Best Sony Camera of 2019

Sony camera buyers guide
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Following my decision to shoot professionally with a Sony camera about a year ago, I’ve been having a lot of fun experimenting with all the latest gear.

To say that there’s a lot of useful and intriguing technology housed in the average Sony Alpha camera is a huge understatement.

One thing that can confuse the average shopper (aside from their notorious menus!), is the sheer number of models in the range.

shk-fs-table__imageBest All Round SonyIncredible AF performance, amazing image quality, great battery life - best value full frame camera.Check Price

At the time of writing here in 2019, there are 17 fixed lens and 8 interchangeable lens bodies on offer (including one that was released just recently!)

Choosing the best Sony mirrorless camera for your needs is clearly a rather daunting task…

In this guide, I’ve attempted to cut through the noise to offer my recommendations of the top 7 APS-C and full frame Sony cameras from their current range.

Let’s have a closer look at the best Sony camera of the year.

Best Sony Camera in October 2019

Image Product Features
shk2-table__imageSony a7 IIIOUR #1 CHOICE
  • Amazing value
  • Excellent image quality
  • Fast auto focus
  • Great battery life
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shk2-table__imageSony a9FASTEST PERFORMANCE
  • Lightning fast auto focus
  • 20 fps silent shooting
  • Zero blackout
  • Great battery life
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shk2-table__imageSony a7R IIIHIGHLY RECOMMENDED
  • 42 mega pixel resolution
  • Excellent image quality
  • Fast auto focus
  • Great battery life
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shk2-table__imageSony a6400BEST ALLROUND APS-C
  • 11 fps burst mode
  • Grear image quality
  • Excellent auto focus
  • In-built flash
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shk2-table__imageSony RX100 VIBEST ZOOM COMPACT
  • 24 fps burst mode
  • 24-200mm zoom lens
  • Good dynamic range
  • Pocketable
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shk2-table__imageSony RX1R IIMOST UNIQUE
  • Smallest full frame camera
  • Retro design
  • Excellent image quality
  • 42 mega pixel resolution
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shk2-table__imageSony a7R IVHIGHEST RESOLUTION
  • 61 mega pixel resolution
  • Amazing dynamic range
  • Amazing image quality
  • Great battery life
View Price →

 

1. Sony A7III | BEST ALL ROUND

Sony a7III

Size: 127 x 96 x 74 mm (5 x 3.78 x 2.91″)
Weight: 650 g (1.43 lb / 22.93 oz)
Sensor: BSI CMOS Full Frame
Megapixels: 24

Click here for the latest price

The do-everything ‘basic’ model that challenges the rest of the Sony full frame line up with its highly competitive price to feature ratio.

PROS:

😃 Great image quality
😃 Dual SD card slots
😃 Tilting touchscreen LCD
😃 Excellent autofocus
😃 Improved low-light capabilities
😃 Highly customizable
😃 10 fps continuous shooting
😃 Sharp, fluid, highly responsive EVF
😃 Excellent video options
😃 Good wireless connectivity
😃 USB Charging

CONS:

😔 Questionable ergonomics
😔 Rear LCD doesn’t flip forward
😔 No GPS
😔 Confusing menu
😔 Confusing video auto focus
😔 No in-camera RAW processing
😔 Only 1 UHS-II compatible card slot

Make no mistake – the Sony a7III is the camera that started a revolution. If there was ever a camera that caused the most photographers to switch to a mirrorless system, this is most certainly it.

If you’re thinking about switching to Sony, or contemplating a move to mirrorless from DSLRs, don’t waste your time any more – the Sony a7III is pretty much your perfect full frame mirrorless camera. It has its quirks, but for the most part, it’s ideal.

Despite being the company’s ‘entry-level full frame’ camera, the Sony a7III is still the model that’s caused the most waves in the camera industry since its release in February 2018.

Sitting underneath the megapixel monster a7RIII/IV and the speed demon a9, two expensive cameras that, although enticing, are rather specific in their usage, the a7III offers class-leading technology at a surprisingly affordable price (see latest discounts here).

Under the hood, everything revolves around a glorious Sony 24.2 MP BSI full frame image sensor, which produces sharp, vivid and contrasty JPEGs and RAW files, with tons of dynamic range.

If you’re used to incredible high ISO performance coming from a flagship DSLR, you won’t be disappointed with the 50 all the way up to 204,800 ISO of the a7III. I can shoot all day at ISO 6400 if necessary, where images are impressively clean, with noise only creeping in slightly at ISO 12,800.

As for auto-focus capabilities, prepare to be blown away. With 693 phase-detection AF points offering a 93% image coverage, real time eye-AF and 10FPS, any subject you miss will be down to pure user-error!

