The 10 Best Cameras of 2021

Updated on February 16, 2021
best-cameras

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Are you wanting better photos than your phone can provide? We test and rate hundreds of cameras every year, and in this article, you’ll see some of our favorite models. We’ve tried to cover a variety of price points in this general overview, ranging from pocketable shooters to high-end medium format systems.

It’s a different experience trying to buy a digital camera these days. With the way smartphone cameras continue to improve, less and less people are buying  digital cameras. And because of that, there aren’t as many quality, point-and-shoots that are budget friendly. That’s not to say there’s not pocket-friendly cameras out there, but you have to spend more to get one that produces better photos than a smartphone, and on this list you’ll find exactly that.

We’ve included everything from waterproof models to point-and-shoots that have larger image sensors than smartphones, so you can have better zoom and better quality in dim light.

For the more serious photographer, full-frame cameras are typically the way to go, which we include here on our list as well.

Without further ado, here’s everything you need to know to pick the best digital camera for your needs.

Best 10 Cameras for March 2021

  • Olympus Tough TG-6 – The TG-6 is the best waterproof point-and-shoot on the market.
  • Canon EOS M50 – The Canon EOS M50 is a great SLR mirrorless camera for beginners.
  • Sony a7 III – The Sony a7 III is the best full-frame camera for beginners.
  • Fujifilm X-T30 – The Fujifilm X-T30’s dial-based controls are enticing to novices and professionals alike, as it equips users with fast, accurate focus.
  • Sony a6400 – This Sony camera has the potential to meet the needs of everyday consumers and enthusiasts as it is easy to use for family snapshots with the image quality and speed professionals love.
  • Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II – The Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II is a pocketable camera that will please consumers.
  • Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III – The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III is an appealing camera for photographers already invested in Micro Four Thirds gear.
  • The Leica M10 Monochrom – The Leica M10 Monochrom is the dream camera for those who love black-and-white photography.
  • GoPro Max – This camera costs a bit more than the GoPro Hero8 Black, but is worth a look if you’re committed to 360-degree videography and editing.
  • Nikon D850 – The Nikon D850 is one of the top cameras on the list. It gets 5 stars in every category: exceptional build, extreme resolution, fast shooting, and amazing image quality, making it our favorite pro SLR.

Best Camera Reviews

Olympus Tough TG-6

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Olympus Tough TG-6
The TG-6 is the best waterproof point-and-shoot on the market

Specifications:

The TG-6 is the best waterproof point-and-shoot on the market. Its handgrip is decently deep, and the camera comes with a cloth wrist strap that you can use on land and underwater. It includes GPS, and Wi-Fi to connect to your smartphone. It takes about 1.6 seconds to power on, lock focus, and snap a picture. Its autofocus system is basic, but speedy, locking onto targets with about 0.1-second between pressing the shutter and making an image. Overall, it’s a good lens, and certainly the best you’ll find among other waterproof models with zoom capability.

Best Used For:

There aren’t many other underwater point and shoot cameras on the market, and for those who have tried to enter, Olympus continues to blow them out of the water with this waterproof TG series. The TG-6 doesn’t walk far from the established confines of the series, remaining reliable, sturdy, and most importantly creating quality photos above and underwater. At under $500, the TG-6 is a pocketable camera, a decent low-light option, and a waterproof design rated to fifty feet.

Pros:

  • Sturdy, waterproof.
  • Add-on lenses and macro lights available.
  • Wide aperture lens.
  • Sharp rear LCD.

Cons:

  • No touch screen.
  • LCD can pick up scuffs and scratches.
  • Video feature lag behind action cameras.
  • Wi-Fi app pushes spammy notifications.

Canon EOS M50

Canon EOS M50
The Canon EOS M50 is a great SLR mirrorless camera for beginners.

Specifications:

The Canon EOS M50 is a great SLR mirrorless camera for beginners. It is a small camera that fits nicely into the hands. Most of the native lenses for the M system are also very small, so you don’t need a huge grip when shooting with EF-M glass. 

Overall, it is a compact camera that produces a strong image. It doesn’t have a huge Raw shooting buffer, but it does focus quickly, tracks subjects effectively for action photography, and delivers printable results in less than ideal situations. It is important to note that Canon stresses that this camera supplements rather than replaces the Canon EOS M5 in its lineup.

