Best Cameras for Beginners in 2021: Specific Reviews

Updated on May 3, 2021
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For budding photographers, the best cameras need to be budget-friendly and easy to use without compromising on quality of photos and versatility. If you’ve recently taken an interest in photography, you’ll also want a camera that allows you to develop your skills and that has the ability to grow with you as you do so. Fortunately, there’s plenty of choice on the market, perhaps even too much.

For this reason, we here at netbooknews.com have narrowed down a list of the best cameras for beginners in 2021. These include your basic point and shoots, entry-level DSLRs, and mirrorless options. Whether you’re looking for a compact camera you can whip out on the go, or one that comes with a complete kit of accessories, we’ve got you covered.

Our Methodology

To find the best cameras for you, we’ve compared price, specs, and all the relevant tools for beginners to develop their photography skills. We look for features such as angle image quality, interchangeable lenses, electronic viewfinder, touchscreen, body image stabilization, and more. We test and rate the top brands taking into account industry standards, ratings, user reviews, and analysis from experts. Here is a list of the best cameras for beginners based on the quality of the photos, ease of use, control over settings, price, and versatility.

Recommendations for June 2021

  • Sony Cyber-shot WX220 – For a pocketable point and shoot, you’ll get decent resolution and stabilization for a very reasonable price.
  • Canon PowerShot SX740 – Boasting a huge optical zoom that fits in a compact stylish body, it’s ideal for those looking to improve their travel shots on the go.
  • Fujifilm XP140 – This rugged point and shoot is as tough as it is affordable. As well as great value for money, it’s waterproof, shockproof, and dust-proof.
  • Nikon D3500 – Great DSLR option for beginners as it’s easy to handle and use with impressive battery life and interactive guide mode. 
  • Canon EOS 2000D – Free of unnecessary bells and whistles and perfect for those looking for an entry-level DSLR at an affordable price.
  • Canon EOS 90D – An excellent all-rounder with plenty of features to help you grow as a photographer. 
  • Fujifilm X-T200 – Light and compact with awesome photo and video features, perfect for budding photographers and Instagrammers alike.
  • Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV – Pocket-sized and stylish but with many powerful features, this mirrorless has a lot to offer.
  • Panasonic LUMIX G100 – This is ideal for those looking to take both quality video and stills, making it great for those starting out in either hobby.

What to look for in a beginner’s camera

First of all, if you’re unsure what to look for in a beginner’s camera, we’ve put together a few pointers to get you started. In order to achieve the best beginner camera shots, you need an entry-level camera that has the right features to guarantee quality while still being user-friendly. Having said that, you should consider investing in an advanced camera that offers the potential for you to develop your skills and experiment with more complicated shots. Here are a few things to look for in a beginner’s camera.

1. Quality of Photos

In order to take the best quality photos, you need to consider more than just pixel count. In fact, the majority of the latest models are fully capable of taking high-resolution photos. Most will fall somewhere between 16-60 megapixels, which is more than sufficient. Look for other features as well such as zoom range, large DSLR sensors, and manual controls. As a general rule of thumb, you’ll get better shots with an entry-level DSLR sensor, or mirrorless camera. We’ve also added a couple of quality point and shoot options to our list if you’re not as confident using manual features.

2. Ease of Use

The best cameras for beginners are the ones that are easy to use, which is key to getting great photographs. The more comfortable you are using your new camera, the better, no matter how many advanced features it has. Certain models will have a built-in interactive “guide” setting to help you, for example. This can be very useful for beginners. Get a good look at the camera and take into consideration the external controls as well. These can vary on the model and it’s better if they’re slightly simplified for beginners.

3. Control Over Settings

With more manual control over settings, you’ll have more creative input on the outcome of your photographs. Often cameras have the option to choose between automatic and manual settings. As a beginner, it depends on your preferences. Look for a simple touchscreen layout that allows you to access controls easily. Consider the external controls as well and how easy it is to change these settings. Battery life is another important factor. If you’re going to use your camera in continuous shooting mode you’ll need long-lasting batteries. DSLR camera batteries tend to be pretty durable, but you can also find mirrorless or point and shoot cameras with decent battery life. Check the specs before you buy.

