Best Digital Cameras
Is it not literally amazing that such a compact and simple device could be packed with so many amazing features and technologies? That seems to just be the way the modern world functions as digital cameras have come a long way throughout the years. But, this guide is not intended to be a recap of the history of them. Instead, we wanted to construct this guide to help everyday consumers and professional photographers alike find suitable options. Whichever demographic you fall under, you will find that there are seemingly countless buying considerations and factors to make and assess. To put it bluntly, this technology can get downright confusing and overwhelming at times. And, for some of you, there may be features that you literally will care less about (and these same features may be pivotal to others). For the most part, it comes down to you and your needs.
In a Hurry? The test winner after 3.25 hrs of research
Captures images in 45.7 megapixels
Built for professional users
Can render 8K time-lapse movies
OUR TOP PICKS FOR THE BEST DIGITAL CAMERAS
1. NIKON D850
Captures images in 45.7 megapixels
Built for professional users
Can render 8K time-lapse movies
About as expensive as it gets
So, did the price scare you off already? There is no need to sugarcoat this; casual buyers will quickly pass on this model. In every sense of the word, the D850 is advanced.Read more
In addition to the fact that the D850 can produce images in brilliant 45.7 megapixels of resolution, the processing speed is also enhanced and accounts for a wider dynamic range and a reduction of noise.
First off, you can record 4K video in full frame glory with the D850 and if that was not enough, it is also capable of rendering 8K time-lapse movies. Oh, and for 1080p videos, it can capture up to 120 frames per second.
The continuous shooting feature present here can be done so at full resolution for up to nine frames per second. Also, the autofocus processor integrated is the same one utilized on the flagship D5.
Ease of Use
Thanks to the implementation of the tilting touchscreen LCD screen, you can get shots much easier and also shoot at lower angles. Really, it feels like you are operating a smartphone when you navigate through the D850.
Above everything else, this is also a beast when it comes to its construction. It boasts a magnesium alloy body and also full weather sealing to keep it safe from the elements.
How do you really summarize a device as good as the D850? It is an otherworldly digital camera from Nikon and, somehow, it is actually worth every penny spent.
2. SONY A7 III
The battery capacity is impressive
Designed with a 5-axis image stabilization system
The color reproduction performance is enhanced greatly
It will not shoot videos over 30 minutes in length
When you talk about the best digital cameras on the market, it would be a crock not to mention Sony’s name. It just so happens that their a7 III, past Nikon’s D850, is the pinnacle of this technology.Read more
The amazing combination of the BIONZ X image processing engine, front-end LSI and 24.2-megapixel image sensor produce incredible image quality. Also, the 5-axis stabilization helps and the color reproduction has been dramatically enhanced.
At either 24p or 30p, 4K videos can be shot from the a7 III. Oh, and this same 4K video can also be shot at bitrates up to 100 megabits per second.
Looking past the fact that you can’t shoot videos beyond 30 minutes at a time, the autofocus system implemented here is just fantastic. Additionally, the continuous burst mode can shoot up to 10 frames per second.
Ease of Use
Due to the Touch Focus function and also the Touch Pad function, you can use the touchscreen to focus the frame while you are using the viewfinder. Also, you can customize your menu page to your preferences.
For this price, the build quality better be good and that it is. As soon as you pick the a7 III up you can tell that it is not made with cheap materials.
Sony provides a top-end camera at a little more reasonable price for professional photographers out there. Sure, casual users could use this but it is still not exactly budget-friendly.
3. FUJIFILM X100F
Utilizes a newly designed image processing engine
Uses 91 focal points for high-speed focusing
Designed with an Advanced Hybrid Viewfinder
It is quite small and can be awkward to hold
Fujifilm has also become accustomed to designing top-of-the-line digital cameras. It always seems like the Japanese company pushes the envelope with this sort of technology.Read more
The color reproduction of the X100F is utterly superb and the X-Processor Pro helps to display moving subjects much more smoothly. As for the sensor, it is equipped with 24.3 megapixels.
