The best Nikon camera in 2024: perfect cameras for beginners, enthusiasts and pros

Nikon cameras have been the starting point for tons of photo buffs diving into 'serious' photography. But they're not just for newbies – with Nikon cameras being the go-to brand for the best pros and enthusiasts too! 

This rundown zeroes in on Nikon's newest Nikon Z mirrorless camera like the groundbreaking Nikon Z8, but also features a few DSLRs that are still holding a place in Nikon's lineup. There are still a lot of DSLR fans out there, but with mirrorless tech reigning supreme, I would expect these to be phased out soon. 

Nikon's DSLRs can still charm with good features at a good price, as well as a rugged build and lens options galore. You can dig deeper into our DSLR vs mirrorless breakdown in full.

Nikon makes a wide range of cameras, covering everything from the prestige Nikon Z9, with features that will suit the most demanding of professionals, through to more everyday cameras such as the Nikon Z6 II, but also more casual photographers and vloggers with the Nikon Z50.

Now, I have skipped the Nikon CoolPix compact cameras here like the Nikon P1000, and it's insane 125x zoom – but don't sweat it, we've got other guides for the best point-and-shoot, best waterproof, and best bridge cameras.

Our guide splits the top Nikon cameras into best best cameras for every user – so without further ado, let's uncover the best Nikon camera for you!

Gareth Bevan headshot
Gareth Bevan

Gareth is the Reviews Editor at Digital Camera World, and the person in charge of testing the latest cameras from Nikon – most recently reviewing the latest Nikon Zf. With several years of experience as a photographer, he has learned a thing or two about cameras. Outside of photography, expect to find him cycling around London, or deep in a Netflix binge.

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The best Nikon camera in 2024

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The best Nikon camera overall

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)
The baby Z9

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: Full-frame
Megapixels: 45.7MP
Autofocus: 493-point hybrid phase/contrast detect
Screen type: 3-inch bi-directional tilting touchscreen, 1.04m dots
Maximum continuous shooting speed: 20fps
Movies: 8K
User level: Professional

Reasons to buy

+
8K 60p video resolution
+
120fps burst shooting

Reasons to avoid

-
Screen isn't fully articulated
-
High burst rates compromise resolution

The Z8 is being pushed by Nikon as "a baby Z9", with an almost identical feature set. The only real difference right now is that it has a more compact body (without the Z9's "pro" vertical grip and bigger battery) and it costs over a grand less. There is the option of adding a grip, too, should you need to carry an extra battery and have vertical control buttons

It's capable of 8K 60p video recording or 8K 30p with an enormous 2-hour record limit. Nikon decided to remove the mechanical shutter completely, which means the camera is capable of 120fps continuous shooting and has a max shutter speed of 1/32000 sec, which makes it perfect for sport and bird photography. 

The ferocious autofocus is capable of ten kinds of recognition: human eyes, faces, heads, and upper bodies; animal eyes, heads, and bodies; and cars, aircraft, planes, trains, and motorbikes. 

Overall, though, there is literally nothing this camera can't do: it gives you speed, resolution, ruggedness and video capability in one. And it's cheaper than the Z9.

Read more: Nikon Z8 review

The best Nikon camera for style

(Image credit: Gareth Bevan / Digital Camera World)
Best vintage-looking Nikon camera

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: FX
Megapixels: 24.5
Lens mount: Nikon Z
Screen: 3.2-in 2100k-dot vari-angle TFT touch-sensitive LCD
Viewfinder: 3690k-dot (Quad VGA) OLED
Max shooting speed: 14fps
Max video resolution: 4K 60p

Reasons to buy

+
Stunning retro design and build quality
+
Manual dials
+
Full frame sensor
+
Autofocus smarts from the flagship Z9

Reasons to avoid

-
Lack of matching lenses
-
Very Shallow grip
-
Articulating screen and hinge are not flush with the body

Don't let its vintage looks deceive you, the Nikon Zf is a fantastic modern digital camera. Internally, this is the closest to a new Z6 III right now, with its 25MP full-frame sensor and Nikon's cutting-edge Expeed 7 processor, the Zf offers much better autofocus and subject tracking, as well as solid 4K video performance.

I really love the Nikon Zf for its retro design which is sure to immediately win over any vintage camera enthusiasts. From the moment I laid my hands on this camera, it stirred up a wave of nostalgia for the bygone days of shooting film. The Zf body has a fantastic build quality with more substantial and robust brass dials, and a weighty feel reminiscent of the iconic Nikon FM2 that served as its inspiration.

I found that the Zf’s minimal grip is uncomfortable to hold for long periods, and wish I had a Smallrig extended grip when testing. Also, there is a lack of Nikon vintage-style lenses natively for the Z mount, which limits you to modern-looking Nikon lenses, or old Nikon lenses via a mount adapter, which spoils the aesthetic somewhat.

