Sony has one of the biggest camera lineups in the market, so it may be intimidating to pick the right one for you! In this article, we will cover which is the best Sony camera for photography. (You’ll see why the “for photography” is important in a bit.)
Simply put, whether you’re looking for an all-around camera to create beautiful photos of everyday life, or you’re a full-time professional working in extremely demanding conditions, there is a Sony camera that will be almost perfect for you!
The three main things to consider when choosing which are the best Sony cameras for photography are, in no particular order, factors such as budget, photography subject, and creative style. For different photographers, of course, one of these factors may be more of a constraint than the others. So, with that in mind, let’s dive in!
Factors to Consider when Choosing a Sony Camera for Photography
Let’s talk about your budget before anything else: If you’re looking to buy an “actual camera”, instead of just using your phone, then be prepared to pay a bit of a high price. Otherwise, honestly? The camera in your phone is pretty darn good, and it already goes with you everywhere. So, ask yourself this: Do I have at least $1,000 to invest in photography equipment? What about $2,000 or more? Because once you buy the camera, you’ll inevitably want to buy another lens, and then maybe another…. (Sony has by far the biggest array of lenses, by the way!)
Having said that, for serious photographers who are passionate about the craft of photography in general, we do strongly recommend investing in one of these cameras. They are all excellent performers and will help unleash your creativity in unique ways.
In terms of your photography subject matter, there are some basic guidelines that just make sense. Mainly, if you’re photographing high-speed action, you’ll want a fast camera with great autofocus. Oppositely, if you’re a landscape or astro-landscape photographer, you won’t have those concerns at all! So, keeping your exact needs in mind could save you a lot of money, or save you from buying a camera that lets you down.
Sony Video Cameras | Should Photographers Buy One?
Compared to some other camera brands, Sony makes a lot more cameras that are highly specialized for videography. We simply do not recommend buying a video-oriented Sony mirrorless camera if you are primarily a “stills only” photographer. This is because although those cameras are truly incredible, your investment is being wasted on exotic features you won’t even use.
Best Sony Cameras For Photography (Full-Frame)
The Sony mirrorless E-mount comes in two sensor formats; full-frame and APSC crop. There is a wide variety of full-frame cameras available, ranging from under $2,000 to well over $6,000!
If you invest in a Sony full-frame mirrorless camera, though, rest assured that even if you buy the most affordable model, you’re getting a camera that is capable of professional results.
Sony A7 IV
The Sony A7 IV is, simply put, one of the best all-around cameras on the market. It can be used for almost any type of professional work, from wedding and portrait photography to landscapes, wildlife, and even action sports. Even though it’s not the most blazing fast, or the highest-resolution camera in Sony’s lineup, it’s an excellent balance of both.
The 30-megapixel sensor delivers stunning image quality, and the 10 frames per second (FPS) is more than enough for most action scenes. One of the most impressive features, though, isn’t as quantifiable: the autofocus system is simply one of the best, most reliable on the market. Even in nearly pitch-dark low light, the Sony A7 IV can give you sharp photos. For $2,498, you simply can’t go wrong with the Sony A7 IV.
Sony A7R V
For those landscape photographers who want double the resolution, the 61-megapixel Sony A7R V is the high-megapixel version of the A7 IV. It’s more than just the megapixel count, of course; for the price tag of $3,898, you get an even more powerful processor and a separate, dedicated AI processor to help the autofocus system with subject detection.
Plus, the sensor stabilization is increased all the way to 8 stops! I would mention that this camera offers 8K video, but as we mentioned, this article isn’t about video. :-)
So, although the body may outwardly appear similar to the A7 IV, the Sony A7R V is an even more flagship-level camera, for those who are printing or displaying their images as big as possible.
Runner Up: Sony A7R IV
Note that for those who only want the resolution, and don’t need the next-generation autofocus system or 8-stop stabilization, the Sony A7R IV also boasts an incredible 61-megapixel sensor, in a nearly identical robust, rugged body. The slightly more affordable A7R IV could be the true perfect camera for those landscape photographers who do more of their work from a tripod.
You’d save quite a few hundred dollars, since the Sony A7R IV price tag is currently at $3,198 and likely could be under $3K in time for the 2023 holiday season.
Sony A9 II
Instead of maximum resolution, the Sony A9 II goes in the opposite direction: blazing speed. It doubles the speed of all previously mentioned cameras, and hits a staggering 20 FPS thanks to its BSI stacked CMOS sensor and lower resolution.
