Though you may be a creative working in many disciplines, you may not have considered the advantages a camera can bring you. Adding photography to your portfolio of skills can open up doors to many new opportunities, and apart from anything else is a lot of fun in its own right!
But then the question arrives: what's the best camera I can buy? Creatives and photographers have all sorts of different needs when it comes to tech. That's why we're here to help, with our round-up of all the best cameras that creatives can buy right now.
So what's the best camera out there right now? We think it's the Fujifilm X-T30. It’s a camera for everyone, with fantastic image quality, top-notch 4K video and access to the terrific range of X-mount lenses. At its price, there's nothing else to touch it for performance, quality and handling. If video is your thing, our best 4K camera is the Panasonic Lumix GH5, with its impressive breadth of movie-making features.
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Of course, the best camera for you depends on what you need it for. Whatever your creative output, we’ve got the right option here: you’ll find the best DSLR and our favourite cheap DSLR at the top of this list, with superb mirrorless and compact options further down. We’ve also covered the best action cameras, as well as the best travel camera for your holidays – and even the best camera phone, for those times when you don't want to carry a camera.
Here's our pick of the best cameras for photography out there…
A triumphant achievement by Fujifilm, the X-T30 is a mirrorless camera that packs an incredible amount of tech into a small camera body. It's the smaller sibling to the flagship X-T3, with a lower price tag to match, and this winning combination of power and price makes the X-T30, in our eyes, the best camera around for creatives right now. It sports the latest 26.1MP X-Trans CMOS 4 APS-C sensor and X Processor Pro 4, but where advancements have really been in made is in the super-sophisticated autofocus system, with 2.16 million phase detection pixels that cover 100% of the frame, able to work even in extreme low-light conditions.
The X-T30 uses an electronic shutter that allows the user to burst-shoot at up to 30fps with no viewfinder blackout, and it can capture 4K UHD video at a maximum frame rate of 30p. The camera's ergonomics are first-rate, making use of Fujifilm's signature dial-led controls for a tactile handling experience. It's an utterly superb camera by any standards, and the fact that it comes at a sub-£1000 price makes all this all the sweeter. If you’re feeling a little more flush, take a look at the Fujifilm X-T3, which is this camera's more powerful big brother.
The Nikon D850 is still top dog in the DSLR world, and unchallenged by Canon when you consider just how many things it gets right. Normally such cameras are intended to excel in one area, such as speed or resolution, but the D850 delivers in all of them. Its 45.7MP sensor produces richly detailed images, particularly as it lacks an anti-aliasing filter, while 7fps burst shooting can be boosted to 9fps with an optional grip and battery. The 153-point AF system, meanwhile, is still Nikon’s most comprehensive iteration. And naturally, 4K video is on board too.
Around its solid core, the camera is ready for unlimited creativity, with time-lapse shooting, slow-motion video output in Full HD, in-camera Raw processing and a raft of other post-capture adjustments all falling to hand. Shooting at night? Many of the camera’s controls light up, and the ISO range stretches to a setting equivalent to 102,400 – a rarity on a camera with such a populated sensor. Need to shoot silently? This is not possible on many other DSLRs, but here you can fire 30fps bursts in complete silence.
Targeted at pros – and as at home in the studio as it is in the field – the Nikon D850's body usually comes on its own. But if you don’t already own a lens you’ll be well served by partnering it with the excellent AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR for general use. Can’t quite stretch to the D850’s asking price? Good-quality examples of the older Nikon D810 can still be found online.
The Canon EOS 200D / Rebel SL2 is neither the cheapest entry-level DSLR nor the newest, but it gains a spot on our best camera for creatives list by breaking from entry-level DSLR norms to provide a particularly generous feature set. In essence, it feels like it’s designed with the entry-level user’s needs and desires in mind, rather than a particular price point. The 24.2MP appears fairly conventional, but it’s furnished with Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology to make focusing nice and swift in live view, and focusing transitions smooth and professional when creating videos. These are captured in Full HD rather than 4K quality, but the option to record to 60p and a mic input boost its potential for high-quality recordings.
The flip-out LCD, meanwhile, is a boon for shooting from unorthodox angles, and its super-sensitive touch panel lets you focus effortlessly where you want by touch. The camera’s DIGIC 7 processing engine is one of the newest, and this allows for a range of Picture Styles and in-camera Raw processing, while the full Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth trinity of connectivity options star alongside.
