So what is the best camera under $1,000? Prices are changing constantly as we all know, so our list of candidates will change over time, but right now we reckon these are the cameras that give you most bang for your buck.
If you're looking for the best camera under $1000 you've come to the right place. Whether you're looking for a traditional DSLR, a fixed lens compact or a modern mirrorless, we've put together a list of cameras that cover all the bases. No longer do you have to break the bank to own a camera that delivers outstanding image quality and lots of advanced features.
If you think you want to spend a little over $1000, you can also check out our guides on the best mirrorless cameras or best DSLRs. Don't think you need to spend loads though to get a camera that is high performance - even some of the cheaper cameras on this list are capable of producing amazing images.
Some of the cameras below are slightly more sophisticated than others, you'll need to consider what style of photography you want to focus on so you can decide what features are most important. If you want to do wildlife photography, it might be an idea to lean towards an interchangeable lens Micro Four Thirds cameras but if you want to shoot video as well as stills, look for a camera that has 4K capabilities.
We’ve rounded up the best cameras that fit the budget. We've featured compacts, DSLRs and mirrorless cameras, and where possible we've ensured our picks have included a lens as well as a camera so you can be sure that you'll get everything you need within the budget.
• You can buy all of the DSLRs and mirrorless cameras in our list body only or with a choice of kit lenses; for this guide we have recommended a body and a lens to get you going, and still come in under the $1000 budget.
If you don't have quite the budget to spend $1000, you could also check out our guides on the best cameras under $500 or the best cameras under $200 - they won't be as advanced but you might be surprised at what you can get for your money. If you're looking to invest in your very first camera, the best cameras for beginners is a good place to start.
Best camera under $1000 in 2021
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When Canon announced the R10, it sounded too good to be true, but it really is the ultimate enthusiast camera. In terms of value for money, it's pretty unbeatable with its 24.2MP APS-C sensor, burst rates of up to 23fps when using the electronic shutter and the incredible Dual Pixel CMOS AF II that features in the high-end R3, R5 and R6 bodies. It has full subject tracking for humans, animals and vehicles which is very effective, it can shoot 4K 60p (albeit it is cropped) but considering how much it costs - it's incredible value and a versatile all-rounder. Weight just 429g, it's incredibly small and lightweight and paired with the new Canon RF-S 18-45mm f/4.5-6.3 IS STM you've got a powerful setup for under 550g - perfect for budding street photographers. It might not be as robust as some of the higher-end models but it delivers sharp images, has a user-friendly layout and has a very desirable price point.
The Nikon Z fc combines the features of the Nikon Z50 into a body that looks more like a Nikon FM2 - only in bright colors. The Z fc is much smaller than Nikon's full-frame systems such as the Z6 II and Z7 II which make it an ideal choice for travel or street photography. Whether you want it for photos, videos or both, it's capable of recording 4K 30p, can shoot up to 11fps in burst mode and has accurate and fast autofocus and Eye AF. You can also transfer images on the go via WiFi using the Nikon app or you can use it as a wireless remote.
It uses the Nikon Z mount which means you can use any of the full-frame lenses available. Nikon and other third-party brands are starting to bring out more APS-C specific lenses and you can also use the FTZ adapter if you want to shoot with F mount lenses. This camera is a little over budget (depending on where you buy it from) but it's such a good bit of kit we still think it deserves a place on the list. For just over the $1,000 you can also get the Nikon Z fc in a kit with the NIKKOR Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR.
Read more: Nikon Z fc review
The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV's predecessor, the Mark III, was a great camera with plenty to offer. However, its aging 16MP sensor and contrast AF left room for improvement. Luckily the Mark IV is a great update, with the same 20.3MP sensor as the PEN-F and improved Continuous Autofocus. While some improvements are incremental, the Mark IV brings some interesting new offerings to the table including a zippy 15fps continuous burst mode. We're also a fan of the extra-tiltable screen, which is capable of flipping 180° down to create the perfect selfie screen. And Olympus has thankfully returned silent shooting to manual mode! Make sure you get this with the EZ 14-42mm pancake lens for the ultimate pocket-size travel camera.
Read more: Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV review
Small but with a comfortable and natural feel, thanks to generously proportioned grip areas, the Sony A6400 is a mid-range model fitting somewhere between the bargain A6000 and the new flagship A6600. The A6400 just squeezes in under budget with a zoom, and is a particular great choice for those who want to shoot video as well as stills, as this mirrorless model was built with vloggers in mind. The 16-50mm PZ (Power Zoom) kit lens is a good match for the body, although some of Sony’s other E-mount lenses can seem comparatively large on such a slimline camera. The 16-50mm lens also features optical image stabilization. That’s good news, because unlike the top-end A6600, the A6400 has no sensor-shift stabilizer.
