Gone are the days when you needed to spend tens of thousands of pounds to buy a camera that can produce professional-standard images – the quality of affordable digital camera kit is now so high that a purchase of between £500 and £4,000 will be more than enough to make your work sing.
But that doesn't make it any easier to choose between the models crowding the digital camera market. A top-of-the-range DSLR may seem like a tempting option, but they're bigger than other models and are so brimming with features that they can seem complicated and intimidating to use. If you’re having to think about menus and settings, you won’t be concentrating on more important aspects of composition and lighting.
The best cheap camera around may be more than adequate for your needs, while saving you a couple of thousand quid. But if you don't budget enough, you may miss out on vital functions to your vocation such as 4K video or robust casing.
Below you'll see our pick of nine fantastic cameras, including DSLRs, cheap compacts, cameras capable of 4K footage and the best phone camera money can buy. Whatever you need it for, whatever your budget, we're confident you'll find the best digital camera from the rundown below with the best prices – with no need to wait until Black Friday.
01. Nikon D850
Best camera overall you can buy in 2017.
Type: DSLR | Sensor size: Full-frame CMOS | Resolution: 45.4MP | Lens: Nikon F mount | Viewfinder: Optical | Screen type: 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen, 2,359,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 7fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Intermediate/expert
Quite simply, this is the best camera money can buy right now. A quick look at the Nikon D850's specs will tell you why – 45.4MP full-frame sensor, 153-point AF system, 9fps burst shooting speed. The result is a remarkable DSLR that captures absolutely sensational images.
There's one significant setback though... the price tag! That said, if you were planning to buy two cameras – one for stills and one for 4K video shoots – the D850 kills both of those birds with one stone. If your budget stretches this far, you've just found the best digital camera overall to buy!
Read our sister site TechRadar's Nikon D850 review
02. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
Best DSLR camera for photography.
Sensor: Full-frame CMOS | Megapixels: 30.4MP | Autofocus: 61-point AF, 41 cross-type | Screen type: 3.2-inch touchscreen, 1,620,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 7fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Expert
Yes, you are reading that correctly: the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV has a monumental 30.4MP sensor. Although a high megapixel count isn't the only measure to go by, it's a good start and this Canon DSLR backs it up with an advanced 61-point AF system and 7fps burst shooting.
It can take 4K video and has all the features and outputs you'd expect of a market-leading DSLR, but it's the pure image quality that really strikes a chord. If you need to print out examples of your work, you should have no problems producing richly detailed prints at Super A3, while A2 prints are possible, too.
Read TechRadar's Canon EOS 5D Mark IV review
03. Nikon D3400
Best cheap DSLR camera.
Type: DSLR | Sensor: APS-C CMOS | Resolution: 24.2MP | Lens: Nikon F mount (DX) | Viewfinder: Optical | Screen type: 3.0-inch screen, 921,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 5fps | Movies: 1080p | User level: Beginner
It's difficult to quite understand how Nikon can make the delightful D3400 so affordable. It certainly doesn't want for image quality, featuring a 24.2MP sensor with a keen eye for detail and full-HD video recording. It adds bluetooth connectivity to its predecessor (another excellent cheap DSLR, the Nikon D3300) and we particularly admire the way its Guide Mode walks you through the camera's oodles of features. A brilliant camera on a budget.
Read TechRadar's Nikon D3400 review
04. Panasonic Lumix ZS100 / TZ100
Best point-and-shoot compact camera.
Sensor: 1-inch type, 20.1MP | Lens: 25-250mm, f/2.8-5.9 | Monitor: 3.0-inch touchscreen, 1,040,000 dots | Viewfinder: EVF | Continuous shooting: 10fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Beginner/Intermediate
We often detect a lot of snobbery around compact cameras. It's often simply because they don't look as stylish as DSLRs. But they're a lot more convenient and easy to cart around – not to mention cheaper – than their chunky brethren. So do consider the fantastic Panasonic ZS100 (called the TZ100 if you're living outside the US), which we think is the best compact camera on the market.
It still squeezes in a 1-inch 20.1MP sensor, which equates to image quality that's just as good as many mid-range DSLRs can manage. And, frankly, the electronic viewfinder is a lot easier to use than optical where you need to compose your shots quickly.
