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9 Best Cameras for Amateur Photographers in 2021 [Expert Picks]

When starting off your photography journey, you definitely need the best amateur-level camera that fulfills all your needs while being easy to operate. As you’re reading this, you definitely want to go down that path, but you probably can’t decide which camera to get. Well, this article is your one-stop solution.

If you don’t own a camera yet, chances are you’re currently dependent upon your smartphone camera. Now, they have gotten really good over the years but, there are still some major limitations. This includes the flexibility to play around with different apertures & focal lengths, natural shallow depth of field, and more.

To give you an idea, here are a few areas that a dedicated camera will excel on over a smartphone camera system,

  • If you have a camera with an interchangeable lens mount, you can attach different lenses and instantly change things like zoom capabilities, shallow depth-of-field, low-light performance, and the amount of area your camera can fit in one frame.
  • While shooting videos, you get Manual controls on cameras where you can tweak the footage to your requirements, right when shooting the video. Most smartphones don’t offer that.
  • Dedicated cameras have bigger & better sensors compared to smartphones. This helps with focusing, low-light performance, and more.

There are also different types of cameras you can choose from including DSLRs, Mirrorless Cameras, Point & Shoot Cameras, and more. So, according to your preferences, you do get to pick what you need.

However, if you’re just getting into cameras, it’s easy to make mistakes and end up with the wrong camera. If you do, it’s going to be frustrating and that’s definitely not something you’d want. To make sure you don’t make that mistake, I’ve listed out the best cameras for amateur level photography & videography.

Best Cameras for Amateur Photographers in 2021

To keep the listing fair & effective, I’ve evaluated a large number of cameras suited for amateurs, and after a tough selection process, I’ve listed the 9 best cameras for beginning photographers. I’ve tried to play around price points but, I’ve excluded premium stuff as they’re a bit too costly and aren’t justified for the purpose.

  • Sensor Resolution: 20.1MP
  • Max Video Resolution: 4K UHD
  • Battery Life: Up to 410 shots
  • Weight: 0.64 lbs

If you don’t want to carry lenses around but, you want the best amateur video camera, the Sony ZV-1 is a great fixed-lens camera option you can get right now. It has advanced features specifically for video creators and if you want, you can also click nice-looking photos with it.

Design & Build

Sony’s approach to the ZV1’s design was quite different compared to the rest of their point-and-shoot line-up. The device looks much more like a compact mirrorless camera but, of course, it has a fixed-lens design. The display also flips around to the side which can be really important if you want to film yourself.

Sensor & Photography

The 1-inch sensor comes with a resolution of 20.1MP and it produces excellent quality images and videos across the board. The photos look sharp, have great dynamic range, and combined with Sony’s color science, they look pretty damn good right out of the camera. But, if you want, it can indeed shoot RAW.

To complement that, the company has a solid lens mechanism with an aperture ranging from f-1.8 to f-2.8, a built-in 3-stop ND filter, image stabilization, and 2.7x optical zoom. The autofocusing system is a hybrid between phase detection & contrast autofocus and it’s really fast during both photos and videos.

Video Features

The video capabilities are amazing too. Yes, it doesn’t do 4K 60FPS but, it does do 4K at 24/25/30 FPS while doing 1080P at 24/25/30/50/60/120 FPS. That means you can shoot Full HD slow motion and alongside that, the device even supports Slog2 & Slog3, alongside HDR10 video recording.

I need to talk about the focusing system here. Yes, the hybrid autofocusing system is really fast and it can grab on to subjects quickly. However, the biggest feature here has to be portrait video which works surprisingly well. You can even use tap to focus while filming yourself, and it’ll blur out the background.

Battery Life

When it comes to battery life the, NP-BX1 cell in the ZV-1 does hold up well. It can do up to 440 shots or up to 75 minutes of video on a single charge. However, do note that you can only shoot up to 29 minutes of continuous video at a time.

Conclusion

The Sony ZV-1 is undoubtedly one of the best point & shoot cameras and we don’t really see those advanced video features within a 0.64 lbs body. So, in case you are looking for a hassle-free and compact device that can take amazing videos & photos while being a good easy to use camera, the ZV-1 is definitely your endgame.

Pros
  • Professional video controls
  • Built-in 3-stop ND filter
  • Side-flip LCD screen
  • RAW & HDR10 video recording
  • Good low-light performance
Cons
  • 29 minutes continuous video recording limit
  • The optical zoom range isn’t great
  • Sensor Resolution: 16MP
  • Max Video Resolution: 4K UHD
  • Battery Life: 330 shots
  • Weight: 0.90 lbs

If you want an affordable & compact mirrorless camera instead but, don’t want to miss out on important features, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III is one of the best value-for-money devices out right now. You make a few compromises but, you do gain a lot of features that are more than enough to start off.