4. Price

This depends on your budget. Set a narrow price range to explore as there are many models available that might just be cheaper than you might think, and otherwise, the wide range of choice could be a little overwhelming. Prioritize the features that are important to you, and whether you’d prefer to expand your range of accessories, for example. When it comes to cameras, you tend to get what you pay for, especially if you opt for the latest models by the tops brands. In our reviews, we’ve taken value for money into consideration to give a list of the cameras that give you more bang for your buck.

5. Ability to Grow With You

Even if you’re just starting out, it’s advisable to choose a camera that has the potential for you to develop your photography skills. The best cameras for beginners are those with interchangeable lenses, for example, as you can upgrade your kit and experiment with different styles of photography. If you’re ready to master the art of photography, check out our range of the best cameras for beginners, from point and shoot to DSLR, and mirrorless options.

Best Point-and-Shoot Cameras for Beginners

Sony Cyber-shot WX220

Sony Cyber-shot WX220
For a pocketable point and shoot, you’ll get decent resolution and stabilization for a very reasonable price.

The Sony Cyber-shot WX220 is ideal for beginner photographers looking for a compact, pocket-size point and shoot. With its 10x optical zoom, you’ll struggle to find a lens this good for this price on another such tiny camera. You’ll also get decent resolution and can edit your photos on the camera before sending them off to other devices, as it’s WiFi-enabled. If you’re looking for quality video, you can take advantage of the full HD performance as well.

The only negatives are that the LCD screen isn’t touch-sensitive and users have reported the menus being a little confusing at times. Other than that, it’s pretty straightforward to use and great for snapping pictures on the go.

Specs

  • Sensor 1.23-inch CMOS
  • Resolution 18.2MP
  • Video Full HD
  • Lens 25-250mm f/3.3-5.9 (10x optical)
  • Screen 2.7-inch 460,800 dots

Pros

  • Compact
  • Affordable
  • 10x optical zoom

Cons

  • No touchscreen
  • No viewfinder
  • Menus a little confusing

Canon PowerShot SX740

Canon Powershot SX740
Boasting a huge optical zoom that fits in a compact stylish body, it’s ideal for those looking to improve their travel shots on the go.

The impressive 40x optical zoom is the key feature of the Canon PowerShot SX740. It also has body image stabilization making it very user-friendly for beginners, and continuous shooting mode. Autofocus stays active as well in continuous shooting mode. As well as being great for beginner photography you can also enjoy its excellent video performance.

The downside is that it doesn’t have a viewfinder or a touchscreen, but you’ll still get your bang for your buck. It has a lot of features and performs well for such a reasonably priced point and shoot.

Specs

  • Sensor 1.2-3-inch
  • Resolution 20.3MP
  • Video 4K UHD
  • Lens 24-960mm f/3.3-6.9 (40x optical)
  • Screen 3.0-inch 922,000 dots

Pros

  • 40x optical zoom
  • Excellent video performance
  • Reasonably priced

Cons

  • No touchscreen
  • No viewfinder

Fujifilm XP140

Fujifilm XP140
This rugged point and shoot is as tough as it is affordable. As well as great value for money, it’s waterproof, shockproof, and dust-proof.

The Fujifilm XP140 is a great value for money and perfect for beginner photographers looking for a tough camera. Its rugged design is waterproof to 25m, shock-proof, freeze-proof, and dust-proof, so ideal for taking photos out and about or traveling. You won’t even need to worry about casing, making it ideal for adventure photography. The lens is stabilized and the sensor is back-illuminated, so works well underwater and in low light conditions.

Unfortunately, the 4K video isn’t great at only 15fps but the Full HD video makes up for it. This affordable point and shoot is a good choice for those who want to experiment with taking outdoor photos and videos.

Specs

  • Sensor 1.2-3-inch
  • Resolution 16.4MP
  • Video 4K 15fps Full HD 60fps
  • Lens 28-140mm f/3.9-4.9 (5x optical)
  • Screen 3.0-inch screen, 920,000 dots

Pros

  • Sturdy machine
  • 5x optical zoom
  • Affordable

Cons

  • 4K video only 15fps

Best DSLR Cameras for Beginners

Nikon D3500

Nikon D3500
Great DSLR option for beginners as it’s easy to handle and use with impressive battery life and interactive guide mode.

