Though you may be a creative working in many disciplines, you may not have considered the advantages a camera can bring you. Adding photography to your portfolio of skills can open up doors to many new opportunities, and apart from anything else is a lot of fun in its own right!
But then the question arrives: what's the best camera I can buy? Creatives and photographers have all sorts of different needs when it comes to tech. That's why we're here to help, with our round-up of all the best cameras that creatives can buy right now.
So what's the best camera out there right now? We think it's the Nikon D7500. It’s a camera for everyone, with great image quality, glorious 4K video and a vast assortment of lenses for every eventuality. If video is your thing, our best 4K camera is the Panasonic Lumix GH5, with its impressive breadth of movie-making features.
Of course, the best camera for you depends on what you need it for. Whatever your creative output, we’ve got the right option here: you’ll find the best DSLR and our favourite cheap DSLR at the top of this list, with superb mirrorless and compact options further down. We’ve also covered the best action cameras, as well as the best travel camera for your holidays – and even the best camera phone, for those times when you don't want to carry a camera.
Here's our pick of the best cameras for photography out there…
01. Nikon D7500
The best camera you can buy right now
Type: DSLR | Sensor size: APS-C | Resolution: 20.9MP | Lens: Nikon F mount | Viewfinder: Optical | Monitor: 3.2in tilting touchscreen, 922k dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 8fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Intermediate
It may not be the newest camera here, but the Nikon D7500 is still our pick of the moment – and it comes at a great price. It really is a camera for everyone that manages to shine in so many departments. It boasts an imaging pipeline identical to that inside the far pricier Nikon D500 model, bags of control over image capture, and compatibility with a vast assortment of lenses that stretch back decades. And it all comes in a robust, affordable body that would be great as an upgrade from a more junior camera, but is powerful enough to serve as a backup for a full-frame camera like the Nikon D850 (below).
The 20.9MP sensor is a sound performer, with a more modest pixel count that allows for an ISO range up to an option equivalent to a staggering ISO 1,640,000. Meanwhile, videos are recorded in glorious 4K quality, and bursts of images can be fired at 8fps when action presents itself. All of this makes the Nikon D7500 particularly suited to outdoor photography. You can buy the camera on its own, although a kit with the AF-S DX Nikkor 18-140mm f/3.5-5.6G ED is also available – this particular combination will leave you primed for every eventuality. If you’re feeling a little more flush, take a look at the Nikon D500, which is similar in its intentions but a little more powerful.
The best camera for client work: Nikon D850
US: $3,296.95 | UK: £3,049
The perfect all-rounder to have in your design studio, this camera has enough resolution to capture the most detailed work, enough speed to keep up with whatever action presents itself, and great video quality to boot. It isn't cheap for sure, but the spec sheet is future-proof enough to see that it lasts for many years of service.
The best camera and accessory for shooting your portfolio: Panasonic G85/G80 and 12-60mm lens
US: $997.99 | UK: £749
The G85/G80 boasts an ergonomically designed DSLR-style body and fast-growing lens system alongside. With no anti-aliasing filter, images drip with detail, while the generous zoom range of the 12-60mm lens (24-120mm in 35mm terms) makes this great for wide shots and tighter compositions alike.
02. Nikon D850
The best DSLR camera for pros and serious enthusiasts
Type: DSLR | Sensor size: Full-frame | Resolution: 45.4MP | Lens: Nikon F mount | Viewfinder: Optical | Monitor: 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen, 2,359,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 7fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Intermediate/expert
The Nikon D850 is still top dog in the DSLR world, and unchallenged by Canon when you consider just how many things it gets right. Normally such cameras are intended to excel in one area, such as speed or resolution, but the D850 delivers in all of them. Its 45.7MP sensor produces richly detailed images, particularly as it lacks an anti-aliasing filter, while 7fps burst shooting can be boosted to 9fps with an optional grip and battery. The 153-point AF system, meanwhile, is still Nikon’s most comprehensive iteration. And naturally, 4K video is on board too.
Around its solid core, the camera is ready for unlimited creativity, with time-lapse shooting, slow-motion video output in Full HD, in-camera Raw processing and a raft of other post-capture adjustments all falling to hand. Shooting at night? Many of the camera’s controls light up, and the ISO range stretches to a setting equivalent to 102,400 – a rarity on a camera with such a populated sensor. Need to shoot silently? This is not possible on many other DSLRs, but here you can fire 30fps bursts in complete silence.
Targeted at pros – and as at home in the studio as it is in the field – the Nikon D850's body usually comes on its own. But if you don’t already own a lens you’ll be well served by partnering it with the excellent AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR for general use. Can’t quite stretch to the D850’s asking price? Good-quality examples of the older Nikon D810 can still be found online.
