Buying a camera isn’t an easy feat. From chunky DSLRs and mirrorless shooters to robust action cams and compact snappers to take on holiday, there are plenty of types on the market and that isn’t even taking into consideration price and specs. At Trusted Reviews, we’ve put together this guide to help you decide which camera is best for you.
Whether you’re a professional photographer, a regular hobbyist or a beginner looking to pick up a new skill in 2021, there are tons of reasons to buy a new camera or upgrade your current kit.
We’ve compiled all of our favourite cameras right now into one, easy-to-follow guide, putting into consideration budget, skill level and use.
Every camera on this list has been thoroughly examined using a series of intensive real-world and lab tests. We factor in usability, picture and video quality and battery life, among other features, to identify the best of the photography world in 2021.
You can see our best cameras at a glance below, or scroll down further to see pros, cons, why we like each camera and links to our in-depth, comprehensive reviews with image samples.
- Fujifilm X-T4 – Best mirrorless camera
- Nikon Z6 – Best full-frame camera body
- Sony A7 III – Best full-frame all-rounder
- Sony A6100 – Best mirrorless camera for beginners
- Nikon D850 – Best pro DSLR
- Nikon D3500 – Best DSLR for beginners
- Panasonic Lumix G100 – Best compact for beginners
- Sony ZV-1 – Best for vloggers
- Fujifilm X100V – Best for street photography
- Panasonic Lumix G9 – Best for sports/wildlife
- GoPro Hero 9 – Best action camera
Related: Best mirrorless cameras
1. Fujifilm X-T4
The best mirrorless camera around
- 4K/60p 10-bit internal recording
- Intuitive handling
- Impressive battery life
- Stunning picture
- Doesn’t come with external charger
The Fujifilm X-T4 earned the title of Best Camera at the 2020 Trusted Reviews Awards – and for good reason.
The APS-C size mirrorless shooter features a timeless film camera design, a tough, weather-sealed body and full manual controls, making it an attractive, versatile option well-suited to almost any project.
Key features here include an all-new in-body image stabilisation (IBIS) system to limit motion blur when shooting handheld, making it ideal for video and weddings.
The battery is bigger and lasts 30% longer than that in its predecessor, the X-T3. The autofocus system has seen improvements in face detection and eye AF over the X-T3, too.
Nostalgic shooters will enjoy Fujifilm’s film simulation modes, while videographers will appreciate that the X-T4 has F-log and HLG picture profiles and can record in 4K at 60p.
The Fujifilm X-T4 is a great all-round mirrorless shooter and definitely worth considering when it comes time to invest in a new camera.
2. Nikon Z6
A full-frame mirrorless powerhouse
- Excellent handling
- Superb electronic viewfinder
- In-body image stabilisation
- Slick touchscreen interface
- Currently only three native lenses
- Screen only tilts rather than fully articulating
It’s a close call between the Sony A7 III and Nikon Z6 for the title of ‘best full-frame mirrorless all-rounder’. Right now, Sony’s system has far more native lenses, a better battery life, and is slightly more affordable. But we think the Z6 just shades it, particularly if you’re coming from a DSLR, thanks to its fantastic handling and superior EVF.
The Nikon Z6 has a 24.5-megapixel full-frame sensor, which has around half the number of pixels of its Z7 brother. While that makes the Z7 the better bet for landscape photographers, it does mean the Z6 is better for low light shooting as well as sports and action, thanks to its impressive 12fps burst rate.
In the hand, the Z6 feels very much like a mini DSLR. If you’re coming from a Nikon DSLR, it’ll feel very familiar indeed, and we think it handles better than the slightly more cramped Sony A7 III. In the true DSLR spirit, it’s also extremely tough, with weatherproofing that’ll see it through downpours and drops.
The Z6’s 3.6-million dot viewfinder is one of the best we’ve seen, giving you a clear, bright view of the scene. The tilting touchscreen is also very handy for shooting from awkward angles and navigating menus. One particularly welcome trick is being able to double-tap the screen for a 100% view to quickly check that you’ve got perfect focus.
