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For beginners to photography, browsing the market can be overwhelming, especially with so many complex specs and jargon-filled reviews to read. But for those who aren't pros, you can still score an excellent camera with a beginner-friendly design without a PhD in optical physics. That's because many of today's cameras, while indeed advanced, often have easy-to-use automatic settings to help you capture brilliant images and stunning videos.

Read more: Best DSLR cameras: All the top interchangeable lens cameras available to buy today

We've put today's top models to the test, comparing their strengths, weaknesses, and price values to create this list of the best beginner-friendly cameras. Most importantly, these top picks are far from simple point-and-shoots; they have extensive manual control settings and customization options to meet you each step of the way as your skills expand.

Best cameras for beginners: Our top picks

Canon/ Pocket-Lint
Canon EOS R50 Mirrorless Vlogging Camera
1. Best camera for beginners overall

Pro pics made easy

The EOS R50 packs a ton of advanced hardware and pro-level specs into a compact, beginner-friendly, and affordable camera.

  • Lightweight and compact
  • Capable of 24MP photos and 4K30fps videos
  • Affordable entry camera to Canon?s RF lenses
  • Advanced autofocus system
  • No in-body stabilization (IBIS)
  • Sensor is APS-C, not full-frame

When the EOS R50 first came out, we were thrilled, but you don't need years of experience to appreciate its awesome value. This powerful little mirrorless is exceptionally versatile, with numerous specs that we expect to find only in pro-level cameras. But the numbers don’t lie.

The EOS R50 can capture super-sharp 24MP photos via its APS-C sensor. Its video capabilities are just as impressive. With a max video resolution of 4K at 30fps, the EOS R50 meets the industry standards for professional videography. It also uses H.264 and H.265 codecs, your choice, with color-popping results. Of course, you'll need a high-capacity microSD card to store all that high-res, high-frame footage, but it's worth the small extra cost for budding filmmakers and photographers.

What really makes this an excellent choice for beginners is the autofocus and automatic exposure mode. Punching above its price point, the EOS R50 features a new-age subject-tracking technology, which lets you tap the screen to keep moving faces, canines, cars, and more in focus as they move about. And, although an advanced feature, the autofocus is easy to use thanks to the smartphone-like interface. Combine that with the automatic exposure mode, and you can start snapping perfect photos and videos right away.

rebel t7
Canon EOS 2000D / Rebel T7
2. Best budget beginner camera

An affordable entry with rockstar results

This camera-and-lens kit comes with everything you need to start snapping stunning shots, and the price is a bargain for the quality.

  • Great value for the cost
  • Compatible with Canon EF lenses
  • WiFi file transfer
  • DSLR, so not very compact
  • Mid-tier specs

The main attraction of the EOS 2000D is its low price, but it's actually a fantastic camera in its own right. Capable of FHD video and 24MP photos, this little DSLR can deliver high-level images that belie its low cost. And for action photography, you can experiment with continuous shooting mode and a quick, reliable autofocus system. It also has a slew of convenient features, like WiFi compatibility to transfer files right to your smartphone on the fly.

best dslr cameras photo 4

If you're unimpressed by the lack of 4K video, consider the potential offered by the APS-C sensor and EF-series lenses. The former is a sensitive CMOS sensor that pairs with the Digic 4+ processor, resulting in data-rich imagery that can handle low-lighting environments. When you combine all that with one of the many excellent Canon EF-series lenses, you can capture some gorgeous photos and videos.

Thus, while the EOS 2000D may be a "basic" camera, it has plenty of potential to serve a budding visual artist well. As your budget grows, you can add fancy new EF-series lenses to take full advantage of everything it has to offer.

Fujifilm X-S10
Fujifilm X-S10
3. Best high-end camera for beginners

Invest in the best

For those wanting to splurge, the Fujifilm X-S10 is a premium pick with professional specs, yet it's still simple and accessible for beginners.

