Best Nikon cameras in 2023: Discover the best models from beginner to pro

Nikon Z5, one of the best Nikon cameras, on a tripod in front of a blue background
(Image credit: Jason Parnell-Brookes)

Who wouldn't want one of the best Nikon cameras? Nikon has been around for over 100 years and has a decorated past filled with incredible cameras. And while traditionalists like to point to a few specific film cameras as the most iconic bodies Nikon has produced, nothing exceeds the intelligent complexity and sheer shooting power that it's currently producing.

There is a range of camera types, which we've listed in full with this guide to the best Nikon cameras in 2022, from compact cameras to DSLR bodies, and now the newer mirrorless models. Nikon produces a camera for everyone, so where do you start? Compact cameras are quick and easy with fixed lenses and simple controls, while DSLRs offer interchangeable lenses and compatibility with a range of excellent F-mount glass. Mirrorless are the new kids on the block, comparatively speaking, and take on smaller form factors, introduce in body image stabilization, and increasingly astounding specs like 120FPS stills shooting. 

Prices vary wildly among Nikon cameras, from inexpensive entry-level models to much more expensive yet sophisticated feature-packed cameras most suited to professionals.

If you aren't sure that Nikon is for you, or just need help determining what camera to go for, we have more general guides like the best cameras for astrophotography, best mirrorless cameras, and a broader list featuring some of our favorite best cameras for photo and video.


Best Nikon cameras in 2023

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Nikon Z9 on a wooden table in front of a window

(Image credit: Andy Hartup)
Only the best — Nikon's flagship mirrorless camera has 8K video, 120FPS stills shooting and six stops of in body image stabilization

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: Full frame
Megapixels: 45.7
Lens mount: Z-mount
ISO Range: 64 - 25600 (expanded to 32 - 102,400)
Stabilization: 5-axis, 6 stops

Reasons to buy

+
Huge 6 stops of in body image stabilization 
+
Up to 120FPS stills shooting 

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive camera
-
Same stills resolution as Z7 II 

The Nikon Z9 is truly Nikon's new flagship mirrorless camera, outstripping every other Nikon camera's spec sheets. Outstanding, fast autofocus is powered by deep-learning artificial intelligence that cleverly tracks subjects from people, animals, and vehicles, focusing on the eyes of living subjects even when framed upside down.

This is a mirrorless camera designed for professionals, but it would be equally welcome in the hands of an enthusiast, should they be able to afford it. We'd give it five stars, but it's missing half a star as it'll be out of the price range of some. A blisteringly fast 120FPS electronic stills capture, 8K30p video, and detailed 'real-live' electronic viewfinder, which is the brightest in the world (at 3000-nit), show that Nikon isn't messing around here. It also has dual CF Express Type B card slots for twice the speed of Type A and ultra-reliability with dual card backup.


Nikon Z7 II on a tripod with a lens attached

(Image credit: Jason Parnell-Brookes)
Nikon's sub $3000 camera is full of detail, has lightning speed and accurate autofocus

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: Full frame
Megapixels: 45.7
Lens mount: Z-mount
ISO Range: 64 - 25600 (expanded to 32 - 102,400)
Stabilization: 5-axis, 5 stops

Reasons to buy

+
Strong image stabilization 
+
10FPS, 45.7MP stills burst mode 
+
3.69k dot electronic viewfinder 

Reasons to avoid

-
AF isn't quite as sophisticated as Z9 
-
Expensive as a first camera

Sitting nearly two-fifths cheaper than the Nikon Z9, this camera has much of the capability without the enormous price tag, though it is still a sizeable investment.

In our Nikon Z7 II review our verdict after putting it through its paces is that it offers the perfect balance of speed and precision and can master most styles of photography.

It boasts great dynamic range and an expandable ISO that boosts up to 102,400 and is stabilized by a five-axis in-body image stabilization technology that can steady shots by up to five stops.

10FPS stills shooting at maximum resolution may not sound ground-breaking, but when you consider it's capturing a huge 45.7MP, 14bit photos, it's pretty eye-watering. A dual card slot makes the  7 II compatible with XQD (or super fast CF Express) and SD/SDHC/SDXC (up to UHS-II) cards for ultimate flexibility. 4K UHD video shoots smooth 60FPS but can go as high as 120FPS when dropped down to full HD resolution for slow-motion effects.


