We hate to say it, but the best camera is a question that's almost impossible to answer. After all, it depends hugely on what kind of user you are, what your budget is and what kind of images and/or videos you're planning to take. That's why we've divided this guide into four sections, based on four different types of user. Take a look at the navigation bar above and click the one that feels most like you if you want to jump straight to the cameras.
We've covered the whole spectrum of cameras in our guide, from pocket-sized point and shoot cameras that can be used by the whole family, right up to professional-spec DSLRs and mirrorless cameras that can enable dedicated photographers to really push their skills up a notch.
There's been a lot of discussion on the various merits of DSLR vs mirrorless cameras, however in reality both types have their advantages and drawbacks, so we've made sure to include plenty of both on this list. While DSLRs are chunkier to grip and often available for a great price, especially at the cheaper end of the market, the best mirrorless cameras tend to be smaller and lighter and often are perfect for video – many have flip-around screens for selfies and vlogging.
If price is your main factor, there are lots of cheap camera deals right now. You might also want to take a look at some of our other guides, including the best cameras for kids, the best cameras for vlogging and the best cameras for beginners.
So what type of camera user are you?
Keen novice? If you're upgrading from a camera phone or a compact, 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.
Family snapper? Then you don't really need 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.
Expert enthusiast? We'd guess your looking for the best features, power and performance, and at the best price! Whether you're into landscapes or sports, video or vlogging, these are the cameras we rate right now.
Potential pro? If you're stepping into the world of professional photography, take a look at our guide to the best cameras for professionals. In the meantime, we've picked two full frame powerhouses that deliver stellar resolution and performance.
If none of these sound like you and you're into sports, action and adventure, we've also got guides to the best action camera, best waterproof and underwater cameras and the best 360 camera right now.
So keep reading to find the best cameras you can buy right now, regardless of your experience, expertise or budget!
1. Canon EOS Rebel SL3 / 250D
It costs more than Canon's cheapest DSLRs but it's easily worth the extra
Type: DSLR | Sensor: APS-C | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Lens mount: Canon EF-S | Screen: 3in vari-angle touchscreen, 1,040,000 dots | Max burst speed: 5fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Beginner
The Canon EOS Rebel SL3 (EOS 250D in the UK) 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
A brilliant mirrorless camera you can fit in a coat pocket
Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Micro Four Thirds | Megapixels: 16.1MP | Lens mount: Micro Four Thirds | Screen: 3-inch tilting touchscreen, 1,037,000 dots | Viewfinder: Electronic | Max burst speed: 8.6fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Beginner/enthusiast
The Canon EOS Rebel SL3 / 250D is extremely compact for a DSLR, but the OM-D E-M10 III is smaller still, and shows off the size advantage of Olympus's mirrorless Micro Four Thirds format. The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III is a jewel of a camera that's easy to get started with but gives you unexpected power and features later on. It uses a smaller 16-megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor than most mirrorless cameras, but you shouldn't read too much into that, and it does take a wide range of compact and affordable Olympus and Panasonic lenses. It also has an excellent 5-axis in-body stabilization system, shoots 4K video and comes with a wide selection of Olympus’s rather good Art Filters. It's small but powerful and a great travel camera too.
Read more: Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III review
3. Sony Alpha A6000
It's five years old but the A6000 is powerful and effective... and cheap!
Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: APS-C | Megapixels: 24.3MP | Lens mount: Sony E | Monitor: 3-inch tilting, 921,600 dots | Continuous shooting speed: 11fps | Viewfinder: Electronic | Max video resolution: 1080p | User level: Beginner/enthusiast
DSLR cameras continue to be popular with novice users, partly because it's hard to get a mirrorless camera with a viewfinder at anything like the same price. But the Sony A6000 is the exception! Despite the arrival of the A6300 and A6500, the Sony A6000 remains in Sony’s Alpha lineup – and that’s a smart move on Sony’s part. While the latter two models can satisfy enthusiasts and those keen on shooting 4K video, the A6000 serves as a more affordable introduction to the system – one that still absolutely holds its own against even pricier cameras. Thanks in part to a 179-point phase-detect AF system spread broadly across the frame, it's particularly adept at tracking moving subjects, with its 11fps burst shooting option helping you to get the decisive moment. This is a great mirrorless camera at this price, especially if you really don't want the bulk of a DSLR.
