This is a guide to the top cameras for beginner photographers will help you pick your perfect camera, plus what to look for when choosing a camera for the first time.
Have you decided to take up photography? Or do you need your own camera to take photos for your blog, business or your cat?
This guide to the top cameras for beginner photographers will help you find the perfect one. You can also read my guide on the best travel camera.
Choosing your first camera is an exciting time. But there are so many on the market that it can also be overwhelming and confusing.
Especially if you haven’t yet learnt the lingo or what all the specs and features mean. I know I didn’t when I started my research to buy my first camera. I have since owned 5 different cameras and an action camera.
So, I know what you should be looking for when it comes to cameras.
As with any of my travel gear, I like to do my research before I make a purchase. In this post, I go into some beginner-friendly detail and explain what to look for in a camera.
I also discuss some examples of the best beginner cameras you can find.
Best Cameras for Beginners – At a Glance
This guide offers a breakdown of everything you need to take into consideration before buying your first camera. But first, here’s a quick list of some of the top options.
Buying a Camera – Guide for Beginners
Before you spend your hard-earned money on a snazzy new camera, you want to make sure you’re getting exactly what you need.
What Are The Best Types Of Cameras For Beginners?
Let’s take a look at the types of devices you’ll come across in your search for the perfect one.
Point-and-shoot cameras are quite basic in their functionality and features. They have smaller sensors than DSLR and mirrorless cameras, and have a fixed lens. This makes them much more compact and lightweight than their counterparts, but they can be limiting in their abilities.
P&S cameras are great for amateur photographers who don’t necessarily want to delve too deeply into learning the nitty-gritty skills. These cameras have good autofocus, fit into pockets, and are great at taking simple photos of family birthdays and events.
DSLRs are a digital version of SLR cameras and are highly popular. These are generally larger cameras, but they offer an extensive range of features and support a broader selection of lenses than their mirrorless relatives.
The image quality in DSLRs is usually better than point-and-shoot cameras. This is in part thanks to their larger sensors (which I will explain below). The wider variety of controls, modes, and functions on a DSLR mean you can experiment more, and have more control once you’ve learnt how to use them.
DSLR cameras are not as lightweight as P&S or mirrorless devices, but if you’re keen to become somewhat of a pro, they’re a better option than P&S cameras.
Mirrorless cameras differ from DLSRs in that they are lacking the mirror inside the camera – as the name explains. They also don’t have a manual viewfinder, which makes them slightly smaller and lighter than DSLRs.
The image quality offered by a mirrorless is similar to that of a DSLR, so they’re better than a point-and-shoot in that regard. Mirrorless cameras also allow you to change lenses, although currently, the selection is smaller than you’ll find for a DSLR.
A mirrorless camera offers similar functionality to a DSLR, but in a more compact package. This makes them great for the average novice, who may be taking up photography as a hobby. And especially great for anyone who loves to travel and does not want to gear around a lot of gear.
Mirrorless VS DSLR
Many beginner photographers agonise over the decision – DSLR or Mirrorless? Which is better? How do you decide?
The truth is that each option has its own pros and cons. And it depends on what you plan to use the camera for as well as your own needs.
DSLR cameras offer top quality images, with a fantastic selection of lenses. Mirrorless cameras are generally much lighter than DSLR, so they’re ideal for those who like to travel light, even if it’s just to a picture-perfect location. However, they are often outshined by DSLRs when it comes to shooting in low light.
Either way, both of these camera options have different versions. And if you’re buying a newer camera, you won’t see much of a noticeable difference in DSLR vs mirrorless. I have shot with lots of mirrorless that give DSLR level image quality, lighter and compact. These are a few reasons why I shot with mirrorless cameras.
Beginner Camera Budget
As a beginner photographer, you may be a student, starting out with your new career, or simply enjoy photography as a hobby. This could leave very little wiggle room in your budget for a camera. Thankfully, there are plenty of entry-level options available at an affordable price.
When looking at brand new cameras for beginners, you’ll find prices ranging from around £500 up to £5000. So, it’s best to work out your budget before you start shopping to avoid overspending.
You can always upgrade once you have a bit more experience and have learnt more about photography.
Features To Look For In Your First Camera
If you’ve never shopped for a camera before, the details can seem a bit hazy. Here’s what to look for in a good camera for beginners and what each feature entails.
Size and Ergonomics
The size of the camera usually depends on what’s inside the device. Although a larger, bulkier camera is often necessary for professional photography, it’s not necessarily the best to start with.
While you’re still learning to control the camera, a smaller, lighter device is probably best. And if you’re looking to take your camera with you on worldwide adventures, then lightweight and compact are important features.
Having an ergonomic camera is a big plus when learning photography techniques. Being able to comfortably hold your camera while figuring it out will make the process much easier and more enjoyable.
