Most digital cameras now come with advanced video features that would impress any videographer, but the bread and butter of most cameras is still photography. Whether you're looking for the perfect camera to document your travel adventures, a model that can capture beautiful landscapes, or a fast camera to keep up with sports and wildlife, there's no shortage of options out there, including many that are well-rounded enough to suit all manner and styles of photography. What's most important is choosing a camera that fits your needs, budget, and ergonomic preferences.
It's worth noting that a camera's overall performance can vary drastically depending on the lens you use. Your lens influences the amount of light entering the camera, an image's depth of field, autofocus behavior, and stabilization performance, and that's without mentioning the physical aspects of your lens, which can affect the camera's portability. As a general rule, it's better to invest in a less expensive camera body and higher-quality lenses than to invest in an expensive camera body and cheap lenses. That said, for the sake of consistency and user-friendliness, we currently test cameras with their standard kit lenses.
We've tested over 70 cameras, and below you'll find our recommendations for the best cameras to buy for different kinds of photography. These picks were selected not only based on their overall performance but also their feature set and price. For more options, see our recommendations for the best cameras for wildlife photography, the best cameras for landscape photography, and the best cameras for low-light photography.
If you're looking for a camera that can take stunning travel photos without a lot of bulk and weight, look no further than the Sony α7C. It's one of the smallest full-frame cameras on the market, close in size to some of Sony's α6x00 APS-C cameras. Additionally, it has a 24-megapixel full-frame sensor that'll give you amazing image quality and better low-light performance.
Though it's compact, it still has a small EVF, which is helpful when it's too bright out to get a clear view on the camera's screen. It also comes with in-body image stabilization (IBIS), so you can use non-optically stabilized lenses and get clear shots in low-light or shoot handheld video. Its battery life is incredible, so you don't need to worry about running out of juice when you're on a long hike. It has Sony's latest autofocus technology, with integrated face/eye detection and intuitive continuous subject tracking that stays with your subjects even when they're moving around the frame.
That said, it isn't the most comfortable camera to shoot with; we would have liked a bigger, more comfortable viewfinder and more customizable buttons. Also, while the body is remarkably portable for a full-frame camera, full-frame lenses can still add a lot of bulk, weight, and cost, though more compact lens options do exist. If that sounds like an issue to you, the Sony α6400 is a formidable APS-C alternative, but it lacks IBIS and has shorter battery life. Otherwise, the α7C checks all the boxes for high-quality travel photography.
If you'd prefer to use a fixed-lens compact while traveling, consider the Sony RX100 VII. Though it lacks the versatility of an interchangeable lens camera like the Sony α7C, it's an incredibly compact camera that can fit into a coat pocket, making it very easy to take traveling. Being a premium camera, you still get an advanced autofocus system that does a fantastic job tracking and keeping moving subjects in focus. Its built-in Zeiss lens covers a wide focal length range, from 24mm to 200mm (full-frame equivalent), so you can take wider shots or zoom in on far-away subjects. It also has a pop-up EVF, and though it's tiny, it can still be helpful to have in very sunny conditions. That said, it's not as comfortable to shoot with because of its smaller form factor. It also has a significantly shorter battery life than the α7C and performs worse in low light because of its smaller sensor.
Get the α7C if you want an interchangeable lens camera with a full-frame sensor. If portability and simplicity are your top priorities, the RX100 VII is a great alternative for travel.
The Fujifilm X100V is the best camera we've tested for street photography, combining portability with the image quality you get from a high-resolution APS-C sensor. It's portable enough to carry around fairly discreetly, and you can easily fit it into a small bag or coat pocket. It also has a sharp built-in lens with a 35mm equivalent focal length, which is wide enough to capture busier scenes but not so wide that you can't also take street portraits or photos of isolated subjects.
The camera's design takes inspiration from vintage rangefinder cameras, with a hybrid viewfinder offset from the center of the body. With the flip of a switch, you can go from an optical viewfinder with an uninterrupted view of your subject and surroundings, encouraging more engagement with your environment, to an electronic viewfinder that lets you preview exposure settings. It delivers amazing overall image quality with impressive noise handling at higher ISOs, delivering sharp images with minimal noise even in more dimly-lit conditions.
