The 12 Best Cameras for Beginners in 2019

The 12 Best Cameras for Beginners in 2019

This post has been fully updated to reflect 2019 camera options.

A camera loaded with all the features won’t be much good in the hands of someone who doesn’t know how to use it. There can be a steep learning curve when it comes to photography. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t upgrade — there are a lot of reasons to move into the DSLR/mirrorless camera territory from a point-and-shoot or your phone. Maybe you’ve found that you enjoy taking pictures on your phone and want better zoom, low light performance, and larger file sizes. Maybe you want to be able to control things like exposure and depth of field. Perhaps your point-and-shoot just isn’t cutting it anymore. Whatever the reason for upgrading to a DSLR or mirrorless camera, there is a perfect camera out there for you.

We’ll talk about some things to consider when buying a camera suitable for both photos and video and give you recommendations on some of our favorites for novices and amateurs alike in a wide range of price points (each under $3,000*).

The 12 Best Interchangeable-Lens Cameras for Beginners and Amateurs

  1. Sony a6100
  2. Canon 90D
  3. Canon EOS RP
  4. Fuji X-T30
  5. Nikon Z6
  6. Panasonic S1
  7. Sigma fp
  8. Fuji X-T3
  9. Sony a6600
  10. Nikon Z7
  11. Canon EOS R
  12. Canon SL3

Benefits of Upgrading from a Phone or Point-and-Shoot

Here are some things to consider when deciding to invest in a DSLR or mirrorless camera:

Endless Possibilities: If you know you are the type of person who really gets into your hobbies, you may as well start with a camera that will let you do just about everything. A good camera will give you the ability to shoot in manual mode, provide better low-light performance, and offers an endless array of lenses to choose from. There are a variety of automatic and semi-automatic modes that will make the transition easier, too.

Room to Grow: While camera bodies are important, it’s the lenses that really make the biggest difference when it comes to image quality. What this means for you is that you can buy a camera with a kit lens then, down the road, upgrade to fancier lenses if you decide that photography is something you want to stick with. You can hold onto a camera for quite a long time if you’re willing to invest in (or rent) good glass. Plus, different lenses give you vastly different results. This is crucial when trying to decide what style or genre is your favorite.

Flexibility: One of the hallmarks of interchangeable-lens cameras is the fact that the lenses are, well, interchangeable! This means that one camera will let you do an awful lot of things. A macro lens will let you get up close and personal with things like insects and flowers, while a wide angle lens turns your same camera into a landscape-capturing dynamo. Again, the camera is like your foundation but your ability to pick different lenses is what will really keep you engaged.

Resale Value: There is a large market for used cameras (just make sure something isn’t stolen before you purchase used gear). So if you do decide at some point that photography isn’t for you or—more likely—that you want to upgrade to an even better camera, you probably won’t have much trouble selling yours. This will help you recoup the costs if you realize you don’t like your current setup.

Downsides of Upgrading

Cost: Cameras aren’t cheap and, unless you buy a kit, you will also have to purchase at least one lens to go with it and multiple lenses to cover different styles and genres will add up fast.

Convenience: The best camera is the one that’s with you – so they always say. Carrying around a phone is certainly easier than carrying around a camera. But the point of the upgrade is creativity, not convenience. The right body and lens should be exciting to use and carry around – not a burden. This is why it’s important to get a feel for things like the size and comfort of the viewfinder, how the LCD looks and handles, how deep the grip is, and how well the body balances with certain lenses. How a system feels in your hands can matter as much as the specs inside that system.

Commitment: Compared to a phone or the average point-and-shoot, even smaller mirrorless cameras are much bulkier and heavier. Add in the lens and you’re carrying around a commitment – not to mention the chore of keeping the sensor and lenses clean and protected.

Features to Look for in a DSLR or Mirrorless Camera

Sensor Size: A popular choice for beginners is choosing a camera with a cropped sensor (APS-C size). These sensors are smaller than full frame sensors (in other words, they don’t match the size of a traditional 35mm piece of film). But they provide many key benefits to beginners: the cameras are smaller, lighter, much more affordable, and they use lighter lenses. One tradeoff is being forced to use a wider-angle lens to achieve the same field of view you’d get from a full frame sensor camera (this is explained in detail in What You Must Know About Full Frame vs Crop Frame Sensors Before Choosing a Lens). You’d also have to use a faster lens on an APS-C sensor to achieve an equivalent depth of field, which is not always possible. This is explained further in How Crop Sensors Affect Depth of Field.

Flexibility: You probably already have an idea of what you want to shoot but keep in mind that your photo and video interests may expand once you see what your new camera can do. So don’t limit yourself. Look for features that will allow your camera to be used in the widest array of situations possible. You’ll want to be sure that you’re investing in a body that supports all the lenses you think you might want to use, has good low light capabilities, and allows for things like manual shooting, off-camera flash, and easy transitioning into video. Because you just never know where your interests might take you.