Megapixels and Sensors
Megapixels are a measure of your image resolution. This mostly tells you how big you’ll be able to print your images. So if you’re going to be printing large canvas images, you’ll want higher megapixels (usually around 20MP). But if not, you’ll do fine with a camera of 12 to 16MP, especially when starting out.
The sensor is the part of a camera that captures the light, and is a large component in image quality. Generally, a larger sensor means higher quality image and better use in low lighting. Sensors also affect which lenses the camera can be used with. But bigger sensors usually mean larger cameras – and a larger price tag – so that’s something to keep in mind.
Having a WiFi or Bluetooth enabled camera is great for anyone who wants to have remote access to their cameras. Which is great for solo travellers, who take their own photos. As well as photographers who prefer sending images to their smartphones.
With WiFi on your camera, you eliminate the need for cables and make transferring files to phones or laptops much easier.
With DSLR and mirrorless cameras, you’ll be able to switch up your lenses which can be fantastic for experimenting with your photography. But buying these lenses as added extras can also become costly.
The best option for a beginner is to purchase a kit lens with the camera body (this also keeps the price down for your first camera). More advanced lenses can be bought at a later date when you’ve mastered your camera and all of its functions.
If you plan on doing travel photography or taking any photos outdoors, a weather-sealed camera will help avoid damage from rain and dust.
Of course, if your photography is mostly indoors and you won’t be running around in wet or windy conditions then you may be fine with a camera that’s not weather-tight.
This is really based on personal preference. Some cameras offer a sleeker, more chic aesthetic than others. I shoot with a Fujifilm X-T4, which has a super retro look to the camera body. If you like your camera to match your personal style, then be sure to take a look at how the camera looks on the outside as well as how it works on the inside.
In-body image stabilisation is a feature inside the camera body which prevents blurry images and controls any shaking or moving. It essentially keeps the sensor stable and controlled. Not all cameras have IBIS, and so many photographers look at lenses that include image stabilisation instead.
Some camera manufacturers believe that IS in lenses is more effective than IBIS in the camera body. This hasn’t really been proven though. And, of course, if you don’t have IBIS, you would be restricted to stabilised lenses that work with your camera body
If you’re purely looking for a camera for beginner photography, you won’t need to worry about the video specs. Having 4K video is great for anyone looking to create high quality, sharp video content. But it can be an unnecessary added expense for beginners.
Another cool feature for anyone looking to start with some videography as well is slow motion, or slo-mo. This allows you to slow down recordings of anything in motion and can help create some phenomenal video content.
Again, this is only an important feature for those looking to do videos and if you’re just looking to take photos of your family, or for your blog, it’s not essential.
13 Best Cameras For Beginners
Below I’ve listed some of the top beginner cameras on the market. After checking them out and comparing the features, prices, and performance of each camera, you should find it easier to make your very first purchase.
The Fujifilm X-T4 is a hybrid mirrorless camera, meaning it’s built for photos and video. It’s compact and easy to hold in your hand, offering stability and ease in both formats. This beauty has been created with weather resistance, durability, and style, of course.
The X-T4 has an autofocus speed of 0.2 seconds, so it’s perfect for snapping those images quickly and effortlessly. With IBIS, the camera body can be connected to a range of compatible Fuji lenses and produce top-quality photos.
The flip-out screen is one of my favourite features of this camera. It’s ideal for solo travellers who prefer to see what they’re shooting while taking selfies or vlog-style videos.
If you’re looking for something to make premium video content, the X-T4 offers Full HD/240 high-speed recording. It also has a max 10x slo-mo effect and image stability which keeps moving images stable without any extra gear.
And the cherry on top is that the X-T4 is able to save still and motion settings. So, you can easily switch between video and photos without resetting your preferences each time.
Sony Vlog ZV-1
If you’re an aspiring vlogger as well as photographer, the Sony ZV-1 was made for you. With the simplicity of a point-and-shoot, this vlogging camera is perfect for both photography and videography.
The swivel screen allows users to preview images and recordings, which is great for vlogging and selfies in front of famous London landmarks. You can see when the camera is filming thanks to the red recording light. The device has a detachable windscreen as well as a forward-directional on-board mic, providing clear audio even in busy environments.
Other video features include product showcasing, which helps the camera focus on products with more clarity than before. So you can show off your newest unboxing on your Youtube channel. It also has an autofocus algorithm to prioritise faces in the shot.
The 20.1MP camera has Fast Hybrid Autofocus and Real-Time Eye Focus which allows it to quickly centre in on important features in the image. It also works with a wireless shooting grip, so you can shoot selfies from a distance as well.
The Sony a6400 is another brilliant hybrid mirrorless camera that offers great functionality for someone just entering the world of photography.
