Welcome to our definitive guide to the best camera for photography in 2022. It's been a strong start to the year for new cameras and, despite some stock issues due to global chip shortages, that trend is likely to continue in a big year for the photographic world. Fortunately, we've spent countless hours testing all of the latest cameras and ranked them in this regularly updated guide. (Looking for the best video cameras instead? Check out our separate guide on those).
What's the best camera for photography right now? That depends a little on your budget and preferred style of shooting, but our number one pick right now is the Sony A7 IV. It's an incredibly powerful all-rounder that feels at home with most styles, from portraits to weddings and wildlife. You can certainly rely on it for video, too.
For all its strengths, though, the Sony A7 IV is certainly a pricey camera. For those on a tighter budget, the Fujifilm X-T4 remains a strong alternative. Meanwhile, hobbyist and street shooters should check out the Nikon Zfc and Fujifilm X-S10. If none of those take your fancy, then have a leaf through our guide to the best cheap cameras you can buy right now.
Our in-depth guide is based on hours of testing with all of the latest digital cameras from the biggest brands in photography, including Sony, Canon, Nikon, Fujifilm, Panasonic, Leica and more. This means you can be sure that only the best models are included here. And thanks to our price comparison tool, you can also be sure that you're getting the best deal on the best camera for you.
The best camera for photography in 2022:
The best enthusiast cameras for photography
Following Sony’s fantastic A7 III was never going to be easy, but the A7 IV is a worthy successor. Equipped with a new 33MP sensor that’s solid for both stills and video, it’s a compelling mirrorless option for hybrid shooters. In our review, we called it a "brilliant blend of photographic power and video versatility"
A price hike does mean it’s no longer an entry-level full-frame camera like its forebear, but a Bionz XR processor powers solid performance that broadly justifies the extra expenditure.
The A7 IV also benefits from Sony’s class-leading autofocus skills, plus upgrades like 10-bit video support and a seemingly endless buffer depth with a CFexpress card. Our tests found this buffer to be more generous than most shooters will need, with image quality leaning more towards resolution than low-light performance.
No hybrid camera comes without compromise: there is a heavy crop on 4K footage and it isn't the simplest camera for beginners to use. The Canon EOS R6 also offers faster burst speeds for a similar price. But considering its powerful versatility and higher resolution, the Sony A7 IV deservedly takes our number one spot.
- Read our in-depth Sony A7 IV review
It isn't a full-frame camera, but in our review we called the Fujifilm X-T4 the best APS-C camera we've ever tested – and its blend of features, size and value make it a fine choice for hobbyist shooters. The X-T4 builds on the Fujifilm X-T3's impressive foundation by adding in-body image stabilization (IBIS), faster burst shooting and some successful design tweaks. Adding to its all-rounder skills are a bigger battery (which keeps it going for 500 shots per charge) and some improved autofocus, which our tests found to be fast and reliable in most scenarios.
We think the X-T4's 26MP APS-C sensor is class-leading for stills photography, but the X-T4 is also a superb video camera. The in-body image stabilization (IBIS) is a big bonus here, and the X-T4 backs that up with a huge range of tools and a great shooting experience, including a fully articulating touchscreen. It might cost the same as some full-frame cameras, but the X-T4 and its fine range of X-series lenses make a great, smaller alternative for those looking for a mirrorless all-rounder. Despite the looming possibility of a Fujifilm X-H2, it remains one of the best cameras for photography.
- Read our in-depth Fujifilm X-T4 review
While the Canon EOS R5 is overkill for most people, the EOS R6 is a more affordable full-frame alternative that is simply one of the best cameras for photography around. If you already own one of Canon's early mirrorless full-framers like the EOS R, or any of its DSLRs, this is a more than worthy upgrade. Based on our review, the EOS R6 brings best-in-class autofocus, a superb in-body image stabilization system, and burst shooting powers that mark it out as a very fine camera for wildlife or sports photography.
Despite its ability to shoot 4K/60p video, the EOS R6 lacks options like the ability to DCI 4K and we found it to have overheating limitations compared to video-focused rivals like the Sony A7S III, making it better suited to stills photographers. But for photography, it's an excellent (if pricey) option that delivers hugely impressive autofocus, handling and features that make it one of the best options around for anyone who needs a full-frame camera.
- Read our in-depth: Canon EOS R6 review
The Nikon Z6 reigned as the king of this list for a long time – and while the Z6 II is only a modest successor, it should definitely be on the shortlist of anyone who's looking for a full-frame camera. The Z6 continues to offer great value, but we think the Z6 II is worth the extra cost if you can afford it - it's one of our favourites from our reviewing experience.