As you’d expect, the Z6’s image quality is excellent, with great dynamic range, detail and sharpness. Focusing is also fast in most situations, with the Z6 tracking fast-moving subjects even better than the Z7.
The only real downside of the Nikon Z6 compared to a DSLR like Nikon’s own D750 is battery life. It gives you around 310 shots from a charge, so it’s worth carrying a spare if you like to rattle off a lot of frames.
In every other way, though, the Nikon Z6 is what we hoped its full-frame mirrorless all-rounder would be. With several more native lenses also available, it’s the one to beat.
3. Sony A7 III
In many ways, still the full-frame mirrorless trailblazer
- Excellent value for money
- Improved battery stamina
- Fast and responsive autofocus system
- Revised button layout for intuitive control
- AF point illumination could be improved
- Convoluted menu system
- Thin plastic port covers aren’t weather-sealed
- Handles poorly with large gloves in cold climates
It’s a very close call between the Nikon Z6 and Sony A7 III for the title of ‘best full-frame mirrorless camera.’ We think the former’s superb handling and all-round performance just gives it the edge, but the Sony A7 III still wins in three areas: battery life, its superb Eye AF, and its larger range of native FE lenses.
The A7 III is equipped with a 24.2-megapixel full-frame sensor, which benefits from backside-illuminated architecture. You get a wide ISO range that can be expanded to ISO 50-204,800, fast continuous burst shooting up to 10fps with autofocus and exposure adjustment, and a fully-electronic shutter, making it possible to shoot silently when you want to avoid disturbing a subject.
The headline feature of the A7 II was its 5-axis in-body stabilisation. This advanced IS system carries over to the A7 III, but now offers up to 5 stops of stabilisation compared to 4.5 stops on its predecessor. Another improvement sees the A7 III use the same uprated NP-FZ100 battery as the A7R III and A9, offering over twice the capacity of the old NP-FW50. It also gains twin SD card slots, but only one supports the UHS-II type.
The A7 III has a complex arrangement of 693 phase-detection points and 425 contrast-detection points, which cover 93% of the frame. Autofocus is further improved by employing the same AF advancements as first used in the Sony A9. The difference in the speed and accuracy of the A7 III’s focusing is noticeable coming from the older A7 II.
With a good level of customisation and a revised button layout that makes operation more intuitive, the A7 III is an extremely enjoyable camera to use. It inherits the AF joystick from the A7R III and presents a new exposure lock (AEL) button below the exposure compensation dial, a new AF-ON button, and an improved rear scroll dial that’s far less fiddly.
Other improvements on the A7 III are found at the rear, where a 2.3m-dot EVF with 0.78x magnification and 3in 922k-dot LCD touchscreen take pride of place. The EVF has a lower resolution than the A7R III, but is complete with Zeiss T* coatings to reduce obtrusive reflections.
The A7 III has come on a long way from the original A7 and A7 II. It does exactly what serious photographers want in a body that’s smaller and lighter than rival DSLRs. It’s quick, it’s highly versatile and delivers excellent image quality when more is asked from the sensor in low-light.
Sony has made a superb all-rounder with the A7 III. It might not be quite as far ahead of its rivals as when it first launched, and in some areas the Nikon Z6 has edged ahead of it, but it remains the more mature full-frame mirrorless system and a great buy for anyone who doesn’t want to stretch their budget to the mighty Sony A7R III.
4. Sony A6100
Our top entry-level mirrorless camera
- Class-leading autofocus system
- Packed with features
- Good battery performance
- No picture profiles for video
- No video stabilisation
The a6100 is the follow up to Sony’s award-winning a6000 mirrorless shooter. The entry-level camera is packed with cutting-edge tech, allowing it to offer strong photo and video performance as well as support for Sony’s E-mount lenses for everything from sports to wildlife to portraiture.
