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The 10 best cameras for enthusiasts: cameras for your next steps in photography

Included in this guide:

Best cameras for enthusiasts
Best cameras for enthusiasts

With the best cameras for enthusiasts, it pays to think creatively. You're trying to get as many of the features of professional cameras as possible, without paying a professional price tag. This means that rather than looking at the latest and greatest models, it can pay to look back over the professional cameras of yesteryear. These tend to still be available, for significantly slashed prices compared to launch, and still bear all the features enthusiasts need. 

Of course, there are still plenty of good mid-range cameras made with enthusiasts in mind, so in this guide, we've covered both. Our list includes a broad range of cameras, including DSLRs, mirrorless cameras and an enthusiast compact, with all different sensor sizes from Micro Four Thirds to APS-C and full-frame. We've got new models and old on this list, and have made sure to include representatives from all the major manufacturers. 

We've factored in price when making our list. If we think an older camera offers better value for the enthusiast than its newer successor, we've said so. This means you can always be sure that you're getting a good deal.

Let's get started with our guide to the best cameras for enthusiasts right now!

Best cameras for enthusiasts in 2021

(Image credit: Sony)

The best bang you can get for your buck, resolution-wise

Specifications
Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: Full frame
Megapixels: 42.4MP
Lens mount: Sony E
Screen: 3in tilting touchscreen, 2,359k dots
Viewfinder: EVF, 3,686k dots
Continuous shooting speed: 10fps
Max video resolution: 4K
User level: Enthusiast/professional
Reasons to buy
+42.4 million tack-sharp pixels+Pixel-shift high-res mode
Reasons to avoid
-Better video options around-Stabilisation outstripped by rivals

Though it's not the latest A7R model, unless you really need 61MP of resolution, we think the Sony A7R IIIa offers the best value in terms of pixels-per-buck right now. This camera originally launched in 2017, but the "A" in the name denotes a very slightly upgraded version that quietly debuted in 2021. The only real changes are a significant upgrade to the resolution of the LCD screen, jumping it considerably from 1,440,000 dots to 2,359,296 dots, and an upgrade of the USB port to a USB 3.2 “SuperSpeed USB 5Gbps."

Otherwise, this is the same great camera that wowed us on release, and is still doing the business today. The ultra-high resolution of the sensor pairs beautifully with the new Pixel-Shift multi-shot mode that stitches several images together for one super-large file. And then you've also got 10fps burst shooting, a super-fast hybrid autofocus system, generous battery life and more. It's a fantastic camera for any enthusiast, and as long as the A7R IV continues to swan around in the limelight, it'll only get cheaper. 

Read more: Sony A7R III review

(Image credit: Fujifilm)

2. Fujifilm X-S10

Fujifilm's mid-range X-mount camera is brilliant for enthusiasts

Specifications
Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: APS-C
Megapixels: 26.1MP
Lens mount: Fujifilm X
Screen: 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1.04m dots
Viewfinder: EVF, 2,360k dots
Max continuous shooting speed: 30/8fps
Max video resolution: 4K
User level: Intermediate/Expert
Reasons to buy
+Small size & excellent build quality+Vari-angle touchscreen+In-body image stabilisation
Reasons to avoid
-Conventional mode dial

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 stabilisation) gives 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 as one of the best cameras for enthusiasts right now.

Read more: Fujifilm X-S10 review

Best cameras for enthusiasts: Fujifilm X-T4

(Image credit: Fujifilm)

3. Fujifilm X-T4

Spectacular stills, excellent video, in-body stabilisation... it has the lot

Specifications
Type: Mirrorless
Sensor:: APS-C
Megapixels: 26.1MP
Lens mount: Fujifilm X
LCD: 3in vari-angle touchscreen, 1.62million dots
Viewfinder: EVF
Maximum continuous shooting speed: 30fps (electronic shutter, 1.25x crop mode) 15fps (mechanical shutter)
Max video resolution: 4K
User level: Enthusiast
Reasons to buy
+6.5-stop stabilisation+Top-notch image quality
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive for APS-C-Average buffer depth

