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The best Canon camera in 2021: Canon's DSLR, mirrorless and compact cameras

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best Canon camera
(Image credit: Canon)

Trying to choose the best Canon camera? Then you're in luck, because there are plenty of them in just about every flavor. From amateur to advanced, pleasure to professional, DSLR to mirrorless and stills to video, Canon has a camera system that's perfect for you.

So, to help you identify the best Canon camera for you, we've split this guide into three distinct sections. There's one for traditional DSLRs (ideal for beginners and enthusiasts, going all the way up to pros), one for mirrorless cameras (which are rapidly taking over from DSLRs in popularity) and one for pocketable point-and-shoot cameras (ideal for folks who want photography without the fuss).

The recent Canon EOS R5 and Canon EOS R6 have been the talk of the town, and for good reason; they're two of the best cameras ever made. Both are aimed at advanced users and professionals (though top-tier pros may want to hold on for the Canon EOS R3, with its 30fps shooting and eye-control AF), and are equally adept at stills photography and video – demonstrating how the camera market is quickly fusing these two fields into a new breed of "hybrid" camera.

The manufacturer's decidedly smaller, APS-C line of mirrorless cameras remains formidable as well, whether it's the 32.5MP powerhouse Canon EOS M6 Mark II or the ever-popular vlogger's best friend, the Canon EOS M50 Mark II

If size is your thing there's a huge range of compact cameras, with everything from the affordable Canon IXUS 185 to the pocket rocket Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III. And of course, DSLRs are still alive and kicking, with the workhorse Canon EOS 5D Mark IV still a perennial favorite with pros, and the Canon EOS 6D Mark II being a great way to cut your teeth in full frame shooting. 

And when you need help getting to grips with your brand-new Canon camera don't miss PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine and some great subscription deals – it's Canon-centric and full of tips and tutorials purely for Canon EOS users to help you take better photos.

You can use the navigation bar to jump straight to your chosen section or just scroll down to browse our picks for the best Canon cameras you can buy right now!

The best Canon camera in 2021

Canon DSLRs

Lots of people will tell you DSLRs are old-fashioned and that mirrorless cameras are the future, but DSLRs still have a lot to offer, including chunky, grippable bodies, clear optical viewfinders, great battery life and good value for money. Canon's DSLRs are split into APS-C cameras aimed at beginners and enthusiasts, and full frame cameras aimed at experts and pros – and we've picked out two of each. Read our guide to the best DSLRs if you're a DSLR fan.

(Image credit: Canon)

The Rebel SL3 is small and simple to get started with, but full of features

Specifications
Type: DSLR
Sensor: APS-C
Lens mount: Canon EF-S
Screen: 3in vari-angle touchscreen, 1,040,000 dots
Max burst speed: 5fps
Max video resolution: 4K UHD at 25p
Reasons to buy
+A lightweight, intuitive DSLR+Superb Live View shooting
Reasons to avoid
-Larger than mirrorless rivals-Relatively few AF points

The pint-sized Canon Rebel SL2 (or EOS 200D in Europe) was a really big seller, but its successor the Rebel SL3 (aka EOS 250D in Europe) improves on it in every way. In fact we believe it's the best Canon camera for beginners you can buy right now. Canon’s top-of-the range APS-C sensor with 24.1MP of resolution delivers excellent image quality, and Live View shooting with the LCD screen so easy and intuitive, with such good autofocus, that we’d actually say this is one of the only DSLRs where composing shots with the screen is as easy as with a mirrorless camera. Canon also packs in 4K video, which was missing from the previous SL2, wrapped up in an ergonomically designed DSLR body that's just about the smallest on the market. The new EOS Rebel T8i is a lot more expensive but only marginally more desirable.

