Best camera 2019: 10 of the best cameras you can buy right now

Sony A7 III.
Sony A7 III. Image credit: Sony

What's the best camera you can buy right now? Okay, we admit it – it's an impossible question to answer, but we'll do our best to make sure you end up buying the right camera for you. 

You see, the best camera for a pro photographer is a million miles away from the best camera for an adventure sports nut. Likewise, a novice shooter just making their first steps in photography doesn't need all the most up-to-date tech that a pro might, more an easy-to-use camera that will help them to grow in confidence.

But if you just want to know what we think are the top ten cameras that are available right now – regardless of user level or price point – then keep on reading.

What we've done then is to pick out what we think are the standout cameras in their fields, so you'll find everything here from cheap and cheerful compact cameras to advanced full-frame DSLRs. 

This will mean that while some have some mouthwatering features and performance, others make the grade because they're amazing value for what they offer or because they are just brilliant at the job they've been designed for.

Regardless of their target audience, we've put each one and their rivals to the test to be sure they're the best options right now – and you can read our full reviews on each model through the link after each description. 

Top 5 cameras

Here's our pick of the 5 best cameras - click on the links below to go through to the full review for each 

1. Nikon Z6
2. Fujifilm X-T30
3. Nikon D850
4. Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III
5. Nikon D3500

Along the way we'll explain some of the jargon and the differences between cameras, though if you need a bit more help deciding what kind of camera you need, you can get a lot more information from our special step-by-step guide: What camera should I buy?

On the other hand, you may already have a clear idea of the kind of camera you want, in which case you could go straight to one of our more specific camera buying guides at the bottom of the page. Otherwise, read on to find out our picks of the best cameras available right now.

Best cameras in 2019

Best camera: Nikon Z6

1. Nikon Z6

A brilliant start to a new mirrorless system

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor size: Full-frame CMOS | Resolution: 24.5MP | Lens: Nikon Z mount | Viewfinder: EVF | Screen type: 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen, 2,100,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 12fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Intermediate/expert

High-resolution EVF
Familiar and refined handling
XQD card format has limited support
Limited buffer depth

Our top mirrorless camera until recently was the brilliant Alpha A7 III from Sony, but the arrival of Nikon's new Z6 means it now just misses out, though it's very close. Nikon has been late to the full-frame mirrorless party, but the wait's been worth it. Launching alongside the 45.7MP Z7, the Z6 is hard to beat for the price and offers a stunning blend of features and performance that makes its a brilliant choice for the enthusiast photographer or pro looking for a second body. The 24.5MP full-frame sensor is excellent, while the 273-point AF system (while not quite as sophisticated as the 693-point AF in the A7 III) and 12fps burst shooting should mean you'll never miss another shot. Handling is polished too, while the large and bright electronic viewfinder is a joy to use. Excellent.

Best camera: Fujifilm X-T30

2. Fujifilm X-T30

Probably our favourite APS-C mirrorless camera right now

Sensor size: APS-C | Resolution: 26.1MP | Viewfinder: 2,360K dots | Monitor: 3.0-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 1,040K dots | Autofocus: 425-point AF | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 8fps | Movies: 4K at 30p | User level: Expert

Superb value for money
Excellent images and lovely videos
Small body can be fiddly
One card slot

Fujifilm has made a habit of squishing the best bits from its senior models into cheaper offerings once some time has passed, and the X-T30 is the latest camera to arrive with that idea. With so much from the X-T3 inside a more compact body – including the same sensor and processing engine, and largely the same AF system and video capabilities – you really can't argue with what you're getting for the money. No other mirrorless camera at this level can touch it right now, and while the more senior X-T3 holds a number of advantages, the X-T30's small size, feature set and price point makes it that little bit stronger overall.

Best camera: Nikon D850

3. Nikon D850

When you need resolution and speed, this is your best bet

Type: DSLR | Sensor size: Full-frame CMOS | Resolution: 45.4MP | Lens: Nikon F mount | Viewfinder: Optical | Screen type: 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen, 2,359,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 7fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Intermediate/expert

Stunning image quality
Excellent performance
Slow Live View AF speed
SnapBridge connectivity

It may be expensive, but if you're looking for the best DSLR money can buy right now, then Nikon's fabulous D850 DSLR pretty much ticks every box. Packing in a brilliant 45.4MP full-frame sensor, image quality is simply stunning. But that's just half the story. Thanks to a sophisticated 153-point AF system and 9fps burst shooting speed, the D850 is and incredibly versatile piece of kit, just a home shooting action and wildlife as it is landscapes and portraits. The arrival of the Z6 and Z7 might overshadow the D850, but this is still a brilliant camera. 

