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Trusted Reviews may earn an affiliate commission when you purchase through links on our site. Learn More. Sony is the original master of full-frame and APS-C compact system cameras. Its Alpha range is not where the Sony mirrorless story began, but it has been home to the most important developments in interchangeable lens camera tech for the last six years.
But which should you buy? Pros: Accessible price Good image quality for the money Small body. The Sony Alpha A is the oldest entry-level E-mount camera you can still buy new. At over five years old, this is a budget mirrorless grandad. But it is still an excellent entry point for those ready to move on from phone photography. This lens is optically stabilised, which partly makes up for the lack of stabilisation in the body itself.
What did you expect for this kind of cash? The Alpha A is a mirrorless camera with a point and shoot feel, helped by its touchscreen control and selfie-friendly flip-up display. A lot of enthusiasts turned their noses up at the Alpha at its release, for almost the same reasons.
While this is a low-end APS-C mirrorless camera, the lens is the limiting factor, not really the camera itself. Pros: A little more flexible than the A Cons: Now an old model No 4K video. This is another golden oldie from the Alpha line-up. It was released in , a few months before the cheaper Alpha A The Sony Alpha A has the same megapixel sensor, and comes with the same mm kit lens at most retailers.
Image quality differences between the two is slight. This is a 1. The Sony A also has a hotshoe, which lets you slot in a flash. Sony ones should work, though. This camera gets you a significant speed upgrade over the Sony A, with 11fps burst instead of 6fps. Even five years on this still seems quick. The A fits the bill. The Sony Alpha A is the new replacement for the great-but-ageing A see above.
It has several important upgrades. It can shoot 4K video, although it tops out at 30fps rather than the 60fps you might hope for. The autofocus system has been updated too. Where the A has a point AF system, this one has point on-sensor AF with improved object tracking. Dig into the UI to get to grips with this if you end up with an A It works well as a point-and-shoot camera, but tracking AF is important for action photography, and you have to decide to use it.
This is very much a time-based refresh of the A, and not every part has been updated. The electronic viewfinder is a less-than-ideal k-dot OLED, for example. However, the A does replace all the parts of the Sony Alpha A that seem seriously outdated in Should you buy it over the A?
If they are remotely close in price, of course. It can shoot 4K video 30fps and fps slo-mo at Full HD. The EVF has been radically improved too. Resolution has been almost doubled to 2. All those years have seen Sony take a different approach to touchscreens too. Back in the day, few higher-end cameras had them.
The Sony Alpha A does, because so many of us are more comfortable with touch controls than dials. Or at least like to use them sometimes. The camera has a mic jack input, a massive boon for video work, This camera also has a higher-end weather sealed magnesium body.
A lot of the parts you hold may still have a textured plastic finish, but you can use the Alpha A in the rain with more confidence. For all these higher-end features, though, the A does not have in-body stabilisation unlike the even newer A below. This is an important consideration if you want a camera that works well handheld no matter the lens attached. Pros: Long battery life In-body stabilisation Headphone jack. Cons: Chunkier than other A-series models.
At the time of writing we have not yet fully reviewed the A, but it has the features you might miss in the A In-body stabilisation is probably the most important. The Sony A has five-axis stabilisation, which will let you use much longer exposures handheld.
This is the term Sony uses for its lenses with their own optical stabilisation. A bigger battery also means a bigger grip. In-body stabilisation can make a huge difference to the flexibility of your shooting, though. This is the right full-frame Alpha camera for many people. It has everything most serious handheld shooters would want. You can shoot 4K video at 30 frames per second, and even speed is excellent for a full-frame camera.
Max burst speed is 10fps. Like many more recent cameras, the AF system also sounds super-advanced compared to what we had just a few years ago. Pros: An affordable route to full-frame photography Full-frame image quality. Cons: No in-body stabilisation No 4K video Humble burst performance. The Sony Alpha A7 is ancient in tech terms. It was released in , but still has an important place on shelves today.
Which parts have aged badly? Video is limited too. The Alpha A7, like almost all cameras at the time, is limited to p capture.
You can shoot at 60p, though. You can talk all you like about the number of focus points 99 versus but speed and reliability matter most. Sony has pulled off the same trick here as it did with the brilliant RX compact series. The core abilities of the Alpha A7 are still good enough to make it compelling, relevant and desirable years after its launch. But the extras added to follow-up models are attractive enough to make you agonise over which to buy.
Pros: Great low-light video performance. Other cameras have caught up and the next one needs a big improvement to justify its existence. Its current model can shoot 4K video at 30 frames per second, and the relatively low-res megapixel sensor gives it better ultra-high ISO video detail than the Sony A7 III. However, the A7S II is no longer a hugely competitive option for most people. The cheaper A7 III beats it for stills quality, stabilisation and autofocus performance.
Found that deal? It does have some great video features like the SLog3 for better post-shoot colour grading, a solid 2. What killer features are expected in the new version? As it needs to clearly beat its siblings for video, above-4K capture, 60fps 4K and faster slo-mo at p are the top contenders. This is a high-resolution camera. Its megapixel sensor will show its real abilities when shooting in a studio environment with controlled lighting. It works everywhere, in part thanks to the built-in 5-axis stabilisation.
This is a high-performance full-frame camera. Its image quality is great in just about any real-world situation.
But should you upgrade to the Mark IV? Cons: Added resolution not a huge benefit in all conditions. The full-frame Sony E-mount range has three families in its 7-series. That idea has been maxed-out with the A7R IV. Sensor resolution has been increased from 42 megapixels to Its detail recovery, when able to use base ISO, will be immense.
This amounts to an entirely unexpected admission that noise creeps in much earlier than in a lower-res setup. However, burst shooting is incredibly fast considering the resolution, at 10fps. But is it overkill for most of us? Pros: Excellent burst performance Non-blackout viewfinde Big burst buffer. The Sony Alpha A9 was released in and is another camera due for an upgrade.