There are so many options for cameras on the market. Choosing the right one to purchase, or just to use for a video project, can be challenging. In fact, there really isn’t a single right answer to the question, “Which camera should I use?” It’s an impossible question to answer, but we’ll do our best to make sure you end up buying the right camera for you.
The best camera for you depends on what you need. The best camera for a pro photographer, for example, is a million miles away from the best camera for an adventure sports nut. Likewise, a novice shooter just making their first steps in photography doesn’t need all the most up-to-date tech that a pro might, more an easy-to-use camera that will help them to grow in confidence.
But if you just want to know what we think are the top ten cameras that are available right now – regardless of user level or price point – keep on reading.
We’ve rounded up the very best options across the three main categories: DSLR, mirrorless and compact. Each camera stands out in some way from a sea of rivals, be it because it’s simply the best at what it does in its category or because it offers something unique and groundbreaking, or because it delivers so much for your money.
On the other hand, you may already have a clear idea of the kind of camera you want, in which case you could go straight to one of our more specific camera buying guides at the bottom of the page. Otherwise, read on to find out our picks of the best cameras available right now.
1. Nikon Z6
A brilliant start to a new mirrorless system
Type: Mirrorless | Sensor size: Full-frame CMOS | Resolution: 24.5MP | Lens: Nikon Z mount | Viewfinder: EVF | Screen type: 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen, 2,100,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 12fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Intermediate/expert
Our top mirrorless camera until recently was the brilliant Alpha A7 III from Sony (position 3), but the arrival of Nikon’s Z6 means it now just misses out – though it’s very close. The Z6 manages to combine excellent stills and 4K video quality with everything else that’s key for a full-frame mirrorless camera. So, we get a lightweight and compact body that still manages to handle beautifully on account of a substantial and ergonomically designed grip, together with a sharp 3.69 million dot viewfinder and a responsive, tilting touchscreen. The fact that you can use existing F-mount lenses through the FTZ adapter also means you’re not confined to the handful of Z mount optics developed for the system, while a recent firmware update boosted focusing performance and eye detection to make it even more competitive against Sony’s Alpha line. Love it.
2. Fujifilm X-T30
This ravishing retro option squeezes in plenty of new tech
Sensor size: APS-C | Resolution: 26.1MP | Viewfinder: 2,360K dots | Monitor: 3.0-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 1,040K dots | Autofocus: 425-point AF | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 8fps | Movies: 4K at 30p | User level: Expert
Fujifilm’s X-T3 may still one of the most capable APS-C mirrorless cameras around, but that fact that the company managed to incorporate so much of its tech inside the smaller and cheaper X-T30 makes this our preference. A solid 26.1MP X0Trans CMOS 4 sensor, popular Film Simulation modes, excellent 4K video capabilities and a hybrid AF system with 425 phase-detect AF points stand out as highlights from its strong spec sheet, while improvements to overall speed and face/eye detection make for a slightly more polished performance over the previous X-T20. Our only gripe is the small viewfinder magnification – but even with that, you won’t find better APS-C-based mirrorless model for this kind of money right now.
3. Sony A7 III
Quality results partnered with speedy operation
Sensor size: Full-frame | Resolution: 24.2MP | Viewfinder: 2,359K dots | Monitor: 3.0-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 921K dots | Autofocus: 693-point AF | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 10fps | Movies: 4K at 30p | User level: Intermediate/expert
We love the A7 III. The original A7 and A7 II showed Sony was moving in the right direction and making all the right noises, but it’s this third iteration that has particularly stood out in the mid-range mirrorless market. The core of the camera – namely a 24MP full-frame sensor, 4K video, sensor-based image stabilization, 10fps burst shooting and a 693-point hybrid AF system – is strong enough, but with two card slots and a 710-shot battery life on top of that, you’re getting excellent value for money as well as top performance. We have some reservations with the viewfinder and weather-sealing, but this is still one of the most versatile cameras around right now, mirrorless or otherwise.
4. Nikon D850
When you need resolution and speed, this is your best bet
Type: DSLR | Sensor size: Full-frame CMOS | Resolution: 45.4MP | Lens: Nikon F mount | Viewfinder: Optical | Screen type: 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen, 2,359,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 7fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Intermediate/expert
The D850 stands on the shoulders of the D810 and many successful pro-oriented Nikon DSLRs that came before it, and its well-rounded feature set means it appeals to a diverse range of users. Normally we find such cameras aimed towards those needing either high resolution, high speed or solid video capabilities, but with its 45MP full-frame sensor, 7fps burst shooting (which can be boosted to 9fps with a battery grip) and 4K video recording options, it successfully caters for everyone’s needs. The body is rugged and protected against inclement weather, and is peppered with illuminated buttons for low-light use, while 153 AF points make it a brilliant performer when it comes to tracking moving subjects too. Battery life of 1,800 frames per charge is also mighty impressive.
5. Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III
Top-notch performance in a super-small package
Type: Mirrorless | Sensor size: Micro Four Thirds | Resolution: 16.1MP | Lens: Micro Four Thirds | Screen type: 3.0-inch tilting touchscreen, 1,370,000 dots | Viewfinder: EVF | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 8.6fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Beginner/enthusiast
While the main specification of the OM-D E-M10 Mark III doesn’t offer a huge upgrade from the Mark II, Olympus has refined and tweaked one of our favorite mirrorless cameras to make it an even more tempting proposition for new users and enthusiasts alike. Sure, the Micro Four Thirds sensor is smaller than the competition, and its 16MP resolution may seen a little behind the times too, but don’t let this put you off. Sensor-based image stabilization, something many cameras at this level don’t offer in favour of lens-based stabilization, is a huge plus and very effective too, while 4K video recording and 8.6fps burst shooting are also very competitive. The fact that you can use it with so many excellent and compact Micro Four Thirds lenses only adds to its charms.
6. Canon EOS Rebel SL2 / EOS 200D
Looking for a first DSLR? The Rebel SL2 ticks plenty of boxes
Type: DSLR | Sensor: APS-C CMOS | Resolution: 24.2MP | Lens mount: Canon EF | Viewfinder: Optical | Screen type: 3.0-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1,040,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 5fps | Movies: 1080p | User level: Beginner
Canon recently updated the EOS Rebel SL2, also known as the EOS 200D, with the EOS Rebel SL3 / EOS 250D, but we’re sticking with the former for now. While the newer model does add a few extra niceties – 4K video recording and a new processor, for example – the bones are pretty much the same, so you may as well go for the older model and put the cash you save towards a nice lens. The EOS Rebel SL2 offers everything the first-time user needs to get started, such as a great 24.2MP sensor, a fluid AF system when shooting live view and videos, and an easy-to-understand interface. It also works with an endless assortment of lenses and accessories and that touchscreen is a joy to use too.
7. Panasonic Lumix ZS200 / TZ200
The perfect travel camera – small, versatile and with a decent zoom
Type: Travel compact | Sensor: 1-inch type CMOS | Resolution: 20.1MP | Lens: 24-360mm, f/3.3-6.4 | Viewfinder: EVF | Screen type: 3.0-inch touchscreen, 1,240,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 10fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Beginner/enthusiast
The Panasonic Lumix ZS200 (known as the Lumix TZ200 outside the US) is the best travel zoom camera right now. This is thanks in part to the camera using a large 1.0-inch sized sensor that enables the pixels to be about 2.4x bigger than they are in models like the Lumix ZS70 / TZ90, and this helps the ZS200 produce much higher quality images. The zoom isn’t quite as broad as some though, but the 15x zoom should be more than enough for most shooting situations, while there’s a built-in electronic viewfinder that makes it easier to compose images in sunny conditions. Add 4K video recording, along with Panasonic’s 4K Photo mode to help capture 8MP images of fleeting moments, and you’ve got a very capable travel companion. If you’re looking for even more performance – and you have deeper pockets – check out Sony’s brilliant Cyber-shot RX100 VI.
8. Panasonic Lumix GH5S
The best video-orientated camera you can buy
Type: Mirrorless | Sensor size: Micro Four Thirds | Resolution: 10.2MP | Lens: Micro Four Thirds | Screen type: 3.2-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1,620,000 dots | Viewfinder: EVF | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 12fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Expert
While it can shoot stills quite happily (although at a pretty limited 10.2MP resolution), the Lumix GH5S should be seen first and foremost as a video camera. If you want to do both you’ve got the Lumix GH5 to fill that brief, thanks to its 20.3MP sensor and built-in image stabilization system. The GH5S’s breadth of video features is impressive, with the ability to shoot cinematic 4K footage at up to 60fps headlining a strong list of video specs. If you want to shoot professional-quality footage without remortgaging your house, you won’t find a better video-focused camera right now.
9. Olympus Tough TG-5
A rugged, waterproof body blended with high-end features
Type: Compact | Sensor: 1/2.3-inch | Resolution: 12MP | Lens: 25-100mm f/2-4.9 | Viewfinder: N/A | Monitor: 3.0-inch screen, 460,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 20fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Beginner
The Tough TG-5 from Olympus is built to survive pretty much anything you could throw at it. It’s waterproof down to depths of 15m, crushproof to weights of 100kg and drop-proof from heights of 2.1m. It can even be used in temperatures as low as -10°C. Add in raw file support and this makes image quality that bit better than its predecessor, while it can shoot 4K video at 30p or high-speed footage at 120p in Full HD. The company has recently updated its line with a TG-6 successor, although the specs seem very similar and we’ve not had the chance to give it a full workout yet – so we’re sticking with the TG-5 for now.
10. Sony RX10 III
The bridge camera for the photographer who wants quality too
Type: Bridge camera | Sensor: 1.0-inch type CMOS | Resolution: 20.1MP | Lens: 24-600mm, f/2.8-4 | Screen type: 3-inch tilting screen, 1,040,000 dots | Viewfinder: EVF | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 14fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Intermediate
The RX10 III is the third bridge-style superzoom in the popular RX10 line, and while it’s had some of its sheen rubbed off by the newer RX10 IV, we reckon the great spec sheet and lower price of the RX10 III makes more sense. Thanks to its large, high-quality 1-inch sensor and image-stabilized 24-600mm-equivalent zoom lens, it’s one of the best DSLR alternatives for those that need a massive focal range, although excellent 4K video capabilities and 14fps burst shooting show it to be more than capable when faced with moving subjects too. Too expensive? The previous RX10 II is still available (although its lens has a more modest 24-200mm scope), and Panasonic’s competitively priced FZ1000 is another stellar option.
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