Best Sony Camera 2021: Full-frame, APS-C and Compact


Over the last few years Sony have mounted a strong challenge to the dominant duo of Canon and Nikon, overtaking Nikon to become the number two player.

They’ve largely achieved this success by concentrating on the more premium, higher end of each market – whether that be full-frame, APS-C or compact – and delivering the most high-tech product that they possibly can at that time.

This is a common trait that applies to all of the Sony cameras in this list, from the breath-taking new Alpha 1 full-frame mirrorless, to the excellent A6100 APS-C model, to the niche Cyber-shot RX0 II action camera.

While Sony have largely focused their recent efforts on full-frame mirrorless, they certainly haven’t forgotten their APS-C range or their compact line-up, offering a number of excellent options in all three categories.

All of that choice can be confusing, though, so we’ve compiled our definitive list of the very best Sony cameras that money can buy.

We’ve chosen six different models from Sony’s full-frame range, three from their APS-C sensor line-up, and four of their Cyber-shot compacts – there really should be something here for everyone.

We’ve independently and expertly reviewed virtually every camera that Sony has released in the past 15 years, so rest assured that you can trust our recommendations.

What is the Best Sony Camera in 2021?

Here’s our list of the best Sony cameras that you can buy in 2021:

  • Sony A1
  • Sony A9 II
  • Sony A7S III
  • Sony A7R IV
  • Sony A7 III
  • Sony A7C
  • Sony A6600
  • Sony A6400
  • Sony A6100
  • Sony ZV-1
  • Sony RX10 IV
  • Sony RX100 VII
  • Sony RX0 II

Best Sony Mirrorless Camera 2021

Sony don’t make DSLR cameras, unlike their main rivals, Nikon and Canon, instead choosing to concentrate on developing an extensive range of Alpha-branded full-frame mirrorless cameras.

This has resulted in them being the number one full-frame mirrorless camera manufacturer for a long time now, although they’ve recently faced some stiff competition from the likes of Canon’s EOS R system and Nikon’s Z-series.

Sony make a full-frame camera for seemingly every market niche – the A7R for landscapes, A9 for sports, A7S for video, A7 for all-round, and the A7C as a super-compact option.

And in January 2021 they launched the flagship Alpha 1, a stunning camera that takes all the best features from the other Alpha series models and combines them into one 8K, 50 megapixel monster.

It’s not all about full-frame however – Sony also make a popular APS-C sensor range of mirrorless models, three of which we’ve included in this guide.

Best Sony Camera 2021

Sony A1

The One could be the only camera that you’ll ever need

Price

$$$$$

Key Specs

  • 50 megapixel full-frame sensor
  • 8K video
  • 5-axis IBIS
  • 30fps burst shooting
  • Bird-eye AF

Likes

  • 8K video with no overheating
  • Amazingly fast burst shooting with no blackout
  • High resolution sensor

Dislikes

Sony have put all of their camera eggs into one basket and released the cutting-edge, flagship Alpha 1.

They’ve gone all-out to produce one camera that really can do it all – landscapes, sports, video, studio – you name it.

It has a 50 megapixel stacked, back-side illuminated Exmor R sensor which delivers an impressive 15 stops of dynamic range.

With 8K video on-board, the Sony A1 is future-proofed for all your movie-making needs, especially as there are no gotchas with it overheating.

The super-fast 30fps burst shooting mode should be more than fast enough to capture that decisive moment.

Bird Eye-AF is brand new to the A1 and the entire Sony Alpha range, a feature that should please wildlife photographers.

All of this latest technology does come at a high price though – the Sony Alpha 1 is by far the most expensive model in this list.

Our verdict: “…the Alpha 1 can shoot at a mind-boggling 30fps with full AF and AE tracking using its electronic shutter thanks to its pair of new Bionz XR processors – yes, you read that right, 50 megapixel JPEG and Raw images at 30fps!”

Read our expert Sony A1 Review

Best Sony Camera 2021

Sony A9 II

A great camera for sports photography and photojournalism

Price

$$$$

Key Specs

  • 24 megapixel full-frame sensor
  • 4K/30p video
  • 5-axis IBIS
  • 20fps burst shooting
  • Weather-sealed

Likes

  • 20fps continuous shooting with no blackout
  • Lots of connectivity options

Dislikes

  • Maybe not enough resolution for some
  • High price for a specialist camera

Until the Alpha 1 arrived, the A9 II was the fastest shooting camera in the Sony range.