Megapixels: The number of megapixels a camera has affects the amount of information the sensor is able to record. In other words, the more megapixels, the more detail your photos will have. If you just plan to post your photos online, this isn’t a big deal. But if you want to create large prints to display, you’ll want more megapixels. While many cameras today go up to 50 megapixels and beyond, beginners (as well as most amateurs and many pros) don’t need that high of resolution – the file sizes can be cumbersome and sometimes shooters would rather have fast shooting speeds than ultra-high resolution (a common trade-off). A camera with 16 megapixels or more will suit beginners just fine. Many cameras hover around 20 megapixels while maintaining great shooting speeds.

Frames Per Second Shooting Speeds: The number of frames that a camera can shoot in a second matters mostly for photographers who want to shoot moving objects. The more frames you can take in a second, the better chance that you are going to get exactly what you are trying to capture. Photographers who shoot sports, wildlife, or even just toddlers will especially appreciate faster shooting rates.

ISO Range: This is an easy specification to consider – the wider the range, the better. Fortunately, most cameras today are quite low-light sensitive. Look at not only native ISO but also expanded ISO. Generally, full frame sensor cameras excel in this area.

Live View Screen and Other Ergonomics: More and more cameras are implementing touchscreens, though not all of them. Having a fully-articulating screen is important to vloggers but perhaps not as important to landscape photographers. This is important to consider. Size, weight, and grip depth all will make a difference to someone with large or small hands, someone doing active or stationary shooting, or one’s overall time in the field.

Mirrored/Optical vs Mirrorless/Electronic Composing: Mirrorless cameras have what’s called electronic viewfinders (EVFs). They are kind of like looking at a little TV inside your camera that displays what the sensor is seeing in real (or very close to real) time. Exposure changes are visible right there in the viewfinder. Sounds ideal but not everyone loves this. Some people very much prefer the DSLR approach to composing: light coming through the lens that’s reflected by a mirror and then twisted by a pentaprism to exit the viewfinder. It feels much more like a window than a tiny television and is preferred among folks already used to fully analog (i.e. film) cameras. Know that sometimes people will hate EVFs at first but grow to love and depend on them completely. This is where renting before buying will assist you.

Good Cameras for Beginners in 2019

With all that in mind, here are some cameras that work really well for folks looking to cover a lot of different features at a price point that’s fairly reasonable. We’ll summarize the benefits (and a few caveats) for each one.

Sony a6100

The Sony a6100 retails for around $748, the cheapest on this list beat only by the Canon SL3, and rents for $40.

Sony a6100 ($40* for 3 Day Rental)

The Sony a6100 retails for under $750*, weighs under a pound, and is compatible with Sony E mount lenses. It has a 24 megapixel APS-C sensor, which will produce images that are 6000 x 4000 pixels. It shoots UHD 4K up to 30 FPS in XAVC S and will shoot slow motion in 1080p up to 120 FPS. The sensor captures at the Super 35mm size, which is standard for the video world. Connect an external mic easily to the camera via the 3.5mm jack and flip the LCD screen up 180º for vlogging.

Quick Specs

• Crop Frame 24MP Sensor
• 100-32000 (Extended Mode: 100-51200) ISO
• 11 Frames Per Second Shooting Speed
• 1 UHS-I SD Card Slot
• Mirrorless, Electronic Viewfinder
• Tilting Touchscreen
• Battery Lasts Approximately 380-420 Shots/70-125 Mins Recording

This camera is ideal for vlogging, traveling, and action. It will record clips up to 30 minutes at a time. It does not offer S-Log2, S-Log3, or HLG (HDR) profiles. With Real-Time Eye AF functionality, high AF point coverage, and a fast shooting speed, this camera is a great choice for wildlife, events, kids, and sports. It also has a popup flash, which unfortunately means it is not completely weather sealed. It is only 2.34″ deep and under 5″ wide.

Canon 90D

The Canon 90D retails for around $1,199* and rents for $50.

Canon 90D ($50 for 3 Day Rental)

This camera retails for about $1,200, clocks in at 1.5 lbs, and is compatible with Canon EF mount lenses, which is an extremely popular mount type offering probably the biggest variety in lens choice. It has a 32 megapixel APS-C sensor, which will produce images that are 6960 x 4640 pixels. It shoots UHD 4K up to 30 FPS in MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 and will shoot slow motion in full HD up to 120 FPS. Dual Pixel CMOS AF is included, providing smooth, natural camcorder-like focusing you normally only see in higher-end Canons. Connect an external mic easily to the camera via the 3.5mm jack and the LCD screen is fully articulated for vlogging.

