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Compare the best digital cameras of 2021

Upgrade your photos to capture life's most important moments.

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If you’re looking for a digital camera, you’ve got lots of options and could spend as little as $100 or as much as $2,000. Consider size, zoom speed and picture quality to find the best camera to meet your skill level.

Compare 10 top digital cameras for 2021

NameAvg. price
(USD)
TypeTouchscreen?Effective resolution (Megapixels)Purchase
Canon PowerShot SX620 HS
Canon PowerShot SX620 HS
$249.00Ultra zoomNo20.2Buy now
Sony DSC-HX90V
Sony DSC-HX90V
$448.00Ultra ZoomNo18.2Buy now
Olympus TG-5
Olympus TG-5
$399.99CompactNo12Buy now
Panasonic DMC-FZ300
Panasonic DMC-FZ300
$399.99Ultra ZoomYes12.1Buy now
Sony ILCE-5100L
Sony ILCE-5100L
$449.95MirrorlessYes24.3Buy now
Canon EOS M3
Canon EOS M3
$299.00MirrorlessYes24.2Buy now
Pentax KP
Pentax KP
$796.95DSLRNo24.32Buy now
Fujifilm X100F
Fujifilm X100F
$1,299.00MirrorlessNo24.3Buy now
Nikon D7200
Nikon D7200
$1,096.95DSLRNo24.72Buy now
Leica Q (Typ 116)
Leica Q (Typ 116)
$4,412.29MirrorlessYes24Buy now
Data obtained February 2019. Prices are subject to change and should be used only as a general guide.

Which digital camera is best for me?

It’s impossible to choose one best camera for everyone, so we’ve compared five of the most-searched-for cameras in the world to help you get a better sense of what your options are.

TypeThe goodThe bad
Canon EOS M3Mirrorless
  • The tilted LCD screen lets you take photos from virtually any angle
  • Solid JPEG quality
  • Slower performing than other similarly priced cameras
  • Image quality suffers in low light, especially when recording video
Nikon D7200DSLR
  • Takes high-quality photos and full HD videos
  • Performs well in all lighting conditions
  • Expensive
  • No touchscreen
Panasonic Lumix DMC-FZ300Ultrazoom
  • Weather resistant rugged design
  • Features a 24x zoom lens
  • Some users find the navigation to be overwhelming
  • Larger and heavier than other comparable models
Leica D-LuxCompact
  • High-quality lens
  • Includes a large image sensor
  • No touchscreen
  • Expensive
Sony DSC-HX90VUltrazoom
  • Features a 30x optical zoom lens
  • Quick focus
  • No raw image support
  • Image quality suffers in low light

What types of cameras are available?

If you’re looking for a digital camera, it seems like the option are endless. Check out descriptions and pros and cons of some of the most common camera styles below:

ProsCons
Smartphones
  • Convenience
  • Camera quality steadily improving
  • Instant photo sharing
  • Poor image quality compared to digital cameras
  • Poor optical zoom quality
  • Limited creative control over images
Compact or point-and-shoot
  • Small and ultraportable
  • Affordable
  • Silent
  • Easy to use with minimal setup
  • Image quality can’t compete with larger cameras
  • Limited flexibility to zoom and crop photos
  • Typically slow to focus
  • Most do not have an optical viewfinder
Superzoom, megazoom or ultrazoom
  • Relatively small
  • Easy to use with minimal setup
  • Zoom offers more versatility
  • Almost as expensive as a low-end DSLR
  • Image quality doesn’t match higher-end cameras
  • Can be noisy
Mirrorless
  • Smaller and lighter than a DSLR
  • High image quality
  • Interchangeable lenses allow for more flexibility
  • Fast shutter speeds
  • Silent
  • Most include built-in image stabilization or optical stabilization
  • Slower autofocus than DSLRs
  • An electronic viewfinder can be hard to use in low light and some models don’ t include a viewfinder at all
  • Shorter battery life than DSLRs
  • Fewer choices in lenses than DSLRs
DSLR
  • Professional image quality
  • Interchangeable lenses allow for more flexibility
  • Fully manual control options
  • Fast autofocus
  • A viewfinder shows you exactly what the camera captures
  • Long battery life
  • Larger, heavier and less portable than other types of cameras
  • Expensive, especially if you plan to purchase additional lenses
  • Requires some knowledge of photography for best results
  • Can be noisy
Action cameras
  • Portable
  • Durable
  • Designed for adventures and extreme conditions
  • Limited photo quality
  • Not designed for still images

Smartphones

The cameras on smartphones have quickly replaced simple point-and-shoot options. And though the quality has steadily improved since the early 2000s, they still haven’t caught up to the quality, speed and control of digital cameras. One of the biggest complaints of a camera phones is that you can’t zoom without sacrificing image quality. If you’re a professional photographer or feel like you’re being held back by your smartphone, it may be time to upgrade to a digital camera.