Read more: Nikon Zf review

The best Nikon camera for professionals

(Image credit: Phil Hall)
We find that some cameras win on specs, while some win through just being very, very good

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: Full frame CMOS
Megapixels: 45.7MP
Monitor: 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen, 2,100K dots
Continuous shooting speed: 10fps
Viewfinder: EVF, 3,690k dots, 100% coverage
Max video resolution: Uncropped 4K UHD up to 30p, cropped 4K UHD up to 60p
User level: Enthusiast/Professional

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent image quality
+
Lovely handling
+
5-axis IS system
+
Best-in-class build quality

Reasons to avoid

-
EVF resolution lower than rivals
-
Tilt-angle display, not vari-angle

The Nikon Z7 II was Nikon's flagship full-frame mirrorless camera until the mighty Z9 came along. Even so, while the Z7 II can't match the Z9's continuous shooting speed or 8K video, it delivers the same super-high resolution and easily enough sports shooting/video capability for everyday non-specialist use. 

This Mark II version brings dual memory card slots and faster processing but retains the excellent design and handling of the original, and Nikon's equally excellent in-body stabilization system.

Nikon has quickly built an impressive range of pro-spec Nikkor Z lenses, so the Z7 II makes an extremely good all-round camera for professional use – and Nikon's pricing is very competitive too. We really rate the Nikon Z7 II, not for any flashy, headline-grabbing specs but because it does everything really well at a good price.

Read more: Nikon Z7 II review

The best Nikon camera for beginners

Best retro-style camera

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: APS-C CMOS
Megapixels: 20.9MP
Monitor: 3.2-inch tilting, 1.04m dots
Continuous shooting speed: 11fps
Viewfinder: EVF, 2.36m dots
Max video resolution: 4K UHD at 30p
User level: Beginner/enthusiast

Reasons to buy

+
Glorious looks
+
Dial-based controls

Reasons to avoid

-
Z50 is cheaper
-
Few DX Z-mount lenses

This dreamy camera doesn't just look cool, it's also one of the best beginners to mid-range cameras around. With an APS-C sensor and a sophisticated processor, the  Nikon Z fc is a highly capable camera for image-makers of all stripes, even if it misses out on a few features like a built-in flash.

It's a little pricier than its stablemate the Nikon Z50, and if you don't care about looks then you may want to consider that camera instead, as it's basically the same deal. However, we're utterly charmed by the style and presentation of the Nikon Z fc. 

Can't resist the look and feel of the best retro cameras? Then look no further, the Nikon Z fc will suit you down to the ground. It does need a few more native DX format Nikon Z lenses, though.

Read more: Nikon Z fc review

The best Nikon camera for sports

(Image credit: James Artaius)
Best Nikon camera for professionals

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: Full frame CMOS
Megapixels: 47.5MP
Monitor: 3.2-inch, 2,100k dot 4-axis tilting touchscreen
Continuous shooting speed: 20fps RAW (up to 1,000 buffer), 30fps hi-res JPEG, 120fps lo-res JPEG
Viewfinder: EVF, 3,690k dots, 100% coverage
Max video resolution: 8K at 60fps
User level: Professional

Reasons to buy

+
120fps burst and deep buffer
+
8K 60p video
+
Deep-learning autofocus

Reasons to avoid

-
Only 11MP at 120fps
-
Some features arriving later

Here, at long last, is the shot across the bows of Canon and Sony – the Nikon Z9, the firm's latest pro mirrorless camera and a startling step forward for professional imaging. 

The Nikon Z9 boasts an intimidating set of features. It's capable of burst-shooting at a face-melting 120fps, for one, and its buffer can record a nominal 1,000 images per burst, with Nikon recording it being capable of as many as 5,000 when used with a high-spec CFExpress card.

It also uses deep-learning AF, meaning its focusing ability should get better over time, and the back-side illuminated sensor delivers superior low-light performance.

The Z9 has added a number of new significant features since launch, thanks to updated firmware. These include adding 8K video, increasing the pre-release buffer to 300 seconds, and the ability to set your camera up to shoot subjects automatically when they are in frame. 

Read more: Nikon Z9 review

The best Nikon DSLR camera

(Image credit: Future)
Some cameras just grow on you... and grow, and grow. The classic Nikon D850 does that for us

Specifications

Type: DSLR
Sensor: Full frame
Megapixels: 45.7MP
Monitor: 3.2-inch tilting, 2,360k dots
Viewfinder: Optical pentaprism
Continuous shooting speed: 7fps
Max video resolution: 4K UHD
User level: Professional

Reasons to buy

+
High MP and fast burst shooting
+
Solid, weather-sealed body
+
Better battery life than mirrorless models

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive

Mirrorless camera fans will often complain about the size and weight of DSLRs, and they have a point. The Nikon D850 is a big bruiser of a camera compared to the Nikon Z models. 

But this size works in your favor if you're shooting with big, heavy lenses, and most pro lenses are big and heavy! This is a handling factor that many mirrorless users don't take into account. Being a DSLR, the D850 has a bright, clear optical viewfinder that many photographers still prefer over a digital display, no matter how good the latter.