Capable of 20fps burst shooting with no viewfinder blackout between each image and a large buffer, this is a great camera for sports, action and wildlife photographers.

The A9 Mark II offers 43 improvements when compared to the original A9 model, turning an already great camera into an essential one.

It is faster, more refined, more durable and more versatile than the two-year-old A9 camera that it succeeds.

Despite the recent introduction of the A1, the A9 II is still a compelling option if your subject never stays still.

Our verdict: “…the new Sony A9 II is a compelling option for pro users, with Sony introducing a wide range of relatively minor, but collectively major, improvements to a flagship camera that was already a real speed demon.”

Read our expert Sony A9 II Review

Best Sony Camera 2021

Sony A7S III

Sony’s dedicated 4K camera is a must-have for videographers

Price

$$$$

Key Specs

  • 12 megapixel full-frame sensor
  • 4K/120p video recording
  • 9.44 million dot EVF
  • Articulated LCD screen
  • 10fps burst shooting

Likes

  • Class-leading 4K video
  • Excellent low-light performance

Dislikes

  • Not enough resolution for some
  • More suited to video than stills

If video is your main focus and you don’t need the Alpha 1’s 8K option, the A7S III is the best Sony camera to choose.

With a modest 12 megapixel back-illuminated sensor that’s been developed specifically for shooting 4K video, the A7S III is a low-light beast.

It’s also a highly capable low-light and action shooter for still photography if you don’t mind the physical limitations of the low-resolution sensor.

The A7S III has a class-leading electronic viewfinder and a vari-angle LCD screen that help make it a joy to use.

Our verdict: “Sony has been refreshingly single-minded on delivering a product that truly delivers in real world experience instead of flouting hollow headline grabbing numbers. Yes it’s ‘only’ 4K. Yes, it ‘only’ has 12.1MP. But within those parameters, you’ll be hard pressed to find a better camera than the Sony Alpha 7S III.”

Read our expert Sony A7S III Review

Best Sony Camera 2021

Sony A7R IV

The highest resolution Alpha camera is a landscape loving stunner

Price

$$$$

Key Specs

  • 61 megapixel full-frame sensor
  • 4K/30p video recording
  • Pixel Shift Multi Shooting mode
  • 5.76 million dot EVF
  • 10fps burst shooting

Likes

  • Incredible amounts of detail on offer
  • Fast burst shooting for so many megapixels

Dislikes

  • Lack of touch-screen controls
  • No 60p video recording

This is the best Sony Alpha camera for landscape and studio photographers who want the most resolution that money can buy.

With a huge 61 megapixel sensor, it’s also one of the highest resolution 35mm cameras currently available.

The A7R IV is a surprisingly versatile camera, with 10fps burst shooting and a great AF system broadening its appeal to encompass sports and wildlife photographers.

It can even record 4K video too, although it’s limited to 30 frames per second and 8-bit quality.

Overall, though, the ability to shoot 61 megapixel images at 10fps with real-time AF tracking and the option of 4K video shouldn’t be underestimated!

Our verdict: “…the new Sony Alpha A7R IV offers a compelling blend of out-and-out resolution, surprising speed and enhanced handling that widens its appeal beyond just portrait, landscape and architecture photographers.”

Read our expert Sony A7R IV Review

Best Sony Camera 2021

Sony A7 III

The oldest Alpha full-frame camera here, but still a great one

Price

$$$

Key Specs

  • 24 megapixel full-frame sensor
  • 4K/30p video recording
  • Tilting LCD monitor
  • 10fps burst shooting
  • Weather-proof

Likes

  • Far from being a “basic” model
  • Aggressively priced

Dislikes

  • Due for replacement soon
  • No 60p or 10-bit video recording

If you’re tempted by the one of the other high-end Alpha models but can’t afford them, the A7 III might be the camera that you actually end up buying.

Most people don’t need the sheer speed of the A9, the resolution of the A7R, or the low-light capabilities of the A7S, which is where the A7 III enters the picture.

