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The 5 Best Cameras Under $1,000 - Black Friday 2021 Reviews

Updated
Best Cameras Under $1,000
71 Cameras Tested
  • Store-bought cameras; no cherry-picked units
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Learn more about our approach to product reviews here.

There's no denying that photography and videography can be expensive hobbies. That said, if you're on a relatively tight budget, you'll be pleased to know that there's no shortage of new cameras priced at under $1,000 that offer similar capability and feature sets to high-end models from only a couple of years ago. These include traditional interchangeable-lens DSLRs and entry-level mirrorless models, not to mention point-and-shoot compacts and bridge cameras. Given the wide variety of options, you should be able to find a camera that suits your needs without needing to stretch your dollar too far.

However, it's important to recognize that overall performance can vary depending on the lens you use. The lens affects the amount of light that enters the camera, so it also plays a role in an image's depth of field and the autofocus and stabilization performance. Also, lenses can add a bit of weight to your camera, which can impact their portability. We currently test our cameras with its standard kit lens, so for the sake of consistency, this article focuses on cameras that retail for under $1,000 with their kit lens included.

We've tested over 60 cameras, and below you'll find our recommendations for the best cameras under $1,000. You can also look at our recommendations for the best mirrorless cameras under $1,000, the best cheap cameras, and the best cameras for beginners.


  1. Best Mirrorless Camera Under $1,000: Sony α6400

    8.0
    Travel Photography
    8.0
    Landscape Photography
    7.4
    Sport & Wildlife Photography
    7.6
    Vlogging
    8.2
    Studio Video
    6.2
    Action Video
    Body Type
    DSLR
    Mirrorless
    Yes
    Sensor Size
    APS-C
    Tested Lens
    Sony E 16-50mm 3.5-5.6/PZ OSS

    If you're looking for a mirrorless camera, the best camera under $1,000 that we've tested is the Sony α6400. It's an interchangeable lens mirrorless camera with an APS-C sensor and a relatively portable, lightweight design. It feels well-built, and its screen can tilt out if you want to shoot from lower angles or flip up for vlogs or selfies.

    It delivers impressive overall image quality with amazing dynamic range to bring out more detail in high-contrast shots, and it has good noise handling capability at higher ISO levels in more dimly-lit conditions. Its autofocus system is excellent for photography, with 425 advertised phase- and contrast-detection points. It also does a remarkable job keeping moving subjects in focus when recording video, though it doesn't support eye detection. It also delivers great overall video quality.

    Unfortunately, its menu system is somewhat confusing and hard to navigate. The camera also lacks in-body image stabilization, so you'll have to rely on your lens' optical stabilization to reduce camera shake and stabilize photos when shooting handheld. That said, it does a good job of stabilizing photos and reducing camera shake in FHD, though it struggles when shooting in 4k. Still, this is a great option for under $1,000, thanks to its great image and video quality and its fantastic autofocus system.

    See our review

  2. Easier-To-Use Alternative: Nikon Z 50

    Body Type
    DSLR
    Mirrorless
    Yes
    Sensor Size
    APS-C
    Tested Lens
    Nikkor Z DX 16-50mm f/3.5-6.3 VR

    If you'd prefer a camera that's easier to use, take a look at the Nikon Z 50. It's not as portable as the Sony α6400, and its autofocus system isn't as reliable at tracking moving subjects. However, it feels more comfortable to use and has a much easier-to-navigate menu system. Its controls are well-spaced, and the menu includes a guide mode to explain certain camera functions to novice users. Its touchscreen can tilt and flip out to help you shoot from different angles. Image quality is great overall thanks to its 20.9-megapixel APS-C sensor, which has a good dynamic range and impressive RAW noise handling capability, so it should perform well even at higher ISO settings in low light. That said, its video quality isn't as good, and it has a mediocre battery life, although battery performance can vary drastically depending on your choice of settings and usage habits.

    Get the Sony if autofocus performance and portability are priorities, but if you're looking for something a little more user-friendly, the Nikon is a great alternative.

    See our review

  3. Best DSLR Camera Under $1,000: Canon EOS Rebel T8i

    7.5
    Travel Photography
    7.6
    Landscape Photography
    7.1
    Sport & Wildlife Photography
    6.4
    Vlogging
    6.6
    Studio Video
    3.3
    Action Video
    Body Type
    DSLR
    Mirrorless
    No
    Sensor Size
    APS-C
    Tested Lens
    Canon EF-S 18–55mm f/4–5.6 IS STM

    The best DSLR camera under $1,000 that we've tested is the Canon EOS Rebel T8i. It's a good entry-level DSLR with a 24.1-megapixel APS-C sensor. The camera feels comfortable to shoot with, with simple well-spaced controls, a large handgrip, and a highly intuitive menu system that includes a guide mode to walk new users through core settings. It also has a bright, fully articulated touchscreen to help you shoot from different angles, including selfies.

    All in all, it delivers very good image quality, and photos have an excellent amount of dynamic range at the camera's base ISO setting, so it brings out a wide range of detail in high-contrast shots. It also has decent noise handling capability at higher ISO levels, meaning it performs fairly well in low light without too much visual noise. Its autofocus system does a fantastic job of tracking moving subjects, despite only having 45 detection points. The camera is also capable of recording 4k video, still somewhat rare for an entry-level DSLR.

