Photographic newbie? Here are the best beginner cameras to get you started on your creative journey
Buying your first camera isn’t an easy decision. Do you go for a beginner camera from a brand with a rich photographic heritage, or something from a company that may have also made your television and microwave? Should you opt for an entry-level DSLR or a mirrorless camera? And how much should you spend?
Everyone has different needs, and the best model for one person may not necessarily be right for another. Fortunately, it’s difficult to buy a genuinely ‘bad’ camera today, but it still pays to do a little research to make sure you stay as satisfied with your choice in a couple of years’ time as you are when you first start using it.
So how do you choose the best beginner camera for you? First, we’ll look at three crucial considerations to make to help you narrow down your shortlist.
Then we’ll bring you our pick of the ten best cameras for beginners, split into the best entry-level DSLR, mirrorless and compact options. If you already know what type you want, you can use the quick links above to navigate to the section.
How to choose the best beginner camera for you
Before purchasing a new camera, you need to ask yourself three questions.
1. How will you use it?
If you need a camera for everyday shooting, you’ll want something as light as possible. The lighter (and smaller) the camera, the more inclined you’ll be to use it and take it with you where you go. A compact camera such as the Panasonic TZ70 (number ten in this list) or a light mirrorless setup like the Panasonic GX80 (number six) would be ideal.
Of course, there are reasons to go for something a little larger. If size isn’t a priority, or you want to use bigger lenses, consider a DSLR like the Nikon D5600 (number four) or Pentax K-70 (number five). These are better suited for some types of photography, and provide great handling.
If you take selfies, look out for a camera with a rear LCD screen that flips all the way round to face the front, like the Sony A5100 (number eight), Fujifilm X-A10 (number seven) or Olympus PEN E-PL8 (number nine).
2. What other camera and lens options are in that system?
If you’re investing in a system with lenses and accessories, it pays to examine what other camera and lens options are currently available.
You may find one particular system provides you with lots of different lenses and camera bodies you can see yourself using in the future, and this may make the most sense.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t go for a system that has fewer compatible lenses or bodies that you may switch to in the future, just that you should be aware of what your options are and are likely to be as you build up your kit. Many mirrorless camera manufacturers are working hard to develop their ranges, and we’re seeing new products announced frequently.