Should I buy a Sony compact camera?

When you’re on the lookout for a new camera, you're likely to see Sony compact cameras pretty heavily discounted when there's a sale on.

These usually won't the latest and greatest compacts in Sony's range, like the high-end Cyber-shot RX100 VI, which tend to hold their premium price during these periods, but older models.

Don't be put off though. Sony has a habit of retaining very capable older models in its range, so there's pretty much guaranteed to be a compact camera to suit your budget. 

For example, the RX100 VI may be the newest model in the RX100 series of cameras, but Sony still markets the original RX100, along with the RX100 II, RX100 III, RX100 IV and RX100 V. 

A lot of tech for your cash

Sony transformed the compact camera market with the original RX100. It was a pocket-sized compact camera, but rather than having a small 1/2.3-inch sensor, Sony equipped the RX100 with a much larger 1-inch sensor with a decent 20.1MP resolution. This enabled the little RX100 to deliver excellent images – not quite good enough to rival those from mirrorless or DSLR cameras, but still very good, and considerably better than those from a smartphone.

Since then, while the resolution has remained the same on newer models, the sensor has been tweaked and refined to deliver even more impressive results. 

As you might expect from a Japanese tech giant, many Sony compact cameras feature 4K video capture, while most models feature Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity options to make it relatively easy to share images.   

Performance can also be pretty impressive, with some models featuring advanced autofocusing systems that would put some mirrorless or DSLR cameras in the shade, while they can also shoot a rapid burst of frames if needed. 

The downsides? Sony has been a bit slow to embrace touchscreen control on its cameras, with only the latest models offering this feature, and with quite limited integration as well – its touchscreens are only really useful for selecting focus, tap shutter and swiping through images. The control layout on some models can be a little fiddly, making it tricky to access certain settings.

Sony compact camera reviews

There's a plethora of Sony compact cameras, from cheap and cheerful entry-level models to high-end advanced bridge cameras. Here are some of the models to look out for. 

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 review:

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 review: This was a game-changing compact that was the first Sony compact to feature a 1-inch sensor. Launched in 2012, but a great budget buy.

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II review:

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 II review: Keeps many features of the original camera, including the 28-100mm lens, but additions include a tilt-angle rear display and uprated 20.1MP sensor.

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III review:

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 III review: A big change from the Mark II, with a new 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 zoom lens and built-in retractable electronic viewfinder (EVF), while the sensor is also improved.

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 IV review:

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 IV review: Decent performance increase over the Mark III thanks to a stacked BSI 1-inch sensor, delivering 16fps burst shooting, while the viewfinder has a higher resolution.

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 V review:

Sony Cyber-shot RX100 V review: Sony improved the sensor again, with the Mark V capable of shooting at 24fps and featuring a very clever 315-point autofocus system.

Sony Cyber-shot RX10 review:

Sony Cyber-shot RX10 review: Sony's first bridge camera with a 1-inch sensor like the RX100, sporting a 24-200mm lens with a fast constant maximum aperture of f/2.8.

Sony Cyber-shot RX10 II review:

Sony Cyber-shot RX10 II review: Builds on the RX10 with a number of improvements including an higher-resolution electronic viewfinder, 4K video capture and 14fps burst shooting.

Sony Cyber-shot RX10 III review:

Sony Cyber-shot RX10 III review: It's all change with the Mark III, with a new 24-600mm zoom lens with a variable f/2.4-4 maximum aperture, while performance is improved with a new sensor.

Phil Hall

Phil Hall is an experienced writer and editor having worked on some of the largest photography magazines in the UK, and now edit the photography channel of TechRadar, the UK's biggest tech website and one of the largest in the world. He has also worked on numerous commercial projects, including working with manufacturers like Nikon and Fujifilm on bespoke printed and online camera guides, as well as writing technique blogs and copy for the John Lewis Technology guide.