Using one of the best cameras for photography and videography gives us the greatest chance to capture the desired shot. There are so many cameras on the market, from DSLRs to mirrorless, that it's difficult to know what you should be looking for and which one to get, especially since each manufacturer claims their camera is 'the best' in one area or another. To save you hours of trudging the internet to find the best cameras for photos and video to suit your needs, we've done the legwork for you and summarized our favorites here.
There are two main types of cameras on the market when advancing from compacts and smartphones: the DSLR and the mirrorless. On DSLRs, the view through the viewfinder is piped up the lens by a mirror and prism arrangement, while on a mirrorless camera the viewfinder is simply a screen where a live feed from the sensor is displayed. Mirrorless cameras are newer tech and tend to be smaller and lighter. You can see more comparisons in our guide to DSLR vs mirrorless cameras.
This guide is separate from our alternate article on the best cameras for astrophotography, as here we've focused on more versatile models which are suitable for broader photography types. If it is specifically astrophotography you want to dip your toe into, and you're dreaming of getting awesome pictures of the night sky, you will want to have a flick through the aforementioned article. We have also rounded up some of the best lenses for astrophotography so you can choose the perfect setup. If you're here looking for a good all-rounder camera suitable for multiple photography disciplines, then here are some of our top picks.
- Related: Best zoom lenses
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- Related: Best cameras for astrophotography
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The Sony A7R IV boasts a whopping 61-megapixel resolution and can bring out the finest details, even in poor lighting conditions. In fact, it handles so well in low light it's also a favorite in our best cameras for low light photography guide. If the 61 megapixels are too much to handle, you can transform the camera into a more file-handling-friendly 26-megapixel APSC camera with a 1.5x crop factor.
In our hands-on Sony A7R IV mirrorless camera review, we found that the subtle upgrades following the Sony A7R III made a world of difference in real life, despite not looking like much on paper. The improved hand grip makes it much nicer and more comfortable to hold, it has bigger and thus more tactile buttons, especially handy when operating with cold fingers or while wearing gloves.
The Sony A7R IV isn't cheap, but for wedding photography, portraits, studio work and landscape photography, you won't find much better.
We recently reviewed the Nikon Z9 and gave it a solid 4.5 out of 5 stars, and we think it is one of the top-performing digital cameras ever made. It is an expensive bit of kit, so more suited to professionals who make money from photos or videos as it's incredibly capable at both.
The camera is perfect for sports and wildlife photography and capturing those fleeting special moments at weddings or events thanks to its 'market-leading' burst shooting. It shoots at 20FPS RAW and a blistering 120FPSP to low-res JPEG. The Z9 is also eerily good at picking out eyes and faces, something else that lends perfectly to weddings and sporting events. Never miss a shot.
We don't think this is a good choice for astrophotographers who only shoot astro, but it would be fabulous for the occasional astro shoot combined with the abovementioned purposes.
The hefty battery on the Z9 is ridiculously long-lasting. Even when we tested it while shooting for over 3 hours of astro shooting, it only lost less than 20 percent juice.
More impressive functionality is the range of connectivity options. There's Snapbridge file transfer, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth transfer, ethernet, and USB-C. What more could you want?
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Featuring an expandable ISO range of 204,800 and an autofocus range of -3EV, the Sony A7 III with its full-frame 35mm sensor is ideal for photographers who shoot in low light. We don't just mean night sky here, we mean indoor sports, portraits and generally unfavorable lighting conditions. Even though it only shoots 24.5MP stills, which seems low for this price point, this is the key to its ability to keep image noise incredibly low.
We reviewed the Sony A7 III and found the relatively small form factor doesn't reflect the remarkable images this camera can produce. It is a versatile shooter and we tested it in a range of environments including a week-long photo tour of London as well as a commercial portrait gig to give it a thorough review. We loved its versatility, and found the eye autofocus impeccable, although the AF tracking couldn't quite keep up with our energetic puppy.
The A7 III also captures excellent video footage at 4K UHD 30fps, though it does top out at ISO 51200 as it can't use the expanded option that it can for stills. However, this thing can practically see in the dark so we can forgive it. It can capture approximately 710 still photos on a full charge, that is impressive.
