If you're just getting started in photography, it might be tempting to go all in on a brand new high-end camera with all the bells and whistles, but the truth is that all the gear in the world won't make you a better photographer if you don't know what you're doing. So, the best camera to start photography with is the one that's most accessible to you. We've included some pricier options here for those who want more advanced features or have a larger budget, but our advice for beginners is to get whichever camera is within your means and work on learning the basics. Most importantly, have fun with it!
This list is mostly geared toward users who want to buy a new model. However, there's a huge used market for cameras—on eBay and at retailers like Adorama, B&H Photo Video, KEH Camera, and MPB—and you can often find great deals on older models. Don't forget that a camera's overall performance will also vary depending on the lens you use. As a general rule, it's better to invest in a less expensive camera body and higher-quality lenses than it is to invest in an expensive camera body and cheap lenses.
We've bought and tested over 100 cameras in our lab, and below, you'll find our recommendations for the best cameras for photography beginners. If you already know you'd prefer either a mirrorless or a DSLR camera, you can look at the best mirrorless cameras for beginners or the best DSLR cameras for beginners, respectively. Or, if you're looking to get into vlogging or content creation, check out our recommendations for the best cameras for YouTube instead. Finally, if you're on a budget, the best budget mirrorless cameras may be of interest.
The Canon EOS R10 is the priciest camera on our list, but it's one of the best-value options at its price point. It's well-rounded enough for both photography and light video work and has a good balance of features that will suit both beginners and more advanced users looking to upgrade from an older camera or DSLR. Like most of Canon's entry-level offerings, it has a lightweight feel and great ergonomics, with a very easy-to-use interface. It's also a very capable camera for a range of photography styles, with a high-res sensor, quick burst shooting, and one of the best autofocus (AF) systems on the market.
The biggest downside to the R10 is that Canon's RF lens lineup is still being built out, so options are somewhat limited. If you want a camera with a more established lens ecosystem, the Fujifilm X-S10 is another fantastic entry-level camera. It's one of the few cameras at this price point to feature in-body image stabilization (IBIS), which can help you reduce the effects of camera shake when shooting handheld. That said, its autofocus system isn't nearly as reliable as the Canon's, and its video specs are a bit behind.
If you want to save a bit more money, the Nikon Z 50 is another great choice for beginners. It's a well-built camera with weather-sealing, a tilting screen that can flip down for selfies, and a large high-res viewfinder for a clear view of your subjects. It's also a good choice for action photography, thanks to a quick burst rate and a decent autofocus system, though it isn't as effective as the AF on the Canon EOS R10.
While the Z 50 doesn't have the highest-resolution sensor among its peers, it still delivers excellent image quality and performs well in low light. Nikon cameras are also known for their excellent ergonomics. Just be aware that lens support is still relatively limited for Nikon's mirrorless Z-mount, especially if you're considering APS-C options. If you want more lens selection, the similarly priced Sony α6400 has a ton of native and third-party lens options, though its ergonomics and user interface leave a lot to be desired.
The Canon EOS R50 is one of the best cameras for photography beginners on a budget. With a portable body, it's a great camera to take on the go. Like its higher-end sibling above, its simple controls and 'intelligent auto' shooting modes make it a good fit for novice shooters. Plus, its autofocus system is very reliable, with a range of subject detection modes to ensure your subject stays in focus, no matter what kind of subjects you're interested in. It's a solid choice if you're also interested in video and vlogging, with 4k recording at up to 30 fps and surprisingly advanced video specs for the price. That said, it doesn't have the longest battery life for video.
If you want something more portable for travel, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV is another great budget camera. The R50 is a bit cheaper and has a more effective autofocus system, but the Olympus is part of the Micro Four Thirds system, which offers more lens options and makes for a more portable overall kit. The Olympus is also one of the very few budget options to feature IBIS for steadier handheld shooting.
If you want something truly cheap and don't want to risk buying a used camera, the Canon EOS Rebel T7 / EOS 2000D is the most affordable DSLR Canon offers and the best camera for beginners on a very tight budget. It's a real back-to-basics camera with very few bells and whistles—you won't find a tilting screen or even 4k video recording here, let alone more advanced features.
So, why are we recommending this ultra-basic DSLR from 2018? Because if this is the only camera on the list that you can afford, then it's worth it if it gets you out there shooting. It may not have features like IBIS and advanced subject detection modes, but it does have a high-resolution APS-C sensor that can capture beautiful photos, along with a well-established stable of lenses in Canon's EF/EF-S ecosystem, many of which are quite affordable for beginners and budget shooters.
If you're completely new to photography, the Nikon D3500 is one of the best digital cameras for beginners, thanks to its unique interactive Guide Mode. Built right into the mode dial, the Guide Mode walks you through the camera's features in simplified terms so you can learn the ropes of photography as you go. While it doesn't have all of the extra features you'll find on newer, more advanced mirrorless models like the Canon EOS R50, the D3500 does have an excellent high-resolution sensor that punches above its class, plus a ton of high-quality lens options, so you can still take beautiful photos and upgrade your kit as your skills grow.
With that said, the D3500 has been discontinued and is harder to find new, so you'll likely have to find a used model on eBay or other used retailers. If you can find one, though, older DSLRs like this or previous iterations, like the Nikon D3400 or D3300, are great cost-effective options to dip your toe into "serious" photography. Overall, the D3500's Guide Mode and simple design make it the best camera for beginners who've never used a camera before.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best digital cameras for beginners to buy, according to their needs. We factor in the price, feedback from our visitors, and availability (no cameras that are difficult to find or almost out of stock in the U.S.).
If you'd like to choose for yourself, here's the list of all our reviews for cameras under $1,000. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There is no single perfect camera. Personal taste, preference, and shooting habits will matter more in your selection.