There's no shortage of variety in the market landscape of digital cameras nowadays, with models designed to cater to a wide array of experience levels, personal shooting habits, and intended uses. These include conventional DSLR cameras with familiar ergonomics and large lens ecosystems, smaller mirrorless models with cutting-edge autofocus systems, and pocket-friendly point-and-shoots, not to mention more esoteric models like retro-chic rangefinder-style cameras and bridge cameras with built-in super-zoom lenses. With such a wide variety of models on offer, it should come as no surprise that there's no single best digital camera, but at the very least, there's no better time to find a camera that suits your exact needs and tastes.
We've tested over 65 cameras, and below you'll find our recommendations for the best digital cameras to buy. These picks were selected not only based on their overall performance but also their feature set and price. If you're looking for alternatives, you can take a look at our list of recommendations for the best mirrorless cameras, the best DSLR cameras, and the best compact cameras.
The best mirrorless digital camera we've tested is the Canon EOS R6. This full-frame interchangeable-lens camera feels well-built, with a magnesium alloy and plastic body as well as responsive controls and a fully articulated touchscreen that you can use to navigate its intuitive menu system. It's also weather-sealed to protect from rain and humidity and comes with a full array of inputs and outputs, including clean HDMI output and microphone and headphone jacks.
Its 20.1-megapixel sensor delivers remarkable image quality and performs well in low light thanks to its incredible noise handling capability, which keeps photos sharp and relatively noise-free at higher ISO levels. It has in-body image stabilization, which does an impressive job stabilizing the camera when shooting without a tripod. Its autofocus system is great, as it does a good job of tracking moving subjects and has an outstanding 6,072 advertised focus points. Video quality is also great in both 4k and FHD.
Unfortunately, its battery life is a bit limited. It has a decent tested battery life for video and supports USB charging, which is handy, but you can't use it while it charges. It can also feel quite heavy with a lens and is on the bulkier side, making it less convenient to take on the go for longer periods. Despite these quibbles, this is among the best mirrorless cameras that we've tested.
If you're looking for a more portable, less expensive crop-sensor mirrorless camera, consider the Fujifilm X-T4. It isn't as comfortable to use as the Canon EOS R6, and it delivers inferior noise handling capability at moderate ISO levels. That said, it's notably smaller, lighter, and cheaper, which makes it less of a hassle to carry around for long periods. Its autofocus system is highly effective at tracking subjects in both 4k and FHD video, and it delivers good overall performance in still photography. Also, its 20 fps max continuous shooting speed is faster than the Canon's, and it also clears its buffer in less time. Depending on your choice of settings and usage habits, battery performance is great, and you can use the camera as it recharges over USB, which is handy for longer recording sessions. Unfortunately, while its menu system is ultimately easy to use, it lacks a guide mode to explain core features to novice users.
Get the Canon if you prefer the superior low-light performance that comes with a full-frame camera, but consider the Fujifilm if you're looking for something a little lighter and easier to transport.
The best DSLR camera that we've tested is the Nikon D780. This full-frame DSLR feels robust and well-built. It has many physical controls and dials that make it easy to adjust settings once you get the hang of it and its menu system. It also has several customizable buttons and menu options that you can adjust to your preference. Its optical viewfinder feels comfortable and gives you an unfiltered view of subjects, and it has a small display on the top that lets you check settings, battery life, and remaining storage space at a glance.
The camera delivers amazing overall image quality thanks to its full-frame sensor. It's well-suited to low-light photography since photos have very little visual noise at higher ISO settings. Overall, photos look sharp with a good amount of dynamic range to bring out a wider array of detail. It has a fantastic autofocus system as well, despite having fewer detection points than some mirrorless alternatives. It does an excellent job tracking and keeping moving subjects in focus. It also has a fairly quick 8 fps burst speed that lets you capture quick moments of fast movement.
That said, this is a heavy, bulky camera, so it's not the best option if you prefer to travel light and minimize fatigue. However, even though it's a hefty camera, its weight is well-distributed and feels good in the hand. Also, while it lacks in-body image stabilization, its Nikkor 24-120mm f/4G ED VR kit lens has optical stabilization and does a superb job of minimizing camera shake when taking handheld photos. Overall, this is one of the best DSLR cameras we've tested.
If you want a cheaper DSLR, check out the Canon EOS 90D. Unlike the Nikon D780, it uses an APS-C sensor as opposed to a full-frame sensor, so it's less suited to shooting in low light. That said, it's cheaper, considerably lighter, and more portable. Canon has a similarly intuitive menu system, and the camera feels very comfortable to hold and shoot with. It has fewer buttons and dials, but its screen can fully articulate, making it easier to shoot from unconventional angles. Its 11 fps high-speed continuous shooting speed is also a bit faster, though it has a smaller image buffer and longer buffer empty time, which may slow you down. While it has worse noise handling capability at higher ISO levels due to its smaller sensor, the camera still delivers good overall image quality with an impressive amount of dynamic range. Its autofocus system is also good, but it doesn't track subjects as consistently.
