How do you choose the best camera when there are so many? We've made it easy by splitting cameras into categories to suit the many different kinds of photographers and skill levels, from beginners to pros, and from families to filmmakers.
If you already know what kind of camera you want, check out these buying guides:
• Best point and shoot camera
• Best camera for beginners
• Best camera for kids
• Best cameras for vlogging
• Best waterproof camera
• Best bridge camera
• Best mirrorless camera
• Best DSLR
• Best professional camera
• DSLR vs mirrorless cameras
• Best 4K camera for filmmaking
If you've been into photography for a while you probably have an idea of what kind of camera you need already. The world of photography is evolving and changing rapidly, though, to include cameras and even ways of shooting that we haven't seen before.
Our guide covers traditional pocket-sized point and shoot cameras that can be used by the whole family, through mirrorless cameras and DSLRs for novices and enthusiasts, right up to professional-spec DSLRs and mirrorless cameras.
But today's camera technology can do even more. The best camera drones capture superb video but are so simple to fly that almost anyone can do it. And today we capture our lives not just with photos but with video too, and apart from the many regular cameras that can also shoot video, there are new, hybrid vlogging cameras designed from the outset to do both.
A simple point and shoot camera might seem the obvious choice, but the best action cameras can do the same job from a radically different perspective. They're tough enough to survive all your adventures, small enough to take anywhere and simple enough for the whole family to use.
Regular action cams capture an ultra-wide, 'immersive' point of view, but there's a type of camera that goes wider still. 360 cameras use back-to-back 180-degree cameras to capture and stitch a full 360 view of the world around you. They are super-simple to use – it doesn't even matter where you point them! – but they let you capture spectacular panoramas and video of a kind that was never before possible.
We've broken our guide up into sections to help you find the camera that's right for you, whether you're a keen learner or a budding pro, whether you're interested in stills photography, video or both. Photographers and photography are evolving all the time, as traditional stills photographers learn to use videography and drones, and a new generation of vloggers and content creators use photography in a whole new way.
This best camera guide has been expanded to include cameras for vlogging and filmmaking, and action cameras. But maybe you don't need a regular camera at all? If you want to shoot photographs and video with a smartphone, take a look at our guide to the best camera phones right now.
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Canon EOS 2000D + lens |
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UK deal Who'd have thought you would be able to buy a DSLR camera and a lens at this sort of price! This two-year old model provides a 24-megapixel sensor, 9-point autofocus system, HD video shooting, and can link up wirelessly to your smartphone.
What camera should I buy?
When you're choosing the best camera, there are three things to think about:
- What do you want to photograph? If you're interested in photography as a hobby or a career you should think about a general-purpose DSLR or mirrorless camera. If you're interested in vlogging or filmmaking, then a video-orientated mirrorless camera is ideal or, if you're into adventure, a tough and rugged action camera could be the best choice.
- What's your skill level? If you're still learning about photography an entry level DSLR or mirrorless camera is ideal because the interchangeable lenses and manual controls will let your camera grow with you as you learn. Or, if you just need a simple camera for family use and you don't want to be bothered with technicalities, a point and shoot camera is all you need.
- What's your budget? The best camera need not cost a fortune. It's easy to get drawn into paying big bucks for features you don't need, so our guide includes affordable worthy alternatives, not just the best that money can buy!
If you're learning about photography for its own sake, as a hobbyist, student or budding professional, you should get a beginner-friendly DSLR or mirrorless camera. This will give you lots of creative control and lots of potential for the future. See also: the best cameras for beginners
The Nikon D3500 is a long-standing favorite of ours. It's by no means the most advanced DSLR you can get, but its simplicity, its controls and the quality of the images it can create make it our top recommendation for anyone just starting out. There’s a lot the D3500 doesn’t do – it has a fixed rear screen that’s not touch-sensitive, it doesn’t have hybrid on-sensor autofocus and it doesn’t shoot 4K video. But its 24-megapixel sensor delivers super-sharp, super-high quality images, Nikon’s latest AF-P retracting kit lens is a miniature marvel and focuses very fast in live view, even without on-sensor phase-detection autofocus. The D3500 handles well, it’s easy to use, it’s more powerful than it looks and it’s the perfect introduction to interchangeable lens photography.
The Canon EOS Rebel SL3 (called the EOS 250D in Europe) is a terrific camera for beginners, because although it costs a little more than entry-level models like the Nikon D3500, it has lots of features to make picture taking easier and more exciting, and the potential to take on more advanced projects as your skills grow. The 24-megapixel APS-C sensor delivers great results, but the star of the show is Canon's advanced Dual Pixel CMOS AF system, which makes the live view autofocus (when you use the rear screen rather than the viewfinder) extremely fast and responsive. Better still, the rear screen is both fully-articulating and touch-sensitive, so you can take pictures at all sorts of odd angles, and for the first time in a DSLR at this price it's possible to shoot 4K video – this is the perfect DSLR for bloggers and vloggers, not just regular photographers.
