There's no shortage of variety in the market landscape of digital cameras nowadays, with models designed to cater to a wide variety 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 55 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, though we don't currently test for that, and comes with a full array of inputs and outputs, including clean HDMI output and microphone and headphone jacks.
Its 20.1 MP 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 of stabilizing the camera when shooting without a tripod, and 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 the Fujifilm 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. It's a versatile full-frame DSLR that's made of premium materials and feels very comfortable to use thanks to its large textured handgrip. It doesn't have a fully articulated screen, but its touchscreen can tilt up if you want to shoot from lower angles, and it has a small display on the top of its body that gives you a quick overview of your settings and remaining battery life.
It has a 24.5 MP sensor that delivers amazing image quality, including outstanding noise handling capability at higher ISO levels for low-light photography and good dynamic range to bring out a wider range of details and contrast. It has an okay continuous shooting speed and virtually instant buffer empty time to capture extended bursts of quick movement without interruption. It also has a fantastic autofocus system that can quickly and reliably track moving subjects in both photography and video.
That said, it doesn't have in-body image stabilization, which is a bit disappointing for a camera in this price range and means you'll have to rely on your lens' optical stabilization to smooth out camera shake. Still, with its kit lens, it does a fantastic job of reducing the effect of camera shake when taking photos, though its performance is worse when recording video. Still, if you prefer the optical viewfinder and traditional feel of a DSLR, this is one of the best DSLR cameras that we've tested.
If you want a DSLR but would rather not pay as much, consider the Canon EOS 90D. Its low light performance isn't as good as that of the Nikon D780 because of its smaller crop sensor, but it's considerably cheaper and more lightweight. Unlike the Nikon, it has a fully articulated touchscreen that makes it easier to shoot from different angles, though it doesn't feel as well-built overall. While its sensor is smaller than the Nikon's, it has an exceptional 32.5 advertised megapixels, resulting in greater dynamic range to bring out details and contrast. That said, as expected from a smaller sensor with smaller pixels, its noise handling capability is significantly worse in low light at higher ISO levels. Its autofocus system is also a bit less reliable than the Nikon's but still very good overall.
If you want a DSLR that's more suited to low light photography and feels more robust, go with the Nikon, but if you want a cheaper camera that's still very capable, the Canon is a good alternative.
The best digital camera that we've tested for beginners is the Nikon Z 50. This well-built APS-C mirrorless camera features an incredibly easy-to-use menu system with a built-in guide mode to explain some core features to novice users. Its touchscreen can tilt and flip up to face you while holding the camera in a selfie position. It also features Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, allowing you to pair the camera with your smartphone and wirelessly transfer images and videos with other devices.
This camera offers great out-of-the-box image quality, with good noise handling capability and minimal loss of sharpness even at moderately high ISO levels, which is good for low-light photography. Its autofocus system does a decent job of tracking moving subjects in still photography and performs impressively well in both 4k and FHD video. It can shoot at up to 30 fps in 4k with a fairly moderate 1.1x crop, so the corresponding reduction in field of view isn't too noticeable. It can also record at up to 120 fps in FHD, which is great for generating slow-motion video.
Unfortunately, while the camera's maximum shooting speed of 11 fps is quite fast, it takes a long time for it to clear its photo buffer, leading to prolonged interruptions if you're planning on firing off multiple extended bursts in RAW format. In addition, while videos recorded in well-lit environments are mostly sharp and well-rendered, video quality degrades when shooting in dimly-lit environments. Still, if you're looking for an easy-to-use, versatile mirrorless camera, this is a great option.
If you prefer the more traditional design of a DSLR camera and like using an optical viewfinder, consider the Canon EOS Rebel T8i. This APS-C DSLR is much bulkier than the Nikon Z 50 and doesn't feel as well-built, but it does feel very comfortable to use and has a similarly intuitive menu system. Its fully articulated touchscreen offers a wider range of movement than the Nikon's tilting and flipping screen. Its battery life in video is also great, though this can vary depending on your choice of settings and usage habits; however, you can't charge it via USB. Out-of-the-box image quality is very good, with a wide dynamic range and good noise handling capability. Its autofocus system also delivers exceptional tracking performance in still photography and FHD video. Unfortunately, its 4k recording capabilities are more limited, as it can only shoot in 4k at 24 fps with a severe 1.51x crop. Its autofocus tracking consistency and video stabilization performance also degrade noticeably in 4k.
Get the Nikon if you want a mirrorless camera with more advanced video capabilities, but consider the Canon if you're looking for an easy-to-use DSLR with better battery performance.
Of the compact cameras we've tested, the best digital camera is the Fujifilm X100V. This rangefinder-style point-and-shoot has a well-built design with retro styling. It has a fixed prime lens with a 35mm equivalent focal length, perfect for street photography and versatile enough to suit a wide range of photography needs. It also sports a hybrid optical/electronic rangefinder that gives you an uninterrupted view of your subject.
Overall, its image quality is excellent thanks to its 26.1 MP APS-C sensor, which delivers JPEG images that stay incredibly sharp and relatively noise-free even at high ISO levels. Its RAW noise handling capability is also great, so it's well-suited to taking photos in low light. If you like to shoot video, it delivers amazing overall video quality, whether you're shooting in 4k or 1080p, and it has a lot of frame rate options, allowing you to shoot in 4k at up to 30 fps and in 1080p at up to 60 fps without a crop.
That said, it can overheat and shut down easily when shooting video at its highest quality settings. Its overall battery life is also just okay, but on the upside, it supports USB charging, and you can keep using it while it charges. All things considered, this is one of the best compact cameras we've tested thanks to its excellent image and video quality and robust feature set.
If you'd prefer a compact camera with a zoom lens, check out the Sony RX100 VII. Its image quality isn't as good as the Fujifilm X100V's due to its smaller sensor, particularly its RAW noise handling capability and low-light performance, but it has a built-in zoom lens with a 200mm equivalent max focal length, making it more versatile if you want to capture far-away subjects. Its autofocus system is also more reliable at tracking moving subjects, and it delivers fairly good video quality overall. It's remarkably compact and has both a pop-up flash and a pop-up viewfinder for more control over framing and composition. That said, it has a disappointing battery life, and it can also suffer from overheating issues if used for extended periods.
Go with the Fujifilm if you want a compact digital camera with better image quality and low-light performance, but if you prefer the versatility of a zoom lens, the Sony is a great alternative.
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.