The best Canon camera in 2019: from DSLR to mirrorless to PowerShot and Ixus

Best Canon camera
(Image credit: Canon)

Choosing the best Canon camera can look pretty daunting when there are so many types to choose from! So we've split them up into DRLS, mirrorless cameras and Canon PowerShot compacts. Each type is right for someone, and we explain how to choose.

And if you're looking for bargains in general, you might also want to check out our guide to the best camera deals right now, too.

Canon is probably best known for its DSLR cameras, and does in fact make some of the best DSLRs on the market. These cover the full range of users, from entry-level models for beginners right up to full-on professional cameras for sports, fashion and press photographers. 

But mirrorless cameras are the new big thing right now, and Canon makes these too. It's probably not made such a splash with its APS-C format EOS-M mirrorless cameras it would like, but Canon's new EOS R and EOS RP full frame mirrorless camera are amongst the best mirrorless cameras you can get right now.

Read more: The best Canon camera lenses

Canon's DSLR and mirrorless cameras take interchangeable lenses, and that gives you a lot of photo-taking flexibility, but it's not what everyone needs. Sometimes a fixed-lens, or 'compact' camera will be a better choice than even the best DSLR or best mirrorless camera, either because it's smaller, cheaper or designed to do a specific job. Compact cameras are great for travel photography, camera novices or general family use.

So we've picked out our top three best compact cameras from Canon too, including the top model for experts, our favourite Canon travel camera and the best cheap Canon point and shoot camera for families.

Ready to find out which is the best Canon camera for you? Let's go!

Canon DSLRs

Lots of people will tell you DSLRs are old-fashioned and that mirrorless cameras are the future. Don't believe it! 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.

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1. Canon EOS Rebel SL3 / EOS 250D

It's brilliant for beginners, but powerful enough for enthusiasts too

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

A lightweight, intuitive DSLR
Superb Live View shooting
Larger than mirrorless rivals
Relatively few AF points

The pint-sized Canon Rebel SL2 (or EOS 200D) was a really big seller (you can still get it, in fact), but its successor the Rebel SL3 (aka EOS 250D) improves on it in every way. In fact we believe it's the best entry-level camera you can buy right now. Housing Canon’s top-of-the range APS-C sensor with 24.1MP of resolution, the Rebel SL2 delivers excellent image quality, while also packing in plenty of extra features. 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 capability, which was missing from the previous SL2, and there are all the expected bells and whistles you’d expect from a modern camera, including Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity, wrapped up in an ergonomically designed DSLR body that's just about the smallest on the market.

Read more: Canon EOS SL3 / Canon EOS 250D review

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2. Canon EOS 80D

It's the perfect all-round EOS for enthusiasts

Type: DSLR | Sensor: APS-C | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Lens mount: Canon EF-S | Screen: 3.0in touch, pivot 1,040,000 dots | Viewfinder: Pentaprism | Max burst speed: 7fps | Max video resolution: 1080p | User level: Enthusiast

Great features and handling
Fully articulated touchscreen
Full HD video not 4K
Prices staying high

If you're choosing a camera to that can take your photography to the next level, you're going to need one that's powerful enough and versatile enough to stay with you as you tackle a variety of assignments and perhaps go in directions you hadn't expected. This is where the Canon EOS 80D is just perfect, as one of the best DSLRs for enthusiasts. It's not Canon's cheapest DSLR, unfortunately, as prices have stayed strong, but it does offer an excellent set of all-round features. These include Canon's 24-megapixel Dual Pixel CMOS AF sensor, a full-articulating touchscreen display on the rear, 7fps continuous shooting capability for sports and action, a secondary info panel on the top plate and lots of customisation options. We hear a new replacement might be on its way, but there's nothing definite yet.

Read more: Canon EOS 80D review

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3. Canon EOS 6D Mark II

DSLR fans get full frame quality but small camera convenience

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

Fully articulated touchscreen
Novice-friendly but powerful too
Full HD video not 4K
Bulkier than the EOS RP

The EOS 6D II is Canon's cheapest full frame DSLR and the next step up from the EOS 80D. 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 6D 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 80D (above), the EOS 6D II would be our top recommendation as the best all-round Canon camera for enthusiasts.

Read more: Canon EOS 6D Mark II review

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4. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Canon's best all-round DSLR for pros, with great features and performance

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

Great 61-point AF system
30.4MP sensor
Burst speed an average 7fps
Big crop factor for 4K video

Lots of people are joining in the DSLR vs mirrorless debate saying that mirrorless cameras like the EOS R below are the only way forward. Yet the DSLR design still has lots of advantages, including a bright, clear, optical viewing system with no lag, better handling with bigger lenses, and much better battery life. Professionals in particular are very cautious about change, and it's likely the EOS 5D IV DSLR will 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 and powerful all-rounder that can turn its hand to almost any professional assignment. The 61-point autofocus system is fast and powerful, and Canon's Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology makes live view autofocus pretty 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: Specs compared

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 (EOS R) and advanced amateurs (EOS RP).