Users can choose from the extensive range of available E-mount lenses which gives tremendous versatility for using this camera in any style shoot. The Sony A7 IV (opens in new tab) is the upgrade of this model, however, the A7 III is still a fantastic camera, and because it has been superseded, you could snatch yourself a bargain.
- Read our Sony A7 III review
The Nikon Z6 is more financially accessible than its chunkier Z7 sibling. Although it has a smaller stills resolution, the Z6 has the same five-axis in-body image stabilization as the Z7, and because of its lower 24.5MP, it has much lower image noise, which is perfect for capturing the night sky when combined with an astro lens. We put the camera to the test in our Nikon Z6 review last year and loved the superb ISO range, excellent handling and easily navigable menu.
Five stops of in-body image stabilization, sharp Z-mount lenses, and the ability to use Nikon's back catalog of lenses through the FTZ adapter mean the Z6 is an excellent choice for almost any kind of photography. Wildlife, sports, portraits, landscapes, product photography – you name it, the Z6 can do it.
Our favorite thing was the backlit sensor, which was impressive and afforded us impressive low-light image quality. We'd even go so far as to say this is one of the best cameras for astrophotography around and have placed it in our best cameras for astrophotography top eight.
For sports and wildlife photography, where motion is likely to be quick, the Z6 shoots at a generous 12FPS. It also has handy eye/animal eye autofocus (once you've updated to the most recent firmware) to ensure you stay locked on target. If you need the professional video capture of ProRes RAW, then the Z6 outputs 12K raw video to an external recorder, but do note that you might need to have this set up at a Nikon service center first.
The Olympus OM-D E- M10 Mark IV sets the bar high for people looking to move up from beginner cameras or smartphones. You can achieve great results simply by staying in 'auto' mode, although you have all the manual dials and settings at your disposal.
We recently reviewed the Olympus OM-D E- M10 Mark IV and honestly wouldn't hesitate to recommend it as an excellent camera for everyday use. It offers the perfect blend of usability, quality, and style, with an easy-to-use, beginner-friendly user interface, including the addition of 16 in-camera filters including HDR, Gentle Sepia and Instant Film.
This camera is tiny and easily pocketable, but this doesn't mean it is lacking in features, there is a lot packed into this little body. Some smaller cameras are difficult to use, but the pleasant chunky feel and the ergonomically pleasing right-hand grip make one-handed operation possible and comfortable.
The surprisingly large LCD screen is impressive, with excellent clarity and resolution. All of the dials and menus are easy to navigate and feel pretty intuitive.
If you need a camera that can do anything, and we do mean anything, then get yourself the Nikon D850. It has just passed it's 5-year anniversary, though it still holds its own against the best mirrorless cameras available today. We think it's so great, that you'll also find it on our best cameras for astrophotography, best Nikon cameras for 2022 and best DSLR camera guides.
It's at home when shooting wildlife or sports with up to 9FPS (with additional battery grip) or capturing portraits with stunning clarity when paired with one of the huge range of F-mount lenses in Nikon’s catalog.
Traditionalists will like the large optical viewfinder as it allows them to view the scene through their own eyes, rather than on a screen (something you can't do with mirrorless cameras). With 4K UHD 30fps video, the movie footage is impressive. You can also capture slow-motion with 120fps full HD video. This allows fast-paced action to be slowed down four times for cinematic effect.
This camera is built for professional use. It's weather-sealed and tough enough to withstand some rough and tough without compromising performance. It even has backlit buttons so you can practice your astrophotography without impacting your night vision.
Also known as the EOS 250D, the Canon EOS Rebel SL3 is suited to any photographer who wants to lose weight in their kit bag. Coined (and from our in-depth Canon EOS Rebel SL3 / 250D feels like) the lightest DSLR in the world and with an articulating screen, it's ideal for travel photographers with a restricted luggage allowance or for those whose gear acquisition syndrome has them bogged down with a camera bag full of heavy kit.
The vari-angle touchscreen makes it easy to compose images at any angle to provide fresh vantage points without contorting yourself into uncomfortable positions. As the screen can flip 180-degrees, it can be helpful when taking or recording selfies.
