The best digital camera 2018: which one should you buy?

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Choosing the best camera can be tricky because we’re not all looking for the same things. After all, the best camera for you depends on how you intend to use it. So here, we’ve rounded up the best DSLRs and mirrorless cameras for pros, the most affordable alternatives for enthusiasts, and the best cameras for beginners or anyone on a tight budget. 

We’ve also picked out our top choice for photographers who want a pocket-sized compact camera that doesn’t compromise on quality. And the best bit? There are lots of cheap camera deals right now – you'll see today's best prices below.

 UPDATE: The last half of 2018 has brought a whole range of new and exciting camera models including the Nikon Z7 and Z6 mirrorless models, The Fujifilm X-T3, the Canon EOS R and many more. We’ve gone through our best digital camera list from top to bottom to update it with our favorites.

It certainly looks like 2018 has been the year of the mirrorless camera. Many predicted the end of DSLRs, but we don’t believe a word of it. The best DSLRs and mirrorless cameras have different strengths and weaknesses, each camera type has its fans and we don’t see that changing any time soon – which is why we’ve covered both camera here. You'll find an equal mix of mirrorless and DSLR cameras in our list, both full frame and APS-C size.

2018 has also been the year of ‘full frame’, but the best full-frame cameras are an expensive option for enthusiasts, so we’ve included some more affordable APS-C cameras, which offer much of the power of full frame pro models at a much more affordable price.

And if an affordable price is actually at the top of your list, then we’ve got that covered too. So keep reading to find out what we think are the best digital cameras in 2018. (Or, if you’re looking for a very specific type of camera, check out our other camera buying guides at the end of this article.)

The best cameras in 2018

1. Nikon D850

A speedy and versatile full-frame performer, with 4K video to boot

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

Supremely versatile
Tough, weather-sealed body
Exceptional image quality
Pedestrian live view AF

Nikon has had a fair few smashes in the last couple of years, but the Nikon D850 has, unquestionably, stood out among them as one of the best DSLRs out there. As with the Sony A7 III (below), this appears to be largely down to 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, while 4K video shows it's no slouch when you need to record moving footage 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 cameras you can buy.

Read more: Nikon D850 review

2. Sony A7 III

A mirrorless camera for the masses with well-rounded specs

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Full frame | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Lens mount: Sony E | Screen: 3in tilting touchscreen, 921,600 dots | Viewfinder: Electronic | Continuous shooting speed: 10fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Enthusiast

10fps burst shooting
Solid video specs
In-body stabilization
Unbalanced by bigger lenses

The Sony A7 line has traditionally been the more affordable, general-purpose proposition in the A7 line of cameras, next to the high-resolution A7R series and the low light and video-focused A7S range. With the Sony A7 III, its latest member, Sony has struck gold with one of the most versatile cameras we've seen for some time. It improves on the Mark II version in a variety of ways, with better video specs (now 4K), a bigger battery, a fresh sensor, a burst speed that's twice as fast as before and a significantly overhauled AF system. As we found in our review, image quality is stellar, overall speed is great and the AF system shines. We do have minor reservations regarding the buffer depth, ergonomics and handing with weightier lenses, but these are minor marks against an otherwise-formidable performer. 

Read more: Sony A7 III review

3. Nikon Z7

Nikon hits the ground running with its first full-frame mirrorless camera – and we like it a lot

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Full frame | Megapixels: 45.7MP | Screen: 3.2in tilting touchscreen, 2.1 million dots | Viewfinder: EVF | Max burst speed: 9fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Professional

High resolution and frame rate
In-body image stabilization
Adaptor for DSLR lenses
Single XQD card slot

The Nikon Z7 is a no-holds-barred flat-out assault on a full frame mirrorless market previously dominated by Sony, offering a higher megapixel count than the Sony A7R III and still managing an amazing 9fps continuous shooting speed. Nikon has paid just as much attention to the autofocus, with a high-tech 493-point hybrid phase/contrast AF system that covers 90% of the image area, and it’s introduced an in-body image stabilization system too. The Z7 launched with three ‘native’ lenses, including a commendably compact 24-70mm f/4, with more to follow in 2019. However, you can also get a relatively inexpensive adaptor which lets you use all of Nikon’s current lens range without restriction, so if you’re already a Nikon owner, Nikon has made it as simple as possible to migrate to its new mirrorless system without having to immediately sell all your old lenses. It might be Nikon’s first attempt at a full frame mirrorless camera, but it’s nailed it right from the start.

Read more: Nikon Z7 review

4. Canon EOS 6D II

A low-cost entry into full frame photography that’s versatile too

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

Vari-angle touchscreen
Dual Pixel CMOS AF
Value and versatility
Full HD video only

Canon’s year has been dominated by the speculation and then excitement around the launch of its EOS R full frame mirrorless system, which has somewhat overshadowed the rest of its DSLR range – including the unglamorous but highly effective Canon EOS 6D II. This is Canon’s cheapest full frame DSLR and it’s been 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 handling, effective control layout, vari-angle touchscreen and rather good live view autofocus make it much more appealing in real-world use than it might look from the specs sheet alone. If you want to step up to full frame, this is a very effective and affordable way to do it.

Read more: Canon EOS 6D II review

5. Fujifilm X-T3

Fujifilm’s enthusiast/pro camera combines speed, power and performance

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: APS-C | Megapixels: 26.1MP | Screen: 3.in tilting touchscreen, 1.04million dots | Viewfinder: EVF | Max burst speed: 11-30fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Enthusiast/Professional

Full area AF coverage
4K video up to 60fps
High-speed burst modes
No in-body stabilization

The Fujifilm X-T3 sits just below the pro-orientated X-H1 in the Fujifilm range, but it benefits from Fujifilm’s latest sensor, processing engine and autofocus system and in many ways it overshadows its bigger brother. In fact, until the X-H1 is updated, we’d say this is Fujifilm’s top camera. The X-T3 combines an excellent 26.1-megapixel 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 the X-T3 is so powerful in every other respect that it’s easy to forgive.