  • Reliable 5-axis in-body stabilization
  • Strong autofocus system
  • Compact, mirrorless build
  • 4K video capabilities
  • Lacks the water-resistant body of other X-series models
  • Relatively pricey for a beginner budget

The Fujifilm X-S10 is small, light, and simple in design. But what all that plainness hides is a powerful camera that can achieve professional-level photography. The 4K30fps video meets professional industry standards, and the 26MP APS-C sensor allows for high-res, data-rich still images. These advanced specs, combined with the straightforward controls, make this option the ideal choice for beginners with bigger budgets.

7 reasons why the Fujifilm X-S10 is one of the best mirrorless cameras you can buy photo 1

When we first reviewed the X-S10, we were immediately impressed by the clear, intuitive control scheme. It's Fujifilm's endeavor to "dial down" all the buttons and wheels of the other X-series models, such as the X-T4, X-T30, and X-H1. But even with this stripped-down design, the X-S10 still boasts many of the same powerful features as its cousins, including on-sensor phase-detection for accurate autofocusing, 5-axis in-body image stabilization for reducing blur, and a fully articulating 3-inch touchscreen.

Other accolades include USB power delivery support, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, and a burst shooting mode that can continuously snap 30 photos per second. Best of all, the interface is just as straightforward as the camera's physical design, making this an excellent choice for fledgling photographers who want to start strong.

sony zv-1f -1
Sony ZV-1F
4. Best beginner camera for vloggers

Candid creations done clearly

If you need a camera that you can turn on and start filming quality content right away, Sony's ZV-1F will deliver the goods.

  • Flip-out touchscreen
  • Super portable
  • 4K video and 20MP photos
  • Quality built-in mic
  • No optical zoom
  • Fixed lens can't be swapped out

Vlogging has come a long way from the days of cheap selfie sticks and crummy handycams. These days, you can make your vlogs pop with clarity and color, and it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Sony's ZV-1F is ideal for those looking to film videos on the fly, with a super lightweight body, easy-to-hold form factor, and a strong array of built-in video tools.The most important features for vloggers are all there. The ZV-1F boasts always-accurate autofocus, face and eye tracking, crystal-clear audio recording, a fully articulated touchscreen, and exceptional video processing speeds for 4K video. You can even plug it right into your computer to use it as a webcam with minimal setup, making it a top choice for streamers, as well.

Sony ZV-1F hardware photo 12

But with all those video-centric features aside, the ZV-1F is also a solid camera for still photography. The CMOS sensor is capable of capturing 20MP photos, and the continuous drive mode can take burst shots at a whopping 16 photos per second. Paired with the powerful autofocusing and 22mm lens, this little point-and-shoot is capable of some seriously gorgeous images. It's not our first choice for professional photography, but the ZV-1F is perfect for vloggers and content creators who need something they can turn on and start shooting. In that arena, the ZV-1F is top-tier.

canon eos r100
Canon EOS R100
5. Best for beginner filmmakers

When video is your specialty

With an interchangeable RF lens mount and professional-grade video specs, the EOS R100 is our top recommendation for emerging filmmakers.

  • Wireless file transfer via WiFi and Bluetooth
  • 8-bit 4K video
  • Advanced autofocus, including face tracking
  • Relatively affordable
  • The display is fixed in place
  • Switches to contrast-detect autofocus when shooting 4K

When you're looking for a video camera, it can be tempting to choose the first 4K model that you come across. However, resolution isn't the only factor that affects video quality. That's why we recommend Canon's EOS R100 for budding filmmakers.

canon eos r100 screen

This mirrorless camera certainly delivers the 4K, and it does so at a cinematic 24/25fps. But its APS-C sensor and intelligent autofocusing system give it an extra edge over the competition. Such a large sensor allows you to film in low-lighting situations without producing too much grain, and it also means more color information. And with the autofocus system employing everything from contrast detection to phase detection, selective single-point focusing to face tracking, subjects are always kept in focus.

All that being said, Canon's EOS R10 is still considered a “hybrid camera” since it will serve still photographers just as well. As part of the RF series, it's compatible with Canon’s vast line of beautiful lenses, so there's plenty of room for upgrades. And when you combine some premium Canon glass with the 24MP photo capabilities, you can take some truly stunning images.

The bottom line: What's the best camera for beginners?