Quick Specs

• Crop Frame 32MP Sensor
• 100-25600 (Extended Mode: 100-51200) ISO
• 11 Frames Per Second Shooting Speed
• 1 UHS-II SD Card Slot
• DSLR, Optical Viewfinder
• Fully Articulating Touchscreen
• Battery Lasts Approximately 1300 Shots (Mins Recording Data Unavailable)

The Canon 90D is ideal for those wishing to shoot with a DSLR and with Canon EF lenses who need something with a little bit of everything but who don’t want the expense of a full frame body. It will record clips up to 30 minutes at a time, accepts an optional external battery grip, and has a hot shoe with a build-in popup flash. Unfortunately, the popup flash means it is not completely weather sealed. It is 3″ deep and over 5.5″ wide.

Canon EOS RP

The Canon EOS RP retails for around $999 and rents for $47.

Canon EOS RP ($47 for 3 Day Rental)

This camera retails for just shy of $1,000, is just over a pound, and is compatible with Canon RF mount lenses, which are new and very high quality but don’t offer a ton of variety yet. With an adapter, you can use this camera with Canon EF lenses, too. It has a 26 megapixel full frame sensor, which will produce images that are 6240 x 4160 pixels. It shoots UHD 4K  with a 1.8x sensor crop up to 24 FPS in MPEG-4 AVC/H.264. Recording with 4:2:2 sampling and 8-bit color depth is possible with an optional external recorder via HDMI. Dual Pixel CMOS AF is not available in 4K mode and there is no integrated Canon Log. Connect an external mic easily to the camera via the 3.5mm jack and the LCD screen is fully articulated for vlogging.

Quick Specs

• Full Frame 26MP Sensor
• 100-40000 (Extended Mode: 50-102400) ISO
• 5 Frames Per Second Shooting Speed
• 1 UHS-II SD Card Slot
• Mirrorless, Electronic Viewfinder
• Fully Articulating Touchscreen
• Battery Lasts Approximately 250 Shots (Mins Recording Data Unavailable)

The Canon EOS RP is a relatively affordable full frame mirrorless camera with a huge, new high quality mount type that is both exciting and…inconvenient. Use of Canon EF lenses will require an adapter. The new Canon RF lenses are sharp and fast, however. This camera does not have very high shooting speeds but does excel mightily in light sensitivity. It is weather resistant but lacks a flash (hot shoe only). At only 2.8″ deep and 3.3″ tall, you’re not going to get a better travel companion with a full frame sensor than the EOS RP.

Fuji X-T30 ($43 for a 3 Day Rental)

Retailing for just under $800, the Fuji X-T30 is the latest in a long line of beloved X-series cameras. It has a 26 megapixel APS-C sensor, which will produce images that are 6240 x 4160 pixels. It shoots DCI 4K up to 30 FPS in MOV/H.264 and slow motion in full HD up to 120 FPS. Recording with 4:2:2 sampling and 10-bit color depth is possible with an optional external recorder. The recording limit in 4K is 10 minutes at a time. There is an external mic port and the LCD screen tilts down for shooting at low and weird angles.

Quick Specs

• Crop Frame 26MP Sensor
• 160-12800 (Extended Mode: 80-51200) ISO
• 8 Frames Per Second Shooting Speed (Up to 30 at 16.6MP)
• 1 UHS-I SD Card Slot
• Mirrorless, Electronic Viewfinder
• Tilting Touchscreen
• Battery Lasts Approximately 300 Shots/60 Mins Recording

Sporting a classic, retro design, the Fuji X-T30 has prominent physical controls making this a great camera to transition to from the film world or for learning manual shooting in a really clear way. While not particularly light sensitive, ultra fast, or super robust for video, it is still good in all those areas plus very sharp thanks to the X-Trans sensor that uses a randomized pixel array, providing a high degree of image quality and sharpness due to the omission of an optical low-pass filter. Compared to other pixel patterns, the X-Trans design better mimics the look of film. It has a hot shoe with a built-in popup flash but is not weather sealed. It is only 1.8″ deep, just under 5″ wide, and less than a pound. It is compatible with a wide array of Fuji X-mount lenses.

Nikon Z6

The Nikon Z6 retails for around $1,696 and rents for $70.

Nikon Z6 ($70 for 3 Day Rental)

Nikon has joined the full frame mirrorless camera party with their $1,695 “all-arounder” Z6. Like its Canon counterpart, this new system also has a new, large mount type but will accept Nikon F lenses with an adapter. Nikon’s new line of Z mount lenses are ultra fast with high resolving power but so far there are not many to choose from. This camera has a backside-illuminated 25 megapixel sensor for 6000 x 4000 pixel files. It records in UHD 4K up to 30 FPS in MPEG-4 AVC/H.264 and slow motion in full HD up to 120 FPS. The ISO range really shines with an (extended) 50-204800 range.