A DSLR is still the cheapest way into ‘proper’ photography
Type: DSLR | Sensor: APS-C | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Lens mount: Nikon F | Screen: 3-inch fixed, 921,000 dots | Viewfinder: Optical | Max video resolution: Full HD | User level: Beginner
Many of our best camera choices are mirrorless cameras, but the best DSLR cameras are still going strong. In fact they offer great value for beginners – and the Nikon D3500 is the perfect example. 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.
5. Panasonic TZ200/ZS200
Easy for beginners, powerful enough for experts, a great all-round camera
Type: Compact | Sensor size: 1-inch | Megapixels: 20.1MP | Lens: 26-390mm (equiv.), f/3.3-6.4 | LCD: 3in fixed touchscreen, 1.24 million dots | Viewfinder: EVF | Continuous shooting: 10fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Enthusiast
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.
6. Canon Ixus 185 HS
A pocket camera for the whole family, with a pocket-money price tag
Type: Compact | Sensor size: 1/2.3in | Megapixels: 20MP | Lens: 28-224mm (equiv.), f/3.2-6.9 | LCD: 2.7in fixed, 230,000 dots | Viewfinder: No | Continuous shooting: 0.8fps | Max video resolution: HD | User level: Beginner
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.
A nippy compact camera that's especially good for vlogging
Type: Compact | Sensor size: 1-inch | Megapixels: 20.1MP | Lens: 24-100mm, f/1.8-2.8 (equiv.) | LCD: 3in vari-angle touchscreen, 1.04 million dots | Viewfinder: No | Continuous shooting: 30fps | Max video resolution: 4K UHD | User level: Enthusiast
Moving up a fair amount in quality (and price) from the IXUS 85 we have the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III, a tidy and sophisticated compact camera. We've included this one as it is not only a capable stills camera, but can also shoot 4K UHD video with no crop. This, combined with its LCD screen that can flip around to face the front, means it's perfect for vlogging, and is ideal if you want to record video of your exploits as well as stills. Indeed, you could actually argue that it's better for video, especially given that it doesn't have a viewfinder. It's an all-around capable compact though, producing fantastic images thanks to its 1-inch sensor, and providing real shooting versatility with its 24-100mm equivalent lens.
• Here are some more of the best point and shoot cameras you can get right now
A professional quality camera that's also compact, affordable and versatile
Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: APS-C | Megapixels: 26.1MP | Lens mount: Fujifilm X mount | Monitor: EVF, 3,690k dots, 100% coverage | Continuous shooting speed: 11fps | Viewfinder: EVF | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Enthusiast/Professional
Whether you want to shoot sports, 4K video or all-round photographic subjects, the X-T3 does it all brilliantly. It has Fujifilm's latest 26.1-megapixel APS-C format sensor with 11fps continuous shooting that goes up to an amazing 30fps in 1.25x crop mode with its electronic shutter. Fujifilm’s new autofocus system covers pretty much the whole image area and it can capture 4K video at 60/50fps, a feat that only dedicated video-centric cameras like the Panasonic GH5S have been able to manage until now. The only thing missing is in-body stabilization, but in the context of everything this camera can do, that's a minor issue.