Eye-AF, a feature now common on all recent Sony alpha cameras, is akin to black magic. Locking onto a subject’s eye ball in the frame and staying glued to it until you’re ready to take the photo, Eye-AF is a feature on the Sony a7III that will have you wondering how you shot photos of people (or animals) without it before.

If you’re a wedding photographer, or simply someone who appreciates the ability to shoot 100% silently, Silent Shutter Mode on the a7III will help you achieve those perfectly candid captures.

Silent shooting isn’t anything new on mirrorless cameras in 2019, but the sheer level of customization options on the a7III means you can quickly dive in and out of it at the touch of a button.

Then there’s the battery life – this was the biggest jaw-dropper for me, and allows me to shoot a 1,700-ish photo wedding on just one battery!

If you’re used to long DSLR-like battery life, the Sony a7III is leagues ahead of every other brand of mirrorless cameras in this department.

Compare this with even the very best that the other brands have to offer, and you’ll soon realise how far ahead of the industry Sony is with their technology.

sony a7iii camera image

With AF handled entirely by the camera, you’re able to concentrate on the scene.

Other notable features include a flip-out touchscreen LCD (admittedly with rather limited functionality),  dual memory card slots, 5 axis image stabilization, Wifi NFC and Bluetooth, and a weather-sealed body.

All this adds up to a near-perfect mirrorless camera – so what about the downfalls of the Sony a7III? There are only a few small things, and mostly they’re related to Sony in general.

Ergonomics will take a little getting used to, especially if you come from a DSLR. If you have large hands, you may need to invest in one of the many grips available, so your bottom finger can rest on something.

Then there’s the menu, which is typical of Sony – deep and confusing. It’ll take a while to get used to, but thank goodness for the ‘My Menu’ option, which

Hmm.. that’s pretty much it! I can’t think of any photographers, professional or otherwise, who’ve switched to this impressive camera and regretted their decision – most wish they’d done it sooner!

The bottom line is that you’re getting a massive amount of camera for a very competitive price. It’s my pick of the best Sony camera for your money in 2019, and also the best all round mirrorless camera of the year.

Who should buy the Sony A7III?

Anyone who wants all the advantages of a world-class full frame sensor, coupled with incredible AF performance, in body image stabilization, dual memory card slots, and every other modern feature under the sun. A near-perfect camera for wedding photographers.

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST PRICE OF THE SONY A7III

2. Sony a9

Sony a9

Size: 127 x 96 x 63 mm (5 x 3.78 x 2.48″)
Weight: 673 g (1.48 lb / 23.74 oz)
Sensor: BSI CMOS Full frame
Megapixels: 28

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Blistering fast imaging performance in a highly customisable body, with useful features not seen elsewhere in the Sony camera range.

PROS:

😃 Insanely fast auto focus
😃 Dual SD card slots
😃 3-axis tilting LCD
😃 20 fps silent shooting
😃 Class-leading image quality
😃 Improved low-light capabilities
😃 Extremely customizable
😃 Increased physical controls
😃 Minimised rolling shutter
😃 Full HD at 120 fps
😃 USB charging

CONS:

😔 Substandard dynamic range
😔 Rear LCD doesn’t flip forward
😔 No GPS
😔 No lossless compressed RAW
😔 No picture profiles or S-Log in video
😔 Frozen menu when buffer clearing
😔 Only 1 UHS-II compatible card slot

Despite the recent announcement of the megapixel king the Sony a7RIV, it’s this camera, the a9 which is still the real king of the Sony camera range.

Making use of the tried and tested 24.2 full frame Exmor RS stacked CMOS sensor and BINOZ X image processor on which Sony has built its successful Alpha mirrorless cameras, the Sony a9 is capable of some truly remarkable feats.

First off, the frame rate, which is frankly ludicrous – you can shoot up to 20 fps in full resolution RAW for 241 exposures. That works out to about 12 seconds of shutter button holding, which is more than enough to shoot every single frame of the Olympics 100 metre dash!

The 693 phase-detection points cover the entire viewfinder frame. Simply put, if you can point the Sony a9 at a subject, you’re going to capture it in focus…

The new sensor technology in the Sony a9 allows it to read the entire sensor all at precisely the same time, so the annoying rolling shutter effect that plagues video shooters is gone, as too is ‘blackout’ – the momentary loss of viewfinder/LCD image when you shoot.

Sony a9 action

Just 1 shot from a high frame sequence of 20, all in focus | © Roberto Panciati

This means that shooting bursts of photos with this incredible camera is akin to shooting video – not only are you capturing 20 frames per second in complete silence, but there’s also none of the blackout ‘flicker’ that pretty much every other camera on the market suffers from.