You can grab it as a body-only option, although most people just getting started will no doubt want to spend a shade more to pair it with the EF-S 18-55mm f/4-5.6 IS STM lens. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even opt for a kit with the all-encompassing EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM instead, and if you fancy something similar but with a bit more powerful, take a look at the Canon EOS 800D. This is a great option for the first-timer, particularly if live view or video is your thing.
It’s difficult to know where to start with the Panasonic GH5; there’s simply so much to pique the videographer’s interest. 4K footage can be recorded in both DCI 4K and UHD 4K flavours without the heavy crop factors that plague other 4K models, and this is captured in high-quality 10-bit 4:2:2 (internally). You can also use focus peaking to get focus bitingly sharp, call on an anamorphic shooting option, capture at high speeds for slow-motion output and opt for a (paid-for) log option. Video aside, there’s plenty more to love, from the excellent 3.6 million dot viewfinder and articulating LCD through to 9fps shooting and 225 AF points, all inside a sturdy, weather-sealed body.
Not quite what you need? The newer Panasonic GH5S variant opts for a 10.2MP sensor for better dynamic range and low-light performance, but misses out on sensor-based image stabilisation. Alternatively, the older Panasonic GH4 also provides 4K recording, and would make a good alternative if your budget doesn’t quite reach what’s being asked here.
In 2018 we saw an explosion of full-frame mirrorless cameras as Canon, Nikon and Panasonic started muscling in on this territory. For our money, one of the best choices for creatives in this department is the Nikon Z6, which blends comprehensive functionality and top-notch image quality with fast autofocus and fantastic low-light performance, all wrapped up in a body that doesn't cost the earth. The larger, more sophisticated Z7 is pitched towards professional photographers, and we reckon this slimmed-down model is the better choice for creatives. You still get access to the exciting new range of Z mount lenses, and the 24.5MP of resolution is going to be more than enough for most purposes.
The wide ISO range (expandable to 204,800) makes the Z6 an extremely capable choice for low-light work, and the in-body image stabilisation and 4K video using the full width of the sensor both add to this tremendous package. If you're feeling especially flush you might want to consider the NIkon Z7, which boasts a considerable 45MP of resolution, but we think the balance the Z6 offers between price and power will be a winner with any creative.
Just as Nikon’s D850 quickly became the DSLR that everyone wanted to switch to, Sony’s A7 III has mirrorless users saving up their pennies. While many models have their specific focus and target audience, the A7 III really is a camera for all. A 24MP full-frame sensor, hybrid AF system that covers a staggering 93 per cent of the frame and 4K video from oversampled footage are just a sliver of the highlights. Sony has focused on the details too, installing the useful AF joystick that found fans on previous models, and boosting battery life to a very respectable (by mirrorless standards) 710 frames.
The A7 III is a great all-rounder, with a versatile feature-set that makes it a great fit for a range of applications, but the older Sony A7 II is still very much on a sale and worth considering if you fancy something more keenly priced. Either way, grab it with the FE 28-70mm F3.5-5.6 OSS if you’re just getting started, unless you already own a lens or two.
Today’s compact cameras are incredibly advanced, and while the RX100 Mark IV is now a couple of years old, it’s hard to think of a camera that offers the same great balance of price, specs and portability. Despite the powerful partnership of a large 1in sensor and 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 optic at its heart, and a high-quality electronic viewfinder that pops up on demand, it somehow manages to be smaller and lighter than most other compacts.
And for anyone looking to travel light, it delivers plenty. The rear LCD screen flips up and round to face the front, while a maximum shutter speed of 1/32,000sec (with the electronic shutter) permits super high-speed motion to be captured with clarity. On the other end of the shutter-speed scale, a built-in ND filter allows for longer exposure than would be otherwise possible, as well as video recording in bright light. And all of this is before we get to 4K video, with slow-motion footage recorded at up to 1000fps too. It’s also wirelessly connected and charges through its USB port. Really, there’s little it can’t or doesn’t do.
The camera has been updated by both the RX100 Mark V and the recently announced Mark VI model, and these are worth considering if action or travel photography are more your thing. For everyone else after a more everyday camera for photography, the Mark IV's more modest feature set and price tag will no doubt suit you better.
