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

Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera, the best camera right now

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. 

The best camera for you depends on what you need. The best camera for a pro photographer, for example, 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 – keep on reading.

We've rounded up the very best options across the three main categories: DSLR, mirrorless and compact. Each camera stands out in some way from a sea of rivals, be it because it's simply the best at what it does in its category or because it offers something unique and groundbreaking, or because it delivers so much for your money. 

That means that while many of these cameras are new, some are older models that have now dropped in price to tempting levels. Newer isn't always better, particularly if there's only been a marginal increase in performance and a disproportionately high increase in price. But you don't need to worry about that, as we've cherry picked both new and older models that have proved themselves worthy.

Overall, we reckon the Nikon Z6 is the best camera right now for most people. It's small, light and relatively affordable for a full-frame camera, and while it's only compatible with a handful of native lenses, you can use hundreds more through an adapter. It captures great images and very strong 4K videos, and handles well too, while its electronic viewfinder is nice and crisp.

Need more advice? Want to find out more about any of these cameras? We've put each one to a thorough test in order to decide on what makes the list. Just click the link at the end of each camera's description to read our in-depth review, complete with sample images and in-depth looks at how key features fare.

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. Sony A7 III
4. Nikon D850
5. Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III

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

Nikon Z6

(Image credit: TechRadar)

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 (position 3), but the arrival of Nikon's Z6 means it now just misses out – though it's very close. The Z6 manages to combine excellent stills and 4K video quality with everything else that's key for a full-frame mirrorless camera. So, we get a lightweight and compact body that still manages to handle beautifully on account of a substantial and ergonomically designed grip, together with a sharp 3.69 million dot viewfinder and a responsive, tilting touchscreen. The fact that you can use existing F-mount lenses through the FTZ adapter also means you're not confined to the handful of Z mount optics developed for the system, while a recent firmware update boosted focusing performance and eye detection to make it even more competitive against Sony's Alpha line. We love it.

Best camera: Fujifilm X-T30

(Image credit: Future)

2. Fujifilm X-T30

This ravishing retro option squeezes in plenty of new tech

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's X-T3 may still one of the most capable APS-C mirrorless cameras around, but that fact that the company managed to incorporate so much of its tech inside the smaller and cheaper X-T30 makes this our preference. A solid 26.1MP X0Trans CMOS 4 sensor, popular Film Simulation modes, excellent 4K video capabilities and a hybrid AF system with 425 phase-detect AF points stand out as highlights from its strong spec sheet, while improvements to overall speed and face/eye detection make for a slightly more polished performance over the previous X-T20. Our only gripe is the small viewfinder magnification – but even with that, you won't find better APS-C-based mirrorless model for this kind of money right now.

Best camera: Sony A7 III

3. 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: Nikon D850

(Image credit: Future)

4. 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

The D850 stands on the shoulders of the D810 and many successful pro-oriented Nikon DSLRs that came before it, and its well-rounded feature set means it appeals to a diverse range of users. Normally we find such cameras aimed towards those needing either high resolution, high speed or solid video capabilities, but with its 45MP full-frame sensor, 7fps burst shooting (which can be boosted to 9fps with a battery grip) and 4K video recording options, it successfully caters for everyone's needs. The body is rugged and protected against inclement weather, and is peppered with illuminated buttons for low-light use, while 153 AF points make it a brilliant performer when it comes to tracking moving subjects too. Battery life of 1,800 frames per charge is also mighty impressive.

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

5. 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 is great
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. Sure, the Micro Four Thirds sensor is smaller than the competition, and its 16MP resolution may seen a little behind the times too, but don't let this put you off. Sensor-based image stabilization, something many cameras at this level don't offer in favour of lens-based stabilization, is a huge plus and very effective too, while 4K video recording and 8.6fps burst shooting are also very competitive. The fact that you can use it with so many excellent and compact Micro Four Thirds lenses only adds to its charms.  

