Sony is one of the most expansive consumer tech companies in the world, offering everything from TVs to video game consoles and even venturing into the world of film and TV production. While that might seem like a recipe for disaster, the simple fact of the matter is that they provide some truly high-quality products, and while cameras may not be their primary source of income, they offer some truly exceptional models that can compete admirably against the leading names of Canon and Nikon.
If you’re considering making the purchase of a camera from Sony, you can count on HotRate to assist. Below, we spotlight 10 of the cameras that best typify Sony’s strengths. After that, we’ll provide you with all the information you need to find the best Sony camera.
- 10 Best Sony Cameras in 2020
- 1. Sony a7R III 42.4MP Mirrorless Camera
- 2. Sony Alpha 7R IV Mirrorless Camera
- 3. Sony DSCHX80/B High Zoom Point & Shoot Camera
- 4. Sony RX100 VII Premium Compact Camera
- 5. Sony Alpha a6000 24.3 MP Digital SLR Camera
- 6. Sony Cyber Shot RX10 IV Optical Zoom Camera
- 7. Sony a7S II ILCE7SM2/B 12.2 MP E-mount Camera
- 8. Sony a9 Mirrorless Interchangeable-Lens Camera
- 9. Sony HDRCX405 HD Handycam Camcorder
- 10. Sony HDRAS50/B Full HD Action Cam
- Sony Camera Buyer’s Guide
10 Best Sony Cameras in 2020
1. Sony a7R III 42.4MP Mirrorless Camera
Sony has made a name for themselves for the quality of their full frame mirrorless cameras, and they've come close to perfecting it with the a7R iii. Despite its larger sensor, this camera never feels unwieldy, and the autofocus system provides coverage for over 2/3 of the viewing area, so you'll have little difficulty zeroing in on your subjects. It's also a remarkably fast camera, so it will work well when trying to shoot street or action photography.
Complementing the great still photography is the capability for 4K video. The electronic viewfinder is well built and assists well when trying to shoot video, and both video and stills will benefit from the truly exceptional image stabilization system. Add in the remarkable ISO range offered by this camera, and you're left with a remarkable (albeit expensive) model that will suit professional photographers well in practically any imaginable situation.
2. Sony Alpha 7R IV Mirrorless Camera
If you're a professional photographer not quite satisfied with what the a7R III has to offer, you can take a step up to the next generation without that massive of a price increase. The fundamentals here are quite similar: a quality 5 axis image stabilization system, 4K shooting at a smooth rate of 30 fps, and 10 fps continuous shooting with either AF or AE active. But the IV makes some pretty noticeable improvements to the blueprint.
The sensor here is packed with roughly one and a half time the pixels that were present in the prior generation for better still resolution, but what's really remarkable is that it manages that update while still retaining the same ISO range. The autofocus has also been significantly beefed up to provide coverage of almost the entire sensor. But what's especially cool is the ability to shoot cropped photos resembling an APS C format sensor.
3. Sony DSCHX80/B High Zoom Point & Shoot Camera
Sony is especially lauded for their full frame mirrorless cameras, but there's no doubt that these models are complicated and expensive. If you're an amateur or hobbyist photographer looking for something more manageable, the point and shoot DSCHX80/B is going to be one of your best options. This Cyber-Shot camera may be significantly more basic in its approach to photography and not come with interchangeable lenses, but it offers more versatility than you'd find in a typical point and shoot model.
You get access to a 30x optical and 60x clear image zoom that gives you more range to capture your subjects in their most critical moments, and the 3" multi-angle tilt LCD screen is easy to navigate and designed to accommodate selfies. And like the aforementioned mirrorless models, it comes with a sturdy 5 axis image stabilization system that can dramatically reduce the blur in your photos and videos.
4. Sony RX100 VII Premium Compact Camera
The RX100 VII is a camera that bridges the gap between their best quality mirrorless full frame models and more affordable and accessible compact Sony cameras like the DSCHX80/B. This point and shoot camera can be picked up for a little over a thousand dollars, and offers a premium choice for both hobbyists and amateurs that can also double as a respectable backup camera for more professional photographers.