The Sony A9 II sensor has 24-megapixels, so it’s not the most high-resolution camera on the market by any means. However, plenty of serious hobbyists and full-time pros alike will find that to be ample enough for their needs.
At $4,498, the Sony A9 II is definitely a professional investment. Since 10 FPS is already impressive in the other cameras, we usually recommend the Sony A7 IV for most professional photographers. However, one thing we really do love about the A9-series is that, like the A1 (above) it has two additional control dials on the top left of the camera, giving you physical control over both the drive modes and AF modes.
What if you want both speed and resolution? Well, it will cost you $6,498, but the Sony A1 delivers a seemingly impossible combination: Up to 30 FPS (yes, 30 frames per second) speed, with a 50-megapixel sensor.
This camera is capable of 8K video as well, with raw video output possible to an external recorder. Keep that in mind as photographers, because you’re paying a premium for this camera, indeed. In fact, as wedding photographers, we would rather actually have TWO A7 IV’s, and money left over for a lens. Still, there is no denying that the Sony A1 is a champion of performance, if your work demands it.
For those who are on the tightest budget, the Sony A7C costs well under $2,000; usually priced at $1,898. (We understand that $2.5K is a lot for just a camera body without any lenses!)
The Sony A7C has the company’s legendary 24-megapixel full-frame sensor, which is one of the best all-around sensors ever made. The camera is decently fast and offers superb autofocus, too.
Having said that, it is a beginner-oriented camera body, with a few buttons and dials missing compared to the Sony A7-series. So, just keep this in mind.
The A7C offers sensor stabilization, but is limited to one SD card slot, which is why we don’t usually recommend it for pro photography work. But, it is definitely a solid choice for general use, travel, and all sorts of photography!
Best Sony Cameras For Photography (APSC & Compact)
Sony’s E-mount actually started off with compact crop-sensor cameras, the NEX line. Those cameras were very basic and we didn’t highly recommend them at first, however, today’s Sony A6000-series lineup is truly impressive.
There is no true flagship model in this lineup yet, with dual card slots and other professional features, however, the overall performance and build quality of these cameras is stll highly capable.
NOTE: if a “Sony A9000” (just imagine a crop-sensor version of the Sony A9-series) …we’ll update this article!
The closest thing to a pro APSC camera from Sony, the A6600 boasts an impressive AF system, handed down from the A9 series in some ways with RealTime Tracking. The Sony A6600 is a very compact camera, though, making it an excellent choice for all types of photographers.
Whether you’re a working pro looking for a backup/2nd camera with the APSC crop, (maybe you’re a bird photographer) …or you’re a total beginner looking for the perfect camera to “grow into”, the Sony A6600 is worth checking out.
The Sony A6400 is the most entry-level camera we recommend from the E-mount system. It’s a perfect compromise in terms of compact portability, performance, and value. It’s also the only Sony camera under $1,000 that we recommend to serious photographers, too.
What ever happened to getting a decent camera for under $500, you might be wondering? To be blunt, the cell phone industry has simply obsoleted that category of cameras.
We could encourage beginner photographers to consider the even more entry-level Sony A6100, however, the controls and features of that camera are so limited that we think it’s worth saving up for the A6400.
Sony RX100 VII
Sony is actually the only brand with this honor: we’re recommending a compact camera that isn’t a mirrorless ILC! That’s right, the Sony RX100 camera series is truly compact, with a fully retractable lens; it can fit into almost any pocket! The lens is excellent, though; it offers an equivalent zoom range of 24-200mm, and an aperture of f/2.8-4.5.
The sensor in this camera is “tiny”, (2.7x crop VS full-frame) but that doesn’t stop the image quality from being quite impressive. Also, this tiny little wonder inherits much of the aforementioned cameras’ professional autofocus systems, so it’s Whether you’re traveling hiking/backpacking, or just looking for something to carry around with you everywhere, we highly recommend th Sony RX100 VII.
It’s usually priced at $1,298, though, so this is definitely an investment for serious photographers. However, personally as a working professional, this is the compact camera I’d choose to take with me for a variety of activities from everyday outings to lightweight backpacking trips.
Conclusion | Best Sony Camera For Photography
Especially as photographers, (and not videographers, or “hybrid” shooters) …choosing the best Sony camera is a matter of choosing what’s right for you.
Your budget may be an obvious constraint, but thankfully Sony has a very wide range of options for everybody. The more challenging decision will be, what type of photography do you do, and which camera is optimal for that? With the above recommendations, you should have the best answer to that question now.