The camera boasts the same 24.2-megapixel APS-C sensor as the a6000 along with a more powerful Bionz X image-processing chip. This pairing allows for improved low light performance over its predecessor, as well as the addition of 4K video at 30p on the entry-level device.
The a6100 also takes advantage of Sony’s autofocus system. The camera packs a 425-point hybrid AF system – another step up from the a6000 – along with real-time tracking AF and 11fps continuous shooting with AF tracking.
The Sony a6100 is a fantastic all-rounder and a super versatile option for anyone looking to invest in their first mirrorless camera in 2021.
5. Nikon D850
The best DSLR we’ve ever seen
- Sensor provides exceptionally fine detail
- Super-fast autofocus and silent shooting in Live View
- Inherits AF toggle from D500 for fast AF point positioning
- Impressive battery life with EN-EL15a battery
- Lacks on-chip phase detection AF in Live View
- Touchscreen doesn’t allow users to adjust key exposure settings
- SnapBridge connectivity requires improvement
When the Nikon D850 arrived back in July 2017 it was pretty much unique, offering a combination of blazing speed and resolution that hadn’t really been possible from one body. Since then, mirrorless cameras like the Sony A7R III and Nikon Z7 have repeated this trick. But when we re-reviewed the Nikon D850 in November 2018, we still found it to be the DSLR king and more than a match for its mirrorless rivals.
The Nikon D850 is a high-end, full-frame DSLR designed for professional photographers. It combines high-resolution, speedy performance and impressive low-light performance in a robust, weather-sealed body.
The D850 succeeded the 36.3-megapixel D810 released in 2014, bringing numerous improvements to what was already an excellent DSLR in it own right. The highlight is the 45.7-megapixel sensor, which brings the D850 into line with direct competitors such as the Canon 5DS (50.6 megapixels) and Sony A7R III (42.4 megapixels).
For those who either don’t need the D850’s full 45.7 megapixels for a particular shot or just want to save memory card space, there’s also the option to shoot at either 25.6 megapixels or 11.4 megapixels.
The D850’s new high-resolution sensor is paired with a powerful EXPEED 5 processor, as used by both the D500 and flagship D5 models. This combination gives the D850 plenty of processing power, and ensures noise is kept to a minimum when using higher sensitivity settings. Continuous shooting maxes out at 7fps, although connecting the D850’s optional MB-D18 battery grip (£369) and EN-EL18b (£179) battery increases this to an impressive 9fps.
The D850’s 153-point Multi-CAM 20K autofocus system has also been lifted directly from the D500 and D5. It’s a proven AF module that’s both fast and accurate, thanks in part to the inclusion of 99 cross-type AF points.
The central AF point is sensitive down to -4EV, which should ensure accurate focus, even when light is in short supply. Elsewhere, the D850 also becomes the first Nikon DSLR to support 4K video capture at up to 30fps, with separate microphone and headphone inputs located on the side of the camera.
Construction is – as you’d expect of a £3500 pro-spec DSLR – pretty much bombproof, with the D850 securely housed inside a weather-sealed magnesium alloy body. Buttons and controls are plentiful, as are customisation options. The back of the camera is fitted with a 3.2-inch, 2.36m-dot tiltable touchscreen, and above this the 100% viewfinder is described by Nikon as the largest the company has ever made.
The D850 is an incredible camera that’s as impressive now as when it first arrived in 2017. If you still prefer a DSLR’s optical viewfinder and all-day battery life, it’s one of the best ever made.
Related: Best DSLR
6. Nikon D3500
The perfect DSLR for beginners
- Very good value for money
- High quality kit lens
- Impressive image quality
- Fast and silent autofocus
- No 4K video
- Large compared to a mirrorless camera
It might not be a huge leap forward from the Nikon D3400, but this beginner-friendly DSLR is superb value for money and a fine all-round performer.
The main plus points are its impressive 18-55mm AF-P kit lens, which is very consistent across its focal range, and a 1,550-shot battery life that trounces its mirrorless rivals.
