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Best Digital Cameras

Updated June 2018
Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 86 Models Considered
  • 15 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 144 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best digital cameras

    Last Updated June 2018

    Smartphone cameras have certainly upped their game in recent years, but if you’re really into photography, you need a dedicated camera. Even if you’re not an experienced photographer, a digital camera makes it easy to produce crisp, clear pictures every time.

    To find the right digital camera, you need to know the answers to some questions. What resolution, lens, and sensor type would be best for your needs? Are there other features that would benefit your photography? Are there features that you don’t need?

    At BestReviews, it’s our mission to make shopping as painless as possible. If you’re in the market for a digital camera, you’ll find our top recommendations in the matrix above. If you need general tips on buying the right digital camera, you can turn to the shopping guide below for plenty of good advice.

    Digital SLR cameras are usually the largest and bulkiest of all digital cameras. Professional photographers and serious hobbyists may see the most benefit from owning a DSLR camera.

    Types of digital cameras

    Point-and-shoot cameras

    Point-and-shoot digital cameras, also known as digital compact cameras, are the easiest type of camera to use. Using automatic mode, you simply point the camera at your desired object and take a photo. However, you’re not able to make many adjustments with point-and-shoot cameras, such as changes to the aperture or shutter speed settings.

    A point-and-shoot camera is usually small enough to fit in your bag or pocket. It’s an ideal option for beginners or casual photographers.

    Price: You can expect to pay between $80 and $1,000 for a point-and-shoot digital camera. Expect to pay up to $200 for a camera with 12 or fewer megapixels, a one-inch or smaller sensor, and just a few special features usually cost between. The specs improve a bit in the $200 to $600 price range; here you can find cameras with 12 to 20 megapixels, a one-inch sensor, and several special features. Top dollar – between $600 and $1,000 – will get you a point-and-shoot camera with 20 or more megapixels, a sensor that’s larger than one inch, and many special features.

    Bridge/super-zoom cameras

    Bridge cameras, also known as super-zoom digital cameras, are similar to point-and-shoot cameras in some ways, but they are semi-automatic. This means you can make changes to the exposure settings. Bridge cameras usually have a manual mode, too, which allows you to have complete control over the settings. The lens offers a much longer zoom range than point-and-shoot cameras, but it cannot be changed.

    Price: You can expect to pay between $175 and $550 for a bridge/super-zoom digital camera. Lower-end bridge cameras with 12 megapixels or less, a sensor that’s smaller than one inch, and just a few special features usually cost between $175 and $275. Bridge cameras with 12 to 20 megapixels, a sensor that’s approximately one inch, and several special features usually cost between $275 and $375. At the top of the range are bridge cameras with 20 or more megapixels. For somewhere between $375 and $550, you can get one with a sensor larger than one inch and lots of other special features.

    Pro quality and easy to use

    The Panasonic Lumix Digital Camera makes it easy to capture all of life’s most memorable moments. Thanks to 4K photo technology, you can snap 30 frames per second in Ultra HD video and extract the frames as individual photos. And you can banish blur: the 24x zoom and f2.8 aperture make taking photos in low light nearly foolproof. Best of all, this rugged, dustproof, waterproof camera easily withstands outdoor use.

    DSLR cameras

    The versatile digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) camera is an advanced digital option. These cameras are fairly bulky, especially compared to point-and-shoot cameras. There is a manual mode that allows you to customize settings like shutter speed or aperture, as well as an automatic mode for easy shooting. You can change the lens on a DSLR camera based on situation or setting. DSLR cameras feature a large image sensor for higher-quality images.

    Price: You can expect to pay between $500 and $3,500 for a DSLR camera. Cameras with 12 or fewer megapixels, a sensor smaller than one inch, and just a few special features usually cost between $500 and $1,000. For 12 to 20 megapixels, a sensor that’s approximately one inch, and several special features, you can expect to pay between $1,000 and $2,000. The priciest DSLRs run between $2,000 and $3,500 and offer 20 or more megapixels, a sensor larger than one inch, and numerous special features.

    Mirrorless ILCs

    A mirrorless interchangeable lens camera (ILC), or compact system camera, is similar to a DSLR camera. You can use it in manual, automatic, or semi-automatic modes, and you can change the lens based on where and what you’re shooting. These cameras have fairly large image sensors for high-quality photos.

    Mirrorless ILCs are much smaller than DSLR cameras. In fact, they are closer in size to point-and-shoot cameras. That’s because the mirrorless ILC doesn’t contain an optical viewfinder with an internal mirror like the DSLR camera does. Instead, the mirrorless cameras have an electronic viewfinder or LCD screen that enables you to see what you’re shooting.

    Price: You can expect to pay between $400 and $1,500 for a mirrorless interchangeable lens digital camera. The least-expensive mirrorless cameras range between $400 and $700. For the money, you can expect a camera with 12 or fewer megapixels, a sensor that’s smaller than one inch, and just a few special features. For $700 to $1,000, you can get a mirrorless camera with 12 to 20 megapixels, a sensor that’s approximately one inch, and several special features. At the top of the pricing tier, you can get a mirrorless camera with 20+ megapixels, a sensor larger than one inch, and lots of special features for between $1,000 and $1,500.

    EXPERT TIP

    Point-and-shoot digital cameras are good for traveling because they’re smaller and lighter than advanced digital cameras.


    Staff  | BestReviews
    EXPERT TIP

    Some point-and-shoot digital cameras are waterproof to a certain depth. If you’re planning to take vacation photos at the beach or pool, this type of camera is ideal.


