Nikon, Canon, Sony, Fuji, Panasonic, Olympus – which is the best camera for a beginner?
Spend enough time on the internet and you’ll find thousands of articles comparing and rating individual cameras, which is great if you know what you’re looking for. But what if you don’t?
If you’re a beginner photographer looking to make your first steps then this guide will take you through all the popular brands and give you an overview of each manufacturer.
I’ll even give you a summary of the best cameras for beginners currently available from each brand.
If you haven’t already caught our previous article about which camera features to look out, then click here.
We’ll look at the 6 most popular camera brands and give you a overview. In no particular order, here we go…
Nikon is one of the oldest, and still most popular, names in photography.
The make a complete range of compact, mirrorless and DSLR cameras. Alongside rival, Canon, Nikon dominates the current camera market. Therefore, as a beginner, you’ll find lots of choices in Nikon cameras.
There is a wider selection of lenses from Nikon, which are better suited to beginners.
Nikon’s menu system and camera body design hasn’t, like Canon, changed too much over the years which makes them easy to learn. You’ll spot many similarities in Nikon and Canon cameras.
To tell the difference in models (between Canon and Nikon) when reading online, here’s a little tip. Nikon DSLR cameras are labelled such like D3500, D8700 etc. Whereas Canon cameras are labelled oppositely i.e., 250D, 500D
Lens Mount Name: F-Mount (DSLR) / Z-mount (mirrorless)
Sensor Names: DX (APS-C cropped sensor) / FX (full-frame)
Best Nikon Camera for Beginners: Nikon D3500
Slowly starting to become the outright leading camera manufacturer is Nikon’s constant rival – Canon.
Much like Nikon they produce a huge range of compact and DSLR cameras. They’ve recently started to make the move into mirrorless bodies too. For Canon photographers there are many third party companies (Tamron, Sigma, Samyang) whom produce cheaper lenses compatible with Canon DSLR and mirrorless bodies.
Plus, the range of Canon and third party lenses available for their camera bodies is quite extensive. As a result, being able to get started and take amazing images is easy with Canon.
Fortunately, there are Canon cameras and lenses tailored to every need and every budget. If you’re looking for a reliable and popular brand of digital camera for beginners, look no further than Canon.
Lens Mount Name: EF-Mount / RF-Mount
Lens Types: EF (compatible with all DSLRs) / EF-S (designed for APS-C cropped sensors) / EF-M (designed for EOS M mirrorless range) / L (luxury high end pro lens)
Alternative Model Names: Kiss (Japan) / Rebel (USA) / EOS D (Rest of the World)
Best Canon Camera for Beginners: Canon EOS 250D / Rebel SL3
Sony has been a later arrival to the photography market, in comparison to some of its competitors. They focus their attention on mirrorless digital cameras more so than DSLRs.
Image quality and ergonomics is the centrepiece of Sony’s mission as camera maker. Their impressive sensors and fast responding autofocus systems have seen them rise in popularity over the years. Their mirrorless range is called Alpha (sometimes just signified with an ‘A’).
They were one of the first brands to produce a full-frame mirrorless camera under £1,000/$1,000. Even their entry-level cameras have strong image quality which makes them a good consideration for a beginner who’s not wanting to splash out.
Lens Mount Name: E-Mount (mirrorless) / A-Mount (SLT cameras)
Model Range Names: A6000, A6400, A6500 (APS-C) / A7 range (all full frame)
Best Camera for Beginners: Sony A6000
A force as a film manufacturer back in the day, when 35mm stock was king, but Fujifilm is also a big player in the camera manufacturing market now.
While Fujifilm do make some full frame cameras, their attention is more heavily invested on mirrorless cameras with APS-C sensors. But a smaller sensor doesn’t mean it’s not as good, as we all know, it’s the photographer that makes the photo, not the camera.
Fujifilm has a flair for bringing back that nostalgia of its previous cameras. Their camera designs are unique and mix colours for iconic bodies.
They like to produce cameras that are compact, accessible and don’t require tonnes of separate accessories. If you like an on-the-go camera, check out the Fujifilm X range.
Lens Mount Name: X-Mount
Sensor Name: X-Trans
Best Camera for Beginners: Fuji X-A7
Panasonic, while spending most of its time producing movie cameras have started to shift into the consumer camera market with great success.
Under the model range ‘Lumix’, Panasonic produce a wide range of full-frame DSLRs and cropped mirrorless cameras too, notably their Micro-Four-Thirds (MFT) range.
On top of their award-winning stills cameras, some models within the Lumix range have amazing 4k quality shooting options too. This is really useful if you enjoy both sides to using a camera, or if you’re looking to bring more video content into your photography business.
Lens Mount Name: L-Mount
Model Range Names: S Series (Full Frame) / G Series (Mid Range) / GF Series (Entry Level)
Best Camera for Beginners: Panasonic Lumix DC-GX9
Olympus, like Fujifilm, over the recent years have been retro-inspired by by their former film cameras, now known as the PEN and OMD ranges.
The OMD bodies look more like a traditional DSLR but the PEN cameras are much more compact user friendly for a casual shooter.
Their retro looks appeal to photographers who like a stylised camera and something that looks different from the rest of the market.
While not the strongest and most popular manufacturer, in comparison to Canon and Nikon, there is still a lot of great quality found in their competitive prices.
Lens Mount Name: Live MOS (Micro Four-Thirds)
Best Camera for Beginners: Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark IV
After looking at each of the major camera brands we’ve compared some for you. We’ve tried to make each camera comparative in price (where possible) in case you’re sticking to a budget.
Remember that choosing the right camera isn’t all about features and buttons. It’s important to hold and feel the camera before you buy it.
Get down to your local camera shop (once you’ve done your research) and feel the weight, grip and ease of pressing buttons.
If you find a couple of cameras you absolutely love the look of but not sure which way to go, try this site.