Of course, it’s quite a bit bigger than your average mirrorless camera, and its autofocus isn’t quite as strong as similarly-priced models like the Panasonic GX80, but it can shoot at a decent 5fps in burst mode (good enough to keep up with fast-moving kids, if not sports cars) and its strong ISO performance means it handles low light scenarios well.
Beginners might also prefer its handling to a mirrorless camera, while its 24-megapixel APS-C sensor delivers strong image quality too. If you really need a swivelling touchscreen for shooting video or awkward shots then it’s worth also considering the Canon 200D, but the Nikon D3500 is otherwise the best DSLR around at this price.
7. Panasonic Lumix G100
Ideal for anyone making the leap from smartphone photography
- Impressive photo and video
- Advanced audio-recording
- EVF and flexible LCD screen
- No headphone input
- No USB-C port
- Video maxes out at 4K/30p
The Panasonic Lumix G100 is the perfect option for any budding social media creative looking to invest in their first proper camera.
The Lumix G100 is kitted with a micro-four-thirds (MFT) sensor and an interchangeable lens mount, making it a drastic step up from your average smartphone. MFT sensors are around five times bigger than the sensors used in high priced smartphones, meaning you’ll see a dramatic improvement in image quality, especially when shooting in low light environments.
The lens mount also widens your shooting options to loads of affordable lenses, inviting more creativity than a fixed-lens smartphone camera, alongside the option to upgrade your zoom capabilities.
The 3-inch, 1.84m dot display offers good contrast and can even remember its orientation, making it ideal for capturing images and videos in portrait for social media as you’ll never have to rotate them before posting.
The G100 is capable of shooting in RAW, taking 10fps burst-mode JPEGs and recording video in 4K at 30p or Full HD at 60p. It comes with a 12-32mm f3.5-5.6 kit lens with Optical Image Stabilisation (OIS) in the box, perfect for street, travel and portrait photography.
8. Sony ZV-1
Designed with vloggers in mind
- Unbelievable mic quality
- Top-tier autofocus
- Instant bokeh mode
- Can overheat indoors
- Convoluted menus that are a pain to use
- Micro-USB rather than USB-C
The Sony ZV-1 is another compact shooter aimed at smartphone photographers and social media creatives, this time targeting vloggers in particular.
At 10.5 x 4.4 x 6cm in size, the ZV-1 is small and portable. The camera has a limited number of physical buttons, making it a less intimidating transition for anyone used to the touchscreen on their smartphone. There’s a tripod mount at the bottom, along with a hotshoe at the top if the built-in mic isn’t cutting it for you. That said, we found that the built-in mic did a fantastic job of honing in on one’s voice during testing and the camera even comes with a wind screen attachment for additional help during more disruptive weather.
The camera has a separate option solely for bokeh mode. The shutter allows for the background to be blurred out in real time, putting the focus on your face while you shoot.
There are two stabilisation features – standard and active – to limit shakiness, along with a ‘Product Showcase’ feature which allows the camera to focus immediately on any item you present it with. This is a feature a lot of cameras struggle with and would definitely come in handy for any beauty bloggers and tech journalists out there.
The ZV-1 has a 180-degree swivel display and can shoot in 4K up to 25p. The camera comes with a 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 lens and a one-inch sensor designed to fit the vlogging format. This is the ultimate compact camera for vloggers.
9. Fujifilm X100V
Our top pick for street photography
- Beautiful design
- Tilting touch-sensitive screen
- Sharp lens
- Fixed lens isn’t hugely flexible
- High asking price
The Fujifilm X100V marks the fifth generation of the camera brand’s ultimate street camera.
The camera boasts the same 26.1MP APS-C X-Trans CMOS sensor and 23mm (35mm equivalent) lens as its predecessors – with some key additions.
The touch-sensitive screen can now be tilted, making it easier to shoot from the hip or any other awkward angles. The hybrid viewfinder has seen some improvements, too. The optical viewfinder now offers 95% coverage, while the electronic one has a 3.6 million dot resolution.
