When it comes to the best beginner cameras there are hundreds of options available. 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 while also being good value for money.
Although these cameras usually sit at an affordable price point, Black Friday (November 25) is one of the biggest sales event of the year and there could well be widespread discounts on the models you see below. It's also worth noting that you can often find early Black Friday deals as the day itself approaches. Now is a fantastic time to look for your chosen model at a discounted price. Keep an eye on our camera deals page, as when we find genuine deals that are worth taking a look at, we share them with you straight away.
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 for photos and videos. If you want an entry-level model, perhaps for the lower price or ease of use, read on.
Deals for best beginner cameras ahead of Black Friday
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Save $150 on this vlogging-friendly camera and lens bundle. Produce excellent quality video, a good step up from using your smartphone to produce professional-looking content.
Best beginner cameras in 2022
In our hands-on Nikon D5600 review, we were impressed with the camera's ability to produce beautiful images from the word go, and despite its age, it's relatively lightweight with a small form factor (size). The mid-range model has a very reliable autofocus system, with 39-point focusing and a live-view mode that surprisingly produces excellent results and is enjoyable to use.
It has a handy tilting touchscreen that works well regardless of the angle you choose for it, adding flexibility and comfort when shooting. Like some newer models, you can touch the screen to take a photo (as well as using the shutter button).
The D5600 was released way back in November 2016, but to its credit, it still keeps up with the more recent competition in terms of sharp image quality, and quick processing. The model was discontinued earlier in 2022, and Nikon now markets it as an 'old product.' That doesn't make it a bad camera, it just means Nikon is focusing on other things. You can pick up a new body for a very reasonable price, and get an even better deal on a used model. (opens in new tab)
- Read our Nikon D5600 review
The exceptionally lightweight Canon EOS Rebel SL3 (known as the 250D across the pond) 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, it feels robust and 'chunky' in the hand, but still smooth and comfortable. In our Canon EOS Rebel SL3/250D review, we thought it a great contender for budding photographers and videographers who are looking for something small and light.
The SL3 has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity for simple image transfer to a smartphone or tablet. This model has a tutorial mode to help beginners achieve the perfect shot, and you can manipulate images within the camera itself. You can also add special effects and filters such as the fish-eye effect and sepia without having to do any post-processing so you can share your stylized photos quicker.
The more you advance 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 we highly recommended it as a great first camera, it is a lightweight and compact package that budding travel photographers especially will love.
- Read our Canon EOS Rebel SL3 / 250D review
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 earlier this year, stylish little camera balances 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 produce the best shots in given environments. The camera features good image stabilization and connectivity options, with WiFi and Bluetooth available for fast file sharing.
Styling-wise, we appreciated the classic look of the camera, although 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 stretch your photography skills further, this would be an accessible and affordable upgrade that boasts impressive features and performance.
- Read our Olympus OM-D E-M10 review
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 choices, and the camera would benefit from having some weatherproofing. Still, this is one of the most accomplished and enjoyable beginner cameras on the market for our money.
When we reviewed the Nikon Z Fc, we were impressed at this camera's capabilities. The speed of the camera's operation is fantastic, it is ready to go less than a second after pressing the power button. We liked the responsiveness of the touchscreen and were surprised at how quiet the focusing and shutter sound was. The ISO performance was better than we had expected too.
Overall we thought the Nikon Z Fc hits the sweet spot of mixing functionality and a lovely retro, aesthetically pleasing design.
- Read our Nikon Z fc review
Nikon Z fc:
was $949.95, now $764.95 at Amazon (opens in new tab)
The beginner-friendly Nikon Z fc is super stylish and is loaded with a 20.9MP image sensor that can also capture 4K UHD video. Grab $185 off (opens in new tab) this robust mirrorless for a 19% saving. Add a coupon at the checkout to save a further $10.
The entry-level Fujifilm X-T30 II which we've already reviewed is a fantastic replacement for the Fujifilm X-200 (opens in new tab) which used to sit on this list (but was discontinued and became harder to find). It has a similar stylish retro look and enhanced functionality to produce stunning, color-rich photos. It is good value for money and is feature-packed. It is ideal for on-the-go shooting, travel photography and landscapes. It is an excellent choice for creative filmmakers.
It comes with built-in user interface aids and a whopping 18 film simulations. Each one is described in-camera to help filmmakers choose the most appropriate option depending on the shoot. In-camera editing is useful to minimize your workflow as you can add grain, clarity, color depth, adjust white balance etc without the images ever leaving your camera.
When it is time to transfer your images onto a smartphone or tablet, it couldn't be easier. The Fujifilm Camera Remote App (opens in new tab) lets 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, say if you do a lot of astrophotography or use a gimbal regularly, the comparable Canon Rebel SL3/250D with it's articulating screen might be more appropriate.
- Read our Fujifilm X-T30 II review
Although subtle, there are several mentionable updates to the M50 Mark II, most noticeably in the autofocus and auto-shooting modes.
In our Canon EOS M50 Mark II review you can find some sample photos and read more detail about why we included this camera in this guide. 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 filmmakers might want to look elsewhere (or ensure they will be plugged in when filming). This said, for a competent shooter looking for a quick, small and easy-to-use video camera, this will fit the bill.
- Read our Canon EOS M50 Mark II review
As we have mentioned in our standalone Nikon D3500 review, we think it is one of the most capable entry-level beginner cameras available and comes at an attractive price, making it excellent value for money.
While it isn't without its faults, the combination of a good kit lens, fast operation and compact body will always be 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 advance your photography skill and experiment with creativity further down the line, you may want to look at an alternative model.
- Read our Nikon D3500 review
The Sony A6000 was released the best part of a decade ago, but its popularity — one of Sony's best-selling interchangeable lense cameras — is a testament to the camera's versatility and build quality, and it's still as good as most of us, especially beginners need.
Despite its slightly dated — some might say ugly — 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.
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 (412g) unit that is an ideal choice for content creators — it has a large grip for comfortable and secure use while on the move, and the extendable display makes it easy to compose your video and see what’s being recorded simultaneously. Even though it's small, it feels well-built and solid in the hand.
It's clear this camera is marketed for vloggers. Directional tracked audio, face detection, selfie shooting mode 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.
Like many beginner cameras, in-camera editing and filters minimize workflow and allow you to share your content in next to no time.
Best beginner cameras 2022: What to look for
Choosing the best 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.
How we test the best beginner cameras
To guarantee you're getting honest, up-to-date recommendations on the best cameras to buy here at Space.com we make sure to put every camera through a rigorous review to fully test each product. Each camera is reviewed based on a multitude of aspects, from its construction and design, to how well it functions as an optical instrument and its performance in the field.
Each camera is carefully tested by either our expert staff or knowledgeable freelance contributors who know their subject areas in depth. This ensures fair reviewing is backed by personal, hands-on experience with each camera and is judged based on its price point, class and destined use. For example, comparing a 60MP full-frame mirrorless camera to a sleek little crop-sensor DSLR wouldn’t be appropriate, though each camera might be the best-performing product in its own class.
We look at how easy each camera is to operate, whether it contains the latest up-to-date imaging technology, whether the cameras can shoot high-quality stills photos and high resolution video and also make suggestions if a particular camera would benefit from any additional kit to give you the best viewing experience possible.
With complete editorial independence, Space.com are here to ensure you get the best buying advice on cameras, whether you should purchase an instrument or not, making our buying guides and reviews reliable and transparent.