If you’re ready for your first DSLR then the Nikon D3500 is a great place to start. It’s pretty basic for a DSLR but you’ll get excellent quality photos. The best feature for beginners is a built-in interactive “guide”. This takes you through all the controls in shooting mode, giving you a quick tutorial. What could be better if you’re new to manual photography? You can view the guide on the rear LCD screen, which unfortunately isn’t touch-sensitive, but it will make your life easier.

Nikon has a range of interchangeable lenses available so as your photography skills develop you can try out different styles of shooting. Overall the Nikon D3500 is good value for money, and a decent DSLR to start with. You can then begin to collect the Nikon accessories as you grow as a photographer.

Specs

  • Sensor APS-C
  • Resolution 24.2MP
  • Screen 3-inch, 921,000 dots
  • Video Full HD

Pros

  • Interactive “guide” mode
  • Excellent handling

Cons

  • No touchscreen
  • Basic controls

Canon EOS 2000D

Temporarily unavailable

This entry-level DSLR is one of the cheapest in the Canon range, so if you’re working with a limited budget, it’s a good option. It’s still a DSLR meaning you’ll have access to a variety of interchangeable lenses and other cool accessories. The best thing is that it’s designed to give beginners a real taste of different styles of photography, without breaking the bank. It’s also WiFi-enabled and features full HD video. If you’re looking for your first DSLR camera, it’s a pretty good all-rounder. It’s certainly great value for money as well.

Specs

  • Sensor APS-C CMOS
  • Resolution 24.1MP
  • Screen 3-inch 920,000 dots
  • Video Full HD

Pros

  • User-friendly, logical controls

Cons

  • No touchscreen 

Canon EOS 90D

Canon EOS 90D
An excellent all-rounder with plenty of features to help you grow as a photographer.

The Canon EOS 90D is a little more up-market, and with the price to match. It is, however, packed with amazing features meaning this camera will offer you a lot of potential to grow. If you’re serious about photography then it’s a great investment. On the other hand, it is a lot to spend on your first camera. One thing’s for sure, you will get what you’re paying for as this powerful machine creates wonderfully detailed stills as well as videos. It’s also ergonomic and comfortable to use. There are plenty of features to get stuck into and you can enjoy hours of fun doing so as it also has very decent battery life.

Specs

  • Sensor APS-C CMOS
  • 3-inch touchscreen 1,040,000 dots
  • Resolution 32.5MP
  • Video 4K/30fps

Pros

  • High-resolution sensor
  • Decent video performance

Cons

  • Expensive
  • No image stabilization

Best Mirrorless Cameras for Beginners

Fujifilm X-T200

Fujifilm X-T200
Light and compact with awesome photo and video features, perfect for budding photographers and Instagrammers alike.

A stylish option for beginner photographers or vloggers, the Fujifilm X-T200 is lightweight yet it handles extremely well. It has high resolution and will also produce quality video. Its large vari-angle touchscreen is very convenient to use in a number of lighting conditions. Another advantage over its competitors is that with this model you get an electronic viewfinder upgrade making it even more convenient to use for beginners. The 15-45mm kit lens offers excellent wide-angle image quality, making it very suitable for large landmarks, or interiors. The price is reasonable for the number of features you’ll get and it’s a very versatile piece of equipment.

Specs

  • Sensor APS-C
  • Resolution 24.2MP
  • 3.5-inch vari-angle touchscreen 2,760,000 dots
  • Video 4K

Pros

  • Large touchscreen
  • Good video performance
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • No X-Trans sensor

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV

Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV
Pocket-sized and stylish but with many powerful features, this mirrorless has a lot to offer.

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV may be small but it’s still incredibly powerful. If you’re looking for a pocket-size piece of equipment to kickstart your photography hobby, then it could be the one for you. It features Olympus’ latest sensor along with new and improved body image stabilization. As an entry-level camera, there’s pretty much nothing it can’t do. It’s perfect for those who don’t like the idea of carting around a heavier camera. It’s small and lightweight so convenient to take with you on the go. 

Specs

  • Sensor – Micro Four Thirds
  • Resolution 20.3MP
  • 3-inch tilting touchscreen 1,037,000 dots
  • Video 4K UHD

Pros

  • Olympus’ latest 20MO sensor
  • 5-axis body image stabilization

Cons

  • Plastic exterior

Panasonic LUMIX G100

Sale
Panasonic LUMIX G100
This is ideal for those looking to take both quality video and stills, making it great for those starting out in either hobby.