(Image credit: Canon )

Brilliant for enthusiasts, the EOS 90D is both powerful and versatile

Specifications
Type: DSLR
Sensor: APS-C
Megapixels: 32.5MP
Lens mount: Canon EF-S
Screen: 3.0in touch, pivot 1,040,000 dots
Viewfinder: Pentaprism
Max burst speed: 10fps
Max video resolution: 4K
User level: Enthusiast
Reasons to buy
+Tremendous value+Fully articulated touchscreen
Reasons to avoid
-Pixel count causes noise issues-Unimpressive buffer capacity

The Canon EOS 90D is an astounding APS-C workhorse of a camera, available for a fantastic price. It combines the highest resolution yet seen in an APS-C sensor of 32.5MP, with high-speed frame rate of 10fps, and it also manages glorious uncropped 4K video – none of that irritating crop that has plagued Canon cameras in the past. Its handling and ergonomics are a joy, reminding us of why shooting on a DSLR is such an enjoyably tactile experience, and it's available for a welcome enthusiast price point – not to mention the fact that you get an optical viewfinder, which many people still prefer to the electronic viewfinders on mirrorless cameras. Rumours of the DSLR's death will have been greatly exaggerated if Canon keeps on producing models as good as this.

• Read more: Canon EOS 90D vs EOS 80D vs EOS 7D Mark II

(Image credit: Canon)

An affordable entry into full frame photography, and feature packed too

Specifications
Type: DSLR
Sensor: Full frame
Megapixels: 26.2MP
Lens mount: Canon EF
Screen: 3.2in touch, pivot 1,040,000 dots
Viewfinder: Pentaprism
Max burst speed: 6.5fps
Max video resolution: Full HD (1080p)
User level: Enthusiast
Reasons to buy
+Fully articulated touchscreen+Novice-friendly but powerful too
Reasons to avoid
-Full HD video not 4K-Bulkier than the EOS RP

The EOS 6D Mark II is Canon's cheapest full frame DSLR and the next step up from the EOS 90D. It might be affordable, but it's far from basic. The advantage of a full frame sensor is that it gives superior image quality, partly because you tend to get more megapixels, and partly because the pixels (photosites) are bigger and can capture more light. The 26-megapixel sensor in the EOS 6D Mark II offers a useful advantage over 24-megapixel cameras, it has a powerful 45-point AF system for viewfinder shooting and Canon's Dual Pixel CMOS AF for live view photography, and it has a decent 6.5fps continuous shooting speed. What we really love is the streamlined handling and control layout and the fully articulating rear screen. If you can afford the extra over the APS-C format EOS 90D (above), the EOS 6D Mark II would be our top recommendation as the best Canon camera for enthusiasts.

(Image credit: Canon)

It's the camera countless pros use as their day to day workhorse

Specifications
Type: DSLR
Sensor: Full frame
Megapixels: 30.4MP
Screen: 3.0in fixed touchscreen, 1,620,000 dots
Viewfinder: Optical
Max burst speed: 7fps
Max video resolution: 4K
User level: Professional
Reasons to buy
+Great 61-point AF system+30.4MP sensor
Reasons to avoid
-Burst speed an average 7fps-Big crop factor for 4K video

While the EOS R mirrorless models in the next section offer new wave of stills and video features, the DSLR design still has lots of advantages – including a lag-free optical viewfinder, better handling with bigger lenses, and much better battery life. Pros have long embraced the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV as a sturdy, versatile workhorse, and we believe it's even been used to film scenes on the hit TV show The Mandalorian, and while some predict it's the end of the line for the EOS 5D DSLR series, the 5D Mark IV is likely to be one of the best cameras for professionals for some time to come. It's not a specialist camera designed to do a single type of work, but a robust all-rounder that can turn its hand to almost any assignment. The 61-point autofocus system is fast and powerful, and Canon's Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology makes Live View AF fast and snappy too. The 30.4-megapixel resolution isn't the highest, but it gives a great balance of resolution and low-light, low-noise performance.

Read more: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV vs EOS 6D Mark II

(Image credit: Canon)

This pro DSLR is still the bee's knees for sport photography, but pricey!

Specifications
Type: DSLR
Sensor: Full frame
Megapixels: 20.1MP
Lens mount: Canon EF
Screen: 3.2in fixed, 2,100,000 dots
Viewfinder: Pentaprism
Max burst speed: 16fps / 20fps
Max video resolution: 4K
User level: Enthusiast/Professional
Reasons to buy
+Super-fast, reliable shooting+Uncropped 4K
Reasons to avoid
-Fixed LCD screen-Expensive, of course

The amazing Canon EOS-1D X Mark III turned out to be much, much more than we were expecting. Not only is it an update to the 1D X workhorse series beloved by professionals worldwide, it's also an important step forward for DSLRs generally, boasting deep-learning AF, uncropped 4K (something that had been missing from Canon cameras for quite some time), a revamped control system and much more besides. If you need a camera that just shoots and shoots, with whip-smart AF and an indomitable burst rate... well, you probably don't need us to tell you twice. But we'll do it anyway: the Canon EOS-1D X Mark III is an astonishing camera. We do hear talk that it could be the last pro Canon sports DSLR and that its replacement will be mirrorless, but in this game, nothing happens until it happens!

