Looking for a camera to capture pictures for your Instagram? You’re likely doing so because you’ve extracted all you can from your smartphone and are looking to upgrade your Insta game in 2021.
Whether you’re a traveler, model, fashion enthusiast, an influencer, or just a photographer by passion, if you want to push you Instagram pictures to stand out, you’ll need to upload high-quality images. It’s also possible that you’re looking to go all-in on Stories and Reels, in which case you need a fast, easy-to-use camera that could, perhaps, also help with Instagram Live.
Whatever the case, you definitely need something that’s either better than your smartphone, more interesting, is similarly flexible, or all of the above, then you’ve come to the right place!
If you’re looking for something fun, you’ll probably want an action cam like a GoPro or Insta360. However, if you’re looking to up your image quality or video game, you’ll want a high-end mirrorless camera. That said, let us begin with the list of the best-rated options.
- Best Cameras for Instagram in 2021
- 1. Best Overall: Sony Alpha 7S III
- 2. Best for Instagram Videos: Canon EOS RP
- 3. Best Mirrorless Camera: Panasonic LUMIX G7
- 4. Best for Auto-Focus: Sony Alpha a6400
- 5. Best Mid-Range DSLR: Canon EOS 90D
- 6. Best Compact Camera: Fujifilm X-S10
- 7. Best for Instagram Pictures: Canon EOS M50 Mark II
- 8. Best for Content Creators: Sony ZV-1
- 9. Best with Adventure Kit: GoPro Hero9
- 10. Cheapest Option: Insta360 ONE X2
- Frequently Asked Questions
Best Cameras for Instagram in 2021
Before making this list, we interviewed around 43 Instagrammers (each of them had more than 500,000 followers.) We tried to find out their pain points, what they look in a camera when capturing pictures for their Instagram. Based on our understanding, here are the 10 best.
Besides, we also took special note of their individual use-cases so as to cover the spectrum of Instagramming, ranging from action shots to product photography, food and fashion photography, covering everything from personal vlogs to even TikTok-like dance numbers.
1. Best Overall: Sony Alpha 7S III
What if you don’t care much for photos? What if all you’re looking for is the ability to deliver stunning Stories, Reels, or IGTV videos, and in any kind of light at that? Well, then you really have no option but to dig deep and cough up some dough for the Sony Alpha 7S III.
The A7S III might look like any other Sony mirrorless camera, but it’s not. For starters, that massive full-frame sensor only has 12 megapixels, which seems ridiculous when you look at the 26MP you get from APS-C, and the 50MP or so you get from cameras like the A1 or Sony’s R series cameras.
Sony’s stuck with 12MP for one reason: large pixel sites. Large pixel sites mean a lot more light sensitivity, which translates to close to noise-free video at a ridiculous ISO 12,800. If it’s a low-light monster you seek, there is indeed none better. Not in this price range anyway.
The design of the a7S III is nothing to write home about. It’s standard Sony fare, featuring a flip-out screen, a tonne of buttons and dials on the top and back, and more. Given that it’s a top-of-the-line video camera, you do get some bonus features, however. For a start, the OLED EVF is massive, allowing for easy framing when used. Then you get a full-size HDMI port, weatherproofing, support for dual SD cards, metal lens mounts, and more.
If you don’t notice, the a7S III records video internally in 10-bit 4:2:2. This is a huge deal if you’re into green-screening and advanced color correction. 10-bit video means that a wider range of colors is recorded, but 4:2:2 chroma subsampling means that this camera is easily recording at least 30% more color information than most competing cameras.
Of course, you get the usual Sony refinements to go with this spectacular sensor. This includes fast and accurate face, eye and subject AF, 5-axis SteadyShot IBIS, a 10fps burst with a 1000-frame buffer, 759 PDAF points, and a whole bunch of other features that are simply too many to enumerate here.
The Sony Alpha a7S III is first and foremost a video camera. Keep that in mind when picking it up. Stills are just as good as the video, but they’re limited to 12MP, which is fine for Instagram, but not so great if you need to crop your images. If you’re fine with that and want one of the very best video cameras around for your Insta Stories or IGTV, the a7S III will not disappoint.
