The Best Cameras for Beginners

If you’re a beginner, then you’re in luck. We remember what it was like to fall in love with the picture taking process. We also know it’s very useful to be able to shoot quick videos for social media. With that in mind, we’ve gone through our Reviews Index to find the best cameras for beginners. We encourage you to look at everything this list can offer and carefully make the right purchase for you.

How We Choose the Best Cameras for Beginners

Here’s what to keep in mind when exploring this list of the best cameras for beginners:

  • Our staff won’t recommend anything we haven’t reviewed. With that said, we’ve done full reviews of each of these products. We can confidently say they’re the best cameras for beginners.
  • The best cameras for beginners have different price ranges. Some are under $1,000, some are just above it. But they’re all capable of making great images and the video you need.
  • Some of these cameras don’t have weather-resistance. Please be a bit more careful when using them because of this.
  • Fujifilm, Olympus, and Panasonic can give looks you’ll love right out of the camera and won’t need to edit. Sony and Nikon are a bit more different.
  • We’re purposely not including a camera for Canon on this list. The closest thing we’d recommend is the Canon EOS R10, but we’ve only done a first impressions post as of publishing this roundup.

Sony a7c

Pro

  • It’s tiny
  • This is Sony’s first rangefinder-style full-frame camera, and it reminds me so much of the Mamiya 6
  • Good image quality overall
  • I adore the shutter sound
  • Weather resistance is excellent for shooting in the rain
  • The colors from the images are lovely
  • High ISO output is outstanding, especially in print
  • Focus peaking seems better than previous cameras, but it’s still not Canon’s

Cons

  • No joystick
  • I really wanted the Sony a7r III sensor: that was the most perfect one
  • Sony’s IBIS isn’t as good as Canon’s or Fujifilm’s
  • The IBIS in the Sony a7c isn’t as good as that of the higher-end Sony a7 models
  • No touchscreen menu
  • I’d really like a frontal exposure dial
  • Sony needs to revamp its delayed shooting option to focus on a subject right before it’s going to fire
  • I don’t feel like this is the same autofocus as the other Sony a7 cameras. Sony’s autofocus needs to be revamped to accurately focus on people of color with dark hair and against dark backgrounds
  • Needs dual card slots
  • 1/200th flash sync
  • Dynamic range isn’t that great in Capture One
  • Sony is still prone to getting dust on the sensor with this camera

What Did We Think?

In our review, we state:

“This camera is a bit of a mixed bag. I really wish the Sony a7c had a touchscreen menu. Further, you’ll notice that the menu won’t take up the entire LCD screen. It’s because the whole screen isn’t useful to the edges of the bezel. This is an unfortunate feature of the camera. Different users could find this annoying or won’t care at all. It seeps into many ways that you use the camera, actually. If you want to quickly choose your autofocus point, then you’ll use the touchpad setting. Otherwise, you can press the bottom button on the back wheel and move the point. But if you’re the type to love manual focus lenses, it probably won’t matter. Just set the magnify button to enhance a part of the scene, focus, and shoot. Because of this, the Sony a7c could be perfect for the Zeiss Loxia series of lenses. Still, a joystick would have been a very welcome addition to the camera.”

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Panasonic S5

Pro

  • Nice feeling
  • Dual card slots
  • Image stability is solid
  • Feels great in the hand
  • Beautiful JPEGs
  • High ISO output is solid
  • Panasonic’s full-frame colors continue to put me in awe.
  • Live composite is SO FUN!
  • Panasonic’s menus continue to be some of the best.
  • I ADORE the shutter sound.
  • Probably the fastest autofocus camera I’ve seen from Panasonic in the full-frame range
  • L Monochrome D continues to be one of the most beautiful and wonderful features of Panasonic cameras.
  • These RAW files are great

Cons

  • Much improved autofocus, but face detection could be better. As of November 2020, it’s really improved with firmware 2.0.
  • Multiple exposure mode and how it’s used is a mess. It needs more versatility.
  • Battery life is much improved
  • Focus peaking has a lot of improvement to be done before it’s perfect

What Did We Think?