Canon's EOS R50 takes the crown for the best overall option thanks to its pro-level specs and mirrorless design. The compact and light build can give beginners the confidence to start snapping and experimenting right away, and it affords all the wiggle room for learning the ropes and upgrading its RF lens as you advance your skills.

But while its price isn't ludicrous, the EOS R50 still might not fit every beginner's budget. That's when we recommend checking out the EOS 2000D for its low price and high value. The Sony ZV-1F is another excellent option, as it's ideal for vloggers and anyone who wants something handheld and ready for a full day of shooting.

Canon/ Pocket-Lint
Canon EOS R50 Mirrorless Vlogging Camera
Editor's Choice

How we chose the best cameras for beginners

Everyone has different needs, goals, and skill levels, so finding a one-size-fits-all camera isn't possible. However, we recommend beginners choose a camera that's versatile enough to explore all the different forms of the visual medium, from action photography to shooting film. With that in mind, we used the following considerations to guide our research and testing guidelines.

Automatic shooting: Beginners will definitely want to pick a camera that has a solid automatic shooting mode since it allows you to start taking quality photos and videos right away without needing to fiddle with the exposure settings. Basically, it sets the exposure automatically, so you don’t have to worry about aperture, ISO, or shutter speed. Almost all cameras these days have it, but we recommend checking out customer reviews to make sure that your camera of choice does a good job in automatic shooting mode.

Autofocus: Automatic focusing is used by professionals all the time, and it's a vital feature for beginners. However, there are a lot of fancy new autofocus technologies that beginners likely won’t require at the start. For example, AI-powered subject tracking is cool, but it may be overkill for a starter camera (besides being expensive). Instead, we recommend making sure your camera fulfills the minimum requirements for fast and accurate autofocus. For example, "Phase Detect Autofocus" (PDAF) is usually stronger than "Contrast Detection Autofocus" (CDAF). Both will serve beginners well, but PDAF is generally faster, more reliable, and compatible with a greater number of lenses than CDAF.

Specs: The specifications might seem overwhelming to fledgling photographers, but there are three numbers that will give you a rough idea of a camera’s quality. First, the MegaPixels (MP) will tell you the max photo resolution. Higher numbers mean sharper images, so we look for cameras with at least 16MP. Secondly, we consider the max video resolution since so many screens these days can display 4K. Thirdly, the size of the sensor will determine the performance in low-lighting situations. Big sensors, like full-frame, can detect more light information in the dark, letting you capture the drama of the shadows and night. APS-C sensors are a bit smaller than full-frame and may crop the image when paired with certain lenses, but they're perfectly fine for beginners.

Camera experience and testing: All our reviews at Pocket-Lint are from professional photographers, myself included. Through countless wedding gigs and indie film shoots, I've learned what a professional camera needs. But just because I now need cameras with full-frame sensors and codecs that border on the extreme doesn't mean I've forgotten what it's like to get started. That's why we made sure to pick cameras that are easy to use yet still endowed with all the manual controls that expand the visual possibilities as you learn the tricks of the trade.

What's the difference between DSLR and mirrorless cameras, and does it matter?

DSLR cameras have optical viewfinders, which means the images in their viewfinders are real projections of what the lens captures. To achieve this, however, they require the presence of a mirror to redirect the light. That mirror flips out of the way the moment the shutter is pressed to allow light to hit the sensor. The result is a relatively bulkier, heavier design.

Mirrorless cameras, on the other hand, use digital viewfinders. Thus, without a clunky mirror to accommodate, mirrorless cameras are quieter, lighter, smaller, and generally faster. It's no surprise that they're increasingly more popular than DSLRs, and we generally recommend choosing mirrorless cameras over the soon-to-be-obsolete DSLR design. However, as long as you're aware of their differences, DSLR cameras are still good, and they're often more affordable than mirrorless models.

What's the best lens to get for beginner photographers?

For beginners, we recommend getting a quality zoom lens, which will allow you to experiment with different focal lengths and apertures. A good range is between 18mm and 55mm since it opens up possibilities for everything from close-up macro shots to landscapes and portraits. Filmmakers and wildlife photographers who want close-up shots from a distance will do well with a telephoto lens; anything in the ballpark of 80mm to 210mm should do the job.