It’s tough to pick the best camera for beginners. To help you get started, we’ve selected the best entry-level cameras to buy in 2018
Starting out in photography? Want to make the jump from shooting on your phone, but not sure which camera deserves your hard-earned cash? We’ve got you covered — these, for our buck, are the best entry-level cameras on the market right now, from DSLRs to mirrorless CSCs and compacts.
1. Nikon D3400
Nikon’s D3000 series has garnered a well-deserved reputation for superb beginner DSLRs, and the D3400 certainly demonstrates why. Its intuitive and easy-to-use Guide mode allows novice users to make the most of the 24.2MP sensor, while the relatively diminutive body makes the D3400 easy to transport. Nikon has worked on extending the battery life, compared to the previous D3300. It’s also possible to use Nikon’s SnapBridge Bluetooth functionality to deliver images straight to a smartphone for easy sharing, the moment they’re shot. When you buy Nikon, you also get access to decades’ worth of top-quality Nikkor lenses, meaning this is an excellent choice for the beginner photographer who has ambitions to improve and upgrade.
Nikon D3400 Digital SLR Camera with 18-55mm AF-P DX Non VR Lens
With its 24-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor and EXPEED 4 processor, the Nikon D3400 Digital SLR Camera with 18-55mm AF-P non VR lens is a powerful upgrade to the popular Nikon D3300. It features mobile connectivity via Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), 1080p video capability, a battery life of up to 1200 shots, and Nikon's new Guide Mode. An 11-point autofocus system allows for fast, accurate shooting.
2. Canon EOS 200D
The Canon EOS 200D is ideal for users who hate lugging around heavy gear. It boasts the title of the world’s lightest DSLR with a vari-angle screen, which allows the user significantly greater flexibility when composing shots. As you’d expect from Canon, the 200D packs imaging power to spare; its DIGIC 7 processor powers such useful features as Canon’s Dual Pixel autofocus and continuous shooting of up to five frames per second. Despite the small size, there are plenty of physical dial and button controls, while the mode options are kept streamlined and simple, so as not to overwhelm beginners.
Canon EOS 200D Digital SLR Camera with 18-55mm IS STM Lens
The Canon 200D is the latest generation of EOS camera, combining familiar touchscreen controls with superb image quality, an optical viewfinder and a portable design. The EOS 200D works hand-in-hand with your smartphone, for easy image sharing, and it records gorgeous Full HD video. A superb starter kit if you’re new to DSLR, this camera body comes with the Canon 18-55mm f4-5.6 IS STM zoom lens.
3. Pentax K-70
If you’re going to be taking your new camera on outdoor adventures, you definitely want to look into the rugged Pentax K-70. Thanks to 100 seals around its body, the Pentax K-70 is dust-proof, weather-resistant and freeze-proof (down to -10°C). An internal sensor-shift image stabilisation system makes it easier to use handheld, allowing for sharper images at slower shutter-speeds. If you want to photograph the night sky then this is definitely a good choice, thanks to the Astrotracer feature, which uses the sensor-shift functionality and GPS data to produce pin-sharp photographs of the stars — without the streaks and blurs that occur during long exposures.
Pentax K-70 Digital Camera with 18-50mm Lens
The Pentax K-70 Digital SLR is built for outdoor photography, with its compact body and weather-resistant construction. This ruggedness is married to high-sensitivity shooting and a shake reduction system, all of which amounts to reliability under demanding conditions met by adventurous photographers. This kit comes with an 18-50 mm zoom lens.
4. Canon EOS 1300D
Another of Canon’s diminutive DSLRs, the EOS 1300D is a great value entry-level DSLR that makes for a fine entry point into the Canon ecosystem. Inside that tiny body you get Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity, as well as an optical viewfinder that operates with 95% coverage of the frame. The rear screen also has an impressive resolution of 920,000 dots, meaning images will be pin-sharp when viewed post-capture. At 500 shots per charge, battery life is thoroughly decent, and there’s also the option to shoot Full HD video.
Canon EOS 1300D Digital SLR Camera with 18-55mm IS II Lens
The Canon EOS 1300D with 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II lens is an entry-level DSLR aimed at beginners and photography enthusiasts who wish to take their hobby to the next level. The 1300D is an 18-megapixel camera with Wi-Fi connectivity, a 9-point AF system, Full HD video recording and up to 3fps continuous shooting. Containing all of the technology essential to DSLR photography but in a lightweight ...