Quick Specs

• Full Frame 25MP Sensor
• 100-51200 (Extended Mode: 50-204800) ISO
• 12 Frames Per Second Shooting Speed
• 1 XQD Card Slot
• Mirrorless, Electronic Viewfinder
• Tilting Touchscreen
• Battery Lasts Approximately 330-400 Shots/85 Mins Recording

Supporting these features is a major first for Nikon: in-body image stabilization, which can be stacked with VR-equipped lenses. The sensor is used in its entirety and gives you the option of shooting 5K-equivalent footage in crop mode. Shoot in Nikon’s N-Log, which enables the capturing of flat footage with 1,300% improved dynamic range (12 stops). This gives editors the most latitude to work with in post production and provides ultimate creative control when color grading. With a touch-to-focus feature on the LCD, an EVF with virtually zero lag, and a durable build that is like having a baby flagship Nikon D5, the Z6 a practical choice for video/stills hybrid shooters. It is barely over a pound and runs approximately the same size as the EOS RP/R systems: just over 5″ wide, 4″ tall, and 2.7″ deep.

Panasonic S1

The priciest camera in this list, the Panasonic S1 retails for around $2,497 and rents for $100.

Panasonic S1 ($100 for 3 Day Rental)

In keeping with the major trend of 2019, Panasonic has also been admitted into the full frame mirrorless club with their S system. Here we’re only featuring the S1. It’s the most “hybrid” of the 3 models – S1, S1R, and S1H. It’s also the least prohibitively expensive. For those looking for serious video specs, please see the S1H (which will set you back close to $4,000). The S1 retails for about $2,500 and marries a lot of the features needed by both serious videographers and photographers. It, too, is equipped with a large, new mount system. Panasonic worked alongside the L Mount Alliance (consisting of Leica and Sigma) to develop high quality L mount lenses to pair with this camera.

Quick Specs

• Full Frame 24MP Sensor
• 100-51200 (Extended Mode: 50-204800) ISO
• 9 Frames Per Second Shooting Speed
• 1 UHS-II SD Card Slot, 1 XQD Card Slot
• Mirrorless, Electronic Viewfinder
• Tilting Touchscreen
• Battery Lasts Approximately 400 Shots/85 Mins Recording

Enjoy pro-level, unlimited video recording at 4:2:2 sampling and 10-bit color depth internally at 4K 24p with V-Log, or capture slow motion up to 180 FPS in full HD. It sports 5-axis in-body stabilization, mic and headphone jacks, and a full size HDMI port for external recording. Photographers get the benefits of 6000 x 4000 pixel files, 9 different AF modes, and a 20x Manual Focus Assist – a great feature for macro and night sky shooters alike. The S1 also has a 6K Photo Mode as well as a new Flat Mode that gives you some of the post-processing latitude of RAW files but in smaller, more convenient JPEGs. There are actually too many little features like this to list here. The S1 is a tremendous choice for multi-disciplinary shooters. One big caveat? It’s a big camera: over 2 lbs, nearly 6″ wide, over 4″ tall, and nearly 4″ deep.

Sigma FP

The Sigma fp retails for around $1,899 and rents for $75.

Sigma fp ($75 for 3 Day Rental)

There are some big features inside Sigma’s super small full frame mirrorless fp camera. They borrowed design elements from pro cinema cameras and it doubles as a Director’s Viewfinder, which allows you to simulate different angles of view from the perspective of other cinema cameras, including the ALEXA Mini, the RED MONSTRO 8K, and more. Like the Panasonic S1, it pairs with L mount lenses. For around $1,800, the fp gives you internal 4K as well as 4K 4:2:2 12-bit in CinemaDNG format out over HDMI, super expansive ISO with an extended range from 6-102400, slow motion recording in full HD, and a signature “teal and orange” mode for a cinematic look.

Quick Specs

• Full Frame 25MP Sensor
• 100-25600 (Extended Mode: 6-102400) ISO
• 18 Frames Per Second Shooting Speed
• 1 UHS-II SD Card Slot
• Mirrorless, Electronic Viewfinder
• Fixed Touchscreen
• Battery Lasts Approximately 280 Shots/70 Mins Recording

With an attractive, utilitarian build, the fp is fitted with 1/4″-20 mounting points on both sides as well as the bottom for ultimate flexibility with accessories. Sigma optimized their UI specifically for switching between Still mode and Cine mode with just a flick of a switch. There are specially-designed operation systems for each mode. The entire layout is streamlined and ready to be built upon with just about any rig configuration you can imagine. It’s under 4.5″ wide, under 3″ tall, under 2″ thick, and less than a pound – perfect for any project requiring travel, such as documentary work, photojournalism, vacations, and events. This is the smallest and lightest full frame mirrorless camera on record, at least for right now.