This can be a godsend when shooting fast moving action that requires your full concentration, and no ‘breaks’ in the scene you’re viewing.

Calculating exposure and autofocus at an incredible 60 frames per second means that not only is the Sony a9 capturing every rapid-fired shot in focus, but also adjusting your exposure on the fly – compare this to other mirrorless cameras with their ‘spray now, adjust in post later’ approach, and you’ll see how much of a time saver it is.

Other great features include dual memory card slots, three memory recalls on the top mode dial, a drive mode dial and a focus mode dial (no other Sony offers this), two separate AEL and AF-ON buttons (also unique to the Sony a9), 5-axis sensor-shift stabilization, silent shutter, 4k video with uncompressed HDMI output… really, Sony have crammed everything into this beast!

It also features the same NP-FZ100 battery as the Sony a7III, meaning around 1,500~1,900 shots, depending how trigger happy you are with that shutter. This impressive battery duration is simply unmatched by any other mirrorless camera in 2019.

The only downside of the Sony a9 is the cost (see latest price here). At a good handful of dollars more than the Sony a7III, you’ll be forgiven for asking what’s the point of investing that much more on the a9.

Well, despite the a7III having an incredible auto focus system with eye-detection and real-time auto focus, the Sony a9’s is even better. Then there’s the enormous buffer size – 33 vs 241 – a clear win for the Sony a9.

This level of AF performance is admittedly not required by the majority of photographers, but if you’re shooting professionally or tracking very erratic subjects, it’s easy to justify the a9.

In addition, the blackout free shooting can be worth the price difference to some photographers, especially those who shoot subjects that are so fast moving that any interruption to the viewfinder feed can cost a missed image.

Other small differences like the extra physical control dial and an ethernet port for tethered shooting all add up to more camera than the a7III, and for those who have used a Sony a9 before, there’s just no turning back – it’s simply that good.

Who should buy the Sony a9?

If you shoot fast moving subjects and require the highest level of auto-focus and burst rate/buffer performance of virtually any camera currently in production, the a9 is the camera for you. Image quality is mind-blowing as to be expected on a Sony camera, but it’s really all about speed, speed and more speed.

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST PRICE OF THE SONY A9

3. Sony a7RIVLATEST SONY CAMERA RELEASE

Sony a7RIV

Size: 127 x 96 x 74 mm (5 x 3.78 x 2.91″)
Weight:
657 g (1.45 lb / 23.17 oz)
Sensor:
BSI CMOS Full frame
Megapixels:
61

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The world’s first ever full frame camera with 61 mega pixels of resolution, all packed into a modern, compact body.

This being the most recently announced Sony camera in 2019, you better expect some superlatives and world-class stats, so here they come…

The Sony a7RIV is the world’s first 35mm full frame camera with a… wait for it… 61 MP image sensor!

Expect to see a frankly incredible 15 stops of enhanced dynamic range, 10 fps continous AF/AE tracking, 567 phase-detection AF points, real time tracking and Eye AF, 5-axis image stabilization, and all the other customization bits and bobs we’ve come to expect as Sony shooters.

Let’s forget all the other features for a moment, impressive as they are, and focus on what’s really on offer here – a compact (-ish) full frame mirrorless camera with the shooting performance of a machine gun and 61 mega pixel files!

That’s medium-format-level image quality, combined with all the auto-focus performance of a top mirrorless camera! You’re able to shoot around seventy of these huge RAW files before the buffer takes a breather!

Admittedly, the Sony a7RIV will only appeal to a very small market – those in need of a ridiculously detailed image, and those who shoot in small enough volume to be able to edit them.

I’m talking about professional landscape photographers, advertising photographers and the like…

Sony a7RIV sample image

Phenomenal image quality and more resolution than you’d ever need.

You definitely won’t be seeing any wedding or sports shooters wielding one of these bad boys, despite the allure of being able to crop to your heart’s content on the files – it’d be like having an instant ‘zoom feature’ in post-production!

Customising one of the buttons on the Sony a7RIV to act as an APS-C crop (something I highly recommend you do), you’ll still be getting 26.2 MP in stunning high resolution.

The APS-C crop function means that you can shoot all day with a 35mm lens, then at the press of a button, switch to an equivalent 50mm length and still be able to have files akin to those coming out the a7III! Now that’s incredible.

Also, imagine what you’ll be able to do in post-production with one of these files!! 15 stops of dynamic range and that many mega pixels will mean some serious pixel-shifting, with no need to shoot another HDR exposure bracket for as long as you live…

Another world first for the Sony alpha range is the ability to use Real-time Eye-AF in movie record mode – as with stills shooting, the eye of a subject is automatically tracked with impressive precision and reliability, allowing you to focus on the content itself as opposed to what’s in focus or not.

