If you’re a beginner looking to learn more about cameras, there are a few key concepts you should know. First, it’s important to understand the basic parts of a camera, including the lens, aperture, shutter, and image sensor. The lens is the part of the camera that focuses light onto the image sensor, which is the component that captures the actual image. The aperture is the opening in the lens through which light passes, and the shutter controls how long the image sensor is exposed to light.
- 1 Best cheap camera for photography beginners
- 2 Best mirrorless camera for beginners
- 3 Best action shot camera for beginners
- 4 How to choose the best beginner DSLR for you
- 5 How we test cameras
- 6 Best camera for beginners: What to look for
- 7 A basic guide to photography terms
- 8 Are lenses important?
- 9 Why is a camera better than a smartphone?
- 10 What are the different camera sensor sizes?
- 11 What are the different types of camera?
- 12 What is your budget?
- 13 What is the size and weight of the camera?
- 14 What is the image quality like?
- 15 What features and controls does the camera have?
- 16 What is the reputation of the brand and the customer support?
Another important concept to understand is the exposure triangle, which describes the relationship between aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. These three settings work together to determine how much light is captured by the camera, and they can be adjusted to achieve different effects in your photos.
Best camera for beginners in 2023
The Nikon D3500 is a digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera that is designed for beginners. It features a 24.2-megapixel image sensor and an 11-point autofocus system for sharp, detailed photos. The camera also has a number of automatic shooting modes, as well as creative filters, to help you take better photos in different situations. Additionally, the D3500 has a compact and lightweight design, making it easy to carry and use on the go. Overall, the Nikon D3500 is a great option for beginners who are looking for a versatile and easy-to-use camera.
With a new 20MP sensor, incrementally improved in-body image stabilization and a new flip-down and tiltable monitor, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV has plenty to shout about. Retaining the 4K video and attractive styling that made the Mark III so attractive to consumers, the Mark IV is a great choice for anyone looking for an entry-level camera that can do pretty much everything. This is one of our favorite pint-sized cameras ever: it’s small enough to carry around anywhere, and much more powerful than it looks. The OM-D E-M10 Mark IV is a camera that could be with you for a long time to come.
The Nikon D3500’s 24-megapixel sensor can create images with pleasing colors, and its Guide Mode has insightful explanations of camera modes and operations. Its battery lasts far longer than that of most competitors, and it is lightweight for a camera in this category and portable enough to carry anywhere. Connecting the D3500 to your smartphone is easy, which allows you to share what you capture quickly. It shoots 1080/60p video too.
The EOS Rebel SL3 (also known as the 250D and 200D Mark II, outside the US) isn’t Canon’s cheapest DSLR, but we think it offers the best blend of features, performance and value around. For a start, it’s the smallest and lightest DSLR with an articulating screen, which means it isn’t an intimidatingly large as some of its rivals. It also adds a fresh processing engine and 4K video recording to its Rebel SL2 (EOS 200D) predecessor.
We were impressed with its responsive touchscreen, speedy start-up time and excellent Dual Pixel CMOS AF system, which also works when you’re shooting 1080p video (though not sadly in 4K). Its 5fps burst shooting can’t compete with the latest mirrorless cameras, so those who like to shoot sports or action should look elsewhere. But for our money, the EOS Rebel SL3 / EOS 250D makes slightly more sense than Canon’s super-budget DSLRs like the EOS Rebel T100 (also know as the EOS 4000D / EOS 3000D), if you can afford to pay that bit more.
Despite its small size, the Nikon Z50 has a good grip and good external controls, and the retracting 16-50mm kit lens is remarkable not just for its pancake lens dimensions but for its overall performance. Key selling points include 4K video, 11fps burst shooting, and the fact that its Z mount is identical to that on the larger cameras, so you can use dedicated Nikkor Z DX lenses, full frame Nikkor Z lenses and regular Nikon DSLR lenses via the FTZ adaptor. Best of all, the Z50 is terrific value, especially when bought as a twin-lens kit. However, long after its launch it still only has three native DX format lenses, so that’s a disappointment – it means you’re stuck with using older DSLR lenses via Nikon’s FTZ adaptor for now, or bigger and more expensive full frame Nikkor Z lenses which are limited for wide-angle photography because of the smaller sensor’s ‘crop factor’.
The Canon EOS Rebel T8i (know as the EOS 850D outside the US) takes the baton from the popular Rebel T7i / EOS 800D, which is now tricky to find. This new model isn’t a huge upgrade, with the most notable addition being a 4K video mode that we found to be hampered by frame-rate restrictions. Still, the Rebel T8i / EOS 850D remains one of our favorite all-round DSLRs for beginners.