Best Used For:

The Canon EOS M50 is the latest entry in the company’s APS-C mirrorless camera series. It’s the first M camera with a vari-angle LCD, which is huge for vloggers and influencers. It’s also the first to shoot in 4K. An improved autofocus system, with wider coverage and 7.4fps is a plus, and the camera does a fine job shooting video at 1080p.

Pros:

  • Compact, easy to hold.
  • Mic input.
  • 24MP APS-C image sensor.
  • 10fps burst.
  • 7.4fps with tracking.
  • Wide focus coverage area.
  • Vari-angle touch LCD.
  • EVF.
  • Wi-Fi.

Cons:

  • Native lens options are limited.
  • 4K video is cropped with slower autofocus.
  • Limited shots when shooting Raw bursts.

Sony a7 III

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Sony a7 III
The Sony a7 III is the best full-frame camera for beginners. It offers 10fps subject tracking, 4K video capture, and overall excellent image quality.

Specifications: 

This camera is great for those who are looking for a full frame, mirrorless camera on a budget. This camera isn’t that different from its predecessor the a7 II when it comes to handling. Users will still have the EV dial on top, the programmable C1 and C2 buttons, and a Mode dial. 

As far as the camera’s performance, it starts, focuses, and fires in about 2.2 seconds. The autofocus system is fast as it locks on in 0.05-second in bright light, and has an 0.4-second average in low light.

Best Used For:

Overall, The Sony a7 III is the best full-frame camera for beginners. It offers 10fps subject tracking, 4K video capture, and overall excellent image quality.

This camera has many similarities with the a7 II, the upgrades inside are palpable. Firstly, the autofocus system is enriched with a wider coverage and 10fps capture. While its sensor offers the same resolution, the BSI design improves high ISO performance. And a high-capacity battery keeps the camera shooting for much longer than previous a7 models. All these improvements were made by making minimal changes to the compact, sturdy body that consumers love. 

Pros:

  • 24MP full-frame BSI sensor.
  • 10fps with tracking.
  • 5-axis stabilization.
  • Silent shooting available.
  • 4K HDR video.
  • Tilting touch LCD.
  • Dual SD slots.
  • Vastly improved battery.
  • Focus joystick.
  • Flat profiles available.

H4: Cons:

  • Screen not true vari-angle.
  • Shooting buffer must clear to start video
  • Only one card slot is UHS-II.
  • No in-body flash..
  • Dense menu system.
  • Omits PC sync socket.

Fujifilm X-T30

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Fujifilm X-T30
The Fujifilm X-T30's dial-based controls are enticing to novices and professionals alike, as it equips users with fast, accurate focus.

Specifications: 

The Fujifilm X-T30 is Fujifilm’s latest midrange mirrorless camera. It makes minimal changes from the previous-generation X-T20 outside, but revamps the internal mechanics making it the winner over the X-20. 

It must be noted that this camera only comes with the body, but if you already own XF lenses, you can use them with this camera body. For those interested in this camera who are just starting in photography, Fujifilm offers two kit options. One kit comes with the premium XF 18-55mm F2.8-4 R LM OIS for $1,299.95. The other kit comes with the compact XC 15-45mm F3.5-5.6 OIS PZ for $999.95.

Best Used For:

The Fujifilm X-T30’s dial-based controls are enticing to novices and professionals alike, as it equips users with fast, accurate focus. It finds focus in less than 0.05-second and can grab in 1.3 seconds after powering on. The mechanical shutter can track and focus subjects at 8fps. There is also an electronic shutter that can reach the speed to 20fps at full resolution, or to 30fps with a slight sensor crop and 16.6MP output.

The only pitfall of the electronic shutter is that it can induce banding when photographing under certain types of artificial light.

Pros:

  • Fast, sharp autofocus.
  • Wi-Fi.
  • Tilting touch LCD.
  • 4K video.
  • Proven 26MP APS-C image sensor.
  • Tactile controls.
  • Up to 30fps Raw capture.
  • EVF and built-in flash.

Cons:

  • Body isn’t weather-sealed.
  • Memory card slot limited to UHS-I speed.
  • No in-body stabilization.
  • Restricted maximum video clip length.
  • Small capture buffer.

Sony a6400

Sony a6400
This Sony camera has the potential to meet the needs of everyday consumers and enthusiasts as it is easy to use for family snapshots with the image quality and speed professionals love.

Specifications:

The a6400 definitely isn’t entry-level, yet it’s not top of the line either. If you have more than basic needs, and you don’t want to spend much more than $1,000 on a kit, this camera is a very appealing option.

