The best camera for photography in 2024: we guide you through the choices

Choosing the best camera  for photography is hard enough for professionals, but when you're just starting out the choice of types and price brackets can be overwhelming.

The best camera for photography isn't necessarily the most expensive, or the most powerful – it's about choosing the right camera for what you want to do. So before we list the best cameras across the whole spectrum, consider the following to see if they help you find what you really need.

If you want a camera that is user-friendly and cheap, then you probably need one of the best point-and-shoot cameras. If you waant to learn how to take photography as a hobby then I'd look at our pick of the best cameras for beginners. But if you are looking for something to take on holiday or something that children can use then check out the best cameras for travel, or the best cameras for kids. And if you are looking for really serious kit to make a living from your photography, then you probably need to invest in one of the best professional cameras.

If you still need some inspiration, here are the our pick of the best cameras for photography available right now…

Chris George headshot
Chris George

Chris has been writing about photography professionally for nearly 40 years and has tested hundreds of different cameras – and owned dozens of them too. He has been the editor of What Camera, N-Photo, PhotoPlus, Video Camera, and Digital Camera magazines during his long career. He loves the challenge of helping people find the right camera, to suit their photography and their budget.

Best cameras for photography: Quick list

In a hurry? Here's a quick overview of the cameras in this guide,  with links that let you jump down the page directly to a review of whichever one catches your eye.

The best cameras for photography in 2024

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.

Best for beginners

(Image credit: Dan Mold)
Best mirrorless camera for beginners

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: APS-C CMOS
Megapixels: 24.1MP
Monitor: 3.0-inch fixed, 1.04m dots (no touch)
Continuous shooting speed: 6.5fps
Viewfinder: EVF, 2.36m dots
Max video resolution: 4K UHD at 25p (1.55x crop)

Reasons to buy

+
Advanced AF and shooting modes
+
Compact body and kit lens

Reasons to avoid

-
No in-body stabilization
-
Fixed screen with no touch input

Mirrorless camera are the newest form of interchangeable lenses cameras for those who want to take photography seriously - and these are steadily taking over from the traditional DSLR. But up until recently, beginner models have been more expensive. We love the EOS R100 as it sets out to be the mirrorless camera that is priced so anyone can join the party.

The EOS R100 is custom-made for beginners. Sure it lacks some of the features of pricier options - most notably the LCD screen at the rear is not touch sensitive, and is fixed - so can't be swung around for selfies, say. However, thanks to the D-pad on the rear it is simple to navigate menus and settings – and there's a guided user interface to help explain things to the newbie. 

That's lots tech from more professional models in Canon's EOS mirrorless range - such as the Dual Pixel autofocus that offers face tracking and eye detection to offer a huge helping hand in getting your pictures sharp.

The lens system is relatively new - so there are no secondhand bargains, and frustratingly no third-party options. However, Canon has done a good job of making affordable lens options - and the camera can be used with old-school EF-mount DSLR lenses using an adapter. 

Recommended kit lens: Canon RF-S 18-45mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM
Read my full Canon EOS R100 review

Most versatile

(Image credit: Alistair Campbell)
Most versatile

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: APS-C X-Trans 5 HR BSI
Megapixels: 40
Lens mount: Fujifilm X
Viewfinder: 3.69M-dot OLED EVF, 100fps refresh
Memory card: 2 x SD UHS-II
LCD: 3-inch tilting touchscreen
Max continuous shooting speed: 20fps
Max video resolution: 6.2K/30P
User level: Expert/professional

Reasons to buy

+
40MP still images
+
15/20fps continuous shooting
+
Lighter than X-T4

Reasons to avoid

-
Manual dials not for everyone
-
X-H2S is better for speed
-
No 8k video

The Fujifilm X-T5 a state-of-the art mirrorless camera, that acts like a classically controlled SLR, making it one of the best retro cameras. This makes it ideal for serious enthusiasts and old-school shooters, with its traditional dials on the top of the camera that enable you to change ISO and shutter speed settings quickly.

