When it comes to mirrorless cameras, there’s no doubt that Sony is a strong competitor among other manufacturers. With cameras ranging from full-frame professional models to beginner crop-sensor bodies, there’s definitely a Sony camera for everyone! In this article, we look at the best Sony mirrorless cameras:
- Sony Alpha a9 II
- Sony Alpha a7R IV
- Sony Alpha a7R III
- Sony Alpha a7S II
- Sony Alpha a7 III
- Sony Alpha a6400
- Sony Alpha a6600
1. Sony Alpha a9 II
Excellent image quality matched with blazing fast autofocusing and superb continuous shooting speed.
The Sony Alpha a9 II is the upgraded version of the professional Sony Alpha a9. When it comes to the best Sony mirrorless camera, the a9 II is the automatic choice. The older camera already has an excellent repertoire and fan following. The new one takes the bar a notch up. It is widely considered as one of the best sports, fast action, and wildlife mirrorless cameras on the market.
If you are a birding, wildlife, or sports photography pro the stand-out feature of the Sony Alpha a9 II is its super-fast continuous shooting speed. At 20 fps it is one of the fastest interchangeable lens cameras and is undoubtedly one of the best Sony mirrorless cameras in that regard, if not the best. But that is with the silent electronic shutter. With the mechanical shutter firing, the maximum frame rate drops down to 10 fps. Still, it is formidable by DSLR standards.
And despite being a mirrorless camera with an electronic viewfinder the visual lag is practically non-existent. It is a wonderful thing to have when you are panning an athlete or a bird in full motion.
The Sony Alpha a9 II is powered by a 24.2 megapixel CMOS full-frame BSI stacked sensor. The stacked design and the BSI architecture help improve the light gathering capacity of the photodiodes. It also improves the overall low-light performance of the camera.
The autofocus mechanism of the camera consists of 693 phase detection (that covers 93% of the frame) and 425 contrast-detect AF points. With it, you get intelligent subject tracking and real-time Eye-AF that allows you to track and capture moving subjects with greater ease!
As previously mentioned a lot of the improved features on the Sony Alpha a9 II are subtle but they do bring an incredible amount of value on to the table. For example, the memory card slots are now both UHS-II compliant.
The Sony Alpha a9 II is the flagship camera in the Sony mirrorless lineup. It is also one of the best Sony cameras out there.
That being said, if you’re looking to shave a few bucks off the total price, the Sony Alpha a9 is still an incredible camera that simply lacks a few of the newer features discussed. There is no doubt both are great cameras.
2. Sony Alpha a7R IV
High resolution never seems to go out of vogue. Plus you add exceptional image quality to it.
Sony’s a7R series represents high-resolution cameras that product and fashion photographers drool about. That said if you are a landscape photographer, the a7R series is for you, too. It is perfect for anyone looking for a large amount of detail in their images. In that regard, the a7R IV is one of the best Sony mirrorless cameras around.
As the latest camera in the a7R series, the a7R IV offers some great upgrades. There’s the obvious bump in the resolution of nearly 20 megapixels along with many other features, some of which you’ll find in the previous flagship Sony Alpha a9 model
The most striking feature of the new camera is definitely the new sensor. It now produces images of 9504 x 6336 pixels. One major advantage of that is you can snap wide and then crop later. Even with the post-processing crop, plenty of detail is retained. In terms of sheer resolution, this is definitely one of the best sony mirrorless cameras.
To add to that the camera has improved Pixel-shift technology that now utilizes up to 16 captures and produces images of the size 240 MP. That said the system has some limitations and the practical applications are sparse.
One of the important updates of the Sony a7R IV is the improved auto-focusing system. The latest system comes with 567 phase-detection AF points that are on sensor-based. These AF points cover almost the whole of the frame vertically. But it only covers about 74% of the frame horizontally.
Autofocus incorporates real-time tracking and the a7R IV performs admirably well in that regard. However, when you compare the autofocus performance of the a7R IV with that of something like the a9 II, the latter is much faster and much more accurate.
3. Sony Alpha a7R III
High resolution combined with fantastic image quality.