While full-frame mirrorless cameras do feel like the celebrities of the photo world right now, APS-C models are still coming along leaps and bounds, and many are replete with spectacular features. Case in point, the Fujifilm X-T4, which may have an APS-C sensor, but also happens to be one of the finest mirrorless cameras ever made. Superb retro styling meets a spectacular image sensor that produces fabulous images straight out of camera, and now with fast burst shooting and 6.5-stop image stabilisation, the X-T4 is very much able to roll in the big leagues. Then there's the vari-angle touchscreen that makes it possible to shoot from all sorts of different angles, the 4K 60p video that looks fantastic, the Film Simulation modes... well, we could gush about this camera all day (see our review below if you would in fact be happy to read us gush all day about this camera).

Read more: Fujifilm X-T4 review

Best cameras for enthusiasts: Sony A7 III

(Image credit: Sony)

4. Sony A7 III

Sony's entry-level A7 model is actually a powerful all-rounder

Specifications
Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: Full frame
Megapixels: 24.2MP
Lens mount: Sony E
Screen: 3in tilting touchscreen, 922k dots
Viewfinder: EVF, 2,359k dots
Continuous shooting speed: 10fps
Max video resolution: 4K
User level: Enthusiast
Reasons to buy
+Image quality and speed+5-axis image stabilisation
Reasons to avoid
-Unbalanced by larger lenses-24MP no higher than APS-C models

It might not have the blinding speed of Sony’s top-flight A9 II or the ultra-high-resolution of the A7R IV, but the Sony A7 III grabs many of the best bits from these pricier models and delivers them in a more affordable package. Headline features include highly effective 696-point AF system and a 5-axis image stabilization system that promises 5EV of compensation. There’s a 24.2MP back-illuminated image sensor, coupled with the latest generation of image processor, and the two deliver amazing tonal range and make super-high ISO settings possible. Handling is good, though some may find the body a little small when paired with pro lenses, but that applies across the Alpha range. For top performance at a sensible price, it’s the best Sony camera out there – but it is holding its price very firmly, and for stills photographers the older Sony A7 and Sony A7 II are very tempting (and cheaper) alternatives.

Sony has since upgraded this camera with a successor, the Sony A7 IV. However, it's not a sequel exactly – it's an enormous jump in power, complexity and, yes, price. It's more like a miniature A1 than an entry-level full-frame model in the way previous A7 cameras have been. For that reason, we're sticking with the Mark III version as our recommendation for now. 

Read more: Sony A7 III review

Nikon Z5

(Image credit: Nikon)

5. Nikon Z5

It's a good camera, and a great way into the Nikon Z system

Specifications
Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: Full frame CMOS
Megapixels: 24MP
Monitor: EVF, 3,690k dots, 100% coverage
Continuous shooting speed: 4.5fps
Viewfinder: EVF
Max video resolution: 4K UHD at 30p
User level: Enthusiast
Reasons to buy
+Easy to get to grips with+5-axis IS system
Reasons to avoid
-Only 4.5fps burst shooting-4K video gets a 1.7x crop

The Z5 is Nikon's latest entry-level full-frame mirrorless camera. Rather than starting with a clean sheet of paper, Nikon's pretty much used the same design for the Z5 as it did for the Z6 (and Z7 for that matter). The most noticeable thing on the body that differs from the Z6 is the arrival of a more beginner-orientated mode dial in place of the LCD top-plate display. The Z5 also borrows much of the tech inside the Z6, with the most noticeable difference being the sensor. The resolution might be the same, but the Z6 benefits from a back-illuminated chip and images from the two are very similar, with the Z6 having the edge at higher ISOs. The 4K video is a little restrictive with a 1.7x crop, while the burst shooting speed is a modest 4.5fps. The Z5 is better than its budget rivals the Canon EOS RP and Sony Alpha A7 II, however, and good value in today's full frame mirrorless camera market.