Go with the Nikon if you'd prefer a high-end full-frame DSLR camera. If you want something cheaper and more portable that still delivers good image quality and features, consider the Canon.
The best digital camera that we've tested for beginner photographers is the Nikon Z 50. It's an entry-level mirrorless camera with an APS-C sensor and a relatively lightweight design. Mirrorless cameras are a good option for beginners because you can see how exposure adjustments affect your image directly through the EVF. Nikon cameras also have highly intuitive menu systems with guide modes to explain core functions to novice users.
It has a touchscreen that can tilt out to help you shoot from lower angles, and you can also flip it all the way down for selfies or vlogs. It delivers impressive overall image quality, with great noise handling at higher ISO levels for low-light conditions, and 4k video quality is great when shooting in brighter lighting. It has decent autofocus, though it's not as quick and accurate as some competing autofocus systems. Though it has a long buffer empty time, the camera can shoot at a quick 10 fps burst rate to capture brief moments of fast action.
Unfortunately, it doesn't have the best battery life. It lasts a decently long time when recording video continuously, though its advertised battery life in photos is unremarkable, and you can't use it while it's charging, which is a bit inconvenient. Still, battery performance can vary with different settings and usage habits. Overall, this is one of the best cameras that we've tested for beginners, thanks to its easy-to-use menu system and impressive image and video performance.
If you'd prefer to start with a DSLR, check out the Canon EOS Rebel T8i. It's heavier and bulkier than the Nikon Z 50 due to its mirror mechanism, but it has an optical viewfinder that lets you view your subjects as they are without any lag. DSLR cameras typically also have more lenses available to choose from, so you can upgrade your lens as you get better. This camera has a fully articulated screen to make it easier to take photos from unconventional angles or record vlogs. It captures photos with very good image quality, though its noise handling capability isn't as good, so it may not perform as well in low-light situations. While it doesn't have as many detection points, its autofocus system is remarkably effective at keeping moving subjects in focus.
Get the Nikon if you want a mirrorless camera that's well-suited for beginners, but if you prefer the ergonomics and features of a DSLR, consider the Canon.
The best compact digital camera that we've tested is the Fujifilm X100V. This rangefinder-style compact has a unique hybrid optical/electronic viewfinder that's offset from the lens, giving you an uninterrupted view of your subjects and encouraging you to engage more with your surroundings. It has a built-in lens with a fixed 35mm equivalent focal length, which should be suitable for a range of photography, from street and travel photography to landscapes.
It uses the same X-Trans 4 APS-C sensor that you can find on interchangeable-lens models like the Fujifilm X-T4, and it delivers excellent overall image quality. Photos have good dynamic range, and the camera has impressive RAW noise handling capability at higher ISO settings, so it should capture relatively noise-free photos in more dimly-lit conditions. Its autofocus system is also good with 425 advertised detection points, and it does a decent job of tracking moving subjects for photos.
That said, the camera has a somewhat limited battery life, especially when recording a lot of video, though this can vary with settings and usage habits. It can also overheat and shut down when recording 4k video continuously. On the upside, you can keep using it while it charges via USB. Overall, this is one of the best point-and-shoot cameras we've tested, thanks to its amazing image quality and unique design.
If you'd prefer a compact camera with a zoom lens, check out the Sony RX100 VII. It doesn't perform as well in low light as the Fujifilm X100V and has slightly worse image quality overall due to its smaller 1-inch sensor, but it's even more compact and has a built-in zoom lens. Its lens has a max 200mm full-frame equivalent focal length, so you can take wider angle shots or zoom in on subjects that are farther away. It also has a remarkable autofocus system that reliably keeps moving subjects in focus, whether taking photos or shooting video. That said, it's not as comfortable to use since it lacks a handgrip and has a more convoluted menu system. It also has a disappointing battery life and suffers similar overheating issues, depending on settings and usage.
Get the Fujifilm if you prioritize image quality and like the idea of an optical rangefinder. If you need a point-and-shoot camera with a zoom lens, the Sony is a great alternative.
Nov 18, 2021: Ensured that picks still represent the best choice for their given categories; no change to recommendations.
Oct 19, 2021: Verified accuracy of picks; no change to recommendations.
Sep 28, 2021: Added the Canon EOS M50 Mark II and the PENTAX K-3 Mark III to Notable Mentions.
Sep 07, 2021: Replaced the Sony RX100 VII with the Fujifilm X100V as the 'Best Digital Compact Camera' and added the RX100 VII as 'Alternative With Optical Zoom'.
Aug 17, 2021: Updated text for clarity and accuracy.
Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best digital 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.