- Unmatched low-light video
- 4K 120 fps recording at 10-bit 422
- Superb AF system
- No record limits
- Full-size HDMI port
- 12MP stills
2. Best for Instagram Videos: Canon EOS RP
The Canon EOS RP is a sub-$1000 full-frame camera that’s great for still images and decent for video. It misses out on some of the more advanced video features of the more expensive ROS R, and even on features like weather sealing, but the Canon EOS RP is an excellent camera in its own right and offers a lot for the money.
For stills, you get a 26.2MP CMOS sensor with Canon’s signature DPAF. As expected, AF is fast and accurate and coupled with Canon’s fantastic color science, you’ll be presented with stunning images. FHD video at 30 and 60 fps is possible, as is 4K video at 24fps, but the latter is shot at a significant APS-C crop that negates the benefits of a full-frame sensor. Another thing to note is that DPAF does not work at 24fps.
Given that the RP is a budget video camera that’s also suitable for YouTube, relatively speaking, it’s made of polycarbonate and is thus very light. This low weight makes it an easy camera to tote around the whole day, however. Plastic aside, the camera is very ergonomic and feels good to use.
The dials are made of metal and feel sturdy, and the buttons don’t feel cramped. The articulating LCD also supports touch input, and we must admit, Canon does have a pretty decent UI. Sadly, there’s no weather sealing on this camera.
The updated face/eye AF system works great on the EOS RP but keep in mind that it limits you to a 2.5fps burst mode when active. Low light performance is good, and you benefit from the size of the full-frame sensor, but the camera does have difficulty in pulling up details from shadows at lower ISOs.
If you’re shooting FHD video at 30 or 60fps for Instagram or other social media, the EOS RP is perfect. Dual Pixel AF works a treat and the image quality of the recordings is top-notch. Battery life is relatively low at 100 minutes, but the camera can be charged via USB-C while it’s in use.
The Canon EOS RP is a budget-friendly full-frame camera that’s geared towards photos rather than video. You can record FHD and 4K video of course, but don’t expect anything special from the camera.
- Full-frame sensor for fantastic stills
- Canon’s color science shines
- DPAF is still spectacular
- Lightweight body
- Good value for a full frame camera
- Poor battery life
- 4K video is severely cropped
3. Best Mirrorless Camera: Panasonic LUMIX G7
Panasonic makes some amazing Mirrorless cameras but, when it comes to finding a compact & feature-rich Instagram snapper on a budget, it can’t get better than the LUMIX G7. It can capture sharp & detailed photos and it is also capable of shooting 4K videos up to 30 frames per second.
The Lumix G7 is using a 16MP 3/4 type sensor. It shoots photos really fast and as mentioned earlier, it can also shoot 4K videos at 30fps and 24fps. You do get 1080P at 60fps but, there is no 120fps support. So, you’ll miss out on that smooth slow-motion video.
As I’ve mentioned earlier, the Panasonic G7 has a compact form factor with a smaller size and a weight of just around 0.9 lbs (with Battery & SD-card). That being said, the gripping area is smaller too and there are indeed HDMI, Microphone-out & Headphone jacks available. The G7 is also really easy to carry around.
Performance is pretty good considering the lower price-tag. The image processing on mid-range Panasonic cameras is getting really good and the G7 surely is using the Venus Engine 9 processor. The color science looks more mature but it does retain the company’s signature look, in photos.
Coming to the Sensor itself, the 16MP snapper is a pretty good value for the money. It has a good dynamic range, fast autofocus, better low-light performance, and it takes pretty sharp photos and videos. Low-light videos aren’t a treat but Panasonic did a good job of keeping the noise levels under control.
Coming to Instagram’s processing & compression, the photos from the G7 do look pretty sharp. Unlike some of the higher-end stuff, however, this one doesn’t do nearly as well. But, most people view these photos on their smartphone anyway, and a lot of it also depends on your lenses and editing skills.
As a compact mirrorless camera that can capture really good photos & videos for Instagram, the Panasonic Lumix G7 is a steal deal. It doesn’t cost a lot of money, has fast shutter speed, 4K video recording, and it is super easy to carry around. If that sounds good to you, get the Lumix G7 and you shouldn’t be disappointed.