You get a Dual Pixel phase-detection AF system, which in our tests was fast, reliable and great for video. Its button layout is also very considered, while the vari-angle LCD screen handles really well. As long you ignore that headline of 4K video, which involves a crop and the loss of phase-detection autofocus, it remains a great option for anyone who’s starting a photography hobby and prizes DSLR advantages like battery life and handling over the latest mirrorless tech.
Best cheap camera for photography beginners
- Optical viewfinder
- Great image quality
- Very affordable for a DSLR
- Fixed viewfinder
- No LCD touch display
- Slow continuous shooting
The Rebel is the most popular beginner camera that you can start with. It is a DSLR, so it’s not quite a point-and-shoot. It is a great camera to use because it is both affordable and versatile.
The Canon Rebel T7 was announced in 2018 and typically retails for right under $500. Becca started shooting with the Rebel T3 back in 2011 and had incredible luck with taking high-quality photos, editing them with basic edits and impressing all her friends in only a few months.
This camera is great for taking pictures of family or bringing it on a trip somewhere. Don’t expect to take burst photos, like an object in motion, or sports. The low frame rate in the continuous shooting more will likely make you miss your shot.
What I will say is that the Rebel by Canon is a sure bet if you want your first DSLR and you’re overwhelmed with options.
The diminutive GX85 (GX80 in some territories) has an older 16MP Micro-Four-thirds sensor, but still takes top-quality images and can also shoot 4K video. The built-in electronic viewfinder (amazing in a mirrorless camera at this price) makes it a great option for use in harsh sunlight or darker conditions, while the tilting screen makes it easy to shoot from ground level. Together with Panasonic’s tiny Micro Four Thirds lenses, this makes it perfect for traveling or holidays. These days it looks like you can only get this great little camera in a twin-lens kit which also includes the compact Panasonic 45-150mm telephoto. It’s a great combination at a great price, but being a twin lens kit it does push the price up.
- Great beginner mode
- 4k video recording
- Can take 1,070 photos on a single battery charge
- Low amount of autofocus points
- On-body controls aren’t very ergonomic
- Low continuous shooting mode
The SL3 was released in May 2019. It’s very lightweight, with a movable screen. It is a DSLR, and DSLR cameras can only be so small and so light without sacrificing quality or functionality. The battery life is great, which is true for most DSLR cameras!
If you’re looking for a great DSLR camera that won’t cost a fortune, the SL3 might be a good option for you. It has a few more features than the T7 (above) that may be useful to you.
- Big tilting touch screen.
- Fast 8-fps continuing shooting mode.
- Lightweight and small enough to fit in a jacket pocket.
- Performance in RAW mode is slow.
- Battery life is a little lackluster.
- The focus mode can be inconsistent.
Released back in 2016, the G7 X Mark II is still very capable of taking beautiful photos. It is very small and lightweight. It has its own lens, so you don’t need to worry about buying any lenses.
The lens on this camera has an aperture range of f/1.8 to 2.8 and a focal range of 24-100mm. You can take wide-angle and somewhat telephoto photos, all with a decent f-stop range. Cool!
Canon’s PowerShot camera line is for beginner photographers who want a good quality camera but don’t want to worry about interchangeable lenses. The size is the biggest selling point for me, to be honest.
This camera is able to perform in ways in which most smartphones can’t. You’ll get high-quality photos that are more than printable, at all reasonable sizes. You can capture photos quickly with a fast frame-per-second capture.
Best mirrorless camera for beginners
Striking a great balance between accessibility and performance, the Canon EOS R10 is a fantastic entry-level camera to learn and improve with. Compact yet comfy in the hand, its dual control dials and dedicated AF joystick made it easy to try different techniques in testing. The articulating touchscreen also feels like a natural switch from smartphone shooting.
Its 24.2MP sensor isn’t cutting-edge, but modern autofocus skills and Canon’s punchy Digic X processor make it an adaptable camera to grow into. During our tests, AF tracking proved both intuitive and impressively reliable for a beginner camera. Burst shooting rates of 15fps also make it a good choice if you want to try action photography.
Handheld options are limited after dark by the absence of in-body image stabilization, but the EOS R10 otherwise holds up well against APS-C rivals, producing clean, detailed stills with pleasant colors. Its video skills give it some hybrid versatility, too. While there’s no flat color profile, it can record uncropped 4K/30p footage by oversampling from the sensor’s 6K resolution. All that’s really missing is a wide choice of native lenses, a situation that should hopefully improve soon.