Full HD video (which is 1080p) can be shot with this device in a wide range of different frame rates (23.98p, 24p, 25p, 29.97p, 50p and 59.94p)
Implemented here is the innovative Focus Lever. This nifty tool allows you to move your autofocus point selection in eight different directions. Oh, and there are also six different autofocus modes that you can choose from.
Ease of Use
It is going to take some time to adapt to this camera. The user interface is a bit clunky and the overall size is pretty small (which makes for smaller buttons and controls). On the bright side, this is equipped with an Advanced Hybrid Viewfinder (which is pretty much a combination of an optical and electronic viewfinder).
While the quality seems good overall, one user did note that the screen on their X100F shattered when they were traveling (and it was protected in a padded pack).
Technology-wise, you could argue that the X100F is the best choice on this list. Then again, you need to take the control and interface into consideration.
4. SONY ALPHA A6400
Sports continuous shooting at high frame rates
Features a silent shutter feature
The autofocus system has been upgraded
It does not come equipped with a headphone jack
It is arguable but possibly the biggest talking point of the a6400 is the advancements with its autofocus system. This alone, coupled with all the other technologies, makes the a6400 extremely compelling.Read more
In addition to the 24.2-megapixel sensor that is equipped, copper wiring and highly effective circuitry are utilized to achieve a wider sensitivity range and improved lighting.
The highest frame rate that can be achieved when shooting 4K video on the a6400 is 30 frames per second. However, this jumps to 120 when you shoot Full HD video.
Sony’s incredible autofocus system (4D Focus) can hone in and focus on moving objects in as little as 0.02 seconds. Also, continuous shooting can be achieved at high frame rates.
Ease of Use
The LCD flip screen that is equipped here allows for a variety of touch operations. This makes it a bit more convenient in instances where you need to focus on objects quickly.
Yeah, let’s just say the a6400 is built well. With its magnesium alloy housing and weather sealing (against both dust and moisture), it can handle the elements.
Do not kid yourself; did you really question Sony? Their a6400 digital camera is suitable for professional users and would be an epic splurge purchase for everyone else.
5. FUJIFILM X-T3
It is weather sealed
Designed with an elite image processing engine
It offers 16 different film simulation modes
The menu settings are not very intuitive
It is quite complex to use
Many Fujifilm users will probably look at the X-T3 as Fujifilm’s greatest creation. You will not get too many disputes from experts or other users around the world as the X-T3 is just that darned impressive.Read more
To bypass the need for an optical low-pass filter, this is designed with a 26.1-megapixel sensor that can control false and moiré color. This same sensor also is back-illuminated.
The X-T3 features both 4K at 60p internal SD card recording and also 4K at 60p HDMI output. When shooting at 4K, an impressive bitrate of 200 megabits per second is enabled.
In addition to the 16 different film simulation modes and the 3.5-millimeter headphone jack that is equipped, the autofocus system also refocuses around 1.5 times more frequently than other models.
Ease of Use
For such a compact camera, this thing is incredibly complex. While it does not help that the menu settings are not intuitive, the electronic viewfinder has little to no lag time and sports an impressive resolution.
Feel free to take this outside and shoot outdoors as it is fully weather sealed and sports a durable housing overall.
No one will be able to pick up the X-T3 and master it in a day without prior experience with Fujifilm cameras. Granted you are patient with the process, the image and video quality make this worth it.
6. OLYMPUS OM-D
Features a 5-axis image stabilization system
It can capture videos in 4K
Designed with an all-metal housing
The included manual is not the best
The megapixel count is a bit low
Olympus may not be as well-known as juggernauts such as Nikon or Sony but their Om-D model is still incredibly compelling. Of course, its 16.1-megapixel count is a bit lower when compared to the competition.Read more
The 14-42mm zoom lens that comes with this is great for everyday shots and for taking close-ups. Also, though the 16.1-megapixel count is a bit low, a 5-axis stabilization system is built right into this.
If you need to shoot 4K video with the OM-D then you will be able to do just that. Do note, and this is not much of a surprise, the frame rate for such will be 30p.
With the micro HDMI port, you can connect this directly to your television. Also, it sports built-in Wi-Fi. And, the OM-D can also produce continuous shooting at up to 8.6 frames per second.
