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The best Canon camera

Best Canon camera
(Image credit: Canon)

How to choose the best Canon camera when there are so many fantastic ones?! From DSLRs to mirrorless cameras, from sophisticated PowerShot compacts to inexpensive IXUS models, the aspiring Canon user is not short of choice.

So we've put together this guide to help you out. We've split it into DSLRs, mirrorless models and compacts for ease of use. Canon is still best-known for its DSLRs. You'd find few photographers or videographers prepared to argue that it isn't making some of the best DSLRs on the market. Whether you're a new user trying out your first camera or a pro photographer looking for the latest cutting-edge professional tool, or you're an enthusiast somewhere in between, there is definitely a Canon DSLR for you. The range is, to say the least, comprehensive.

That's not all there is though. Mirrorless cameras are the new big thing right now, and Canon has made varying splashes at all areas of this market. Its APS-C format EOS-M mirrorless cameras are perhaps not as popular as the firm would like, but the newer EOS R and EOS RP full-frame mirrorless cameras are amongst the best mirrorless cameras you can get right now.

Canon's DSLR and mirrorless cameras take interchangeable lenses in various different mounts, and that gives you a lot of photo-taking flexibility, but it's not what everyone needs. Sometimes a fixed-lens, or 'compact' camera will be a better choice than even the best DSLR or best mirrorless camera. A compact can be smaller, cheaper or more specialized in a certain area of image-making. They tend to be great for travel, and some are small enough they can fit into a pocket or handbag.

So we've picked out our top three best compact cameras from Canon too, including the best model for video, for stills, and a cheaper model for families and those on a restricted budget.

Ready to find out which is the best Canon camera for you? Let's go!

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Canon EOS Rebel SL3 / EOS 250D

It's brilliant for beginners, but powerful enough for enthusiasts too

Type: DSLR | Sensor: APS-C | Lens mount: Canon EF-S | Screen: 3in vari-angle touchscreen, 1,040,000 dots | Max burst speed: 5fps | Max video resolution: 4K UHD at 25p

A lightweight, intuitive DSLR
Superb Live View shooting
Larger than mirrorless rivals
Relatively few AF points

The pint-sized Canon Rebel SL2 (or EOS 200D) was a really big seller (you can still get it, in fact), but its successor the Rebel SL3 (aka EOS 250D) improves on it in every way. In fact we believe it's the best entry-level camera you can buy right now. Housing Canon’s top-of-the range APS-C sensor with 24.1MP of resolution, the Rebel SL2 delivers excellent image quality, while also packing in plenty of extra features. Live View shooting with the LCD screen so easy and intuitive, with such good 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 capability, which was missing from the previous SL2, and there are all the expected bells and whistles you’d expect from a modern camera, including Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity, wrapped up in an ergonomically designed DSLR body that's just about the smallest on the market.

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Canon EOS 90D

Do we still need DSLRs? If they're as good as this – yes!

Type: DSLR | Sensor: APS-C | Megapixels: 32.5MP | Lens mount: Canon EF-S | Screen: 3.0in touch, pivot 1,040,000 dots | Viewfinder: Pentaprism | Max burst speed: 10fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Enthusiast

Tremendous value
Fully articulated touchscreen
Pixel count causes noise issues
Unimpressive buffer capacity

Some photographers like to ask why they even make DSLRs any more, in this era of mirrorless going from strength to strength. Well, this is why. The Canon EOS 90D is an astounding APS-C workhorse of a camera, available for a fantastic price. it combines a generous resolution of 32.5MP with a pacy frame rate of 10fps, and it also manages glorious uncropped 4K video – none of 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 to play with. Rumors of the DSLR's death will have been greatly exaggerated if Canon keeps on producing models as good as this.