Fuji X-T3

The Fuji X-T3 retails for around $1,299 and rents for $62.

Fuji X-T3 ($62 for 3 Day Rental)

Now in its fourth generation, the sensor system inside the Fuji X-T3 uses a unique color filter array and a back-illuminated structure that enhances image quality with a high signal-to-noise ratio and reduced moiré, all without the use of an optical low-pass filter. This is coupled with the X-Processor 4, which helps enhance one of Fuji’s most popular features: film simulation modes. It also greatly improves subject tracking and video functionality thanks to the use of four CPUs, allowing you to get the most out of your 6240 x 4160 pixel images or 4K video. It costs around $1,200.

Quick Specs

• Full Frame 26MP Sensor
• 160-12800 (Extended Mode: 80-51200) ISO
• 11 Frames Per Second Shooting Speed (Up to 30 at 16.6MP)
• Dual UHS-II SD Card Slots
• Mirrorless, Electronic Viewfinder
• Tilting Touchscreen
• Battery Lasts Approximately 390 Shots/75 Mins Recording

Just like the X-T30, the X-T3 sports a classic, retro design with prominent physical controls that make this a great camera to transition to from the film world or for learning manual shooting in a really clear way. It is equipped with a large .5″ electronic viewfinder with a high magnification ratio of 0.75x that exhibits virtually zero lag and has an approximate 100 FPS refresh rate – a great choice for those uncertain about making the jump to electronic viewfinders since this one is so high quality. What’s more, the EVF’s diopter is lockable to prevent any unwanted adjustments. The tilting touchscreen has increased contrast and better viewing angles than prior models.

In addition to these advances, Fuji maintains their famous film simulations while offering a few new expressions: Monochrome Adjustment (create warm or cool-toned versions of Monochrome), ACROS, and Color Chrome. Offering all the ports you could need (microphone, headphone, USB-C, and more) plus full weather sealing, the X-T3 is a great multimedia tool that’s ideal for casual and serious shooters alike.

Sony a6600

The Sony a6600 retails for around $1,398 and rents for $55.

Sony a6600 ($55 for 3 Day Rental)

The Sony a6600 is similar in almost every way to the a6100. They both have 425 AF points, 11 FPS shooting speed, 4K recording, and 24MP sensors. But there are a few key differences with the a6600: unlimited recording (limited only by battery/card), 5-axis in-body image stabilization, Eye AF for video, a slightly bigger buffer, a 3.5mm headphone jack (both cameras have mic jacks), a deeper grip, and much better battery life – but it’s also nearly double the price at $1,398.

Quick Specs

• Full Frame 24MP Sensor
• 100-32000 (Extended Mode: 100-102400) ISO
• 11 Frames Per Second Shooting Speed (Up to 30 at 16.6MP)
• 1 UHS-I SD Card Slot
• Mirrorless, Electronic Viewfinder
• Tilting Touchscreen
• Battery Lasts Approximately 720-810 Shots/140-250 Mins Recording

For the same small size, you get a bit more video-shooting heft with the a6600 when compared to other models in this series. Boasting a full-pixel readout with no pixel binning, the a6600 is equipped to deliver high-resolution 4K video to HDR(HLG) and S-Log/S-Gamut with options for slow motion up to 120 FPS. The high-bitrate (up to 100Mbps for 4K 30p/24p) XAVC video codec ensures professional-quality footage in a user-friendly format. With built-in 5-axis image stabilization borrowed from the acclaimed a7 series, this camera compensates for shake thanks to a highly accurate gyro sensor. The screen flips up 180° to not only more easily frame vlogging-style shots but also control a variety of functions while in front of the camera. It’s the ideal travel camera that doesn’t sacrifice pro-level settings.

Nikon Z7

The Nikon Z7 retails for around $2,199 and rents for $110.

Nikon Z7 ($110 for 3 Day Rental)

The Z7 is about $500 more than the Z6 but it isn’t necessarily the better camera – it just has a slightly different feature focus. Namely, it offers a massive 46 megapixel sensor while still having fantastic low light capability (though not as expansive in the upper range as the Z6). Both have the same video functions but the Z7 shoots fewer frames per second (9 compared to the Z6’s 12), making it not the most ideal choice for sports and wildlife photographers. The Z7 is geared a little more for portrait, landscape, and fine art photography.