- Lightweight, compact & easy to carry
- Mic-in & Headphone-out ports
- Good detail & improved dynamic range
- Fast autofocus
- 24fps video recording availability
- No 4K 60FPS or 1080P 120FPS
- The battery could have been larger
4. Best for Auto-Focus: Sony Alpha a6400
Point-n-shoot cameras like the Sony ZV-1 are nice when you need something simple and powerful for doing your work. The problem with those cameras is that they’re small and have limited expandability. That’s where more serious interchangeable lens cameras like the Sony Alpha a6400 come in. The A6400 is a high-end mirrorless camera with fantastic imaging capabilities for both photo and video, and it’s flexible enough to mount camera rigs, mics, and more.
Capable of shooting 4K UHD video at 30fps and 24.2MP stills, the A6400 is a superb body on which to build your Instagram career. The sensor shoots clean images and video to ISO3200, and you can still push ISOs higher if you wish to. The camera also supports a clean HDMI out, which is great for use with external recorders and live streaming setups, it’s compatible with a whole range of accessories and gimbals, allowing for a wide range of camera movements and abilities that are denied to other cameras.
The A6400 is relatively compact but has good ergonomics and a nice OLED EVF. The battery is a little smaller than we’d like, but you can power the camera via an external battery grip or USB-C if you have a powerful enough power bank. The camera takes Sony E mount lenses and there’s a nice selection of fast primes and zooms to choose from.
By far the biggest advantage of picking up a Sony has to be its AF speed and accuracy, especially in video, which is unmatched in this price range. You get eye and face AF as well as object tracking which is very sticky. To add to this, you also get an unlimited record time — a rarity in 4K mirrorless cameras — and support for tethered shooting modes.
The A6400 is the camera you want when you’re looking to improve the quality of your Instagram shots and Stories. It’s a good body that’s compatible with a heap of accessories from the likes of SmallRig and DJI, and boasts of a ton of useful features that will help you transform the relatively dinky mirrorless into a beast of a streaming cam.
- Fast and effective AF
- Great lens selection
- No record limits at 4K
- Compatible with a wide range of accessories
- Excellent image quality
- Limited battery life
- No IBIS or gyro data
5. Best Mid-Range DSLR: Canon EOS 90D
The recent flagships from Canon have gotten massive improvements but, mid-range DSLR cameras such as the EOS 90D have received some major upgrades too. Things like an improved sensor, 4K video recording, and a new image processor make it a superior choice for shooting excellent photos & videos for Instagram.
The 90D is using a new 32.5MP APS-C sensor which is a significant step-up over the 80D. Alongside clicking super hi-res photos up to 10fps, the device can now also record 4K videos up to 30fps and 1080P videos up to 120 fps (slow-motion). That’s way better than any previous Canon DSLR in this segment.
When it comes to design, the EOS 90D does resemble its predecessors a lot. It has that familiar shape with the HDMI, Microphone, and Headphone inputs on the left. The battery & SD card slot is located at the bottom and it still has the top monitoring display. The Aluminum alloy & Plastic resin feel sturdy & grippy.
The Digic 8 processor is a massive improvement over the Digic 6 in the 80D. It is now faster & way more capable. The overall performance of the camera has improved too and although it’s still not as fast as those mirrorless options, now it is way relevant for those fast motion Instagram shots.
As far as improvements to the sensor go, the new 32.5MP sensor has better dynamic range and supports a total of 45 cross autofocus points. It captures excellent details with good separation of highlights & shadows, and low light performance in both photos & videos is massively improved.
That means, even after taking Instagram’s compression factor into consideration, photos are going to look sharp, and the noise levels in low-light videos will be significantly lower. Thanks to the dynamic range improvements there is a lot more detail in shadows and architectures now look more pronounced.
The Canon EOS 90D isn’t the best DSLR that the company is currently making. But, if you are looking to upgrade your Instagram photos with a camera that has multiple high-end features with no major compromises on the hardware or convenience factors, the Canon 90D is an excellent option.