Its extra Expeed 6 processor brings a host of improvements, including new 14fps burst mode (up from 12fps on the Z6) and some handy autofocus boosts (particularly for animal eye/face detection). You also get an extra UHS-II card slot, which joins the existing XQD/CFexpress slot, and a firmware update has delivered a new 4K/60p video mode.
Our tests found in a range of scenarios found that the 24MP full-frame BSI CMOS sensor performs well at high ISOs. The Z6 II also has class-leading build quality that feels more substantial in the hand than its rivals.
- Read our in-depth Nikon Z6 II review
It's hard to think of another camera that offers the same blend of size, performance, affordability and charm as the Fujifilm X-S10. For both hobbyists and pros looking for a small mirrorless camera, it's an excellent choice that covers all the bases for both stills and video. As our review discovered, you get a tried-and-tested 26.1MP APS-C sensor (the same as the one in the Fujifilm X-T4, see above) and, impressively for a camera this small, in-body image stabilization (IBIS).
This feature, which helps you preserve image quality while shooting handheld, can also be found in some small Sony and Olympus cameras, but none of those offer the X-S10's excellent handling or range of features, based on our testing. It has a handy vari-angle screen, great build quality, and shoots impressive 4K video, too. Pair it with a prime lens and you have a fine travel or street camera – thanks to X-S10's large grip, though, it'll also match nicely with longer lenses as well.
- Read our in-depth Fujifilm X-S10 review
Despite not being perfect, the Nikon Z5 is the best entry-level full-frame model you can buy right now, making it a great option for those looking to upgrade to the larger sensor for the first time. With a 24.3MP that reliably produces vibrant, sharp and clean images, a reliable autofocusing system and a comfy and well-built body, there's a lot we liked about the Nikon Z5 during our testing.
Equipping it with the same high-resolution viewfinder as its more advanced Z6/Z7 siblings is a nice touch that adds a touch of premium quality to proceedings. What lets the Z5 down are things that some might not even be too bothered about – the 4.5fps maximum frame rate being underwhelming for action shooters, and the crop applied to 4K video being frustrating for vloggers. Not bothered by either of those things? It's one of the best cameras for photography and a fine choice for those who want full-frame on a budget.
- Read our in-depth Nikon Z5 review
Best starter cameras for photography
Looking for compact mirrorless camera to help develop your photographic skills? The OM-D E-M10 Mark IV is one of the best options around and offers great value considering its feature set. A useful flip-down touchscreen and good ergonomics make it a fine option for beginners who are moving up from a smartphone or compact camera. And because the E-M10 Mark IV is a Micro Four Thirds camera, it has one of the biggest selections of lenses around, which means it's a model that can really grow with you.
On the downside, it lacks a microphone or USB-C ports, and the autofocus lags a little behind rivals like the Sony A6100 (see below). So while the latter is a better bet for sports or action shooting, we felt like the E-M10 Mark IV is a more fun camera to use in our review and is one of the few at this price point to bring in-body image stabilization, a very handy bonus for handheld shooting.
- Read our in-depth Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV review
In our review, we called the Nikon Z fc a "beautiful, casual camera with a capable specification". Under its stunning retro skin, the Nikon Z fc is essentially identical to the Nikon Z50. That’s no complaint, given that the Z50 is a mid-range mirrorless marvel. It shares the same 20.9MP APS-C sensor, hybrid autofocus system and performance stats. That means 11fps burst shooting, detailed stills and solid 4K footage at 30fps. What’s new is the physical build. An homage to the Nikon FM2, the Nikon Z fc features broadly the same dimensions as its analogue ancestor – and an equally arresting shell. From the dials to the typography, there are countless throwback cues.
The improvements are more than skin-deep, though: unlike the tilting touchscreen of the Z50, the Nikon Z fc features a vari-angle display. That unlocks plenty of flexible framing options, plus it can be used with a tripod – or flipped away for the full eighties experience. What’s lacking is the deep DSLR-like grip of the Z50, so handling fans may still prefer its predecessor. But paired with the new Nikkor Z 28mm f/2.8 SE prime lens, the Nikon Z fc makes for a compellingly creative proposition. Plus it’s surprisingly affordable for a camera with dedicated exposure, ISO and shutter speed dials.