Best camera: Canon EOS Rebel SL2 / EOS 200D

6. Canon EOS Rebel SL2 / EOS 200D

Looking for a first DSLR? The Rebel SL2 ticks plenty of boxes

Type: DSLR | Sensor: APS-C CMOS | Resolution: 24.2MP | Lens mount: Canon EF | Viewfinder: Optical | Screen type: 3.0-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1,040,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 5fps | Movies: 1080p | User level: Beginner

Flip-out touchscreen works brilliantly
Dual Pixel CMOS AF is great
No 4K video recording
9-point AF system a little basic

Canon recently updated the EOS Rebel SL2, also known as the EOS 200D, with the EOS Rebel SL3 / EOS 250D, but we're sticking with the former for now. While the newer model does add a few extra niceties – 4K video recording and a new processor, for example – the bones are pretty much the same, so you may as well go for the older model and put the cash you save towards a nice lens. The EOS Rebel SL2 offers everything the first-time user needs to get started, such as a great 24.2MP sensor, a fluid AF system when shooting live view and videos, and an easy-to-understand interface. It also works with an endless assortment of lenses and accessories and that touchscreen is a joy to use too. 

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 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 you 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 its 20.3MP sensor and built-in image stabilization system. The GH5S's breadth of video features is impressive, with the ability to shoot cinematic 4K footage at up to 60fps headlining a strong list of video specs. If you want to shoot professional-quality footage without remortgaging your house, you won't find a better video-focused camera right now. 

Best camera: Olympus Tough TG-5

9. Olympus Tough TG-5

A rugged, waterproof body blended with high-end features

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. It's waterproof down to depths of 15m, crushproof to weights of 100kg and drop-proof from heights of 2.1m. It can even be used in temperatures as low as -10°C. 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. The company has recently updated its line with a TG-6 successor, although the specs seem very similar and we've not had the chance to give it a full workout yet – so we're sticking with the TG-5 for now.

10. Sony RX10 III

The bridge camera for the photographer who wants quality too

Type: Bridge camera | Sensor: 1.0-inch type CMOS | Resolution: 20.1MP | Lens: 24-600mm, f/2.8-4 | Screen type: 3-inch tilting screen, 1,040,000 dots | Viewfinder: EVF | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 14fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Intermediate

Great sensor-size-to-lens ratio
Cracking 4K videos
AF can struggle at telephoto end
No built-in ND filter

The RX10 III is the third bridge-style superzoom in the popular RX10 line, and while it's had some of its sheen rubbed off by the newer RX10 IV, we reckon the great spec sheet and lower price of the RX10 III makes more sense. Thanks to its large, high-quality 1-inch sensor and image-stabilized 24-600mm-equivalent zoom lens, it's one of the best DSLR alternatives for those that need a massive focal range, although excellent 4K video capabilities and 14fps burst shooting show it to be more than capable when faced with moving subjects too. Too expensive? The previous RX10 II is still available (although its lens has a more modest 24-200mm scope), and Panasonic's competitively priced FZ1000 is another stellar option.  

(Image credit: Future)

Honorary mention: Fujifilm GFX 100

This megapixel monster is the most exciting medium format camera yet

Sensor size: Medium format | Resolution: 102MP | Viewfinder: 5,760,000 dots | Monitor: 3.2-inch three-direction tilt display, 2,360K dots | Autofocus: Hybrid AF | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 5fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Professional

EVF is the best yet on a mirrorless camera
Stunning detail in images
Vertical grip could be better
Very expensive 

Fujifilm may not have full-frame cameras like many of its rivals, but it's managed to build on its successful X-series cameras with some impressive medium format alternatives. And with its GFX 100, it shows just how successful the marriage between X-series technology and a larger sensor can be, bringing together many well loved features with a 102MP (yes, 102MP) sensor that performs to an exceptional standard. While there are other medium format cameras that exceed it for sensor resolution, none can match the kind if usability we have here, with masses of control over your shooting together with a stunning 5.76 million-dot electronic viewfinder and great 4K video quality to boot. It's not perfect, and it'll cost you dearly, but it's unquestionably the most well-rounded medium format camera we've seen yet.