If you're just getting started in photography, it might be tempting to splurge 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 often the one that's most accessible to you. We've included some pricier options here for those willing to spend more or who want the latest tech, but our best 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 (no pun intended) toward users who want to buy a new model. However, there's a huge used market for cameras, and you can often find great deals on older models that make excellent starter cameras. 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 80 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 a mirrorless or a DSLR camera, you can try 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.
The Fujifilm X-S10 is the priciest option on our list, but it's also one of the most well-rounded, with features that'll suit both new and more advanced users. While Fujifilm is known for its old-school designs, which typically include dedicated exposure dials, this camera has a simpler mode dial layout, making it more beginner-friendly. You also get a fully articulated screen and a very comfortable handgrip. It's also one of the few cameras in this price range to feature in-body image stabilization.
Inside, the camera uses the same sensor found on the high-end Fujifilm X-T4, capturing excellent images straight out of the camera. Beginner shooters can also play around with its film simulation profiles to change up the look of their photos without having to do any post-processing. That said, buying a more expensive camera body off the bat also leaves less room in your budget to buy different lenses. So if you're still unsure what kind of photos you enjoy taking, you probably won't be squeezing the full value out of a higher-end camera like this until you've got more experience. However, if you want a more advanced entry-level camera that's fit for a wide range of photo and video work, this is it.
If you're looking for something a bit cheaper, the Nikon Z 50 is one of the best cameras for beginners. At this price point, you still get a sturdier body 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. On top of that, it's a great choice for action photography, thanks to a solid autofocus system and quick burst rate. However, unlike the Fujifilm X-S10, the Z 50 doesn't have in-body image stabilization.
Though it doesn't have the highest-resolution sensor among its peers, it still delivers excellent image quality and performs well in low light. Nikon's ergonomics are also some of the best around. Just be aware that lens support is still relatively limited for Nikon's mirrorless Z-mount, especially if you're looking at 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 the ergonomics and user interface leave a lot to be desired.
The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV is a great choice if you're on a tighter budget. Unlike most options on this list, it's part of the Micro Four Thirds system, which means a slight tradeoff in image quality and low-light performance due to its smaller sensor. However, you'll get a more portable camera system overall. It's also one of the only budget cameras with built-in sensor stabilization, making it easier to get stable handheld shots in tricky lighting conditions.
Beginners will also appreciate its 'Live Guide' feature. It lets you adjust things like background blur, motion blur, and color temperature—simple terms that are more accessible to beginner users—when shooting in auto mode. That said, its autofocus can be a bit sluggish with faster subjects. The Canon EOS M50 Mark II is a popular alternative around the same price point with a more effective autofocus system but has fewer lens options. Overall, the Olympus is one of the best cameras for photography beginners who want a compact system that won't break the bank.
If you're completely new to photography, the Nikon D3500 is still 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 some of the bells and whistles you'll find on some of the newer, more advanced models we recommend below, the D3500 has an excellent high-resolution sensor that punches above its weight, along with many high-quality lens options, so you can still take beautiful photos and upgrade your kit as your skills grow.
That said, the D3500 is getting harder to find new, so you might have to try used retailers like B&H Photo Video, KEH Camera, or Adorama. Older DSLRs like this—or even previous iterations, like the Nikon D3400 or D3300—are a great cost-effective option to dip your toe into "serious" photography, and its beginner-friendly features make it a great choice if you've never used a camera before.
While the best cameras for beginner photographers are interchangeable-lens models like the ones above, costs can quickly add up when you have to invest in a camera body, lenses, and other gear like extra batteries, memory cards, and maybe even a tripod. If you'd rather buy a cheap all-in-one camera that still gives you an SLR-like shooting experience, consider a budget bridge camera like the Panasonic LUMIX FZ80. It's a relatively cheap camera that still offers lots of value for its price.
While its smaller sensor can't compete with the larger sensor options above in image quality, the built-in lens on this thing will give you plenty of zoom range. It also provides a relatively comfortable shooting experience and a viewfinder to give you a better feel for composition. This camera also has plenty of extra features to let you play around with different styles and subjects, including a macro mode for close-ups and a '4k PHOTO' mode for sports and fast-moving subjects. It's a solid, versatile option for casual or family photography, especially if you're on a tight budget.
May 24, 2023: Restructured article to better reflect product availability.
Apr 27, 2023: Removed the Fujifilm X-T200 from Notable Mentions.
Mar 28, 2023: Replaced the Sony a6100 with the Nikon Z 50 as the 'Best Mid-Range Camera For Beginners' and added the Fujifilm X-S10 as the 'Best Upper Mid-Range Camera For Beginners'.
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.