Design & Build

The OM-D E-M10 Mark III has taken design inspirations from older SLR cameras. That adds a retro vibe to the looks, especially if you go with the silver variant. Built quality isn’t anything mind-blowing but,  it is pretty good for the price and it feels solid in the hand.

Sensor & Photography

The device is using a 16MP Micro Four Thirds sensor which means you’ll be getting a two times crop compared to a full-frame camera. However, the sensor itself is pretty capable. The photos & videos come out sharp, have good dynamic range, and it can even shoot 12-bit RAW photos and 4K videos up to 30 fps.

One of the highlighting features has to be the 5-axis sensor-shift stabilization or IBIS. This is generally found in way more expensive devices and you won’t really need to buy a stabilized lens to get shake-free shots & footage.

Video Features

Speaking of footage, the device can shoot in 4K videos at 24/25/30 FPS and 1080P videos at 24/25/30/50/60 FPS. Slow-motion is available but, to get 120FPS you’ll have to drop the resolution down to 720P. The video quality is pretty good but, it can show some digital noise in low-light situations.

Coming to focusing, the device supports 121-point contrast autofocus which is not as fast as Dual Pixel Autofocusing, so if you’re using autofocus during videos and the subject is moving around, it may lose focus at times.

Battery Life

The device is using a BLS-50 battery cell and it can go up to 330 shots or up to 140 minutes of 4K video recording. This is neither great nor terrible battery life and for the size of the device, it is actually pretty reasonable.

Conclusion

As a value-oriented Mirrorless Camera, the Olympus OM-D E-M10 packs some excellent features like IBIS, and, 4K video, 12-bit RAW capture, and it weighs just 0.9 lbs. So, if you want these features and you can’t go higher on budget, then the OM-D E-M10 is one of the best devices you can get.

Pros
  • 5-axis IBIS
  • 4K video up to 30 FPS
  • 12-bit RAW support
  • Compact & easy to carry
Cons
  • Average battery life
  • No dual pixel autofocus
  • Sensor Resolution: 24.2MP
  • Max Video Resolution: 4K UHD
  • Battery Life: Up to 350 shots
  • Weight: 0.74 lbs

The Fujifilm X E3 is an affordable option that gives tough competition to its contemporaries. It is strong enough to take excellent photos and powerful enough to give some excellent videos too. It is also one of the best cameras for Instagram on this list.

Design & Build

The design of X E3 reminds you of vintage cameras albeit with a modern touch. It sports a fixed 3-inch touchscreen. There is a joystick option for quick focusing. The buttons are evenly spaced. The OLED viewfinder is on the left side of the body.

The Q and AF options are just at the top right corner on the holding grip. To be honest, the design is really bad and I would have preferred a balanced outlook. You may always press the buttons on the right corner mistakenly whenever you try to have a firm grip on the device or just want to access any other button on the body.

Sensor & Photography

This camera for amateur photographers sports the X trans III sensor that captures excellent low light shots. It has the X processor Pro for its computing processing. The combined mettle and power is enough to get you a burst rate of 8 fps which is commendable for the price range.

Video Features

You can even shoot 4K videos at 30 fps with this combination. The advanced SR Auto mode would let you forget the worries of the settings while you go on and enjoy the butterfly shoot in your garden or capture the baby’s smile. It has got you covered for anything and everything. 

Focusing is a stronghold of the X E3 with its choice of 91 to 325 AF detection points. This means that you can choose any mode from its menu. It also has various AF modes like tracking, zone, continuous, wide, or single point.

This would ensure that you get the best focusing in any situation. The Fujifilm mirror-less camera also supports wireless INSTAX printing so you can immediately get your photos printed and show it to anyone be it your family and friends or your clients.

Battery Life

It has a battery life of 350 shots which is average on a mirrorless camera. Though, it is decent to last for two hours when you go for an event. You can have an extra battery but mostly the default battery should last the time amateur would need to capture some excellent shots.

Conclusion

The Fujifilm X E3 weighs only 0.74 lbs and it is one of the best starter cameras for photography. It comes with a one year warranty. This amateur camera has some great features and some great technology in it but the design is a complete dealbreaker. If only the design was better, the camera would have been something else.

