Cons:

  • No more lenses/cameras coming in future
  • Translucent mirror reduces light by 0.3EV

Best for: bargain hunters, casual photographers


How to choose the best Sony camera

Camera types

Sony manufactures cameras in two classes: compacts and mirrorless cameras. Compact cameras have a fixed lens that can’t be changed, while mirrorless cameras allow the user to swap between Sony E-mount lenses at will. Compact cameras are generally smaller, cheaper and easier to use, while mirrorless cameras offer greater image quality and shooting versatility, with the trade-off being that a complete mirrorless setup will cost quite a bit more, and be less portable.

Sensor size

Sony compact cameras have 1-inch sensors, and Sony mirrorless cameras will use either APS-C or full-frame. Which to choose? Full-frame sensors will deliver the best image quality and overall performance, particularly in low light, but require larger and more expensive cameras. APS-C tends to be thought of as the mid-range option, and this is the sensor size used in the powerful new Sony A6700.

For a thorough run-down, check out our guide to APS-C vs full-frame sensors.

Features and priorities

You need to figure out which features are most important to you. Want to capture wildlife images? Look for fast burst speeds and sophisticated autofocus systems. If you’re looking to add video to your repertoire as well as stills, you’ll want to look at the maximum video resolution and frame rate the camera can capture. Sony makes some of the best hybrid cameras for photographers who need both.

The best at a glance

Still not sure on what type of camera you’re looking for? You may want to check out our guide to DSLR vs mirrorless. And if you do end up choosing a Sony mirrorless, you’ll want to pick up some of the best Sony E-mount lenses to go with it.


Found your perfect Sony camera? Why not have a look at some of our choices for the best Sony E mount lenses, or have a look at our other buying guides, and our latest reviews, for more ideas.


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