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Best beginner cameras 2022

Best beginner cameras: Image shows person in woolly hat taking picture with water and mountains behind them
(Image credit: Getty Images)

There are hundreds of options available when it comes to the best beginner cameras. It can feel very daunting when navigating through all the brands, model numbers, specs and reviews, which is why we've put this guide together. All models on this list offer a good mix of ease of use and high-specification features with flexible shooting modes, all at an affordable price point.

Choosing the right beginner camera is imperative when learning about the art form and wanting to develop your unique style. Get it wrong, and you could become frustrated and lose interest. It's a good idea to consider the type of photography you'd like to focus on before settling on a camera or even beginning to look for one. Some setups without image stabilization and 4K video are better suited for stills photography when paired with one of the best tripods. Other models are more suited for vlogging and content creation. These tend to include features such as 4K video, face detection, speedy autofocus and articulating screens for getting the all-important selfie looking how you want it. These features make filming on the go much easier and minimize editing time.

Suppose you're looking for the best camera for professional work. In that case, you might want to read through our more suitable guides, including the best cameras for astrophotography or simply the best cameras. If it's an entry-level model you want, perhaps for the lower price or just for ease of use, then read on. 

Best overall

Nikon D5600 review: image shows Nikon D5600 on rocks

(Image credit: Future)
The best 'next step up' camera, the Nikon D5600 is beginner friendly but isn’t afraid to offer more advanced specs at an affordable price

Specifications

Megapixels: 24.2
Sensor: DX CMOS
ISO Range: 100-25600
Weight: 1lb 4oz

Reasons to buy

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

Reasons to avoid

-
4K video missing
-
Expensive

In our hands-on Nikon D5600 review, we were impressed with the camera's ability to produce beautiful images from the word go. It has a very reliable autofocus system and a live-view mode that surprisingly produces excellent results and is enjoyable to use.

The D5600 was released over six years ago, but to its credit, it still keeps up with the more recent competition, we would even spend a little more to upgrade to this model since 39-point focusing and sharp image quality are noticeable advantages over other entry-level models. The flip-out touchscreen works well at varying angles, adding flexibility to your shooting. We particularly liked the ability to touch the screen to release the shutter, with the autofocus performing well.

Best for serious beginners

Image shows a Canon Rebel SL3 with its screen facing forwards

Canon's Rebel SL3 is an excellent choice for beginners (Image credit: Tantse Walter)
Not the cheapest, but one of the most versatile beginner cameras available

Specifications

Megapixels : 24.2
Sensor: 22.3 mm x 14.9 mm CMOS
ISO Range: 100-51200 (expanded)
Weight: 449g

Reasons to buy

+
Lightweight
+
Vari-angle touchscreen
+
Great live mode 

Reasons to avoid

-
Not a small as mirrorless alternatives
-
Fiddly controls 

The Rebel SL3 shares much of the same sensor and imaging technology as the EOS M series of mirrorless cameras but features an optical viewfinder (instead of only being able to see your image on an electronic screen). Ergonomically, the camera is easy to use and navigate, and has both Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity for simple image transfer to a smartphone or tablet. It has a tutorial mode to help beginners achieve the perfect shot. It is a lightweight and compact package that budding travel photographers especially will love. 

The more you develop in your photography journey, the more you will appreciate that this is a basic setup for those just starting, but with 4K video and an excellent live mode. The Rebel SL3 is a versatile and flexible camera and highly recommended as a great first camera.

Best for smartphone photographers

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV camera on a table outside

(Image credit: Jacob Little)
One of the the best small cameras out there for those wanting a good all-rounder

Specifications

Megapixels: 20
Sensor: Micro Four Thirds
ISO Range: 200-25600
Weight: 0.84lbs

Reasons to buy

+
Good autofocus
+
Classic attractive styling,
+
Small and compact 

Reasons to avoid

-
No-inbuilt microphone
-
Would rather see an articulated rather than flip-down screen 

This entry-level offering comes from Olympus, designed for beginners looking to get on the mirrorless ladder. As we discovered in our Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV review this camera gives a good balance between quality and usability with a beginner-friendly user interface. The sensor in this unit provides sharp and well-balanced images in both RAW and JPG modes. There are 21 scene modes that tweak the settings to make great shots in different environments. The camera features good image stabilization and connectivity options, with WiFi and Bluetooth available for file sharing.