The autofocus here is truly impressive, making use of artificial intelligence to track the eyes of both humans and animals. This is the fastest point and shoot you'll find in Sony's catalog and one of the most high speed compact cameras you'll find anywhere. And all of these features are packed into a very slim and lightweight frame that's perfectly suited to the needs of street photographers. Despite that, it manages to pack in a meaningful zoom for more versatile performance.
5. Sony Alpha a6000 24.3 MP Digital SLR Camera
DSLR cameras aren't Sony's specialty, but the Alpha a6000 is living proof that they can work outside of their comfort zone. This isn't the newest DSLR in their catalog, but it sports a small and lightweight design for an SLR and comes with all the modern conveniences you'd expect from a camera. That includes Wi-Fi and NFC capabilities so your camera can be remote controlled and your photos can be shared wirelessly and a really top of the line electronic viewfinder.
In lieu of the full frame models that Sony is known for, the Alpha a6000 utilizes an APS C sensor with great focus sensitivity and a continuous shooting mode that supports up to 11 frames per second. It's also a highly affordable alternative to the traditionally expensive DSLRs. With a price tag of around $500, you can get access to an interchangeable lens camera for the price of a compact.
6. Sony Cyber Shot RX10 IV Optical Zoom Camera
The Cyber-Shot RX-10 is the best bridge camera you'll find from Sony, just so long as you're willing to buy in to the $1600 price tag. But it's proof that a camera without interchangeable lenses can be a feasible choice for hobbyists and even professionals. The autofocus functionality is superb even by the already high standards that Sony has set in the industry, and this camera comes with a Zeiss telephoto lens with a 25x magnification, so you'll have a lot of leverage to take the photos you want.
And unlike most bridge cameras which pack in the features of a DSLR or mirrorless model but make use of the inferior components of a point and shoot, the specs here are stacked. The combination of a 20 megapixel sensor and the top notch Bionz X is proof that this camera can perform with the best of them.
7. Sony a7S II ILCE7SM2/B 12.2 MP E-mount Camera
If you need a camera that can perform well in low light settings and offer a nice balance between still and video photography, the Alpha A7S II is one of the best choices, and one that's relatively affordable for a mirrorless camera with these specs. The capacity to shoot 4K video and FHD at a smooth 120 fps is obviously the best reason for making an investment in this camera from Sony, but it's no slouch in terms of traditional still shooting either.
Don't let the low pixel count turn you off. That allows this camera to offer exceptional performance in poorly lit settings, achieving an absolutely staggering ISO level of 409,600. And even when you're in less than ideal conditions, you can count on the first class Sony autofocus system to work fast. And that's further complemented by the inclusion of a 5 axis image stabilization system in the body.
8. Sony a9 Mirrorless Interchangeable-Lens Camera
The A9 is the most expensive camera Sony offers and also the best in terms of raw performance. This is a mirrorless camera that can rival anything Nikon or Canon has to offer in both still and video footage. This full frame mirrorless camera supports 4K video and can capture tremendously strong stills thanks to the 24.2 megapixels packed into the small full frame CMOS sensor.
And like many of the other cameras Sony offers, this is an exceptionally fast model. It can offer continuous shooting at 20 frames per second without any blackout on the viewfinder, and the 693 point autofocus system provides coverage over almost the entirety of the sensor. While it doesn't offer the best battery life around, you'd have to look far and wide to find a mirrorless camera that excels on the level that the A9 does.
9. Sony HDRCX405 HD Handycam Camcorder
A top shelf DSLR or mirrorless is a great choice for professional photographers or hobbyists, but sometimes you just want a capable and reliable camera for shooting video. The HDRCX405 is impressive for a budget model, offering all the fundamentals for barely over $100. The touchscreen offers tilt functionality and is large and bright so you'll always know what's on the other side of the lens. It's also a natural choice for casual use due to its capable hand strap, small weight, and handheld dimensions.
