10 Best digital cameras for beginners in 2018

With technological advancement, digital cameras are getting sophisticated each year. To help you pick up the perfect camera for yourself,  I have put together a list of ten best digital cameras for beginners available in the market today.

It’s not a secret anymore that smartphone cameras are getting better and better each day.  But, it is important to consider if you are going from a casual to a more serious photographer. Because, the extra features that a dedicated camera brings along with it, takes your photographs to a whole new level.

As a beginner, you have to make sure you choose the best digital camera that suits your budget, requirement and expertise level. You don’t have to purchase an expensive camera to capture memories, or to create a breathtaking piece of art. It just depends on how well you know your gear and what you can do with it.

Entry level cameras have some serious competition for your money out there. There are quite many options which not only capture great images but also provide speed and portability. I’ll share my opinion on some new as well as some not-so-new cameras (which still remain competitive due to their impressive performance).

Before you buy

Before picking up the camera of your choice, it helps to answer a few basic questions. Otherwise, choosing your first, or next camera can get difficult and overwhelming.

Budget is a prime factor. How much are you willing to shell out for that fancy gear? If buying a new camera is part of your vacation plan, you may have to accommodate to be able to keep your travel budget within limits. Also look out for bundle kit options. Retailers give away camera bags, flash cards, tripods, or filters along with the camera for a nominal extra amount.

Broadly, consumer digital cameras available today fall into DSLRs or Mirrorless categories. So, choosing which way to go is the next step. At a high level, Mirrorless cameras are lighter and smaller. They have EVF (electronic viewfinder) as opposed to the optical viewfinder in DSLRs. Mirrorless has a comparatively lower battery life than DSLRs. Yet, both Mirrorless and DSLR are competitive when it comes to image quality.  They are both available with kit lens option.

Consider how you are going to use your camera. Are you going to use it for general purpose, travel, portraits, or shooting events? You want something that not only meets your requirement but also has a simple learning curve so you can get the hang of it. If the camera has all kinds of advanced and confusing features, you might easily get overwhelmed.

Future plans are a deciding factor as well. The next big thing on your list will help you choose the right camera system for yourself. Ask yourself, if you wish to get into wildlife or sports photography (or other genres) sometime in future. The more specific you get, the better equipped you’ll be to choose that perfect camera body (sensor size and features) and lens for yourself.

For example, Nikon and Canon have a huge lineup of lenses to choose from, whereas Sony (or Panasonic/Pentax) have a limited lens range as of today. Just make sure the camera system you pick isn’t going to cost you an arm or a leg if you wish to add up to your gear list in future.

Weight and size of the camera and accessories are an important aspect that people often overlook while making a purchase. I have seen people investing in their dream cameras only to keep them locked at home. Because they are heavy. Choose as per your use.

For example, if you intend to do street photography, it helps to keep a low profile, and thus a smaller camera is recommended. If you are doing an all-day event, such as a wedding, lugging around a heavy camera will cause you to tire out very quickly. You want to make sure you get all the shots keeping your clients as well as your hands and back happy!

Give a thought to the above-mentioned points, and it will surely enhance your ability to make the right choice. Let’s start with the list now.

1. Nikon D3400 + AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR

This camera isn’t overly fancy, but it does get the job done. It’s light, small, and has a comfortable grip. It houses a powerful 24.2 Megapixel APS-C sensor along with an EXPEED 4 image processor. Which ensures fantastic image quality with rich colors coming straight out of the camera. The 11 points auto-focus is fast and accurate. Although, live-view focusing is a bit slow. The anti-aliasing filter is not there, which results in sharper images.

In addition, it has Nikon’s SnapBridge Bluetooth Low Energy connection to transfer photos instantly to your phone. The improved guide mode helps newbies to pull out the best out of any situation. ISO performance is great and the camera is capable enough to focus in tricky low light situations, as well.

With around 1200 shots per charge, D3400 boasts of a fantastic battery life. This will help ensure that you can take all the pictures you need before having to recharge. D3400 offers very good video quality up to a maximum resolution of 1080/60p.