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Canon EOS 6D Mark II

DSLR fans get full frame quality but small camera convenience

Type: DSLR | Sensor: Full frame | Megapixels: 26.2MP | Lens mount: Canon EF | Screen: 3.2in touch, pivot 1,040,000 dots | Viewfinder: Pentaprism | Max burst speed: 6.5fps | Max video resolution: Full HD (1080p) | User level: Enthusiast

Fully articulated touchscreen
Novice-friendly but powerful too
Full HD video not 4K
Bulkier than the EOS RP

The EOS 6D II is Canon's cheapest full frame DSLR and the next step up from the EOS 80D. It might be affordable, but it's far from basic. The advantage of a full frame sensor is that it gives superior image quality, partly because you tend to get more megapixels, and partly because the pixels (photosites) are bigger and can capture more light. The 26-megapixel sensor in the 6D II offers a useful advantage over 24-megapixel cameras, it has a powerful 45-point AF system for viewfinder shooting and Canon's Dual Pixel CMOS AF for live view photography, and it has a decent 6.5fps continuous shooting speed. What we really love is the streamlined handling and control layout and the fully articulating rear screen. If you can afford the extra over the APS-C format EOS 80D (above), the EOS 6D II would be our top recommendation as the best all-round Canon camera for enthusiasts.

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Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Canon's best all-round DSLR for pros, with great features and performance

Type: DSLR | Sensor: Full frame | Megapixels: 30.4MP | Screen: 3.0in fixed touchscreen, 1,620,000 dots | Viewfinder: Optical | Max burst speed: 7fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Professional

Great 61-point AF system
30.4MP sensor
Burst speed an average 7fps
Big crop factor for 4K video

Lots of people are joining in the DSLR vs mirrorless debate saying that mirrorless cameras like the EOS R below are the only way forward. Yet the DSLR design still has lots of advantages, including a bright, clear, optical viewing system with no lag, better handling with bigger lenses, and much better battery life. Professionals in particular are very cautious about change, and it's likely the EOS 5D IV DSLR will be one of the best cameras for professionals for some time to come. It's not a specialist camera designed to do a single type of work, but a robust and powerful all-rounder that can turn its hand to almost any professional assignment. The 61-point autofocus system is fast and powerful, and Canon's Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology makes live view autofocus pretty fast and snappy too. The 30.4-megapixel resolution isn't the highest, but it gives a great balance of resolution and low-light, low-noise performance.

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Canon EOS M50

The mirrorless EOS M50 is smaller and lighter than any EOS DSLR

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: APS-C size | Megapixels: 24.1MP | Screen type: 3.2in vari-angle touchscreen LCD, 1.04million dots | Viewfinder: EVF, 2,36million dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 7fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Beginner

Vari-angle touchscreen
Built-in electronic viewfinder
Limited lens range
4K video limitations

Canon's mirrorless EOS M range has been a bit of a mixed bag in the past, as users try to figure out how it fits in with Canon's DSLR range and which type to go for. With the EOS M50, though, we think Canon has hit the sweet spot, with a camera that's easy to use for beginners but has an electronic viewfinder (so that you're not just reliant on the rear screen for composing pictures) and is being offered at an affordable price. The EF-M 15-45mm f/3.5-6.3 IS STM kit lens has a retracting mechanism to make the camera smaller to carry around when it's not in use, and there is a small but handy selection of other EOS M lenses you can use with this camera. Hobbyists might want a wider lens choice, but if travel is your thing and a couple of lenses is all you need, the EOS M50 is great. It's just a shame the 4K video mode can't be used with Canon's speedy Dual Pixel CMOS AF system (regular full HD video doesn't have this restriction).

Despite the introduction of its full-frame mirrorless EOS R system (more on which imminently), Canon hasn't abandoned its EOS M range, with the EOS M6 Mark II recently being unveiled. We're planning on putting this new camera through its paces very soon.

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Canon EOS RP

Canon's cheapest full frame camera is small, versatile and rather good

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Full frame CMOS | Megapixels: 26.2MP | Monitor: 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1,040k dots | Continuous shooting speed: 5fps | Viewfinder: EVF, 2.36 million dots | Max video resolution: 4K UHD | User level: Enthusiast

Size, weight and low cost
Fully articulating screen
1.6x crop and no Dual Pixel AF in 4K
Weak battery life

The EOS RP is Canon's second full frame mirrorless camera, and it's smaller, lighter and a lot cheaper than the first, the EOS R. 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. What a great camera!

