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Which Sony mirrorless camera is best for you?

Best Sony mirrorless camera
(Image credit: Future)

With the introduction of the a6100 and the a6600, Sony now has seven mirrorless cameras targeted at beginner-to-prosumer photographers. All have 24-megapixel APS-C image sensors, and all will work with Sony's range of E-mount lenses, but that's where the similarities end. Here's a rundown of each of Sony's mirrorless cameras, and who they're best for.

Sony's mirrorless cameras are good for more than just photography: The company released software that lets you use your Sony mirrorless camera as a webcam. For more details, including compatible cameras, here's how to use your camera as a webcam.

Which Sony mirrorless camera is best for you? Specs at a glance
Sony A6000Sony A6100Sony A6300Sony A6400Sony A6500Sony A6600
Price (body only)$448$848$748$898$1,198$1,398
Sensor size (MP)24.324.224.224.224.224.2
AF (phase/ contrast)179/25425/425425/169425/425425/169425/425
AF featuresLock-on AF, Eye AFReal-time tracking, Eye AF, Animal Eye AFLock-on AF, Eye AFReal-time tracking, Eye AF, Animal Eye AFLock-on AF, Eye AFReal-time tracking, Eye AF, Animal Eye AF
Video resolution1080p4K4K4K4K4K
StabilizationNoneNoneNoneNone5 axis5 axis
Viewfinder1440K SVGA1440K SVGA2359K XGA2359K XGA2359k XGA2359k XGA
DisplayTilting LCD180-up/74-degree down touch screenTilting LCD180-up/74-degree down touch screenTilting touch screen180-up/74-degree down touch screen
Battery life (CIPA)360420400410350810

Best Sony mirrorless cameras

(Image credit: Sony)

1. Sony a6100

Advanced autofocus features and 4K video make this the best Sony mirrorless camera for most people.

Specifications
Sensor size: 24 MP
Autofocus points (phase/contrast): 425/425
AF features: Real-time tracking, Eye AF, Animal Eye AF
Max video resolution: 4K
Image stabilization: None
Electronic viewfinder: 1440K SVGA
Display: 180-up/74-degree down touch screen
Battery life: 420 shots
Reasons to buy
+Superfast, AI-driven autofocus system+Sharp HD and 4K video+Bright, clear OLED viewfinder+External mic jack
Reasons to avoid
-Sprawling menu system-Poorly placed video-record button

The Sony a6100 is the best Sony mirrorless camera for most people. Price-wise, it falls in between the more basic a6000 and the pricier a6400, a6500, and a6600, yet you get a good number of features found in the more expensive models.   

For instance, the a6100 has real-time tracking, Eye AF and Animal Eye AF, as well as a touch screen that can tilt both up and down. It can also shoot video in resolutions up to 4K.

The chief limitations of the a6100 are its lower-resolution viewfinder, a body that's not as resistant to the elements, and no in-body image stabilization. But for the price, it's the best value. 

Read our full Sony a6100 review.

Best Sony mirrorless cameras

(Image credit: Sony)

2. Sony a6000

The best Sony mirrorless camera for beginners

Specifications
Sensor size: 24 MP
Autofocus points (phase/contrast): 179/25
AF features: Lock-on AF, Eye AF
Max video resolution: 1080p
Image stabilization: None
Electronic viewfinder: 1440K SVGA
Display: Tilting LCD
Battery life: 360 shots
Reasons to buy
+Fast continuous shooting and autofocus+Compact +Multiple custom control options+Above-average image quality
Reasons to avoid
-Vast array of camera settings-Noise reduction can be excessive-Clunky adjustment of focus point selection

Now that the a6100 is out, the Sony A6000 is showing its age — it can only shoot video at a max of 1080p, and its rear tilting LCD is not touch-enabled — but for a starting price less than $500 — including the lens — it makes for the best Sony mirrorless camera for beginners. 

That's because the a6000 takes great images for the price, and though its menu structure — as with all Sony cameras — is Byzantine, it has a good number of in-camera tutorials for novice shooters. 

Read our full Sony a6000 review.

 

Best Sony mirrorless cameras: Sony a6600

(Image credit: Sony)

3. Sony a6600

Headphone jack, image stabilization and a long battery life

Specifications
Sensor size: 24 MP
Autofocus points (phase/contrast): 425/425
AF features: Real-time tracking, Eye AF, Animal Eye AF
Max video resolution: 4K
Image stabilization: 5 axis
Electronic viewfinder: 2359K XGA
Display: 180-up/74-degree down touch screen
Battery life: 810 shots
Reasons to buy
+Empty List
Reasons to avoid
-Empty List

The Sony a6600 is the successor to the very capable a6500, and not surprisingly has many of the same features that made its predecessor so good: A 24.2MP image sensor, in-body, five-axis image stabilization, which is great not just for low-light handheld photography but also for shooting videos, and a magnesium-alloy body that can withstand dust and moisture. 

