The best camera for beginners in 2024: perfect cameras for learning photography

.Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV
(Image credit: Future)

I used to teach photography, so I've been asked about the best camera for beginners for years. The answer has always been the same: one that's not too expensive but not missing features, is simple to use but capable of advanced shooting, and above all offers great image quality.  

Having used hundreds of cameras and helped train even more photographers since 2014, I recommend a mirrorless camera over a DSLR (more on that in the FAQs below), but the truth is that you can't buy a bad camera these days – any of my recommendations will do a great job. However, some are better than others depending on what exactly you want to shoot, whether that's stills, video, vlogs and so on.

James Artaius using a beginner camera, the Canon EOS R100
James Artaius

I started photography teaching and training in 2014, working with everyone from complete beginners to professionals looking to add a string to their bow. I also host talks on getting started with your camera and beginner photography equipment at national exhibitions like The Photography & Video Show. 

Why you can trust Digital Camera World Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out how we test.

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FeaturesIt has a killer AF system and guided menus for beginners, but lacks things like touch control, tilting screen and image stabilization.★★★
DesignSmall, sleek and simple – the body is ultra compact and lightweight, with a single control dial for ease of use.★★★★
PerformanceI can't fault the image quality or performance for stills, though 4K video does have compromises★★★★
ValueThis is unbelievably good value for money – for stills shooting, it has everything you need★★★★★
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FeaturesYou simply won't find more fully-featured camera in this category.★★★★★
DesignClassic film camera-styled design, with flipping selfie screen, and a tiny body – with tiny lenses! ★★★★★
PerformanceThis is a truly fantastic camera, but be aware that the physically smaller sensor lowers headroom for printing and ISO sensitivity.★★★★
ValueThis body packs the features of a much more expensive and advanced camera. ★★★★★
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FeaturesThe resolution is quite conservative, and there's no stabilization, but the image quality, AF and burst speed are impressive.★★★
DesignGorgeous retro film camera design, with a fully articulating screen – but no grip. ★★★★★
PerformanceThe lower pixel count means that the APS-C sensor has better low-light performance and dynamic range.★★★★
ValueThis is a decent value for a stylish APS-C camera, but less for a beginner camera.★★★
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FeaturesThe technology is five years old and DSLR-based, so features are pretty barebones next to any mirrorless camera.
DesignA small, sturdy DSLR with an articulating screen, this has great ergonomics.★★★★
PerformanceFor stills, this is a great camera – but there are numerous video compromises, so look elsewhere if that's your main interest.★★★
ValueThe EOS R100 now offers better value, but this is still great bang-for-buck.★★★★★
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FeaturesBuilt-in ND filters, RAW imaging and 2GB storage are all great – but video is only FullHD and you can't change lenses.★★★
DesignTruly pocketable, yet still features three exposure dials and touch interface – but no viewfinder.★★★★★
PerformanceFantastic for photographs, but this definitely isn't a video camera – and battery life is quite austere.★★★
ValueAn expensive option for what it offers, but it's also a very specialist street camera.★★
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FeaturesExtra-large microphone, articulating screen, superb AF.★★★★★
DesignAn impressively small camera that manages to keep all the important controls along with an articulating screen – but no touch input or viewfinder.★★★★
PerformanceThe stabilization and rolling shutter aren't the best, but with a gimbal the quality is very good.★★★★
ValueSony's cheapest APS-C body, this is as feature-packed as it is aggressively priced for videography.★★★★★
James Artaius

The editor of Digital Camera World, James has 21 years experience as a 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 like 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, photo and lighting tutorials, as well as industry news, rumors and analysis for publications like Digital Camera MagazinePhotoPlus: The Canon MagazineN-Photo: The Nikon MagazineDigital Photographer and Professional Imagemaker, as well as hosting workshops and talks at The Photography Show. He also serves as a judge for the Red Bull Illume Photo Contest. An Olympus and Canon shooter, he has a wealth of knowledge on cameras of all makes – and a fondness for vintage lenses and instant cameras.