The X-T5 takes the much-loved Fujifilm X-T4 further in terms of resolution but is still ideal for shooters who want a lightweight camera. Its specs are ferocious, with 40.2MP photographs, 10-bit 4:2:2 video at 6.2K 30p, and a 3-way tilting touchscreen for flexible image composition. In terms of the way that it looks, feels, and handles, the X-T5 is in a class of its own.

For more see our full Fujifilm X-T5 review

Best for students

(Image credit: Future)
The best camera for students of photography

Specifications

Type: DSLR
Sensor: APS-C
Megapixels: 24.1MP
Lens mount: Canon EF/EF-S
Screen: 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1.04m dots
Viewfinder: Optical
Max video resolution: 4K

Reasons to buy

+
Great ergonomics
+
Vari-angle LCD screen
+
4K video shooting
+
Huge range of lenses

Reasons to avoid

-
Dated DSLR technology

The DSLR is the traditional camera for those learning about photography - those who are new to the hobby, or studying photography at college, making this one of the best cameras for students. The Canon EOS Rebel SL3 is a long-standing favorite of ours in this category (and is sold as the Canon EOS 250D in Europe). 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, and has limited budget to spend.

What we like about the Canon, is that there is a huge range of affordable lenses for this interchangeable lens system. So you can find others that you can borrow different options from - and find bargain secondhand options.

What’s more, there isn't a lot the SL3/250D doesn’t do – unlike other budget DSLRs, it offers 4K video, and boasts a fold-out rotating LCD screen

Its 24-megapixel Dual Pixel sensor delivers super-sharp, super-high-quality images. Do make sure you buy a kit that includes an 'IS' zoom lens - which gives you image stabilization that will help ensure your handheld shots are that bit sharper.

The downside is that DSLRs are on their way out - and Canon even has stopped producing new models or new lenses for the system. 

Read our full Canon EOS Rebel SL3 review / Canon EOS 250D review

Best for resolution

(Image credit: Rod Lawton)
Best for resolution

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: Full frame CMOS
Megapixels: 61MP
Lens mount: Sony FE
Screen: 3-inch tilting touchscreen, 1,440,000 dots
Viewfinder: Electronic, 5.76m dots
Continuous shooting speed: 10fps
Max video resolution: 4K
User level: Professional

Reasons to buy

+
61 megapixel resolution
+
10fps continuous shooting
+
Advanced Eye AF

Reasons to avoid

-
Quite expensive – of course!

The 'R' models in Sony's A7 series cameras are designed first and foremost for resolution – and the Sony A7R Mark V is the highest resolution camera yet with a full-frame sensor. 

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 third-parties, and the momentum the Sony brand has built up in the photographic community. 

Read our full Sony A7R V review

Best point-and-shoot

(Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)
Best point-and-shoot

Specifications

Type: Zoom compact
Sensor: 1inch CMOS
Megapixels: 20.1MP
Lens mount: N/A
Screen: 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 921k dots
Viewfinder: No
Max continuous shooting speed: 24fps
Max video resolution: 4K
User level: Intermediate

Reasons to buy

+
Vari-angle rear screen
+
Clip on wind shield
+
Brilliantly fast AF

Reasons to avoid

-
No viewfinder

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 optimized brilliantly for vlogging. The newer Sony ZV-1 II is more expensive and offers a wider-angle zoom, which is better suited for vlogging but otherwise is pretty much identical to the original.

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 our full Sony ZV-1 review
Check out the
best cameras for vlogging

Best for vlogging

(Image credit: Future)
Best for vlogging

Specifications

Type: Action camera with gimbal
Sensor: 1-inch
Megapixels: 9.4MP (or stitched)
Screen: 2-inch touchscreen
Max video resolution: 4K at 120fps
Mic input: Adapter or Bluetooth
Headphone jack: No

Reasons to buy

+
Top-quality stabilization
+
Excellent large screen much easier to use than predecessor
+
DJI Mic 2 Bluetooth option makes a complete vloggers kit

Reasons to avoid

-
Choosing length of grip and battery can be irritating 

Is the DJI Pocket 3 an action camera? Well, it's not rugged and waterproof, but given a lot of action cameras are used in the hand on selfie sticks, this is a sensible option to consider. It is easy to use, and has a usably big touchscreen with the third iteration. There is no questioning the superb stabilization, clever 'follow' modes, and flip-around selfie shooting.