Ease of Use
Do yourself a favor and download the PDF manual online for this device as the included manual lacks substantial detail and assistance. As for the OM-D itself, it has been designed with a touchscreen monitor and OLED electronic viewfinder.
Thanks to the all-metal housing, this is both gorgeous and durable at the same time.
Most users have been blown away by this digital camera when taking into consideration the price. If this is around where your budget is then you may not find a better option out there.
7. FUJIFILM X-H1
Equipped with a new feather-touch shutter button
Sports in-body image stabilization
The eye sensor response time is improved
It is much heavier than other versions
It is really large
In regard to the internal technologies and features of the X-H1, it is right up there with the best. But, its inflated body has received mixed feedback from previous users, admittedly.Read more
The X-H1 is notable for being the first model in the X Series to have built-in image stabilization. The advanced processing power and 24.3-megapixel sensor also help improve the image quality, as well.
Even though the new fad (though it has been here for a while) is 4K content, this is still impressive as it can shoot 1080p video at 120 full frames per second.
On top of the fact that this sports a new feather-touch shutter button, it also allows you to choose between three adjustable parameters in regard to the focusing.
Ease of Use
The electronic viewfinder has an amazing high-resolution display and the eye sensor responds two times faster than previous models. However, the X-H1 itself is incredibly large and feels like you are holding a full frame camera (but you are not).
First off, the magnesium alloy housing is 25 percent thicker than previous models for superior impact and shock resistance. Also, this is sealed for protection against moisture and dust.
For sure, as subtle as it seems, the weight is going to be a factor. It is Fujifilm so you know the technology is top-notch so you could consider the weight the ultimate deal breaker.
8. CANON EOS REBEL T7I
Sports an autofocus speed at 0.03 seconds
Has built-in Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth
Its autofocus system is lightyears ahead of previous generations
It is made with a plastic housing
Canon is right up there with some of the other top-name brands on the market so you know you can expect high-quality from them. Their EOS Rebel T7i is certainly not without its shortcomings or flaws but it remains a competent choice.Read more
In addition to the ISO range which allows for solid shooting in low-light conditions, the 24.2-megapixel CMOS sensor and DIGIC 7 Image Processor also combine to produce high-quality and detailed images.
For the record, this is not capable of shooting 4K video. Now, it can still produce high-definition video so this is not necessarily a deal breaker.
First off, this features built-in Wi-Fi, NFC, and Bluetooth. Secondly, this can continuously shoot up to six frames per second. Lastly, the autofocus is super-fast at 0.03 seconds.
Ease of Use
There is an optical viewfinder integrated here and the, also, the touchscreen LCD makes for more convenient operation. Additionally, overall, this feels pretty good in your hand.
Is the weakest aspect of this camera the fact that it sports a plastic housing? Perhaps but at least it reduces the overall weight.
Do not let the plastic housing scare you off, the EOS Rebel T7i is truly a fantastic and compelling option from Canon. It is not as advanced as others but that is okay.
9. NIKON D3500
Comes with two different lenses
Supports RAW shooting
It is compatible with most smartphones
There is no image stabilization
Not the most impressive video recording capabilities
Thankfully, if you are a fan of Nikon but can’t afford their D850, they have other options on the market such as their D3500. While not nearly as advanced, it still shows off the greatness of Nikon.Read more
Though image stabilization is not present, the D3500 can shoot brilliant photos with its Expeed image processing system, a large image sensor, and RAW file format.
Being able to record 1080p video at 60 full frames per second, the D3500 is not reinventing the wheel in regard to video capabilities but it is still impressive.
The integrated shutter button can capture continuous shots up to five frames per second. Also, 11 autofocus points are spread across the frame.
Ease of Use
For beginners, this is a great option thanks to the compact body, intuitive menu system, and well-designed buttons and dials.
In spite of the smaller stature, this is still rugged enough to handle rough conditions.
While professional photographers may be underwhelmed by the performance and capabilities of the D3500, it is all but gold for just about everyone else.