The D850's 45.7-megapixel sensor produces quite a superb image quality, yet it can still maintain a shooting speed of 7 frames per second or 9 frames per second with the optional battery grip. 

Even without the grip, the D850 has an amazing battery life of 1840 shots – far more than any mirrorless rivals – and it comes with two memory card slots; one for an XQD/CFexpress card and one for regular SD/SDHC/SDXC.

Read more: Nikon D850 review

The best Nikon camera for most people

Best hybrid camera

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: Full frame CMOS
Megapixels: 24.5MP
Monitor: 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen, 2100k dots
Continuous shooting speed: 14fps
Viewfinder: EVF, 3,690k dots, 100% coverage
Max video resolution: 4K UHD at 30p (60p via update)
User level: Enthusiast/Professional

Reasons to buy

+
Two memory card slots
+
Improved burst shooting
+
Superior AF performance

Reasons to avoid

-
No articulating screen
-
4K 60p video is cropped

The Nikon Z6 II is a light refresh of the original Z6, with a second memory card slot and a faster processor bringing a bump to burst shooting, now up to 14fps, and the ability to record 4K video at 60fps. it's a terrific all-round camera at a very good price, and this camera's build quality, design, and handling are excellent – as is its in-body stabilization.

The 24MP sensor sounds only a small step up from Nikon's 20.9MP APS-C mirrorless models, but in combination with the much larger full-frame sensor area, it delivers a big leap in image quality, especially in low light. If you're into vlogging and filmmaking, not just stills, this is the Nikon to get.

Read more: Nikon Z6 II review

The best Nikon camera for vlogging

(Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)
Best for vlogging

Specifications

Sensor: 20.9MP
AF points: 209-point hybrid
ISO range: 100-51,200 (exp. 204,800)
Video: Uncropped 4K UHD 30p
Memory card: SD/SDHC/SDXC, UHS-I
LCD: 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1040k dots
Max burst: 11fps
Connectivity: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, SnapBridge, USB-C, micro HDMI, microphone
Size: 128 x 73.5 x 59.5mm
Weight: 350g

Reasons to buy

+
Best-in-class build quality
+
Nikon’s most affordable Z camera
+
Proper vari-angle screen

Reasons to avoid

-
No headphone socket
-
Absent EVF limits stills potential
-
No in-body stabilization

While Nikon has aimed the Z30 firmly at a vlogger audience, with a focus on ease of use for shooting video, the underlying video specs are very similar to Nikon’s existing DX-format Z-series cameras. Likewise, it remains a very capable stills camera. If you’re looking for a dedicated point-and-shoot video camera that won’t break the bank, the Z30 offers arguably the best build quality in its price range.

Most of what the Z30 is lacking – IBIS, EVF, 4K 60p – can be explained away due to the camera’s very affordable price tag. If you’re of the generation of shooters happy to forego a viewfinder, the Z30 offers the cheapest route to the best Nikon Z lenses

If you can’t live without an EVF or mainly shoot stills, you could always try the Nikon Z50 or Nikon Z fc and their near-identical innards.

Read more: Nikon Z30 review

The best affordable Nikon FX camera

(Image credit: Adam Waring/Mike Harris)
Best entry-level camera

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: Full frame CMOS
Megapixels: 24MP
Monitor: EVF, 3,690k dots, 100% coverage
Continuous shooting speed: 4.5fps
Viewfinder: EVF
Max video resolution: 4K UHD at 30p
User level: Enthusiast

Reasons to buy

+
Easy to get to grips with
+
5-axis IS system

Reasons to avoid

-
Only 4.5fps burst shooting
-
4K video gets a 1.7x crop

It took Nikon a little while to come out with a really solid entry-level full-frame mirrorless camera, but the firm smashed it out of the park with the Z5. IT takes design cues from its pricier siblings, the Z6 and Z (more on which to come shortly), but makes some sensible additions like a beginner-friendly mode dial. It produces fantastic-looking images, and having a full-frame sensor with the sophisticated Z-mount is a tough combo to argue with.

It makes a few compromises, lacking the Z6's back-illuminated sensor, and suffering a 1.7x crop on its 4K video, but these sacrifices are what enable the Z5's real ace in the hole: its tempting price tag.

This camera represents significantly better value in our book than its rivals like the Canon EOS RP and Sony Alpha A7 II, and the price is continuing to drop, meaning it's worth considering over APS-C alternatives like the Z50 and the Z fc.

Read more: Nikon Z5 review

The best entry-level Nikon camera

(Image credit: Digital Camera World / Louise Carey)
Best Nikon camera for beginners

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: APS-C CMOS
Megapixels: 20.9MP
Monitor: 3.2-inch tilting, 1.04m dots
Continuous shooting speed: 11fps
Viewfinder: EVF, 2.36m dots
Max video resolution: 4K UHD at 30p
User level: Beginner/enthusiast