The Lumix DC-G95 benefits from a chunky handgrip and large viewfinder that make it feel like a serious camera. Its handling and built quality is very good plus it's splashproof and dustproof. It has 5-axis sensor-shift stabilization which can be used alongside OIS (optical image stabilization) found on lenses for ultra-smooth video. You can shoot up to 9fps in continuous burst mode or up to 30fps when using the 4K photo mode. Talking of 4K, you can also shoot 4K video making this features packed camera a great all-rounder. The viewfinder is super sharp, it has a fully articulated screen which also makes it great for vlogging and an easy-to-navigate menu system. If it wasn't for the smaller Micro Four Thirds sensor, it would appear higher up in the list.
The pint-sized Canon Rebel SL3 has been around for a while now but it's still one of our favorites. Its 24.1MP APS-C sensor delivers excellent image quality, and Live View shooting with the LCD screen so easy and intuitive, with such good Dual Pixel CMOS autofocus, that we’d actually say this is one of the only DSLRs where composing shots with the screen is as easy as with a mirrorless camera. Canon also packs in 4K video, and wraps everything up in an ergonomically designed DSLR body that's just about the smallest on the market. The new EOS Rebel T8i is a lot more expensive but only marginally more desirable. With an EF-S 18-55mm kit lens the Rebel SL3 is well below our $1,000 budget limit, and it's worth looking out for twin-lens kits that add a telephoto zoom – and still for less than $1,000.
Read more: Canon EOS Rebel SL3 review
The EOS M50 Mark II packs a lot of tech into its compact body, and the fact it has a viewfinder – when so many similarly priced mirrorless cameras don’t – is a big selling point. The retracting 15-45mm kit lens can be a little awkward to use, and the 4K video mode brings a cropped view and autofocus limitations, but this is still a cute and easy to use camera which is really rather versatile. It's a great mirrorless alternative to the Canon Rebel SL3 below, but offers similar features in a smaller camera. You can get this with a EF-M 15-45mm lens for well under our budget, and if you shop around you may find twin-lens kits with a telephoto zoom that are still under $1,000. All so check out EOS M50 deals - as the older version is still on sale, and is practically identical, and sometimes cheaper.
Read more: Canon EOS M50 Mark II review
We are being a bit cheeky slipping the EOS RP into this guide because at the time of writing it's around $999 body only – so you will have to budget extra for a lens! The EOS RP was Canon's second full frame mirrorless camera, and it's smaller, lighter and a lot cheaper than all of the others. It's designed to be a compact, affordable and easy to use entry point into Canon's full frame mirrorless system, and it succeeds brilliantly. Its small dimensions mean it can sometimes feel overbalanced by larger lenses, though, and the 4K video mode comes with some caveats – the image frame is cropped by a factor of 1.6 and you can't use Canon's speedy Dual Pixel CMOS AF system unless you drop the resolution to full HD. On the upside, the pictures are clear and sharp, the vari-angle touchscreen display is a real advantage for both stills and video, and the inclusion of an EF lens adaptor means you can use existing Canon DSLR lenses alongside the new but growing RF lens system.
Read more: Canon EOS RP review
The trouble with big sensors is that you need big lenses to go with them, so there goes any kind of pocketability. Usually. But Panasonic has really hit the sweet spot with the Panasonic LX100 II. It combines a Micro Four Thirds sensor that's not much smaller than the ASP-C sensors in mode DSLRs, with a miniaturised lens assembly that powers down into a camera body slim enough to carry around anywhere. The LX100 II is a brand new version of the original LX100, which was, admittedly, starting to show its age. The new model has a 17-megapixel ‘multi-aspect’ sensor, which means you can use its native 4:3 aspect ratio, the 3:2 ratio used by most DSLRs and mirrorless models, or a 16:9 ‘wide’ format without losing lots of megapixels through cropping. With an external shutter speed dial, lens aperture ring and aspect ratio switch, the LX100 II is a dream compact camera for enthusiasts and experts.
Read more: Panasonic Lumix LX100 II review
How we test cameras
We test mirrorless and DSLR cameras both in real-world shooting scenarios and in carefully controlled lab conditions. We take sample images in a range of lighting conditions and of a range of subjects so we are able to put features such as autofocus, eye tracking and image stabilization.
Using the cameras in real-world environments also gives us the opportunity to get our heads around the menu system and decide whether the button layout is intuitive. A camera might perform well but if it doesn't fit in your hand or is difficult to operate it might affect where we include it in the list.
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 these real-world testing and lab results to inform our comments in buying guides.