The Panasonic LUMIX G100 is straightforward to use whether you want to capture quality stills or film your latest vlog. It feels very comfortable in the hand due to its exterior buttons and ergonomic design. The electronic viewfinder is also very powerful and you can record using its audio-recording functions.

The camera was designed with social media creatives in mind, but in fact, it’s very versatile. Its easy-to-use advanced features make it accessible to both beginner and experienced photographers and vloggers. If you’re interested in pursuing either photography, vlogging, or both, this could be the right camera for you.

Specs

  • Sensor – Micro Four Thirds
  • Resolution 20.3MP
  • 3-inch vari-angle screen 1,840,000 dots
  • Video 4K UHD

Pros

  • Excellent video performance
  • Quality photos
  • Audio-recording features
  • Electronic viewfinder

Cons

  • No headphone jack
  • No USB-C
  • No in-body stabilization

Conclusion

We have selected a variety of cameras to suit the different lifestyles of budding photographers. The best model for you depends on how you plan to use it. In general, point and shoot cameras are portable, straightforward to use, and affordable. For the best value of money, check out the ones on our list.

If you’re interested in more manual features, a DSLR or mirrorless camera might be more appropriate for you. Again, it depends on what you’re going to do with them. Overall, mirrorless cameras tend to be more lightweight, and DSLRs more rugged. Both types are compatible with a range of accessories, however cross-compatibility depends on the brand.

For a beginner, the best thing is to choose a camera that will grow with your abilities. Do your research and find the model that’s features best align with your goals as a photographer. Don’t forget to factor in your budget as well. We’ve tried our best to come up with value-for-money cameras across a wide price range. If you would like to learn more about how to choose the best camera for you, check out our blog.

FAQ’s

Should I buy a kit or just the body?

This depends on the type of camera. If you’re buying your first DSLR camera it’s worth investing in the kit as well. Kit lenses are actually pretty decent and fine for beginners. You can expand your range of lenses and other accessories later if you want. If you’re looking for a more compact point and shoot to take with you on the go, then you could just opt for the body to start with. It’s important to choose a camera with the ability to grow with you, however.

What accessories will I need?

Useful accessories to have for budding photographers include a tripod, spare memory cards, batteries, and a neck, wrist, or shoulder strap for your camera. Start with a prime lens, then you can collect different lenses as you build your abilities. You could also look into trying out neutral density or polarizing filters to take shots in different settings. A remote shutter release is also a good tool to have as you can take photos from your tripod without touching the camera. If you’re planning on taking your camera out with you, it’s worth investing in a proper cleaning kit and a camera bag as well.

Is Canon or Nikon better for beginners?

The truth is both Canon and Nikon offer great options for beginners. One advantage of Canon for those wanting to develop their skills is the wide range of lenses, from wide to mid, to zoom and superzoom. Nikon, on the other hand, offers wide to zoom ratio lenses which allow for flexibility and versatility as you’re just starting out. Their cameras also tend to be more ergonomic. This does often depend on how they fit the user, however. You can’t really go wrong with either of these brands so prioritize features depending on your needs as a photographer.

Do more megapixels mean better photo quality?

A higher megapixel count on a camera sensor will allow it to capture more detail, but there are other important factors that contribute to photo quality. The lens, settings, and skills of the user will also affect the outcome of the photos. More megapixels are necessary for larger images and prints, as the image remains clear as you zoom in, but it’s possible to take quality photos at a lower level. Most cameras range between 16 and 60mp which is ample.

How much should I spend on my first camera?

If you’re just starting out, you can expect to spend a couple of hundred to a thousand on your first camera, so it really depends on your budget and your plans. Camera prices can be even higher as the features become more advanced. Consider your goals as a photographer. An entry-level camera will only take you so far, whereas a mid-range model will give you more opportunities to reach your potential.

Article by:
Louie Lovoy
As the editor of Netbook News, when he's not editing articles on the latest tech trends, you can find him spending time with family and friends, cheering at his boys' little league games, or backpacking in the North Georgia mountains.

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