Read more: Canon EOS Rebel SL3 / EOS 250D review
With a new 20MP sensor, incrementally improved in-body image stabilization and a new flip-down and tiltable monitor, the new Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV is the best version yet of a camera we've been raving about for ages. Retaining the 4K video and attractive styling that made the Mark III so attractive to consumers, the Mark IV is set to be a new favorite for anyone looking for an entry-level camera that can do pretty much everything. This is one of our favorite pint-sized cameras ever, so we're really pleased that it has AT LAST got Olympus's latest 20MP sensor. It's still a little pricey for beginners, but this is a great little camera that's so much more powerful than it looks and could be with you for a long time to come.
Read more: Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV review
Travel and vlogging
Travel photography and vlogging are two of the biggest growth areas in photography and often go together. So what you need is a camera system that's compact and versatile, and equally good at both video and stills photography. Read more: Best travel cameras, Best cameras for vlogging, Best 4K cameras for filmmaking
Vloggers and content creators will enjoy the simplicity of the Lumix G100. It makes it easy to capture high-quality video and stills with its approachable button layout. Even people uninterested in the technicalities of capturing great-looking videos will be able to get results with this camera. There’s an inherent risk of dumbing things down too much when creating a camera for social media, but Panasonic has avoided that pitfall with the Lumix G100. By giving it a decent viewfinder and “proper camera” ergonomics, Panasonic has given the G100 an edge in a highly competitive market. This is a great camera to start with if you're interested in travel photography, vlogging or both!
Read more: Panasonic Lumix G100 review
The Fujifilm X-T200 is light and compact, but looks and feels handles like an old-school 35mm SLR camera. Best of all, it has a big new 3.5-inch vari-angle touchscreen with twice the resolution of most rivals and a 1:6 aspect ratio perfectly suited to video. It also has an electronic viewfinder and can shoot 4K video as well as 24-megapixel stills. Its 15-45mm kit lens is electrically powered takes up much less space than a regular kit lens as well as offering wider angle of view than most, making it ideal for interior shots and big landmarks. The big touchscreen will help smartphone upgraders feel right at home, and if you decide you don't need an electronic viewfinder, the cheaper X-A7 is essentially the same but cheaper.
Read more: Fujifilm X-T200 review
Normally we recommend interchangeable lens cameras for any kind of serious photography or filmmaking, but we'll make an exception with the Sony ZV-1. It has a fixed 3x zoom lens and a 1-inch sensor that's smaller than its Micro Four Thirds and APS-C rivals, but it makes up for it with a super-compact body small enough to slip into a jacket or even a trouser pocket, and a body, controls, audio system and rear that are optimised brilliantly for vlogging. The woolly hat you see in the pictures is a muffler to cut wind noise while filming, and it comes with the camera, and the autofocus on this camera is blazingly fast – and copes brilliantly when you hold objects up to show the camera.
Read more: Sony ZV-1 review
Simple point and shoot cameras
Looking for a simple point and shoot camera that the whole family can use, and nothing more? Then you don't really need big sensors, advanced controls or interchangeable lenses, just a camera versatile enough for all kinds of situations, easy for anyone to use and small enough to slide into a jacket pocket. See also: the best point and shoot cameras
Interchangeable lens DSLR and mirrorless cameras are great if you want to get seriously into photography, but can be overkill when you just want to grab pictures casually. Sometimes a fixed lens compact camera will be fine, especially if you want to do a lot of travelling, and if you're more concerned with capturing the moment than fussing over technicalities. A superzoom travel camera is the perfect solution, but most have really small 1/2.3-inch sensors which limit their picture quality. The Panasonic TZ200/ZS200 is different. It has a much larger 1-inch sensor for much better pictures, matched up with a big 15x zoom – and yet it will still fit in a jacket pocket when it’s powered down. The TZ200/ZS200 isn’t exactly cheap, but it’s surely one of the best long-zoom compact cameras you can get, and it has features and controls that will even please experts.
This time we've gone for a camera that's cheap, effective and practical enough for the whole family to use without worrying about it. With its small sensor and simple controls, the Ixus 185 is about as far away from a DSLR as a bicycle is from a Harley Davidson, but that’s not the market it’s designed for. If you think of it instead as an alternative to a smartphone, it has A LOT going for it. For a start, there are no smartphones with an 8x optical zoom, and the price of the Ixus 185 means you don’t have to lie awake at night wondering if you’ve got it adequately insured. It’s perfect for kids, teenagers and technophobic adults who want a camera to take pictures with and to keep their phone for making phone calls.
Family cameras have a pretty hard life, so if you need one that can put up with the rough and tumble and even a little underwater adventure, the Nikon Coolpix W300 could be perfect. It's rated to depths of 30m, outstripping most waterproof cameras, and it comes with a barometer that provides useful underwater data like altitude and depth, as well as an electronic compass. You get Bluetooth and Nikon’s SnapBridge technology for fast image transfer. Video shooters will also welcome the addition of 4K video to the W300’s toolkit, and the generous shockproof rating of 2.4m means it’s extra protected against bumps and knocks. Keen photographers will have to do without raw capture, but most casual snappers will be happy to stick with JPEGs and find this camera a superb all-rounder.