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Canon EOS R

Canon's first full-frame mirrorless camera means business

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Full frame CMOS | Megapixels: 30.3MP | Monitor: EVF, 3.69m dots, 100% coverage | Continuous shooting speed: 8fps | Viewfinder: EVF | Max video resolution: 4K UHD | User level: Enthusiast/professional

Great in low light
Dual Pixel AF
No in-body image stabilisation
Single card slot

The EOS R has met with a mixed reception, perhaps because it's going to take time for users to figure out where it fits in, but we reckon with its combination of resolution, features, pro build quality and keen pricing, it's going to make its own gap in the market! On paper, it looks a bit like a mirrorless version of the Canon EOS 5D IV digital SLR (above), but there are some important differences. One is that it has a much more advanced autofocus system with an amazing 5,655 focus points, another is that it has a brand new lens mount bringing the promise of new and exotic lens designs. What we really like, though, is that Canon has also made lens adaptors that let you fit your existing Canon EF and EF-S lenses, so it's easy to add the EOS R to an existing Canon system.

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Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III

Canon refines and upgrades its vlogger-friendly compact

Type: Compact | Sensor: 1in | Megapixels: 20.1MP | Lens: 24-100mm (equiv.) f/1.8-2.8 | LCD: 3in tilting touchscreen, 1,040k dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 30fps | Max video resolution: 4K UHD | User level: Beginner to intermediate

Uncropped 4K with livestreaming
Large-aperture zoom lens
A little pricey
No viewfinder

When the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II proved unexpectedly popular with the vlogging community, Canon went all in and produced the G7 X Mark III, adding full uncropped 4K video and a 3.5mm microphone port. These features beautifully complimented lots of the strengths of the Mark II, which included a flip-out screen and a beautiful 24-100mm equivalent f/1.8-2.8 lens, making for an extremely solid all-around compact that'll do everything most vloggers need it to, and indeed many photographers, though the lack of an eye-level viewfinder is a bit of a shame. The Mark III is arguably still a little expensive, but if you can afford the outlay, you'll find it an extremely capable compact for video and stills alike.

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Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II

Canon's top PowerShot model offers DSLR quality in a pocket-sized camera

Type: Premium compact | Sensor: 1-inch | Megapixels: 20.1MP | Lens: 24-120mm (equiv.) f/1.8-2.8 | LCD: 3in tilting touchscreen, 1,040k dots | Viewfinder: Pop-up EVF, 2,360k dots | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 30fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Enthusiast/intermediate

Pop-up viewfinder
Compact design
No mic socket
Not cheap

A compact decked out to the nines with excellent stills-shooting features, the Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II does a huge amount in a very small body. Its combination of a stacked CMOS sensor and DIGIC 8 processor gives it the power to capture stills at 30fps in Canon's CR3 RAW format, as well as improving ISO performance and allowing for the capture of 4K video. A nifty pop-up viewfinder expands handling options, and the generous 5x zoom lens provides real versatility. The only real bugbear is that while it captures great 4K video, there's no mic socket for improving sound, so if video is your thing, you're best off sticking with the G7 X Mark III (above).

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Canon Ixus 185 HS

A cheap point and shoot family camera with a 20MP sensor and 8x zoom

Type: Compact | Sensor: 1/2.3in | Megapixels: 20MP | Lens: 28-224mm f/3.2-6.9 | LCD: 2.7in, 230k dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 3fps | Max video resolution: 1280x720 (HD) | User level: Beginner

Very easy to use
Slender body
Small, low-resolution rear screen
Average image quality

Not everyone needs professional features, full frame image quality, 4K video and interchangeable lenses. Sometimes you're just looking for a decent, simple and effective (and cheap!) little camera you can slip in a pocket and which the whole family can use. The little Ixus 185 certainly passes that last test, and yet delivers some rather impressive specifications at the same time. One of the key advantages of a compact point and shoot camera over a smartphone is that you get a zoom lens, and the one on this camera has a massive 8x range, from 28-224mm. It uses a small 20-megapixel 1/2.3-inch sensor, so the picture quality is going to be adequate rather than great, but it's fine for family snaps and it can go up to ISO 1600 for shooting indoors or in low light. It even looks pretty smart, so the Ixus 185 is a really appealing (and did we mention cheap?) little snapshot camera.