- Read our in-depth Nikon Z fc review
On paper, the Fujifilm X100V shouldn’t make sense: a compact camera styled like something from the 1950s, with a fixed 23mm f/2 lens and a premium price tag. Yet the model’s predecessors have become iconic among street photographers – and the X100V follows in their spirit. Understated and timeless, there’s something very special about that compact retro body that we loved in our review.
The X100V keeps what works, only tweaking what it needs to: there's now a very handy tilting touchscreen and a weather-resistant body (although you need to add a filter to the lens to get full weather-sealing). The series’ fixed aperture lens setup has always been fantastic for street and portrait photography, and the results are only better now that Fujifilm’s added a new 26.1MP APS-C sensor paired with the latest X-Processor 4. Autofocus is faster, noise control better and image quality improved. Sure, it’s niche and certainly not cheap, but there’s nothing else quite like it.
- Read our in-depth Fujifilm X100V review
This list is dominated by mirrorless cameras, but if you still prefer the benefits of DSLRS – namely, their handling, superior battery lives and value – then the Nikon D3500 is the best one around for beginners. Taking the baton from the hugely successful Nikon D3400, it brings a 24MP APS-C sensor and an incredible 1,550-shot battery life that beats the stamina of most mirrorless cameras by about three times.
The useful Guide mode is there to walk beginners through creating effects like a blurred background, while the Nikon DX system has a vast array of lenses. If you're starting out, we'd recommend buying the D3500 with the AF-P DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR lens, as its brings handy vibration reduction for very little extra cost. Those looking for a travel-friendly camera should still consider mirrorless alternatives like the Fujifilm X-T200 and Canon EOS M50 Mark II, but otherwise this remains a brilliant way to learn the photographic basics and start your new hobby.
- Read our in-depth Nikon D3500 review
The Instax Mini 11 certainly doesn't compete with its more esteemed company here when it comes to pure photo quality. But is it one of the most affordable, fun ways to get into instant photography? Definitely. It doesn't have the more advanced controls or modes of pricier instant cameras, but that's also part of its appeal – thanks to its auto-exposure system, you can just point-and-shoot to get lovely, credit card-sized prints.
Naturally, it's a great option for kids and parties, and the relatively affordable film means you won't regret seeing it passed around among family and friends. The pop-out lens barrel and little mirror built into the front of the camera means it's good for selfie duty, and it's available in a range of fun colors, too. If you need a gift for a photography fan, look no further.
- Read our in-depth Fujifilm Instax Mini 11 review
Since its launch five years ago, the entry-level Sony A6000 has proven a hugely popular mirrorless camera. Its successor, the A6100, takes its recipe and adds several helpful tweaks. Compact yet capable, based on our review the A6100 pairs a beginner-friendly build with a feature set that won’t disappoint the more adventurous. It can take time to understand the camera’s potential, but there’s plenty of it: the APS-C sensor is the same 24.2MP chip found in Sony’s more premium cameras, while the autofocus system is shared with the flagship Sony A6600.
The result is excellent continuous subject-tracking powers and, paired with a good lens, images with plenty of detail and accurate colors. Battery life is also decent and the tilting screen is now touch-sensitive, though its functionality is fairly limited. Certain performance and handling quirks are shared with its more expensive siblings – Auto ISO doesn’t suit fast-moving subjects, for example – but these are more forgivable on an entry-level model, especially such a solid all-rounder as the A6100. It deserves to be just as popular as its predecessor.
- Read our in-depth Sony A6100 review
Best advanced cameras for photography
If you see the Canon EOS R5 as a pro stills model with some impressive video features, then it's one of the best cameras the photography giant has ever made. There's no doubt it has video limitations compared to a rival like the Sony A7S III, particularly for shooting longer clips. But after our review, we found it great for anyone looking to shoot mind-blowing stills in almost any situation, whether that's wildlife or studio work, it's a hugely impressive achievement.
Particularly worth of mention is the EOS R5's autofocus, which offers very accurate and reliable subject-detection and tracking – particularly when its comes to people or animals. You also get a superb 5.76-million pixel EVF, a body design that will be comfortably familiar to those coming from DSLRs, and the ability to shoot bursts at 12fps with the mechanical shutter (or 20fps with the electronic equivalent). The video performance, while limited to relatively short bursts, remains superior to the likes of the Nikon Z7 and Sony A9 II, too. With a growing collection of (albeit pricey) RF lenses, the Canon EOS R5 is the next-gen mirrorless camera that pro photographers have been waiting for.