Read more: Fujifilm X-T3 review
9. Canon EOS 6D II
Canon’s cheapest full-frame DSLR is remarkably capable
Type: DSLR | Sensor: Full frame | Megapixels: 26.2MP | Screen: 3in vari-angle touchscreen, 1.04million dots | Viewfinder: Optical | Max burst speed: 6.5fps | Max video resolution: Full HD | User level: Enthusiast
If you're a keen photographer upgrading an existing camera, quality and features are going to be high on your shopping list, and the Canon EOS 6D Mark II offers both, but at a surprisingly reasonable price. Canon’s 2018 was dominated by the speculation and then excitement around the launch of its EOS R full frame mirrorless system, but many users still prefer the size and handling of a DSLR, and the Canon EOS 6D Mark II is Canon’s cheapest full frame DSLR and a bit of a slow burner, as steady price drops have made it more and more appealing. Its 26-megapixel resolution and 6.5fps continuous shooting speed are unremarkable, but its effective control layout, vari-angle touchscreen and rather good live view autofocus give it really nice handling. If you want to step up to full frame DSLR photography, this is a very effective and affordable way to do it.
Read more: Canon EOS 6D II review
Nikon’s new full-frame mirrorless camera is very good indeed
Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Full frame CMOS | Megapixels: 24.5MP | Lens mount: Nikon Z | Monitor: EVF, 3,690k dots, 100% coverage | Continuous shooting speed: 12fps | Viewfinder: EVF | Max video resolution: 4K UHD at 30p | User level: Enthusiast/Professional
The EOS 6D Mark II is a good value 'old school' full frame DSLR, while Nikon's new mirrorless Z series is right at the cutting edge of camera technology. We love the 45.7-megapixel Nikon Z 7, which is a direct rival to the Nikon D850 And Sony A7R III, but not every one can afford it, and while the Z 6 has a lower-resolution 24MP sensor, it’s a lot cheaper than the Z 7 and does have some technical advantages, including a slightly higher 12fps continuous shooting speed and full-frame 4K video. Physically, the Z6 is identical to the Z 7, so it has the same tough, well-designed and good-handling body. Nikon’s Z-series cameras are a little more wieldy than the Sony A7 models, and the Z 6 makes a great entry-level all-round full-frame mirrorless camera. Recently Nikon also announced a new Z 50, its first sub-£999 camera in this series, and we're interested to see how it performs.
A landmark camera, and still the ultimate all-round pro DSLR, even now
Type: DSLR | Sensor: Full frame | Megapixels: 45.7MP | Screen: 3.2in tilting touchscreen, 2.6million dots | Viewfinder: Optical | Max burst speed: 7fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Professional
Despite the relentless march of mirrorless cameras, DSLRs are still very popular amongst professional users, and the Nikon D850 is a stand-out example. This is largely down to its chunky, rugged design and its versatility. The 45.7MP sensor provides bags of resolution for landscapes, fashion and still-life setups, while 7fps burst shooting and a 153-point AF system means it’s equally at home when faced with action – and you can boost this to 9fps with an optional battery pack if you need to. Wedding photographers will love the silent burst shooting mode, and it captures 4K video too. On top of all that, the robust, weather-sealed body means you can easily rely on it in even challenging conditions. The Nikon D850 is easily one of the best professional-level cameras you can buy.
Read more: Nikon D850 review
12. Sony A7R III
Still one of the greatest all-round mirrorless cameras for pros
Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Full frame | Megapixels: 42.4MP | Lens mount: Sony FE | Screen: 3in tilting touchscreen, 1.44 million dots | Viewfinder: Electronic | Continuous shooting speed: 10fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Professional
With all the big mirrorless announcements from Nikon, Canon and Panasonic in 2018, it feels like Sony has been left behind. But Sony was the first to enter the full frame mirrorless market and still has one of the best line-ups – not to mention the best premium quality lens range. The Sony A7R III is like the Nikon D850, but in mirrorless form. Like the Nikon, it combines sky-high resolution with a super-fast 10fps continuous shooting speed and 4K video. Physically, however, they are very different cameras. The most obvious difference is the much smaller body of the A7R III, though any size advantage is quickly offset by the size of Sony’s lenses, which just as large as full frame Nikon lenses and, in the case of Sony’s G Master series, often larger. What recent rivals have done, though, is push down Sony's prices, so the A7R III is not just a great camera, it's also become a great bargain.
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