There’s a lot more to this compact camera than meets the eye. Some highlights are its fast focus, improved by machine learning, a 24MP image sensor, and 4K video. And with it’s small size, you don’t have to think too hard about picking it up to take with you for a trip.

Best Used For:

The strongest feature for this camera is it’s autofocus. Sony claims the a6400 has the world’s fastest focus acquisition at 0.02-second. The autofocus is beneficial to videographers as well. It can shoot in 4K at up to 24, 25, or 30fps, and also supports 1080p capture at up to 120fps.

This Sony camera has the potential to meet the needs of everyday consumers and enthusiasts as it is easy to use for family snapshots with the image quality and speed professionals love. 

Pros:

  • Compact build.
  • 24MP APS-C image sensor.
  • Quick, accurate autofocus.
  • Built-in flash and hot shoe.
  • Selfie LCD.
  • 11fps continuous drive.
  • Large, sharp EVF.
  • 4K video without recording limit.

Cons:

  • Omits in-body image stabilization.
  • Only full-frame lenses are weather sealed.
  • External charger not included.
  • Flip-up screen is not ideal for vloggers.
  • UHS-I card slot.
  • Some operational frustrations.

Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II

Canon Powershot G5 X Mark II
The Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II is a pocketable camera that will please consumers. It possesses a solid zoom range, a 1-inch sensor, and an electronic viewfinder.

Specifications: 

The Canon PowerShot G5 X Mark II is a pocketable camera that will please consumers. It possesses a solid zoom range, a 1-inch sensor, and an electronic viewfinder.

It powers on in about 1.4 seconds, locks focus and shoots in about 0.05-second in bright light, allowing for quick shots. In dim light the focus slows down to about 0.3-second to lock on average.

The lens has a great zoom range, opening up all the way to f/1.8 for low-light capture at its wide end, and offering up aperture control that gets you sharp landscape shots when there is lots of light.

Best Used For:

This camera doesn’t have a long list of superlatives. It doesn’t have the brightest, sharpest, or longest zoom lens, or the fastest autofocus, or the best video capabilities. But all-in-all, you get a pocket camera that takes better pictures than your smartphone in a variety of scenarios.

That’s why it makes our list as a great pocket size point-and-shoot.

Pros:

  • Larger image sensor than phones.
  • 4K video.
  • Excellent ergonomics.
  • 5x zoom lens.
  • Selfie LCD with touch support.
  • In-lens ND filter.
  • Built-in EVF and flash.

Cons:

  • Autofocus not as advanced as some competitors.
  • No mic input.

Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III

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Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III
The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III is an appealing camera for photographers already invested in Micro Four Thirds gear.

Specifications: 

The Olympus OM-D E-M5 Mark III is an appealing camera for photographers already invested in Micro Four Thirds gear.

The E-M5 is a mirrorless camera—one that drops the flipping mirror and optical viewfinder. The electronic viewfinder presents the view from the lens as the sensor sees it, and shortens the distance between the lens mount and the sensor.

The sensor and lens mount are Micro Four Thirds, a format with a 4:3 aspect ratio and dimensions smaller all around than the APS-C and full-frame designs. Essentially, the lenses are very compact, but on the downside don’t offer as shallow depth of field as ones for larger sensors. 

This camera has excellent battery life and uses a different battery than the two earlier entries in the series.

Best Used For:

The E-M5 Mark III’s exterior is largely made from sturdy plastic. It’s a change from the Mark II’s magnesium alloy exterior, and some people may not appreciate the change. Weather sealing is great, and the camera boasts an IPX1 protection rating, which means you can use it in rainy weather, if your lens is protected too.

Pros:

  • Compact, all-weather body.
  • Stabilized image sensor.
  • Vari-angle LCD and OLED EVF.
  • Well-established lens system.
  • Up to 30fps Raw capture.
  • Includes external flash.

Cons:

  • Plastic exterior.
  • Wide aperture lenses are bulky and expensive.
  • Tops out at 5.3fps when tracking.
  • Charging port not USB-C.
  • Smaller image sensor limits resolution and depth of field control.

Honorable Mentions

The Leica M10 Monochrom

The Leica M10 Monochrom
The Leica M10 Monochrom is the dream camera for those who love black-and-white photography.

The Leica M10 Monochrom is the dream camera for those who love black-and-white photography. This camera is a luxury item, so you have to be serious about the craft before you can even think about buying one. 