In our review, we state:

“Otherwise, their camera is very simple to use. The Panasonic S5 has everything a photographer would want, like a joystick, all the necessary buttons, etc. The only problem I had was sending a bunch of files to my phone through the Panasonic app. Again though, there isn’t much to complain about otherwise. That’s important for anyone considering the system. If you’re stepping up from Micro Four Thirds, then you’re really getting a treat with an even better camera and the same interface you’ve worked with for a long time.”

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Nikon Z5

Pro

  • Dual card slots
  • The Single most reliable Nikon mirrorless camera I’ve used in terms of autofocus, battery life, and performance
  • Weather sealing
  • This is what the Nikon z6 should’ve been at the start
  • Beautiful image quality
  • I like the shutter sound
  • Charges while shooting video if hooked up via USB C
  • This is a finally proper camera for a working photographer
  • AF-F mode tracks beautifully in the video modes.
  • I’ve never played with the various more lively color modes. They’re very fun and great for webcam use!
  • A fantastic webcam. This and the Panasonic S1 have arguably been the best at tracking my face.
  • I really wish that Nikon pushed their creative presets a lot more. Their Sunday preset is so gorgeous.
  • It’s only around $1,400 at the Nikon Store on Amazon.

Cons

  • No-textured ISO button to look for in the dark. Really Nikon? When we pressed them on this, they didn’t answer us. Which makes us believe that they think our question isn’t important. We finally got an answer and were able to clarify that no Nikon cameras have the textured ISO button.
  • Why can’t their creative presets be applied to the RAW files in Capture One?
  • No buttons that light up in the dark
  • 4K video mode crops the image when using it as a webcam
  • I miss the top LCD screen of the higher end camera models

What Did We Think?

In our review, we state:

“But the menu interface is still as straightforward as ever. Nikon makes most things involving muscle memory and button-dial combinations easy on this camera too. The Nikon Z5 isn’t targeted at the highest end of photographers. But you sure do need the experience to make the most of this camera. However, it’s also one you can grow with since there’s an Auto function.”

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Fujifilm XE4

Pro

  • The same sensor and processor as the priceer XT4
  • Compact design
  • Classic look and feel
  • Addition of a P mode

Cons

  • No in-body stability
  • No ISO dial
  • No weather-sealing
  • Autofocus tracking is sub-par

What Did We Think?

In our review, we state:

“The Fujifilm XE4 sits at a bit of an odd spot — there are many controls for a beginner, but not enough for more serious users. To shoot on auto mode, you need to have the shutter dial to A, the aperture ring on the lens turned to A, and the ISO set to auto. That’s a lot of dials to remember when other cameras just have a nice green A or camera icon at the top. That’s not to say that beginners can’t use this camera, but the un-tech-savvy may be intimated by the process.”

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Olympus EM10 IV

Pro

  • Small size and weight
  • Great image quality (albeit from a now 5-year-old sensor)
  • Excellent ergonomics for its size
  • Lovely retro looks
  • Fun and easy to use One-touch Panoramic and Live Comp modes
  • New autofocus algorithms have made a big impact
  • 5-axis image stability works like a charm

Cons

  • Battery life is not great
  • No weather sealing
  • Quite unbalanced when used with larger lenses
  • No touch menus and poor menus overall
  • Still only contrast AF
  • Priced a little on the high side ($699 body only $799 kit)

What Did We Think?

In our review, we state:

“You’ll find that the Olympus EM10 IV has a slight learning curve. The layout of the physical controls is fine; they are well marked and are intuitive. The menu system is an area that continues to let an otherwise easy to use camera down. The menus on the EM10 IV are much easier to digest than the menus on Olympus’s pro bodies, though. However, the user interface still isn’t what I would call user friendly. I just wish Olympus would overhaul the entire menu UI.”

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The Phobographer’s various product round-up features are done in-house. Our philosophy is simple: you wouldn’t get a Wagyu beef steak review from a lifelong vegetarian. And you wouldn’t get photography advice from someone who doesn’t touch the product. We only recommend gear we’ve fully reviewed. If you’re wondering why your favorite product didn’t make the cut, there’s a chance it’s on another list. If we haven’t reviewed it, we won’t recommend it. This method keeps our lists packed with industry-leading knowledge. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.



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