- Read our in-depth Canon EOS R5 review
Landscape photographers often demand megapixels, dynamic range and weather-proofing – and the Sony A7R IV ticks all of those boxes in style. Its 61MP sensor delivers incredible detail, and you can bump up that resolution with its Pixel Shift mode. Not that it's only comfortable shooting spectacular scenery – you also get Sony's excellent Face and Eye AF tracking for human subjects.
A deep grip makes the A7R IV comfortable to use during long days out in the field, while the weather-sealing is a big step up from the A7R III. You also get a bright, sharp 5.76 million-dot electronic viewfinder, although the touchscreen controls are a bit more limited than more recent Sony cameras like the A7S III. Still, this doesn't stop the A7R IV from being the most desirable in its class, and based on our experience, it even shoots decent video (albeit with some rolling shutter). For scenic trips, it remains one of the best cameras for photography.
- Read our in-depth Sony Alpha A7R IV review
It might look like a DSLR from a decade ago, but the Canon EOS R3 is the current pinnacle of mirrorless performance. Blending the hybrid smarts of the EOS R5 with the chunky form factor of the 1D X Mark III, it also adds a whole host of innovative tech into the mix. Its 24.1MP CMOS sensor might seem low-res for the price, but its stacked design translates into rapid 30fps raw burst shooting. The EOS R3 can also capture 6K raw video internally at 60p.
Backed up by enhanced AF tracking (including Eye Control AF that lets you choose focus points just by looking at them through the viewfinder), the EOS R3 is one of the most advanced fast-action mirrorless cameras ever made. Built tough with magnesium alloy, its articulating touchscreen is sharp and useful, while its control layout will be familiar to pros. Yes, it’s big, expensive and clearly overkill for amateurs. But for paid photogs who refuse to compromise on quality, speed or performance in the field, our review process showed us that it is the new default option and undoubtedly one of the world's best cameras for photography.
- Read our in-depth Canon EOS R3 review
Sony’s undisputed flagship, the A1 is probably the most versatile professional camera ever made - in our review, we called it "more than capable of holding its own". Offering a heady combination of high-res stills, 8K video and blistering speed, it’s as capable in the studio as it is on safari, in a stadium or shooting out in the street. With a continuous frame rate of 30fps and sensor resolution of 50.1MP, it even outperforms Canon’s photography powerhouse, the EOS R5.
Whisper quiet when shooting, it’s capable of capturing incredible detail, aided by extremely rapid and incredibly powerful hybrid autofocus. And while the screen is only average, the 9.44-million dot OLED EVF more than compensates (particularly with its 240fps refresh rate). So what’s the catch? Price. Starting at $6,500 / £6,500 / AU$10,499 body-only, the Sony A1 is an extraordinarily expensive camera. If you’re looking for a camera to fill just a single niche, there are less expensive ways to do it. But if money is no object and you want the very best all-rounder on the planet right now, look no further.
- Read our in-depth Sony A1 review
It's not a huge leap forward from the Nikon Z7, but then the Z7 II didn't really need to be. With a blend of subtle but important upgrades, including improved autofocus and a deeper buffer, this full-frame mirrorless camera is a very fine choice –particularly if you're making the move from an older Nikon DSLR. The Z7 II combines Nikon's signature handling with an excellent 45.7MP full-frame sensor, which is the same as the one we loved in its predecessor.
This means you get class-leading dynamic range, sharp edge-to-edge detail and a handy 19MP APS-C crop mode, for sports or wildlife shooting. Some rivals may offer more in the way of video features and autofocus performance (for action shots in particular), but the Nikon Z7 II brings internal 4K/60p video and remains one of the best full-frame cameras you can buy today. With the Z system's lens collection also slowly growing this year, now is the time to make the switch from your DSLR.
- Read our in-depth Nikon Z7 II review
Looking for a small full-frame camera that can help you shoot an even mix of high-quality video and still photos? The Panasonic Lumix S5 is one of the best options around, based on our experience in testing. Smaller than the Panasonic Lumix GH5, which has a much smaller Four Thirds sensor, the S5 is particularly talented when it comes to shooting video, offering an uncropped 4K/30p mode and other high-end specs that include V-log recording and Dual Native ISO.
With a pretty modest burst shooting rate of 7fps, it's not the best choice for sports or action photography, but its 6K photo mode (which lets you extract 18MP stills from video) compensates to an extent, and it otherwise offers impressive image quality and a much-improved autofocus performance. This feels like the camera Panasonic should have launched its S series with, and there are very few rivals at this price point that offer its blend of size, performance and video features.
