In this post, we’ll look at the best low-budget Sony APS-C mirrorless cameras for photography, video and live streaming in 2022!
Sony makes a lot of APS-C cameras, at a large range of prices, so knowing which is best for each type of content can get confusing fast. So if you’re looking at getting into mirrorless cameras then we’re going to focus on the budget end of this range, looking at the prices and features so you can make an informed decision!
I’ve been using Sony APS-C cameras for over 5 years now, and the first camera I got was the Sony a5100.
The a5100 is at the lower end of prices we’ll look at today.
Picking one up new will cost around £450/$450 Now this is around £100 more than I paid for it new 5 years ago. Even second hand the prices are around $300-$350, which is only so high due to the global microprocessor shortage.
It can record 1080p video at 60fps and 24megapixel sensor making it a good all-rounder for photography, video, and streaming.
It is one of the smallest cameras on this list today, making it a perfect travel camera, or to mount on a desk as a live streaming camera. And it has a flip-up screen great for vloggers
The XAVC-S video format means you can get 50 Mbps data rate which provides more detail and control highlights better than the other video format AVCHD. This alone is a massive plus for video creators. Though it doesn’t have in-body stabilization, which means footage will be shaky unless you’re using a lens with built-in stabilization.
So the a5100 isn’t without flaws, its getting old first released in 2014, does not support 4k, and is prone to overheating shutting down when recording video
It’s also missing a 3.5mm audio jack input, has an old autofocus system and has no silent shooting.
So isn’t perfect and its new price is around £450/$450 but if the 2nd hand prices start coming back down to around $200 then this camera is an amazing entry point into Sony cameras but is still easily good enough quality for a lot of uses I still use my a5100 all these years later and is still a great option for Youtube videos, and photography alike. You can check out my full2022 review of it here.
The next on the list is the most popular Sony APS-C camera ever and that’s the a6000. And it a lot of ways it is remarkably similar to the a5100, coming out just a few months before it shares the same sensor and has the same specs in terms of video quality and photography.
So your decision on the best out of the two comes down to price and physical features.
Like the a5100 you should be able to pick one up new for around $450/£450 and 2nd hand for around £300/$300
It’s a larger body size to the a5100 as it has an electronic viewfinder in addition to the monitor. It also has a shoot mode wheel on the top of the camera, rather than just in the menus switch is very useful if you switch shoot modes often. I find it’s a better photography camera than the a5100 because of these features.
As mentioned, it supports 60fps 1080p video so if 4k is a deal breaker for you then a6000 won’t be a good fit. But I find it more than good enough for video and easy to use for photography with good picture quality.
Similar to the a500 and a5100 the lack of 3.5mm audio jack input, an old autofocus system, and no silent shooting is disappointing and shows this camera’s age. It also doesn’t have the touch-to-focus of the a5100 or a flip-up screen for vlogging which is another downside.
The a6000 is definitely showing its age, but if you can get one 2nd hand at a good price, the flexibility it gives, especially paired with a quality e-mount lens makes this a great all-rounder where you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the quality of photos and video it provides.
Next let’s talk about the Sony a6300, almost identical in dimensions to the a6000 the a6300 is a couple of years newer than the a6000, coming out in 2016, and because of this has fixed some of the issues found with the older cameras.
You should be able to find a6300 for around £450/$450 Used
It has 4K (UHD) video – @ up to 30p and 1080p at up to 120p
It has a microphone port not present on the a5100 or a6000
And also has many more autofocus points making autofocus faster and more accurate
A downside is picking an a6300 up new is very difficult or expensive at the moment so 2nd hand is the main way to go with this camera. But it’s more up to date specifications with 4k video as well as picture profiles including the flat S-Log2 and S-Log3 gamma curves, which means the a6300 should be a serious consideration for those focusing on video. It also doesn’t have a flip-up screen for vlogging.
Next, we’re going to talk about the Sony a6100, again very similar in size to the a6000 and a6300, making this another purely features a specs-based decision.
And don’t be fooled by the lower number 6100 vs 6300, the Sony a6100 is 3 years newer than the a6300, coming out in 2019, The naming is because it is the official replacement for the a6000.
New they cost around £750/$750 so quite a bit more expensive than the others, and moving to the top end of what I would call budget., 2nd hand you may be able to get one for around $650.
So what makes it stand out from the cheaper options?
Animal Eye AF Tracking, which makes for much more accurate autofocus being able to track an animal’s eye and keep it in focus.
It has a flip-up screen great for vloggers and is a plus point compared to the a6300. It also is the first camera on this list to not have its video recording length capped at 30 mins, of course, you can start another video straight away if you need continuous recording then the a6100 is a better option.
However it doesn’t offer the more professional picture profiles of the a6300 such as SLOG, so for video-focused users, this will be a downside.
If you’re looking for a brand new camera that has lots of new features without breaking the bank the a6100 is a great option, especially for photography.
This takes us to the last camera on this list and the only one not from the Alpha range, which is the Sony ZV-E10. This is the newest camera on this list coming out in 2021 and costing £750/$750 new. As this camera is so new there is little to no 2nd hand market, making it the most expensive camera we’re looking at today.
It is technically from Sonys vlogging range, hence the different naming convention, and a successor to the ZV-1. But in reality, its just like the alpha cameras, with its 24.3 megapixel sensor and e-mount lens system makes this camera really very similar to the others on this list.
And in terms of form factor, it’s somewhere between the a5100 and a6000, it doesn’t have an electronic viewfinder or shoot mode wheel, instead replaced by a more prominent video record button, this camera is definitely focused more on video. It has a flip-up, well flip around screen, It has 4K (UHD) video – at up to 30p and 1080p at up to 120p, it also includes picture profiles like SLOG and Cine making it the most feature-rich for video creators and vloggers.
This is the camera I personally use for the majority of my videos, the 4k looks crisp and clear, and primarily as a video creator, its focus on video makes it very appealing.
The lack of EVF is a downside as is the lack of a shoot mode wheel, making the camera a bit less practical for adjusting your settings and composing your shot quickly., Also and there are issues with the camera’s rolling shutter, which in basic terms can make your videos look wobbly when recording and moving the camera around, which isn’t great, especially for a newer camera.
So A good few options and in my opinion you should only buy the camera that’s right for your needs. For new photographers the a6000 is still great, it’s a great all-rounder and my budget pick for photography.
For a budget video camera, I’d go with the a5100, it’s cheap compact and has a flip-up screen meaning you can get started vlogging straight away. Just beware of the overheating which is sometimes an issue.
If 4k is a must then it’s a toss-up between the a6100, a6300, and the ZV-E10, all more expensive than the first two, but add lots of newer features that might make it worth it for you. But for a quick decision, If you’re favoring photography I’d go for the a6100, if you can find one at a good price the a6300 is a good all-rounder, and for video, the ZV-E10 would be my pick.
Of course, they’re all more expensive 2nd hand than you’d expect, but hopefully over the next few months prices will come and some better 2nd hand deals will be out there.
Are you looking to pick up a budget camera this year? Let me know!
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