As a budget video camera, you shouldn't expect a model rich with features, but Sony's still gone to the effort to stack in some of the things they're known for. The autofocus system works reliably and offers face detection accessible through the touchscreen. And a microphone is built in for recording audio as well HD video. It's an affordable if bare bones choice.
10. Sony HDRAS50/B Full HD Action Cam
Ever since GoPro blasted the doors right open on the action camera market, every manufacturer is rushing to get their own model to market. Fortunately, Sony has delivered an inexpensive but promising alternative with their HDRAS50/B. And while this camera can't shoot 4K video, it does sport an incredibly small and lightweight frame that's one of the best choices around for the great outdoors.
The use of SteadyShot image stabilization does a great job of making sure unintended movement doesn't ruin the integrity of your shot, and if you're looking to get a new perspective on a tricky angle, you can make use of the Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity to remotely control this camera directly through your smartphone. The microphone built in delivers full stereo sound, and the entire housing has been meticulously crafted to ensure that it's protected from water even if you go shallow diving.
Sony Camera Buyer’s Guide
Sony isn’t the biggest camera manufacturer in the world. They still fall significantly behind Nikon and Canon in terms of total sales, but they’ve recently been making aggressive moves to expand into the market. Today, approximately one in eight cameras sold bear the Sony name, and there’s a reason for that. Sony cameras tend to be high-quality, but there are some things they get right and things they’re still working on.
If you need to understand the ins and outs of specs, camera types, and notions like the exposure triangle, we’ve already put together a wealth of resources to help you. Check out our guide to the best beginner cameras or our comprehensive guide to mirrorless cameras. The latter really helps you understand the fundamentals, while the former outlines what you need to know when shopping for your first camera. Below, we’ll outline what makes Sony cameras special, what makes them not so special, and what you need to know when trying to pick out the perfect model Sony camera for your particular needs.
Sony was a later entrant into the camera business than established brands like Nikon and Canon, but that actually puts them at an interesting advantage in some respects. While the company entered the camera market in 1988, they never paid that much attention tothe DSLR brands that were the standard for decades. Instead, they really entered the market with the rise of mirrorless cameras.
Sony cameras were the first to introduce a full frame mirrorless camera, by the Sony A7 and A9 mirrorless cameras are still the recognized standard bearers for their type. While Nikon and Canon were developing their mirrorless cameras alongside their existing DSLR models, Sony was able to devote all of their time to building out technology exclusively for mirrorless cameras like the Sony A7.
The other place where Sony really excels is in the compact camera market. Also known as point and shoot cameras, they tend to be more lightweight and inexpensive alternatives to SLR and mirrorless cameras. The big difference, however, is that they don’t come without interchangeable lenses. But that also makes them easier to use, so Sony’s compact cameras are recommended as some of the best choices for newcomers.
We’ve also chosen to highlight a pair of Sony cameras built for shooting video. While neither of these are capable of 4K video, they’re cheap handheld alternatives for customers seeking out something more casual and cheaper. Many of the more expensive mirrorless models that Sony offers do support 4K video, if that’s what you’re looking for.
That’s not to say that this is all Sony does well. The few high-end digital SLR cameras they offer tend to be pretty strong. Sony also produces some great bridge cameras that cover the gap between point and shoot and interchangeable lens models. We particularly suggest the Cyber‑Shot RX10 if you’re not ready to invest in a mirrorless or SLR but looking for features and image quality that goes beyond the standards of a point and shoot.
Whether you’re looking for a manual focus system or an autofocus system, Sony offers some of the most sophisticated technology on the market, and their autofocus systems are especially well suited to continuous shooting and burst shooting.
Sony has been aggressive in their pursuit of new focusing systems, and that makes a lot of sense. If you want speed with burst shooting or with regular shooting, the biggest factor is how quickly your autofocus system is going to work. 4D focusing is their latest innovation, and it really takes their performance to the next level. The 4D focusing system is especially valuable with action photography, as it locks on quicker to high speed subjects like vehicles and athletes from any angle.