Modestly billed by Sony as being the “basic” model in the range, the A7 III is far from being basic- this is the best-priced, best all-round Alpha camera that will more than satisfy most users.

It offers a winning combination of an amazing AF system, 10fps continuous shooting speed, sensible 24-megapixel resolution, 4K video and excellent low-light performance.

The only downside for the A7 III is that it’s due for replacement soon! (good news for you though)

Our verdict: “The Sony A7 III is quite simply the best camera available at its price-point. It’s good enough to tempt some people to stretch their budget further, and even good enough for some to save money by not having to look higher up the range.”

Read our expert Sony A7 III Review

Best Sony Camera 2021

Sony A7C

This is the smallest and lightest full-frame Sony camera

Price

$$$

Key Specs

  • 24 megapixel full-frame sensor
  • 4K/30p video recording
  • 180-degree tilting LCD monitor
  • 10fps burst shooting
  • Weather-proof

Likes

  • Amazingly small for full-frame
  • Great vlogging potential

Dislikes

  • Out-dated handling and specification
  • No 60p or 10-bit video recording

Although the A7C has a few flaws, we’ve included it primarily because it’s so small, light and compact.

It essentially combines the specs of the full-frame A7 III with the size of the APS-C A6600 to create an impossibly tiny full-frame camera.

Sony have somehow squeezed a full-frame sensor, an IBIS unit and a new flip-out screen into a body that’s only slightly bigger and heavier than the A6600.

That does also lead to some handling issues, though, with too many missing dials and buttons to make for a great user experience.

Sony are also being a little over-ambitious with the A7C’s price-tag and positioning, placing it above the A7 III.

Our verdict: “Sony is attempting to reach out to a new, younger audience of vloggers and content creators with the launch of the A7C, many of whom are simply put-off by the sheer size and weight of current full-frame cameras.”

Read our expert Sony A7C Review

Best Sony Camera 2021

Sony A6600

The flagship APS-C camera incorporates full-frame features

Price

$$$

Key Specs

  • 24 megapixel APS-C sensor
  • 4K/30p video recording
  • 180-degree tilting LCD monitor
  • 11fps burst shooting
  • Weather-proof

Likes

  • Built-in image stabilisation
  • Excellent battery life

Dislikes

  • Expensive for an APS-C sensor camera
  • No UHS-II card support

The A6600 is the most well-appointed model in Sony’s extensive range of APS-C sensor cameras, sitting at the top of the range.

It incorporates quite a lot of features from the more expensive full-frame Alphas, including mic and headphone ports, built-in image stabilisation, eye-detection in movies, and unlimited video recording.

The Alpha 6600 continues to use the very familiar handling and control layout of all previous A6000-series cameras – there are very few surprises here.

It is quite a bit more expensive than the A6400, though, without offering quite enough to justify the hike in price, so unless you really need A6600’s IBIS system, longer battery life and headphone jack, the A6400 is a more sensible choice.

Our verdict: “The new flagship A6600 begs, borrows and steals features from further down Sony’s extensive range of APS-C models and also further up from the A7 full-frame cameras…”

Read our expert Sony A6600 Review

Best Sony Camera 2021

Sony A6400

24 megapixels and 4K video for under £$1000

Price

$$

Key Specs

  • 24 megapixel APS-C sensor
  • 4K/30p video recording
  • 180-degree tilting LCD monitor
  • 11fps burst shooting
  • Weather-proof

Likes

  • Great AF system
  • 180-degree LCD screen for vlogging

Dislikes

  • No built-in image stabilisation
  • No UHS-II card support

The A6400 is Sony’s sub-£$1000 interchangeable camera, and is well-specced enough to be a more sensible choice than the flagship A6600.

At the time of launch in 2019, it had the best auto-focusing that Sony offered on any of their cameras, including the much more expensive full-frame models. That’s no longer true today, but it’s still a great system.

It has a 180-degree LCD screen that’s perfect for vlogging, as is the 4K/30p video with no limit on the actual recording length.

It does have a few weaknesses – the design is rather outdated and there’s no built-in image stabilisation system or headphone socket – but overall the A6400 is the APS-C sensor camera that we’d choose in the Sony range.

Our verdict: “…the continuous AF system on the A6400 is simply the best that we’ve ever used, on any camera, regardless of whether you’re a professional user shooting sports or a more casual user trying to get better pictures of your erratically moving kids.”