Quick Specs

• Full Frame 46MP Sensor
• 64-25600 (Extended Mode: 32-102400) ISO
• 12 Frames Per Second Shooting Speed
• 1 XQD Card Slot
• Mirrorless, Electronic Viewfinder
• Tilting Touchscreen
• Battery Lasts Approximately 330-400 Shots/85 Mins Recording

Like the Z6, the Z7 offers in-body image stabilization, N-Log for 1,300% improved dynamic range (12 stops), and full use of the backside-illuminated sensor when shooting video – with the option of shooting 5K-equivalent footage in crop mode. This camera borrows heavily from the much-loved Nikon D850 but in a smaller form factor. Note, though, that like the Z6, this camera is equipped with a brand new mount type. Z lenses are extremely fast and sharp but so far there is a slim selection. The Z6 and Z7 are the same size and both offer comfortably deep grips.

Canon EOS R

The Canon EOS R retails for around $1,799 and rents for $83.

Canon EOS R ($83 for 3 Day Rental)

Sharing the same sensor and a lot of the same functionality as the Canon 5D Mark IV, the Canon EOS R delivers 6720 x 4480 pixel images, UHD 4K (with a 1.8x crop) up to 30 FPS at 480MB/s with in-camera 4:2:2 sampling and 8-bit color depth (4:2:2 10-bit out possible with optional external recorder via HDMI), and integrated Canon Log, Dual Pixel CMOS AF, and Dual Sensing IS. Like the EOS RP (which is about $800 cheaper than this camera), you either have to adopt the new RF lens system or use an adapter for your existing EF mount glass.

Quick Specs

• Full Frame 30MP Sensor
• 100-40000 (Extended Mode: 50-102400) ISO
• 8 Frames Per Second Shooting Speed
• 1 UHS-II SD Card Slot
• Mirrorless, Electronic Viewfinder
• Fully Articulating Touchscreen
• Battery Lasts Approximately 350-430 Shots/140 Mins Recording

The primary benefits of this camera over the EOS RP is having access to Canon Log, the higher-megapixel sensor, the slightly faster shooting speed, access to a PC sync port for strobes, a slightly larger LCD, more AF points overall, slightly better battery life (the two cameras do not use the same battery type), and expanded video capture options. The EOS RP is equipped with a .39″ OLED EVF while the EOS R tops that with a pretty substantial .5″ OLED EVF. The EOS R also has an ever-so-slightly larger eyepoint, which might be more comfortable for folks who wear glasses. There are a lot of other little difference which can be explored more fully in Canon EOS RP vs EOS R – Which is Right for You? For build, the EOS R is slightly larger than the EOS RP, with a deeper grip, room for a settings readout LCD, and a multi-function bar. If you’re already used to Canon DSLRs but really want to make the leap to mirrorless, the EOS R is a great option.

Canon Rebel SL3 (Coming Soon – See All Canon Here)

The Rebel series is a major player in the “beginners market” thanks to their ease of use and low price point. The SL3 is less than $550, is ultra compact, and boasts a decently-sized 24 megapixel sensor for 6000 x 4000 pixel images. It is not full frame, however. But that allows it to be so portable and you’re able to use EF-S as well as EF mount lenses – which gives you a wealth of options. There are a lot of features in this camera you find in much more expensive models, like Dual Pixel AF, 4K recording (with a 1.7x crop), built-in image stabilization (for video capture only in the form of Movie Digital IS), a microphone port, and a fully-articulating touchscreen that is suitable for vlogging.

Quick Specs

• Full Frame 24MP Sensor
• 100-25600 (Extended Mode: 100-51200) ISO
• 5 Frames Per Second Shooting Speed
• 1 UHS-I SD Card Slot
• DSLR, Optical Viewfinder
• Fully Articulating Touchscreen
• Battery Lasts Approximately 1070-1630 Shots (Mins Recording Data Unavailable)

When using just the viewfinder and not shooting primarily in Live View with the touchscreen, this camera lasts an incredibly long time on one charge – a fantastic feature for long travel days. It has a built-in flash, a decent (for the price) ISO range, and an optical viewfinder that many still prefer over the EVFs of mirrorless cameras (though note that the viewfinder on the SL3 is relatively small). The camera itself might not be an exciting offer to folks with smartphones equipped with really nice cameras, like the iPhone 11 Pro or a Pixel. But the option to explore nearly all of Canon’s lenses is a huge bonus for beginners, not to mention having immediate and easy control over custom settings. While quite small for a DSLR, this camera is a bit bulkier than many mirrorless options at just under 5″ wide, just over 3.5″ tall, and nearly 3″ thick.

Other Camera Options and Things to Think About

This was a big year for camera releases so it was hard to narrow it down and we tried to prevent being completely overwhelming here. There are a few cameras that didn’t make the list, including the Nikon Z50 (a crop sensor version of the Z6/Z7) and the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III (a micro four thirds camera). The a7 series was left out of this particular list due to expense.