Pros
  • Film simulation modes
  • AF modes 
  • Range of AF Points
  • Joystick AF
Cons
  • Pathetic design
  • Low battery life
  • Sensor Resolution: 16MP
  • Max Video Resolution: 4K UHD
  • Battery Life: Up to 320 shots
  • Weight: 1.11 lbs

Few cameras in the beginner photography camera range can boast of a feat that the Lumix G85 can. This mirror-less camera can take equally good photos and videos. Even if you’re looking for a budget camera for YouTube, the G85 can handle the job just fine.

This Pansonic camera would be very useful for any novice camera who plans to freelance. Events such as weddings or birthday parties would need you to capture videos once in a while and this would come in really handy with its versatility.

Design & Build

The design is a touch and button one where you can have access to the focusing and menu functionality through the touch screen while the buttons shall help you to quickly change the settings. It has a 3-inch flip screen which can be really helpful for vlogging.

All the ports are present such as the USB port and the HDMI port but you cannot charge the camera from the USB port. It also has an OLED viewfinder which is great but it does kill the battery life. Overall, the design is decent and nice.

Sensor & Capabilities

The 16MP sensor is powerful enough to give you pretty good shots even in low light conditions. You can have 100 % color reproduction and true-to-life pictures with it. You can shoot videos at 4K resolution 30FPS and even save the pictures at the same time. The side-flip display allows you to film yourself as well.

The semi-professional camera for beginners has the best-in-class stabilization with a 5 axis stabilization. It also has shutter shock reduction which further cancels out any jerky movements that would deteriorate the image quality.

You can also use the shoot now focus later option if you want to change the focus later after you click the photo. This can be very useful for some freelance projects that you take and somehow, the great pictures lack the focus at the desired objects.

Conclusion

The Lumix G85 is decently weighed at 1.11 lbs. It comes with a one year warranty. It is a great option with some fantastic options to control the camera and to give you some post-production flexibility. However, it does demand extra money for these premium features. If you can buy this one, then by no means you should look elsewhere.

Pros
  • Post focus shoot
  • 5 axis stabilization
  • 4k photos and videos
  • Battery grip acts as an extra battery
Cons
  • Battery consuming OLED viewfinder
  • Low battery lif
  • Sensor Resolution: 24MP
  • Max Video Resolution: 4K UHD
  • Battery Life: Up. to 235 shots
  • Weight: 0.86 lbs

The Canon M50 is a powerful mirrorless mid-range offering that would suffice every need for beginner photography. Mirrorless is the modern technology that eliminates the mirror in the system and makes the camera lighter. This one seems an excellent choice considering its versatility and all-rounder approach.

Design & Build

M50 is a blend of the traditional design of Canon with a modern touch. The design is compact but it does not congest or crowd the buttons at any place of the camera. This best high-quality camera for beginners sports a 3-inch articulating screen that would be capable to view the photos from any direction. Overall, it has an excellent design that leaves no point to complain.

Sensor & Capabilities

It has the DIGIC DV 8 sensor which is one of the latest sensors by Canon. Combined with a 24MP CMOS sensor, it gives excellent results. The Dual Pixel CMOS sensor makes autofocusing quick and ultra-fast.

This mirror-less camera also has the eye-tracking and subject tracking feature that would help you when you are taking photos of your friends or family in the event at your house. It has an automatic transfer feature that would help you to transfer the photos automatically without any manual controlling from the owner.

This is possible through the Canon application which would also help you to control the camera remotely. It sports Wifi, NFC, and Bluetooth for direct wireless connectivity. It is equipped with a battery life that would last for about 2 hours.

Conclusion

Canon M50 weighs only 0.86 lbs. It comes with a one year warranty. You can definitely go for this option in the mirrorless cameras and if you prefer canon.

Pros
  • 4k recording
  • Latest sensor
  • Dual Pixel autofocus
  • Webcam functionality
Cons
  • Low battery life 
  • Adapter needed for canon lenses
  • Sensor Resolution: 16MP
  • Max Video Resolution: 4K UHD
  • Battery Life: Up to 360 shots
  • Weight: 0.90 lbs

In case you’re looking for a good mirrorless camera at a lower mid-range price, the Panasonic LUMIX G7 is one of the best devices you can get. It shoots good quality photos and videos and thanks to being heavily discounted, you can now get it for less than $500.

Design & Build

The design of the G7 is nothing special with a pretty familiar compact Panasonic look. But, it does feel well built and the controls are pretty easy to get used to. There is indeed a silver variant that kinda gives you a retro vibe. Overall, the G8 does feel more premium compared to a lot of the competition at this price.

Sensor & Photography

The company has thrown in a 16MP micro four third (4/3) sensor that’ll introduce a two times crop factor into the field-of-view. As far as quality is concerned, the photos come out pretty sharp with decent dynamic range. The sensor doesn’t necessarily do a great job in low-light, but that’s kinda expected in this segment.

