Looking for the best camera you can buy in 2021? Whether you’re in the market for a beginner DSLR, a premium compact or a high-end mirrorless model, we’ve tested all of the top cameras for every type of photographer.
We regularly update this buying guide to include the latest releases. So whatever your needs, budget and expectations, our comprehensive list of the best cameras is sure to help you find your perfect shooting tool.
There are several factors to consider when selecting the best camera for you. First and foremost will always be budget, but it’s also important to consider how and what you want to shoot. As our list shows, the best cameras in each category come in a range of shapes, sizes and styles. The Fujifilm X100V, for example, is a superb sidekick for street photography, while the full-frame Nikon Z7 II offers fantastic handling and speedy performance for enthusiasts.
If you’re looking to upgrade from smartphone photography, you might want to consider one of the strong all-rounders featured in our list. The Fujifilm X-S10 and Nikon Z50 both offer versatile, portable mirrorless photography at relatively accessible prices. Experienced photographers, on the other hand, might find that a full-frame system better suits their skills. Models such as the Canon EOS R6 and Nikon Z6 II are both at the forefront of photographic technology, while the Sony A1 is arguably the ultimate mirrorless camera money can buy.
Every camera recommended below has been selected because it offers something special. That could be top-end performance, superior handling or simply excellent value for money. From stills-focused pro models to the ultimate vlogging options, every camera featured represents the best in its particular class.
Want a shortcut to the best all-round camera you can buy in 2021? Our overall favorite right now is the Fujifilm X-T4. Versatile, powerful and distinctive, it’s the best hybrid camera on the market at the moment. But that doesn’t mean it's the perfect option for everyone – especially if you’ve already invested in lenses from another manufacturer. The Sony A7 III, for example, is a slightly older option that continues to represent outstanding value for money.
Read the entire guide below and you’re sure to find a camera that best fits your shooting needs. Every entry in our round-up is a proven performer – all you need to do is pick which one best fits your needs and budget.
The best cameras 2021:
Looking for a hybrid camera that's just as capable at shooting video as it is stills? The Fujifilm X-T4 is the best option around. It's the finest APS-C camera we've ever tested and builds on the Fujifilm X-T3's impressive foundation by adding in-body image stabilization (IBIS), faster burst shooting and some successful design tweaks. Adding to its all-rounder skills are a bigger battery (which keeps it going for 500 shots per charge) and some improved autofocus, which is fast and reliable in most scenarios. Its 26MP APS-C sensor remains class-leading for stills, but the X-T4's real trump card is its performance as a video camera. The IBIS is a huge bonus here, and the X-T4 backs that up with a huge range of tools and a great shooting experience, including a fully articulating touchscreen. It might cost the same as many full-frame cameras, but the X-T4 and its fine range of X-series lenses make a great, smaller alternative for those looking for a mirrorless all-rounder.
While the Canon EOS R5 is overkill for most people, the EOS R6 is a more affordable full-frame alternative that is simply one of the best cameras you can buy today. If you already own one of Canon's early mirrorless full-framers like the EOS R, or any of its DSLRs, this is a more than worthy upgrade. The EOS R6 brings best-in-class autofocus, a superb in-body image stabilization system, and burst shooting powers that mark it out as a very fine camera for wildlife or sports photography. Despite its ability to shoot 4K/60p video, the EOS R6 lacks options like the ability to DCI 4K and has overheating limitations compared to rivals like the Sony A7S III, making it better suited to stills photographers. But for the latter, it's an excellent (if pricey) option that delivers hugely impressive autofocus, handling and features that make it one of the best options around for anyone looking to move into full-frame photography.
The aging Nikon Z6 reigned as our number one camera for a long time – and while its Z6 II is only a modest successor, both cameras should definitely be on your shortlist if you're looking for a full-frame sidekick. The Z6 continues to offer great value and the best handling around, but we think the Z6 II is just about worth the extra cost if you can afford it. Its additional EXPEED 6 processor brings a host of improvements, including new 14fps burst mode (up from 12fps on the Z6) and some handy autofocus boosts (particularly for animal eye/face detection). You also get an extra UHS-II card slot, which joins the existing XQD/CFexpress slot, and a firmware update will bring a new 4K/60p video mode in February 2021. It's a shame there's a slight wait for the latter, but otherwise the Z6 II nicely updates the Z6's very solid foundation. The 24MP full-frame BSI CMOS sensor performs well at high ISOs, and the Z6 II has class-leading build quality that feels more substantial than its rivals.