So, how to choose? Renting several bodies is a great way to narrow down your options. In addition to all of the above, things to consider when deciding on a camera include…

• Lens Variety: Is this a new mount type with only a few lenses or a traditional mount type with tons of lens options?
• Port Variety: Does this camera have all the ports you might want to expand your craft? Down the road, you may really want a microphone port or a sync port for strobes.
• Viewfinder Type: You’re going to spend most of your time composing a shot or scene with a viewfinder and if you hate the style of it then that’s extremely important. Find out if the newer EVFs are even for you!
• Grip Depth and Feel: This might not seem very important compared to, say, megapixel amount or ISO range, but it’s common for people to purchase a camera and then hate how it feels in their hands. Unless you use a tripod all the time, how it feels in your hands should be a high priority.

Whether you are looking for an entry-level DSLR to get started with or a pro-level camera that you can grow into, there is no doubt that there is an option out there for you. Few things make your decision easier than having the camera in your hands. When it feels right, you’ll know!

*All quoted pricing is as of this writing and subject to change.

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Alex Huff's photography and lighting tutorials can be found on 500px and her blog. See her lighting tutorials here. She is a Marketing Associate Manager at BorrowLenses.com. She learned about lighting and teaching while modeling for photographers such as Joe McNally and has since gone on to teach lighting workshops of her own in San Francisco. Before focusing on studio portraiture, she shot motorsports for X-Games, World Rally Cross, and Formula Drift. See her chiaroscuro-style painterly portraits on her website.

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52 Comments

  1. I’m sorry but you didn’t even include sony a6000 or a6300. This camera beats most of the list in terms of price, weight, quality and ease of use especially for beginners.

    Reply
  2. Those Sonys you listed Vin p may weight less (and I’m sure they do just looking at them; smaller size) and other specs you listed but they don’t beat the Nikon 3300 in price. Just checked B & H Photo and the Nikon is listed at $369 and the Sony a6000 is listed at $548 and the a6300 is over $1000. A bit pricey IMO for someone just starting out. I have both a Nikon and a Sony mirrorless I know so either company makes a quality product.

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    • Definitely – some of the crop sensor DSLRs have hard-to-beat retail pricing. Great options for beginners and often not too bulky.

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  3. What would you recommend for kid portrait, kid action and low light pictures? I am an amateur mom who loves taking picture of my kids. I have currently now Canon Rebel xsi but it is terrible in low light. Wanting to upgrade a better one but not spending thousand.

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    • The Rebel XSI is getting long in the tooth but if you love that line and are already used to it, I’d explore some of the newer Rebels, like the T5i or T6i. They are still within your price range but have improved a lot since 2008.

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  4. The Canon 5D Mark III has been updated to the Mark IV. Even still, it’s kind of an expensive camera for beginners.

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  5. Buying first DSLR will always create lot of confusions. Thanks for this detailed and useful information. It would be appreciated if you could take a look at my latest blog on Best DSLR camera for Beginners Entry Level at http://photopedia.in/best-dslr-camera-beginners-entry-level/ I have tried to explain what are the important key factors to consider while buying a new DSLR.

    Dont forget to share your views on that.

    Thank You

    Reply
  6. I just wanted to point out that the Nikon D3300 does not have an articulated back LCD screen.

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  7. How bout canon 1300d. ??

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  8. What lens should I rent with the Nikon D3300??

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  9. Hello all, I am a amature photographer. I lashed out 2 years ago and purchased a Canon 6D with a EF 24-105mm f/4L IS II USM as a kit. Also purchased a 2nd Canon 6D with a EF 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM.
    I now want to purchase a lense for small bird photography but do not want to spend much.
    Am tossing up on a super zoom just for this so I do not have to change lenses.
    I know it sounds odd but open to all advise.
    Thanks

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  10. Thanks Alexandria, I am looking for a larger zoom for small birds and wildlife.
    I cannot justify spending much as will not use a lot. Around 1,000 to 2,000 Aust. $.
    Thanks.

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  11. hello, i really love taking pictures but seem confused on a starter camera to buy esp as i dont know much abt cameras. pls help asap. tnc

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  12. I am looking to upgrade my Canon T3i (which was my first camera bundle purchase). I take a lot of sports photos, including indoor and outdoor. What would be the best camera for my money? Thanks!

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  13. Is this in American or Canadian dollars?

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    • US only – and prices are just “as of this writing”, so they might be different now.

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  14. hi your blog was very unique
    but i wanted to know that how much mm lences should i take for landscapes and other still scenes
    plz would you tell me

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  15. I’m sorry, but I think you’re missing the point. The word is “beginner”. I know someone who doesn’t know how to turn her camera ON. Everyone is already using technical jargon, when the operative word is “beginner”. Doesn’t it make more sense to start with a lessor expensive piece of equipment BEFORE delving into complicated technical information? I mean, we’re talking about beginners. And to dump hundreds of dollars into something you’re really not sure of yet, because, again, you’re a beginner? I say less expensive at first…..see how things go…….and develop, possibly , to a more advanced camera.