Read TechRadar's Panasonic Lumix ZS100 review / TZ100 review
05. Sony Cyber-shot WX220
Best cheap camera under £200.
Sensor: 1/2.3-inch CMOS, 18.2MP | Lens: 25-250mm, f/3.3-5.9 | Monitor: 2.7-inch display, 460,000 dots | Viewfinder: No | Continuous shooting: 1.5fps | Movies: 1080p | User level: Beginner
Users of the Sony Cyber-shot WX220 are never going to win throngs of photography awards, but if you need a handy, affordable snapper that produces better images than your phone, then we think this is the best cheap camera out there. For a camera that's quite affordable, you'll be impressed by the 18.2MP sensor, 10x optical zoom and 25-250mm lens. Images are bright and punchy, with decent detail – ideal for sharing online or printing at typical sizes – while it's nice to see Wi-Fi connectivity included as well.
Read Techradar's Sony Cyber-shot WX220 review
06. Panasonic Lumix GH5
Best 4K camera for video.
Type: Mirrorless | Sensor size: Micro Four Thirds | Resolution: 20.3MP | Lens: Micro Four Thirds | Viewfinder: EVF | Monitor: 3.2-inch vari-angle display, 1,620,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 12fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Expert
OK movie-makers: time to start paying attention. The Panasonic Lumix GH5 is the camera you need in your life if you want to shoot 4K film, but can't stretch to a full-on video rig.
Let's get geeky: the GH5 allows you to shoot Cinema 4K (4096 x 2160) at 60p with a bit rate of 150Mbps with colour subsampling at 4:2:2 and a colour depth of 10-bit – that means beautifully rich graduations and colour information on screen. And because the camera uses the entire width of the chip, framing won't be cropped when you come to upload your footage. The video spec on the GH5 is comprehensive to say the least!
Read TechRadar's Panasonic Lumix GH5 review
07. Panasonic Lumix G80 / G85
Best cheap 4K camera.
Type: Mirrorless | Sensor size: Micro Four Thirds | Resolution: 16MP | Lens: Micro Four Thirds | Monitor: 3.0-inch display, 1,040,000 dots | Viewfinder: EVF | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 9fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Beginner/intermediate
Like the sound of the GH5 but can't stretch to that budget? Well we recommend that you stick to Panasonic Lumix family, but pick up the much more affordable G85 (named the G80 outside the US) instead. It's jam-packed with much of the latest technology, without the eye-watering price tag.
If you know your cameras, then you'll know that the likes of live cropping, zebra patterning and focus peaking are all useful additions to a video camera, while the richly detailed stills it takes will appeal to anybody who wants a capable all-rounder, so don't be too put off by that measly sounding 16Mp sensor.
Read TechRadar's Panasonic Lumix G85 review / G80 review
08. Canon EOS Rebel T7i / Canon EOS 800D
Best camera for beginners.
Sensor: APS-C CMOS | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Lens mount: Canon EF-S | Screen: 3-inch articulating touchscreen, 1,040,000 dots | Continuous shooting speed: 6fps | Max video resolution: 1080p | User level: Beginner/enthusiast
The EOS Rebel T7i (known as the EOS 800D outside the US) sits at the top of Canon's entry-level EOS DSLR range. It's the ideal purchase if you want an affordable camera that's still got enough features to throw you in to photography.
For starters, you can have confidence in the mighty 24.2MP sensor, which is ably supported by excellent autofocus with a 45-point arrangement. The real boon for beginners is the splendidly designed graphical interface that makes navigating the Rebel T7i and making the most of its bountiful features a doddle. It won't take long before you're snapping like a pro!
09. Google Pixel 2
Best camera phone.
Megapixels: 12.2MP | Max video resolution: 2160p | Secondary camera: 8Mp | Operating system: Android 8 Oreo | Screen size: 5-inch | Battery: 2700mAh
If you're in the market for a new phone and need a handset that's great for instantly sharing your work and videos, then make sure you consider the new Google Pixel 2. An excellent mobile in its own right, it's also just taken the crown of the best camera smartphone you can buy.
The 12.2Mp camera is the best part of the Pixel 2 experience. Images are consistently in focus and true-to-life while still looking vibrant, whether that's in normal conditions or in dim light. We love the portrait mode and the 240fps slow motion mode is a nice touch, too. This is currently the best in class camera phone.
Read TechRadar's Google Pixel 2 review