Physically, the buttons have seen some changes from previous models and the X100V now includes weather-resistance, making it possible to shoot in a variety of conditions.
Images taken with this camera are colourful and vivid with soft out of focus areas when shooting at a wide aperture. The camera can also shoot in 4K for high quality video.
The X100V is ideal for street photographers and an all-round great addition to a well-loved series of cameras.
Related: Best compact camera
10. Panasonic Lumix G9
A brilliant camera for sports and wildlife
- Superb design and handling
- Excellent 4K & 6K photo modes
- Well supported by Micro Four Thirds lenses
- Offers high-resolution 40MP & 80MP modes
- Positioning of AF toggle could be better
- Lacks battery level indication as percentage
- Burst shot mode descriptions aren’t clear
- No in-camera panoramic mode
The G9 sits beside Panasonic’s premium GH5 and GH5S models in the Lumix G line-up. Whereas the GH series has always set about appealing to videographers, the G9 is out to fulfil the demands of serious stills-focused photographers. It does this with an impressive specification, however it’s the blistering speeds that it’s capable of that really sets it apart from many other mirrorless cameras.
Shooting continuously in its AF-S mode, the G9 can rattle out a burst at 12fps for as many as 60 frames in RAW, or at 60fps for 50 frames in RAW by activating the camera’s electronic shutter. Switching the camera over to its continuous AF mode (AF-C) sees the burst speed drop, but to a highly respectable 9fps using the mechanical shutter or 20fps using the electronic shutter.
The G9’s new 5-axis Dual I.S II image stabiliser, which offers 6.5 stops of compensation to counteract camera shake when shooting stills or movies, also has dual-purpose. It allows the camera to offer a new 80-megapixel high-resolution mode whereby the sensor is shifted precisely between eight shots to create a single image with much finer detail. It’s wonderfully executed and easy to use.
There’s so much more to like about the camera. It has a top-plate LCD like you get on most DSLRs, a superb 3680k-dot resolution electronic viewfinder with 0.83x magnification, and a sensitive 3-inch, 1040k-dot vari-angle touchscreen. It combines all of the above with a spritely autofocus system, relying once again on a formula of contrast detection and Depth From Defocus (DFD) technology.
It may lack a really high-end feel, but it’s an incredibly versatile mirrorless camera that’s very capable of delivering satisfying results in the hands of those who love photography. There’s great value to be had from buying Panasonic’s best stills camera to date.
11. GoPro Hero 9
The best action camera available right now
- Longer battery life
- Image quality and stabilisation are excellent
- Useful front display
- Similar 4K image quality to Hero 8 Black, but with greater contrast
- The price jump is significant
- Still pretty poor at night
The GoPro Hero 9 Black is the latest addition to the iconic action cam line – and it does not disappoint.
The Hero 9 is slightly bigger than the Hero 8, benefiting from a second display, improved stabilisation and a rise in resolution over its predecessor. You can replace the lens covering again, and there’s now the option to add an ND filter or a mod attachment to the lens to increase the field of view to 155-degrees.
The most noticeable addition is definitely the new front display, which can be used as a second display or simply to show the camera status as the Hero 8 did. The rear display has been given a size boost, too.
The Hero 9 is largely based around presets, though you can always delete the default options and replace them with your own to pick out your ideal resolution, frame rate, stabilisation mode and field of view.
The sensor has gone from a 12MP sensor to a 20MP one, allowing for a jump from 4K video to an impressive 5K at 30p. This allows for more detail in the background, allowing for higher quality footage when cropped.
The HyperSmooth 2.0 stabilisation tech has been replaced with HyperSmooth 3.0 and the camera is water resistant up to 10m. Even the battery is better than its predecessor with a 30% increase over the Hero 8 Black.
The Hero 9 is a fantastic addition to the GoPro line, reclaiming the camera’s position at the top of the action cam industry.
Do you agree with our top picks? Reach out to us @TrustedReviews.