10. PANASONIC LUMIX ZS200
It features the RAW file format
Comes with an electronic viewfinder
Designed with an optical image stabilizer
The lens is not incredibly sharp
The autofocus could be improved
Without question, there is a lot to love about this next device. The good definitely outweighs the bad but a few shortcomings do need to be taken into the fold.Read more
Overall, the 20.1-megapixel sensor, optical image stabilizer, and in-camera RAW-format all help to improve the image quality. However, the lens itself is just not all that sharp and not super impressive.
For those of you who it concerns, this is capable of shooting 4K video (at a frame rate of 30 full frames per second).
Past the Wi-Fi connectivity, there are also several different shooting and filter modes to mess around with here. Of course, the autofocus does not perform quite at the level of top-end digital cameras.
Ease of Use
Though the electronic viewfinder is a little on the small side, it still allows for convenient operation. Also, the LCD display is touch-enabled.
One thing is certain; you can’t criticize the build quality here and that is thanks to the durable metal housing.
The positive to the lens being the biggest downfall of this model is the fact that you can buy an additional lens that offers superior quality. Still, as is, this is still a high-quality image-capturing device.
Criteria Used for Evaluation
This section is all about the image quality ladies and gentlemen.
For many of you, the number one reason you will be buying a digital camera is to take and capture high-quality images. After all, when you strip everything away, that is the main purpose of a camera. And, due to this, it only makes sense to prioritize the quality in which any one model can produce. Now, you have probably heard the term “megapixel” before. If not, it identifies how much detail the sensor can capture. In theory, the more the better but you will see many experts claim that the megapixel count is irrelevant granted it is over 9 or 10. That is fair and, quite frankly, there are various other factors that are much more important.
First off, assess the design of the lens (which is the most important part of any camera). The good news is lenses are interchangeable so you can always update the lens of your model if you want. But, the lens will dictate the quality of the produced images, period. Of course, so will the image sensor. Basically, the larger the sensor, the more light that is allowed to create an image and this can create superior imagery that is more detailed. Oh, and let’s talk about image stabilization for a hot second. Ideally, look for models that have optical stabilization built-in as this will account for shaking and general body movement.
You may see the video capabilities of the camera as advanced and that is what we want to talk about here.
The last section was all about images but it is time to turn the page and look at videos. In case you did not know, cameras can also shoot and record video. Okay, so you probably knew this but do you know what to look for? For starters, let’s talk about video resolution. In regard to specifications, this is one of the two most important to keep in mind. 4K (which is 3840 x 2160 pixels) is one of the most popular resolutions today and you have probably heard your friends talk about it. Remember, though, if you want to record 4K video then you need an appropriate device for playback (one that supports 4K) to achieve the full experience. A step down from 4K is Full HD, which is also known as 1080p. For most of you, 1080p video will still suffice just fine.
Moving forward, you also need to assess the frame rate. This refers to the frequency at which frames are displayed. The more frames per second, the smoother the playback will appear. For 4K compatible cameras, the maximum frame rate will typically be 30 frames per second. However, the same models will typically also be able to handle 1080p video at 120 frames per second (which is super smooth).
While there are several features you could focus on, let's look at some of the most vital.
Digital cameras are usually packed with loads of features that can affect image and video playback. For this section, however, we wanted to place an emphasis on some of the most important as an entire guide could be dedicated to this section alone. To start, one of the most sought after features of any model is a continuous shooting or burst mode (they are the same thing). With this, a multitude of photos will be taken in around a second’s worth of real time. And, some models will be capable of doing so with faster burst rates. Typically, if you want to shoot fast action then anywhere around 10 frames per second should be good.
Alright, so what about wireless connectivity? If you wanted to share your content at the blink of an eye then you may want to look for models with Wi-Fi, NFC or Bluetooth wireless protocols. Oh, and to wrap this section up, you can’t forget about the autofocus system. Nearly every modern model will sport an autofocus system but some will be superior to others. Some noteworthy characteristics to look out for are multiple-point autofocus systems, the speed and accuracy at which they can focus on moving objects, and also general extra features.
Ease of Use
This technology can be downright complex so look for models that make the operation easier.
