We've seen some impressive new high-end cameras like the Sony A7R V arrive recently, but it's also a great time of year to shop for more affordable photography companions.
To help you create your plan and pick the right camera to buy (or look for deals on), we've gathered all of the best choices we've tested in the guide below, which is split into sections according to your level of experience. Happy camera shopping!
Mark Wilson, Cameras editor
The best cameras for photography haven't forgotten their photography roots. Although cameras these days may be increasingly focusing on video, there are some seriously impressive new contenders with much improved autofocusing and burst shooting skills. So, if you're looking for a solid stills camera, you have plenty of excellent options.
Every camera for photography is a compromise in some way, so it's important to have a clear picture of what you're looking for. Is it a versatile camera for everyday shooting that you need? Or are you looking to specialize in a particular sub-genre? Is it speed, size, or style that's more important to you? Will you be needing something with interchangeable lenses or is a fixed lens better suited for you?
We've tested most releases out in the field, spending countless hours with all of the latest digital cameras from the biggest names in photography, including Canon, Sony, Nikon, Fujifilm, Panasonic, Leica and more. And, we gathered the best of them here, splitting this guide into three skill levels: enthusiasts, novices, and advanced. Each one contains our pick of the best cameras, and systems, for those experience levels and budgets. Use the quick links on the left to jump to the right section, and start your search from there.
Our overall pick for the title of the best camera for photography is the Sony A7 IV. It's a powerful all-rounder that's at home shooting pretty many any type of photography, from portraits to wildlife and weddings.
The Fujifilm X-T4, on the other hand, remains a strong alternative for the budget-conscious. Though rumors of an X-T5 are growing, it remains to be one of the best cheap cameras on the market. Hobbyist and street shooters should also definitely check out the Canon EOS R10 (our top pick for beginners), Nikon Zfc and Fujifilm X-S10.
Which camera is best for you? That ultimately depends on your needs, budget, and preferences. Luckily, our in-depth guide below narrows down your options, making it easier for you to decide. It'll even help you the right deal on the best camera for you.
The best camera for photography 2023
Why you can trust TechRadar Our expert reviewers spend hours testing and comparing products and services so you can choose the best for you. Find out more about how we test.
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 the Fujifilm X-H2 takes APS-C ones to new heights. It combines an excellent new 40MP sensor with the handling of the X-H2S (its stacked sensor sibling) to create a brilliant all-round package for most kinds of photography, from landscapes to wedding snaps. Despite that resolution, the X-H2 offers 15fps burst shooting with its mechanical shutter, with an impressively deep buffer if you use CFexpress cards. This makes it impressively versatile and more than good enough for capturing action, if not quite as rapid as the X-H2S.
We reckon the X-H2's 40MP APS-C sensor is now class-leading for stills photography. In our tests it managed to offer that boosted resolution without incurring much of a downside in terms of dynamic range or noise. We also found the X-H2's autofocus to be much-improved from previous Fujifilm cameras like the X-T4, with its subject-tracking being a real boon in certain scenarios. Throw in IBIS and a deep grip that feels comfortable in the hand no matter which X-series lens you pair it with, and you have a recipe for a really enjoyable snapping companion.
- Read our in-depth Fujifilm X-H2 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
Not everyone need a full-frame camera – and like the Fujifilm X-T4 (see no.2 above), the OM System OM-1 harnesses the benefits of its smaller sensor to create a compelling alternative for those whose priorities are size, versatility and a fun handheld experience. Thanks to its new stacked Micro Four Thirds sensor, which is the first of its kind, and a speedy TruePix X processor, the OM-1 performed admirably in most our tests. Quite simply, it's the one of the most enjoyable cameras you can buy.