There’s no touchscreen or articulating screen. Both of which could have taken this camera to a different level. There’s no headphone jack, as well. The camera doesn’t have an inbuilt wifi, but you can buy an external adapter (Nikon WU‑1a). The body is not weather sealed. Which is not a deal breaker, anyway.
Nikon D3400 is a fantastic value for money and has a great potential to be the best digital camera for beginners.

Check out Nikon D3400’s best price and reviews on Amazon

2. Canon EOS Rebel T7i / Canon EOS 800D + EF-S 18-55 IS STM

Canon rebel T7i

Canon T7i is currently Canon’s top entry-level DSLR. The body is compact with a deep grip. The buttons, dials and the articulating touch screen are nice and responsive. The body is not weather sealed. Packed with a 24.2 Megapixel sensor along with DIGIC 7 processing engine, it produces jpegs with excellent color and has a decent ISO performance. Autofocus is quick and accurate owing to its 45-point dual-pixel autofocus system.

Video autofocus is snappy, with a maximum resolution of full HD 1080p up to 60 fps. Video mode is limited to full auto or manual, only. Time-lapse movie mode is an added feature. T7i also comes with a lot of Creative filters whose results can be previewed before shooting. HDR is one such filter which helps you to create High Dynamic Range images.

Canon T7i comes with a low-energy Bluetooth to maintain a reliable and persistent connection. It comes with built-in wi-fi for improved connectivity and quick transfers. The smartphone app can be used to take photos and videos with full manual controls.

Continuous shooting is available at a decent rate of 6fps, and the buffer does not take long to clear up. For video shooters, T7i also provides an external mic input to improve sound quality. On top of it, Canon also gives access to a strong lens lineup. If you are looking for something to shoot video and stills with, then this is the one.

Check out Canon T7i’s best price and reviews on Amazon

3. Nikon D5600 + AF-P 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G DX VR

Next in line is the Nikon D5600. While it has got little bit more advanced features than other starter cameras, it’s still great for beginners. Fitted with 24.2 Megapixel APS-C sensor, It has a 3.2-inch articulating touchscreen that you can pinch, zoom, and set focus.

It has got a sophisticated autofocus system of 39 points which delivers quick and accurate phase-detection autofocus through the viewfinder. You can create stunning time-lapse videos using D5600’s built-in time-lapse movie feature.

EXPEED 4 image-processing engine boasts superb ISO performance which allows you to shoot in challenging light situations. This camera’s video mode has a choice of automatic or manual exposure and goes up to full HD 1080p with 60fps. So yeah, no 4k. And, the video autofocus is a bit slow in Live view mode.

D5600 has got wifi in addition to SnapBridge Bluetooth. This enables you to sync your photos directly with your computer or phone. Image quality out of this camera is excellent with rich tonal contrasts. There is a wide range of in-camera creative tools available, too.

Continuous shooting speed is average, not at par with its rivals. With no weather sealing, this camera is a bit on the expensive side. It is a relatively small and solid camera. Although most specs remain unchanged from its predecessor D5500, this proves its place.

Check out Nikon D5600’s best price and reviews on Amazon

4. Canon Rebel T6 (EOS 1300D) + EF-S 18-55 f/3.5-5.6 IS II

Canon Rebel T6

Canon T6 is targetted towards beginners taking the next step from a point and shoot. It is mainly plastic body making it very light. Built around an 18 MP APS-C sensor with DIGIC 4 image processing engine (same as Canon T5i), it produces decent images with pleasant colors. It has got 9 autofocus points and a fixed 3-inch screen with no touchscreen.

Continuous shooting is limited to 3 fps with not so reliable autofocusing in burst mode. It comes with Canon’s creative modes and range of scenic modes. Filters are also available which can be applied once the photo has been taken.

Canon T6 lacks spot metering so backlit images may not get properly exposed. It has got WI-FI and NFC capabilities. Works with the Canon CameraConnect app to transfer photos. Movie capture features are basic, and video quality is good (not the best). Autofocusing is slow in video mode, as well.

The kit lens provided is not a great performer. Its autofocus is noisy. Battery life is average, and the ISO capabilities are limited. It has a loud shutter so don’t try to hide while you’re shooting. Canon T6 is an easy to use and affordable package for beginners.