Read our expert Sony A6400 Review

Best Sony Camera 2021

Sony A6100

The cheapest A6000-series camera is a veritable steal

Price

$$

Key Specs

  • 24 megapixel APS-C sensor
  • 4K/30p video recording
  • 180-degree tilting LCD monitor
  • 11fps burst shooting
  • OLED viewfinder

Likes

  • Great AF system
  • 180-degree LCD screen for vlogging

Dislikes

  • No built-in image stabilisation
  • No UHS-II card support

It might currently be the cheapest A6000-series camera (with the exception of the ancient A6000 model itself), but the A6100 is also one of the best.

It gains a lot of cutting-edge functionality from the more expensive, sophisticated models, including the amazing autofocus system from the range-topping A6600.

With exactly the same 24.2 megapixel sensor and processor onboard as the A660o, you’d be hard-pressed to tell any difference between them in terms of image quality.

The A6100 is also great for vlogging thanks to its flippable screen, 4K/30p quality, no limit on the actual recording length, built-in MIC port and that fantastic AF system.

Our verdict: “The new Sony A6100 is a much more significant upgrade from the incredibly popular A6000 than the A6400 and A6600 were from the A6300 and A6500 respectively, gaining a lot of cutting-edge functionality from the more expensive, sophisticated models.”

Read our expert Sony A6100 Review

Best Sony Compact Camera 2021

As cheaper compact cameras have declined in popularity over the last few years, Sony have switched tack to making the best possible compacts instead, whether they be for recording video, stills, action, or wildlife.

The cream of the Cyber-shot crop are are undoubtedly expensive compared to their main rivals, but they are also invariably the best in their particular class.

Whether it be the ZV-1 for vloggers, RX10 IV for wildlife, RX100 IV for all-round use , or the RX0 II for action, they all share one thing in common – to try to be the absolute best that they can.

Best Sony Camera 2021

Sony ZV-1

One of the best Sony cameras for vlogging

Price

$$

Key Specs

  • 20 megapixel 1-inch BSI sensor
  • 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 zoom lens
  • Vari-angle LCD touchscreen
  • 4K/30p video recording
  • 24fps burst shooting

Likes

  • Same core technology as RX100 series
  • All the ports that you need for vlogging

Dislikes

  • No EVF or flash
  • Wider lens would be perfect

This is the best Sony compact camera to buy if you’re a keen vlogger, as it’s been expressly designed for that purpose.

Sporting many of the core features the same as found in recent A7 series cameras, there’s a lot of tech packed into the ZV-1’s compact body.

Sony have taken the popular RX100 and added a microphone socket, a hot-shoe on the top, and a screen which flips out to the side, making it better suited to video recording.

It’s only really missing a slightly wider lens, USB-C socket to allow for faster charging and headphone use, and possibly a larger battery.

Our verdict: “…the price of the Sony ZV-1 should be affordable to people who want it, and given many of the features of the camera are the same as found in recent A7 series cameras, there is a lot of technology crammed in to a very portable body.”

Read our expert Sony ZV-1 Review

Best Sony Camera 2021

Sony RX10 IV

A fantastic super-zoom bridge camera with a large 1-inch sensor

Price

$$$$

Key Specs

  • 20 megapixels
  • 1-inch stacked sensor
  • 24-600mm f/2.4-4 lens
  • 24fps burst shooting
  • 4K/30p video recording

Likes

  • The best super-zoom camera on the market
  • Ideally suited to wildlife photography

Dislikes

  • Very expensive for a compact camera
  • Did we mention the price already?!

If money is no object, the RX10 IV is the ultimate super-zoom camera.

Wildlife photographers will be very happy with the results from the RX10, all from what is a comparatively small package.

The versatile lens impressed us greatly, as did image quality from the 1-inch sensor, which is very large for a bridge camera.

You also get a class leading 24fps high-speed shooting mode with full time AF for up to 10 seconds, which should be more than enough frames to get that perfect shot.

The RX10 IV is no slouch when it comes to video, either, providing slow motion videos at up to 1000fps, 4K/30p videos with no pixel binning, plus microphone and headphone ports.

Our verdict: “The Sony Cyber-shot RX10 IV is in a league of its own. No other bridge camera handles and performs so well.”