We found that the OM-1 performed well up to ISO 1600 and had slightly less aggressive noise reduction than its Olympus-made predecessors. Its computational modes are also the best you'll find outside a smartphone, with the likes of HIgh Res Shot, Live ND and in-camera Focus Stacking going some way to compensating for its smaller sensor. On the downside, its autofocus tracking isn't quite up to the level of Canon or Sony, and the controls can be a little fiddly. That 20MP resolution also isn't huge for a camera of this price. But if you can overlook those drawbacks, then the OM-1 (and its huge range of Micro Four Thirds lenses) will make a fine companion.
- Read our in-depth OM System OM-1 review
If you like shooting fast-moving subjects like wildlife and can't quite stretch to a full-frame Canon camera like the EOS R6, then the EOS R7 is great choice. It has a smaller APS-C sensor, so its high ISO performance isn't as strong as its full-frame siblings, but the benefit is that you can get longer reach from smaller lenses. The EOS R7 also packs in fast burst speeds, with our tests backing up its claims of 15fps continuous shooting (with the mechanical shutter) or 30fps if you switch to the electronic shutter. You can't sustain those speeds for quite as long as a camera like the EOS R6, but a few seconds is enough to capture most wildlife subjects.
Other big bonus of Canon's EOS R system are its subject-tracking autofocus skills and the EOS R7 inherits these, too. Our tests found this to be a dream for wildlife, action and sports subjects. We were also fans of its chunky grip, which makes it comfortable to hold with long lenses, and the inclusion of dual UHS-II card slots, which means it's a camera that could also tempt pros looking for a second body. The only downside right now is the lack of native lenses for the EOS R7's APS-C sensor, with only two available at the time of writing. Still, you can always mount today's full-frame RF lenses or adapt older EF lenses while you wait for Canon to make more.
- Read our in-depth Canon EOS R7 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
It isn't the cheapest camera for beginners, but we think the Canon EOS R10 is the now best one for those starting their photographic journey. The spiritual successor to Canon's popular mid-range DSLRs, the EOS R10 has two standout skills: impressive, subject-tracking autofocus and speedy 15fps burst shooting, which was previously unheard of at this price.
Both of those combine nicely to make the EOS R10 a versatile little camera for shooting all kinds of subjects, from portraits to speeding pets and kids. During our autofocus testing, which we conducted on cats, deer and a speedy cockapoodle, the R10's found and tracked the subject's eyes very well, with the 15fps burst speeds producing a decent hit rate.
While it isn't a compact camera, the EOS R10 is very lightweight at 429g and has a deep grip that makes it feel well-balanced in the hand with all kinds of lenses. Unfortunately, the EOS R10 doesn't yet have many native lenses (just two at the time of writing) and lacks in-body image stabilization. But if you're happy to buy some of the many full-frame RF lenses that work well with the camera, or adapt old ones using an EF-EOS R adapter, then it's a versatile little sidekick that's ideal for fledgling snappers.
- Read our in-depth Canon EOS R10 review
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
One of two flagship cameras from Fujifilm, the X-H2S is one of the best hybrid cameras around if you need a lightning-fast sidekick that can shoot a mix of stills and 6K video. Its X-H2 sibling may bring 40MP of resolution, but if you're happy with the 26MP offered by the X-H2S, it's an excellent alternative to its 'stacked' full-frame sensor rivals.
Because its APS-C sensor also has a 'stacked' design – which produces faster read-out speeds than standard sensors – the X-H2S is a cut above any other APS-C cameras we've tested. It can blast through shots at 40fps, with full AF/AE tracking, when you use its electronic shutter, though we found 20fps to be the sweet spot for autofocus performance and general workflow.
It may lack the retro charm of Fujifilm's X-T series, but the X-H2S has a lovely deep grip and one of the best electronic viewfinders we've tested, too. Our only real gripes are that its autofocus is still fractionally behind Sony and Canon, particularly for video, and that there still aren't a huge array of lens options at the telephoto end. You may also find its 40fps speeds to be slight overkill. But if not, the X-H2S is undoubtedly one of the best all-round cameras you can buy.
- Read our in-depth Fujifilm X-H2S 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.