Best camera: Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III

4. Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III

Top-notch performance in a super-small package

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor size: Micro Four Thirds | Resolution: 16.1MP | Lens: Micro Four Thirds | Screen type: 3.0-inch tilting touchscreen, 1,370,000 dots | Viewfinder: EVF | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 8.6fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Beginner/enthusiast

Compact proportions
5-axis stabilisation
Smaller sensor than some
Battery life could be better

While the main specification of the OM-D E-M10 Mark III doesn't offer a huge upgrade from the Mark II, Olympus has refined and tweaked one of our favorite mirrorless cameras to make it an even more tempting proposition for new users and enthusiasts alike. Some will criticise the smaller Micro Four Thirds sensor format (roughly half the area of APS-C) but the effect on image quality is minor and it means that the lenses are as compact and lightweight as the camera itself. Sporting a 5-axis image stabilization system, decent electronic viewfinder, an impressive 8.6fps burst shooting speed and 4K video, it's no toy – the E-M10 Mark III is a properly powerful camera. If you can wait a little be longer, then Fujifilm's X-T30 looks like it might be the camera to dislodge the E-M10 Mark III. However, we won't know until we've fully tested it. 

Best camera: Nikon D3500

5. Nikon D3500

Not the most expensive entry-level DSLR, but we think it's the best

Type: DSLR | Sensor: APS-C CMOS | Resolution: 24.2MP | Lens: Nikon F mount (DX) | Viewfinder: Optical | Screen type: 3.0-inch screen, 921,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 5fps | Movies: 1080p | User level: Beginner

Good image quality
Guide mode
Fixed screen
No touchscreen

Nikon's D3500 is our top pick when it comes to entry-level DSLRs. While it shares quite a few features with the D3400, upgrades for the D3500 include a new 24.2MP sensor, better battery life (to a staggering 1,550 shots) and refined exterior controls. The D3500 is a great camera to pick up and use if this is your first DSLR, with its clever Guide Mode a useful learning tool that gives real-time explanations of important features. There's no touchscreen, but otherwise, this is our favorite entry-level DSLR right now. 

Best camera: Sony A7 III

6. Sony A7 III

Quality results partnered with speedy operation

Sensor size: Full-frame | Resolution: 24.2MP | Viewfinder: 2,359K dots | Monitor: 3.0-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 921K dots | Autofocus: 693-point AF | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 10fps | Movies: 4K at 30p | User level: Intermediate/expert

Great 24MP sensor
Sensor-based stabilization
Weather-sealing could be better 
Some EVF tearing

We love the A7 III. The original A7 and A7 II showed Sony was moving in the right direction and making all the right noises, but it's this third iteration that has particularly stood out in the mid-range mirrorless market. The core of the camera – namely a 24MP full-frame sensor, 4K video, sensor-based image stabilisation, 10fps burst shooting and a 693-point hybrid AF system – is strong enough, but with two card slots and a 710-shot battery life on top of that, you're getting excellent value for money as well as top performance. We have some reservations with the viewfinder and weather-sealing, but this is still one of the most versatile cameras around right now, mirrorless or otherwise.

Best camera: Panasonic Lumix ZS200 / TZ200

7. Panasonic Lumix ZS200 / TZ200

The perfect travel camera - small, versatile and with a decent zoom

Type: Travel compact | Sensor: 1-inch type CMOS | Resolution: 20.1MP | Lens: 24-360mm, f/3.3-6.4 | Viewfinder: EVF | Screen type: 3.0-inch touchscreen, 1,240,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 10fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Beginner/enthusiast

1.0-inch type sensor
Decent 15x zoom
EVF still feels a little cramped
Expensive

The Panasonic Lumix ZS200 (known as the Lumix TZ200 outside the US) is the best travel zoom camera right now. This is thanks in part to the camera using a large 1.0-inch sized sensor that enables the pixels to be about 2.4x bigger than they are in models like the Lumix ZS70 / TZ90, and this helps the ZS200 produce much higher quality images. The zoom isn't quite as broad as some though, but the 15x zoom should be more than enough for most shooting situations, while there's a built-in electronic viewfinder that makes it easier to compose images in bright sunny conditions. Add 4K video recording, along with Panasonic's 4K Photo mode to help capture 8MP images of fleeting moments, and you've got a very capable travel companion. If you're looking for even more performance (and have deeper pockets), check out Sony's brilliant Cyber-shot RX100 VI.