Read more: Nikon Z5 review

Best Panasonic cameras: Panasonic Lumix S5

(Image credit: Panasonic)

6. Panasonic Lumix S5

Panasonic's new compact mirrorless camera is just stunning

Specifications
Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: Full frame
Megapixels: 24.2MP
Screen: 3-inch vari-angle, 1,840k dots
Viewfinder: Electronic, 2,360k dots
Lens: L-mount
Continuous shooting speed: 7fps
Video: Uncropped 4K UHD up to 60/50p
User level: Intermediate/expert
Reasons to buy
+Best in-class video performance+Magnesium frame and vari-angle screen+Dual SD card slots
Reasons to avoid
-HDMI port not full-size-Only contrast AF

Despite its compact size, the Lumix S5 shares the impressive 24MP CMOS sensor housed in the Lumix S1, but with improved AF. It also has a tough weather-resistant body and delivers up to 6.5-stops of image stabilisation with compatible lenses. Its standout features include class-leading dynamic range and 4K video recording, as well as 96MP high resolution RAW+JPEG capture. It’s tough to beat in this category. The Lumix S5 is smaller than the Lumix S1 and S1R before it, and cheaper too. It matches the Lumix S1 for stills and beats it for video, coming close to the capabilities of the far more expensive Lumix S1H. What a camera! It's not cheap, especially compared to the Nikon Z5, but it's a better choice for video shooters.

Read more: Panasonic Lumix S5 review

Best cameras for enthusiasts: Canon EOS R

(Image credit: Canon)

7. Canon EOS R

Canon's first full frame mirrorless camera is now a terrific deal

Specifications
Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: Full frame
Megapixels: 30.3MP
Lens mount: Canon RF
Screen: 3.15-inch fully articulating touchscreen, 2.1m dots
Viewfinder: EVF, 3.69m dots
Max burst speed: 8fps
Max video resolution: 4K
User level: Enthusiast/professional
Reasons to buy
+Great control customization+5,655(!) focus positions+Fully articulating screen
Reasons to avoid
-No in-body stabilization-Cropped 4K video-Single SD card slot

When it was launched we called the Canon EOS R capable, customizable, but compromised. Three years later it's a much more appealing proposition, thanks to firmware-improved performance and a more competitive price tag. It still suffers the same limitations, namely the lack of IBIS and the cropped 4K, though its 30.3MP sensor continues to make it an appealing system. However, if you don't mind losing about 6MP in resolution, we would also recommend the Canon EOS RP as it comes with an even lower price tag for largely the same results. 

For enthusiasts, however, the EOS R is a more appealing camera, and a lot cheaper than the newer EOS R6, which actually has a lower resolution, or the flagship EOS R5 and its showstopping 8K video. It's an ideal way to buy into the Canon RF system, which is very much looking like the way of the future, and a good first stepping stone for those who have half an eye on upgrading to one of the more recent cameras. 

Read more: Canon EOS R review

Best cameras for enthusiasts

(Image credit: Canon)

8. Canon EOS 6D Mark II

Canon's entry-level full frame DSLR is actually very versatile

Specifications
Type: DSLR
Sensor: Full frame
Megapixels: 26.2MP
Lens mount: Canon EF
Screen: 3in vari-angle touchscreen, 1,040,000 dots
Viewfinder: Optical
Max burst speed: 6.5fps
Max video resolution: 1080p
User level: Enthusiast/professional
Reasons to buy
+Excellent vari-angle touch screen+Great AF in Live View, plus accurate AF overall
Reasons to avoid
-Only 98% viewfinder coverage-4K video missed out

Like the feel and handling of a traditional SLR and want to step up from APS-C to full-frame photography? Then the second-generation, weather-resistant EOS 6D has got to be near top of your list, particularly with its headline feature being a new 26.2MP full-frame sensor and a sensitivity range that can be expanded to ISO 50-102,400 equivalents. We also get a latest-generation DIGIC 7 processor, but perhaps the most noticeable difference from the previous model on the outside is the 3in vari-angle display, which responds to touch. What's been left out, however, is 4K video, although there is a 4K time-lapse option that stitches together images into a 4K video, plus a microphone input to help you give audio capture a performance boost. AF performance is very good, and the camera handles a variety of lighting scenarios with ease, while battery life at 1,200 shots is likewise commendable. While the EOS 90D is a newer camera, we're still recommending this one for enthusiasts as it's currently one of the cheapest routes into full-frame around.