There’s also a handy ultrawide lens attachment that, admittedly, definitely drops quality, but adds a field of view. There is also the option of buying in a combo with a DJI Mic 2 that adds a Bluetooth microphone making this an ideal tool for vlogging (the 3 built-in mics can also help cancel the ambient noise). The 1-inch sensor handled mixed and low light well in our tests too. 

That aside, the convenience, versatility, and stabilization offered by the DJI Pocket 3 can’t be overstated. After all, nothing much can do all the things it can and still slip into a jacket pocket. You can even connect wirelessly to your smartphone and get big-screen control and playback via the DJI app.

Read our full DJI Pocket 3 review for more details 

Best action camera

(Image credit: Future)
Best action camera for first-person video

Specifications

Weight: 145g
Waterproof: 16m
4K video: up to 60fps
1080: up to 240fps
720: up to 240fps
Stills resolution: 20MP
Battery life: 1-3hrs estimate

Reasons to buy

+
Dual touchscreen control
+
Good vlogging tool in vertical or horizontal formats
+
Great low-light performance

Reasons to avoid

-
12MP stills - so best suited to shooting video
-
Fixed non-interchangeable lens

Action cameras and not really cameras for photographing sports from the sideline. Instead they are for shooting video where you are the star of the show. Loved by adrenaline junkies, they can be great for recording leisurely bike rides as well as snowboarding down black runs. They have very wide-angle lenses - so need to be close to whatever you are shooting, hence why they are best turned to face you. GoPro is the dominant name in the action camera market, but for us the DJI Osmo Action 4 beats the old champion in its own arena - performing particularly well in low light due to its bigger sensor.

Read our full DJI Osmo Action 4 review for more depth.

Best 360 camera

(Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)
Best 360 camera

Specifications

Weight: 118g
5.7K video: up to 30fps
4K video: up to 60fps
3.6K single lens (and lower) video: up to 60fps
Stills resolution: 72MP
Battery life: 81 minutes (lab tested 5.7K video)

Reasons to buy

+
Phone-based editing
+
Big touchscreen
+
Familiar size and shape
+
Waterproof to depth of 10m

Reasons to avoid

-
We wish GPS was built into
-
5.7K isn't much when re-framing

There are times when handling even an action camera's wide-angle lens becomes a problem, and that's where a 360-degree action camera can step in. With two back-to-back lenses and enough smarts to eliminate a selfie stick from the footage, this almost magic camera can capture an image from a point within reach looking any direction you see fit.

I tried it with the bike attachment – which holds the camera a little way in front of the bike, over the front wheel – and was amazed at the footage which makes it look like I'm cycling toward a perfectly controlled drone. Better still, by syncing with my phone I could add GPS data and have it overlaid, in the form of a speedometer, by the Insta360 app.

The only real worry is how exposed those glass fisheye lenses are when the camera is in use; the joy of re-positioning the camera angle after the fact can be hours of fun. 5.7K is good enough for sharing, but more resolution would help pro work.

Read our full Insta 360 X3 review for more details

Best for filmmakers

(Image credit: James Artaius / Digital Camera World)
Best for filmmakers

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
+
20fps shooting!

Reasons to avoid

-
Overkill for most people

The EOS R5 is Canon's most powerful all-round camera, and seems to be trying to corner every segment of the market at once. It's got a superb 45MP image sensor that produces images of incredible detail, and can even shoot 400MP photos (under strict conditions). It also boasts the best autofocus system I've ever used, which feels like cheating whether you're photographing people, animals or vehicles - and making this a great camera for those serious about shooting sports or wildlife.

The video specs are equally exceptional making this our pick for serious filmmakers. It can capture uncropped 8K RAW video internally at up to 30fps in 4:2:2 12-bit Canon Log, or HDR PQ (both H.265) in both UHD and DCI. On top of that, Frame Grab enables you to extract 35.4MP stills from your 8K footage, ensuring you never miss a moment and 4K can be captured at up to 120fps.

With weather-sealing, up to 8 stops of in-body image stabilization, dual memory card slots (including support for the high-performance CFexpress card format), a fully articulating screen and plenty of other tricks, this really is one camera to rule them all.