Canon mirrorless

As with its EOS DSLRs, Canon now makes mirrorless cameras in two sizes. This time, though, they use different lens mounts and are aimed at very different users. The smaller APS-C EOS M cameras are for non-professional hobbyists and beginners (though they also appeal to bloggers and vloggers). The newer, full frame EOS R models use a new RF lens mount and are designed for professionals and advanced amateurs. Canon's not the only company making mirrorless cameras, of course – read our guide to the best mirrorless cameras for more.

(Image credit: Canon)

Canon's mid-range mirrorless camera is the best buy for beginners

Specifications
Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: APS-C
Lens mount: Canon EF-M
Screen: 3in vari-angle touchscreen, 1,040k dots
Max burst speed: 10fps
Max video resolution: 4K UHD
Reasons to buy
+Built-in electronic viewfinder+Good articulating touchscreen
Reasons to avoid
-Compromised 4K video-Simplified exterior controls

On the surface this is a modest upgrade over the original Canon EOS M50, but the additions make it worth picking up over its predecessor. These include improved autofocus (along with eye detection in stills and video), along with big boons for video shooters in the form of clean HDMI out, vertical video recording and the ability to livestream direct to YouTube. Alas, while it's an excellent 1080p camera, it's a poor option for 4K – which loses Dual Pixel AF (left lumbered with contrast detect) and suffers a 1.6x crop. However, it packs a lot of other tech into its compact body, including a great 24.1MP sensor, 10fps shooting, and the fact that it has a viewfinder (which many similarly priced mirrorless cameras lack). This is a cute and easy to use camera that's really rather versatile, and it's a great mirrorless alternative to the Canon Rebel SL3/EOS 250D, but offers similar features in a smaller camera. 

(Image credit: Canon)

Canon's top EOS M is a vlogger's dream but also offers 32.5MP stills

Specifications
Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: APS-C size
Megapixels: 32.5MP
Screen type: 3in tilting touchscreen LCD, 1.04million dots
Viewfinder: No
Maximum continuous shooting speed: 30fps
Max video resolution: 4K
User level: Beginner
Reasons to buy
+Amazing 14fps /30 fps burst+Impressive 32.5MP APS-C sensor
Reasons to avoid
-No built-in viewfinder-EF-M lenses still limited

The EOS M series has in the past often felt a little like the unloved child of the Canon family. Happily, with the advent of the EOS M6 Mark II, the firm can finally be said to be taking its APS-C mirrorless line seriously. The M6 Mark II sports a powerhouse of a sensor in the form of a 32.5MP APS-C chip, and can burst-shoot at 14fps or up to 30fps in RAW Burst mode. Then there's also uncropped 4K video, an expandable ISO maximum of 51,200 and a high-resolution tilting touchscreen. M-series cameras in the past have been appearing to attempt to carve out a niche as decent second cameras, but the M6 II makes a convincing case to be your primary camera, and it's really only the slightly meagre M-series lens selection that holds it back. Be aware that it doesn't have a viewfinder built in – there is a clip-on EVF, though, so make sure that's included in the deal when you buy.

(Image credit: Canon)

Full frame cameras don't come much cheaper, or cuter, than this

Specifications
Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: Full frame CMOS
Megapixels: 26.2MP
Monitor: 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1,040k dots
Continuous shooting speed: 5fps
Viewfinder: EVF, 2.36 million dots
Max video resolution: 4K UHD
User level: Enthusiast
Reasons to buy
+Size, weight and low cost+Fully articulating screen
Reasons to avoid
-1.6x crop and no Dual Pixel AF in 4K-Weak battery life

The EOS RP was Canon's second full frame mirrorless camera, and it's smaller, lighter and a lot cheaper than all of the others. It's designed to be a compact, affordable and easy to use entry point into Canon's full frame mirrorless system, and it succeeds brilliantly. Its small dimensions mean it can sometimes feel overbalanced by larger lenses, though, and the 4K video mode comes with some caveats – the image frame is cropped by a factor of 1.6 and you can't use Canon's speedy Dual Pixel CMOS AF system unless you drop the resolution to full HD. On the upside, the pictures are clear and sharp, the vari-angle touchscreen display is a real advantage for both stills and video, and the inclusion of an EF lens adaptor means you can use existing Canon DSLR lenses alongside the new but growing RF lens system. What a great camera! Is this the best Canon camera for enthusiasts? We think it's right up there with the EOS 6D Mark II DSLR.