The Sony RX10 III is another camera that has been updated since its launch but is still recommended for its price-to-spec sheet – particularly as it often subject to the odd cashback offer. So why is it so tempting for travel photography? The core combo of a stacked 1in sensor and an impressively bright 24-600mm (equiv) f/2.8-4 lens is mostly why it's so special, as you just don’t get that balance of sensor size, focal range and brightness in such a compact package anywhere else. But it’s the fact that these features are both excellent performers, rather than marketing highlights, that makes the camera such a pleasure to use.
Thankfully the lens is primed with a very effective image stabilisation system to keep everything crisp. Meanwhile, 4K video recording is augmented by a range of supporting technologies and recording options, including both headphone and microphone ports and a raft of slow-motion shooting options. The weather-sealed body is also a massive bonus for those traveling through the odd patch of inclement weather, while the ergonomics allow you to get the kind of purchase that you’d normally have to turn to to a DSLR for.
Don't need such a humongous optic? The older Sony RX10 Mark II provides much the same but with a 24-200mm (equiv) lens. Feeling fancy and want something more powerful? The newer RX10 Mark IV boasts a superior 315-point phase-detect AF system and a touchscreen, and a faster 24fps burst rate on top of sundry changes.
With each new HERO model, GoPro has been perfecting its action camera formula, so much so that you could have been forgiven for wondering how on earth they would improve on the 4K-shooting HERO6. The answer, as it turned out, lay in video stabilisation. The GoPro HERO7 boasts an ultra-smooth stabilisation system that keeps your footage smooth and professional-looking even in the choppiest of environments, as though you had the camera mounted on a sophisticated gimbal.
This isn’t the only improvement. The HERO7 will shoot Full HD at a super-slow frame rate of 240fps, meaning you can capture smooth slow-motion footage, and on the stills side, new intelligent automated shooting technology allows the camera to analyse any given shooting situation and selectively apply HDR, noise reduction and local tone mapping to make the finished shot as good as it can be.
If, however, you prefer to have complete control over the look of your shots, the GoPro HERO7 also shoots in RAW format. Alongside these, you’ve also got all the usual GoPro hallmarks – waterproofing down to 10m, built-in GPS and instant clip sharing (now with livestreaming capabilities).
All this tech doesn’t exactly come cheap. However, if budget is an issue, consider the Silver and White HERO7 models, which sacrifice a few features for a more affordable price point.
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Smartphones may have shrunk the compact camera market to a fraction of its former size, but the presence of cameras like the PowerShot SX620 HS prove that there are still good reasons for the two formats to co-exist. After all, what smartphone offers a stabilised 25x optical zoom range that stretches from 25-625mm (in 35mm terms), together with the SX620 HS’s level of physical control?
Despite its beefy focal range, Canon has designed the camera with a svelte body that will still slip inside your pocket without any bother. This makes it great for those after a basic travel camera that’s as happy to hone in on far-off details as it will capture sweeping landscapes. And with Wi-Fi and NFC on board, you can quickly get your creations out into the wider world without hassle.
If you’re after something similar but don’t quite need that monstrous zoom, the arguably more handsome IXUS 285 HS is worth popping on your shortlist.
The Google Pixel 3's smartphone camera may not boast the highest resolution or the largest aperture among its rivals, but you can’t argue with the images it produces. Its Android-powered smart learning means it gets better over time at optimising itself for different shooting situations, and the dedicated Pixel Visual Core chip that’s powering it gives the camera a real edge. The consistency of the Pixel 3’s camera is simply remarkable – to borrow an old saw from a rival company, it just works. It does well in low light, and has an impressive digital zoom mode that allows you to get closer with a minimal drop in quality.
You’ll be previewing your images on a gorgeous 5.5-inch screen, which is a nice size for one-handed operation. The downsides? Well, the battery life could be better – if you spend a day shooting, you’ll definitely want to bring along a portable charger – and 4GB of RAM is arguably a little underwhelming given that many rivals are providing 6GB. These are small gripes though, and if you have any interest in smartphone photography for your creative work, the Pixel 3 is a fantastic choice.
If you like things super-sized and don’t mind spending a little more, you can spring for the Google Pixel 3 XL. You do get a larger battery on the XL, however the effect is mitigated in real terms by the increased power drain of the larger screen. Ultimately we think that for price and comfort of operation, the Pixel 3 is your best bet.
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