What is the best camera for photography? You would be surprised how often we’re asked that question.

The answer you don’t want is: the best camera for photography is one that won’t put you into debt buying it. Luckily we know what you do want to hear, so we’ve compiled a list of the leading products you can choose this year.

Please note we are not affiliated with any of these companies so we earn nothing for recommending this gear.

What is the right camera for photography beginners?

top camera for photographers

It would be best for beginner photographers to invest in an entry model. It’s not that we believe you deserve less than stellar equipment. In fact, the newest beginner equipment can be better than older models that were once used by professionals.

These beginner cameras are often designed to teach you what the settings on your model mean. It gives a short description of what each setting does, which is invaluable for those that know nothing about their model settings.

Another reason to invest in an entry model as a beginner is that not everyone that buys a camera ends up using them often. Not everyone that buys a camera has the knowledge or the work ethic to make their photography business successful.

We believe that anyone who wants it badly enough can have a successful business, but it takes HARD work. If that’s not your end goal then it’s wise not to invest a large chunk of money into a camera you’ll only use occasionally.

Scroll down to the sections below for the best beginner model for each camera brand. This is another great resource to help you figure out which beginner camera is best for you.

What are the best cameras for professional photographers?

Due to many photographers having brand loyalties, the right camera for photography at the professional level is listed under each brand below. If you’re considering upgrading your camera, we’ve got some interesting points to factor into your decision before taking the plunge. Some factors professionals tend to look for in their cameras are high ISO capability, fast shutter speed, and image stabilization.

They also look for full-frame sensors, shutter lag and speed, and the resolution the camera shoots at. These full HD high-tier models are a big upgrade compared to beginner cameras. A big reason the images from these cameras look so fantastic is that they are also paired with incredible lenses.

What are some of the greatest lenses?

top camera for photographers - lenses

A majority of people looking for the right cameras for photography are likely looking for soft, creamy bokeh in their images. To achieve this look, one needs lenses with a large aperture rather than any specific camera. It is difficult to name a single best lens since the lens a sports photographer needs is completely different than what lenses a landscape photographer needs.

If you’re not sure what type of lens you need, you’ll want to check out this article.

Most brand’s products also do not work for another brand’s cameras. There are some lens makers that make high-quality lenses and lens mount for big cameras brands at a significantly better cost (e.g. Sigma and Tamron). But be wary of buying a lens that is not made by the same cameras company as the cameras body.

Look into lots of cameras reviews of that off-brand lens before buying it. Without further adieu, here is a small selection of our favorite cameras lenses:

Sigma 85mm f/1.4

This is ideal for a full frame DSLR due to extremely precise bokeh and an impressive focus area with high resolution.

Canon 85mm f/1.8

A telephoto lens that brings the subject quickly into focus with a natural angle of view for portraits. 

Canon 70-200mm f2.8 IS II

Dust and water-resistance Canon EOS lens with a powerful image stabilizer system that is perfect for rigorous professional use. 

Nikon 35mm 1.8

Compact and lightweight prime lens that is ideal for continuous shooting with not enough light as well as creating softly blurred backgrounds.

Canon 35mm f/2.0

Wide-angle lens with superb build quality, image stabilization, and construction perfect for use on any Canon EOS Rebel digital camera.

Canon EF 100mm f2.8L (macro)

The Canon EF 10mm is a lens with focal length appropriate for flattering portraits that put emphasis on facial features. 

Note these are primarily Canon lenses, however, these lenses can be found with almost the exact same specifications in other brands as well!

Best Nikon camera top camera for photographers - nikon

Nikon users rejoice, Nikon has the newest and top camera for photography on the market at the professional level (at the time of writing). This is partly because rival Canon’s top professional camera got released a year earlier.

It has been argued that the brand currently has better quality sensors in their DSLR’s which results in outstanding quality. Here are our top Nikon contenders:

Beginner: Nikon D3500

The Nikon D3500 is a point-and-shoot model with sturdy and balanced controls, as well as autofocus points for fast-moving subjects.   

Intermediate: Nikon D7500

It has a lightweight yet rugged body that is suitable for on-the-go photographers with a great battery life. 

Professional: Nikon D850

This boasts a top-quality and fast autofocus system at its price range. 

BONUS: Nikon Z6 mirrorless camera

This full frame mirrorless camera ensures high-speed resolutions and low-light performance. 

Best Canon camera?

best camera for photographers - canon

This company might not have the newest camera on the market (at the time of writing) but that doesn’t detract away from the amazing quality of their gear. This brand arguably is the leader in camera speed, and lens quality. Here are our top camera contenders from this company:

Beginner: Canon EOS Rebel T7i (aka 800D)

The Canon Eos Rebel T7i is great for high-speed continuous shooting with an optical viewfinder and a vari-angle tilting touchscreen. The Canon EOS Rebel t7i is one of the most advanced Canon EOS rebels yet.

Intermediate: Canon EOS 7D Mark II

The Canon EOS 7D Mark II is a great Canon EOS model with a rugged, ergonomic design that supports Live View. This Canon EOS model will give you fast operation, dynamic range, and sharp-looking, high-resolution pictures. 

Professional: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

This Canon Eos model offers you great dynamic range and versatile continuous shooting in almost any light with multiple video resolution options. 

BONUS: Canon EOS R mirrorless camera

This mirrorless Canon EOS rebel device with Live View enables an exceptional combination of image quality, performance, dynamic range, and compact lens design. 

Best Sony camera?

top cameras for photographers - sony

Sony excels against Nikon and Canon in the mirrorless cameras department. Sony beat both its competitors into the mirrorless cameras market by at least a year. It surpasses both competitors (at the time of writing) in 4K video, and they managed to fix the battery life issue mirrorless cameras were having. Here are the top Sony contenders:

Entry-level: Sony A6000

Fast autofocus guarantees superb moving-object tracking performance that ensures high-quality photographs.  