Styling-wise, we appreciated the classic look of the camera. Still, we would have liked an articulated touch screen on the rear to enhance ease of use when using tripods for astrophotography or gimbals for filmmaking. 

If you're still taking photos with your smartphone but would like a convenient camera to enhance your photography, this would be an accessible and accessible upgrade that boasts impressive features and performance.

Best for styling

Nikon Z fc

(Image credit: Nikon)

Nikon Z fc

One of the best looking beginner cameras out there, despite it’s slightly more expensive price-tag

Specifications

Megapixels: 21
Sensor: APS-C
ISO Range: 200-51200
Weight: 0.98lbs

Reasons to buy

+
Attractive looks
+
Excellent touchscreen
+
Good build-quality 

Reasons to avoid

-
Adding extra lenses makes the package expensive
-
No usable grip

The first thing that strikes you about the Z fc is Nikon's approach to designing and building the camera. It is unashamedly retro and harks back to the brand's products of decades past. We think it's a terrific-looking device that mixes the old with the new and tastefully incorporates modern features. The camera body feels high quality and solid.

The camera's mirrorless setup is lightweight yet powerful and produces consistently excellent results in differing modes. Ideally, there would be a little more variety and more lens choice, and the camera would benefit from having some weatherproofing. Still, for our money, this is one of the most accomplished and enjoyable beginner cameras on the market.

Best value for money

A photo of the Fujifilm XT-30's compact body

(Image credit: Tantse Walter)
A vast amount of in-body customization and incredibly simple file transfer.

Specifications

Megapixels: 26
Sensor: APS-C CMOS
ISO Range: 160-12,800 (exp. 80 to 52,200)
Weight: 383g

Reasons to buy

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

Reasons to avoid

-
Battery life not great
-
Tilt-only (rather than articulated) screen
-
Menu could be more intuitive 

We have replaced the Fujifilm X-200 (opens in new tab) in this buying guide as whilst it maintained it's place on our best beginner guide for some time, it is discontinued and now increasingly difficult to find.

Instead, the entry level Fujifilm X-T30 II is a fantastic replacement, with a similar stylish retro look and enhanced functionality to produce stunning, colour-rich photos. It is an affordable and feature packed camera, ideal for on-the-go shooting, travel photography and landscapes, and it's especially good for creative film makers.

It comes with in-built user interface aids and a whopping 18 different film simulations. Each one is described in-camera to help film makers choose the most appropriate option. In-camera editing is useful to minimize your workflow as you can add grain, clarity, colour depth, adjust white balance and so on without the images ever leaving your camera.

When it is time to transfer your images onto a smartphone or tablet, the Fujifilm Camera Remote App let's you do this with just two clicks.

It only has a tilting screen rather than a fully articulating one, so if that's something you want, the comparable Canon Rebel SL3/250D might be more appropriate.

Best for content creators

The Canon M50 Mark II with the screen popped out

(Image credit: Tantse Walter)

Canon EOS M50 Mark II

With vertical video and live-streaming added to this incarnation of the EOS M50, this is a great option for social media super users

Specifications

Megapixels: 24.1
Sensor: APS-C
ISO Range: 100-25600
Weight: 0.85lbs

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

Although subtle, there are several mentionable updates to the M50 Mark II, most noticeably in the autofocus and auto shooting modes. We were impressed with the camera's face tracking and detection, which made capturing portraits or videos of people, even when moving, extremely easy. There is also live streaming where you can stream straight to youtube when using Wi-Fi, and a vertical video mode, we could see them providing some real value for frequent social media content creators.