(Image credit: Canon)

One of the best all-rounder cameras around, with class-leading AF

Specifications
Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: Full frame CMOS
Megapixels: 20.1MP
Monitor: 3-inch fully articulating touchscreen, 1,620k dots
Continuous shooting speed: 12fps mechanical shutter, 20fps electronic shutter
Viewfinder: 0.5-inch OLED EVF, 3,690k dots, 100% coverage
Max video resolution: 4K UHD
User level: Enthusiast/professional
Reasons to buy
+Mind-blowing autofocus+Superb stabilisation
Reasons to avoid
-Is 20MP enough?-4K recording limits

The EOS R6 is the serious enthusiast's model of the EOS R series, taking the place of the slightly muddled EOS R, and for those who don't need the leading-edge tech and resolution of the EOS R5 (more on which below). Its combination of speed, vieeo and low light capabilities give it professional appeal too. What you get on the EOS R6 is a top shooting speed of 20fps, and autofocus that borrows the deep-learning tech from the EOS-1D X Mark III, meaning it gets better as you use it. The resolution is just 20.1MP, which might be too low for some tastes, but this means the pixels are larger, for better low-light performance. Indeed, the R6 even edges out the R5 in this department, with a standard ISO range of 100-102,400 that's expandable to 50-204,800. When you combine this with the introduction of Canon's 5-axis in-body image stabilisation system that provides up to eight stops of effective compensation, this is a seriously capable low-light camera.It's still pretty pricey, being relatively new and all, but the EOS R6 is an amazingly capable all-rounder camera, only let done slightly by a meagre megapixel count. If you need more pixels, then the camera for you is probably next on our list...

(Image credit: Canon )

The EOS R5's next-generation tech makes it a landmark camera

Specifications
Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: Full frame CMOS
Megapixels: 45MP
Monitor: 3.15-inch fully articulating touchscreen, 2,100k dots
Continuous shooting speed: 12fps mechanical shutter, 20fps electronic shutter
Viewfinder: 0.5-inch OLED EVF, 5,690k dots, 100% coverage
Max video resolution: 8K DCI or UHD at 30p
User level: Professional
Reasons to buy
+Incredible image quality+Exceptional 8K video
Reasons to avoid
-Recording limits-4K video is average

The EOS R5 is a technological bombshell. It's Canon's new flagship mirrorless camera, and at first glance seems to be trying to corner every segment of the market at once. It's got a brand-new 45MP sensor that produces images of incredible detail thanks to a new low-pass filter, as well as the class-leading autofocus system of the EOS-1D X Mark III, with a whopping 5,940 AF points for photography and 4,500 for video. Indeed, the EOS R5's video specs are nothing short of next-generation. Uncropped 8K Raw video internally at up to 29.97fps in 4:2:2 12-bit Canon Log or HDR PQ (both H.265) in both UHD and DCI – this is cinema-quality performance. But of course, there's a catch. You've likely heard about the pretty steep recording limits that afflict the EOS R5 when shooting both 8K and 4K. While firmware has been introduced to lessen the blow of this, there's no doubt that it's definitely a drawback to the EOS R5 as a professional video tool. 

Canon compacts

DSLR and mirrorless cameras are great, but sometimes you need something smaller, cheaper or just a bit simpler to use. Below you'll find our top two Canon compact cameras picks right now, but for a wider choice, see our guide to the best point and shoot cameras.