Intermediate: Alpha A6500

In-body image stabilization that steadies every lens with continuous autofocus and exposure tracking. 

Professional: Sony A9

This EOS model combines high resolution, sensitivity, dynamic range, processing speed, and continuous shooting response into a strong, compact body.  

BONUS: Sony Alpha A7 III (mirrorless)

A full-frames sensor, high-speed response, dynamic range, and good autofocus in frame mode.    

Many other companies are also coming out with their own cameras that were not reviewed. Canon, Nikon, and Sony have been making cameras much longer than other competitors, so we focused on them.

There are also plenty of decent compact cameras on the market with great resolution. I chose to eliminate them from this article as those are not the types of cameras those looking to start a photography business tend to choose. There is no shame in having a compact camera (I started off with one too), they just don’t give users as much control over the camera’s settings.

How to Choose the Finest Cameras for Photography 

When investing in the best cameras for photography, there are some considerations to ensure you can take high-quality images.  

Type of Device 

There are several types of cameras because each is designed for specific photography purposes. The choice depends on the area or niche you want to focus on, as well as the specifications you want to maximize.

  • DSLR: The standard, most popular type because of its versatility and high image quality. 
  • Mirrorless: Interchangeable like DSLR, yet lighter, more compact, and faster for video quality, some models use a Micro Four Thirds sensor. 
  • Medium format: Utilizes an imaging sensor that mimics a 120 film size. 
  • Compact: Lightweight yet has excellent continuous shooting quality.  
  • Superzoom: An all-in-one kind that supports photographic zoom lens with unconventionally large focal length factors.

Crop Factor

The crop factor is the ratio of a camera sensor’s size to a 35mm film frame. You can use it to calculate focal lengths and compare one lens from another. 

If you’ve ever shot in film, then you might recall that a 35mm film frame is pretty much the same as a full-frame camera sensor. This is considered a standard size, whereas an APS-C sensor (or a cropped sensor) is a bit smaller than this.

This means that when you attach a lens to a camera with a crop sensor, it will magnify the scene and give you a crop factor of roughly 1.5x. For example, if you place a 50mm lens on a cropped sensor, it will act like 75mm lens.

Number of Megapixels

Megapixel resolution plays a key role in how large you can print your images. The more megapixels you have, the more the camera can record high-resolution details. In this way, you can produce larger prints without worrying about the pixel structure becoming visible. 

Speed and Performance

Most models are fast, even for casual uses. DSLRs and mirrorless models usually provide better performance than compact ones. They will focus and track subjects faster and take more images per second.   

It’s advisable to choose a model with at least five frames per second, although you may need more if you’re into action shots. 

Shooting Modes

The best cameras must have pre-programmed settings that allow you to choose the optimum aperture and speed value for continuous shooting the pictures you want to take.

  • Manual Mode: Let’s you take full creative control over the exposure of a picture. 
  • Auto Mode: Automatically adjusts the shutter speed and aperture for optimal exposure. 
  • Shutter-Priority Mode: Enables you to pick the aperture while the mode automatically sets the aperture. 
  • Aperture-Priority Mode: Allows you to choose the aperture while the device modifies the shutter speed.

ISO Sensitivity 

ISO sensitivity is a measure of the camera’s ability to take light and indicates the sensor’s sensitivity to light. Digital cameras convert the light that falls on the sensor into electrical signals for processing. The lower the number, the less sensitive your camera is to light. 

Image Stabilization

Camera shakes are inevitable, especially if you don’t use a tripod. A camera with in-body optical image stabilization helps eliminate blur from your photography by physically shifting elements within the lenses.

Autofocus 

Autofocus is a camera feature that ensures your subject is sharp within the photograph. With autofocus, when sensors detect how far away the subject is from the camera, the photography information relays through the lens. Then, the camera adjusts the focal distance of the lens.

Ergonomics

Another thing to consider when buying a camera is how it feels in your hands. Remember it’s best if the device feels like an extension of your hands and arms, and therefore, shouldn’t put much strain on your body.

Ergonomically speaking, you must consider if the size and weight are the best for your needs. If you prefer lightweight ones, then opt for mirrorless or compact models. If size and weight aren’t problems, then you can go for DSLRs.  

Aside from that, choose the best body made of sturdy magnesium alloy internal frames and weather sealing.

Viewfinder

While a viewfinder gives you a sharper and more accurate view of a photograph, they are less convenient to use, especially if you wear glasses.

On the other hand, an electronic viewfinder or an LCD screen can provide you a broader view of an image. However, bright sunlight washes out the details, and using the electronic viewfinder or LCD screen drains the battery life fast.

Additional Specifications

Additional specifications help make photographing images easier and convenient without impacting too much on battery life. The best specifications include card slots, support for Wi-Fi, GPS, remote control, and computer control.

You are more than your camera!

top camera for photographers - education

Here at Cole’s Classroom we’re big believers of “I taught my camera everything it knows”. While the latest photography gear has fancy features and improved settings, it is you that takes the photo. YOU aim the camera at the people or scenery around you and press the shutter button.

Composing the shot and changing the settings to account for the amount of light is all done by YOU. YOU interact with your clients and say the right thing at the right time to take those perfect smiles.

Remember that a camera is just a tool to capture moments; without you, the camera can’t do a thing. So invest in yourself too. Pay for photography courses that will teach you about the settings on your camera.

Learn how to run a photography business and work social media to your business’s advantage. Take the time to learn the ins and outs of Photoshop and Lightroom so that your images pop out of your client’s screens. You can buy any camera in the world – we’re here to help you learn the rest.