It can be hard to know which of the best beginner cameras to go for when you're buying your first camera, as there are hundreds of options available. To save you from wading through specs and comparison tables we've reviewed and tested a wide range of entry-level cameras to bring you the best of the bunch in this handy buying guide. These models all provide a fantastic combination of high-quality features with usability, a range of shooting options, and excellent value for the money.
- The best time to buy a camera: shop smart and save
- Should you buy a DSLR camera?
- Best mirrorless cameras
- Best cameras for low-light photography
- Best cameras for astrophotography
- 5 ways to save money when buying astrophotography equipment
Beginner cameras tend to sit at a fairly affordable price anyway, but quite often you'll find that retailers run deals and discounts to lure you into spending money with them, which is a great way to save money buying photography equipment when purchasing your first camera. 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.
If you don't consider yourself to be a beginner, you may be more interested in a camera that's slightly more advanced or designed for more professional work. In that case, you might want to take a look at our more suitable guides, including the best mirrorless cameras, best cameras for astrophotography, or simply our more general guide to the best cameras for photos and videos.
Best beginner cameras deal March 2023
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Panasonic Lumix G100:
was $749.99, now $547.99 on Amazon (opens in new tab)
Save over $200 on the Panasonic Lumix G100 which appears in this guide to the best beginner cameras. Get nearly 30% off this 20MP mirrorless Micro Four Thirds camera and take advantage of its wide ISO 200-25600 sensitivity range for some lucrative low light shots.
Best beginner cameras 2023
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 gorgeous camera that combines the old with the new and tastefully includes contemporary features. The camera body also feels solid and of excellent quality.
The camera's mirrorless setup is lightweight yet powerful and produces consistently excellent results in differing modes. Though, we think the camera would benefit from weatherproofing and more variety in lens options. In spite of this, this is one of the most impressive and enjoyable entry-level cameras.
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 — ideal for when photo opportunities appear suddenly and you need to act fast to get the shot. 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.
In our opinion, the Nikon Z Fc strikes the perfect balance between functionality and a charming retro appearance.
- Read our Nikon Z fc review
The Sony A6600 is the latest in Sony's Alpha range of crop sensor cameras. While it is on the pricier side for a beginner camera, we think it's well worth it for the sheer amount of features that it has and what it can achieve. Beginner photographers with a bigger budget looking for a camera that can do everything will find the Sony A6600 an excellent choice.
This camera features Sony's famous fast hybrid AF with real-time tracking for human and animal eyes which we put to the test in our Sony A6600 review. It provides stunning image quality and has 5-axis image stabilization, which is rare for crop sensor cameras. It has a bigger battery and serious 4K HDR (HLG)2 movie shooting, making it great for videography as well as photography. Not to mention it has a flip-up screen, making it good for vlogging, too. Although for the price, we'd have loved to have a fully articulating screen.
It is slightly heavier than some of the other APS-C cameras in the range (though not noticeably), but it's still much more compact than the full-frame Alpha range, still making it a great camera for travel photographers. If you want something in a smaller package that's as good as a full-frame setup, with just as many megapixels, we think this camera would be an excellent option.
- Read our Sony A6600 review.
There have been several mentionable updates to the M50 Mark II, and although many are subtle, the most noticeable is in the autofocus and auto-shooting modes.
When we reviewed the Canon EOS M50 Mark II we were impressed with the camera's face tracking and detection, which made capturing portraits or videos of people completely effortless, even when the subject was moving throughout the frame. It also features live streaming which enables you to stream straight to YouTube when using Wi-Fi, and a vertical video mode, we could provide some real value for social media content creators and those who like to vlog.
Although there's a microphone input, the camera doesn't have a headphone socket. This seems like a strange omission, and the sensor crops 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 are plugged in when filming). But, if you're a competent shooter looking for a quick, small, and user-friendly video camera, this will definitely fit your needs.
- Read our Canon EOS M50 Mark II review.
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 and compact in size. With a 39-point focusing system and a live-view mode, this mid-range model takes remarkably good pictures and is a pleasure to use.
It also has a handy tilting touchscreen that works nicely regardless of the angle you choose for it, which is particularly convenient for adding flexibility and comfort when shooting at lower angles. Like some newer models, you can touch the LCD screen to take a photo (in addition to using the shutter button).
Although the Nikon D5600 was launched way back in November 2016, it deserves praise for keeping up with the more recent models in terms of sharp image quality and fast processing. Although, it was discontinued in 2022 and Nikon now markets it as an 'old product,' It's still a great camera; it's just that Nikon is concentrating on newer models. As it's been discontinued, 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 incredibly lightweight Canon EOS Rebel SL3 (known as the 250D in the UK) shares much of the same sensor and imaging technology as Canon's EOS M series of mirrorless cameras. In addition, it also features an optical viewfinder instead of only being able to see your image on an electronic screen, which many users prefer.
Ergonomically, the camera is simple to operate and navigate. In the hand, it feels solid and 'chunky,' yet smooth and comfortable. In our Canon EOS Rebel SL3/250D review, we thought it was a great option for budding photographers and videographers looking for something small and lightweight.
