Narrowing down the best cameras in the world is no easy task when there are so many different cameras to choose from. The important thing to remember is that there is no single best camera—only the best camera to suit your particular needs, which depends on your budget, ergonomic preference, shooting habits, and experience level. The good news is that whether you're a beginner looking to buy your first mirrorless or DSLR camera, or a seasoned photographer looking to upgrade to a newer model, there's most certainly a camera out there for you.
It's worth noting that a camera's overall performance can vary drastically depending on what kind of lens you use. Your lens influences the amount of light entering the camera, an image's depth of field, autofocus behavior, and stabilization performance. That's without mentioning the physical aspects of your lens: a larger lens with a longer zoom length and a wider maximum aperture might make it easier to take the kind of photos you want, but it could make your camera more of a hassle to carry around. For the sake of consistency and user-friendliness, we currently test cameras with their standard kit lenses.
We've tested over 50 cameras, and below you'll find our recommendations for the best cameras to buy for most people. These picks were selected not only based on their overall performance but also their feature set and price. For more options, look at our recommendations for the best digital cameras, the best mirrorless cameras, and the best DSLR cameras.
The best camera we've tested with a mirrorless body is the Canon EOS R6. This full-frame camera feels well-built and incredibly comfortable to use. It has a fully-articulated touchscreen, making it easy to shoot from unconventional angles, and it's rated to be weather-sealed for light protection against dust and rain, although we don't currently test this.
It delivers well-rounded performance for both photography and video. It even supports 10-bit 4:2:2 video internally, which is great for videographers looking to produce high-quality video. Its image quality is fantastic, with great dynamic range to bring out a wide array of details and remarkable noise handling capability, even at high ISO levels. It has an excellent autofocus system that reliably and accurately tracks moving subjects in both photography and video. Its in-body image stabilization feature also does a good job of smoothing out camera shake when shooting without a tripod.
Unfortunately, it's bulky and heavy, making it cumbersome to take on the go. Its battery life is also somewhat limited, as it doesn't support USB charging. That said, its tested battery life in video is decent, although this can vary drastically with real-world usage habits and settings. Despite that, this is one of the best digital cameras that we've tested, thanks to its versatile photo and video performance.
If you'd prefer a smaller camera with an APS-C sensor, check out the Fujifilm X-T4. While its RAW noise handling capability isn't as good as that of the Canon EOS R6, it's notably smaller and cheaper. It's a very well-built camera with dedicated shutter speed and ISO dials, making it easy to adjust settings without digging through menus. Like the Canon, it's weather-sealed, though we don't currently test this, but it's not quite as comfortable to use, and its shoulder strap attachment points can sometimes get in the way while holding the camera. Overall image quality is good, and photos stay relatively noise-free at moderate and higher ISO levels, though you may lose some sharpness in low light. Video quality is also fantastic in brighter lighting conditions. Its autofocus system is also more reliable when shooting video; however, it's not as consistent when taking photos.
If you're looking for one of the best cameras with a full-frame sensor, the Canon is a great choice thanks to its remarkable noise handling capability and comfortable build. The Fujifilm, however, is an excellent alternative if you want the smaller size of a crop-sensor camera.
For those who prefer shooting through an optical viewfinder and like the more traditional design of a DSLR, the best camera to buy is the Nikon D780. This full-frame DSLR feels well-built and comfortable to use, with a rubberized handgrip that should suit most hand sizes. It has a tilting screen that helps when shooting from the hip, but it can't be turned around or flipped up to face you.
It delivers amazing overall image quality, with incredible noise handling capability and sharpness at higher ISO levels, so you can easily shoot in low light without compromising quality. It also has a fantastic autofocus system, and it's especially effective at tracking moving objects, whether taking photos or recording video in either 4k or FHD. Its overall video quality is good, especially when shooting in brighter lighting conditions. It also has a fair continuous shooting speed and virtually instant buffer empty time to capture fast action without interruption.
That said, it lacks in-body image stabilization, and while it does a great job of stabilizing images when taking photos without a tripod, it's inadequate for stabilizing video, where camera shake can be very noticeable, especially in 4k. It's also a very large, heavy camera, making it cumbersome to take on the go or carry around for long periods. Nevertheless, this is one of the best DSLR cameras we've tested.
If you'd like to save some money, the Canon EOS 90D is a great DSLR alternative. It doesn't have a full-frame sensor like the Nikon D780, so its overall image quality is a bit worse, but it's a bit smaller and more lightweight, and it sits at a more affordable price point. It feels fairly well-built, although not as robust as the Nikon. It's also very comfortable to use, with a large secure handgrip and dedicated exposure controls. It has a fully-articulated screen, so you can easily shoot from unconventional angles or take selfies. It has a similarly great autofocus system, especially when tracking subjects in video, and delivers good overall video quality. However, it lacks in-body image stabilization and does a bad job of smoothing out camera shake.