- Read our in-depth Panasonic Lumix S5 review
If you want to go a step beyond full-frame, at least in sensor size terms, then the medium format Fujifilm GFX50S II could well be the camera for you. We found that its huge sensor, which is around 1.7x larger than full-frame, produces impressive detail, dynamic range and low-light performance, which makes it ideal for anyone who specializes in shooting landscapes, architecture and even portraits.
Naturally, there are drawbacks, and the GFX50S II certainly isn't an all-rounder – the burst shooting speeds top out at 3fps and there's no 4K video, so it's very much a camera for photography. But these limitations have enabled Fujifilm to keep the price down to a level that was unheard of for medium format cameras only a few years ago. Pair it with Fujifilm's excellent (if expensive) GF lenses, and you have a camera that's surprisingly at home with handheld shooting – and certainly one of the best around for outright image quality.
- Read our in-depth Fujifilm GFX50S II review
How to choose the best camera for photography
The main thing to look at when buying a digital camera is sensor size. Larger isn't always better, but it is a good guide to what kind of camera it is, how expensive the lenses will be, and who it's aimed at. In general, Micro Four Thirds and APS-C cameras are for both hobbyists and pros, while full-frame models tend to be strictly for advanced photographers with bigger budgets. Compact cameras with 1-inch sensors are for travel zooms and everyday photography.
Other features to look out for are viewfinders (electronic or optical), which are considered essential by most photographers, and handling. If you're likely to want to use longer lenses, then a good grip is essential. You should also consider which lenses you're likely to need for your favorite types of photography – for example, bright prime lenses are better for portraits and street shooting, while wide-angle zooms are more useful for landscapes. Deciding which camera system, including lenses, is the best for you is often better than choosing a camera in isolation.
Are DSLRs best for photography?
DSLRs have long been a byword for 'serious' photography, but they're no longer at the top the camera tech tree. Mirrorless cameras, which replace the DSLR's optical viewfinder with a wholly electronic EVF, are now the beneficiaries of the camera giants' latest lenses and autofocus systems. Neither Canon nor Nikon has released a new DSLR in years. That's why our list above is dominated by mirrorless cameras, rather than DSLRs.
That doesn't necessarily mean you shouldn't consider buying a DSLR for photography. Their main benefit now is value for money – their lack of an electronic viewfinder means they're usually cheaper than mirrorless equivalents, and their maturity means they have a wide range of affordable lenses. Classic DSLRs like the Canon EOS 6D are also excellent second-hand buys. But the smarter long-term investments are now mirrorless cameras.
How we test cameras
Buying a camera these days is a big investment, so every camera in this guide has been tested extensively by us. These days, real-world tests are the most revealing way to understand a camera's performance and character, so we focus heavily on those, along with standardized tests for factors like ISO performance.
To start with, we look at the camera's design, handling and controls to get a sense of what kind of photographer it's aimed at and who would most enjoy shooting with it. When we take it out on a shoot, we'll use it both handheld and on a tripod to get a sense of where its strengths lie, and test its startup speed.
When it comes to performance, we use a formatted UHS-1 card and shoot in both raw and JPEG (if available). For burst shooting tests, we dial in our regular test settings (1/250 sec, ISO 200, continuous AF) and shoot a series of frames in front of a stopwatch to see if it lives up to its claimed speeds. We'll also look at how quickly the buffers clears and repeat the test for both raw and JPEG files.
In various lighting conditions, we also test the camera's different autofocus modes (including Face and Eye AF) in single point, area and continuous modes. We also shoot a range of photos of different styles (portrait, landscape, low light, macro/close-up) in raw and JPEG to get a sense of metering and its sensor's ability to handle noise and resolve fine detail.
If the camera's raw files are supported by Adobe Camera Raw, we'll also process some test images to see how we can push areas like shadow recovery. And we'll also test its ISO performance across the whole range to get a sense of the levels we'd be happy to push the camera to.
Battery life is tested in a real-world fashion, as we use the camera over the course of the day with the screen set to the default settings. Once the battery has reached zero, we'll then count the number of shots to see how it compares to the camera's CIPA rating. Finally, we test the camera's video skills by shooting some test footage at different frame-rates and resolutions, along with its companion app.
We then take everything we've learned about the camera and factor in its price to get a sense of the value-for-money it offers, before reaching our final verdict.
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