Today’s digital cameras offer a far refined experience than a few years ago. And smartphone market shifts have sparked newfound innovations amongst the camera market. So much so, today’s models are even more capable and ready to provide a substantial upgrade in image quality.
Sure, a smartphone is capable. But, that only gets photographers so far. And if you yearn for better images, more creative control, or more flexibility, then a dedicated camera for photography is best. But when it comes to the best cameras for photography, there’s quite a lot of options. And there’s quite a broad range of cameras available to suit. Plus, if you’re a beginner, there are a few factors to consider beforehand to help narrow your search.
With that, in today’s post, we will cover a detailed guide outlining the factors to consider beforehand. And we’ll also cover the best camera for photography on the present market.
Jump to a Section
- 5 – Panasonic LUMIX G9
- 4 – Sony a6100
- 3 – Canon EOS RP
- 2 – Fujifilm X-S10
- 1 – Nikon D3500
- Buyers Guide
- How to choose the best camera for photography
- Types of cameras for photography
- Sensor Size & Image Quality
- Manual Control
- Ease of Use
- Battery Life
- Size & Weight
5 – Panasonic LUMIX G9
Panasonic’s G9 is the company’s flagship Micro-Four-Thirds stills camera. Released in 2018, it features a 20MP sensor, 1080p 120 FPS, and 4K 60 FPS video. It also provides a 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, image stabilization, dual card slots, weather sealing, USB charging, HDR, and wireless connectivity.
The G9 uses a 225-point autofocusing system with DFD technology for lightning-fast responsiveness. But, crucially, it’s one of the few cameras in its segment to remove the Optical Low Pass Filter from the sensor, greatly enhancing fine detail and image quality. It also provides sensor-based stabilization, rated for 6.5 stops, letting you capture sharp handheld shots at 1/10 of a second without fear. Plus, it shoots at an awe-inspiring 20 FPS with autofocus or 60 FPS without. And it offers the Hi-Res Shot mode, capturing 80-megapixel RAW images in-camera.
Overall, Panasonic’s G9 is extraordinary for photography. And as the company’s flagship camera in this realm, it makes sense. It comes hard stacked with powerful features photographers will appreciate and remains a breakthrough amongst Panasonic’s lineup.
4 – Sony a6100
Sony’s a6100 replaces their hallmark a6000. Released in 2019, it features a 24MP sensor, 1080p 120 FPS, and 4K 30 FPS video. It also provides a 3-inch flipping touchscreen, USB charging, time-lapse, panorama, HDR, and wireless connectivity.
The a6100 uses Sony’s class-leading 425-point autofocusing system with Real-Time AF. And despite its entry-level classification, it stands as one of the best performing cameras at tracking subjects and animals. Yet, one that does so shooting at 11 FPS, making it a doubly capable option for sports and wildlife.
Overall, Sony’s a6100 is quite a powerful entry-level camera. And its leaps and bounds refined over the original a6000. Yet, it does so with class-leading innovations and a price point that remains approachable for most.
3 – Canon EOS RP
Canon’s EOS RP remains the most affordable full-frame camera to date. But a powerful option indeed. Released in 2019, it features a 26MP sensor, 1080p 60 FPS, and 4K 24 FPS video. It also provides a 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, time-lapse, weather sealing, HDR, focus stacking, USB charging, and wireless connectivity.
The EOS RP obtains Canon’s high-end autofocusing system from the EOS R, with 4,779 points and Dual Pixel AF for smooth and confident focusing. But, at 440 grams body alone, the EOS RP remains the smallest and lightest full-frame camera they’ve released to date. Yet, one that provides the excellent color science and intuitive design Canon’s know for. And a camera that provides a nice step-up in image quality over their entry-level models.
Overall, Canon’s EOS RP is straightforward and easy to use. But even so, it offers much of the core functionality from the higher-end EOS R, without the higher-end price. And it stands as the most affordable full-frame camera to date. But, it’s a powerful option for those not needing the video-centric features of the EOS R.
2 – Fujifilm X-S10
Fujifilm’s X-S10 is a departure in design, sure, but quite a successful one. Released in 2020, it features a 26MP sensor, 1080p 240 FPS, and 4K 30 FPS video. It also provides a 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, image stabilization, panorama, multiple exposures, time-lapse, HDR, focus bracketing, and wireless connectivity.