Having only 9 AF points when shooting through the viewfinder, and only being capable of using UHS-I SD cards, this camera is targeted at beginners and enthusiasts who don't want to break the bank. It also features in our best beginner cameras guide.
There's even a useful Guided UI mode that turns the camera into a guide to help users new to photography to get their settings correct. With the Creative Assist mode, you can add filters and color adjustments to get the effect you want while you shoot or edit them in-camera after taking the photo. This is especially helpful if you don't want to start experimenting with third-party image editing software immediately.
Fujifilm has packed a lot of functions and features into the small body of the X-T4 and it certainly performs well enough for semi-pros to shoot with, or for professionals as a second body. As standard, it can capture stills at a blistering 15fps mechanically. Should you want to go faster, this little camera can use an electronic shutter with a 1.25x crop mode to reach up to 30FPS. That means sports, wildlife, or any fast-paced action (even tracking solar or lunar events) is a breeze for the X-T4.
The X-T4's hybrid contrast and phase-detection autofocusing technology uses a huge 425 AF points for dependable focus in every shot. This camera comes with two helpful SD card slots that are both UHS-II compatible, so you won't have to worry about losing a shot with its fast burst mode and 60 frames per second video. Because it is elegantly designed and has its latest mirrorless features, the Fujifilm X-T4 is reminiscent of old SLRs without any drawbacks. A delightful camera with great specs makes this one of the best APS-C cameras on the market.
See sample photos taken with this camera in our Fujifilm X-T4 review.
When we reviewed the Nikon D3500, we found it to be a versatile entry-level camera, designed for those who want to get started in more advanced photography without spending having to fork out loads of cash. The D3500's crop sensor means all lenses will have an extra 1.5x crop. The extra crop means more reach with cheaper lenses, allowing far-away subjects to appear larger within the frame. Especially useful for astrophotography, wildlife, and sports photography.
The Nikon D3500 has 11 autofocus points in the middle of the frame. While this sounds a little restrictive, it isn't too much of a problem because you can use autofocus, lock it and recompose. We should point out that it is possible that focus can be missed slightly when using fast telephoto lenses because the movement between focus and shutter release alters the distance of the lens to the subject.
The 24.5MP stills produce plenty of detail for photographs for online and print use, matching that of many flagship DSLR cameras across brands. This gives extra scope to crop in on subjects should composition need tweaking post-capture. The D3500 records 60fps full HD video footage which is surprising for a camera of this price point. It means smooth, professional-looking movie capture, perfect for YouTube and other social media. It looks small and lightweight, even when compared to notoriously smaller and lighter mirrorless cameras. This is an ideal, affordable camera for beginners.
We have considered a selection of models that will suit the needs of different photographers. If you're a beginner looking to get into photography for the first time you may want to get something a little less intimidating (and less expensive) and go for a compact mirrorless or entry-level DSLR that can guide you through camera settings to make the best creative choices, we've rounded up some of the best beginner cameras in a standalone guide. Those looking for a little more oomph from their kit can rely on the bigger mirrorless and DSLR camera bodies to benefit from powerful in-body image stabilization, fast burst shooting speeds, high-quality 4K video capture, and an interchangeable lens format to suit almost varied shooting conditions.
Unfortunately, the camera body isn't the only thing you'll need to choose. Lenses play a huge part in creating stunning images, so take some time to research what lens ranges are available (if the camera you're looking at allows for interchangeable lenses). Depending on their mount, some cameras will have a more extensive range of compatible lenses than others. Wide-angle lenses offer a bigger field of view for landscapes and astro, but telephoto lenses can zoom in on far-away subjects like birds and athletes. Each will come with different maximum apertures, altering the camera's settings whilst shooting to maintain good exposures.
As well as shooting on decent cameras with good lenses, you'll probably need to invest in a tripod as well. This is crucial if you're interested in astrophotography or landscape photography. Tripods keep the camera still throughout exposures, allowing longer shutter speeds and lower ISO sensitivity lower to get sharp images with minimal noise. This is also useful for shooting at slow shutter speeds to create artistic, blurred shots of subjects such as clouds or waterfalls. See our shortlist of best travel tripods, best tripods for astrophotography and how to do landscape photography to help you choose.
How we test the best cameras for photos and videos
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 many 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 suggest 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.