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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.

Mike Prospero

Michael A. Prospero is the deputy editor at Tom’s Guide overseeing the smart home, drones, and fitness/wearables categories. When he’s not testing out the latest running watch, skiing or training for a marathon, he’s probably using the latest sous vide machine or some other cooking gadget.