- Read our in-depth Nikon Z6 II review
- Also consider: Sony Alpha A7 III
- Buying guide: Best mirrorless camera
It's hard to think of another camera that offers the same blend of size, performance affordability and charm as the Fujifilm X-S10. For both hobbyists and pros looking for a small second body, it's an excellent option that covers all the bases for stills and video. You get a tried-and-tested 26.1MP APS-C sensor (the same as the one in the Fujifilm X-T4, see above) and, impressively for a camera this small, in-body image stabilization (IBIS). This feature, which helps you preserve image quality while shooting handheld, can also be found in some small Sony and Olympus cameras, but none of those offer the X-S10's excellent handling or range of features. It has a handy vari-angle screen, great build quality, and shoots impressive 4K video, too. Pair it with a prime lens and you have a fine travel or street camera – thanks to X-S10's large grip, though, it'll also match nicely with longer lenses as well.
Despite its age, we still love the A7 III. The core of the camera – namely a 24MP full-frame sensor, 4K video, sensor-based image stabilization, 10fps burst shooting and a 693-point hybrid AF system – remains very competitive, but with two card slots and a 710-shot battery life on top of that, you're getting excellent value for money alongside top performance. Some firmware updates have further refined its AF performance, bringing treats like real-time Eye AF for animals, and there's now a huge range of lenses to choose from. We have some slight reservations about the viewfinder and weather-sealing, but the A7 III is still one of the most versatile cameras around – and it's never offered better value either.
- Read our in-depth Sony Alpha A7 III review
- Also consider: Nikon Z6
- Buying guide: Best mirrorless camera
It's not a huge leap forward from the Nikon Z7, but then the Z7 II didn't really need to be. With a blend of subtle but important upgrades, including improved autofocus and a deeper buffer, this full-frame mirrorless camera is a very fine choice – particularly if you're making the move from an older Nikon DSLR. The Z7 II combines Nikon's signature handling with an excellent 45.7MP full-frame sensor, which is the same as the one we loved in its predecessor. This means you get class-leading dynamic range, sharp edge-to-edge detail and a handy 19MP APS-C crop mode, for sports or wildlife shooting. Some rivals may offer more in the way of video features and autofocus performance (for action shots in particular), but the Nikon Z7 II brings internal 4K/60p video and remains one of the best full-frame cameras you can buy today. With the Z system's lens collection also growing this year, now is the time to make the switch from your DSLR.
Looking for a smaller, more affordable version of the full-frame Nikon Z6 for travel and general shooting? The Z50 fits the bill and is an excellent entry into mid-range, APS-C cameras from Nikon. It's particularly suitable for those looking to move to mirrorless from a Nikon DSLR as, unlike more petite rivals like the Fujifilm X-T30, it prioritizes handling thanks to its large, deep grip. The Z50 produces great photos and has the same excellent autofocus system as the Nikon Z6, which works very well for static subjects, but can't quite match the performance of something like the Sony A6400 when it comes to sports and action. With an impressive viewfinder and tilting touchscreen, though, the Z50 is a great camera for travel and general shooting, and is compatible with older F-mount lenses via an optional adaptor, along with Nikon's new Z-Mount glass.
On paper, the Fujifilm X100V shouldn’t make sense: a compact camera styled like something from the 1950s, with a fixed 23mm f/2 lens and a premium price tag. Yet the model’s predecessors have become iconic among photographers – and the X100V looks set to follow suit. Understated and timeless, there’s something very special about that compact retro body.
The X100V keeps what works, only tweaking what it needs to: there's now a very handy tilting touchscreen and a weather-resistant body (although you need to add a filter to the lens to get full weather-sealing). The series’ fixed aperture lens setup has always been fantastic for street and portrait photography, and results are only better now that Fujifilm’s added a new 26.1MP APS-C sensor paired with the latest X-Processor 4. Autofocus is faster, noise control better and image quality improved. The hybrid EVF – both optical and electronic – packs a higher-resolution, too.
Add a quicker continuous shooting rate and 4K video into the mix and you’ve got one very desirable compact. Sure, it’s niche and certainly not cheap, but there’s nothing else quite like it.
- Read our in-depth Fujifilm X100V review
- Also consider: Sony Cyber-shot RX100 VII
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Since its launch five years ago, the entry-level Sony A6000 has proven a hugely popular mirrorless camera. Its successor, the A6100, takes the existing recipe and adds several tweaks that help it compete with today’s mirrorless pack. Compact yet capable, the A6100 pairs a beginner-friendly build with a feature set that won’t disappoint the more adventurous. It can take time to understand the camera’s potential, but there’s plenty of it: the APS-C sensor is the same 24.2MP chip found in Sony’s more premium cameras, while the autofocus system is shared with the flagship Sony A6600. The result is excellent continuous tracking abilities and, paired with a good lens, images with plenty of detail and generally accurate colors. Battery life is also decent and the tilting screen is now touch-sensitive, though its functionality is fairly limited. Certain performance and handling quirks are shared with its more expensive siblings – Auto ISO doesn’t suit fast-moving subjects, for example – but these are more forgivable on an entry-level model, especially such a solid all-rounder as the A6100. It deserves to be just as popular as its predecessor.