You do get a side-flip LCD display and the electronic viewfinder does the job just fine as well. Features like raw image capture, silent shooting, etc. are all there. However, it cannot record raw video like the GH4 so, you are kinda stuck with Panasonic’s own color science for videos. There is no stabilization built-in either.

Video Features

For video, you get 4K at 24/25/30 FPS and 1080P at 24/25/30/50/60 FPS. That should be enough, but you do miss out on 4K 60FPS videos and 1080P 120FPS slow-motion videos. In case they don’t bother you much, the G7 does capture pretty good quality videos and for the most part, you won’t have complaints.

As far as focusing is concerned, the device can do contrast-detection AF. So, although it works, it isn’t as fast or as accurate as phase-detection autofocus. So, if you are relying on autofocus a lot while shooting videos or photos of fast-moving subjects, it may mess up the focus at times.

Battery Life

The battery can go on up to 360 shots, or up to 140 minutes of Full HD video, or up to 100 minutes of 4K video recording on a single charge. That is actually good battery life, but it’s nothing special either as most of the competitors are offering very similar battery backup.

Conclusion

In the under mid-range segment, the Panasonic Lumix G7 is one of the most feature-rich cameras out there and it weighs just 0.90 lbs. If you can live with a few hiccups here and there, and can’t go above that $500 price point, you should definitely go for the G7.

Pros
  • 4K 30FPS video recording
  • RAW image capture
  • Side-flip LCD display
  • Affordable price
  • Compact & easy to carry
Cons
  • No 120FPS slow-mo video
  • No PDAF
  • Sensor Resolution: 24.2MP
  • Max Video Resolution: 1080p FHD
  • Battery Life: Up to 1550 shots
  • Weight: 0.86 lbs

If you’re looking for a starter camera that is affordable and has plenty of options in lenses, the Nikon D3500 is a perfect choice. It is a camera designed for beginners. You are going to have a great time clicking with this as it has built-in help options in case you get stuck.

Design & Build

The design of this amateur camera is simple and easy to use. It sports a 3 inch LCD screen. It is button-operated and understandably, Nikon has not opted for a touch screen to cut the cost. All the buttons are on the left and you get a single dial to control the modes and features. The screen could have been articulating but the design in itself is simple, functional, and satisfactory. Nothing much to boast or complain about.

Sensor & Capabilities

The processor of this camera is the EXPEED 4 sensor by Nikon. It is coupled with a 24.2 CMOS sensor that would give you crisp and clear images that would warm your heart. You can also print your pictures.

This Nikon DSLR is perfect for doing a portrait shoot as a freelancer with an awesomely affordable lens such as the 50mm Nikkor lens. You can control the ISO from 100 to 25600. 12800 is the recommended highest range though.

A novice photographer would want to capture every kind of picture such as portraits, macro shots, or landscapes. The D3500 takes care of it by offering you several picture modes that would fine-tune the settings to suit your needs.

The camera also has an excellent SnapBridge application that would allow you to remotely control and access the camera. This would allow you to get some fantastic long exposure shots and allow you to experiment with your craft.

Battery Life

It offers a monster like the battery life of 1500 shots which would last for almost 4 hours. You have plenty of time to get the right shot. The camera weighs 0.86 lbs and it is lightweight. It comes with a one year warranty.

Conclusion

If you’re looking for a good DSLR camera for hobbyist that fits perfectly in a minimal budget, this surely ticks all the checkboxes. You can buy some extraordinary lenses with it and you would have a great photography experience. This is highly recommended for its excellent performance at the price.

Pros
  • Lightweight
  • SnapBridge Application
  • Multiple modes for photography
  • Supports a range of Nikon lenses
Cons
  • Fixed LCD screen
  • No 4k recording
  • Sensor Resolution: 24.2MP
  • Max Video Resolution: 1080p FHD
  • Battery Life: Up to 500 shots
  • Weight: 1.04 lbs

Here’s a camera from the house of Canon that offers you some exceptional features at an affordable price range. The Canon EOS Rebel T7 is a no-nonsense DSLR that focuses on its functionality and delivers what you expect from it.

Design & Build

Canon has kept its design simple. There is a fixed LCD screen of 3 inches. It is not a touchscreen and it has no flexibility. The buttons are all on the left side of the screen which is slightly disappointing as one would want to balance the usage of hands and not rely on one side to operate everything.

Sensor & Capabilities

This can be really frustrating and act as a hindrance while clicking photos. Except that, the grip and the screen are likable and they do a good job even for long hours of shooting. There is a DIGIC DV4 + sensor that comes with a 24.2MP resolution sensor which gives out great shots.