Nikon Z6 review

(Image credit: Andy Hartup)
Made for enthusiasts, this is full frame mirrorless Nikon quality at a more affordable price

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: Full frame
Megapixels: 24.5
Lens mount: Z-mount
ISO Range: 100-51,200 (expandable 50-204,800)
Stabilization: 5-axis

Reasons to buy

+
Massive ISO range 
+
Good noise handling 

Reasons to avoid

-
Stills resolution relatively low 
-
Not the cheapest 

The Nikon Z6 is identical to the Nikon Z7 on the outside but lacks a few of the higher-end features found in its bigger brother. The resolution is nearly halved at 24.5MP, which sounds drastic, but in reality, is perfectly fine for most shooters. In fact, that drop in resolution makes it more suited to astrophotography due to the lower propensity for high ISO image noise. That is one of the reasons that after our Nikon Z6 review, we placed it in our best cameras for astrophotography guide.

Full frame it can capture stills at 14FPS, four times faster than the Z7, and an enhanced buffer means up to 200 consecutive JPEG images (or 124 12-bit uncompressed raw images) in one burst, likely more than most owners will ever need. 

Flexible video frame rate recording and raw file output via HDMI (including ProRes RAW) at 4K30p UHD means it's perfect for the hybrid shooter or filmmaker, even able to be powered through USB-C by an external power source (and charge the battery, too) for longer filming sessions.

The Z6 already has already had an upgrade, in the form of the Nikon Z6 II, which feels a little more refined in the hand, has an improved image processor and features 4k video at 60fps. If those are things that are important to you, have a read of our Nikon Z6 II review. We haven't included it on this list because we think the Z6 is better value for money and the upgrades don't necessarily justify the jump in price.


The Nikon Z 50 mirrorless camera

(Image credit: Nikon)

Nikon Z50

This crop sensor mirrorless body comes with everything a beginner could ask for

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: APS-C
Megapixels: 20.9
Lens mount: Z-mount
ISO Range: 100 - 51,200 (expanded to 204,800)
Stabilization: None

Reasons to buy

+
Well priced for mirrorless
+
Can use Nikon Z lenses

Reasons to avoid

-
Crop sensor (not full-frame)
-
A limited selection of DX mirrorless lenses available

As Nikon's first APS-C mirrorless body the Nikon Z50 had quite a bit of ground to cover in terms of Nikon's step into the mirrorless market. Coming in with 20.9MP stills resolution and 4K30p UHD video recording capability it's a good all-rounder for beginners and those new to photography.

Its hybrid autofocusing system covers 90% of the frame and works great for low-light shooting since it can autofocus down to -4EV. It captures up to 11FPS on continuous burst mode for speedy snapping of sports and wildlife, and when paired with an appropriate telephoto lens its 1.5x crop gives a longer effective focal length for getting in close to the action.

There are 20 creative effects in-camera — with an intensity slider to adjust the strength — perfect for adding your own style whether shooting stills or video.

While it's compatible with Nikon's Z-mount lenses, only three dedicated DX lenses are available at the time of writing, so keep that in mind when purchasing.


The Nikon Z fc in the sun under a broadleaf canopy

(Image credit: Jacob Little)
An attractive and functional mirrorless camera, ideal for street and travel photography

Specifications

Type: Mirrorless
Sensor: APS-C
Megapixels: 21
Lens mount: DX Z-mount
ISO Range: 200 - 51,200
Stabilization: None

Reasons to buy

+
Suited to street photography
+
Retro design
+
Easy to use

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited lens choice
-
Might be limiting for more advanced photographers

As well as its attractive looks, the Nikon Z fc is an easy-to-use mirrorless camera for casual use, especially for disciplines like travel and street photography, where you want something small but capable. It has a small form factor so it can be easily transported in your day bag or jacket pocket.

The design of this timeless model is essentially based on Nikon's FM2, first sold in 1982, but it benefits from modern technology, improved dial positioning and more automation.

In our Nikon Z fc review, we found that it is highly capable of tracking faces and movement, and the images are sharp with an impressive dynamic range. The camera can also take a shot within less than one second of being started up. Again, it supports the spontaneous moments you'll want to capture in street and travel photos.

This isn't the camera for you if you want to shoot sports or action as the continuous burst mode isn't the best — you could lose the shot you wanted while the camera is buffering.

In our review, the camera performed better in the noise department than we had expected. We could push it up to ISO 12,800 before we began to see any noticeable noise — great if you're looking to take compelling images after dusk.


The Nikon D6 DSLR

(Image credit: Nikon)

Nikon D6

If you need speed, take a look at Nikon's powerful flagship DSLR

Specifications

Type: DSLR
Sensor: Full frame
Megapixels: 20.8
Lens mount: F-mount
ISO Range: 100 - 102,400 (expanded 50 - 3,280,000)
Stabilization: None

Reasons to buy

+
Robust construction 
+
Incredible expanded ISO range 

Reasons to avoid

-
Can't compete with mirrorless
-
Eye-wateringly expensive  

The D6 was at the top of the tree for a long time regarding all-round Nikon performance. Aimed at professionals, it's still one of the most expensive Nikon cameras you can buy due to its rugged construction, extreme weather sealing, and hefty DSLR performance. It can shoot up to 14FPS continuously and has an expandable ISO ceiling of over 3.2 million.

