The History of Sony Cameras

Sony's camera experience takes off in the digital age

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Unlike most digital camera manufacturers, Sony was not a major player in the film camera market before it entered the digital market. Sony cameras include the company's Cyber-Shot line of digital fixed lens cameras and their Alpha series DSLR and mirrorless ILCs.

Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX1

Kārlis Dambrāns / Wikimedia Commons

Sony's History

Sony was founded as Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo in 1946 and manufactured telecommunications equipment. The company created a paper-based magnetic recording tape in 1950, brand-named Sony, and the company became Sony Corporation in 1958.

Sony focused on magnetic recording tape and transistor radios, tape recorders, and TVs. In 1975, Sony launched its one-half-inch Betamax VCR for consumers. In 1984, it introduced a portable CD player called the Discman. Both represented enormous innovations in the consumer electronics marketplace.

The first digital camera from Sony appeared in 1988. Dubbed the Mavica, it worked with a TV screen display. Sony did not create another digital camera until the 1996 release of the company's first Cyber-shot model. In 1998, Sony introduced its first digital camera that used the Memory Stick external memory card. Most previous digital cameras used internal memory.

Sony's global headquarters are in Tokyo, Japan. Sony Corporation of America, which was established in 1960, is based in New York City.

Today's Sony Offerings

Sony offers digital cameras aimed at all levels of photographers, from beginner to intermediate to advanced.

DSLR Cameras

Advanced digital single-lens reflex cameras from Sony work with interchangeable lenses and are best for intermediate photographers and advanced beginners. However, Sony does not make a lot of DSLRs anymore, preferring to focus on mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras.

Mirrorless Cameras

Sony offers mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras that don't use mirror mechanisms to work with an optical viewfinder. Thus, they're smaller and thinner than DSLRs. Such cameras provide good image quality and plenty of advanced features.

Sony NEX 5T

Advanced Fixed Lens Cameras

Sony has also focused on making advanced fixed lens cameras with large image sensors, which produce high-quality images. Such models typically appeal to the DSLR camera owner who wants a smaller secondary camera that can still create great-looking images. Such advanced fixed lens cameras are expensive—sometimes more expensive than an entry-level DSLR camera—but still hold appeal, especially for portrait photographers.

Consumer Cameras

Sony offers its Cyber-shot point-and-shoot models with a variety of camera body types and feature sets. Ultra-thin models range in price from about $300 to $400. Some larger models offer high resolutions and large zoom lenses, and these advanced models range in price from $250 to $500. Others are basic, low-end models, ranging in price from about $125 to $250.

However, because of the ever-improving quality of smartphone cameras, Sony has pretty much exited this area of the digital camera market, so you'll have to look for older cameras if you want a Sony point-and-shoot model.

Related Products

On the Sony website, you can purchase a variety of accessories for Cyber-Shot digital cameras, including batteries, AC adapters, battery chargers, camera cases, interchangeable lenses, external flashes, cabling, memory cards, tripods, and remote controls, among other items.

Sony also makes consumer and professional-quality video cameras which are widely used in the movie-making industry, as well as home video arenas.

While Sony still manufactures many cameras, it does not participate in the point-and-shoot market as heavily as it once did. Plenty of Sony Cyber-Shot models are still available, either as closeout models or on the secondary market, so fans of Sony technology do have some options.

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