The low light performance is good for this price range but it is not something that would give you professional images. It has got a burst rate of 3 images per second which is okay. At this price, we cannot really complain about any of the above things. It would be sufficient for you to play around and get good shots as a hobby shooter.

There are 9 focus points spread throughout the frame. These are minimal but they do a great job. This beginner-friendly DSLR comes with the set modes that come in handy when you’re doing an event shot and want to shift from a wide to portrait shot in a jiffy without much hassle. The Rebel T7 comes with a backing of plenty of Canon lenses which is a plus point.

Battery Life

You can get about 500 shots in one battery cycle. The battery life is good enough to last for a 3 hour day’s shoot. The camera weighs only 1 lb and is a nice option. It is not very light but it is not very heavy either. It comes with a one year warranty.

Conclusion

Overall, the T7 is one of its kind and a great camera for teens to begin their journey. There are a few compromises made in order to cut the cost but if you are looking for an excellent option that is modern and highly affordable, this can be it from Canon.

Pros
  • Simple design
  • Average weight
  • Canon remote control app
  • Extremely affordable
Cons
  • Fixed LCD
  • Sensor Resolution: 24.3MP
  • Max Video Resolution: 1080p FHD
  • Battery Life: Up to 360 shots
  • Weight: 0.76 lbs

Sony is the stalwart when it comes to imaging and its Alpha a6000 is proof of its expertise in the field. It is a camera that is suited for beginners as well as professionals. It comes at such an affordable price that looking at any other option would be going for something overrated.

Design & Build

The design of this amateur camera is nice and user friendly. There is a 3-inch touchscreen that is fixed. It has all the buttons placed on the left side of the screen. There is a focus joystick just beside the OLED viewfinder. The viewfinder is on the extreme left.

My personal preference is for the OLED to be in the middle to get better sync. There are two Dials placed side by side on the top. They are very near and a greater distance between them would have done a lot of comfort to the users. You can choose the camera from colors like red, black, or graphite.

Sensor & Capabilities

The BIONZ X processor coupled with the 24 MP Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor gives you the best in class low light imaging options. The processor is fast enough to give you an excellent burst mode of 11 fps.

This would be really useful when you go to take photos of your friends playing some sport like cricket or badminton. In case you need to bump up the ISO, it can reach up to 25600.

The Sony a6000 sports excellent 179 AF points that can focus on any subject in 0.6 seconds. You are never going to lose your subject with this feature. You can also download any mode from Sony Play Store. It is a place where you can find the appropriate filter or mode and download it through the Wifi to get the best results.

Battery Life & Conclusion

It has a battery life of 360 shots, the standard for any mirrorless camera. This sony mirror-less camera weighs 0.76 lbs and is very light. It comes with a one year warranty. It is one of the best-rated cameras for beginners in this range and you can never go wrong with the excellence and the versatility that comes with a Sony product.

Pros
  • 179 AF
  • Sony Play Store
  • Excellent low light quality
  • 11 fps burst mode
Cons
  • Video limit at Full HD 1080p
  • Fixed LCD

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a good budget to buy a camera for beginners?

You don’t really need an expensive camera to start off. In fact, you shouldn’t probably go higher than $1000 for your first camera. If you have a lower budget that is also fine. Cameras ranging from $400-$1000 are a good place to start.

What features should I look for in a beginner’s camera?

You would want to make sure that the camera can shoot good quality photos, does fast focusing, and has a good number of manual controls that you can learn & perfect over time. If you want to shoot videos, at least 4K 30FPS video recording is recommended.

Is there a huge learning curve for the camera’s features?

That depends on what you’re going to use the camera for. If you’re using most things in auto mode, you won’t have much of a learning curve at all. If you o want to get into the manual controls, it’ll take some time to get used to. The same goes for the settings page and the physical controls.

Isn’t it easy to use my smartphone instead of carrying around a bulky camera?

Of course, it is a lot easier. However, you’ll miss out on interchangeable lenses, higher quality photos & videos, and just the sheer amount of controls. If the bulky cameras bother you, just get one that’s compact and easy to carry. If you don’t want all that extra flexibility, you can definitely use your smartphone.

Verdict

Although it sounds basic, amateur-level photography is where you begin and improve with time. So, it’s important that you get exactly what you need and spend your money wisely.

Now considering you made it till the end, you should already have a personal favorite but, in case you’re still confused, let me help you find the best camera for amateur photographers:

So, choose whatever above category fits you best and get the camera associated with it. If you found this article helpful, maybe consider checking out some other articles on the website exploring different types of cameras, lenses, and more.