Read more: these are the best waterproof and underwater cameras right now
Action and adventure
Photography is changing and evolving all the time, and a traditional camera might not be what you need. If you want to record your adventures and travel from an immersive, first-person angle, then an action camera is the perfect tool to do it with – or even a 360 camera. Here are our top picks. Read more: Best action cameras, Best 360 cameras
GoPro has become synonymous with action cams, and the release of the GoPro Hero9 Black has made the Hero8 even better value. By all means get the Hero9 Black if your budget permits – you won't be disappointed. The Hero8 Black is still amongst the best action cameras you can get, however. It has fold-out feet that means that you have a camera mount built in. And then you can accessorize the Hero8 Black even more with a new series of beautifully designed optional extras called Mods - we particularly like the Display Mod, which adds a second monitor that is perfect for vloggers. These add-ons cost you more - but you don't buy the Hero8 Black if you are looking of a budget camera - you buy it because it offers the best video footage, and the best image stabilization system we have used – barring that is the larger, more expensive GoPro Hero9 Black!
• Read more: GoPro Hero8 review
At this price you can't expect GoPro features and quality, but the AKASO EK7000 Pro still gives you A LOT for your money. This includes 16-megapixel photos and a two-inch touch screen. There’s anti shake too, albeit of the electronic variety, while waterproof housing enables it to withstand depths of 131ft (40m) and a selectable diving mode allows users to compensate for a lack of red light for underwater scenes. Images are saved to optional microSD card, which you will have to buy separately. Included in the box is a remote controller that can be strapped to your wrist, plus various mounts and tethering cables and the two lithium polymer batteries it requires. As the above suggests, Wi-Fi is included here, as is the ability to achieve time-lapse special effects, so in all this is an option worth further investigation.
360 imaging is one of the latest and most exciting developments in photography, but if you can't decide between an action cam and a 360 camera, why not get a camera that does both? The Insta360 ONE R Twin Edition is called "Twin Edition" because it's two cameras in one, coming with two lens modules that are easy to swap between. One turns it into a straight 4K action camera, the other gives it 360º-shooting capability, and it's got loads of extra features too, including 5m of waterproofing (which can be extended with a special housing). AI-powered algorithms also augment the various shooting modes, and particularly impressive Auto Frame mode, which can automatically find and pick out the action in a 360º video. Right now the Insta360 ONE R Twin Edition is one of a kind, but we wouldn't be surprised if many future 360º cameras look a lot like this.
Read more: Insta360 ONE R Twin Edition review
If you're ready to take the step up into the world of professional photography, you need to take a look at full frame camera systems. DSLRs still have their place amongst pro sports photographers, but in every other aspect of pro photography, mirrorless cameras have become the norm. See also: the best cameras for professionals
The EOS R5 is Canon's latest flagship mirrorless camera, and 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. The EOS R5's video specs are nothing short of next-generation. It can capture 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 stuff, and Canon knows it. 4K capture is also possible at up to 119.88fps, and with the new Frame Grab function, it's possible to snatch high-resolution 35.4MP stills from your 8K footage, ensuring you never miss a moment.
Read more: Canon EOS R5 review
The 'R' models in Sony's A7 series cameras are designed first and foremost for resolution – and the Sony A7R Mark IV has the highest resolution yet in a full frame camera. It's not just the detail rendition that's stellar, but this camera's 4K video capability and 10fps continuous shooting speed – all combined with in-body 5-axis image stabilization and one of the most powerful autofocus systems the world has seen, complete with the world's best (so far) eye AF. One of the most compelling reasons for picking the Sony system, however, is the extensive lens range now available, both from Sony itself and from third party lens makers, and the momentum the Sony brand has built up in the professional photographic community.
Read more: Sony A7R Mark IV review
The Z 7 was Nikon's first full-frame mirrorless camera, and an instant classic. We were impressed at how Nikon managed to produce a near-perfect camera at its first attempt. The Z 7 combines an ultra-high-resolution 45.7-megapixel sensor with a 493-point hybrid autofocus system and the ability to capture images at up to 9 frames per second (without needing a battery grip). In many ways it surpasses our previous top pro Nikon, the D850, though its use of just a single memory card slot has proved controversial and being a mirrorless camera it has a much shorter battery life. The Z7 scores in three areas in particular. Its ergonomics and controls are very good, it has a growing range of excellent Z-mount lenses, and the price has fallen to highly competitive levels. The Nikon Z7 II has been officially announced but is still making its way into the shops. It has two memory card slots and faster processing, but otherwise it's an update rather than a completely new camera.
Read more: Nikon Z7 review
- The 10 best point-and-shoot cameras
- The 10 best cameras under £500/$500
- The 10 best cameras for beginners
- The 10 best cameras for enthusiasts
- The 10 best cameras for professionals
- The 10 best compact cameras
- The 10 best mirrorless cameras
- The 10 cheapest full-frame cameras
- The best full-frame DSLRs
- The 10 best travel cameras
- The 10 best bridge cameras
- The 10 best selfie cameras
- The 10 best action cameras