This list is dominated by mirrorless cameras, but if you still prefer the benefits of DSLRS – namely, their handling, superior battery lives and value – then the Nikon D3500 is the best one around for beginners looking to get started in photography. Taking the baton from the hugely successful Nikon D3400, it brings a 24MP APS-C sensor and an incredible 1,550-shot battery life that beats the stamina of most mirrorless cameras by about three times. The useful Guide mode is there to walk beginners through creating effects like a blurred background, while the Nikon DX system has a vast array of lenses. If you're starting out, we'd recommend buying the D3500 with the AF-P DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR lens, as its brings handy vibration reduction for very little extra cost. Those looking for a travel-friendly camera should still consider mirrorless alternatives like the Fujifilm X-T200 and Canon EOS M50, but otherwise this remains a brilliant way to learn the photographic basics and start your new hobby.
- Read our in-depth Nikon D3500 review
- Also consider: Canon EOS Rebel SL3 / EOS 250D
- Buying guide: Best DSLR
For a long time it looked like the Sony A7S III was never going to arrive, but it was well worth the wait – if you're looking for a video-focused, full-frame hybrid camera, this is currently the best one you can buy. In fact, the only reason the A7S III isn't higher in this list is because of that pro-level price tag. If you can afford it and need a small, 4K camera that's extremely capable in low light, then you certainly won't be disappointed. Video quality is exceptional, and you can record for a very long time too – unlike the more limited Canon EOS R5, we didn't encounter any overheating warnings and were able to shoot for well beyond 30 minutes.
The A7S III is a pro camera packed with pro video features: the ability shoot 16-bit raw over its full-size HDMI port, excellent autofocus, a 9.44MP viewfinder and in-body image stabilization (IBIS) to help iron out those micro-jitters when shooting handheld. Naturally, you also get a headphone jack and 3.5mm microphone jack, plus the option of XLR audio and four audio inputs via the XLR-K3M hot-shoe accessory. If you don't demand high resolution stills, it's a more than capable camera for your photos, too. There's no doubt it's pricey, but the Sony A7S III is also the best camera in its class and takes mirrorless video to new heights.
- Read our in-depth Sony A7S III review
- Also consider: Blackmagic Pocket Cinema Camera 4K
- Buying guide: Best 4K camera
Looking for a compact vlogging camera for your YouTube channel? The Sony ZV-1 is the best around. Sony has smartly combined all of the best bits from its various RX100 series cameras, and added some handy design tweaks, to make the a near-perfect pocket camera for video shooters. Its best feature is the combination of a bright 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 lens with Sony's Real-time tracking and Real-time Eye AF systems – together, these make it incredibly easy to shoot high-quality vlogs with attractive background blur and unerring focus. A 3.5mm microphone jack means you can also get audio quality that matches the ZV-1's video performance, while a hotshoe lets you mount accessories like a microphone or light without needing extra accessories like a bracket. Naturally, the battery life is pretty average and the stabilization isn't quite gimbal-smooth, but in every other respect this is the smartphone-beating camera vloggers have been waiting for.
- Read our in-depth Sony ZV-1 review
- Also consider: Canon G7 X Mark III
- Buying guide: Best cameras for vlogging
If you see the Canon EOS R5 as a pro stills camera with some impressive video features, then it's one of the best the photography giant has ever made. There's no doubt it has video limitations compared to a rival like the Sony A7S III, particularly for shooting longer clips. But for anyone looking to shoot mind-blowing stills in almost any situation, whether that's wildlife or studio work, it's a hugely impressive achievement.
Particularly worth of mention is the EOS R5's autofocus, which offers very accurate and reliable subject-detection and tracking – particularly when its comes to people or animals. You also get a superb 5.76-million pixel EVF, a body design that will be comfortably familiar to those coming from DSLRs, and the ability to shoot bursts at 12fps with the mechanical shutter (or 20fps with the electronic equivalent). The video performance, while limited to relatively short bursts, remains superior to the likes of the Nikon Z7 and Sony A9 II, too. With a growing collection of (albeit pricey) RF lenses, the Canon EOS R5 is the next-gen mirrorless camera that pro photographers have been waiting for.
- Read our in-depth Canon EOS R5 review
- Also consider: Canon EOS R6
- Buying guide: Best mirrorless camera
If you're looking for a tough, waterproof backup camera that you can stick pretty much anywhere, then the Hero9 Black is the best option around right now. Its new front-facing LCD is a boon for vlogging, while its 5K video mode captures more detail than any other action camera. That said, it's all of the Hero 9 Black's little software tricks that really elevate it above the Hero 8 Black and DJI Osmo Action. Its HyperSmooth stabilization now works in any video resolution or frame-rate, while features like TimeWarp and HindSight (which lets you capture that happened 15-30 seconds before you hit the shutter) are genuinely useful creative tools. If you don't need the Hero 9 Black's versatility or front screen, then the Hero 8 Black remains better value. It also currently has issues like a slightly unresponsive rear touchscreen, which GoPro is promising to fix with firmware updates. But if you're looking for a brilliant B-camera, or a main camera for adventure sports, then it's hard to beat the Hero 9 Black.