Read our expert Sony RX10 IV Review

Best Sony Camera 2021

Sony RX100 VII

Sony’s best all-round compact camera for stills photographers and keen vloggers alike

Price

$$$

Key Specs

  • 20 megapixels
  • 1-inch stacked sensor
  • 24-200mm f/2.8-4.5 lens
  • 20fps blackout-free burst shooting
  • 4K/30p video recording

Likes

  • 4K video with no crop
  • 20fps burst mode thanks to the stacked image sensor

Dislikes

  • Poor battery life
  • No built-in ND filter

The RX100 is one of the most popular compact camera series ever, and it’s easy to see why with the excellent Mark VII version.

With faster, more usable burst shooting, improved auto-focusing and the long overdue addition of a Mic port, this is the best ever RX100 camera..

20fps black-out free shooting with real-time AF tracking makes it more than fast enough to shoot fast-moving subjects – wildlife, sports, or just your kids – yet still be small enough to fit in your coat pocket.

There are still a few caveats – no camera is perfect – including poor battery life, no built-in ND filter, and a rather limited touchscreen interface, but overall this is probably the best compact camera that you can currently buy.

Our verdict: “If you want a camera that’s fast enough to shoot fast-moving subjects – wildlife, sports, or just your kids – and small enough to fit inside a coat pocket, then there’s simply no better option currently on the market than the Sony RX100 VII.”

Read our expert Sony RX100 VII Review

Best Sony Camera 2021

Sony RX0 II

A high-end action camera – what else did you expect from Sony?!

Price

$$$

Key Specs

  • 15 megapixel 1-inch sensor
  • 4K video
  • 24mm f/4 lens
  • Tilting 1.5-inch LCD screen
  • In-body electronic stabilisation

Likes

  • Versatile tiltable screen
  • Great image quality for an action camera

Dislikes

  • Electronic stabilisation is disappointing
  • Expensive for an action camera

The last entry in our guide to the best Sony cameras is an unusual one – a high-end action model that costs as much as some interchangeable lens cameras.

The RX0 II is certainly something of a niche product, and an expensive one at that, but it is so much more than just an action camera, being equally well suited to vlogging and life as a rugged B-roll camera.

Its large 1-inch sensor and sharp 24mm f/4 lens ensure that the RX0 II delivers some of the best image quality of any action camera, although the new electronic-based stabilisation system is less successful.

If you need one of the best action cameras on the market and you’re prepared to pay for it, then this camera certainly fits the bill.

Our verdict: “…if the Sony RX0 II does happen to suit your specific needs, you’d struggle to find a better pocket camera with this level of image quality.”

Read our expert Sony RX0 II Review

Frequently Asked Questions

Where are Sony cameras made?

Most Sony cameras and lenses are designed in Japan and made in Chunburi, Thailand, about a 90-minute drive from central Bangkok. Some of its cheaper cameras and lenses are manufactured in China to save costs.

Are Sony cameras good for photography?

Lot of professional photographers now rely on Sony,something that wasn’t true 10 years ago, so they’ve made massive strides in recent years,really focusing on the needs of the professional user. The good news is that has filtered down to their cheaper cameras too.

Is Sony good for video?

Are you kidding?! Sony leads the way in video, from the 4K-specialist A7S III and the new FX-3 to the headline-grabbing 8K Alpha 1. Videographers have long used Alpha cameras, and it’s easy to see why.

Which Sony camera is the best?

If you’re a professional who takes photos for a living, the new Alpha 1 camera really does do it all – landscapes, action, studio, video and travel.

If you’re more of a specialist, then go for the A7R IV for landscapes, the A9 for sports, the A7S III for video or the A7C for travel.

If you’re an amateur for whom photography is a hobby and you don’t want to spend too much money, then the APS-C range is hard to beat, especially the Sony A6400, which hits the right note between features and cost.

The RX100 is a great travel camera series that’s easy to carry all day and which doesn’t attract unwanted attention.

Can I use a Sony camera as a webcam?

Yes, seven of the latest Sony cameras can now be used as webcams via the Imaging Edge Webcam software program. They are the Alpha 1, A7C, A7R IV, A9 II, A7S III, FX-3 and the ZV-1.


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