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Best Nikon camera: Top Nikon cameras for beginners, portraits and more

Best Nikon camera
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Whether you’re a beginner photographer, or a seasoned filmmaking pro, our guide to the best Nikon cameras will help you choose the right device for you. Since everybody’s needs are different we’ve rounded up the top Nikon devices for 2021, to cover a whole range of uses.

Whether you need a Nikon camera that shoots high quality video, one that captures still photographs in the highest quality, or perhaps a camera that makes the best of both worlds – you'll find something to suit in this guide. We’ve even included the best budget Nikon and best compact Nikon camera for those that want to dabble with something more entry-level, as well as highlighting the very best, flagship cameras Nikon have to offer. 

So whatever your budget may be, take a look below at our pick of the best Nikon cameras in 2021. And if you can't find what you're looking for here, head over to our round up of the best cameras for even more quality options. 

The best Nikon cameras available right now

Nikon Z 6II

(Image credit: Nikon)

01. Nikon Z 6II

The best Nikon camera overall

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Full-frame CMOS 35.9mm x 23.9mm | Megapixels: 24.5 | Monitor: 8cm (3.2in) tilting TFT touch-sensitive LCD with 170° viewing angle (approx 2100k-dot) | Continuous shooting speed: 14FPS | Viewfinder: 0.8x 1.27cm (0.5in) Approx 3690k-dot (Quad VGA) OLED EVF | Max video resolution: 3840 x 2160 (4K UHD) 30p | User level: Intermediate

High 14FPS
4K UHD Video
Only 24MP
No illuminated buttons

The Nikon Z 6II balances incredible features with a reasonable cost. This mirrorless camera has 5 stops of in-body image stabilisation (IBIS) to create sharp photos even in low light and during long exposures, which also makes it perfect for hybrid shooting as it can hold the frame steady even when capturing video handheld. It captures fantastic detail with the 24.5MP full-frame image sensor, able to follow the action with 14 FPS continuous shooting. It also delivers UHD 4K30 video footage for the filmmakers. This camera is ideal for those who like taking stills and video in one device at a reasonable cost but don’t want to compromise on image quality. 

Nikon D6

(Image credit: Nikon)

02. Nikon D6

The best Nikon camera if your budget knows no bounds

Type: FX DSLR | Sensor: Full-frame CMOS 35.9mm x 23.9mm | Megapixels: 20.8 | Monitor: 8cm (3.2in) TFT touch-sensitive LCD with 170° viewing angle. Approx 2359k-dot (XGA) | Continuous shooting speed: 14FPS | Viewfinder: 0.72x optical | Max video resolution: 3840 x 2160 (4K UHD) 30p | User level: Advanced

Incredible build quality
Fast continuous burst speed
Big and bulky
Expensive

Nikon’s flagship full frame camera, the D6 is designed to withstand extreme shooting conditions with its strong, durable frame and excellent weather sealing. Don’t be fooled by the 20.8MP resolution because it can shoot RAW images at up to 14 bit for incredible tonal detail. It can keep up with even the most explosive of subjects thanks to its 14FPS continuous shoot speed and you can shoot for longer capturing up to 200 RAW files before it shows signs of slowing. This is the perfect camera for the user who wants the very best, or needs a camera they can rely on in any situation, and the price tag reflects this.

Nikon D3500

(Image credit: Nikon)

03. Nikon D3500

The best budget Nikon camera option on the market

Type: DX DSLR | Sensor: Crop-sensor CMOS 23.5mm x 15.6mm | Megapixels: 24.2 | Monitor: 7.5cm (3in) TFT LCD with 170° viewing angle. Approx 921k-dot (VGA) | Continuous shooting speed: 5FPS | Viewfinder: 0.85x optical | Max video resolution: 1920 x 1080 (Full HD) 60p | User level: Beginner

Great price
High resolution
Low burst speed
Crop-sensor

An excellent choice for beginners wanting to take a deeper dive into photography and shoot with an interchangeable lens system, the D3500 does an excellent job at doing many things well. It captures high resolution stills at 24.2MP with its DX image sensor and can also record Full HD movies. As well as the ability to run on Auto the D3500 also has a Guide Mode which assists users with adjusting camera settings to craft the kind of images they want, until they feel ready to move on to more intermediate use with greater control. 

Nikon D850

(Image credit: Nikon)

04. Nikon D850

The best DSLR Nikon camera

Type: FX DSLR | Sensor: Full-frame CMOS 35.9mm x 23.9mm | Megapixels: 45.7 | Monitor: 8cm (3.2in) tilting TFT touch-sensitive LCD with 170° viewing angle. Approx 2359k-dot (XGA) | Continuous shooting speed: 9FPS | Viewfinder: 0.75x optical | Max video resolution: 3840 x 2160 (4K UHD) 30p | User level: Intermediate to Advanced

Super high resolution images
Class-leading ISO range
Files can be large
9FPS with battery grip only

The workhorse of Nikon’s DSLR range, the D850 packs a punch in many aspects. Photographs are full of detail thanks to the 45.7MP image sensor but capture size can be reduced for those that require it. A useful touchscreen helps users navigate through hundreds of images in a matter of seconds. Capable of 4K UHD this is a professional-level camera for hybrid shooters that wish to switch between stills and video at a moments notice. Reliable, fast autofocus that works even in low light is possible thanks to a dedicated AF processor in the camera so users will never miss focus.