That said, it doesn't have any image stabilization feature, which makes it harder to get a steady image when shooting handheld at slower shutter speeds. Also, while its autofocus system is good overall, it's not the most reliable at tracking moving faces, which is key when taking street photos of people. Despite that, this is still the best camera for street photography that we've tested, thanks to its compact size, hybrid viewfinder, and excellent image quality.
The best camera for landscape photography we've tested is the Sony α7 III. Though it's now been replaced by the Sony α7 IV, this well-built camera remains a popular choice among newcomers and photography enthusiasts. It uses a 24-megapixel full-frame sensor that delivers incredibly high-quality images with a ton of dynamic range to give you more latitude when processing your photos.
It's well-suited to landscape photography thanks to its remarkable battery life that should last through long days of shooting depending on your usage habits. It has a tilting screen to help you compose shots from lower angles. It feels very comfortable to shoot with because of its large handgrip and viewfinder, as well as offering several customizable buttons and settings. It also comes with two SD card slots for longer shoots, or in case you like to keep a backup on the go.
Unfortunately, it isn't weather-sealed, so you may be less inclined to take it out on hikes in adverse weather conditions. It doesn't have the most intuitive menu system either, with its more advanced settings buried within confusing submenus and no touchscreen navigation. Despite its flaws, however, this is still one of the best cameras for photographers who shoot a lot of landscapes, and it's versatile enough for other types of photography, too.
The best camera for photographers interested in sports and wildlife is the Nikon Z 6II. This full-frame interchangeable lens model has a weather-sealed body that feels well-constructed and very comfortable to shoot with. It has an intuitive menu system and a large, high-resolution EVF. It also has a very good battery life that you can extend further by using a portable battery pack for longer shooting days.
It shoots at a fast 13 fps in its high-speed continuous shooting mode, meaning you can capture quick bursts of fast movement. It also has a range of shooting speed options in its low-speed drive mode, giving you more precise control over its burst rate. It features two memory card slots, including a high-speed CFexpress card slot, which gives it a virtually limitless photo buffer that ensures you can shoot continuously without interruption. Its image quality is also excellent overall, and it has fantastic noise handling for low light conditions.
That said, it doesn't have the most effective autofocus on the market, and it struggles especially to track moving faces consistently. Still, it does an excellent job tracking and keeping moving objects in focus, and it has a lot of detection points. It also features in-body image stabilization and does a good job stabilizing camera shake when shooting handheld. Overall, this is one of the best cameras for wildlife photography that we've tested.
The Canon EOS R6 is the best camera we've tested for low-light photography. It's a full-frame camera from Canon's mirrorless R-series lineup, offering many of the features of the higher-end Canon EOS R5 at a more affordable price point. It features a 20.1-megapixel full-frame sensor that yields superb image quality and performs well even in low light, thanks to its incredible high ISO performance.
When shooting in RAW, photos have very little noise even as you raise the ISO for more dimly-lit conditions. If you prefer to shoot in JPEG, the image quality is still fantastic, and photos stay sharp and relatively noise-free at higher ISOs. The camera has a great autofocus system with over 6,000 detection points for more precise focusing, and it does a good job tracking moving subjects quickly and reliably. It also features in-body image stabilization, meaning you can shoot at slower shutter speeds in low light.
That said, its battery life leaves something to be desired, as you can't use it while it's charging. Also, while it can shoot at a quick 11 fps in its high-speed continuous shooting mode, it takes a long time to empty its photo buffer if you manage to fill it up. Still, if you're looking for a low-light powerhouse, this is a great option that should suit most people, thanks to its fantastic noise handling, great autofocus, and comfortable ergonomics.
Feb 21, 2022: Replaced the Sony a6400 with the Sony a7C as 'Best Camera For Travel Photography'.
Jan 20, 2022: Moved the Nikon D780 to notable mentions, removed the Sony a6100 as 'Best Budget Camera For Photography', and added the Canon EOS R6 as the 'Best Camera For Low-Light Photography'.
Dec 23, 2021: Added the Fujifilm X100V as the 'Best Camera For Street Photography'.
Nov 23, 2021: Moved the Canon EOS RP to Notable Mentions and renamed the Sony RX100 VII from 'Compact Alternative' to 'Point-And-Shoot Alternative'.
Nov 02, 2021: Checked picks for accuracy and availability; no change to recommendations.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best photography cameras 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 camera reviews. 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.