- Improved dynamic range
- Excellent sharpness in photos and videos
- Lower noise levels
- Good detail retention after Instagram compression
- Significantly improved processor
- Pricier than the 80D
- No 4K 60FPS
6. Best Compact Camera: Fujifilm X-S10
A Fuji camera is an odd choice in a world dominated by Canons and Sonys, but hear us out. Fuji’s X-Trans sensor is by far the sharpest and cleanest APS-C sensor you can get on a mainstream camera. Additionally, Fuji cameras are truly exceptional for taking photos of people, capturing skin tones perfectly and nailing exposure in any kind of light.
Fuji’s X series cameras are normally designed for stills, but the X-S10 is the first reasonably priced Fuji to focus on video. It features the same 26.1MP X-Trans IV CMOS sensor and fast AF system found in the more expensive X-T4. Compared to the X-T4, you do lose out on 4K 60fps and are instead limited to 30fps, which is not a problem for vlogging anyway. Unlike most other Fuji’s, the X-S10 has a higher, 30-min record limit.
To make video shooting more comfortable, the X-S10 features a deeper grip on the right, and more prominent buttons and dials that allow you to adjust settings on the fly. The flip-out screen is also very useful for vlogging and Insta lives.
Getting into the Fuji camera system is already a tough decision to make, but making it harder is the price of lenses and limited support for third-party lenses. That being said, all of Fuji’s lenses — including the 18-55mm kit lens — are optically spectacular and worth every dollar you’ll spend on them.
Fuji also boasts of some of the best OIS tech in the business, so the right lens will give you industry-leading stabilization. Paired with the X-S10’s IBIS system, you should be able to manage smooth, cinematic shots and handheld photographs in any kind of light.
If you want a mirrorless camera system that’s truly unique and special, give the Fuji platform a whirl. It’s not cheap, but you’re getting a quality product, and as we said at the start, nothing nails skin tones like a Fuji!
- X-Trans IV sensor
- AF system from X-T4
- IBIS support
- DCI 4K video
- Ergonomic design
- 30 minute recording limit
- Limited support for third-party lenses
7. Best for Instagram Pictures: Canon EOS M50 Mark II
When it launched, the Canon EOS M50 Mark II was a very decent and reasonably priced FHD vlogging camera that could hold its own against the best on Instagram. The updated M50 Mark II keeps the same sensor, adds a faster AF system, s.and tunes the software specifically for social media videos and live streams.
In terms of capabilities, the M50 and M50 Mk II are very similar. Both get a 24.1MP CMOS sensor that can capture stills at 10fps, a 4K 24p mode that severely crops the sensor, an HD 120 fps mode for slo-mo, and a few other features like dual pixel AF and eye AF. Where the M50 Mk II differs is with the inclusion of Movie Servo AF for smoother transitions, a movie record button on the LCD, a Clean HDMI out, a vertical video shooting mode, and a dedicated live-streaming mode, not to mention a larger battery.
The design of the Mark II is largely unchanged from its predecessor, but that’s not really a problem because the M50 itself is a well-designed camera in its own right. It’s also nice that the fully articulating LCD from the M50 still remains.
One of the most important tweaks to the M50 comes in the form of a Clean HDMI out. A Clean HDMI out basically transmits a pure video signal to an external monitor or recorder, which is critical for live streams via your PC. The camera comes with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth features, along with the dedicated live-streaming mode, also help make live streams easier to do.
Overall, the M50 Mk II is a good starting point for those looking to up their Insta game on the cheap. Sure, FHD is the only usable video recording mode, and the AF system can’t hold a candle to Sony’s spectacular AF and tracking system, but it’s still a good camera for the price.
- Clean HDMI out
- Larger battery
- Vertical video shooting mode
- Integrated livestreaming mode
- Can function as a USB webcam
- Significant crop in 4K mode
- Sensor hasn’t been upgraded
8. Best for Content Creators: Sony ZV-1
The ZV-1 is a content creator’s dream camera. In fact, it is the first camera ever that was designed specifically with content creators in mind. If there’s only one camera you can choose to reboot your Instagram feed, the Sony ZV-1 is what we’d recommend.