An excellent yet affordable mirrorless camera for beginners, the PEN E-PL10 combines a range of novice-friendly modes with a stylish shell to create a competent camera that’s perfect for smartphone upgraders. The polycarbonate shell is a treat to hold, while the tilting touchscreen makes selfies a cinch.
While we didn’t find its 16.1MP sensor particularly game-changing, the PEN E-PL10 still produces JPEGs with lovely color rendition. Add 4K to the mix, as well as in-body image stabilization and the option to edit RAW images in-camera, and you’ve got a strong package for mirrorless first-timers – provided they don’t need a viewfinder.
It’s worth mentioning that you can get many of the same features on the older, more affordable but equally as chic E-PL9. The main difference with the E-PL10 are the fine-tuned art filters and Advanced Photo modes, which make it easy to experiment with more advanced creative techniques. If you don’t need those, the former is still well worth a look.
- Compact build.
- 24MP APS-C image sensor.
- Quick, accurate autofocus.
- 11fps continuous drive.
- Large, sharp EVF.
- Selfie LCD.
- Built-in flash and hot shoe.
- 4K video without recording limit.
- Omits in-body image stabilization.
- Flip-up screen not ideal for vloggers.
- Some operational frustrations.
- External charger not included.
- Only full-frame lenses are weather sealed.
- UHS-I card slot.
The Sony a6400 is a camera that straddles the line between consumer and enthusiast, delivering automatic operation for family snapshots with the image quality and speed aficionados love.
Best action shot camera for beginners
Bridge cameras may not offer all of the high-end functionality of professional mirrorless cameras and DSLRs, but for the money you spend, you do get a heck of a lot. Nowhere is this more true than in the case of the Panasonic Lumix FZ300 (known as the FZ330 outside of North America). It’s an inexpensive bridge camera with an impressively big 24x optical zoom that’s perfect for sports photography. It’s no slouch in burst shooting either, with a 4K Photo mode that allows you to utilize the 30fps 4K frame rate for the purposes of stills shooting – as long as you don’t mind a resolution cut to 8MP. Although resolution more generally is the camera’s main area of disadvantage – its resolution tops out at 12.1MP, meaning it’s not a great choice if you’re planning to make prints, and the relatively small sensor does affect performance in low light. If neither of these is important factors for you, this is a strong choice for simple sports photography.
More than just an update to the X-T3, more than just another mirrorless APS-C camera – the Fujifilm X-T4 is one of the best cameras ever made. With an all-metal construction and dial-led controls, it’s fantastic to handle, and it produces gorgeous, vibrant images straight out of the camera. Fast burst shooting, a big buffer (well, big for JPEGS), great high-ISO performance, a terrific stable of X-system lenses – it’s got it all for sports shooters. Any negatives? Well, a lot of attention was paid to the (brilliant) 4K video on the X-T4, and while this is obviously all to the good, it does mean that the asking price is a little high if you’re only planning to shoot stills.
The new baby in Nikon’s Z range of mirrorless cameras, the Nikon Z 50(opens in new tab) is an APS-C model aimed squarely at enthusiasts and newbies looking to take their first step into mirrorless shooting. It’s a great choice for sports photography thanks not only to its 11fps burst shooting but also to its sophisticated autofocus system and impressive image quality, with the dynamic range you’ll be talking about for days. It’s a good system to invest in with one eye on the future – though that does mean the native lens selection is currently a little limited. The most telephoto reach you’ll currently get with a Z-branded lens is 250mm. While an FTZ adapter does help here, using F-mount lenses is a good stopgap solution but not ideal in the long run. Still, with every sign that Nikon plans to make this system a future priority, the Z 50 represents a solid investment.Also read：3 point slinger for camera
How to choose the best beginner DSLR for you
When choosing a beginner DSLR camera, there are a few key factors to consider. First, you should think about the type of photography you’re interested in, as different cameras are better suited to different types of photography. For example, if you’re interested in taking photos of sports or wildlife, you’ll want a camera with a fast autofocus system and a long zoom lens.
Next, you should consider the size and weight of the camera, as well as its overall design and controls. A smaller and lighter camera may be more portable and easy to use, but it may also have fewer features and controls than a larger camera.
You should also consider the image quality of the camera, which is determined by the size and quality of the image sensor and the lens. A larger image sensor and a high-quality lens will produce sharper, more detailed photos, but they may also be more expensive.