The Nikon is the better option if you want a full-frame sensor and superior image quality. If you want something cheaper that still delivers well-rounded performance, the Canon is a good alternative.
If you want a bridge camera that gives you a DSLR-like shooting experience but with a fixed superzoom lens, then the best camera we've tested is the Panasonic LUMIX FZ1000 II. It's a bridge camera with a long zoom lens and 1-inch sensor, giving you a remarkably long 400mm equivalent max focal length to shoot with. It also has a great battery life, although this can vary drastically with settings and usage habits.
Image quality is great, with incredible dynamic range to bring out a wide array of details in high-contrast photos. There's also relatively little noise at higher ISO levels when shooting in JPEG, so it's suited to more dimly lit conditions, but due to its small sensor, raising the ISO can cause photos to lose detail and sharpness. That said, its continuous shooting speed is great, making it well-suited to sports and wildlife photography.
Unfortunately, it's not the best option for recording video. While it has decent overall video quality in 4k and FHD, its frame rate options are very limited. It can only record at 30 fps or 60 fps in FHD, and it's limited to 24 fps or 30 fps in 4k, which incurs a severe 1.45x crop. Its autofocus system also does a poor job of tracking moving subjects. Despite its flaws as a video camera, this is still a great option if you're looking for a bridge camera for a range of photography needs.
The best compact camera that we've tested is the Fujifilm X100V. It's a rangefinder-style point-and-shoot with an APS-C sensor. It feels well-built, with dedicated shutter speed and ISO dials that let you easily adjust settings on the fly. It also has a hybrid electronic/optical rangefinder that gives you an uninterrupted view of your subjects and a fixed prime lens with a 35mm equivalent focal length, which should be well-suited to a range of photography.
It delivers excellent overall image quality, with good dynamic range to capture a wide array of details and impressive RAW noise handling capability, so you can take photos at higher ISO levels in low light without too much visual noise. It also shoots video in 4k and FHD with excellent video quality. Its autofocus system is good overall, though it's a bit less consistent at tracking moving subjects when recording video. The camera can also be fully weather-sealed if you attached an adapter and lens filter, but you need to purchase these separately and this isn't something we test for.
Unfortunately, its battery life is just okay. It's decent when taking photos, but recording video drains the battery fairly quickly. It also may overheat when recording for long periods on the highest settings, which can interrupt shooting. However, battery performance can vary drastically with different settings and real-world usage habits. Some people with larger hands may also find it uncomfortable since it lacks a proper handgrip. Still, this is among the best cameras we've tested with a compact design.
If you'd prefer the flexibility of a zoom lens, consider the Sony RX100 VII. While its image quality and noise handling capability aren't as good as the Fujifilm X100V's, it's even more compact and has a built-in zoom lens with a 200mm equivalent max focal length, so you can zoom in on far-away subjects or take close-ups. It also manages to fit both a pop-up electronic viewfinder and pop-up flash into its compact body. It doesn't have as many 4k frame rate options or as high video quality as the Fujifilm, but its autofocus system is significantly more consistent when it comes to tracking moving subjects. Its screen can also tilt and flip up to face you for selfies. However, it's not weather-sealed, though this isn't something we currently test.
Get the Fujifilm if image quality is your top priority, but if you want a compact camera with a zoom lens, the Sony is a great alternative.
The best action camera that we've tested is the GoPro HERO9 Black. It's small, portable, and easy to mount onto a chest or helmet rig for first-person action video. It features dual screens, one on the back and one on the front to monitor the recording live, which is handy for action vloggers to ensure they're in the frame. It's also rated to be waterproof up to 10 m, although we don't currently test this.
As far as performance goes, it delivers impressive video stabilization that does an exceptional job smoothing out camera shake, although it incurs a significant crop. It also has a ton of frame rate options in both FHD and 4k. It can shoot at up to 60 fps in 4k and up to 240 fps in FHD, so it's suited to everything from cinematic-looking video to high-speed capture for generating slow-motion footage. It can also record up to 30 fps in 5k, though we don't currently test 5k video capability.
Its overall video quality is okay for an action camera, but it still leaves a lot to be desired, especially when recording in low light. It can take photos as well, but they're not very sharp or detailed compared to a dedicated stills camera, and its fixed aperture and focal length limit your flexibility. Its tested battery life in video is only decent, though this can vary in real-world conditions. Still, this is among the best action cameras we've tested.
Aug 30, 2021: Replaced the Sony RX100 VII with the Fujifilm X100V as 'Best Compact Camera' and added the Sony RX100 VII as 'Alternative With Optical Zoom'.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best 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 US).
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.