- Read our in-depth GoPro Hero 9 Black review
- Also consider: GoPro Hero 8 Black
- Buying guide: Best action camera
No camera can give you everything, but a rare few do come close – and the Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III is in that class. Its polycarbonate shell might feel like a step down from the body of its predecessor, but in the hand this mirrorless snapper is Goldilocks stuff: just right. Lighter than ever and fantastic to handle, the Mark III backs up its good looks with a powerful processor, superlative image stabilization and shooting modes to suit every skill level and style of shooting. There’s no escaping the fact that its Four Thirds sensor is behind the times on outright image quality, and there's now the slight issue of Olympus exiting the camera business. While this does put future servicing options in some doubt, we're still happy to recommend the OM-D E-M5 Mark III, as it'll remain a fantastic performer for years to come, regardless of its parent company's fate. Its combination of speed, style and sheer versatility make it a winner – add on-chip phase detection autofocus and 4K video chops to the mix and you’ve got yourself one of the best all-rounders on the market today.
- Read our in-depth Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III
- Also consider: Nikon Z50
- Buying guide: Best mirrorless camera
Looking for a small full-frame camera that can help you shoot an even mix of high-quality video and still photos? The Panasonic Lumix S5 is one of the best options around. Smaller than the Panasonic Lumix GH5, which has a much smaller Four Thirds sensor, the S5 is particularly talented when it comes to shooting video, offering an uncropped 4K/30p mode and other high-end specs that include V-log recording and Dual Native ISO. With a pretty modest burst shooting rate of 7fps, it's not the best choice for sports or action photography, but its 6K photo mode (which lets you extract 18MP stills from video) compensates to an extent, and it otherwise offers impressive image quality and a much-improved autofocus performance. This feels like the camera Panasonic should have launched its S series with, and there are very few rivals at this price point that offer its blend of size, performance and video features.
Despite not being perfect, the Nikon Z5 is the best entry-level full-frame model you can buy right now, making it a great option for those looking to upgrade to the larger sensor for the first time. With a 24.3 megapixel sensor that reliably produces vibrant, sharp and clean images, a reliable autofocusing system and a comfy and well-built body, there's a lot to like about the Nikon Z5. Equipping it with the same high-resolution viewfinder as its more advanced Z6/Z7 brothers is a nice touch that adds a touch of premium quality to proceedings. What lets the Z5 down are things that some might not even be too bothered about - the 4.5fps maximum frame rate being underwhelming for action shooters, and the crop applied to 4K video being frustrating for vloggers. Neither of those things? Happy days.
Fujifilm may not have full-frame cameras like many of its rivals, but it's managed to build on its successful X-series cameras with some impressive medium format alternatives. And with its GFX 100, it shows just how successful the marriage between X-series technology and a larger sensor can be, bringing together many well loved features with a 102MP (yes, 102MP) sensor that performs to an exceptional standard. While there are other medium format cameras that exceed it for sensor resolution, none can match the kind if usability we have here, with masses of control over your shooting together with a stunning 5.76 million-dot electronic viewfinder and great 4K video quality to boot. It's not perfect, and it'll cost you dearly, but it's unquestionably the most well-rounded medium format camera we've seen yet.
- Read our in-depth Fujifilm GFX 100 review
- Also consider: Fujifilm GFX 50S
- Buying guide: Best mirrorless camera
If your budget matches the buffer of the Canon 1D X Mark III – practically unlimited – then it’s all the camera you’ll ever need. Canon’s latest full-frame DSLR is so feature-packed and powerful that, if it had four-wheels, it would probably beat a Ferrari.
As sturdy and sizable as the 1DX Mark II before it, the Mark III is 90g lighter and notably easier to control: the excellent new Smart Controller uses optical sensors to let you navigate focus points by swiping lightly with your thumb.
Driven by a new Digic X processing chip that’s three times quicker than that of its predecessor, the 1DX Mark III is also capable of capturing 4K footage at 50fps and achieving properly impressive continuous frame rates.
Autofocus is unparalleled, too, thanks to deep learning smarts that ensure incredible precision in subject detection, while speeds will shame any mirrorless or DSLR rival, whether you use the optical viewfinder or fixed Live View touchscreen. In short, it’s a flagship in every sense – but you’ll have to pay a hefty premium for the privilege of owning it.
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