Not only can this camera capture stunning video in 4K HDR, yes HDR, it can also capture spectacular images on its 20.1MP back-illuminated CMOS sensor. If that wasn’t enough, you get an in-built ND filter, a ‘Product Showcase’ setting — more on that later, a 3-capsule mic, and a ton of other features.
The ZV-1 is small and compact, and best of all, it’s available in white! Why is that a big deal? People get intimidated by professional-looking cameras in their signature black color scheme. A tiny, white camera in the hands of random passers-by will simply not excite comment.
To assist vloggers, there’s a flip-out screen so you can frame yourself while talking to the camera, and if you pick up the camera as part of a vlogger’s kit, you’ll also get a mini-tripod that doubles up as a remote control when shooting. Hell, there’s even a windscreen for the mic and a digital mic input to ensure clean audio wherever you are.
Paired with Sony’s exceptional AF system that features face and eye-tracking and a product showcase mode, you can rest assured that every shot you take is tack sharp and in focus. The product showcase mode is of particular note because cameras tend to focus on faces rather than objects. In product showcase mode, any object you hold up to the camera will capture focus. This can be immensely helpful for beauty bloggers on Instagram.
Alongside these features, you get support for 4K 30fps video with HLG recording. The latter is a format that allows for HDR video. You can also shoot 1080p 120fps footage, and even at 500fps in short bursts in HFR mode.
The 20.1MP stills are also of high quality and you can shoot at an impressive 24fps burst rate. Better yet, the relatively large 1″ sensor paired with an f/1.8 aperture and ND filter means that you can get pleasing bokeh in stills and video.
As a package, this device is quite simply the perfect creator’s camera. Fast AF, a vari-angle LCD, and great mics ensure top quality imaging, and the bundled vloggers kit just makes things easier overall. The ZV-1 is not cheap, but it is the quickest and simplest means of upgrading your Insta game.
- 4K 30 HDR video
- Exceptional AF performance
- Small, fun camera
- 3-capsule mic
- Built-in ND filter
- Low light video is noisy
- Battery life
9. Best with Adventure Kit: GoPro Hero9
The GoPro is the quintessential action/vlogger cam, and the GoPro Hero9 represents the very pinnacle of that form factor. It’s dust and weather resistant, can be taken underwater, shoots in 5K or at high speed in 1080p, features a brilliant digital stabilization system, and you can directly live stream from the camera. If you live an outdoorsy life, or simply want a powerful, rugged camera to throw around in your shoots, you want the Hero 9 Black.
When it comes to performance, it’s hard to figure out where to start. Everything about this camera can be spoken of in superlatives, because it is, quite literally, the best action cam out there. 5K 30fps video is great for vlogs and landscape shots from a drone. 4K60 is perfect for action, and the 8x slo-mo for those epic showreels.
Features like horizon leveling and HyperSmooth 3.0 ensure that every shot is framed perfectly, regardless of how you orient the camera. And those 20MP stills? Sure, they’re shot on what is basically a fish-eye lens, but they’re still very good stills, and if you use the GoPro a lot, the images will be in sync with your art style.
As with all GoPros, the Hero 9 is a diminutive, cuboid beast. It’s barely taller than a paper clip but manages spectacular performance by ensuring that every cubic millimeter of that chassis is chock full of electronic wizardry.
You get two displays: one on the front and one on the rear. The rear display is also a touchscreen. The camera also features a mic for recording sound as well as voice control, and even a speaker for playing back your work.
Integrated into the Hero 9 are ‘folding fingers’ which will help mount the GoPro to any surface. A system of accelerometers and gyroscopes works together to keep your video stable and the horizon level.
The magic of the GoPro lies in its rugged, do-anything design. The chassis and accessories are designed to be abused. This is a camera you want to toss into the air and catch, strap to your chest for an epic POV, or even take underwater as you cavort with dolphins. It helps that it’s also a great camera, but that’s not the primary reason to buy one.
If you’re thinking of travelling, or scuba diving, or doing anything that even remotely smacks of outdoors activity, you want a GoPro in your life. And who can say no to on-demand Insta livestreams at any time of the day or night?