This camera is designed for pros, but easy enough to use while you’re learning. It has Real-time Tracking and Real-time Eye Autofocus. With 0.02 seconds Autofocus, you can capture up to 11 frames-per-second.
For motion captures, you get 4K HDR recording, with a built-in mic and Fast Hybrid Autofocus to create high quality, enjoyable videos. It’s also a great camera if you plan on doing a lot of time-lapse videos, thanks to its built-in interval recordings.
The Alpha 6400 is compact and lightweight and is compatible with a range of accessories. Besides lenses, you can attach a microphone through the jack, and use a handgrip to increase the functionality of the camera.
The screen can tilt 180° so you’re able to view your shots and recordings while on the other end of the camera. Plus, it’s WiFi-enabled and you get access to the Imaging Edge app so sharing and moving images is a breeze.
GoPro Hero 8
If you’re looking to capture your adventures from a unique perspective, the GoPro Hero 8 will become your favourite possession.
Capture images with the 12MP camera and record 4K videos with ease. Like previous models of GoPro, this device is built for the adventurous.
A favourite feature is the HyperSmooth 2.0 – an enhancement from HyperSmooth – which gives the Hero 8 three levels of image stabilisation for even better recording on the go. It also has SuperPhoto and improved HDR which helps eliminate blurriness and increases detail in photos and videos.
With the Hero 8, you can Livestream in 1080p to social media through the app and save the footage to your device. The TimeWarp feature is improved in this model, with easy tap control to speed up and slow down recording. You can also tap through and choose between four different lens settings.
Once you’ve gotten comfortable with your GoPro, the Hero 8 also has a selection of mods sold separately. So you can upgrade your content creation.
A perfect example of a beginner’s compact camera, the Fujifilm X100V is a finely crafted device. It’s a fixed-lens mirrorless camera but comes with many of Fuji’s well-known features and a few tweaks and improvements from previous versions.
Fujifilm has created a lightweight camera, ideal for exploring the world around you and capturing every minute. While this camera doesn’t have a full flip-out screen, it does have a rear-tilting LED touch screen for convenience and better shooting in more awkward positions.
The sleek design makes this a great travel companion, and the 26.1MP sensor offers great images for hobbyists and professionals. And contrary to general mirrorless characteristics, the X100V offers exceptional low-light performance.
The Advanced Hybrid Viewfinder allows photographers to perfectly preview images before taking the shot. You get 4K video recording at up to 30 frames per second with the X100V and 1080p at 120 frames per second. It’s a great all-rounder.
The Sony A7RIV is pricier than the other cameras on this list, but that’s to be expected when you take a look at its features.
The world’s first 61.0MP, full-frame, interchangeable lens mirrorless camera has both Real-time tracking and Real-time Eye Autofocus. This works on animals’ eyes as well, making it great for wildlife shots or just pictures of your pets. Those looking to take photos of animals will also appreciate the silent shooting mode.
With this wonder-child from Sony, you can shoot bursts at 10 frames per second with continuous Autofocus, helping you capture even the tiniest details. The camera has In Body Stabilisation and Shake Control, so even without any fancy accessories, you’re sure to get blur-free pictures.
If you’re looking to invest in a top-of-the-range camera, and something that will stay with you while you learn and long after, this is the perfect choice.
For amateur photography enthusiasts, the Fujifilm X-T30 is an affordable, high performing camera. You’ll get high-quality images and 4K video with a range of special features from Fuji.
The 26.1MP camera doesn’t have IBIS but is compatible with a range of stabilised lenses. The X-T30 does, however, come with real-time face and eye tracking, which is great for shooting portraits as well as videos.
The viewfinder rivals that of DSLR cameras, with a refresh rate of 100 frames per second and a lag time of only 0.005 seconds. Quite impressive for a mirrorless, especially one in the lower price range.
One of the best features of the X-T30 is the Bluetooth connectivity. This allows you to send your photos to your smartphone and share them to social media instantly. Something I enjoy in a camera.
You can use the free Fujifilm app for remote shooting as well as other convenient functions like image sharing and geo-tagging.
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-W800
The Sony DSC W800 is a tiny, pocket digital camera. It’s a 20MP device with surprisingly great image quality. It includes blink detection and reduced blur, and the SteadyShot image stabilisation creates stunning stills and videos.
While this camera doesn’t do too well in low light shooting, you can get decent video footage in 720p. The menu can be put into Easy Mode which will make it simple to use, even for complete beginners.
A fun feature on this Sony camera is the Smile Shutter, which allows you to capture the beautiful smiles of your subjects at the perfect moment.
At such a good price, this lightweight digital camera is a great option for anyone simply looking for a camera to document family holidays or important events like graduations.
Canon EOS M50
Stylish, compact, and easy to use – the Canon EOS M50 is a beginner’s dream. It’s got High-Speed Autofocus, with AF tracking, eye AF detection and a wide Autofocus area.
