Choosing the best camera is hard enough for professional photographers, but when you're just starting out the choice of types and price brackets can seem 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. Here's our list of the 10 best cameras right now across the whole spectrum of photography as well as its different users.
To start things off, we'll need to find out want kind of photographer you are now, what kind of photographer you want to be, and what you want to shoot.
1. If you just want something user-friendly, quick, and cheap, head over to the best point-and-shoot cameras (opens in new tab). These don't cost a lot, they come with zoom lenses and they have simple controls that almost anyone can master.
2. What about an instant camera? Even the best instant cameras (opens in new tab) aren't very expensive, and with few buttons to confuse things, they are super simple, and a whole lot of fun. They can also be the best cameras for kids (opens in new tab), as they are cheap to buy and easy to handle.
3. If you're just getting started in photography but keen to learn, you need a camera that's simple enough for a novice to pick up and use, but powerful enough to grow with you as you try out more advanced techniques. We've got examples in this guide but check out the best cameras for beginners (opens in new tab) too.
4. Are you into travel photography and vlogging? Some of the best cameras for travel (opens in new tab) are mirrorless, but have you considered an action camera, or one of the new generation of gimbal cameras like the DJI Pocket 2, below?
5. Action cameras are also a great way to get started. The best GoPro cameras (opens in new tab) ignited the whole adventure photography genre, but there are some very exciting new technologies that include 360 imaging and pocket-sized gimbal cameras for super-smooth action sequences. The best 360 cameras (opens in new tab) can capture VR video and stills with no more than the press of a button to give you a totally new perspective.
6. And talking about perspective, why not try out one of the best camera drones (opens in new tab)? With automated take-off and landing, automated flight controls, and programmed flights, most are really simple, even for novices.
There are now so many different ways to get into photography and video, and below we've got a list of ten cameras of the best cameras around right now, each with its own strengths and its own appeal for different kinds of photographers.
The 12 best cameras in 2023
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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.
Read our full Nikon D3500 review for more details or Best cameras for beginners (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
With a flip-over screen for selfies and very good in-body image stabilization, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV is ideal for learning about photography and video and portable enough for daily use. With 4K video and attractive styling, the E-M10 Mark IV is ideal as an entry-level camera that can do pretty much everything.
It has a smaller Micro Four Thirds sensor than other mirrorless cameras or DSLRs, but the advantage is that the lenses are smaller and lighter. 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 our full Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV review for more details or Best mirrorless cameras (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
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 our full Sony A7R IV review for more details or Best mirrorless cameras (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
Despite the Hero 11 Black looking like every other GoPro this side of 2019, with upgraded hardware and software, it's a triumph on all fronts. The new, almost square sensor is supremely versatile, the camera's software has been simplified successfully, and GoPro's companion app, Quik has also been improved.
With best-in-class stabilization, great-looking video in all but dimly-lit and dark scenes, and some fun new modes like light painting, the Hero 11 Black is an excellent addition to the line.
The Hero 11 Black's 8:7 aspect ratio is also a standout highlight for content creators. Able to shoot in 5.3K resolution, 8:7 video at up to 30fps, its footage can be losslessly cropped to create new 4K portrait, landscape, and square clips from a single video.
On top of 8:7 video, the Hero 11 Black captures 5.3K resolution video at 60 fps, 4K resolution video at 120 fps, or 2.7K resolution at 240 fps. You can also grab 27MP stills from 5.3K video.
The Hero 11 Black might not have wildly improved the line's lowlight performance. Still, with its new 8:7 sensor, a simplified interface, and enhanced horizon leveling, it's upgraded GoPro's offering in a meaningful way. Particularly appealing to folks who use multiple social platforms, nothing else can do quite what the 11 Black can.
Read our full GoPro Hero 11 Black review for more details
GoPro Subscription explained: what you get, and is it worth it
The Fujifilm X-H2 (opens in new tab) is an extremely compelling camera at an equally compelling price. This camera has the highest resolution yet in an APS-C camera, its 40-megapixel sensor surpassing that of all but a handful of full-frame cameras (opens in new tab). With 8K video and 5-axis IBIS to boot, you get impressive performance for an impressive price!
The design and handling are identical to the X-H2S and the X-H1 before. The status display panel on the top of the X-H2 is especially good and worth giving up the shutter speed and ISO dials for.
Theoretically, the Fujifilm X-H2’s responses will be slower than those of the X-H2s, but it's still a very snappy performer with fast and accurate AF. Vs the Fujifilm X-H2S (opens in new tab) below, the X-H2 offers greater resolution but slightly lower continuous shooting bursts, so for any genre offer than action, it's the best Fujifilm camera yet.