5. Olympus Pen E-PL9
Fully equipped with bags of style, the Olympus PEN E-PL9 is part of a separate line to the flagship OM-D series and is designed for the fashion-conscious photographer. A luxurious finish protects a stylish body with an ergonomic supporting handgrip. The camera is controlled via two dials on its top and a touch-sensitive screen, which also flips out for simple selfies. While there’s no built-in viewfinder on the camera, the hotshoe allows for various accessories to be attached, meaning those who prefer to use a viewfinder can clip one on (be aware it’s sold separately).
Olympus Pen E-PL9 Digital Camera with 14-42mm Lens - Black
The Olympus E-PL9 builds on the previous E-PL8 model and is an ideal camera for those wanting to take a step up from the camera on their phone. This versatile compact system features a 16MP CMOS sensor, allows for 4K 30P video, features an upgraded 121 point AF system, and contains the same TruePic VIII processor as inside the OM-D E-M1 Mark II. Comes with the Olympus 14-42mm lens.
6. Panasonic Lumix TZ70
If you’d prefer an all-in-one package, then it’s worth looking into compact cameras. The Panasonic TZ70 is a great choice — thanks to its slim build and lens, with a generous 30x optical zoom range, it’s perfect for travel. Its resolution of 12.1MP is a little lower than other entry-level cameras, but that’s more than enough for posting image online so, unless you’re into making prints, you’ll be absolutely fine. The image stabilisation also works very well, making the camera even more versatile. If you want to see more compact cameras, check out our guide.
Panasonic LUMIX DMC-TZ70 Digital Camera - Silver
The Panasonic LUMIX DMC-TZ70 is the follow-up to the popular LUMIX DMC-TZ60, and is an all-in-one travel compact with an impressive 30x optical zoom (Leica 24-720mm lens) and built-in Wi-Fi connectivity. The perfect companion for capturing all your adventures, this feature-packed compact camera can shoot stunning stills at 12-megapixels and clear Full HD video footage. The TZ70 comes equipped ...
7. Fujifilm X-A5
If you’d like to investigate the Fujifilm X system of pin-sharp lenses and stylish retro cameras, the X-A5 is an ideal entry point. The generous 91-point AF system is significantly more advanced than what you’ll find in most other entry-level cameras, and there’s even the option to shoot 4K video, albeit only at a frame rate of 15p and for a maximum of five minutes. Still, this gives you access to 4K photo modes, where you can extract stills from 4K footage and export them as 8.3MP images, meaning you never have to miss a crucial moment.
Fujifilm X-A5 Digital Camera with XC 15-45mm Lens - Brown
Aimed with photo and video enthusiasts in mind, the Fujifilm X-A5 Digital Camera with XC 15-45mm F3.5-5.6 OIS PZ Lens is the smallest and lightest mirrorless system within the X-series range. With its classic retro design and leather-look finish, the X-A5 is a portable, selfie-ready camera with a 180° tilting rear LCD screen, 24.2-megapixel sensor, 4K video recording, and Bluetooth technology.
8. Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III
The E-M10 cameras are the smallest in the OM-D family and have been expressly designed with the entry-level user in mind. OM-D cameras are part of the Micro Four Thirds family, which means users have access to an enormous catalogue of high-quality lenses, and they’ve also been designed with the high-quality and stylish finish users have come to expect from the series. The E-M10 III is no exception, looking as great as it feels, and the 2,360,000-dot OLED electronic viewfinder is the icing on top of an extremely enticing cake.
Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III Digital Camera with 14-42mm EZ Lens - Black
Designed to be the ideal travel companion, the third generation of Olympus’ OM-D E-M10 digital camera is packed full of useful features for both beginners and seasoned photographers. With 5-axis in-camera stabilisation, high-speed 121-point contrast autofocus, and 4K video capture, the OM-D E-M10 Mark III offers a whole lot of camera in a stylish, compact, 16MP body. 14-42mm lens is included.
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9. Panasonic LUMIX GX800
The LUMIX GX800 certainly puts the “micro” in Micro Four Thirds, with a diddy body that can slip easily into a pocket. While its look may recall the classic rangefinders of the 1960s and 70s, this is no throwback, with the ability to shoot 4K video and extract still images from the footage. It has a number of guided modes designed to wean users off auto for more control when taking pictures, making it perfect for beginners looking to make the jump from smartphone shooting.
Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX800 Digital Camera Silver with 12-32mm Lens
The Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX800 with 12-32mm Lens is an interchangeable lens camera designed for hobbyists looking to explore the world of video and photography in more depth. Revolving around a 16MP Digital Live MOS sensor and Venus Engine image processor, crisp, high-resolution image quality is delivered with a wide sensitivity range to ISO 25,600, along with 4K video recording and 4K Photo Mode. ...
About the Author
Jon Stapley is a professional journalist with a wealth of experience on a number of photography titles including Amateur Photographer, Digital Camera World and What Digital Camera.