However, the a6600 has a faster processor, a more robust autofocus system, so it's better able to track moving subjects, and its battery life is more than double that of the a6500. Additionally, the a6600 has a headphone jack, so you can hear what the camera's audio is recording.

Read our full Sony Alpha a6600 review.

Best Sony mirrorless cameras

(Image credit: Sony)

4. Sony a6500

Image stabilization built in

Specifications
Sensor size: 24 MP
Autofocus points (phase/contrast): 425/169
AF features: Lock-on AF, Eye AF
Max video resolution: 4K
Image stabilization: 5 axis
Electronic viewfinder: 2359K XGA
Display: Tilting touch screen
Battery life: 350 shots
Reasons to buy
+Excellent image and video quality+Tough construction+Can shoot 11 fps for more than 30 seconds+In-camera image stabilization
Reasons to avoid
-Awkward on-screen menus-Some noise at higher ISO

The a6500 was Sony's first mirrorless camera in this series with built-in image stabilization, which greatly helps when shooting video as well as photos in low-light conditions. Now that the a6600 is available, Sony is starting to phase out the a6500, making it harder to find, but it's at a lower price.

It's still a great camera, with a sharp electronic viewfinder, 4K video, and a tilting touchscreen. It also has a magnesium alloy body, making it better able to withstand the occasional bump. If you want image stabilization for less than $1,000, this is the camera to get—while supplies last.

Read our full Sony a6500 review. 

Best Sony mirrorless cameras: Sony a6400

Sony a6400 (Image credit: Sony)

5. Sony a6400

This mirrorless model was made for selfies

Specifications
Sensor size: 24 MP
Autofocus points (phase/contrast): 425/425
AF features: Real-time tracking, Eye AF, Animal Eye AF
Max video resolution: 4K
Image stabilization: None
Electronic viewfinder: 2359K XGA
Display: 180-up/74-degree down touch screen
Battery life: 410 shots
Reasons to buy
+4K video+Touch focus+Excellent performance+USB charging
Reasons to avoid
-Limited touch-screen capabilities-LCD not fully articulated-No in-body stabilization-Dense menu system

The a6400 was Sony's first mirrorless camera with a display that could flip 180 degrees vertically, which makes it easier for those taking videos or photos of themselves to compose a shot. However, we found that this feature isn't all that helpful, as the camera's body and lens blocks a good portion of the screen.

The A6400 also lacks in-body image stabilization, making it less of a value than the a6500, which can currently be found for less. However, we found that the a6400 produced excellent photos, good 4K video, and overall was a very good performer.

Read our full Sony A6400 review

Best Sony mirrorless cameras: Sony a6300

Sony a6300 (Image credit: Sony)

6. Sony a6300

An older, less sophisticated model with 4K video

Specifications
Sensor size: 24 MP
Autofocus points (phase/contrast): 425/169
AF features: Lock-on AF, Eye AF
Max video resolution: 4K
Image stabilization: None
Electronic viewfinder: 2359K XGA
Display: Tilting LCD
Battery life: 400 shots
Reasons to buy
+Stellar photo quality+Razor-sharp 4K movies+Extremely quick autofocus+High-res OLED viewfinder
Reasons to avoid
-Confusing menu system-So-so, nontouch-screen LCD

The a6300 has been one of the best Sony mirrorless cameras for a few years, but it's showing its age, and is being phased out by Sony. It takes excellent photos, can record 4K video, has a high-resolution viewfinder, an external mic jack, and a solid alloy body.

However, this camera is lacking in some newer niceties. For instance, it lacks the same number of contrast-detection points and has a less-capable subject-tracking autofocus than the less expensive a6100. And, while the a6300's LCD can tilt, it's not touch sensitive. 

Read our full Sony A6300 review.

Best Sony mirrorless cameras: Sony A5100

Sony A5100 (Image credit: Sony)

7. Sony a5100

The original

Specifications
Sensor size: 24 MP
Autofocus points (phase/contrast): 179/25
AF features: Lock-on AF, Eye AF
Max video resolution: 1080p
Image stabilization: None
Electronic viewfinder: None
Display: Tilting LCD
Battery life: 400 shots
Reasons to buy
+Pocket-size design+Fast, accurate autofocus+Smooth video+Built-in tutorials for novices
Reasons to avoid
-Important settings buried in menus-Doesn't take external flash or microphone

Sony's first foray into mirrorless cameras, the a5100, is now very inexpensive, but it lacks a lot of features many have come to expect, including an electronic viewfinder, touch-screen display and 4K video. Still, at less than $500, it could be a good model for kids who want to learn more about photography.

Read our full Sony A5100 review.