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5. Canon EOS M50

The mirrorless EOS M50 is smaller and lighter than any EOS DSLR

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: APS-C size | Megapixels: 24.1MP | Screen type: 3.2in vari-angle touchscreen LCD, 1.04million dots | Viewfinder: EVF, 2,36million dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 7fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Beginner

Vari-angle touchscreen
Built-in electronic viewfinder
Limited lens range
4K video limitations

Canon's mirrorless EOS M range has been a bit of a mixed bag in the past, as users try to figure out how it fits in with Canon's DSLR range and which type to go for. With the EOS M50, though, we think Canon has hit the sweet spot, with a camera that's easy to use for beginners but has an electronic viewfinder (so that you're not just reliant on the rear screen for composing pictures) and is being offered at an affordable price. The EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM kit lens has a retracting mechanism to make the camera smaller to carry around when it's not in use, and there is a small but handy selection of other EOS M lenses you can use with this camera. Hobbyists might want a wider lens choice, but if travel is your thing and a couple of lenses is all you need, the EOS M50 is great. It's just a shame the 4K video mode can't be used with Canon's speedy Dual Pixel CMOS AF system (regular full HD video doesn't have this restriction).

Read more: Canon EOS M50 review

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6. Canon EOS RP

Canon's cheapest full frame camera is small, versatile and rather good

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

Size, weight and low cost
Fully articulating screen
1.6x crop and no Dual Pixel AF in 4K
Weak battery life

The EOS RP is Canon's second full frame mirrorless camera, and it's smaller, lighter and a lot cheaper than the first, the EOS R. 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!

Read more: Canon EOS RP review

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7. Canon EOS R

Canon's first full-frame mirrorless camera means business

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Full frame CMOS | Megapixels: 30.3MP | Monitor: EVF, 3.69m dots, 100% coverage | Continuous shooting speed: 8fps | Viewfinder: EVF | Max video resolution: 4K UHD | User level: Enthusiast/professional

Great in low light
Dual Pixel AF
No in-body image stabilisation
Single card slot

The EOS R has met with a mixed reception, perhaps because it's going to take time for users to figure out where it fits in, but we reckon with its combination of resolution, features, pro build quality and keen pricing, it's going to make its own gap in the market! On paper, it looks a bit like a mirrorless version of the Canon EOS 5D IV digital SLR (above), but there are some important differences. One is that it has a much more advanced autofocus system with an amazing 5,655 focus points, another is that it has a brand new lens mount bringing the promise of new and exotic lens designs. What we really like, though, is that Canon has also made lens adaptors that let you fit your existing Canon EF and EF-S lenses, so it's easy to add the EOS R to an existing Canon system.

Read more: Canon EOS R review

Canon compacts

DSLR and mirrorless cameras are great, but sometimes you need something smaller, cheaper or just a bit simpler to use. These are our top three Canon compact cameras right now, aimed at three different kinds of photographer.

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8. Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II

This Canon brings a big step up in quality but only a small step up in size

Type: Compact | Sensor: 1in | Megapixels: 20.1MP | Lens: 28-84mm f/2-4.9 | LCD: 3in, 1,040k dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 8.2fps | Max video resolution: 1920x1080 (Full HD) | User level: Beginner to intermediate

Compact size
Easy to use
Zoom range is a little limited
No 4K video recording

The Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II is a rather sophisticated looking point-and-shoot camera, courtesy of its rather minimalist yet traditional appearance and streamlined controls, which have the benefit of keeping this one’s chassis endearingly dinky. Despite this, it's something of a beast under the bonnet, with a 1in sensor (much larger than regular camera phone or point and shoot camera sensors) paired with a wide-angle 28-84mm equivalent lens, whose maximum aperture at wide-angle is a respectable f/2. There's no viewfinder, but the 3in LCD on the rear also responds to touch, which again ensures that physical controls can be kept to a minimum. To sum up, this is a neat-looking, well-specced compact camera that can produce vastly superior images to a smartphone, which justifies its place in the PowerShot lineup.

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9. Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III

Canon's top PowerShot model offers DSLR quality in a pocket-sized camera

Type: Premium compact | Sensor: APS-C | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Lens: 24-72mm (equiv.) f/2.8-5.6 | LCD: 3in articulating, 1,040k dots | Viewfinder: EVF, 2,360k dots | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 9/7fps | Movies: 1080 | User level: Intermediate/professional

APS-C sensor and image quality
Pocket-sized, weather-sealed body
200-shot battery life
Modest zoom range

If you're looking for a cheap family camera, keep going – we highly recommend the Ixus 185 below. The PowerShot G1 X III is a very different beast aimed at enthusiast and expert photographers who want the image quality and controls of a DSLR in a camera that can fit in a coat pocket. Many makers have tried, but none have come closer than this, as Canon has found a way to cram its 24.2-megapixel APS-C Dual Pixel CMOS AF sensor into a body scarcely larger than Canon's regular PowerShot cameras. Making the sensor fit was only half the battle, as Canon's designers also had to figure out how to make a DSLR-size zoom lens fit a pocket camera. The result is a retracting 24-72mm f/2.8-5.6 lens which combines remarkable miniaturisation with equally remarkable edge-to-edge image quality. All this advanced design and technology is expensive (of course) and the 3x zoom range could prove a limitation, but this is still a superb premium compact camera.

Read more: Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III review

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10. Canon Ixus 185 HS

A cheap point and shoot family camera with a 20MP sensor and 8x zoom

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

Very easy to use
Slender body
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 Ixus 185 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 Ixus 185 is a really appealing (and did we mention cheap?) little snapshot camera.

Read more: Best point and shoot camera

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