Check out Canon Rebel T6’s best price and reviews at Amazon

5. Canon EOS Rebel SL2 / EOS 200D + EF-S 18-55mm f/4-5.6 IS STM

Canon Rebel SL2

Canon EOS Rebel SL2/EOS 200D has a 24 Megapixel APS-C sensor with the latest DIGIC 7 processor. This is the smallest DSLR available with a plastic built. It is light and has a comfortable grip. Autofocusing module has 9 points with dual pixel technology, which is fast and accurate. SL2 comes with an articulated touchscreen which can be used to pinpoint the focusing with just a finger tap.

SL2 comes with NFC to connect with compatible devices, low powered Bluetooth for image transfer, and built-in wi-fi. The guided menu system is available which can be turned on and off. The kit lens is super compact and focuses quickly. Image quality is good with naturally saturated colors.

Highest video resolution available is full HD up to 60 fps. Video quality is average but autofocusing in video mode is very good. There is an external mic input for recording stereo quality sound, as well. Continuous shooting on this camera is good at 5 fps but buffering capabilities are limited. ISO performance is good and noise is well controlled.

There is a range of digital filters included that will help you achieve various effects including HDR. A new ‘Feature assistant’ user interface is provided to assist budding photographers to come at ease with various camera settings. There is no in-camera panoramic mode. Canon SL2 may not be the best entry-level camera out there but if you are just starting out and love to carry a compact DSLR then this is worth considering.

Check out Canon EOS SL2’s best price and reviews at Amazon

6. Pentax K-70 + HD DA 18-135 mm f/3.5-5.6

Pentax K 70

Pentax K-70 maintains the legacy of its predecessors and offers good value for the money. Packed with a 24 Megapixel APS-C sensor and an on-sensor phase detection Autofocus. It comes with a fully articulated screen which is not touch-sensitive, though. The sensor is housed inside Pentax’s in-body image stabilization system.

The “sensor/pixel shift” technology together with the lack of an anti-aliasing filter produces incredibly detailed photos with very good color rendition. Continuous shooting mode is a decent 6 fps with average buffer capacity. The body is weather sealed and dust proof. K-70 is the heaviest camera in this category with the shortest battery life. And, it comes with a good grip to support the bulk.

Image quality is excellent when shooting RAW. Although, the JPEG straight out of the camera is a bit disappointing. Wi-fi on K-70 offers an effective way to transfer photos or remotely control the camera with a smartphone. Video mode provides 1080 footage up to 30p. But, autofocusing is not reliable in live view and tends to hunt. Focus peaking is available to aid manual focusing.

Apart from this, K-70 comes with numerous scene modes and image modes for beginners to play with. The kit lens provided is not the best. It is slow and noisy. The Pentax K-70 proves to be a compelling option and gives a lot to explore if you can.

Check out Pentax K-70’s best price and reviews on Amazon

7. Sony A6000 + E PZ 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OSS

Sony A6000

Even though older than the rest, Sony A6000 still remains competitive in the entry-level space. It is small in size and nicely fits in the hand. The grip is deep, making it easier to hold. It houses a 24 MP APS-C sensor along with Sony’s Bionz X processing engine.

A6000 has got a tilting screen which is not touch-sensitive. Autofocusing is pretty impressive in good light owing to its hybrid autofocusing system of 179 AF points. Smartphone connectivity is taken care with in-built wi-fi and NFC. Continuous shooting goes up to a massive 11 fps.

The camera produces very good image quality both in JPEG and RAW. Colors are well saturated. But, in-camera RAW conversion is missing. ISO performance is mediocre with decent noise reduction overall. Video quality is good (not the best), records up to 1080/60p.

Timelapse app is available to create in-camera time-lapse. The menu system has a learning graph and the kit lens will fail to excite you, as well. The Electronic viewfinder is excellent and bright. This package comes with customizable buttons which you can set to your taste. If you are planning to shoot video as well as stills, this small, sleek, and responsive system will not disappoint you. It is an excellent performer at an attractive price point.