Read more: Fujifilm X-T3 review

6. Canon EOS 80D

One of the best mid-range cameras for live-view shooting and video

Type: DSLR | Sensor: APS-C | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Lens mount: Canon EF-S | Screen: 3.2-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1,040,000 dots | Viewfinder: Optical | Max video resolution: Full HD | User level: Enthusiast

Great ergonomics
Superb image quality
Versatile and affordable
ISO range could be wider

Another strong contender for best DSLR is Canon's EOS 80D. Canon has overhauled its entire DSLR lineup in the past year or so, but the EOS 80D still stands out from these latest arrivals. The fact that it follows so many successful cameras in Canon’s double-digit EOS stable is clear from the small changes the company has made to the now-familiar template, while the feature set has a fresh 24MP APS-C sensor, Canon’s excellent Dual Pixel CMOS AF system, 7fps burst shooting and built in Wi-Fi and NFC among its highlights. As we noted in our full review of the camera, image quality is a strong point, with accurate colours, well-controlled noise levels and impressive dynamic range, particularly at lower sensitivities. Its specs, price and approachability mean that it has huge appeal – and explains why it’s still in our best camera roundup even though it was launched way back in 2016.

Read more: Canon EOS 80D review

7. Fujifilm X-T100

We aren’t all made of money, which is why this mirrorless camera is so great

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: APS-C | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Screen: 3in tilting touchscreen, 1.04million dots | Viewfinder: EVF | Max burst speed: 6fps | Max video resolution: 4K/Full HD | User level: Beginner/enthusiast

Simple, classic design
Built-in viewfinder
Retracting 15-45mm lens
4K video but only at 15fps

We rave about the Fujifilm X-T3 (no. 5 in our list, above) but it’s a pretty expensive purchase unless you’re a real enthusiast. What if you’d like a mirrorless camera with a viewfinder, but you can’t afford that kind of money? That’s where the Fujifilm X-T100 comes in. Launched without much of a fanfare, we reckon this camera is actually a bit of a classic. Its neat design is reminiscent of old-fashioned 35mm SLRs, and while it has a regular 24-megapixel CMOS sensor rather than Fujifilm’s more advanced X-Trans type, its image quality is actually very good indeed. We also like the retracting 15-45mm kit lens, which is smaller than most kit lenses and covers a slightly wider angle of view. Claiming the X-T100 shoots 4K video is a bit silly, though, because it can only do this at 15fps – and no-one is going to shoot video at such a low frame rate. Nevertheless, when it comes to cheaper options, this is one of the best cameras you can buy.

Read more: Fujifilm X-T1100 review

A black and silver Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III camera

8. Olympus OM-D E-M10 III

A brilliant little mirrorless camera you can slide into a coat pocket

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Micro Four Thirds | Megapixels: 16.1MP | Screen: 3in tilting touchscreen, 1.04million dots | Viewfinder: EVF | Max burst speed: 8.6fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Beginner/enthusiast

Very compact body
Extensive external controls
Tiny 14-42mm 'pancake' zoom
Only 16.1 million pixels

Olympus has been pretty quiet recently as many of its rivals have been busy launching or announcing full frame mirrorless cameras. By contrast, Olympus is sticking with its Micro Four Thirds format, based around a sensor a little smaller than the APS-C format. The key advantage of this format is that both the cameras and the lenses can be corresponding smaller – and the OM-D E-M10 III is a little gem. Despite its small size, it packs in a twin-dial control layout that enthusiast will admire, 5-axis in-body stabilization, 4K video and a wide selection of Olympus’s rather good. Art Filters. Make sure you get this camera with the 14-42mm EZ ‘pancake’ lens, though, not the cheaper but larger ‘regular’ 14-42mm kit lens. The EZ lens offers a 3x zoom range in a super-slim barrel and is the perfect complement to the E-M10 III.

9. Sony Alpha 6000

An older model but still one that packs a punch

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

Superb AF system
Great EVF
No 4K video
No touchscreen

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. The 1.44million-dot OLED viewfinder and tilting LCD screen also stand out from the spec sheet, even if the latter isn't touch sensitive, while Wi-Fi and NFC round things off nicely.

10. Panasonic LX100 II

Its large MFT sensor makes this flagship Lumix model unique

Type: Compact | Sensor size: Micro Four Thirds | Megapixels: 17MP | Lens: 24-75mm, f/1.7-2.8 (equiv.) | LCD: 3in fixed, 1,24 million dots | Viewfinder: EVF | Continuous shooting: 11fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Enthusiast/expert

Multi-aspect MFT sensor
Fast f/1.7-2.8 lens
4K video, 4K Photo modes
Not the highest resolution

One of the problems with big sensors is that you need big lenses to go with them, so they don't tend to fit in your pocket. Panasonic has changed that, though, with the LX100 II. It pairs a Micro Four Thirds sensor that isn't much smaller than the ASP-C sensors in mode DSLRs with a miniaturised lens assembly, which powers down in to a camera body that's slim enough to carry anywhere. The camera is a new iteration of the original LX100, which was beginning to show its age. It boasts a 16-megapixel ‘multi-aspect’ sensor – so 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 cropping the image and losing pixels. With an external shutter speed dial, lens aperture ring and aspect ratio switch, the LX100 II is a brilliant camera for enthusiasts and experts.

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