    That said, its 4k video features are very limited, as it can only shoot 4k video at 24 fps with a severe 1.51x crop, and its autofocus system is very sluggish and unreliable when shooting in 4k. Still, it performs much better in 1080p, with quick and accurate autofocus and frame rates up to 60 fps. Overall, this is one of the best beginner cameras that we've tested.

    See our review

  4. Cheaper Alternative: Nikon D5600

    Body Type
    DSLR
    Mirrorless
    No
    Sensor Size
    APS-C
    Tested Lens
    Nikkor AF-P DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR

    If you'd prefer something a bit cheaper to leave more room in your budget for lenses, check out the Nikon D5600. Unlike the Canon EOS Rebel T8i, it can't shoot video in 4k, and its autofocus doesn't track subjects as reliably. However, it's a bit cheaper and has a longer advertised battery life, though battery performance can vary with settings and usage habits. It has a fully articulated touchscreen, and it also feels comfortable to use and has an intuitive menu system, complete with guide mode. It delivers great image quality, with slightly better dynamic range, although its RAW noise handling capability is a tad worse, so it may be slightly less suited to low light photography. For video, it offers frame rates up to 60 fps in 1080p, but its video quality is disappointing, and its autofocus struggles to keep moving subjects in focus.

    Get the Canon if you want 4k video capability and a more reliable autofocus system. If you want to save some money and prioritize battery life, the Nikon is a good alternative.

    See our review

  5. Best Compact Camera Under $1,000: Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III

    7.2
    Travel Photography
    7.5
    Landscape Photography
    7.1
    Sport & Wildlife Photography
    7.7
    Vlogging
    5.9
    Studio Video
    4.8
    Action Video
    Body Type
    Compact
    Mirrorless
    Yes
    Sensor Size
    1-inch
    Tested Lens
    Built-In Lens

    The best camera under $1,000 that we've tested in the compact category is the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III. It's incredibly portable and lightweight, so it's easy to slip into a pocket or small bag. Despite its compact size, it still has a small handgrip that makes it a little more comfortable to use. It's a good fit for vloggers, thanks to its tilting screen, which can flip up to face you. On top of that, it's advertised to be able to livestream directly to YouTube over a Wi-Fi connection.

    It uses a 1-inch sensor with a 20.1-megapixel resolution, and it delivers good overall image quality with a fantastic dynamic range at its base ISO. Photos have minimal noise at low ISOs, but it doesn't fare as well as at higher ISO settings due to its small sensor, meaning it isn't well-suited to low-light or nighttime photography. In video mode, it offers many frame rate options, shooting in 4k at up to 30 fps and in FHD at up to 60 fps, and its digital stabilization features do a great job of smoothing out handheld camera shake.

    That said, its video quality is lackluster. It looks okay in 4k in brighter lighting conditions, with a slight dip in quality in low light. However, video quality is subpar in FHD, and the camera's autofocus system is somewhat unreliable at tracking faces. Overall, this is one of the best cameras for YouTube that we've tested, and it's a good choice for under $1,000.

    See our review

Notable Mentions

  • Canon EOS M50 Mark II: The Canon EOS M50 Mark II is a compact APS-C mirrorless camera with an intuitive menu system and a fully-articulated touchscreen. However, it isn't as well-built as the Nikon Z 50 and has far more limited 4k recording capabilities. See our review
  • Canon EOS RP: The Canon EOS RP is a full-frame mirrorless camera that delivers superb image quality and has an effective autofocus system. However, its price exceeds $1,000 when purchased new with its 24-105mm STM kit lens. See our review
  • Fujifilm X-T200: The Fujifilm X-T200 is a user-friendly APS-C mirrorless camera that delivers superior image quality to the Sony α6400. It has a less effective autofocus system, isn't as comfortable to use, and feels far more cheaply made. See our review
  • Fujifilm X-T30: The Fujifilm X-T30 is an APS-C mirrorless camera with a more intuitive menu system than the Sony α6400 and can shoot 4k video at 30 fps without a crop. Its price exceeds $1,000 when purchased with its 18-55mm kit lens. See our review
  • Fujifilm X-E4: The Fujifilm X-E4 is a compact rangefinder-styled mirrorless camera with an APS-C sensor. It offers great image quality, very good video quality, and can shoot in 4k at up to 30 fps without a crop. Its lack of a handgrip and non-rubberized body makes it rather uncomfortable to hold for extended periods. See our review
  • Nikon D3500: The Nikon D3500 is a good option if you want a relatively cheap DSLR that's very easy for beginners to use, thanks to its built-in 'Guide' shooting mode. That said, it has a fixed screen, a relatively simple autofocus system, and lacks any advanced video features. See our review
  • Sony α6100: The Sony α6100 is very similar to the Sony α6400, though it has a lower-resolution viewfinder and doesn't support Log picture profile shooting. See our review

Recent Updates

  1. Nov 15, 2021: Checked that picks were still accurate and available; no change to recommendations.

  2. Oct 25, 2021: Checked picks for accuracy and availability; no change to recommendations.

  3. Oct 04, 2021: Replaced the Nikon D3500 with the Nikon D5600 as the 'Cheaper Alternative' to the Canon EOS Rebel T8i and moved the D3500 to Notable Mentions.

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best cameras under $1,000 for most people 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 US).

If you would 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.

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