The Monochrom has less capabilities than other cameras, but that’s the point. This is a specialty camera, and if you’re shopping for the M10 Monochrom, it’s because you’re looking for something other. Like the rest of the M10 family, the design of the Lecia M10 Monochrom is the same as the models dating back to the 1950s. This camera takes everything back to the basics, with a manual focus, an optical viewfinder, and images that show the play between light and shadow in black and white.

Overall, the Lecia M10 Monochrom lives up to its name with an imager only dedicated to black and white photography. This is the best Monochrom camera that Leica has ever come out with. The black and white images are remarkable, and there’s something to be said about how working without color changes and challenges your approach to photography. This camera is definitely an investments, however if you decide to buy it, it will reward you greatly.

Pros:

  • 40MP full-frame monochrome sensor.
  • Wi-Fi.
  • Add-on EVF available.
  • Dust and splash resistant.
  • Optical viewfinder with rangefinder focus.
  • Luxurious fit and finish.
  • Nearly silent mechanical shutter.
  • Crisp touch LCD.

Cons:

  • Premium pricing.
  • Manual focus only.
  • Doesn’t do color or video.

GoPro Max

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GoPro MAX
This camera costs a bit more than the GoPro Hero8 Black, but is worth a look if you're committed to 360-degree videography and editing.

Another camera on our honorable mentions is the 360-degree GoPro Max camera.

This camera is a lot easier to use than its predecessor, the Fusion. You don’t have to mess with multiple memory cards, the software tools to work with 360 footage have improved immensely, and the camera has a touch screen so you can more easily adjust settings. 

The touchscreen allows you to switch with ease between different capture modes which is something that’s missing from competitors. The software interface is great as well, making it easy to work with your footage. If you use other GoPros in your work, you’ll be happy to know you can cut the Max footage into your QuikStories, though you will have to reframe the 360 footage first.

Audio sounds are great, adding some appeal for vloggers, and this camera is even waterproof, though it’s not designed to go too deep under water. 

This camera costs a bit more than the GoPro Hero8 Black, but is worth a look if you’re committed to 360-degree videography and editing.

This is one of the best action cameras and camcorders out there and promises an easier, more streamlined workflow than the Fusion, but has more niche appeal than the less expensive Hero8 Black.

Pros:

  • 360-degree capture
  • Intuitive software tools
  • Integrated mounting clips
  • Also works as a single-lens camera
  • Strong stabilization
  • Good in-camera audio
  • Waterproof without a case

Cons:

  • Effective resolution is really 1080p
  • Single-lens capture tops out at 60fps
  • Requires more editing time to get the best results from spherical footage

Nikon D850

Nikon D850
The Nikon D850 is one of the top cameras on the list. It gets 5 stars in every category: exceptional build, extreme resolution, fast shooting, and amazing image quality, making it our favorite pro SLR.

The Nikon D850 (body only) is a traditional SLR without a built-in vertical shooting grip, with a body design that’s about the same size and weight as its predecessor.

It actually follows the same basic design as the D810 and other models before it. The portion of the body between the grip and lens mount is a bit slimmer, which gives the grip a deeper feel, without having it jut further out from the camera. Because of this, the D850 feels just a bit more comfortable in the hand, improving upon the D810’s already amazing design.

Aside from the body, there are other great things about this camera as well. For one thing, it shoots 4K videos, time-lapses, and offers a tilting LCD touch screen, and can transfer images wirelessly. In addition, the Nikon D850 is built around a full-frame sensor with a huge 45.7-million pixel count, but it isn’t just about pixels. This camera also possesses Nikon’s latest autofocus system, and can shoot at a steady 7fps (boosted to 9fps if you add the optional grip) all while tracking moving subjects. This camera performs amazingly, backed by Nikon’s extensive lens library, accessory system, and support network. 

Overall, the Nikon D850 is one of the top cameras on the list. It gets 5 stars in every category: exceptional build, extreme resolution, fast shooting, and amazing image quality, making it our favorite pro SLR.

Pros:

  • Full-frame 45.7MP image sensor.
  • Large optical viewfinder.
  • 7fps burst shooting.
  • 153-point autofocus system.
  • 4K video.
  • Tilting LCD touchscreen.
  • Wide ISO range.
  • Dual card slots.
  • Can transfer images wirelessly with bluetooth and WiFi.

Cons:

  • Live View focus uses contrast detection only.
  • SnapBridge system needs some work.
  • Omits built-in flash.

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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