The upgraded focusing system of the Sony a7RIV is made up of 567 focal-plane phase-detection AF points and 425 contrast AF points that cover approximately 74% of the image area.

The higher AF sensor density and refined tracking algorithms of the new camera produce a notable improvement in tracking performance, allowing complex subject motion and sudden subject movements to be reliably tracked with greater precision than ever before.

100% crop Sony a7RIV

You can crop to your heart’s content with files this big…

The Sony a7RIV also includes Sony’s highest resolution viewfinder ever – a 5.76 million dot UXGA OLED Tru-finder EVF. This is about  1.6x the resolution of the EVF in its predecessor, which I have to say, already left very little room for complaint.

Another incredible feature of the a7RIV is the evolved Pixel Shift Multi Shooting mode, which composites up to 16 full-res images to combine it into one gargantuan detail beast, with a level of detail and colour accuracy that will leave your jaw on the floor.

I probably should have said this earlier before you got too excited, but the down side of all this is obviously the price – at over a grand more than the a7RIII (see latest price here), this is definitely a camera for a certain breed of photographer, who won’t settle for anything less.

That said, if you’ve got the moolah, or are a professional who can subsidise it by offering even more detailed/bigger files to your clients, it could be a great decision.

Who should buy the Sony A7RIV?

Anyone with a fat wallet who requires medium-format levels of detail in the most modern camera body currently produced.

This is a camera so powerful that it’s wasted on a static subject – studio photographers shooting models in action, advertising photographers needing to capture fast-moving athletes etc – you know who you are.

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST PRICE OF THE SONY A7RIV

4. Sony a7RIII

Sony a7RIII

Size: 127 x 96 x 74 mm (5 x 3.78 x 2.91″)
Weight: 657 g (1.45 lb / 23.17 oz)
Sensor: BSI CMOS Full frame
Megapixels: 42

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High-resolution beast of a camera with great image quality, fast burst shooting, high quality 4k, all in a relatively compact body.

PROS:

😃 Great resolution
😃 Dual SD card slots
😃 3-axis tilting LCD
😃 Excellent autofocus
😃 Class-leading image quality
😃 Great low-light capabilities
😃 Extremely customizable
😃 10 fps continuous shooting
😃 Sharp, fluid, highly responsive EVF
😃 Log options for video
😃 Good WiFi + NFC

CONS:

😔 Substandard write speed
😔 Modes locked during buffer
😔 Questionable ergonomics
😔 AF point hard to see
😔 Large file sizes affects editing speed
😔 No built in Play Memories support
😔 Only 1 UHS-II compatible card slot

This was the first Sony mirrorless camera I ever bought, and marked the end of my 10 year love affair with DSLRs.

Despite it being a popular camera with wedding photographers like me, the Sony a7RIII has really drawn the attention of the landscape and studio photographer crowd, and for one big reason – that enormous megapixel count.

(Ignore the fact that there’s a newer version of this camera with an even bigger mega pixel count for a moment, as the a7R III is definitely still relevant in `2019, not to mention considerably cheaper.)

Everything revolves around a full-frame 42.4MP Exmor R BSI CMOS sensor and updated BIONZ X image processor, that manages to crank out an impressive 10 fps continuous shooting rate for around 28 uncompressed 14-bit RAW files (76 high-res JPEG).

This means you’ll be able to squeeze off 7.6 seconds and 2.8 seconds of full resolution files before the buffer gives up the ghost – it may not sound like much, but remember we’re talking about a quick succession of 42.4 MP files here.

Compared to its predecessor, the Sony a7RIII can auto focus twice as fast in low-light situations and do tracking and that legendary eye AG twice as effectively too.

All I know is that before the release of the a7RIII, I never would have considered switching from my trust DSLRs – the mirrorless format simply wasn’t good enough yet.

a7riii

Incredible image quality coupled with eye AF to capture erratic subjects.

However, with the Sony a7RIII, everything changed. Not only were you getting enormous files with an unprecedented level of detail and dynamic range, but also blazing fast burst mode and auto-focus/auto-exposure adjustment that could keep up with those ridiculously expensive flagship DSLRs.

Photographing people with the a7RIII (or any of the Sony mirrorless cameras for that matter) is a piece of cake. Real-time autofocus and eye-AF mean deliver the clairvoyant-like ability for the camera to know where you need to focus, even before you do.

At a wedding, where previously I’d be crossing my fingers that the AF would capture my subject and not the object in front of it, or chasing it around the screen with a single AF point, the Sony a7RIII made things SO much easier – all I needed to do was to compose the image, then let the camera take care of the focus.