Check out Sony A6000’s best price and reviews on Amazon

8. Panasonic Lumix GX85 (GX80) + Lumix G VARIO 12-32mm f/3.5-5.6 ASPH. MEGA O.I.S.

Panasonic Lumix GX85 is an intermediate camera with a 16 Megapixels Micro four-thirds sensor. It is comfortable in size and feels well-balanced. The body has dual control dials with rather small buttons. Added to that is a tilting touchscreen with an excellent interface.

Autofocus performance is outstanding with the 49-point Contrast Detect AF system. On top of it, there’s a ‘Depth of Defocus AF’ feature that tracks action like a charm. It does not end here. The ‘touch-pad AF’ makes it super simple to select a focus point while using the viewfinder.

GX85 shoots fantastic 4k video with impressive detail and color. And, to help you get the best results, it comes with focus peaking (manual focusing), microphone level adjustments and zebra patterns for monitoring highlights. It has a decent built-in wi-fi to connect and operate the camera remotely. Image quality is good and ISO performance is average.

The body is not weather sealed. External mic jack is also lacking. This package comes with Dual Image Stabilization (5 axis sensor IS and lens IS). The absence of anti-aliasing filter gives crisp images. GX85 is a remarkably responsive camera. It offers a number of upgrades over its previous models and is great for travel and general purpose photography.

Check out Panasonic Lumix GX85’s best price and reviews at Amazon

9. Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II camera + 14-42mm II R Lens

The Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II is a Micro four-thirds mirrorless camera that houses a 16 MP sensor along with a TruePic VII processing engine. The body is largely plastic and comfortable to hold. But, not weather sealed. It comes with a 5-axis image stabilization and a high-resolution viewfinder. Equally impressive is it’s 3-inch tilting touchscreen LCD.

This camera is highly customizable and has built-in wi-fi. Autofocus performance is fast and the ‘AF targeting pad’ makes focus point selection very easy. Although, tracking capabilities in continuous focusing mode is a bit disappointing.

Image quality is very good for both JPEG and RAW. Colors are punchy and pleasant. ISO performance is good up to ISO 6400 and noise levels are decently handled. Video quality is decent and goes up to 1080/60p. It has a slow-mo video mode, focus peaking, and zebra pattern. Though, external mic input is missing.

A 4k time-lapse mode is provided along with a built-in intervalometer. There are a ton of special effect modes available but the camera’s menu system can get complicated at times. The OM-D E-M10 MII is a capable entry-level lightweight camera with great ergonomics. It offers a lot for the money and is a worthy competitor.

Check out OM-D E-M10 Mark II’s best price and reviews at Amazon

10. Fujifilm X-A10 + XC 16-50mm f/3.5-5.6 OIS II

The last, but not the least is the cheapest entry-level mirrorless camera, Fuji X-A10. It comes with a 16.3 MP APS-C sensor packed in a thin and light body, mostly plastic. The textured surface adds to the signature Fuji retro look and provides a comfortable grip too. What separates X-A10 from others is its 3 inches 180-degree slide and tilt LCD screen. The screen can flip up, and face all the way forward making the camera selfie-friendly. It’s not touch-sensitive, though. Autofocusing is quick owing to its 49 AF points.

Image quality is impressive. Photos out of the camera are bright, warm, and pleasingly saturated. The kit lens provided is sharp.

Noise performance is great within ISO 6400. Video mode goes up to 1080/60p. This camera captures decent video with good color rendering. You can get creative with the ‘advanced filters’ and film simulation features. Built-in wi-fi makes wireless connectivity seamless with your phone.

There is no hot-shoe or viewfinder on this Fujifilm body. If you are starting out and on a budget, Fuji X-A10 is the cheapest X-mount camera out there offering good value for money.

Check out Fujifilm X-A10’s current price and reviews on Amazon

2 thoughts on “10 Best digital cameras for beginners in 2018

  1. Wow! Amazing review, thank you. I have an older Canon DSLR with interchangeable lenses. I love it. Took it on safari years ago and took incredible pictures and video. My daughter has a larger Nikon which has great features also, but is hoping to invest in one with video features. We will definitely bookmark your site.

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