Read our full Fujifilm X-H2 review (opens in new tab) for more details(opens in new tab)
The GoPro Hero 10 might be a little more than you need if you're shopping for your first action camera, but if you're looking for a camera that's going to record super-smooth high-quality video this can't be beaten.
It might look a lot like the previous GoPro Hero 9, which is still available, but it is a pretty significant upgrade. It features a new G2 processor which makes the interface super responsive, doubles the frame rates, and fuels the best image stabilization tech available in action cameras.
The stand-out feature is its ability to record 5.3K 60p using GoPro's new HyperSmooth 4.0 video stabilization. It also has the ability to shoot 23-megapixel photos and it has the best low-light performance of any GoPro yet.
You can buy a wealth of accessories separately so as well as mounting it on your helmet, you could attach it to your chest, your head, or even onto one of the best selfie sticks (opens in new tab).
Read our full GoPro Hero10 Black review (opens in new tab) for more details or Best action cameras (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
We know that mirrorless cameras are all the rage, but we've included the Canon EOS 90D for all those DSLR fans we know are still out there – and for all the folk who've got drawers full of Canon lenses!
The Canon EOS 90D is an astounding APS-C workhorse of a camera, which combines the highest resolution yet seen in an APS-C sensor of 32.5MP, with a high-speed frame rate of 10fps, and it also manages glorious uncropped 4K videos, without that irritating crop that has plagued Canon cameras in the past.
Its handling and ergonomics are a joy, reminding us of why shooting on a DSLR is such an enjoyably tactile experience, and it's available for a welcome enthusiast price point – not to mention the fact that you get an optical viewfinder, which many people still prefer to the electronic viewfinders on mirrorless cameras. Rumors of the DSLR's death will have been greatly exaggerated if Canon keeps on producing models as good as this.
Read our full Canon EOS 90D review (opens in new tab) for more details or Best DSLRs (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
The Fujifilm X-S10 doesn't have the external exposure controls of the higher-level X-series cameras, but that's the only thing we can find to complain about, and it's clear this is no 'amateur' camera, as its build quality and handling stand out straight away.
The swap to a conventional mode dial might disappoint Fujifilm fans, but the excellent finish, build quality and handling, and the inclusion of IBIS (in-body stabilization) give this camera a very broad appeal, especially in this price sector, to produce perhaps the best combination of performance, quality, and value in the APS-C mirrorless camera market right now.
It even has a vari-angle rear screen, which is another reason why we rate this new camera above our previous favorite, the X-T30. This is a great choice for photographers looking to upgrade from an older DSLR or mirrorless camera.
Read our full Fujifilm X-S10 review for more details or Best cameras for enthusiasts (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
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 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 (opens in new tab) for more details or Best cameras for vlogging (opens in new tab) and why not try Best cameras for travel (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
We've gone really left-field with this suggestion, but the DJI Pocket 2 could be a great travel/vlogging camera. It wouldn't be the first choice for stills, but its 16MP stills (it can go up to 64MP) are likely to be better than a smartphone's and it can shoot programmable multi-row panoramas stitched-in camera, too.
There's even an optional wide-angle add-on for spectacular interiors and architecture. Its star turn is its video, though, with an in-built gimbal that provides a smoothness bigger cameras can only dream of.
It comes with a dinky controller for powered pan and tilt movements and has a trio of 'follow' modes, just like a proper gimbal. The difference is that this one will fit in a shirt pocket. The built-in touchscreen is very small, but you can plug the Pocket 2 into your smartphone and control it on a bigger screen via the DJI app.
Read our full DJI Pocket 2 review (opens in new tab) for more details(opens in new tab)
The best way to think of the DJI Mini SE in terms of quality is as a flying smartphone camera from a mid-range device. That, though, is a high standard these days, certainly far higher than toy drones and their shaky video because this drone can hover perfectly thanks to its onboard sensors and has a 3-axis mechanical stabilizer for its camera. Drone experts might decide that the 2.7K video resolution isn’t enough for them, but most new users will be amazed by the stability and the video quality.
The Mini SE also scrapes in beneath the legal 250g registration threshold and has a much more welcoming entry price than anything else DJI offers, making it a perfect gift. Software-wise the app is intuitive and includes auto land, return to home, and some cool orbiting effects which will be sure to earn likes.
Read our full: DJI Mini SE review (opens in new tab) for more details or Best camera drones (opens in new tab), and why not try Best drones for beginners (opens in new tab)(opens in new tab)
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 our full Canon EOS R5 review (opens in new tab) for more details or Best professional cameras (opens in new tab)
How we test cameras
We test cameras both in real-world shooting (opens in new tab) scenarios and in carefully controlled lab conditions. Our lab tests measure resolution, dynamic range, and signal-to-noise ratio. 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. We use both real-world testing and lab results to inform our comments in buying guides.
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