There's no denying that photography can be an expensive hobby. But thankfully, there are a ton of great entry-level cameras that come in at under $1,000 with plenty to offer. These include interchangeable-lens DSLRs and mirrorless models, as well as point-and-shoots with fixed lenses and dedicated vlogging cameras. Given the wide variety of options, there's no doubt you can find a camera that suits your needs without having to stretch your dollar too far.
Below you'll find our recommendations for the best cameras under $1,000, narrowed down from over 75 cameras that we've bought and tested. If you know you want an interchangeable-lens mirrorless camera, you can also check out the best mirrorless cameras under $1,000. Or, if you're on an even tighter budget, try the best cameras under $500 instead. If you're specifically looking for beginner-friendly options, you can also see our picks for the best cameras for beginners.
The best all-around camera we've tested for under $1,000 with a kit lens included is the Nikon Z 50. For an entry-level camera, it's superbly well-built and comfortable to use. It even has some degree of weather sealing to give you more peace of mind when shooting on rainy days. Its controls and menu system are intuitive, and the camera takes beautiful photos. It's among the best low-light performers of the APS-C cameras we've tested.
While it has a solid AF system that'll get the job done in most situations, the similarly-priced Sony α6400 has a slightly more reliable autofocus system. Both are top-notch entry-level cameras, and you can't go wrong with either, but the Sony doesn't handle nearly as well as the Nikon, with worse ergonomics and a hard-to-navigate menu system. If you're more style-conscious, the Nikon Z fc is also a great option that brings the nostalgia factor if you're willing to stretch your budget a little. It's one of the most stylish cameras on the market, designed after the vintage Nikon FM2 film camera. Its dedicated exposure dials give you a little more hands-on control over settings, but it has pretty much the same internals as the Z 50, so you'll get very similar performance and features out of it.
Portability is the name of the game when it comes to vlogging, and while the large viewfinder and comfortable handgrip of the Nikon Z 50 make it a pleasure to shoot photos with, they also detract a bit from its portability. A dedicated vlogging camera like the Sony ZV-E10 ditches the viewfinder entirely, making it small, lightweight, and perfect for on-the-go vlogging. You also get a large, fully articulated screen that's ideal for vlogs and video work, allowing you to see yourself without the screen getting in the way of cables or peripherals.
It also has the added benefit of dedicated focus modes designed specifically for certain kinds of vloggers. The 'Product Showcase' feature, for instance, automatically shifts focus to any object held up in the frame without you having to block your face—perfect for beauty or product vloggers of all kinds.
While it doesn't get more convenient than the smartphone camera you've already got on you, point-and-shoot cameras—compact fixed-lens cameras with smaller sensors than their interchangeable-lens counterparts—are a great option for travel and street photography. Although you won't have out-of-this-world image quality, a premium point-and-shoot like the Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II can still take great photos and comes packed with features that make it a great all-in-one camera for on-the-go shooting.
It's one of the most comfortable point-and-shoots we've tested, with a perfectly molded grip and thumb rest. Plus, it has a tilting screen and a small pop-up viewfinder that comes in handy on sunny days. Its built-in lens has a fairly long zoom range, too, so it's well-suited to a variety of shooting situations, whether you're capturing far-off subjects or close-ups and landscapes. However, the battery life is limited, but that's the trade-off of having such a compact camera.
The Canon EOS RP proves that you don't need to break the bank to get a full-frame camera. While you'll have to tip over $1,000 if you want to get a lens bundled with the camera, it's still one of the most affordable full-frames on the market unless you shop second-hand. It's relatively small and lightweight for a full-frame camera, and it has a simple control layout and an easy-to-use menu system.
While there's a lot to love about the RP, it's clear that Canon skimped on other aspects to keep the price down. Its all-plastic construction feels a lot cheaper than higher-end full-frame cameras aimed at enthusiasts and pros. It also has a disappointingly short battery life and a slow max burst rate. But you'll have a hard time finding full-frame image quality for less, so if these aren't dealbreakers for you, the RP is a great deal for those who are serious about getting into photography and want to jump right into a full-frame model.
There are a lot of great camera options around the $1,000 mark, but if you don't need as many bells and whistles, you might be all set with an even cheaper budget camera like the Canon EOS M50 Mark II. It's simple, portable, and does just what you need it to, making it a great beginner camera. With a solid APS-C sensor inside, it can capture high-quality photos and videos. Plus, it uses Canon's excellent Dual Pixel autofocus system for quick and accurate focusing.
Of course, you won't get the best build quality at this price, and while it can record 4k video, it's best suited to 1080p since it can only do 4k with a heavy crop. Lens options are also a bit limited, so if you want to upgrade lenses beyond the kit lens, you might want to consider a Micro Four Thirds option like the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV. It's a bit pricier but still affordable, and you get more lenses and built-in stabilization to boot. Still, the simplicity and price point of the M50 make it one of the most attractive budget cameras around.
Sep 27, 2022: Restructured article to align more with user needs and current market conditions.
Feb 02, 2022: Added the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV as 'Best Camera For Vlogging Under $1,000'.
Dec 06, 2021: Moved the Nikon D5600 to Notable Mentions due to lack of availability and replaced the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III with the Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II as the 'Best Compact Camera Under $1,000'.
Nov 15, 2021: Checked that picks were still accurate and available; no change to recommendations.
Oct 25, 2021: Checked picks for accuracy and availability; no change to recommendations.
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 U.S.).
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.