Look, if you have never operated a digital camera before then it is going to take some time to get accustomed to the interface and all the features. Even still, however, it is best when the model you pick is designed in a manner to be convenient to the user. For starters, and this may go overlooked, assess the image processor of any given model. Have you ever used a computer with epically slow loading times? It can be downright infuriating and the same goes here. Ideally, look for image processors that can handle the tasks you need with ease. In addition to this, consider the controls and menu navigation.
For the former, would you rather use controls, dials, and levers to control or a full-on touchscreen navigation system (though these models will still have some button control)? As for the menu navigation, look for it to be intuitive and user-friendly. Lastly, you may want a model that sports a viewfinder as this can be more convenient for longer uses. And, you can choose between optical or electronic viewfinders. The benefit of the former is there is no possibility of a delay or blur but the advantage of the latter is there is a digital sensor that is always active.
This is a given; do you really want to spend $1000 on a cheaply made device?
Considering you could be spending over a thousand dollars on a digital camera, the darn thing better be able to handle some abuse. To ensure that the model you buy can do just this, assess the housing. This is the main body and it needs to be durable and somewhat impact-resistant. Hence, this is why magnesium alloy is a popular material of choice. This is just a makeup of magnesium and another metal (such as aluminum) and it is lightweight, highly durable, corrosion-resistant, and endures higher temperatures extremely well. Additionally, look for models that are weather sealed to prevent dirt and moisture from entering inside.
Expert Interviews & Opinions
It all comes down to the image quality, does it not? Now, you will often hear people clamor that the lens is the most important accessory there is. They are correct but the thing is, lenses are interchangeable and you can always upgrade in the future. But, right now, look for certain characteristics such as the size of the image sensor and image stabilization technology.
What you need to realize is image and video quality will be dictated by different characteristics and specifications. So, in this section, we tackle what to look for on the video side of things. For the most part, it is pretty simple as you need to pinpoint your time on two important specifications (the resolution and the frame rate). Both of which really go hand-in-hand in determining video quality.
Truth be told, you could spend hours on end just looking through the features of multiple digital cameras. While not every single feature will be covered here, many of the most important ones are. Really, what you need to remember here is to not feel overwhelmed as there may be many features that you never end up using in your new camera. Then again, this will vary from buyer to buyer.
Frequently Asked Questions
q: Can you fix the mirror being stuck?
For the record, this will only pertain to you if you do not buy a model that is mirrorless. But, if you do not and the mirror happens to get stuck, can you fix the problem? Well, this depends, are “you” knowledgeable and experienced when it comes to sort of thing? The reason this is important is the mirror is a fragile component and it can easily become damaged. So, it is advised to not screw around with it if you really have no clue what you are doing.
q: How do you prevent motion blur?
Motion blur happens in photography when a moving object appears to be streaking in a photo. The question is, though, how do you prevent this when you are trying to capture imagery? One of the best ways is to use a faster shutter speed because the subject is going to be moving less while the shutter is open. In turn, this will reduce the blurring effect you will see.
q: Why is the image out of focus on the viewfinder?
If the image is out of focus on the viewfinder but it is not on the main screen then it may be an issue with the diopter setting on the viewfinder itself. What you need to do is remove the lens from the camera, point it at a bright location such as your television or computer screen, and then adjust the diopter until the overlaid lines in the viewfinder are as sharp as they possibly can be. From there, install your lens back on and test to see if the problem has been resolved.
q: Are manuals available for download?
There may be some online domains that upload online manuals to their servers for users to download. However, your best bet for this is to access the official webpage of the manufacturer that designed the model. And, you can always attempt to contact them to see if an online manual is available (as they can sometimes offer more detail than those that are included with your purchase).
q: How do you clean a mirror in a camera?
Most of the time, you can safely clean your camera but when it comes to the mirror, you should err on the side of caution. Again, it is an incredibly fragile component and it should be treated as such. Even if you think you will not break it, it takes one wrong move to do so. By even slightly rough cleaning, the mirror can be prone to damage which can lead to focus and exposure issues.
q: What exactly is an SLR and what is with all the hype?
An SLR is pretty simple in concept as it stands for Single Lens Reflex and it is a camera that only uses a single lens to capture images. One of the primary reasons why it is so popular is that you can see exactly what is being captured without any distortion whatsoever. While there are other reasons, this one is a game changer.