It doesn't have in-body image stabilization like the mirrorless cameras though, so users will have to rely on the vibration reduction in lenses to steady the shots. It has a LAN port for wired connection to PC or FTP server for immediate distribution to clients. The D6 is undoubtedly a pro-level camera body, it is even compatible with Kensington locks to keep gear secure when shooting with multiple bodies on location. A comprehensive button layout and quick call-up display make it fast to shoot stills or to capture 4K30p UHD video.


A side profile of the Nikon D850

(Image credit: Jason Parnell-Brookes)
A DSLR that easily rivals the high-end mirrorless models and has fantastic autofocusing

Specifications

Type: DSLR
Sensor: Full frame
Megapixels: 45.7
Lens mount: F-mount
ISO Range: 64-25,600 (expandable 32-102,400)
Stabilization: None

Reasons to buy

+
High resolution stills imaging 
+
4K30p UHD video recording 

Reasons to avoid

-
Heavier than mirrorless options 
-
Limited to 9FPS burst speed 

Despite being a few years old now, the D850 is so competitively priced and with such a comprehensive set of specs that it should appeal to just about anyone, whether taking photography seriously for the first time or a seasoned pro. It is no surprise it is B&H Photo's (opens in new tab) number one seller. It also sits at the top of our best cameras for astrophotography buying guide.

A full-frame DSLR, it benefits from 45.7MP stills, albeit at a lagging 9FPS mechanical (with the battery grip) compared to the Z 9’s electronic 120FPS, and captures 4K30p UHD video uncropped. It can continuously shoot at 9FPS for up to 51 uncompressed 14-bit raw files.

In our Nikon D850 review, we loved the wide, bright optical viewfinder which made looking into the scene to compose the shot a real treat. It has 153 AF points (99 cross-type) in view. An in-built viewfinder cover stops extraneous light leaking through the viewfinder and onto the image sensor during longer exposures — a must for low light or astrophotography.


Rear screen tilting on the Nikon D780

(Image credit: Jason Parnell-Brookes)
A fairly priced full frame DSLR that both stills photographers and videographers will love

Specifications

Type: DSLR
Sensor: Full frame
Megapixels: 24.5
Lens mount: F-mount
ISO Range: 100 - 51200 (expanded to 50 - 204,800)
Stabilization: None

Reasons to buy

+
Best value full frame DSLR 
+
Great ergonomics

Reasons to avoid

-
Only -3EV autofocus detection range 
-
A little expensive new

This is probably the ideal choice for those seeking a full-frame Nikon DSLR but who don't want to go crazy on price. An evolution from the fantastic D750 body, this DSLR builds on its legacy and improves in several areas. In our Nikon D780 review, we found a chunky grip feels good in the hand, and a tilting 3.2-inch rear screen provides a nice, bright view when not opting for the optical 0.7x magnification viewfinder.

Like its predecessor, it's a bit of a low light behemoth and handles high ISO noise well on images, with an expanded ISO range of up to 204,800. Though two types of autofocus (one for the viewfinder, the other for the rear screen) means that mirrorless bodies with hybrid AF take the edge in this regard. But for those who like traditional DSLR stylings and handling, the D780 is a brilliant full-frame option.


Nikon D7500 on a tripod showing deep grip to hold

(Image credit: Jason Parnell-Brookes)
The most sophisticated crop sensor DSLR body Nikon produces

Specifications

Type: DSLR
Sensor: APS-C
Megapixels: 20.9
Lens mount: F-mount
ISO Range: 100 - 51,200 (expanded to 50 - 1,640,000)
Stabilization: None

Reasons to buy

+
Continuous burst speed of 8FPS 
+
4K video recording option 

Reasons to avoid

-
Drop in resolution compared to predecessor 
-
Single memory card slot only 

At the higher end of Nikon's crop sensor, DSLR bodies sits the D7500. Despite a drop in resolution compared with the previous model, the D7200, it actually has improved ISO performance and autofocus sensor in the shape of the 51-point Multi-Cam 3500 II — something we discuss in our Nikon D7500 review.

It can shoot 4K video, which relies on contrast autofocus detections but switch over to shooting through the viewfinder, and you're met with phase-detection autofocus which enhances accuracy even further.