(Image credit: Canon)

11. Canon Elph 180 / IXUS 185 HS

The perfect point and shoot family camera, combining style and value

Specifications
Type: Compact
Sensor: 1/2.3in
Megapixels: 20MP
Lens: 28-224mm f/3.2-6.9
LCD: 2.7in, 230k dots
Maximum continuous shooting speed: 3fps
Max video resolution: 1280x720 (HD)
User level: Beginner
Reasons to buy
+Very easy to use+Slender body
Reasons to avoid
-Small, low-resolution rear screen-Average image quality

Not everyone needs professional features, full frame image quality, 4K video and interchangeable lenses. Sometimes you're just looking for a decent, simple and effective (and cheap!) little camera you can slip in a pocket and which the whole family can use. The little Powershot Elph 180 (known as the Ixus 185 in Europe) certainly passes that last test, and yet delivers some rather impressive specifications at the same time. One of the key advantages of a compact point and shoot camera over a smartphone is that you get a zoom lens, and the one on this camera has a massive 8x range, from 28-224mm. It uses a small 20-megapixel 1/2.3-inch sensor, so the picture quality is going to be adequate rather than great, but it's fine for family snaps and it can go up to ISO 1600 for shooting indoors or in low light. It even looks pretty smart, so the Elph is a really appealing (and did we mention cheap?) little snapshot camera.

Other popular Canon PowerShots:
Canon PowerShot SX740 HS review
Canon PowerShot SX70 HS review

(Image credit: Canon)

A pocket-sized camera with a flip-over screen for selfies and vlogging

Specifications
Type: Compact
Sensor: 1in
Megapixels: 20.1MP
Lens: 24-100mm (equiv.) f/1.8-2.8
LCD: 3in tilting touchscreen, 1,040k dots
Maximum continuous shooting speed: 30fps
Max video resolution: 4K UHD
User level: Beginner to intermediate
Reasons to buy
+Uncropped 4K with livestreaming+Large-aperture zoom lens
Reasons to avoid
-A little pricey-No viewfinder

When the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II proved unexpectedly popular with the vlogging community, Canon went all in and produced the G7 X Mark III, adding full uncropped 4K video and a 3.5mm microphone port. These features beautifully complimented lots of the strengths of the Mark II, which included a flip-out screen and a beautiful 24-100mm equivalent f/1.8-2.8 lens, making for an extremely solid all-around compact that'll do everything most vloggers need it to, and indeed many photographers, though the lack of an eye-level viewfinder is a bit of a shame. The Mark III is arguably still a little expensive, but if you can afford the outlay, you'll find it an extremely capable compact for video and stills alike.

(Image credit: Canon)

DSLR image quality in a compact body

Specifications
Type: Compact
Sensor: APS-C
Megapixels: 24.2MP
Lens: 24-72mm (equiv.) f/2.8-5.6
LCD: 3in vari-angle touchscreen, 1.04 million dots
Maximum continuous shooting speed: 7fps
Max video resolution: 4K UHD
User level: Enthusiast/expert
Reasons to buy
+Very compact for sensor size+Excellent image quality
Reasons to avoid
-Limited zoom range-Powered zoom mechanism

It might be pretty expensive for a compact camera, but the PowerShot G1 X Mark III manages to squeeze in the same 24-megapixel APS-C sensor in its compact body as you'll find in a lot of Canon EOS DSLRs and EOS M mirrorless cameras. What's more, it's also managed to equip the PowerShot G1 X Mark III with a pretty decent standard zoom, ranging from 24-72mm. It might be pretty modest for some tastes, but thanks to the fast maximum aperture of f/2.8 at the wide end, it makes it a pretty versatile option. There's also a decent electronic viewfinder and large touchscreen at the rear, while the handling is very nicely sorted, making this a great premium compact camera.

PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine

PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine is the world's only monthly newsstand title that's 100% devoted to Canon, so you can be sure the magazine is completely relevant to your Canon camera system. Every issue comes with free video tutorials and free ebook. Don't miss our Autumn / Fall subscription deal – you can get 3 issues for just £3 / $3.  

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James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a magazine and web journalist and started working in the photographic industry in 2014 (as an assistant to Damian McGillicuddy, who succeeded David Bailey as Principal Photographer for Olympus). In this time he shot for clients as diverse as Aston Martin Racing, Elinchrom and L'Oréal, in addition to shooting campaigns and product testing for Olympus, and providing training for professionals. This has led him to being a go-to expert for camera and lens reviews, photographic and lighting tutorials, as well as industry analysis, news and rumors for publications such as Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-PhotoDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and demonstrations at The Photography Show. An Olympus (Micro Four Thirds) and Canon (full frame) shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a particular fondness for vintage lenses and film cameras.