Read our full Canon EOS R5 review
See more of the
best professional cameras

Best cameras for photography: How we test cameras

We test cameras both in real-world shooting scenarios and in carefully controlled lab conditions. We use our lab tests measure resolution, dynamic range, and signal-to-noise ratio on DSLR and mirrorless cameras. Resolution is measured using ISO resolution charts, dynamic range is measured using DxO Analyzer test equipment and DxO Analyzer is also used for noise analysis across the camera's ISO range. For action cameras, 360 cameras, and compact cameras we rely solely on using cameras in the field - and comparing results and handling with hundreds of other models our testers have evaluated in the past. Our rigorous testing informs our choices as recommendations in our buying guides.

Best cameras for photography: FAQs

Do I need a camera with interchangeable lenses?

Mirrorless cameras and DSLRs are the most popular type of camera amongst enthusiast and pro photographers - because they allow you to switch lenses to suit what you are shooting. They are often sold 'body only' without a lens, but are also available in kits with a budget standard zoom lens. But you can then buy long telephoto lenses to shoot birds, or ultra-wide-angle lenses for architectural interiors, or macro lenses for extreme close-ups. Most of these cameras will give you dozens of lens options.

A camera with a fixed, built-in lens - as found on compact cameras and action cameras - means that you buy something that doesn't mean investing extra in a lens. Many point-and-shoot cameras have zooms that can cater for most subjects - and bridge cameras in particular can feature super-telephoto settings for close-ups of the moon or distant wildlife.

Should I buy a DSLR or a mirrorless camera?

DSLRs use a traditional interchangeable lens design, where you actually view the subject through the lens - via a mirror that swings out of the way as you take the picture. Mirrorless cameras do away with this optical path - and you instead view your subject as you take the picture via a video screen (often built into the eyelevel finder). 

Most manufacturers are now concentrating on mirrorless models, and we are seeing far fewer new cameras and lenses for DSLR systems nowadays. However, the cheapest DSLRs are less expensive than the cheapest equivalent mirrorless models - and the lenses are cheaper too - so are still be a viable budget choice for beginners.

See more in our DSLR vs mirrorless camera guide.

Best cameras for photography: How we test cameras

We test cameras both in real-world shooting scenarios and in carefully controlled lab conditions - but the actual testing regimen varies widely depending on the type of camera being evaluated. 

For mirrorless and DSLR system cameras, we use laboratory tests to measure resolution, dynamic range, and signal-to-noise ratio on DSLR and mirrorless cameras. Resolution is measured using ISO resolution charts, dynamic range is measured using DxO Analyzer test equipment and DxO Analyzer is also used for noise analysis across the camera's ISO range. 

For action cameras, 360 cameras, and compact cameras, we rely solely on using cameras in the field - and comparing results and handling with hundreds of other models our testers have evaluated in the past. Our rigorous testing informs our choices as recommendations in our buying guides.

Want to drill down even more? Take a look at the best compact cameras, the best bridge cameras, the best cameras for vlogging, the best cameras under $500 and the best cameras under $100.

Sebastian Oakley
Ecommerce Editor

For nearly two decades Sebastian's work has been published internationally. Originally specializing in Equestrianism, his visuals have been used by the leading names in the equestrian industry such as The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), The Jockey Club, Horse & Hound, and many more for various advertising campaigns, books, and pre/post-event highlights.


He is a Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts, holds a Foundation Degree in Equitation Science, and is a Master of Arts in Publishing.  He is a member of Nikon NPS and has been a Nikon user since the film days using a Nikon F5 and saw the digital transition with Nikon's D series cameras and is still to this day the youngest member to be elected into BEWA, The British Equestrian Writers' Association. 


He is familiar with and shows great interest in street, medium, and large format photography with products by Leica, Phase One, Hasselblad, Alpa, and Sinar. Sebastian has also used many cinema cameras from the likes of Sony, RED, ARRI, and everything in between. He now spends his spare time using his trusted Leica M-E or Leica M2 shooting Street photography or general life as he sees it, usually in Black and White.

With contributions from