You should consider the camera’s price and value for money. While it’s tempting to go for the cheapest option, keep in mind that cameras are a long-term investment, and it’s better to spend a little more on a camera that will produce better photos and last longer.
The best beginner DSLR for you will depend on your specific needs and preferences, so it’s important to do your research and compare different cameras before making a decision.
How we test cameras
We test DSLR and mirrorless cameras(opens in new tab) both in real-world shooting scenarios and in carefully controlled lab conditions. Our lab tests measure resolution, dynamic range and signal to noise ratio. Resolution is measured using ISO resolution charts, dynamic range is measured using DxO Analyzer test equipment and DxO Analyzer is also used for noise analysis across the camera’s ISO range. We use both real-world testing and lab results to inform our comments in buying guides.
Best camera for beginners: What to look for
- Price: Yes, price is important, especially for beginners, we get that! Don’t rule out spending a little extra, though, as it will often get you a lot more features.
- Interchangeable lenses: There’s only so much you can achieve with your kit lens, so if you plan on buying more, go for a camera with a good lens range behind it.
- Simple controls: All these cameras have automatic modes that will help you build your confidence, and manual controls for later on, when you get more ambitious.
- Manual modes: The auto modes on cameras may start out smarter than you are, but that won’t last! You’ll also need manual control, because one day you will need to take charge.
- Video: 4K has become the new norm for video capture, so if your main interest is vlogging, choose a more recent 4K mirrorless camera.
- Megapixels: Megapixels aren’t everything, but they do have an impact on image quality. However, almost all beginner cameras are in the 16-24MP range, and you won’t see colossal differences in the results.
A basic guide to photography terms
There are a few terms you should become familiar with when you are starting out in the world of photography.
Aperture: A camera’s aperture lets light in and its size is recorded with f-stops or f-numbers.
- Shutter speed: The shutter speed determines how long a camera’s sensor is exposed to light (exposure time). Generally, you want higher shutter speeds for motion/action photography.
- ISO: ISOs can be set to change how sensitive your camera is to light. A higher ISO is for higher sensitivity, and a low ISO setting reduces sensitivity.
- Exposure: Exposure is how much light reaches a camera sensor.
- Bokeh: Bokeh is the blurry background effect you often see in professional photos. This can be achieved with lenses or during the editing process.
- Depth of field: Depth of field is the distance between the closest and furthest objects that are still sharp. You can change this by tweaking your aperture settings or by switching lenses.
- Burst: Burst modes are used to simultaneously capture images in quick succession. You could use this mode to capture a bride walking down the aisle, for example, but there may be a subsequent delay in shooting as they are processed.
- RAW: RAW is a file format — like JPG or PNG — which photographers often prefer. Images are not compressed and so these source images save a lot of information. During editing, the more information, the better.
- Noise: Noise is the term used to describe distortion in images that can appear as specks or grain.
Are lenses important?
Lenses are an important part of any camera system, as they determine the field of view and the amount of light that reaches the image sensor. A lens consists of a series of glass or plastic elements that bend and refract light, focusing it onto the image sensor. Different lenses have different focal lengths, which determine how much of a scene they can capture. A wide-angle lens, for example, has a shorter focal length and can capture a wider field of view, while a telephoto lens has a longer focal length and can zoom in on distant subjects.
In addition to their focal length, lenses also have a maximum aperture, which is the maximum size of the lens opening through which light can pass. A lens with a larger maximum aperture can gather more light, which is useful in low-light situations. Lenses with larger maximum apertures are also able to create a shallower depth of field, which can help to isolate your subject and create a blurred background.
lenses are an important part of any camera system, as they determine the field of view and the amount of light that reaches the image sensor. They can be an expensive part of a camera system, but they are an important investment for any photographer.
Why is a camera better than a smartphone?
While smartphones have improved dramatically in recent years and are now capable of taking high-quality photos, there are still a few reasons why a dedicated camera may be better than a smartphone for photography.
One of the main reasons is the size and quality of the image sensor. Most smartphones have small image sensors, which can limit the amount of light they can gather and the level of detail they can capture. In contrast, dedicated cameras have larger image sensors that are able to capture more light and detail, resulting in sharper and more detailed photos.
Another reason is the quality of the lens. Most smartphones have a fixed lens that cannot be changed, whereas dedicated cameras have interchangeable lenses that allow you to choose the best lens for your specific needs. This gives you more control over the field of view and the amount of light that reaches the image sensor.
