The History of Sony Cameras

Sony's camera experience takes off in the digital age

Sony Cyber-Shot G3


Unlike most digital camera manufacturers, Sony was not a major player in the film camera market before beginning to make Sony cameras in digital form. 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
Wikimedia Commons/Kārlis Dambrāns

Sony's History

Sony was founded as Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo in 1946, which 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, followed by a portable CD player, called the Discman, in 1984—both of which were huge innovations in the consumer electronics marketplace.

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

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

Today's Sony Offerings

Sony customers find digital cameras aimed at beginner, intermediate, and advanced users.


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



Sony offers mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras, such as the Sony NEX-5T, which use interchangeable lens cameras like a DSLR, but which do not have a mirror mechanism inside the camera to allow for use of an optical viewfinder, which allows the mirrorless models to be smaller and thinner than a DSLR. Such cameras provide good image quality and plenty of advanced features. Although the NEX line is not considered quite as advanced as a DSLR camera, the A7 and A9 models are widely used by photography professionals.

Advanced Fixed Lens

Sony also has turned some of its attention to the advanced fixed lens portion of the market, where fixed lens cameras are constructed with large image sensors, allowing them to be very successful in creating high-quality images. Such models may especially appeal to a DSLR camera owner, who also would like a secondary camera that can still create great-looking images while being quite a bit smaller. Such advanced fixed lens cameras are very expensive—sometimes more expensive than an entry-level DSLR camera for beginners—but they still have some appeal, especially for portrait photographers.


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 more advanced models range in price from $250 to $500. Others are basic, low-end models, ranging in price from about $125-$250. Many Cyber-shot models are colorful, giving consumers many options. However, Sony has almost completely exited this area of the digital camera market, so you'll have to look for some 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 both 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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