Point-and-shoot cameras

Point-and-shoot, or compact cameras are small, portable and affordable. They can typically fit into a pocket or small bag, so you can always have your camera ready. Most offer better image quality than a smartphone camera and are significantly cheaper than an iPhone or Samsung. Some models are also mud, dust and waterproof.

However, compact cameras can’t match mirrorless or DSLR cameras in terms of image quality, and they offer limited options for manual control. They’re typically slow to autofocus, have small sensors and don’t give you the creative control of a more advanced camera. Compact cameras can be great if you don’t want to spend too much, but if you’re looking for professional quality, consider a more high-end camera.

Superzoom cameras

Superzoom cameras, also known as megazooms or ultrazooms, are compact cameras with long zoom lenses. They’re easy to use and give you more flexibility than a point-and-shoot. However, you’ll find they offer limited manual controls, low photo quality, slow autofocus and small sensors.

Mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras

Mirrorless cameras offer better image quality and more creative control than compact cameras, at a higher cost. Mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras don’t include the bulky mirror and optical viewfinder of a DSLR, making them smaller and lighter. You can interchange the lenses of mirrorless cameras, but they typically don’t have as many lens options as DSLRs. Mirrorless cameras are becoming more and more popular, and are a great option for both amateurs and pros who don’t want to carry around a bulky DSLR.

DSLRs

DSLR stands for digital single-lens reflex camera. Also referred to as digital SLR cameras, DSLRs are what most people picture when they think of a professional camera. DSLRs include a viewfinder for seeing what your camera is capturing in real time. DSLRs typically have long-lasting batteries and the fastest autofocus and tracking of any camera style. The and high-end models typically offer durable frames with weather resistant materials to use in any condition.

DSLRs are more versatile than mirrorless cameras, but they come at a high cost. Many models don’t include lenses — tacking on an extra expense. They are also large and heavy, making it hard to carry them around for every-day photos. If you’re interested in becoming a professional photographer, a DSLR offers everything you need. But for those just interested in taking photos of your dog for your Instagram page, it’s probably not worth the high cost.

Action cameras

Action cameras are designed for adventure. They’re typically mountable and are primarily designed for video. They’re designed to capture sports and extreme activities, but they don’t offer the quality of other digital cameras.

How much do digital cameras cost?

Generally, you get what you pay for. However, there’s no point paying more for features that you won’t use, and buying the most expensive camera won’t necessarily make you a better photographer.

If you purchase an interchangeable lens camera like a mirrorless or DSLR, you’ll pay for additional lenses to get the most out of your camera. These lenses can cost as much as — or more — than the camera itself.

TypeTypical price range
Compact$80 to $1,000
Superzoom$200 to $1,000
Mirrorless$400 to $4,000
DSLR$500 to $6,000
Action$100 to $600

How to compare digital cameras

First, consider is the size and weight of a camera you buy. While a DSLR might help you capture amazing photos, if it’s too big to carry around with you regularly, you may not use it as much as you’d like. Next, consider what features you’d like:

Speed

Generally, budget cameras are slower. One way to measure camera speed is by the number of photos a camera can take in one second. This is referred to as frames per second or FPS. The higher the FPS, the quicker the camera takes photos. If you regularly shoot action shots, sporting events or wildlife, look for a camera with a high FPS rating. However, some faster-performing cameras sacrifice resolution to help the camera process the photos more quickly.

Resolution

Camera resolution is measured in megapixels (MP). Cameras with higher megapixel counts allow you to make larger and clearer prints. If you don’t plan on printing large images, there is no need to buy a camera with a high number of megapixels.

Manual controls

Most compact cameras offer fully automated settings including shutter speed, aperture and ISO. While this makes a camera easy to use, you have limited control over your images. More advanced cameras offer a fully manual mode that lets you take the exact photo you want. While shooting in manual mode requires practice and a bit of training, it’s worth the effort if you want full control.

Lenses

With an interchangeable lens camera, you can tailor your camera to meet your needs. High-end compact cameras can have quality lenses, but you can’t swap lenses. With a DSLR or mirrorless camera, you can buy as many lenses as you want in a wide variety of styles. However, lenses are expensive and not all are compatible with all cameras.