Dedicated cameras often have more advanced features and controls, such as manual exposure modes and the ability to shoot in raw format. This allows you to fine-tune your settings and achieve the specific look and feel you want in your photos.
While smartphones are convenient and can take great photos, a dedicated camera may be a better option for serious photography due to its larger image sensor, interchangeable lenses, and advanced features and controls.
What are the different camera sensor sizes?
The physical size and shape of a camera means it’s able to field a much larger sensor than a smartphone. The main thing to remember is that a larger sensor can have larger pixels, which means cleaner images with less noise, especially in low light. Images taken with a larger sensor have much more dynamic range (tonal difference between areas of light and dark).
These are the sensor sizes you’ll likely encounter when shopping for a camera, from smallest to largest:
1/2.3-inch type, 1/2.5-inch type, 1/1.7-inch type:
This is the rough sensor size generally found in smartphones and cheaper compact cameras. It makes for affordable cameras, but the trade-off is poor low light performance.
These sensors are often found in compact cameras and bridge cameras. Offering a step up from smartphone sensors, a 1-inch sensor will produce less noise in images.
Micro Four Thirds:
A sensor size standard for mirrorless cameras, Micro Four Thirds sensors are found in Olympus and Panasonic models. Larger than 1-inch type, Micro Four Thirds cameras tend to be nicely compact while still offering impressive image quality.
This is the sensor size that bridges the gap between enthusiast and professional. Some camera manufacturers like Fujifilm have based entire systems on APS-C sensors.
So-named because it is roughly the size of a frame of 35mm film, full-frame is generally the standard for professional photographers.
A larger sensor size that roughly equates to that of 120 film, medium format cameras are very expensive (you won’t get one for less than a four-figure price) and tend to be used by specialist shooters.
What are the different types of camera?
There are a few main types of camera that we’ve included in this guide, as each one can be well-suited for beginners. Here’s a quick rundown of the key types and the differences between them.
DSLRs: Once the professional standard for digital cameras, the DSLR is still among the most popular type of camera around. The name stands for “digital single-lens reflex”, which refers to the fact that it uses a single lens for shooting and focusing (old rangefinder-style cameras used two). DSLRs have an internal mirror mechanism that allows them to field an optical viewfinder, which many photographers still prefer to an LCD screen for composing images. They also tend to be hardier and more weatherproof than other types of camera, though this varies from model to model.
Mirrorless: Mirrorless cameras, like DSLRs, have a lens mount that allows lenses to be swapped at will. However, they forgo the mirror mechanism that allows for an optical viewfinder, the trade-off being that this allows them to be built smaller and lighter. Mirrorless cameras are very much seen as the future in the photo and video community, and this is generally where the most exciting developments in imaging technology are taking place.
Compact: Compact cameras have a fixed lens on their front that cannot be changed; this may be a zoom lens that allows for covering a set focal range, or a fixed-focal-length “prime” lens with an emphasis on quality. Compact cameras, also known as point-and-shoot cameras, were once thought of as cheap and poor-quality, but now have been forced to up their game to compete with smartphones. These days, amny compacts offer imaging quality to rival that of interchangeable lens cameras.
Instant film: Like the Polaroids of yesteryear, instant film cameras are capable of producing a physical print of an image moments after capture! While they’ll never win awards for technical perfection, these cameras provide a kind of knockabout fun that makes them great for beginners – and these days they can connect wirelessly to smart devices to open up new shooting possibilities.
But which is the best camera for beginners to pick? It depends on what you need. Do you want something small and portable or hardy and weatherproof? Are you likely to be shooting video as well as stills? Do you see yourself buying more lenses, or would you prefer a single package that does it all? The answers to all these questions will affect which camera is best for you.
If you’re thinking about buying a beginner camera, there are a few important questions you should ask before making a decision. Some of these questions include:
What is your budget?
Cameras can range in price from under $100 to several thousand dollars, so it’s important to have a clear idea of how much you’re willing to spend.
What is the size and weight of the camera?
A smaller and lighter camera may be more portable and easy to use, but it may also have fewer features and controls than a larger camera.
What is the image quality like?
The image quality of a camera is determined by the size and quality of the image sensor and the lens. A larger image sensor and a high-quality lens will produce sharper, more detailed photos, but they may also be more expensive.
What features and controls does the camera have?
Different cameras have different features and controls, so it’s important to choose a camera that has the features and controls you need.
What is the reputation of the brand and the customer support?
It’s always a good idea to research the reputation of the brand and the quality of their customer support before making a purchase.