I’m speaking in the past tense here, since as you may have guessed, I’m no longer using the Sony a7RIII, having ‘downgraded’ to the Sony a7III.

Why? Well, those 42.3 mega-pixel files simply weren’t suited to my workflow. Although I don’t consider myself particularly ‘trigger-happy’, my ageing Macbook Pro struggled to process the huge files after an average wedding, and my post-production speeds suffered.

Because of this, I wouldn’t recommend the Sony a7RIII to wedding shooters or any photographer shooting high volumes… unless of course you have a great computer set up.

I do miss the ability to crop in to a photo and still have more than enough mega pixels to deliver it to a client for their wedding album, but overall, I’m happy with the smaller files of the a7III.

a7III sample

Whether you need to focus on an eye or an object, the a7RIII’s AF doesn’t miss a beat.

The Sony a7RIII offers all the mod-cons we’ve come to expect with a Sony camera – touch screen, long-life battery, numerous memory recalls, two card slots, fast-refreshing EVF, 425 contrast AF points, in-camera 5-axis stabilization, uncompressed 4k HDMI video output and more.

It also offers some of the best dynamic range I’ve seen out of a Sony camera – being able to recover stop upon stop of highlight and shadow is incredibly liberating, especially when you don’t have time to nail exposure out in the field – it’s like a lifeline in post production.

Image quality and build quality is excellent – this goes without saying. Everyone’s used to this with Sony cameras after all.

All in all, the Sony a7RIII is another beast of a camera, most notably for the immense level of detail that can be captured so effortlessly.

Despite the release of its successor, I can still see this camera being the faourite of mega-pixel-hungry photographers for years to come.

Who should buy the Sony A7RIII?

If you want to capture files with more detail than any other camera in this price range with very little effort, and have the computer hardware grunt to process the files, look no further than the Sony a7RIII.

I’d recomend it to landscape photographers, architecture photographers and basically anyone shooting commercially or needing tonnes of detail in their photos.

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST PRICE OF THE SONY A7RIII

5. Sony a6400

Sony a6400

Size: 120 x 67 x 60 mm (4.72 x 2.64 x 2.36″)
Weight: 403 g (0.89 lb / 14.22 oz)
Sensor: CMOS APS-C
Megapixels: 24

Click here for the latest price

Universally capable APS-C format compact camera with great image quality, fast performance and a front facing LCD screen.

PROS:

😃 11 fps burst rate
😃 Front facing LCD
😃 Excellent auto focus
😃 Great image quality
😃 Improved low-light capabilities
😃 Extremely customizable
😃 Weather-sealed
😃 Good battery life
😃 Built-in bounceable flash
😃 Good Wifi/NFC
😃 USB Charging

CONS:

😔 Questionable ergonomics
😔 Odd tilting LCD implementation
😔 No IBIS
😔 Only 1 UHS-1 card slot
😔 Slow buffer clearance
😔 4k/30p is cropped
😔 Pronounced rolling shutter

The Sony a6xxx range of APS-C sensor mirrorless cameras has been a favourite of a great many photographers the world over, ever since the release of the a6000 way back in 2014.

[Sept 2019 Update: Sony a6100 & a6600 models under review.]

Since then, every release of a new a6xx body has seen some relatively small set of feature updates, typical of a camera that’s been updated so frequently. Despite the recent release of the Sony a6100 and the a6600 cameras, I still believe the a6400 offers the best bang for the buck.

With the a6400, what has Sony brought to the table this time? Is it just a vlogging camera, or is there something there for us stills shooters too? I spent 2 months shooting with it to find out…

First off, everything revolves around a glorious 24.2-megapixel Exmor CMOS sensor, which provides a an impressive ISO sensitivity range and excellent low-noise performance, especially for APS-C standards.

I was able to shoot comfortably at ISO 800 all night long and still obtain clean files and accurate colours.

Thanks to a front-end LSI and the latest BIONZ X image processor, Sony claims processing speeds that are 1.8x faster on the Sony a6400 when compared to its predecessors.

In practice, this means a faster buffer, allowing it to keep shooting 11fps for 46 RAW+JPG, 49 RAW, or 114 JPG – that’s pretty impressive when you consider everything’s kept in pin-sharp focus thanks to real time Eye AF.

sony_a6400

Choose your lenses wisely and the a6400 makes a great compact MILC.

One down side though is the sluggish buffer performance – during testing, the buffer took around 40 seconds to clear 49 shots in burst mod, even with a fast memory card.

The Sony a6400 boasts a much improved build quality, with the standout feature being a touch enabled, 180 degree rotating LCD screen – much to the delight of vloggers and anyone who likes to take selfies!