The 24MP camera is one of Canon’s best so far. The electronic viewfinder is excellent for those who enjoy the DSLR feel. The camera also has a microphone jack, allowing you to connect a mic for great audio on your videos.
The EOS M50 has Beginner Mode which is ideal for novices to start learning how to use the many functions of the camera.
This is another camera that’s fantastic for vlogging thanks to its handy flip-out screen. It’s great to start out with and a brilliant device to learn photography on.
Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III
The Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III is more than just a mouthful to say. It’s a top-performing fixed-lens digital camera, great for both beginners and more experienced photographers.
You get a 20MP camera with 24 mm 4.2 x optical zoom, allowing you to capture stunning images every time. The touchscreen is able to tilt 180° upwards and 45° downwards, so you can view your shot while in front of the camera.
The quality of images from this camera combined with the compact design makes it brilliant for travelling. And the 4-stop intelligent optical Image Stabiliser means blur-free stills and focused video.
One of the best features on the G7 X is the Livestream ability. You can share your 4K videos at 30p realtime with any social media following.
Sony RX100 III
Competing against the DSC-W800 as Sony’s best pocket camera, the RX100 III is another fantastic device.
This camera may look tiny, but it’s built for serious photography. If you’re needing a compact device to use on the go, the RX100 III is ideal. Enjoy 20.1MP, image stabilization, and a retractable Tru-finder electronic viewfinder that shows a crisp, clear preview of your image.
This Sony camera also has a 180° tiltable screen for bloggers, vloggers, and selfie enthusiasts. It’s able to record high definition videos in AVCHD or XAVC S and MP4 formats.
The RX100 III is also WiFi-enabled, allowing users to easily share their images from the camera to TVs and Android devices.
The Nikon D3500 is a brilliant, entry-level DSLR camera for beginners. This device captures high-quality stills and video, even in extremely low-light conditions.
Featuring a 24.2MP sensor, an ISO light-sensitivity range of 100–25600, and sharp Autofocus, this camera offers professional-looking photos every time. It has no in-body image stabilisation, but the VR lens kit that you can buy with the camera has fantastic image stabilisation.
Using the Guide Mode on the D3500 will help beginners learn how to use the different settings on the camera and develop their skills further.
You can share your images from your camera to your smartphone or tablet effortlessly thanks to the SnapBridge app for iOS and Android. The app enables a constant connection between the two devices.
Canon EOS 250D
If you’re wanting to learn photography with a DSLR camera but still need a lightweight device, the Canon EOS 250D offers the perfect solution. This device is compact, and quite simple and easy to use, making it arguably the best beginner DSLR.
The EOS 250D was built with beginners in mind. It has all of the features of a DSLR, with a simplified user interface to help those still learning what all this photography stuff is about.
The Guided UI will assist new users to figure out their camera and learn how to use the settings and functions. And then once you’ve progressed, you’ll have the Creative Assist to help you take more advanced photos.
The camera has a flip-out screen, a 9-point autofocus viewfinder, and a 24.1MP sensor. It also has WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity and Live View autofocus. While it’s not a high-level DSLR, it is a good beginner camera.
First-time Camera Buyer’s Accessories
After you’ve decided on your very first camera, there are a few extra accessories that you may need or even want. Each camera will have its own specific accessories that it is compatible with. Here are some of the basics.
As long as you don’t have a fixed-lens camera, you’ll need a lens or two to go with your camera body. These will depend on what your camera is compatible with and what you need from your lens. For instance, if you’d like it to have image stabilisation.
A memory card is important for any new camera, since that’s where all of your beautiful shots will be stored. Be sure to get a card that’s big enough for the amount of data you’ll be storing on it.
You can get memory cards sized from 2GB and up. Just remember that if you’re storing video, you’ll need quite a large card.
I use the SanDisk 64GB Extreme SDXC UHS-I Card, as its better for when 4k videos and reads fast for continues shooting.
Camera straps are one of the more fun accessories to buy. They come in a variety of colours and sizes and can really be chosen according to your personal preference.
Aside from being fun and stylish, they help keep your camera close and safe when you’re exploring a new city or discovering all of the tourist attractions on foot.
If you’re shooting on location or travelling anywhere with your new camera, you’re going to want to have it in a padded camera bag. You can get bags that are designed specifically for your camera, or simply purchase a travel rucksack that has padding inside to keep your device and lenses safe.
Finding The Best Beginner Camera
Your first camera is bound to be a special purchase. Whether you’re an aspiring blogger looking to take photos that spark wanderlust in your reader, or a photography student investing in your very first piece of equipment.
The available options may seem endless, but with a clear idea of your needs, and your budget, you should easily be able to find a beginner camera.
Whichever you choose, remember to have fun! Photography is a beautiful hobby, allowing you to capture memories of all your adventures.
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