And while 4D is typically reserved for Sony’s most high-end cameras, far more common is their sophisticated approach to eye detecting autofocus. An experienced portrait photographer will tell you that the eyes are the one thing that absolutely need to stay in focus in a photo regardless of the angle you’re shooting from, and Sony offers some of the best eye detection around – so good in fact that it even works with animals. Just keep in mind that if you’re looking to shoot 4K video, this eye autofocus only works on animals when shooting stills.
If there’s one component that best defines Sony’s commitment to quality manufacturing, it’s their sensors. The simple fact of the matter is that Sony makes the best imaging sensors for shooting with cameras today, and that comes with some notable benefits that makes Sony cameras well worth a look. Whether you’re looking for a full frame sensor or a smaller APS C, no manufacturers are able to rival the sheer body image quality that you’ll find when shooting with a camera from Sony.
Of course, if you want the best image fidelity across the board, you’ll want to go with a full frame sensor. Fortunately, that’s where Sony really excels. They’re the first company to introduce a full frame mirrorless, and they’re still a level above the competition in that regard. But buying full frame means spending more. If you’re looking at more affordable cameras and aren’t worried about your photos looking a little more zoomed in, you can’t go wrong with an APS C model either.
There’s a whole lot to like about Sony cameras, but one disadvantage they have when compared to Canon and Nikon is their comparatively small library of interchangeable lenses. While Sony’s late entry into the market has lent them some advantages regarding the speed at which they can develop new technologies, the simple fact of the matter is that Sony and Nikon are on a whole other level in terms of how many interchangeable lenses they have available. They’ve been developing SLR cameras for decades, and that means a camera from these manufacturers can access most of that back catalog of interchangeable lenses.
Fortunately, that’s not an insurmountable obstacle. While the competitors have a head start on lens development, Sony has been steadily improving their lineup in the past few years. Sony has nearly a hundred lenses available today, and while some of them are limited by what mounts they need to use, most are going to be compatible with your camera. And as Sony picks up more market share, you can trust that they’ll continue to add new lenses to their lineup at a prodigious speed.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Sony Camera is the Best?
While the best camera Sony makes in terms of raw performance is the Alpha 7r IV, the reduced price and comparably strong specs earn the a7 iii the place of top overall camera. The simple fact of the matter is that this model will be more than enough for hobbyists and amateurs and perfectly suited to the needs of professionals. The a7 iii is a beefy model that provides great value for its price.
What is the Newest Camera Sony Makes?
The latest camera to come off of the Sony assemble line is the Alpha 7r IV. This latest generation builds off of the quality performance of the third generation and provides all of the bells and whistles you’d want from a mirrorless camera. This includes high speed performance, great image resolution, and Sony’s trademark autofocus system. The only weakness in this beast of a camera is the price.
What is the Best Mirrorless Camera in 2020?
Sony specializes in mirrorless models, so it’s no surprise that one of their cameras would dominate the list. The Sony Alpha 7r IV is an evolution of everything that Sony’s been doing for the past few decades, and it does an exceptional job of balancing a quality image sensor with low light performance and a range of modern features. If you want the best, and price isn’t an object, this is the camera for you.
Is Sony Cyber-Shot a good camera?
Absolutely. In fact, if you’re looking for a compact or crossover camera, the Cyber-Shot is one of the top options available today. They manage to pack a lot of power into a tiny camera and do so for a great price. Of course, there are multiple Cyber-Shot models on the market, so they can vary some in terms of quality, but they’re universally very strong models across the board.
Canon and Nikon are generally regarded as the two titans of the camera industry, but that facade is starting to crack. Sony’s investment in developing great tech has impacted everything from the development of sensors to creating a better version of the tilt and touchscreen electronic viewfinder. We think you’ll be happy with a Sony model, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t perform due diligence. Be sure to check out our guides to the best Nikon cameras and the best Canon cameras if you want to know more.