The SL3 has Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity for simple image transfer to a smartphone or tablet. With this model, you can even manipulate photographs in the camera itself, and it offers a handy tutorial mode to help beginners in getting the perfect shot. To publish your edited images quickly, you can also add various filters and effects like sepia and the fish-eye effect to eliminate the need to do any post-processing.
More advanced photographers will appreciate that this is a pretty basic setup reserved for those just starting out, and perhaps with little knowledge of basic settings, but it does have 4K video and an excellent live mode. Aspiring travel photographers in particular will adore this lightweight, small camera. The Rebel SL3 is a flexible and versatile camera, and we highly recommend it as a fantastic first camera.
- Read our full Canon EOS Rebel SL3 / 250D review
This entry-level camera from Olympus is designed for beginners who would prefer a mirrorless over a DSLR camera. As we discovered in our Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV review last year, this stylish little camera balances quality and usability with a beginner-friendly user interface. In both RAW and JPEG modes, the 20-megapixel sensor produces clear, balanced photos and it offers 21 scene modes that tweak the settings to produce the best shots in given environments (without the need for post-processing). For easy file sharing, WiFi and Bluetooth are available, and the camera offers good image stabilization capabilities.
In terms of design, we loved the camera's classic look, although an articulated touch screen on the back would have made it easier to use when pointing the camera skywards for astrophotography or when using gimbals for filming.
This would be an affordable upgrade that boasts impressive features, ease of use, and superb performance. If you're still taking pictures with your smartphone but would prefer a camera to advance your photography skills, this is a great option.
- Read our full Olympus OM-D E-M10 review.
The entry-level Fujifilm X-T30 II 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). When we reviewed the Fujifilm X-T30 II, we loved that it has a similar stylish retro look to the X-200 but has enhanced functionality to produce even more stunning, color-rich photos. Not to mention it's also an excellent choice for creative filmmakers. It offers good value for money and is feature-packed. This camera is ideal for on-the-go shooting, travel photography and shooting landscapes.
It has a whopping 18 film simulations and built-in user interface aids. Each is described in-camera to help filmmakers choose the most appropriate option depending on the shot. Like many other beginner cameras, you can also quickly minimize your workflow with in-camera editing. You can add grain, clarity, color depth, adjust white balance and more before the images leave your camera.
It couldn't be easier if you're ready to transfer your images onto your smartphone or tablet. The Fujifilm Camera Remote App lets you do this with just two clicks.
One limitation of this camera is that the screen only tilts rather than being fully articulated, so if you want to do photography that requires shooting low to the ground, or you use a gimbal regularly, the comparable Canon Rebel SL3/250D with its articulating screen might be more appropriate.
- Read our full Fujifilm X-T30 II review.
As we mentioned in our Nikon D3500 review, we think that this camera offers outstanding value for the money and is among the most capable entry-level beginner cameras available on the market.
While it's not without its flaws, a solid kit lens, quick operation, and a compact body will always be a worthwhile investment for any beginner photographer.
It does lack some of the features you'll find higher up in the range and the camera has limited scope for growth and development, and intermediate or more advanced users may find the guide mode a little frustrating. So 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 full Nikon D3500 review.
The Canon EOS M200 won't be winning any awards any time soon, but it still does a nice job if you're looking for a compact, lightweight camera that won't break the bank and will still help you take decent pictures. It's primarily designed for smartphone users who are looking to take their photography skills to the next level.
The question is; does it have enough features to satisfy beginner photographers? In our Canon EOS M200 review, we noted that the RAW files are rich with a characteristic warm tone, and the camera also does a decent job of capturing detail, although not amazing.
Since its ISO handling in low light isn't particularly great, this camera would be best suited for someone looking to get into more general point-and-shoot photography rather than any particular genre like sports or astrophotography. That said, it does have great autofocus and face-detection capabilities.
- Read our full Canon EOS M200 review
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 compact and light (412g) camera that's a great option for content creators. It has an extendable display that makes it simple to compose your video while simultaneously viewing what is being shot, and it has a large grip for comfortable and secure use when traveling. It feels solid and well-built in the hand despite its small size.
It's clear that this camera is marketed for vloggers. Its directional tracked audio, face detection, selfie shooting mode and hybrid 5-stop image stabilization all make content creation much easier, although 4k videos are limited to 10 minutes at a time which may be a dealbreaker for those who want to shoot longer footage.
Like many beginner cameras, in-camera editing and filters minimize workflow and allow you to share your content in next to no time.
- Interested in a mirrorless camera? Check out our best mirrorless cameras picks
Best beginner cameras 2023: What to look for
Choosing the best beginner camera is essential when learning about the art form and wanting to develop your unique style. Get it wrong, and you could become frustrated and lose interest. Before choosing a camera or even starting the search for one, it's a good idea to think about the type of photography you want to concentrate on.
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, or more professional work. These tend to include features such as 4K video, face detection, fast autofocus and articulating screens for getting the all-important angles you want. These features make shooting 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 examine 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.