Read more: Canon EOS 6D Mark II review

(Image credit: Olympus / Amazon)

9. Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III

Rugged, fast and packed with features, the E-M5 III is a pocket powerhouse

Specifications
Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: MFT
Megapixels: 20.4MP
Lens mount: NFT
Screen: 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1,037,000 dots
Viewfinder: Electronic
Continuous shooting speed: 30fps (Pro Capture mode), 10fps (mechanical shutter)
Max video resolution: c4K/4K
User level: Enthusiast/Expert
Reasons to buy
+Stunning Pro Capture mode+Exceptional 152 raw file buffer+Size and handling+Range of lenses
Reasons to avoid
-MFT sensor smaller than APS-C-'Only' 20.4MP

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III is an exceptional camera and a worthy successor to the highly regarded E-M5 Mark II. This new camera uses Olympus' flagship 20.4MP Micro Four Thirds sensor, and while this might put some people off (these sensors are smaller than APS-C) the image quality is top notch – particularly when this camera can shoot 50MP images via pixel shift. Its other abilities are equally amazing, including 6.5 stops of in body stabilization, 30fps burst shooting (including via Pro Capture mode with 14-shot pre-buffering), C4K and 4K video, Olympus' brilliant Live Composite modes and plenty more. It's probably one of the last models to have the Olympus name as the company rebrands as 'OM Digital Solutions', but we hope the cameras keep on coming, even if the name enters the history books.

Read more: Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III review

Best cameras for enthusiasts: Fujifilm X100V

(Image credit: Fujifilm X100V)

10. Fujifilm X100V

One of the most enjoyable compacts to use, perfect for street shooting

Specifications
Type: Compact
Sensor:: APS-C
Megapixels: 26.1MP
Lens: 23mm f/2 (equivalent)
LCD: 3in tilting touchscreen, 1.62million dots
Viewfinder: EVF, 3.69 million dots
Maximum continuous shooting speed: 11fps (20fps electronic shutter)
Max video resolution: 4K
User level: Enthusiast
Reasons to buy
+Slim, carry-everywhere build+Gorgeous image quality
Reasons to avoid
-Fixed focal length-No optical stabilisation

Fujifilm's classic compact camera is in its fifth iteration, and is still beloved by enthusiasts everywhere. With a fixed lens sporting a 23mm equivalent focal length, paired with an X-Trans sensor bearing 26.1MP of resolution, it's a fearsome imaging machine. The other half of the equation is its slim and pocketable construction, and the gorgeous dial-based controls that hearken back to the days of film SLRs, all of which makes the X100V incredibly fun to use and shoot with. It's ideal for street photography and everyday shooting – lots of pros swear by the X100V as their second camera when they don't want to lug their full setup around – and this makes it seriously tempting for enthusiasts of all stripes. It's easy to forget that photography should be fun, and the X100V delivers that in spades, as well as premium image quality.

Read more: Fujifilm X100V review

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Rod Lawton

Rod is the Group Reviews editor for Digital Camera World and across Future's entire photography portfolio, with decades of experience with cameras of all kinds. Previously he has been technique editor on N-Photo, Head of Testing for the photography division and Camera Channel editor on TechRadar. He has been writing about photography technique, photo editing and digital cameras since they first appeared, and before that began his career writing about film photography. He has used and reviewed practically every interchangeable lens camera launched in the past 20 years, from entry-level DSLRs to medium format cameras, together with lenses, tripods, gimbals, light meters, camera bags and more.