There isn't a headphone socket, despite a mic input, which seems like a strange omission, and the sensor does crop 4K video quite considerably. This, in addition to the quick battery drain while in video mode, means vloggers or film makers might want to look elsewhere (or ensure they will be plugged in when filming). This said, for a competent shooter looking for a quick and easy-to-use video camera, this will fit the bill.

Best budget option

Image shows a front view of the Nikon D3500.

(Image credit: Jacob Little)
Intermediate users might get frustrated, but this is one of the most basic and affordable entry-level options out there

Specifications

Megapixels: 24.2
Sensor: DX Crop Sensor
ISO Range: 100-25600
Weight: 0.8lbs

Reasons to buy

+
Good value for money
+
Good kit lenses 
+
Guide mode

Reasons to avoid

-
No Bluetooth
-
Poor Live View performance 
-
Limited to beginner photography

As we have mentioned in our standalone Nikon D3500 review, we think it is one of the most capable entry-level beginner cameras available. While it isn't without its faults, the combination of a good kit lens, fast operation, compact body, and excellent value for money make it a worthwhile purchase for any budding photographer.

Intermediate or more advanced users may find the guide mode frustrating. This camera has limited scope for growth and development, as features you'll find higher up in the range are lacking. If you know you'll want to enhance your photography and experiment with creativity further down the line, you may want to look at an alternative model.

Best second-hand option

Sony a6000

(Image credit: Sony)

Sony a6000

First released in 2014, this is one of Sony's longest standing camera ranges

Specifications

Megapixels: 24.7
Sensor: APS-C
ISO Range: 100-25600
Weight: 0.7lbs

Reasons to buy

+
Speedy autofocus
+
Sharp sensor
+
Versatile

Reasons to avoid

-
Showing its age
-
No 4K video 
-
Not good for low light shooting

The Sony A6000 was released the best part of a decade ago, but its popularity even in 2022 is a testament to the camera's versatility and build quality. Despite its slightly dated style, this is still a very capable camera that would suit several shooting styles for beginners learning the craft and wanting to push themselves creatively. It does tend to produce noisy images when the ISO is bumped up, so it is best to avoid it if you want to do lots of low light or astrophotography work.

Despite its age, the Sony A6000 has held its value and is unlikely to be much cheaper anytime soon due to there being fewer units in circulation. You can probably pick up a newer DSLR camera with 4K video and updated hardware and software for a similar price (such as Canon's M50 Mark II (opens in new tab)). That said, there are plenty of quality used (opens in new tab) models of the A6000 available. 

Best for travel

Panasonic Lumix G100

(Image credit: panasonic)

Panasonic Lumix G100

A good option for content creators

Specifications

Megapixels: 20
Sensor: Micro Four Thirds
ISO Range: 200-25600
Weight: 0.78lbs

Reasons to buy

+
Good choice of lenses
+
A small package suitable for travel
+
RAW images are editable in-camera 

Reasons to avoid

-
10 minute recording limit in 4K video
-
Autofocus isn’t always reliable 

 

Panasonic's Lumix series of cameras work as four-thirds setups, meaning they have a unique sensor size that is smaller and provides the ability to ensure the body itself stays as portable as possible. The mirrorless G100 is a tiny and lightweight unit that is ideal for content creators - it has a large grip for safe use while on the move, and the large extendable display makes it easy to compose your video and see what’s being recorded.

Directional tracked audio, face detection and hybrid 5-stop image stabilization all make the lives of content creators easier, although 4k videos are limited to 10 minutes at a time. In-camera editing and effects minimize workflow and allow you to share your content in next to no time.

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Jacob Little is a photographer, writer and communications professional based in Bristol and Cornwall. His main inspirations come from outdoor adventure, travel, rural living and wild ways and crafts. Passionate about weaving the core principles of storytelling into his images, he approaches brand and copywriting work in much the same way. Conveying a compelling narrative is one of the main drivers behind much of his work.

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