Best beginner cameras 2024: Models from Canon, Sony, Nikon and more

Best beginner cameras: Image shows person in woolly hat taking picture with water and mountains behind them
The best beginner cameras should provide a balance between ease of use and room to grow as a photographer. (Image credit: Getty Images)

If you're getting started in photography, purchasing one of the best beginner cameras can really take your work up to the next level. Perhaps until now you've used a point-and-shoot camera or you've been using your smartphone. Upgrading to one of our picks of the best cameras for beginners can make a real difference.

Whether you're interested in shooting landscape, wildlife, portraits or astrophotography, owning a good camera is the best place to start. The beginner cameras we've chosen are all easy to use, and they're packed with features that can help you learn skills and improve your craft.

Our list of the best beginner cameras includes models from the leading brands such as Sony, Canon and Nikon. Our ranking takes these cameras' ease of use, features and of course price points into account, so there should be an option for every taste and budget among them. 

One of the most daunting thing about photography is the jargon it comes with. To suit this guide for beginners, we've simplified and thoroughly explained everything you should consider when choosing a camera. We've taken all the guesswork out of figuring out what camera will be the best for you by providing clear and straightforward descriptions about each camera.

Our expert reviewers are photographers themselves and have used their expertise to put these models through their paces, carefully considering their accessibility for entry-level photographers. While this guide has options to suit all budgets in this guide, we'd recommend you keep an eye on our regularly updated camera deals page if it's a bargain you're after.

If you're not a beginner, we have plenty more camera and photography buying guides worth checking out, including the best cameras of the year. If you need other photography gear to go alongside your camera, we've covered the best tripods, travel tripods, and camera backpacks, among many others.

With Amazon Prime Day on July 16-17, you may be able to score a great deal on one of the best beginner cameras. Space.com will be collecting all the best deals on cameras and publishing live updates on our finds throughout the sale period, so be sure to check our Prime Day deals hub regularly. 

The quick list

Below we've summarised our top picks of the best beginner cameras available, including their main characteristics. If you want more in-depth information on a particular camera, click the links to read more.

The best beginner cameras we recommend in 2024

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The best beginner camera overall

Best overall: A moderate beginner price tag, but worth it for its capabilities and style

Specifications

Megapixels: 21MP
Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: APS-C
ISO Range: 200-51,200
Weight: 0.98 lb (444g)
Memory card type: UHS-I SD

Reasons to buy

+
Stylish looks
+
Responsive touchscreen
+
Good build-quality 

Reasons to avoid

-
Adding extra lenses makes the package expensive
-
No usable grip
-
More advanced users may look to upgrade soon
Buy it if

✅ You want a stylish camera: The design is really pleasing.

✅ You want a camera with a touchscreen: This one has a very responsive screen.

✅ You want a sturdy camera: this one has excellent build quality.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You're on a budget: The camera itself isn't cheap, and the extra lenses add on costs.

❌ You want the highest-quality optics: More advanced users will look to upgrade quickly.

The bottom line

🔎 The Nikon Z fc is a beautifully-designed beginner camera with some impressive specs. ★★★★½

Design: One of the many reasons we love the Nikon Z fc is its retro aesthetic, which conceals all the latest tech it packs. The build is high-quality and the camera feels solid to hold while remaining lightweight. 

This mirrorless camera is a great blend of old and new, consistently producing great results in different shooting conditions. It's user-friendly and perfectly suited to beginners who wish to hone their craft. We only regret that the Z fc isn't weatherproof, or that there aren't more lenses to choose from.

Performance: As we talked about in more detailed in our Nikon Z fc review, we've been very impressed with the performance of this camera. Crucially for beginners, it's easy to set up and use: You can start shooting mere seconds after turning the camera on, which is great for capturing fleeting moments. 

Perhaps more pertinently, though, is just how good the autofocus is on the Nikon Z fc. It's seriously quick to focus on a subject, even in low light. It's great for tracking fast-moving objects, too, like wildlife or sporting events. 

Functionality: We liked the touchscreen's responsiveness and were surprised at how quiet the focusing and shutter sound was; it's perfect for taking candid photos discreetly. The ISO performance was much better than we'd expected for an entry-level model. The Nikon Z Fc perfectly balances functionality, accessibility, and a charming retro appearance.

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Nikon Z fc
AttributesNotes
DesignGood build quality.
PerformanceReady to shoot in less than a second.
FunctionalityResponsive touchscreen.

Best for content creators

Best for content creators: A vast amount of in-body customization and incredibly simple file transfer

Specifications

Megapixels: 26MP
Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: APS-C
ISO Range: 160-12,800 (expanded 80 to 52,200)
Weight: 0.84 lb (383g)
Memory card type: 1x SD / SDHC / SDXC

Reasons to buy

+
Very light and compact
+
Good connectivity options
+
Quick auto-focus

Reasons to avoid

-
Battery life isn't great
-
Tilt-only (rather than articulated) screen
-
Menu could be more intuitive 
Buy it if

✅ You're often on the go: This camera is light and compact, perfect for travel.

✅ You want fast autofocus: The autofocus is quick on this camera.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You go on long shoots: The battery life isn't great on this camera.