There are surprisingly few cameras that offer a front-facing LCD screen, but the a6400 handles this relatively well, as long as you don’t need to mount a hot-shoe mic, since the screen prevents you from doing this without a cage of some sort.

The 425 phase-detects points combined with that Real-time Eye AF (which even works on animals), and Real-time tracking for moving subjects has been dribbled down from the a6400’s full frame big brothers, and works pretty damn well indeed.

Sony really does make it much easier for photographers who shoot moving subjects, allowing the camera’s settings to get out of the way of capturing the image you want. – you just point… and shoot.

A big draw-card of the Sony a6400 over the other full frame mirrorless cameras in the range is its compact size – choose your lens wisely, and you’ll be able the slide the whole thing in your jacket pocket, with less than half the weight of some of the bulkier options.

a6400 + 28mm f:2

Great image quality and bokeh when coupled with the Sony FE 28mm f/2.

As for lenses to use with the Sony a6400, I always tend to recommend small, lightweight primes over zooms – impressive as they are.

Something like the FE 28mm f/2, despite it being meant for a full frame sensor, performs admirably on the a6400, offering a versatile 35mm-ish field of view.

If you want to stick to more affordable Sony e-mount lenses that have been made for the APS-C sensor, there’s a whole host of great ones available, all of which pair nicely with the a6400 – just choose wisely to avoid unbalancing your camera body.

Price-wise, the Sony a6400 is definitely a premium crop sensor camera, but in my opinion it could actually be priced more even higher on the impressive features included.

As is typical with Sony cameras, there are tons of features somewhat hidden in the confusing menu, but when you have the a6400 set up as you want, you can use the camera buttons and dials most of the time.

I also really enjoyed being able to focus and shoot just by touching the screen – perfect for remaining inconspicuous while shooting ‘from the hip’.

Is the a6400 better than the a6500? Yes. Is it better value than the a6600? Yep. Is it worth twice the price of the a6000? Definitely. I named it the best travel camera of the year, and believe that whether you intend to travel with it or not, it’s a great value for money product.

Who should buy the Sony a6400?

If you’re a fan of the smaller APS-C format camera dimensions but still keen to use all those amazing Sony lenses, this is currently the best on offer. It makes a great everyday camera, or ‘backup body’ for those using one of the full frame Sony’s as their main workhorse.

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST PRICE OF THE SONY A6400

6. Sony RX100 VI

Sony RX100 VI

Size: 102 x 58 x 43 mm (4.02 x 2.28 x 1.69″)
Weight: 301 g (0.66 lb / 10.62 oz)
Sensor: BSI CMOS 1″
Megapixels: 20

Click here for the latest price

Truly pocketable compact camera with an incredible feature set, including a 24-200mm retractable zoom lens.

PROS:

😃 Wide-long focal range
😃 24 fps shooting
😃 Front facing LCD
😃 Excellent autofocus
😃 Good image quality
😃 Popup viewfinder
😃 Impressive dynamic range
😃 USB charging

CONS:

😔 Poor ergonomics
😔 Confusing AF system
😔 Slower lens than predecessor
😔 No built in ND filter
😔 No external mic input
😔 No in-camera RAW conversion
😔 No included charger

This is the camera I chose as the best compact camera of the year, and I recommend it to pretty much everyone I meet who’s looking for something powerful and pocketable.

The term ‘compact’ or ‘point-and-shoot’ is a little vague, but no one can argue that the dimensions of the Sony RX100 VI doesn’t put it in the realm of a pocket-sized camera – it’s so small in fact, that you can keep it in the pocket of your jeans!

The Sony RX100 series is something of an obsession for Sony enthusiasts who want excellent imaging performance out of something the size of a pack of playing cards.

Now on the 6th iteration, Sony has pulled out all the stops to create what many consider to be the ultimate compact camera with the RX100 VI.

Top of the long list of features is a truly magnificent 8x zoom lens, with an equivalent focal range of 24-200mm and a variable aperture of f/2.8~4.5.

sony-rx100-vi-200mm-example-2

Being able to get from 24mm to 200mm in the push of a button can be handy.

What this means is that you can be standing comfortably on a beach shooting wide at 24mm to encompass all the elements of your environment, then at the hold of a button, be shooting the surfers out on the waves.

If you’ve ever shot with a 70-200mm lens, or even a 24-70mm for that matter, you’ll appreciate just how big and heavy they are. To have all this focal range at your disposal, then to have it all sucked back up inside the camera body really is impressive.

While some owners of its predecessor may miss the f/1.8 maximum aperture (shunned in favour of more reach on the lens), shooting at 200mm and f/4 yields some great bokeh.

I particularly love the fact that your subject is always unaware of your presence during the shot, due to the distance you can place in between.