The arrival of every new technology has an invariably negative effect on the price of the outgoing piece of technology. The arrival of the a7R IV inevitably led to a major price crunch on the a7R III.
This price drop means you can get a great camera at the fraction of the price. And don’t be fooled, the a7R III is a really good camera.
The Sony a7R III comes with a 42 MP BSI CMOS sensor. The sensor comes with the BIONZ X image processor and front-end LSI. This leads to faster image processing and improved continuous frame rate, among other things.
It offers a 10 fps continuous shooting speed with full auto-focusing. Without screen blanking, the frame rate drops down to 8 fps. The camera has in-body image stabilization rated at up to 5.5 stops. This gives a lot of advantage to a photographer shooting hand-held or in; low light conditions.
The sensor architecture features a gapless on-chip design. Plus it has an anti-reflection coating and does not feature the Optical Low-Pass Filter.
The auto-focusing system consists of 399 phase-detection AF points and 425 Contrast Detection AF points. This helps with better subject tracking and faster AF lock in most situations. Also, the larger number of contrast detection points ensures better AF performance during movie shooting.
Speaking of video shooting the Sony a7R III shoots Super35 and is even capable of 5K supersampling using the entire height and width of the full-frame sensor. This has an important bearing on the quality of the video that is recorded. It helps to remove moiré and false colors from the footages that are otherwise common with cameras that do not have the Optical Low-Pass Filter.
Another interesting feature of the a7R III is the Hybrid Log-Gamma component. With this, you can exploit the advantages of shooting with a high dynamic range and don’t have to go through the hassle of color grading your footages in post-processing.
4. Sony Alpha a7S II
Low light imagery does not get any better than this.
Sony Alpha a7S II is a full-frame mirrorless camera ideal for photographers who love shooting low-light imagery. The reason for its suitability for shooting low-light images is because of the large pixels on the low-res sensor. At 12.2 megapixels, the sensor has pretty large pixels when compared to cameras like the a7R IV or the a7R III. Paired with the sensor is the BIONZ X image processing engine.
The camera also has an impressive ISO sensitivity range. Native 100 to 102400 and Extended 50 to 409600. That, incidentally, is the highest among all the cameras that we have listed here. Even though the camera is essentially the same as the outgoing one in terms of sensor and image processor, there have been some important improvements in the way the wiring has been done. Additionally, with the improved software inside the a7S II, noise handling has been significantly improved in this camera.
The a7S II packs a built-in 5-axis image stabilization system. It has a rating of 4.5 stops. This works for stills as well as videos making it very useful for whatever work you have in mind.
The camera is capable of employing S-Log3 Gamma, S-Log2, and S-Gamut3 to give a higher amount of flexibility for those who love to color grade their footage in post. And with that, you also get the Zebra function.
5. Sony Alpha a7 III
The A7III takes the good bits from many cameras and comes as a package that is great overall. Value for money.
The Sony a7 III is a full-frame mirrorless camera from Sony. While the traffic seems to get split between the a9 II and the a7R IV, and to a large extent to the a7S II, the a7 III, somehow gets pushed to the back. But if you take a quick look at the specs, the a7 III is a powerful camera in every right.
The a7 III, despite not having a high resolution like the A7R IV or the performance of the A9 II holds its own as a camera designed for all occasions and for all purposes.
24 megapixels offers more than enough resolution for every kind of photography requirement. So, whether you are looking to capture landscapes or portraits or weddings you have most bases covered.
Related Post: Best Lenses for Sony a7 III
The 10 fps continuous shooting speed, on the other hand, gives enough frames to get a few keepers. Often, when shooting birds in full flight or a sportsperson the difference between getting some nice shots and a wasted opportunity is the continuous shooting speed of the camera. Of course, autofocusing is also a major requirement.
One of the great things about Sony’s mirrorless systems is that the auto-focusing points that make up the AF system cover almost the entire frame. The 693 phase-detection AF points, in this case, cover 93% of the frame. So, off-center compositions, as well as subject tracking are that much easier to do.
And if you are photographing people, you will enjoy the Eye-AF that has found itself in a lot of Sony’s cameras. The Eye-AF mechanism gives a much better lock on a person’s eye that is the closest to the camera. That way it helps you to achieve that all critical aspect of portrait photography, tack sharp eyes. Eye-AF works even as wide as f/1.4.