Nikon D5600

(Image credit: Nikon)

05. Nikon D5600

The best Nikon camera for beginners

Type: DX DSLR | Sensor: Crop-sensor CMOS 23.5mm x 15.6mm | Megapixels: 24.2 | Monitor: 8.1cm (3.2in) TFT vari-angle LCD touch screen with 170° viewing angle. Approx 1037k-dot | Continuous shooting speed: 5FPS | Viewfinder: 0.82x optical | Max video resolution: 1920 x 1080 (Full HD) 60p | User level: Beginner to Intermediate

Lightweight and portable
Vari-angle touchscreen 
Crop sensor
Only 39 focus points

The D5600 is perfect for beginner users who want to take things a little further, or those who are already comfortable with using a DSLR. It features a monocoque carbon-reinforced shell making it lightweight at only 450g, ideal for those that love to travel. 

A deep grip makes this camera easy to hold and comfortable in the hand. The vari-angle touchscreen means users can operate the camera from any position without needing to contort themselves to the viewfinder. The touchscreen is also gesture compatible with options like pinch to zoom and trim images. It borrows a frame-advance bar from bigger brothers the D5 and D500 professional-level cameras. 

Nikon Z 7II

(Image credit: Nikon)

06. Nikon Z 7II

The best Nikon camera if video is your thing

Type: FX Mirrorless | Sensor: Full-frame CMOS 35.9mm x 23.9mm | Megapixels: 45.7 | Monitor: 8cm (3.2in) tilting TFT touch-sensitive LCD with 170° viewing angle. Approx 2100k-dot | Continuous shooting speed: 10FPS | Viewfinder: 0.8x 1.27cm (0.5in) Approx 3690k-dot (Quad VGA) OLED EVF | Max video resolution: 3840 x 2160 (4K UHD) 60p | User level: Advanced

4K UHD 60p video
5-stop IBIS 
Expensive
1.08x crop on 4K video 

The Z 7 II’s hybrid AF system allows for pin-sharp focus across approximately 90% of the image sensor thanks to the 493 AF points which means users can focus almost up to the edges of the frame with ease. The 5-stops of in-body image stabilisation smooths out video perfectly, making it ideal for handheld shooting that gives gimbal-like quality. With Eye-Detection AF the camera also tracks focus on subjects automatically, and even features an Animal-Detection AF for those capturing pets or wildlife. The 4K UHD 60p video footage is highly detailed with fantastic dynamic range thanks to the N-log movie options and HDR (HLG) output.

Don't miss our round ups of the best cameras for vlogging and the best cameras for YouTube for more great video capture options. 

Nikon Z5

(Image credit: Nikon)

07. Nikon Z 5

The best Nikon camera for shooting portraits

Type: FX Mirrorless | Sensor: Full-frame CMOS 35.9mm x 23.9mm | Megapixels: 24.3 | Monitor: 8cm (3.2in) tilting TFT touch-sensitive LCD with 1701.27cm (0.5in) Approx 3690k-dot (Quad VGA) OLED EVF viewing angle. Approx 1040k-dot | Continuous shooting speed: 4.5FPS | Viewfinder: 0.8x 1.27cm (0.5in) Approx 3690k-dot (Quad VGA) OLED EVF | Max video resolution: 3840 x 2160 (4K UHD) 30p | User level: Intermediate

Detailed EVF
90% AF frame coverage 
No top plate display
Cropped video 

Thanks to the full-frame sensor and an almost highly detailed EVF seen in more expensive models, it’s easy to eye-up a subject for high-end portraits. It comes equipped with Eye-Detection autofocus that is precise and most useful for portrait photographers. The AF even tracks movement with Eye-Detection, across the frame, and on a range of subjects from humans to dogs, and even cats. It’s easy to shoot on all day long with the lightweight magnesium alloy body. Dual card slots (UHS-II SD compatible) mean portraits can be backed up on the spot. It has great ISO range for low light shooting and users can charge the camera via USB, perfect for those using a power bank that want to shoot dawn until dusk.

Nikon coolpix P1000

(Image credit: Nikon)

08. Nikon Coolpix P1000

Best compact Nikon camera

Type: Compact digital camera | Sensor: 1/2.3in type CMOS 6.17mm x 4.56mm | Megapixels: 16 | Monitor: 8.1cm (3.2in) vari-angle TFT LCD. Approx 921k-dot (RGB) | Continuous shooting speed: 7FPS | Viewfinder: 1cm (0.39in) Approx 2359k-dot OLED EVF | Max video resolution: 3840 x 2160 (4K UHD) 30p | User level: Beginner

Fantastic optical zoom
4K UHD video
Limited ISO range
Low resolution stills 

The P1000 compact bridge camera is aimed at beginners who aren’t bothered about an interchangeable lens system. But the lens on this camera is quite unique indeed, with 125x optical zoom the P1000 zooms in on even the most distant subjects. Capture craters on the moon or capture wildlife subjects without disturbing them with this incredible zoom capability. There are plenty of built-in shooting modes for those that want to experiment without getting too technical. To share images the camera can also synchronise with the SnapBridge app via Bluetooth which can also be used to trigger the camera remotely. 

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