Zoom

A digital zoom works the way your camera phone does, by essentially cropping and blowing up a photo, which reduces the image quality. Optical zoom uses a moving lens to help get a closer and clearer image. If it’s within your budget, look for a camera that offers optical zoom.

ISO

ISO is a camera setting that allows you to brighten or darken an image. A low ISO is around 100 and high ISOs can go up to 6,400 or more. Higher ISOs will make photos taken in low-light look brighter. However, the higher the ISO, the more noise or grain an image will have. Cameras with larger sensors allow you to take images with a much higher ISO before image quality will be affected.

RAW vs. JPEG

Most cameras turn your images into JPEG files. Higher-end cameras allow you to shoot in either JPEG or RAW. RAW images are much larger files that capture the entire detail of a photograph. They give you more flexibility and control when editing photos, but take up around four times or more space than a JPEG.

Autofocus

Pretty much every digital camera comes with autofocus. DSLRs generally have the fastest autofocus, followed by mirrorless cameras. Try out the autofocus on your camera before you buy it. If you end up with a camera that can’t keep up with the photos you want to take, you’ll miss out on a lot of good shots.

Stabilization

Image stabilization helps to reduce shaking and blurriness.

  • Electronic image stabilization (EIS) reduces blur in images, but often reduces image quality.
  • Sensor-shift stabilization or in-body image stabilization (IBIS) reduces the effect of vibrations by moving the sensor. IBIS is typically more effective than EIS, and because it occurs in the body of the camera, it can work with just about any lens.
  • Optical image stabilization (OIS) effectively reduces image blur by shifting mechanical elements within the actual lens. OIS is very effective, but typically only found in high-end lenses.

Viewfinder

An optical viewfinder on a DSLR uses a mirror to let you look directly through the lens and see exactly what your camera is going to capture. An electronic viewfinder (EVF) gives you a digital preview of your shot with your current camera settings. EVFs are easy to use, but can be difficult to see in certain lighting conditions and are not as accurate as optical viewfinders.

Touchscreens

Not every camera comes with a touchscreen. If you want to be able to swipe through photos and navigate menus as you would on your smartphone, look for a model with a touchscreen.

Video

Almost all cameras are capable of recording video. However, if you’re mainly going to use your camera for video instead of still images, or you might want to consider a video camera or camcorder.

Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi capability allows you to upload and share photos to your phone, tablet or computer without connecting any wires. Some brands have their own apps that you can download to your phone to sync photos automatically and even control the camera using your phone or tablet. If you want to be able to quickly share your photos straight to social media, look for a camera with built-in Wi-Fi.

Near-field communication (NFC)

As with many Bluetooth speakers, NFC allows two devices to connect simply by being within a few centimeters of each other. If you have an NFC compatible camera, you will be able to transfer images to a smart device by placing the camera next to it. NFC can help you share photos almost instantly and can be helpful if you’re traveling and don’t want to bring along extra wires or don’t have regular access to Wi-Fi.

GPS

GPS allows you to geotag your photos to keep track of where each one was taken. Some cameras have GPS built in and many offer options for add-on GPS unity. Either way, running GPS on your camera will drain the battery more quickly so turn it off when you’re not using it.

Durability and waterproofing

Weatherproof and water-resistant cameras are typically sealed to keep out light rain and splashes, whereas waterproof cameras are designed to be submerged underwater.

LCD display

Most modern cameras have LCD displays, but they vary in size and resolution. If you plan to shoot outdoors, look for a display that is bright enough to not get washed out in the sun.

Where to buy digital cameras

No matter your budget and level of experience, you should be able to find a camera to suit your needs online. Many online stores and warehouses offer frequent discounts to help you get a quality camera that fits within your budget.

The downside to buying a camera online is that you won’t get to test out the model buying it. In this case, make sure the store has a decent return policy.

You can also purchase a camera at a large retailer or a specialty camera store. Large retailers, like online stores, tend to offer frequent sales and discounts, but may have a limited selection. Specialty camera stores typically offer high-end cameras and accessories for professionals and serious amateurs. While specialty shops often have higher prices than large retailers, they are usually staffed by knowledgeable photographers who offer invaluable customer service.

Bottom line

Whether you’re just starting out, or looking to make photography a career, you have choices. Consider the type of camera, features, what you’ll be using it for and your budget when shopping for a new digital camera.

How did we choose these products?

To choose our list of the best digital cameras, we did online research to find the most popular cameras available. We also factored in features such as type of camera, price and purpose.

Frequently asked questions

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