- Tiny and rugged
- In-built horizon leveling
- Robust accessory ecosystem
- The quintessential action cam
- HyperSmooth 3.0
- Ultra-wide field of view is an acquired taste
10. Cheapest Option: Insta360 ONE X2
The ONE X2 is a significant upgrade to one of the best 360 action cams ever made. It’s not waterproof, has better stabilization, and boasts of a larger battery, among other things. Setting the Insta360 ONE X2 apart from other 360 cams is its software and feature suite, which makes using this camera a breeze. Oh, and there’s a fun new accessory as well.
This dual-lens camera — both with a 180° field of view — shoots 5.7k 360° video at 30fps. You can opt for various combinations of lower resolutions and higher shutter speeds as you see fit. The camera is waterproof to 10m (~33ft).
In terms of design, the ONE X2 is a candy bar. It’s slightly longer than its predecessor, but that extra space is taken up by a slightly larger battery, which is very welcome. There’s a front-mounted LCD touchscreen that functions as a viewfinder and touch interface for managing settings.
A quad-camera array captures 360° audio data to go with the 360° video. One thing to note is that while the camera is ruggedly built and water and dust resistant to a degree, the camera lenses do jut out a bit and you’ll need to be careful of knocking them against something.
Software, though, is where this camera really shines. Features like horizon leveling are now becoming standard across the board for high-end action cameras, but the ONE X2 boasts of additional features like subject-tracking, real-time elimination of the selfie stick, a bullet cam mode via a sling accessory, auto speed-ramp, and more. You also get to use it as a regular action cam by enabling digital image stabilization and disabling one camera (resulting in 2K 50fps video with a narrower field of view).
One of the most useful features is ‘auto-frame’. Unlike most other 360 cams, which will just leave you — and your viewer — with 360 footage that they have to navigate themselves, you can use ‘auto-frame’ and let the camera analyze and highlight important subjects to track.
The Insta360 ONE X2 isn’t the best action cam out there, and neither does it boast of the best image quality. What it does offer, instead, is the best 360 camera experience of any 360-degree camera out there. While the Insta360 might not replace your primary camera for general Insta vlogging, it’s a lovely camera for amateur photographers to have those occasional, out-of-this-world shots.
- Exceptional software features
- Waterproof to 33ft
- 5.7k 360° footage
- Shoot Matrix-like bullet-cam shots
- 80-minute battery life
- Video quality could have been better
- Limited usefulness as a vlogging camera
Frequently Asked Questions
A powerful camera might seem like overkill for Instagram, but bear in mind that even those 1000 x 1000 images on Insta differ wildly in quality depending on the camera used. A good camera will, if nothing else, render colours better and offer vastly superior bokeh and background separation.
Honestly, no, you do not. Where 4K helps is when you’re cropping into your scene to focus on a subject. It also helps when you’re posting the same video on other platforms, like Youtube, which take better advantage of the 4K shooting modes.
For vlogging, we’d recommend a 16 mm equivalent focal length. For images, the focal length depends on what you’re shooting. We’d recommend a 24 or 35 mm equivalent for street photography, and longer lenses for birds. A wider lens will help with landscape and architecture shots.
A good selfie stick or handheld tripod is a must. We’d also recommend ND filters for shooting in daylight, and, if budget permits, a good quality boom or wireless mic with a wind filter. A remote shutter release or support for an app that allows for remote triggering is also very useful.
Instagramming is as much about projecting a personality as it is about the quality of your images and video. For best results, pick a camera that suits your style and personality. Not everyone can take advantage of a GoPro, and not everyone needs a Sony a7S III.
- If you’re the action-oriented type and/or tend to spend time underwater, the GoPro Hero9 is simply the best.
- An Insta360 ONE X2 is great for hikers and skydivers and the like.
- For serious Instagram photographers on a budget, we’d ask them to go for the Canon EOS M50 Mark II, but if you care about video, you just can’t beat the Canon EOS RP for versatility or the Sony Alpha 7S III for quality.
- For everyone else, we’d blindly recommend the fun, versatile Sony Alpha a6400.