Best Cameras for Beginners
Choosing an entry-level camera can be a tall order, from the many specifications and features to consider, it can be overwhelming if you don’t know what to look for.
In this guide, we’ll address the features and specifications best suited to beginner photography, to help you make an informed decision.
The main criteria though is to make sure you find a highly-competent camera that will do most of the work for you, so you can focus on taking the shots and developing your craft.
Here’s what to expect in this article:
- Reviews of the best cameras for beginners
- A detailed selection guide
- Your burning questions answered in a FAQ
Without further ado, here are our top picks…
👑 Our Pick for Best Overall
⭐ Our Other Top Picks for Cameras for Beginners
- Best of the Best: Nikon D3500
- Runner Up: Canon EOS Rebel T8i
- Best of the Rest: Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV
Best Beginner Camera Reviews
Nikon D3500 (👑 Best of the Best)
The Nikon D3500 is widely considered to be one of the best entry level DSLR cameras around, which is why it makes top of our list of the best cameras for beginners.
In any conversation about the best beginner-friendly DSLRs, you’re likely to hear the D3500 from Nikon mentioned. This is reflected in the flawless five-star rating of the camera on Amazon – a feat that isn’t easy to achieve among the discerning customers of the online retailer. It’s a complete all-round camera, with all the specifications and features an amateur photographer could hope for. It also offers incredible value for money, too, so if you’re just looking to dip your toes into the craft, you can do so without breaking the bank.
While we’d usually get straight into the technical specifications of the camera and what exciting settings it has to enhance your still photography, we think the feature that’ll be of most interest to the beginner is the camera’s Guide Mode. This basic tutorial mode will hold your hand and walk you through all of the settings and features of the D3500. As a result, you don’t have to spend your afternoon watching dozens of YouTube videos and reading detailed guides online to figure out how to use it. What’s great about the Guide Mode feature is that you can customize it to help you a little or a lot, depending on your level of experience with DSLRs. This is one of the most compelling reasons to invest in this camera, since like Nikon claims, the DSLR is as easy to use as a point-and-shoot.
As for what else this DSLR has to offer, you can expect a powerful 24MP sensor which is perfect for capturing crisp photos. That’s not all, though. With the 11-point AutoFocus system of the camera, you should find that the subjects of your photos remain in clear focus at all times, which takes some of the pressure off. The battery life of this DSLR is impressive, allowing you to take as many as 1,550 shots, and you will also be able to capture stunning video in 1080p full HD. These features make the camera versatile enough to fulfill all of your photography and videography needs, as there’s little the D3500 can’t do – especially for the price point.
- 24MP image sensor
- 1080p full HD video
- Guide Mode
- 1,550 shot battery life
- 11 AutoFocus points
Canon EOS Rebel T8i (🥈 Runner Up)
Perhaps unsurprisingly, our runner up pick for the best beginner camera is from the other top camera brand Canon: the EOS Rebel T8i.
An entry in Canon’s popular EOS series of cameras, the Rebel T8i is a top beginner-friendly DSLR that rivals the Nikon D3500. It’s an excellent all-round camera like our top pick, and offers some additional features that increase the value of the investment. The standout features of this camera from Canon are the sophisticated Dual Pixel phase-detection AutoFocus, the vari-angle LCD screen, and the 4K video recording capability.
The Canon EOS Rebel T8i is equipped with an impressive 24.1 MegaPixel CMOS (APS-C) sensor which makes it perfectly capable of snapping sharp shots. But it’s the Dual Pixel 45-point cross-type AutoFocus system that is perhaps more significant for the beginner. With this top AF system, you can be sure that your subjects remain in focus even if you haven’t quite mastered the steady hand technique yet. The AF is so good that it will work just as well on fast-moving subjects as it will for largely static ones, so capturing birds in flight or surfers catching waves should be a breeze. There’s also eye detection AF, which is great for capturing people or animals clearly.
You can also use the optical viewfinder of this DSLR and the handy vari-angle LCD screen in order to line up exactly what you need in the frame to give yourself the best chance of getting the perfect shot. These features are also helping for capturing cinematic video, which you can pull off with the 4K video recording capability of this camera. If you’re an aspiring filmmaker, or simply like the idea of being able to capture moving subjects with astonishing clarity, then this is a big reason to invest in this beginner-friendly DSLR. If you want to capture people or animals in motion but in the form of stills, you can make the most of the camera’s high-speed continuos shooting burst mode which lets you shoot up to 7 frames per second.
- 24.1 Megapixel CMOS (APS-C) sensor
- Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC
- 45-Point AF system
- Eye detection AF
- Vari-angle LCD screen
- 7fps continuous shootig mode
- 4K 24p video
Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV (💎 Best of the Rest)
If you’re not buying into the Canon or Nikon debate, and you want a highly competent camera from another brand, you can’t go wrong with the Olympus Om-D E-M10 Mark IV.
This compact mirrorless camera from Olympus is an excellent option if you want to take high-quality stills, but aren’t as concerned with fancy features. Plus, what the Olympus may lack in features, it more than makes up for with a range of different modes and filters that are perfect for the beginner. The camera is available in black or silver, so you can choose the model which you prefer.