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  16. hello, where can one rent cameras from? Im only working with my iphone right now (dont judge) lol, and am looking into getting a solid beginners camera. I like to shoot outdoors stuff. Right now I am in Hawaii so, beaches and mountains. Eventually I would like to shoot the nite sky as well as people. Can you help me out. There is so much information with so many words that I have not a clue what they mean. I would greatly appreciate it…

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  17. nice article and comparisons of different camera’s

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  18. Very informative article for those who wants to buy new camera, thanks for sharing

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  19. I want a camera that can take pictures like Actor: Cole Sprouse does, which camera you reccomend.

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  20. Hi borrowlenses,
    This article is very much helpful. But still I have question on it should I ask here ?

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  21. Hi borrowlenses,
    Too much informative article mate you should write daily basis .thanks

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  22. Almost every camera on this 2018 list is utdated.

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  23. Hello borrowlenses,
    Looking for a good digital video camera to record high school basketball for a team without breaking the bank. Any recommendations?
    Thanks

    Reply
  24. Thanks for such a great content. You have really such a nice information here.

    Reply
  25. Awesome this is great wonderful information.. Thanks.

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  26. Hi,
    I just wanted to say thanks.Really nice & excellent post.

    Reply
  27. Thanks for sharing this great information. I really like your post.

    Reply
  28. Nice Post! Thank you for sharing great information.

    Reply
  29. Really enjoyed this post…Thanks for sharing useful information.

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  30. This really helps! thank you… starting to save up and im looking around to see what would work best for me.

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  31. I was wondering about battery consumption on these cameras? I have a Nikon that I would like to change because the batteries die very quickly and I cannot put rechargeable batteries in it…

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    • Are you using a camera that only takes AA batteries or one that doesn’t have a removable battery? These cameras listed all take Lithium Ion rechargeable batteries that are around 1000+ mAh (many camera batteries now are even upwards of 2000+ mAh). Rechargeable AA batteries are around that same capacity level, too, but discharge much more quickly and allow for fewer overall cycles. So you might not see a significant leap in shooting time, depending on the exact Li-On battery used, but it will have a relatively quick recharge time and have a longer shelf life.

      Reply
  32. I personally have been using a Nikon D3400 and am extremely happy with it as its not very heavy and is my first camera. It has treated me very well in the 5 months that I have had it and have gotten some professional level pics with it. For anyone wanting to start photography I recommend checking Amazon for refurbished package deals. I got one that had the camera, 2 lenses, cleaning kit, carry bag, camera strap, and a couple filters for retail price of just the camera and stock lens.

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  33. What would you suggest for taking dog pics? I know it sounds weird but I take pics for a dog rescue and that helps these guys get adopted. I have a nikon dslr I think it is the 3500.
    I wanted to upgrade but still keep reasonable price 1500. max

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    • A lens that comes to mind that might be a good fit is the Nikon 16-80mm f/2.8-4 VR. It is designed for crop sensor cameras like your D3500, giving it a 24mm-120mm equivalent focal range. That is still wide enough for photographing dogs inside small spaces but also long enough to be useful to you while traveling or photographing dogs who are running around and are far away from you. Another thing about like about this zoom is that it is relatively fast. On the wide end, you can open your aperture as wide as f/2.8 and it only stops down to f/4 on the long end – which is pretty good for a telephoto. These apertures are wide enough for lower-light situations and for achieving lovely out-of-focus backgrounds. Also, it has Vibration Reduction, allowing you to use slightly slower shutter speeds while still preventing camera shake. This is helpful if you’re in a particularly low-lit environment. The minimum focusing distance of this lens is a little over a foot – so you can shoot fairly close to the animal if desired and still achieve focus. Lastly, it retails for under your budget of $1500. But I would rent it first to make sure it’s a good ergonomic fit for you: https://www.borrowlenses.com/product/Nikon-1680mm-f284E-ED-VR-Lens

      Reply
  34. Would you recommend any DSLR Pro Level Cameras, that cost 1000$ or less?

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  35. Hello, I am a beginner with all things camera. I actually do the makeup and hair portion, but I would love to shoot my own subjects. This is something I very interested in and wanting to grow in. I have access to a studio and lighting, but I don’t want to spend a ton of money on a camera I won’t be able to operate. Please of someone could recommend a good beginner beauty shoot camera. Thank you

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  36. I’m looking for a good camera to start photography.
    I’m a beginner and a teen and there is no good option less than 700$.
    I really liked the Fuji xt10, if you think it’s really worth my money I would save for it.

    Reply

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