The main thing to look at when buying a digital camera is sensor size. Larger isn't always better, but it is a good guide to what kind of camera it is, how expensive the lenses will be, and who it's aimed at. In general, Micro Four Thirds and APS-C cameras are for both hobbyists and pros, while full-frame models tend to be strictly for advanced photographers with bigger budgets. Compact cameras with 1-inch sensors are for travel zooms and everyday photography.
DSLRs have long been a byword for 'serious' photography, but they're no longer at the top the camera tech tree. Mirrorless cameras, which replace the DSLR's optical viewfinder with a wholly electronic EVF, are now the beneficiaries of the camera giants' latest lenses and autofocus systems. Neither Canon nor Nikon has released a new DSLR in years. That's why our list above is dominated by mirrorless cameras, rather than DSLRs.
We've seen some impressive new high-end cameras like the Sony A7R V arrive recently, but it's also a great time of year to shop for more affordable photography companions. To help you create your plan and pick the right camera to buy (or look for deals on), we've gathered all of the best choices we've tested in the guide below, which is split into sections according to your level of experience. Happy camera shopping!
No hybrid camera comes without compromise: there is a heavy crop on 4K footage and it isn't the simplest camera for beginners to use. The Canon EOS R6 also offers faster burst speeds for a similar price. But considering its powerful versatility and higher resolution, the Sony A7 IV deservedly takes our number one spot.
It isn't a full-frame camera, but the Fujifilm X-H2 takes APS-C performance to new heights. It combines an excellent new 40MP sensor with the handling of the X-H2S (its stacked sensor sibling) to create a brilliant all-round package for most kinds of photography, from landscapes to wedding snaps.
While the Canon EOS R5 (see below) is overkill for most people, the EOS R6 is a more affordable full-frame alternative that is simply one of the best cameras for photography around. If you already own one of Canon's early mirrorless full-framers like the EOS R, or any of its DSLRs, this is a more than worthy upgrade.
Based on our review, the EOS R6 brings best-in-class autofocus, a superb in-body image stabilization system, and burst shooting powers that mark it out as a very fine camera for wildlife or sports photography.
We found that the OM-1 performed well up to ISO 1600 and had slightly less aggressive noise reduction than its Olympus-made predecessors. Its computational modes are also the best you'll find outside a smartphone, with the likes of HIgh Res Shot, Live ND and in-camera Focus Stacking going some way to compensating for its smaller sensor.
On the downside, its autofocus tracking isn't quite up to the level of Canon or Sony, and the controls can be a little fiddly. That 20MP resolution also isn't huge for a camera of this price. But if you can overlook those drawbacks, then the OM-1 (and its huge range of Micro Four Thirds lenses) will make a fine companion.
If you like shooting fast-moving subjects like wildlife and can't quite stretch to a full-frame Canon camera like the EOS R6, then the EOS R7 is great choice. It has a smaller APS-C sensor, so its high ISO performance isn't as strong as its full-frame siblings, but the benefit is that you can get longer reach from smaller lenses. The EOS R7 also packs in fast burst speeds, with our tests backing up its claims of 15fps continuous shooting (with the mechanical shutter) or 30fps if you switch to the electronic shutter. You can't sustain those speeds for quite as long as a camera like the EOS R6, but a few seconds is enough to capture most wildlife subjects.
Another big bonus of Canon's EOS R system are its subject-tracking autofocus skills and the EOS R7 inherits these, too. Our tests found these to be a dream for wildlife, action and sports subjects. We were also fans of its chunky grip, which makes it comfortable to hold with long lenses, and the inclusion of dual UHS-II card slots, which means it's a camera that could also tempt pros looking for a second body. The only drawback right now is the lack of native lenses for the EOS R7's APS-C sensor, with only two available at the time of writing. Still, you can always mount today's full-frame RF lenses or adapt older EF lenses while you wait for Canon to make more.
Despite not being perfect, the Nikon Z5 is the best entry-level full-frame model you can buy right now, making it a great option for those looking to upgrade to the larger format for the first time. With a 24.3MP sensor that reliably produces vibrant, sharp and clean images, a reliable autofocusing system and a comfortable, well-built body, there's a lot we liked about the Nikon Z5 during our testing.