Keep up to speed with the action thanks to the 8FPS continuous burst speed capture, or drop it down to continuous low, which shoots between 1-7FPS based on the options set. Lightweight in hand because of its carbon fiber construction, it may not be as sturdy as some of the magnesium alloy bodies, but it still has good weather sealing to protect it from the elements. It features a functional tilting rear screen, making composing at awkward angles a breeze.


The Nikon D5600 on a grey rocky outcrop

(Image credit: Future)
A versatile DSLR suitable for taking on your travels and won't empty your bank account

Specifications

Type: DSLR
Sensor: APS-C
Megapixels: 24.2
Lens mount: F-mount
ISO Range: 100 - 25,600
Stabilization: None

Reasons to buy

+
Small, compact design 
+
Vari angle touchscreen 

Reasons to avoid

-
Integrated SnapBridge unreliable 
-
Button layout quite simplistic 

As an APS-C crop sensor DSLR sitting between the D3400 and D7500, you'd be forgiven for thinking it's just another gap-filling camera. Instead, it's one of the only DSLRs Nikon makes that has a vari-angle screen. 

By unfolding and rotating 360 degrees, it's helpful when shooting selfies, filming vlog style or composing in awkward shooting positions. Its 3.2-inch screen is touch sensitive too, which makes it easy to operate and access quick menus. In our Nikon D5600 review, we found that the resolution, picture quality and sharpness of the image on the touchscreen is excellent at all angles, even in bright sunlight.

A better resolution count than its bigger brother, the D7500, it doesn't capture 4K video, but it does shoot Full HD at a smooth 60FPS. It also has an HDMI output and a 3.5mm audio input for external microphones, again making it ideal for vlogging on a budget.


Nikon Coolpix P1000

(Image credit: Nikon)

Nikon Coolpix P1000

Huge zoom range makes the Coolpix P1000 legendary and perfect for lunar photography

Specifications

Type: Compact
Sensor: 1/2.3-in CMOS
Megapixels: 16
Lens mount: N/A
ISO Range: 100 - 6400
Stabilization: 5 stops

Reasons to buy

+
Incredible zoom range 
+
Five stops of image stabilization 

Reasons to avoid

-
Expensive for a compact camera 
-
ISO range limited 

The Nikon Coolpix P1000 bridge camera has a phenomenal 125x optical zoom which Nikon reports as the world's biggest zoom range. Its effective focal length is 24mm up to 3000mm telephoto. That means taking photos of the craters on the moon is entirely doable from your backyard.

The camera also features Dual Detect Optical Vibration Reduction stabilization system, which offers up to five stops of steadying, perfect for reducing camera shake when using that incredible zoom. For a compact, it's filled with detail by shooting 16MP stills and 4K UHD video for photographers that want to dabble in both media. It has a large 3.2-inch vari-angle screen and an electronic viewfinder with 2.359 dots of detail. It shoots both JPEG and raw file formats for flexible image editing, and while its ISO range is a little limited compared with DSLR and mirrorless bodies, its maximum of 6400 should be more than enough for most situations.


The best Nikon cameras: What to look for

There are many things to consider when purchasing a Nikon camera. First off, whether you need the option for interchangeable lenses, as their compact cameras have sharp, versatile fixed lenses that offer a wide zoom range for any occasion. 

However, F-mount DSLRs contain a huge lens heritage, compatible with almost any model, whether you want a classic film lens or the latest and greatest telezoom with all the bells and whistles. Z-mount mirrorless lenses are sharper still and can combine Vibration Reduction technology (should they have it) with in-body stabilization for ultra-smooth stills and video performance, all while keeping a smaller form factor. 

It's best to consider your budget range first, then look at the key specification differences between models in this price bracket. Decide whether you will keep your camera with you at all times, day-to-day and whilst traveling. In this case, look for something lightweight and compact. If you need the very best performance from your camera for professional work, focus on the features, resolution and autofocus instead of form-factor.

How we test the best Nikon cameras

To guarantee you're getting honest, up-to-date recommendations on the best cameras to buy here at Space.com, we review every camera thoroughly to test each product fully. 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 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.

Join our Space Forums to keep talking space on the latest missions, night sky and more! And if you have a news tip, correction or comment, let us know at: community@space.com.

Jason Parnell-Brookes
Channel Editor

Jason Parnell-Brookes is an award-winning photographer, educator and writer based in the UK. He won the Gold Prize award in the Nikon Photo Contest 2018/19 beating over 90,000 other entrants and was named Digital Photographer of the Year in 2014. Jason is a Masters graduate and has a wealth of academic and real-world experience in a variety of photographic disciplines from astrophotography and wildlife to fashion and portraiture. Now the Channel Editor for Cameras and Skywatching at Space.com his speciality is in low light optics and camera systems.

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