That said there are some issues when you are tracking a subject (other than Eye-AF) while using continuous auto-focusing. The problem is compounded when shooting with a lower aperture because the camera sets the auto-focusing aperture the same as the shooting aperture.
In case you are shooting with a lower aperture, the AF system gets insufficient light for locking focus. You will face trouble in such a situation, especially, when the subject is moving quickly. Such as a bird or a wild animal in low light.
Finally, the a7 III is a capable video camera. With UHD/4K recording at 30p, you also get HLG and S-Log3 Gamma. The built-in 5-axis SteadyShot image stabilization system ensures that the camera is capable of recording super-steady shots both stills and videos.
While recording full HD the a7 III oversamples to avoid pixel binning and resulting moiré and false colors, usually associated with high-resolution cameras.
6. Sony Alpha a6400
Excellent autofocusing. Great low light capabilities.
Sony’s mirrorless segment is comprised of both full-frame as well as APS-C cameras. The smaller APS-C cameras have the same E-mount as the larger full-frame bodies which means you get to use the same solid E-mount lenses that produce excellent images.
When we speak of Sony’s APS-C mirrorless cameras the Alpha a6400 comes to mind immediately. It is one of the best budget low light cameras around.
Under the hood, the a6400 comes with a 24.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS Exmor sensor. And it is paired with a BIONZ X image processing engine.
We love the a6400 for many reasons. It is compact. It comes with a solid textured grip that feels great in your palm. It has a flipping LCD screen that flips all the way to 180 degrees. That means if you are recording yourself, you can see whether you are in focus very easily.
And since the LCD screen flips upwards it does not come in the way of your tripod ball head. The camera can record UHD/4K with full pixel readout which ensures that there is no pixel binning.
But the thing that we love the most is the fast auto-focusing system. Sony boasts that the a6400 can lock focus in 0.02 seconds. And we can vouch that they are not bluffing. Focusing is accurate the majority of the time and focus locks very quickly.
And speaking of focusing the camera has 425 phase-detection and 425 contrast-detection AF points that cover 84% of the frame. A big bonus if you are composing off-center or tracking a subject.
Among the other features, the Realtime Eye AF and Realtime tracking capabilities aren’t to be missed. Eye-AF and real-time tracking are important tools for someone doing portrait photography. It locks on the eye of the subject closest to the camera and then keeps on tracking the subject as it moves.
And if you have more than a passing interest in video shooting you would also find the HLG (Hybrid Log-Gamma) useful allowing you to feed contrast or make your videos look the way you want them to be.
Definitely a camera that you want to look into if you are interested in getting into the Sony E-mount ecosystem.
7. Sony Alpha a6600
An excellent all-round crop mirrorless camera. Offering great video features and excellent image quality.
The Sony Alpha a6600 is the latest in the long line of Sony a6xxx cameras. It comes with a host of improvements over the previous a6400 while retaining many of the features from the previous model.
One of the critical advantages of the a6600 over the a6400 is the presence of image stabilization. The 5-axis SteadyShot INSIDE image stabilization is rated up to 5 stops. Built-in image stabilization ensures all compatible lenses are stabilized. And that includes all the third-party lenses. Image stabilization is the critical difference between getting a sharp image and a blurry one.
A number of older features that we already saw in the likes of the a6400 and the a6500 have been retained. The flipping rear LCD screen still flips all the way to 180 degrees and faces front. But with the screen incorporates RGBW pixel structure that ensures the display is brighter and more useable under the sun.
Related Post: Best Lenses for Sony a6600
The a6600 is a compact APS-C camera that has some dedicated features aimed at photographers looking to shoot videos. It has features like Enhanced Zebra function. This is what gives an accurate reading of exposure. Especially when you are working in bright conditions and the LCD screen seems inconclusive.
To drive home the point that this is meant to be a video camera as much as it is meant to be a stills camera is the Time Code functionality. It helps when you are working in a multi-camera setup to have this feature. This is definitely a plus point to have when you have assimilated all the footage and are ready to edit into one final footage.
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