Equipping it with the same high-resolution viewfinder as its more advanced Z6/Z7 siblings is a nice touch that adds a touch of premium quality to proceedings. What we felt let the Z5 down during our review are things that many photographers might not be too concerned about: the 4.5fps maximum frame rate being underwhelming for action shooters, and the crop applied to 4K video being frustrating for vloggers. Not bothered by either of those things? It's one of the best cameras for photography and a fine choice for those who want full-frame on a budget.
It isn't the cheapest camera for beginners, but we think the Canon EOS R10 is the now best option for those starting their photographic journey. Spiritual successor to Canon's popular mid-range DSLRs, the EOS R10 has two standout skills: impressive, subject-tracking autofocus and speedy 15fps burst shooting, which was previously unheard of at this price.
Both of those combine nicely to make the EOS R10 a versatile little camera for shooting all kinds of subjects, from portraits to speeding pets and kids. During our autofocus testing, which we conducted on cats, deer and a speedy cockapoodle, the R10 found and tracked the subject's eyes very well, with the 15fps burst speeds producing a decent hit rate.
While it isn't a compact camera, the EOS R10 is very lightweight at 429g and has a deep grip that makes it feel well-balanced in the hand with all kinds of lenses. Unfortunately, the EOS R10 doesn't yet have many native lenses (just two at the time of writing) and lacks in-body image stabilization. But if you're happy to buy some of the many full-frame RF lenses that work well with the camera, or adapt old ones using an EF-EOS R adapter, then it's a versatile little sidekick that's ideal for fledgling snappers.
If you're looking for a compact mirrorless camera to help develop your photographic skills, the OM-D E-M10 Mark IV offers fantastic value considering its feature set. In our tests, we found its flip-down touchscreen and good ergonomics make it a fine option for beginners who are moving up from a smartphone or compact camera. And because the E-M10 Mark IV is a Micro Four Thirds camera, it has one of the biggest selections of lenses around, which means it's a model that can really grow with you.
The useful Guide mode is there to walk beginners through creating effects like a blurred background, while the Nikon DX system has a vast array of lenses. If you're starting out, we'd recommend buying the D3500 with the AF-P DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR lens, as its brings handy vibration reduction for very little extra cost. Those looking for a travel-friendly camera should still consider mirrorless alternatives like the Fujifilm X-T200 and Canon EOS M50 Mark II, but otherwise this remains a brilliant way to learn the photographic basics and start your new hobby.
If you see the Canon EOS R5 as a pro stills model with some impressive video features, then it's one of the best cameras the photography giant has ever made. There's no doubt it has video limitations compared to a rival like the Sony A7S III, particularly for shooting longer clips. But after our review, we found it great for anyone looking to shoot mind-blowing stills in almost any situation, whether that's wildlife or studio work. It's a hugely impressive achievement.
If you need a lightning-fast sidekick that can shoot a mix of stills and 6K video, the X-H2S is one of the best hybrid cameras around. Its X-H2 sibling (above) may offer 40MP resolution, but if you're happy with the 26MP offered by the X-H2S, it's an excellent alternative to its 'stacked' full-frame sensor rivals.
It may lack the retro charm of Fujifilm's X-T series, but the X-H2S has a lovely deep grip and one of the best electronic viewfinders we've tested, too. Our only real gripes are that its autofocus is still fractionally behind Sony and Canon, particularly for video, and that there still aren't a huge array of lens options at the telephoto end. You may also find its 40fps speeds to be slight overkill. But if not, the X-H2S is undoubtedly one of the best all-round cameras you can buy.
During our review, we found its deep grip makes the A7R IV comfortable to use during long days out in the field, while the weather-sealing is a big step up from the A7R III. You also get a bright, sharp 5.76 million-dot electronic viewfinder, although we found the touchscreen controls a bit more limited than more recent Sony cameras like the A7S III. Still, this doesn't stop the A7R IV from being the most desirable in its class and, based on our experience, it even shoots decent video (albeit with some rolling shutter). For scenic trips, it remains one of the best cameras for photography.
This means you get class-leading dynamic range, sharp edge-to-edge detail and a handy 19MP APS-C crop mode, for sports or wildlife shooting. Some rivals may offer more in the way of video features and autofocus performance (for action shots in particular), but the Nikon Z7 II brings internal 4K/60p video and remains one of the best full-frame cameras you can buy today. With the Z system's lens collection also slowly growing this year, now is the time to make the switch from your DSLR. 781b155fdc