Our top selection for those who want their first ‘serious’ camera
If you want to get into photography, or if you know someone who wants to push their creativity further, choosing the first camera to start this photographic journey can seem like a minefield. However, don’t worry, it’s where we step in. We have selected what we think are the best three cameras you can buy for beginners right now. We have not selected a DSLR, a mirrorless and a compact option for one camera type either.
Naturally, ease of use is a big factor when considering your first ‘serious’ camera, so this has been one of our main considerations, but we’ve also factored in handling, performance and image quality, not forgetting value for money.
If the photo bug already bit you, we would point you toward a DSLR or mirrorless camera, because both allow you to swap lenses depending on the subject you want to photograph and look. What are the differences between a DSLR and a mirrorless camera not sure? Use our helpful guide to see the ten main differences between these two camera types.
Put another way, if you want to move from your smartphone but are still a little nervous or uncertain about whether you want a DSLR or a mirrorless camera, we have given you the choice of a great compact camera with a variety of advanced features.
If these choices are not right for you, you will find links to our dedicated DSLR, mirrorless and compact camera purchasing guides and our selection of the best cheap cameras in the bottom.
Sensor: APS-C CMOS | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Lens mount: Nikon DX | Screen: 3-inch, 921,000 dots | Continuous shooting speed: 5fps | Max video resolution: 1080p | User level: Beginner
Handy guide for beginners
Easy to use
Only Full HD video
Nikon’s latest DSLR entry level may not be dripping with features, but it’s still our choice of DSLRs for novices. The new model replaces the D3400 with a more comfortable and larger handle while it improved the handling with a revised control layout. In combination with Nikon’s clever guide mode, which explains the key shooting features in real time, it is an easy camera to pick up and shoot. The absence of a touchscreen and 4 K video is a pity, but the new 24.2MP sensor offers excellent detail with cameras that cost three times as much. If you want to make your photograph more creative and look for your first DSLR, the Nikon D3500 is difficult to beat.
Sony Alpha A6000
Sensor: APS-C | Megapixels: 24.3MP | Lens mount: Sony E-mount | Screen: 3-inch tilt-angle screen, 921K dots | Continuous shooting speed: 11fps | Max video resolution: 1080p | User level: Beginner
Advanced focusing system
11fps burst shooting
Not the newest option
Don’t let you deceive thus the cost. The Alpha A6000 costs the same as other DSLR and mirrorless cameras for beginners, but it’s a state-of-the-art and powerful camera that has only fallen to this price since 2014. So it may be old, but the majority of the specification is still fresh today. This includes a 24.3MP sensor, a fast 179-point hybrid autofocus system that is pretty advanced for a camera at this price, while the continuous 11 frames per second (fps) shooting matches that of much more advanced models. Downsides, downsides? It shoots only 1080p Full HD video and not 4 K, and the screen is not sensitive to touch. At first, the menu system may seem a little complex, so while many features are on the tap, it can be tricky to get the most out.
Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark II
A great pocket compact camera
Sensor: 1-inch | Megapixels: 20.1MP | Lens: 24-100mm of/1.8-2.8 | Screen: 3-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 1,040K dots | Continuous shooting speed: 8fps | Max video resolution: 1080p | User level: Beginner
Fast zoom lens
Limited zoom range
Don’t want the bulk of a DSLR or a mirrorless camera, but something that can take great pictures? Canon’s PowerShot G7 X Mark II is a compact pocket size with an impressive range of features to match the bill. First of all, the 1-inch, the 20.1MP sensor won’t produce images to match our other two camera choices here because it’s physically smaller, but it can still deliver some impressive results (and also a smartphone head on streets). With a 24-100mm zoom lens, it also has a fast variable maximum aperture of f/1.8-2.8, which helps in low-light conditions, while there is a large touchscreen and a lot of manual control (and auto modes). A great compact solution that has not the same flexibility as the other two cameras (not forgetting the options for adding additional lenses to your kit), but a nice all-in-one solution.
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