There are hundreds of options available when it comes to the best beginner cameras. Plenty of models now offer a combination of ease of use and high-specification features, along with flexible shooting modes, but all for an affordable price. It can feel very daunting when beginning to navigate through all of the brands and model numbers, which is why we’ve put this guide together.
Choosing the right beginner camera can set you on a path for learning more about the art form and developing your own unique style. It’s wise to consider the kind of photography you’ll want to shoot before settingtling on a camera. Some setups, without image stabilization and 4K video for example, are better suited for stills photography when you’re using a tripod. Other models are more aligned for the vlogging and content creator market. These tend to include features such as 4K video, face detection, speedy autofocus and articulating screens that make filming on the go a lot easier.
If you’re looking for more professional use cameras, you might want to read through our guides to the best cameras for astrophotography or the best cameras in general. If it’s definitely an entry-level model you want, perhaps for price, or just for ease of use, then have a browse below.
In our Nikon D5600 reviewwe were impressed with the camera’s ability to produce stunning images from the word go, with a reliable autofocus system and a live-view mode that surprisingly produces excellent results and is enjoyable to use.
Once flipped out, the touchscreen works well at varying angles, adding flexibility to your shooting. We particularly liked the ability to touch the screen to release the shutter, with the autofocus doing its job well. The D5600 was released a while ago, but to its credit, it still keeps up with the competition – in fact, we’d spend a little more to upgrade to this model, since 39-point focusing and sharp image quality are a noticeable improvement over other entry-level models.
Best for serious beginners
The Rebel SL3 shares much of the same sensor and imaging technology as the EOS M series of mirrorless cameras but comes with an optical viewfinder (instead of only being able to see your image on a screen). It has a tutorial mode to help guide beginners to taking the perfect shot. It is a lightweight and compact package that budding travel photographers will love. Ergonomically, the camera is easy to use and navigate and it has both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity for transferring images to smartphones or tablets.
The more you develop in your photography journey, the more you will appreciate that this is a basic setup for those just starting out, but with the inclusion of 4K video, an excellent live mode. This is a versatile and flexible camera to be highly recommended as a great first camera.
Best for smartphone photographers
This entry-level offering comes from Olympus, designed for beginners who are looking to get on the mirrorless ladder. The sensor in this unit provides attractive, sharp and well-balanced images in both RAW and JPG modes. The camera features good image stability and connectivity options, with both WiFi and Bluetooth available for file sharing. There are 21 ‘scene modes’ which help the photographer get great shots in different scenes.
Styling-wise, we appreciated the classic look of the camera, but we would have liked an articulated touch screen on the rear to enhance ease of use when using tripods for astrophotography or gimbals for filmmaking.
If you’re still taking photos with your smartphone but would like a convenient camera to enhance your photography, this would be an accessible and accessible upgrade that boasts impressive features and performance.
Best for styling
The first thing that strikes you about the Z fc, is Nikon’s approach to the design and build of the camera. It is unashamedly retro and harks back to the brand’s products of decades past. We think it’s a fantastic-looking device, mixing the old with the new and subtly incorporating modern features in a tasteful way. It’s not all style over substance though — the body of the camera itself feels well-built and sturdy.
The camera’s mirrorless setup offers a lightweight, powerful package that produces excellent results in a variety of modes. Ideally, there would be a little more variety and extensive lens offerings, and perhaps some weatherproofing in the camera, but for our money, this is one of the most accomplished and enjoyable beginner cameras available.
Best value for money
This is an affordable setup from Fujifilm, and not only does it look the part, but it also provides an easy-to-use interface that beginners graduating from smartphones will appreciate. Straight out the box, we didn’t have any trouble getting going with it, and complex controls can easily be circumvented using the handy vari-angle touchscreen.
The video features are competitive. We liked the 4K video and the added mic and headphone slots, impressive to have on a camera at this price range — it feels like you’re getting a fair bit for your money.
In both stills and video modes, the image quality is excellent too, with fantastic color reproduction and a high dynamic range that allows for a flexible post-camera workflow. We think this is one of the best-value compact cameras out there.
Best for content creators
Albeit subtle, there are a number of worthwhile updates to the M50 Mark II, most noticeably in the autofocus and auto shooting modes. We were particularly impressed with the camera’s face tracking and detection, which made capturing portraits or videos of people extremely easy. There is also live streaming where you can stream straight to youtube when using wi-fi, and a vertical video mode, we could see them providing some real value for frequent social media content creators.
There isn’t a headphone socket, despite there being a mic input which seems like a strange omission, and the sensor does crop 4K video quite significantly. This, added to the fact that the battery drains quite quickly in video mode means vloggers shooting long videos or filmmakers might want to look elsewhere, but for a competent shooter and a quick and easy-to-use video camera, this will fit the bill for many users.
Best budget option
As we’ve pointed out in our standalone Nikon D3500 review, we think the Nikon D3500 is one of the most capable entry-level beginner cameras out there. While it isn’t without its faults, the combination of a good kit lens, fast operation, compact setup, and great value for money make it a worthwhile purchase.
Intermediate or more advanced users may get frustrated with the guide mode and the limited scope for growth and development, but we’d certainly recommend this option as a first camera for budding photographers starting out.
Best second-hand option
The Sony A6000 was released the best part of a decade ago, but its popularity for beginners is a testament to the camera’s wide range of uses and its build quality. Despite its slightly dated style, we think this is still a very competent camera that would suit a wide range of uses for beginners learning the craft and wanting to push themselves creatively. It does tend to produce noisy images when the ISO is bumped up so it is best to avoid it if you’re going to be doing lots of low light work.
One word of warning, the Sony A6000 is creeping back up in price again now that fewer units are in circulation. For the same money, you can probably pick up a newer DSLR camera with 4K video and updated hardware and software. That being said, there are plenty of good quality second-hand options available.
Best for travel
Panasonic’s Lumix series of cameras work as four-thirds setups, meaning they have a unique sensor size that is smaller and provides the ability to ensure the body itself stays as portable as possible. The mirrorless G100 is a compact and lightweight unit that works well for content creators – it has a large grip for safe use while on the move, and the large extendable display makes it easy to see what’s going on.
Directional, tracked audio as well as face detection and hybrid 5 stop image stabilization, make this a good purchase for content creators, vloggers and filmmakers making vlogs of 10 minutes or less. In-camera editing and effects minimize workflow and allow you to share your content quickly.