The mirrorless camera from Olympus is fitted with a 20MP Live MOS Sensor, which although not quite as powerful as the other two cameras in our guide, comes in an ultra compact body. The small size of the OM-D E-M10 Mark IV makes it especially convenient for outdoor adventures when you just want to take some shots without using a tripod or any other accessories. Plus, the 5-axis Image Stabilization will make sure that the photos you take stay clearly in focus even if you do have a case of shaky hand.
The continuous shooting mode of this mirrorless camera is impressive, capturing as many as 15 frames per second which is ideal for snapping fast-moving subjects. If you’re looking to record cinematic video, this camera has you covered on that front too, as its capable of recording in 4K at 30p. As a result, this is a highly versatile camera both for taking stills and recording video, so you can try your hand at both.
For the beginner, it’s always nice if a camera comes with some built-in filters and shooting modes so you can experiment with different lighting and settings. Olympus knows this, and equipped this entry-level mirrorless camera with as many as 16 different art filters and 28 scene modes. Using these various filters and shooting modes, you’ll be able to capture everything from nature scenes to urban landscapes without having to dive too deeply into the settings of the camera.
- 20MP Live MOS Sensor
- Bluetooth and app compatibility
- Selfie mode
- 5-axis Image Stabilization
- 16 art filters
- 28 scene modes
- 4K at 30p
- 15fps continuous shooting
Choosing your first camera can be a lot of fun, but you need to know what to look for if you’re to make the right choice the first time around.
To make things simple, we’ll first discuss the specifications of a good camera, and then we’ll get into some of the best features.
The specifications of any camera are hugely important, but if you’re just starting out with photography you don’t need to stress to much over a few MegaPixels here or there.
With that said, though, if you want to take high-quality stills you should invest in a camera with a quality image sensor, AutoFocus system, and high resolution video recording if that’s something you’re interested in.
Generally speaking, the bigger the image sensor of the camera the more light will come through leading to clear photos with high quality. Larger sensors also help you to blur out the background so your subject remains crystal clear.
The image sensor will also give you the information you need regarding to the quality of the photos you can take. The higher the number of Megapixels the better the resolution of the photos will be.
AutoFocus is crucial if you plan on taking stills or videos with fast-moving action, since it will keep the subject in clear focus.
You’ll need a top AutoFocus system in your camera if you’re new to photography, since it can help remedy the issue of blurry photos resulting from shaky hands.
If you’re unsure how to tell whether or not you’re dealing with a good AF system, pay attention to the number of points. If you come across a 45-point AF system for example, it will be a lot more competent than one with just 30 points.
Video recording is a hotly debated issue in the world of cameras.
While it isn’t strictly necessary, most camera users expect their camera to be able to shoot high-quality video. But even if the camera can shoot 4K, other factors come into play like fps and the size of the image sensor.
As a result, if you’re interested in recording high-quality video 4K is the gold standard but you also want a smooth framerate of 30fps or higher if you expect cinematic-level quality.
Features can be a lot of fun to play around with, and can add a lot of functionality to a camera.
Filters and Modes
Some cameras will have built-in modes and filters which allow you to be creative without needing to tinker around with the settings too much.
Some of the best modes we’ve seen include the Nikon D3500’s Guide Mode which helps you get to grips with the camera’s features, the art filters of the Olympus camera, and the continuous shooting mode which you can find in most good cameras.
Connectivity is important if you want flexibility in how you transfer your images and videos to a computer, tablet, or smart phone.
With some cameras, you will have Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity, while others you can connect the camera to a compatible app for quick file transference.
Frequently Asked Questions About Cameras for Beginners
What is the best camera to buy for a beginner photographer?
We believe that the best camera to buy for a beginner photographer is the Nikon D3500 DSLR.
While it faces some stiff competition from the likes of its close rival Canon, Nikon knocks it out of the park with its beginner-friendly D3500 camera.
The camera has everything you could want if you’re just starting out with photography, including a handy Guide Mode which will walk you through the main features of the DSLR.
What type of camera is good for beginners?
While the point-and-shoot camera is an obvious choice due to its low cost, a good DSLR will give you plenty of options with your photos.
If you’re just starting out with photography, it’s a good idea to get your hands on a camera that works well in a lot of scenarios.
You want the camera to take care of most of the work, leaving you to focus on lining up the shot and working on your technique.
Is Canon or Nikon better for beginners?
It’s a tough call between the top camera manufacturers, and it’s hard to say definitively if Canon or Nikon is better for beginners.
Nikon is a good choice if you want an entry-level camera with a selection of lenses and a fantastic ergonomic design that ensures it’s comfortable to use.
Canon is better for the quality of lenses and for those aspiring video-makers who anticipate using their camera for more than just stills.
A Final Word From Run Gun Shoot
There are dozens of top-quality cameras for beginners, so making the right call isn’t easy.
We hope this guide helps you reach an informed decision as to which camera will best suit your preferences and can help you explore your newfound hobby.