Best camera: Panasonic Lumix GH5S

8. Panasonic Lumix GH5S

The best video-orientated camera you can buy

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor size: Micro Four Thirds | Resolution: 10.2MP | Lens: Micro Four Thirds | Screen type: 3.2-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1,620,000 dots | Viewfinder: EVF | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 12fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Expert

Multi-aspect sensor design
Brilliant video spec
Absence of IS not for everyone
Battery life could be better

While it can shoot stills quite happily (although at a pretty limited 10.2MP resolution), the Lumix GH5S should be seen first and foremost as a video camera – if you want to do both you've got the Lumix GH5 to fill that brief, thanks to it's 20.3MP sensor and built-in image stabilization system. The GH5S's breadth of video features is incredibly impressive, including the ability to shoot cinematic 4K footage at up to 60fps. If you want to shoot professional-quality footage without remortgaging your house to buy a pro video camera, you won't find a better video-focused camera right now. 

Best camera: Olympus Tough TG-5

9. Olympus Tough TG-5

The best rugged, waterproof compact you can buy

Type: Compact | Sensor: 1/2.3-inch | Resolution: 12MP | Lens: 25-100mm f/2-4.9 | Viewfinder: N/A | Monitor: 3.0-inch screen, 460,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 20fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Beginner

Rugged credentials
Raw capture
User interface is confusing
Average battery life

The Tough TG-5 from Olympus is built to survive pretty much anything you could throw at it, literally. Waterproof down to depths of 15m, don't mistake it for being merely an underwater camera; being waterproof is also useful for hikers, bikers, kayakers, and skiers. In fact, any outdoor pursuit is game for the TG-5, which is crushproof to 100kg and drop-proof from 2.1m. It can even be used in temperatures as low as -10°C. Olympus has taken the unusual step of actually dropping the pixel count from 16MP on the TG-4 to 12MP on the TG-5. Add in raw file support and this makes image quality that bit better than its predecessor, while it can shoot 4K video at 30p or high speed footage at 120p in Full HD. Our pick of the waterproof bunch.

Best camera: Panasonic Lumix FZ2000 / FZ2500

10. Panasonic Lumix FZ2000 / FZ2500

The bridge camera for the photographer who wants quality too

Type: Bridge camera | Sensor: 1.0-inch type CMOS | Resolution: 20.1MP | Lens: 24-480mm, f/2.8-4.5 | Screen type: 3-inch vari-angle screen, 1,040,000 dots | Viewfinder: EVF | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 12fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Intermediate/expert

Large 1-inch sensor
Super-fast AF
Big, heavy and not cheap
No weather-sealing

We're not normally huge fans of bridge cameras, because the ultra-zoom design forces the makers to use titchy 1/2.3-inch sensors the same size as those in point-and-shoot cameras. You get the look and feel of a DSLR, but you certainly don't get the image quality. But the Panasonic Lumix FZ2000 (known as the FZ2500 in the US) is different. It sacrifices a huge zoom range in favour of a much larger 1.0-inch sensor - a compromise most serious photographers will applaud. While the zoom tops out at 480mm equivalent, which is relatively short for a bridge camera, that's still plenty for all but the most extreme everyday use. We'd certainly sacrifice a little for of zoom range for better and faster optics. We love the FZ2000 because it delivers both image quality and zoom range, while also offering full manual and semi-manual controls, the ability to shoot raw files and 4K video.

Great value option: Sony RX100 IV

Powerful pocket camera with superb image and video quality

Type: Compact | Sensor size: 1-inch CMOS | Resolution: 20.1MP | Lens: 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 | Monitor: 3-inch tilting, 1.23 million dots | Viewfinder: EVF | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 16fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Intermediate

1in sensor performs solidly
Lovely viewfinder
No grip on the front plate
LCD not sensitive to touch

Our main reservation with the Sony RX100 IV when it first launched was its high price, but now that some time has passed it's dropped down to a much more sensible level. And while it's still far from the cheapest compact around, you get bags for the money. No other manufacturer can match the camera for its combination of a 1in sensor, 4K video recording, excellent pop-up EVF and 16fps burst mode, while the further pleasures of a tilting LCD screen, wireless connectivity and the option to shoot at up 960fps for slow-motion output on top of all that to make it even more fun to shoot with. If you can live without the 4K video option and you're happy with 10fps burst shooting, you may also want to check out the slightly cheaper RX100 III.