    Staff  | BestReviews

    Digital camera features to consider

    Sensor

    The sensor is the digital camera component that captures the image. Large sensors usually offer the best photos, particularly if you’re shooting in low light. There is no standard size measurement for camera sensors, which can make choosing the right one difficult.

    Some digital cameras, particularly DSLRs, have a full-frame sensor. This is the largest option on the market. For the best photos possible, look for an advanced camera with at least a one-inch sensor.

    Resolution

    A digital camera’s resolution, or image clarity, is measured in megapixels (MP). The more megapixels, the greater the detail the camera can capture. However, you can get too much of a good thing – if a digital camera has too many megapixels for its size, there is less surface area available to capture the light, which means you could end up with grainy photos. For the best photos, look for a digital camera with a minimum of eight MP.

    Lens and aperture

    The lens on your digital camera also plays a key role in the quality of your photos. Choose a lens that offers optical image stabilization, which allows for sharper photos even in dim lighting, as well as a large maximum aperture.

    The aperture refers to the size of the lens opening. High-end digital cameras allow you to manually set the aperture to impact how much light the sensor receives. You can determine how large the maximum aperture is for a camera by looking at its f-stop number. The lower the f-stop number, the larger the maximum aperture. Opt for a camera that is f/1.8 or f/2.8 to make sure you get a lot of light for bright, clear photos – even in low lighting.

    Some digital cameras are equipped with interchangeable lenses that you attach to the front of the camera. A model that allows you to change the lenses provides many more options for your photography, from close up to wide.

    Some digital cameras feature built-in GPS that allows you to geotag your photos with latitude and longitude coordinates. You can use mapping software to identify the location where you took the photos.

    Staff
    BestReviews

    Viewfinder

    Some digital cameras have an optical viewfinder that requires you to bring the camera to your eye to see your subject. Others feature an electronic viewfinder; this is usually an LCD screen on the back of the camera that allows you to see what’s in the frame.

    Whichever type of viewfinder you choose, make sure it shows as much of the scene in the display as possible. Ideally, you want a camera that shows 100% of the scene. This is known as “ 100% coverage.”

    Flash

    Digital cameras usually have a high-quality, built-in flash, but you’ll have more control if you choose a model that allows you to adjust the flash brightness. If you’re particularly concerned about the quality of your indoor photos, look for a digital camera with an external flash, which increases the light’s strength and allows you to control its direction.

    ISO

    A digital camera’s ISO is a measure of the image sensor’s sensitivity – how well it can take photos in dim lighting without the flash. Cameras that enable you to set the ISO speed at a higher rate are more effective in these conditions, so look for a model with a maximum speed of 6400 ISO or greater.

    Image stabilization

    If you don’t have steady hands, it’s easy to wind up with blurry photos when you’re shooting with a digital camera. Fortunately, digital cameras offer two types of image stabilization to prevent blurriness: optical and digital.

    • Optical image stabilization is usually superior because there’s a component in the camera that physically shifts to balance any shakiness.

    • Digital image stabilization counteracts blurriness with built-in software, but the finished product usually isn’t as sharp as photos from a camera with optical image stabilization.

    Versatility for plenty of creativity

    The Canon PowerShot SX420 features a 20MP sensor and Canon DIGIC 4+ image processor to make shooting vivid landscapes, wildlife, or family events as easy as pressing a button. Smart AUTO automatically selects the best camera settings for each situation to render crisp, clear photos every time. And with effects like fisheye and monochrome, you can get as creative as you like.

    Shutter speed

    If you have children or pets, chances are good that you’ll be snapping plenty of photos of moving objects. A digital camera’s shutter speed refers to how long the shutter is open. Cameras with faster shutter speeds are better able to capture images of fast-moving objects.

    Shutter speed is measured in tenths or hundredths of a second. For the best photos of moving objects, opt for a digital camera with a shutter speed of at least 1/500 of a second.

    Shooting rate

    When you’re taking candid photos or shooting moving objects, it helps to have a digital camera with a feature that allows you to capture a bunch of photos by simply holding down the shutter. This feature is usually called continuous shooting mode, and you can determine how effective it is by shooting rate. Shooting rate is measured in frames per second (FPS), so if you frequently take action photos, look for a camera with a shooting rate of at least 10 frames per second, or 10 FPS.

    Video

    Digital cameras are equipped with a video feature that allows you to record video as well as take photos. Look for a digital camera that offers full HD (high-definition) video with 1080 pixels for crisp, clear images. Or, consider a higher-end digital camera that has Ultra HD or 4K; this newer technology offers the highest video resolution. Also make sure that the camera has a high-quality microphone if you’ll be using it to record videos.

    WiFi connectivity

    Many digital cameras offer WiFi connectivity, so you can easily send photos from the camera to your smartphone or other connected devices. Otherwise, you need to connect your camera to your computer or device via a cord to transfer photos.

    A camera bag can help protect your digital camera from damage. Look for a sturdy bag with effective cushioning.

    FAQ

    Q. What kind of battery does a digital camera use?

    A. Because digital camera components require a lot of energy, they typically use rechargeable batteries. Some use nickel metal hydride (NiMH) batteries, which are essentially rechargeable AA batteries. Others use a rechargeable lithium-ion (Li-ion) battery pack.

    Q. What accessories do I need for a digital camera?

    A. Most digital cameras come with a memory card for storing photos, but the card usually has a fairly small capacity. You’ll likely want to upgrade to a larger-capacity memory card to store high-resolution photos. You may also wish to purchase a battery charger to fuel the battery, a tripod, and a camera case.

    The team that worked on this review
    • Devangana
      Devangana
      Web Producer
    • Eliza
      Eliza
      Production Manager
    • Jennifer
      Jennifer
      Writer
    • Melissa
      Melissa
      Senior Editor