5 Best Cameras for Beginners in 2021: Starting Your Photography Journey
Updated: Jun 1
What is a beginner camera? Well, a beginner camera is one that can grow as you grow and is easy enough to pick up while still allowing you to learn basic controls and learn the different settings of the camera. I look for three things when it comes to beginner cameras. First, is affordability. Second, I look for how easy it is to use. Third, is how can the camera grow with you, I recommend a camera with interchangeable lenses.
During the period of COVID-19, there has been a surge of people both young and old diving into new and exciting things, starting new business ventures, and learning new skills and talents. Many of whom may have decided to start the photography journey, but have yet to decide on which camera they should get to start out with. If you fall into that group of people then keep reading to find the best camera for you!
I'll start off by saying this, you don't have to start off with the Mercedes of cameras especially when you're just starting out and learning all the basics. A simple DSLR (Digital Single Lens Reflex Camera) or a Mirrorless Camera like any of the ones listed below should work just fine.
Side Note: Many of the cameras listed down below are sold for slightly less if you get the "body only". I always recommend getting a "kit lens" though at the same time. It's way cheaper than buying them separately.
I listed these based on my personal suggestion to you, but do take the time to make your own decision by checking out the features. the cheapest camera may not do the things you want it to and you may need to upgrade sooner as your skills improve. However, if all you need is an inexpensive camera, why pay more?
Best Cameras for Beginners in 2021
Canon EOS M50 This Canon camera ticks all the right boxes.
Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: APS-C | Lens Mount: Canon EF-M | Screen: 3 in. vari-angle touchsreen, 1,040k dots | Max Burst Speed: 10fps | Max Video Resolution: 4K UHD
Kit: View Here
Current Version: View Here
Built-in electronic viewfinder
Excellent touchscreen for creativity
Lightweight & Compact
4K video limitations
Simplified exterior controls
This camera packs a formidable punch that can rival the likes of some intermediate cameras and it does it while being easy to carry and store. It has a nice electronic viewfinder that so many mirrorless cameras in its same price range lack - great news! However, the camera does have it's drawbacks when it comes to its 4k video. Nevertheless, this camera is a certified winner and is a perfect beginner's best friend!
2. Sony a6000 Fast and mature mirrorless camera at an unbeatable price.
Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: APS-C | Megapixel: 24.3MP | Screen: 3.0in. 921k, tilt | Viewfinder: Electronic | Lens Mount: Sony E | Continuous Shooting Speed: 11fps | Max Video Resolution: Full HD
Body Only: Link
Fast and accurate shooting
Super discounted price
No 4K video
While this camera is a little dated it is still a wonderful shooter for most beginners! With its lightweight frame and dependable specs, this is a steal as far as APS-C sensor cameras go! Not only that but this camera sophisticated autofocus system still rivals that of cameras geared more towards professionals!
This camera has Sony's E-mount which gives it access to a wide range of lenses to choose from in addition to the bundled 16-50mm kit lens that comes in most online offerings for this particular gem of a camera! The menu is a little difficult to navigate and it doesn't have as many guide modes as other cameras, but if you apply what you learn from this camera you'll be able to produce some stunning imagery!
3. Canon EOS T3i
Type: DSLR | Sensor: APS-C | Megapixels: 18MP | Screen: Vari-Angle Screen | Viewfinder: Pentamirror | Lens Mount: Canon EF-S/EF | Continuous Shooting Speed: 3.7fps | Max Video Resolution: 1080p 30fps
Body Only: Link
Not many bells and whistles
Basic and "sluggish" autofocus
This camera holds a special place in my heart because it's the camera I started out with when I first had a major interest in doing photography as my career! Also, this camera might very well be the cheapest camera in this list and you may be able to find it cheaper depending on where you go!
All that has to be said about this camera is that it's a "good" starting point but that's it. It's just "good". This camera is starting to show its age when it comes to assistive modes and autofocus. ESPECIALLY the autofocus! With only 9-points and no subject tracking, this would be a good choice for someone who only needs the absolute bare minimum and can appreciate the almost raw nature of shooting with a camera like this.
4. Nikon Z50
A new star on the rise!
Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: APS-C CMOS | Megapixels: 20.9MP | Screen: 3.2 inch tilting, 1.04m dots | Viewfinder: EVF | Lens Mount: Nikkor Z DX, Full Frame, (old lenses with FTZ adaptor) | Continuous Shooting Speed: 11fps | Max Video Resolution: 4kUHD at 30p
Great Value (Reasonably Priced)
Small and Light
Amazing Video Resolution and 11fps!
No IBS (in-body stabilization)
This camera is one that escaped my radar for a while (because Nikon was late to the mirrorless party) and when it landed it definitely made waves in the photography community! Not just because of its competitive specs but because of its form and price point having it compare aggressively with the Canon M50 Mk II. It's entry level pancake lens is phenomenal because of it's innovative retractable design keeping the overall camera profile neat and clean and the camera keeps its mount similar to all the larger cameras in the Z lineup making this a no brainer. With the two lens kit it can get a little expensive but the camera is built to last and will last a heck of a long time allowing you to get some great shots in the entire time! Definitely a win for Nikon.
5. Canon 90D
The best all-rounder.
Type: DSLR | Sensor: APS-C CMOS | Megapixels: 32.5MP | Screen: 3 inch Vari-Angle touchscreen, 1.04m dots | Viewfinder: EVF | Lens Mount: Canon EF/EF-S | Continuous Shooting Speed: 11fps | Max Video Resolution: 4kUHD at 30p
Body Only: Link
4k Video at 30p
Not the cheapest for beginners.
I personally own the predecessor to this camera, the Canon 80D, and with this being the newer and greatly updated version of that camera it packs a wallop! This camera gives you the easy-to-navigate menus that Canon is known for and the amazing colors that their sensors can capture all in a body with plenty of easy-to-understand buttons and dials that just make sense. Because this is a beefy DSLR and not a mirrorless lightweight it is able to house a bigger battery which means that this camera can last forever on a single battery, usually around a full day or more, and if you use it less frequently just to snap a few shots throughout the day it can last for days maybe even weeks! Let's talk sensor! With a 32.5 megapixel sensor, you get tons of detail, paired with amazing auto-focus and intelligent face tracking you will rarely have an out-of-focus image. Plus the low light performance due to the processor inside means you can go higher in ISO and still get a clean image, making sunset and low light shooting feasible.
The best part of this list is that it's only a piece of the puzzle when making a decision on which camera you'll be picking up to take photos this year and for many years to come, whether you decide to take it with you on your next beach trip or to take pictures of family and friends alike. And just like most opinions and suggestions, it's subjective and ultimately rests with you! My hope is that this list helps out at least a little in your journey.