The X-S10 obtains the high-end autofocusing system from the flagship X-T4, with 425 points. And it marks one of the few cameras that can focus down to -7 EV, essentially full darkness. It’s also one of the few cameras in its class to remove the Optical Low Pass Filter on the sensor, increasing fine image quality. And even less so offering sensor stabilization rated for 6 stops. Yet it does so at 20 FPS with focus or a whopping 30 FPS with the 1.25x Crop Mode in Fuji’s full suite of class film simulations.
Overall, Fujifilm’s X-S10 is an excellent option for enthusiasts wanting the industry-setting features of the X-T4 without its price. And as a package, it represents Fuji’s best all-around camera and a surprising release on their end.
1 – Nikon D3500
Nikon’s D3500 is their latest entry-level DSLR in the hallmark D3000 series. And it’s a camera aimed squarely at beginners looking for a powerful upgrade over a smartphone. Released in 2018, it features a 24MP sensor and 1080p 60 FPS video. It also provides a 3-inch rear LCD, flicker reduction, and Bluetooth connectivity.
The D3500 uses an 11-point autofocusing system with Dynamic and 3D tracking, a combination typically reserved for Nikon’s professional DSLRs. 3D tracking allows the autofocusing points to work cohesively, significantly improving the cameras tracking abilities. But, crucially, it’s one of few entry-level DSLRs that removes the Optical Low Pass Filter, a notable strength compared to its rivals. The D3500 also obtains Nikon’s phenomenal GUIDE Mode, which teaches beginners how to shoot various mediums in-camera. And with a battery life of 1,550 shots on a single charge, you’ll have little difficulty capturing moments every time.
Sure, the D3500 is a simple camera mostly lacking flashy features. But, for the price, and power here, it provides outstanding value. And it’s a camera that’ll get the job done. And one that won’t hurt the bank account much in the process, which is always welcomed.
How to choose the best camera for photography
To choose the best camera for photography, you’ll first want to ask yourself: what do I want to photograph? From there, you’ll want to have an understanding of whether this is a hobby or a long-term career pursuit. And then, factor in your current skill level.
These two questions will change the options that’ll make the most sense. As if you’re a beginner looking to learn digital photography, then an entry-level DSLR, mirrorless, or even compact camera is best. But, if you’re a more seasoned photographer, then a mid-range or semi-professional camera would be better.
But, with those in mind, below, you’ll find a collection of other factors to consider that will help narrow your search.
Types of cameras for photography
Before diving in, you’ll first want to know which camera style works best for your needs. Below you’ll find a list of the types of cameras for photography and some specific benefits to each.
Also known as point-and-shoot cameras, these are the most simple, straightforward, and lightweight cameras. As such, they’re also the most affordable. And these are the default starting point when new photographers desire an upgrade in image quality over a smartphone. These cameras use fully automatic modes, simplifying the shooting experience. And overall, they’re a great choice if you’re a beginner wanting something affordable and easy to use or a traveler looking for something portable and easy to store.
These are similar to fixed compacts, but they offer a zoom lens, adding versatility. These cameras are usually slightly more expensive, but they often have more advanced features and full manual control. So they’re a better choice for enthusiast photographers or travelers wanting something more flexible.
Adventure & Action Cameras
These cameras are designed to withstand the elements and the perfect suit for capturing action scenes. These cameras are usually shockproof, freezeproof, and waterproof to 10 m (32 ft). In design, they’re similar to zoom compacts. But their rugged designs make them ideal for capturing photos in areas these cameras wouldn’t survive. And they’re perfect cameras for the extreme cold or shooting in wet environments.
These compact cameras offer more advanced features, like 4K video, flat video profiles, manual exposure control, and better designs. As such, they’re the usual go-to choice for experienced photographers wanting something equally capable to a DSLR but pocketable.
Super Zoom & Bridge Cameras
Bridge cameras provide a compromise between compact cameras and larger DSLRs. They offer similar ergonomics as a DSLR, but they have built-in zoom lenses that provide superior versatility. You can find models with 100x zoom, letting you capture the moon. And they’re a good option for enthusiasts photographers wanting a better handling camera with a more powerful zoom to capture sports or wildlife. But one that’s equally as easy to use as a traditional zoom compact.
These cameras offer interchangeable lenses, so you have the greatest control over how they capture photos. And you can tailor the camera’s image quality to a more specific demand. Most offer advanced functionality that matches advanced compacts. But, these cameras tend to range in pricing. So they’re usually the go-to choice for more advanced photographers wanting manual control over the process.