Auto focus performance is what we’ve come to expect with high end Sony cameras. Coupled with the latest ‘Real Time Eye AF’ functionality which searches for eyes and faces whenever there’s a subject in scene, capturing people/animals in motion with the Sony RX100 VI is simple and efficient.

Whether you usually shoot video or not, you’ll have a lot of fun playing with this camera’s high frame rate ‘HFR’ mode, which lets you shoot short snippets, then play them back at 1,000fps for some amazing super slow motion footage.

compact size rx100 vi

You simply can’t find a smaller camera with this many features.

As for stills, you can rattle off an insane 24 fps for 110 RAWS (or about 220 full res JPEGs) before the buffer slows you down. TWENTY-FOUR frames per second! Come on guys – that’s like shooting a movie!

Image quality is excellent, with everything handled by a 1 inch, 20.1MP Exmor RS Stacked BSI-CMOS sensor – the same one found in the previous 2 models of the RX100 series.

ISO looks good all the way up 1600, then degrades slowly to 3200, and much faster after that when you reach the limits of the sensor’s capabilities.

As for dynamic range, you can expect to pull/push around 4 stops in post, as long as you keep the ISO as low as possible.

The pop up viewfinder seems a bit gimmicky at first, but can actually get you our of trouble on a sunny day. I also like the way that pushing it back into the camera body can turn off the camera and retract the zoom lens.

You can read more about this impressive little camera in my full review of the Sony RX100 VI, but suffice to say, if you’re willing to shell out the handsome sum for it, you won’t be disappointed.

Who should buy the Sony RX100 VI?

Anyone who needs a tiny camera with an impressive feature set, including above all, a 24-200mm equivalent zoom lens to get you much closer to where you want to shoot, without having to use your legs!

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST PRICE OF THE SONY RX100 VI

7. Sony RX1R II

Sony RX1R II

Size: 113 x 65 x 72 mm (4.45 x 2.56 x 2.83″)
Weight: 507 g (1.12 lb / 17.88 oz)
Sensor: BSI CMOS Full frame
Megapixels:44

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The world’s smallest full frame camera, with a razor-sharp fixed lens attached to a quirky body housing an impressive 42MP sensor.

PROS:

😃 Fun to use
😃 42 MP with excellent image quality
😃 Tilting LCD
😃 Fast, sharp 35mm lens
😃 Excellent AF
😃 Excellent low light performance
😃 Attractive design
😃 Pop up EVF
😃 Good Wifi/NFC

CONS:

😔 Poor battery life
😔 Questionable ergonomics
😔 No touchscreen
😔 No weather-sealing
😔 5fps burst rate
😔 Outdated menu
😔 Expensive

Let’s get the elephant in the room out the way first – the Sony RX1R II is an expensive compact camera.

Its current price (check here) means that it’s in the realms of professionals looking for a smaller full frame camera to complement their main workhorse, or the wealthy amateur who needs a travel camera with incredible performance.

If you’re one of these people, keep reading, as this is one camera that you definitely need to hear about…

Released way back in October 2015, the Sony RX1R II is one of the few full frame compact cameras in existence (i.e. ones with a 35mm sensor).

It’s a camera you can slip into a coat pocket that offers unrivaled image quality – beautifully shallow depth of field, amazing dynamic range, great high ISO performance… basically image quality that’s superior to 99% of other compact cameras.

You do pay a pretty price for it, though. Squeezing a big sensor into a small camera body still costs a lot for manufacturers, and due to the nature of the 35mm sensor size, the lens needs to be a certain size to accommodate – while compact, this still isn’t a camera for your jeans pocket.

The RX1R II is a bit of an anomaly in the Sony camera line up in 2019. After all, you can buy a more  versatile full frame inter-changeable lens camera for less than the price of the Sony RX1R II, so why on earth would you invest in this one?

If you want full frame bokeh and dynamic range out of a compact camera, this is your best best.

I spent a few weeks shooting with it to find out, and was surprised to come to the conclusion that the RX1R II turned out to be my favourite camera in the range!

A combination of stellar image quality and a rather endearing, clunky, tactile body, means that this is a Sony camera that begs to be picked up – dare I say it, it’s got those lust-worthy ‘Fujifilm ergonomics’, while still managing to house a sensor much bigger than APS-C.

The Sony RX1 RII offers most of the functions of a high end mirrorless camera that you’d expect – tilting LCD screen (though no touchscreen), good WiFi/NFC connectivity, decent EVF (that retracts into the body when not in use), customisable dials/buttons and a dedicated exposure compensation dial.