❌ You want an articulated screen: This one is tilt-only rather than fully articulated — this could be an issue for vloggers.

The bottom line

🔎 For taking everyday snaps, travel photography or even landscape photos, the Fujifilm X-T30 II will see you right for years to come at an affordable price. ★★★★½

Design: As with the Nikon Z fc above, one of our favorite things about the Fujifilm X-T30 is its vintage design. Don't let the gorgeous retro aesthetic fool you, though: this camera is full of great features and packs a performance punch. 

The X-T30 is a good choice for photographers who travel often thanks to its light and compact build. It easily fits into a small camera bag without weighing you down, which means you're able to keep your camera on you to pull it out at any time. 

One drawback of this camera is that the screen only tilts rather than being fully articulated. Suppose you frequently use a gimbal or want to do photography that involves shooting low to the ground — the comparable Canon Rebel SL3/250D with its articulating screen might be a better option.

Performance: We were impressed with the overall speed of the camera's operation—it's ready to take pictures in less than a second after starting up, and the focus operates exceptionally quietly. 

During our Fujifilm X-T30 II review, we experienced a little 'focus hunting' when we presented the camera with a mixture of shadow and light. When it comes to ISO, it performed slightly better than expected, with values up to ISO 1600 producing no real noticeable noise.

Functionality: The Fujifilm X-T30 II has been designed with beginners in mind. It has 18 user interface aids to help newcomers get to grips with the camera, and there are a number of different presets, presenting the camera with the best settings for a number of different scenarios. You can also easily change things like white balance, clarity and color depth within the camera, which cuts out on some post-processing and editing later on.

But we should also mention that the X-T30 II makes it super easy to transfer photos from your camera: Download the Fujifilm Camera Remote app and you can send photos to your smartphone in a matter of two clicks.

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Fujifilm X-T30
AttributesNotes
DesignVery light and compact.
PerformanceBetter than expected ISO performance.
FunctionalityOffers in-camera editing.

Best for travel

Best for travel: A handy in-built guide mode and time-saving content creator functionality

Specifications

Megapixels: 24.1MP
Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: APS-C
ISO Range: 100-25,600
Weight: 0.85 lb (383g)
Memory card type: SDHC and SDXC

Reasons to buy

+
A good array of options for content creators
+
Good updated autofocus
+
Excellent face tracking and detection 

Reasons to avoid

-
No headphone socket
-
4K cropping can be irritating 
-
Buttons too close together
Buy it if

✅ You're a content creator: There are plenty of options including live-streaming.

✅ You take portraits: There's excellent face tracking and autofocus on this camera.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You want to listen to sound as you record: There is no headphone socket.

❌ You want to shoot 4K: The sensor crops 4K video considerably.

❌ You've got large hands: The buttons on this camera are very close together.

The bottom line

🔎 The Canon EOS M50 Mark II is a great option if you're a content creator looking for a reliable and stylish travel-friendly camera that takes nice detailed photos. ★★★★

Design: Since the release of the first M50, this M50 Mark II has had numerous worthwhile upgrades. They're not all instantly obvious, but the changes made to autofocus and auto-shooting are perhaps the most noticeable, making this camera even better for beginners.

This camera stands out with its eye-catching appearance, especially in white like the one we tested. It's compact and feels a bit delicate, but despite its small size, it's easy to grip and surprisingly comfortable to hold. Even people with larger hands should find it comfortable to use — although the buttons are fairly close together which could become fiddly if you use it a lot.

Performance: We've been seriously impressed with the performance of the Canon M50. Featuring a 24.1MP sensor, it's capable of taking beautiful and colorful images. We've found it performs better in the daytime, so if you're an aspiring travel or nature photographer, this is a great choice. 

Because the M50 doesn't have in-body image stabilization (IBIS), shots in low light or at low shutter speeds can be a little shaky. If you use a tripod you'll be able to combat this issue, but it's worth bearing in mind if you're shopping for a camera to shoot astrophotography with.

Functionality: In our review of the Canon EOS M50 Mark II, we were quite impressed with its ability to effortlessly track and detect faces when taking photos or videos of people, even when they were moving within the frame.

This camera does have live streaming, which enables you to stream directly to YouTube while using Wi-Fi, and a vertical video mode, which could be a significant time-saving asset if you create social media content.

There's a microphone input for video recording, but oddly, there's no headphone socket to listen back to any footage you've recorded. 4K video recording is achievable, but it's worth noting that it is heavily cropped. Its battery life is also quite limited, so this camera might not be ideal for vloggers or aspiring filmmakers. However, if you're focused on still photography and working with a budget, there's plenty to appreciate here.

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Canon EOS M50 Mark II
AttributesNotes
DesignSmall and user-friendly.
PerformanceNo image stabilization.
FunctionalityImpressive face detection and tracking.