DSLR cameras have interchangeable lenses like mirrorless cameras. And they offer similar features, control, and power. These are usually the choice for serious amateurs and professional photographers wanting a more comfortable camera that’s durable.
Medium Format Cameras
These are the top cameras for photography, with the largest sensors and highest image quality. These are the cameras that shoot billboard images. However, they’re the most expensive, averaging $10,000 for the body alone. As such, they’re the go-to choice of professional photographers shooting large format advertising and commercial work.
Now we’ve covered the types of photography cameras. And you have a better idea of which camera is best. Let’s take a look at the features within each you may want to consider to help narrow your search.
Above all else, you’ll want to decide whether a fixed lens or an interchangeable lens is best. Both have their advantages. With interchangeable lenses, you’ll always have the option to purchase another to suit your needs better. However, these lenses are often much larger and quite expensive. Alternatively, fixed lenses are often genre-specific, and most are best suited for a particular style of photography. Even so, you can find fixed lenses that cover everything from landscape to portrait photography. And cameras with fixed lenses are also much more affordable and smaller.
So for this, think about the amount of flexibility you want long-term. If you’re going to experiment with many forms of photography, an interchangeable lens camera is best. But, if you’re looking to capture photos as a hobby, a fixed lens camera with the range that suits your medium is better.
Mirrorless or DSLR
If you end up going with an interchangeable lens camera, you’ll have to decide whether you want a mirrorless or DSLR camera. Both cameras offer high-quality designs that will produce stellar images. But the difference between these cameras comes in battery life, viewfinders, and ergonomics.
DSLRs take advantage by providing larger bodies, accommodating higher capacity batteries that mostly outperform all mirrorless cameras. Their larger sizes also help them provide better handling and bulkier grips.
Mirrorless cameras, however, offer an electronic viewfinder, providing real-time feedback of the final image. They also provide a better live view shooting experience, with superior autofocusing performance and more versatile LCD screens. But, they often struggle to produce more than 400 images before dying. And their ergonomics are often lacking. Even so, they’re the better option if you want real-time feedback and superior autofocusing performance.
Sensor Size & Image Quality
Sensor size is a consideration if you plan to print your images, shoot in low light, or want background blur when shooting portraits. Otherwise, a compact camera is perfect and offers excellent image quality. But, if you shoot in low light, at a higher ISO setting, say ISO 800, you will see noise. Here the images will start to lose detail, and the prints will also suffer. And if you also want maximum background blur when shooting portraits, you’ll struggle to do so with most compact cameras. So, in these cases, opt for an interchangeable lens camera with an APS-C or full-frame sensor.
Not all cameras have reliable focusing, and the focusing abilities do vary between cameras. But, in general, if you get a camera released from 2017 onward, you can expect the autofocus to be good. But older-generation cameras will have poor autofocus tracking and won’t focus on moving subjects reliably. In those cases, you’ll have to use single-shot AF and focus by hand.
If you plan on shooting handheld often, you’ll want a stabilized lens. A stabilized lens will help reduce camera shake when holding the camera and allow you to shoot at a slower shutter speed. Doing so ensures you get sharper photos with less noise, especially at night.
Having some manual control over the photography process is wise, as every once in a while, you’ll want to make changes. So looking for cameras with some level of control over exposure settings is a must. Otherwise, you’ll have to use the camera judgment alone.
Ease of Use
If you’re a beginner, you’ll want to look for a camera that’s easy to use and intuitive to learn. The last thing you’d want is an overly complex camera ruining your experience. And a camera is a little good if you can’t find the settings needed to produce quality images. Thus, the camera should be accessible and have the most often used options at the forefront with simple menus.
Battery life is often overlooked. But, it’s vital so you can avoid the camera dying before a key moment. Generally, most cameras offer between 250-400 shots on a single charge. More advanced features like Wi-Fi, 4K video, stabilization, and touchscreen quickly lessen that though. So it’s a wise idea to purchase a spare battery with any camera. Otherwise, be on the lookout for cameras with USB charging so that you can charge on the go.
Size & Weight
If you plan on taking photos on the go most of the time, you’ll want a lightweight and easy-to-carry camera. In those cases, look for cameras that weigh around 500 grams or less. You can find the camera’s weight on the manufacturer’s listing. But, cameras at this weight are lightweight and easy to travel with. But, if you don’t plan on traveling often, then look for a camera with more comfortable ergonomics instead.
You may want to also look into bonus features such as HDR, panorama, focus stacking, and focus bracketing. Not all cameras offer these features. But, if they do, they’ll help capture better images as you progress.