Build quality is excellent, and dials and switches are reassuringly solid-feeling The on/off switch is reminiscent of an old range-finder, and far more satisfying than pushing a button, which is the usual way to fire up most compact cameras.

Start up time is a little sub-standard though, as is usability in general. Zooming in 1:1 is a painful experience, due to the 42.4 Mega Pixels, so that’s understandable. Buttons feel slightly mushy and unresponsive at times too.

Auto Focus is good, and includes Sony’s enviable Eye AF, though not nearly as good as the Sony a7/a9 series.

5 fps is sub-par in 2019, but this definitely isn’t a camera designed for fast action…

100% crop rx1rii.jpg

At 100% the level of detail retained in the 42.4MP files is phenomenal.

I shot the Sony RX1 RII on auto white balance, and skin tones looked great. I actually prefer the colours out of this than other high end Sony MILCs – this might be something to do with its amazing low pass filter, which helps deliver such stellar image quality.

The razor sharp fixed 35mm f/2 lens is perfectly paired to the full frame sensor, offering incredible performance whether shot wide open or stopped down.

Many will wonder why Sony decided to make this a fixed-lens camera, but in my mind, it was a great decision.

Limiting yourself to just one lens can be a real moment of clarity as a photographer, encouraging you to get used to a single focal length, until you’re able to view the scene well before you lift the viewfinder to your eye.

Without the temptation of the impressive Sony lens lineup to choose from, you’re left to enjoy, and eventually benefit from the limitations of the RX1R II.

The Sony RX1 RII doesn’t make much sense on paper… but it’s still a surprisingly enjoyable camera to shoot that will bring you joy every time you pick it up, not to mention whenever you view the gorgeous high-resolution files on your computer screen.

Who should buy the Sony RX1R II?

I’d recommend this endearing camera to any professional or serious amateur photographer, no matter what brand you usually shoot with. It’s a Sony camera like no other Sony camera – truly unique in the line up.

Despite its high price point and slightly aging feature-set, the Sony RX1R II is a camera for enthusiasts who place value in modern performance in a retro-inspired body.

CLICK HERE FOR THE LATEST PRICE OF THE SONY RX1R II

Sony Camera Buyer’s Guide

Sony cameras

A selection of the Sony cameras tested for this article.

If you want a short version of the reviews below, here are my recommendations of what Sony camera body to invest in:

📸  Want the best resolution and image quality? Get the Sony a7RIII or the latest Sony a7RIV – the 42.4 (or 61!) megapixels files will leave your jaw on the floor.

📸  Want the best AF performance of any camera on the market? Get the Sony a9. Any shots you miss will definitely just be user-error!

📸  Want the best full frame performance out of the smallest body? Get the Sony RX1R II, which also happens to be the most tactile, involved and enjoyable Sony camera I’ve ever shot with.

📸  Want the best all-round mirrorless interchangeable lens camera of the year? Get the Sony a7III – incredible performance with an attractive price to match.

📸  Want the best APS-C sensor performance? Get the Sony a6400, which has the added benefit of a front-facing screen for vlogging/selfies.

📸  Want the best performing compact that fits in your pocket? Get the Sony RX100 VI, a compact marvel with a wide angle to long range zoom lens.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Sony camera is the best?

When it comes to Sony cameras, our number one pick is the Sony a7III. The a7III is a near-to-perfect full frame mirrorless camera that’s versatile, sharp, and packs an impressive number of features for its price.

Which Sony camera is best for video?

There are a number of Sony cameras that are great for video. One of our favourites is the Sony a9, which offers 4k video and a set of powerful video-shooting features.

Is Sony a good camera brand?

There’s no denying that Sony have some of the best mirrorless cameras on the market today. While Sony may not have as many lenses or accessories on offer as other brands, they are continually expanding their range and the quality of their products is impressive.

What are the Sony Alpha cameras?

Sony Alpha is a camera system introduced by the company back in 2006. In this range are a number of interchangeable-lens cameras, including DSLRs and mirrorless cameras.

Final Words

Sony rx1rii shooting

One of my favourite Sony cameras – the quirky Sony RX1R II.

One thing that worried me about writing this guide to the best Sony cameras of the year is that deep down I know that the next Sony release is right around the corner!

This is what makes Sony such an exciting brand to shoot with – constant, regular innovation, and cameras with features that rewrite the rule book with every new release.

One thing I’m happy about is Sony’s ‘Kaizen’ approach of continuous-improvement, which means that no matter which camera you invest in, you can expect some impressive firmware updates.

Take ‘real-time AF‘ for example – this freely downloadable update further improved the already impressive AF performance of several of the Alpha cameras… and we didn’t even ask for it!

I hope you enjoyed this article. Feel free to leave me a comment or question below ;-)

Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post may contain affiliate links.