Best mid-range model

Best mid-range model: The Nikon D5600 is an affordable beginner-friendly camera with some more advanced features, too

Specifications

Megapixels: 24.2MP
Type: DSLR
Sensor: APS-C
ISO Range: 100-25,600
Weight: 1.25 lb (566g)
Memory card type: SD

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent tilting touchscreen 
+
Good live view with touch shutter release
+
Quick autofocus 

Reasons to avoid

-
4K video missing
-
Expensive
-
Fiddly Nikon interface and menu operation at times
Buy it if

✅ You want a touchscreen: This camera has an excellent tilting screen.

✅ You use autofocus: This camera has a quick autofocus function.

You want all the bells and whistles: This has a good live view and touch shutter release.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You want to shoot video: This camera doesn't have 4K video.

❌ You're on a budget: This camera is on the expensive side.

❌ You want an intuitive camera: This one has a fiddly interface at times.

The bottom line

🔎 The Nikon D5600 has great image quality and is slightly more affordable than some of the newer SLR or mirrorless cameras. ★★★★

Design: Being one of the few DSLR cameras left on the market, the Nikon D5600 is a little chunkier than some of the more modern mirrorless cameras. But you shouldn't let that put you off. Some users will definitely prefer the chunkiness here: It's comfortable in the hand and feels solid and substantial. 

Its buttons and controls are intuitively-placed and easy to get to grips with, and we're big fans of the articulating touch-sensitive screen. In our Nikon D5600 review, we praised its responsiveness and noted it's even easy to use in bright sunlight.

Performance: There are a variety of lens options to choose from for the D5600, but it comes with an AF-P 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens. It's not the sharpest or most durable of lenses, but it's adaptable and takes excellent images, so it's a good choice for beginners to get started. 

As for the camera, we loved its ability to produce colorful and beautiful images across various situations. However, it's worth noting that it doesn't offer 4K recording, so vloggers, content creators and those who want a camera primarily for video may find this isn't the camera for them.

Functionality: The menu on this camera enables you to pick between shooting in JPEG or RAW formats, and you can control the ISO speed too. The connectivity of the D5600 is to be praised — it boasts WiFi, Bluetooth and a standard SD card slot and an HDMI slot for connecting to external screens. 

We loved the live view mode, which allows you to press on the screen to mark where you want the camera to focus. This is an especially attractive feature for beginners. 

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Nikon D5600
AttributesNotes
DesignOlder camera, but still keeps up with newer models.
PerformanceOutstanding picture quality.
FunctionalityFeatures a functional tilting touchscreen.

Best for versatility

Best for versatility: Take it anywhere and share your snaps quickly

Specifications

Megapixels : 24.2MP
Type: DSLR
Sensor: APS-C
ISO Range: 100-25,600 (expanded 100-51,200)
Weight: 0.98 lb (449g)
Memory card type: 1x SD/SDHC/SDXC UHS-I

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight
+
Vari-angle touchscreen
+
Great live mode 

Reasons to avoid

-
Not as small as mirrorless alternatives
-
Fiddly controls 
-
APS-C crop sensor means limited lens choice
Buy it if

✅ You want a portable camera: At under 1 lb, this camera is one of the lightest on this list.

✅ You shoot video content: It can shoot 4K and has a great live mode.

Don't buy it if:

❌ You want a mirrorless camera: This is a DSLR.

❌ You want to add different lenses: The APS-C lens lineup is a lot smaller than the full-frame lens lineup.

The bottom line

🔎 The Canon EOS Rebel SL3 is an easy-to-use beginner camera that doesn't disappoint when it comes to image quality. ★★★★

Design: The Canon EOS Rebel SL3 (known as the Canon 250D in the UK), has a very similar sensor and image system to Canon's EOS M mirrorless camera series. It also has an optical viewfinder, essentially a small screen in the same housing, which many users prefer over viewing their image on an electronic viewfinder.

In terms of handling, the camera is easy to use and feels sturdy while remaining smooth and comfortable to hold. In our Canon EOS Rebel SL3/250D review, we found it to be an excellent option for aspiring photographers and videographers looking for a compact and lightweight camera that you can carry with you wherever you go.

Performance: While the Canon 250D is more than capable of taking beautiful stills, it's also an excellent choice for videography. It has 4K recording capabilities and boasts a 'live' mode if you're interested in streaming. 

This camera's ISO range is very impressive given its price bracket, too. It can shoot between 100 to 25,600 ISO — essentially the camera's sensitivity to light. The higher the ISO, the more light it will let into a shot. High ISO shots can often be noisy, but we were impressed with how well the Canon EOS Rebel SL3/250D performed in this area. This means it's a great choice if you want to get into astrophotography and take pictures of the night sky.

Functionality: The Canon EOS Rebel SL3/250D has a built-in tutorial mode which we think is perfect for beginners: It talks you through everything you need to know about setting up the perfect shot. It can of course be disabled when you've got to grips with everything, but it's a great way to learn the basics. 

The camera also has WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, which makes transferring your photos to a PC or smartphone nice and easy. If you'd rather, you can do some basic editing within the camera: there are various effects and filters you can add to your images after they've been captured.

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Canon EOS Rebel SL3 / 250D
AttributesNotes
DesignSturdy and comfortable to hold.
PerformanceQuite a straightforward setup.
FunctionalityEasy transfer to smartphone or tablet.

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