03. Canon EOS 200D / Rebel SL2
The best cheap DSLR camera out there
Type: DSLR | Sensor size: APS-C | Resolution: 24.2MP | Lens mount: Canon EF-S | Monitor: 3-inch tilting touchscreen, 1,040,000K dots | Viewfinder: Yes, optical | Continuous shooting: 5fps | Movies: 1080p | User level: Beginner
The Canon EOS 200D / Rebel SL2 is neither the cheapest entry-level DSLR nor the newest, but it gains a spot on our best camera for creatives list by breaking from entry-level DSLR norms to provide a particularly generous feature set. In essence, it feels like it’s designed with the entry-level user’s needs and desires in mind, rather than a particular price point. The 24.2MP appears fairly conventional, but it’s furnished with Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology to make focusing nice and swift in live view, and focusing transitions smooth and professional when creating videos. These are captured in Full HD rather than 4K quality, but the option to record to 60p and a mic input boost its potential for high-quality recordings.
The flip-out LCD, meanwhile, is a boon for shooting from unorthodox angles, and its super-sensitive touch panel lets you focus effortlessly where you want by touch. The camera’s DIGIC 7 processing engine is one of the newest, and this allows for a range of Picture Styles and in-camera Raw processing, while the full Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth trinity of connectivity options star alongside.
You can grab it as a body-only option, although most people just getting started will no doubt want to spend a shade more to pair it with the EF-S 18-55mm f/4-5.6 IS STM lens. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even opt for a kit with the all-encompassing EF-S 18-135mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM instead, and if you fancy something similar but with a bit more powerful, take a look at the Canon EOS 800D. This is a great option for the first-timer, particularly if live view or video is your thing.
04. Panasonic Lumix GH5
The best 4K camera for video and filmmakers
Type: Mirrorless | Sensor size: Micro Four Thirds | Resolution: 20.3MP | Lens mount: Micro Four Thirds | Viewfinder: EVF | Monitor: 3.2-inch vari-angle display, 1,620,000 dots | Max burst speed: 12fps | Movies: 4K | User: Expert
It’s difficult to know where to start with the Panasonic GH5; there’s simply so much to pique the videographer’s interest. 4K footage can be recorded in both DCI 4K and UHD 4K flavours without the heavy crop factors that plague other 4K models, and this is captured in high-quality 10-bit 4:2:2 (internally). You can also use focus peaking to get focus bitingly sharp, call on an anamorphic shooting option, capture at high speeds for slow-motion output and opt for a (paid-for) log option. Video aside, there’s plenty more to love, from the excellent 3.6 million dot viewfinder and articulating LCD through to 9fps shooting and 225 AF points, all inside a sturdy, weather-sealed body.
Not quite what you need? The newer Panasonic GH5S variant opts for a 10.2MP sensor for better dynamic range and low-light performance, but misses out on sensor-based image stabilisation. Alternatively, the older Panasonic GH4 also provides 4K recording, and would make a good alternative if your budget doesn’t quite reach what’s being asked here.
05. Fujifilm X-T3
A crowning technical achievement, with bags of style to boot
Type: Mirrorless | Sensor size: APS-C | Resolution: 26MP | Lens: Fujifilm X | Monitor: 3.0-inch display, 1,040,000 dots | Viewfinder: Hybrid | Max burst speed: 30fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Enthusiast
Fujifilm has done an amazing job of quietly perfecting its mirrorless, retro-styled X-series cameras over the years, and the Fujifilm X-T3 may just be the masterpiece. At first glance it’s not much of an improvement over the previous Fujifilm X-T2, with only a couple of megapixels bumped up in resolution, but delve under the bonnet and you get an idea of how much tech has gone into it.
One big area of improvement is autofocus. The X-T3 has 2.16 million phase detection sensors spread over the full width of its sensor, and this combined with its new X Processor Pro 4 image processor means the camera’s focusing is faster, more accurate and better in low light. There’s better burst shooting too thanks to the dual shutter mechanisms – using the mechanical shutter, you can shoot at up to a not-too-shabby 11fps, but switch to the electronic one and you’ll manage a staggering 30fps, ensuring you never miss a moment. If you’re into video then the X-T3’s 4K capabilities are also seriously impressive – this was the model that marked Fujifilm out as a serious player in the video world.
All this is paired with the retro styling and dial-led controls that made the X series so popular in the first place, as well as the range of tack-sharp lenses available for the X-system. If the X-T3 is too expensive for you there are plenty of others in the range: we’d recommend taking a look at the X-T100.
06. Sony Alpha A7 III
The all-round best mirrorless camera you can buy right now
Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Full-frame | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Lens mount: Sony E-mount | Monitor: 3in tilting touchscreen, 921k dots | Viewfinder: EVF, 2.36m dots | Max burst speed: 10fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Enthusiast
Just as Nikon’s D850 quickly became the DSLR that everyone wanted to switch to, Sony’s A7 III has mirrorless users saving up their pennies. While many models have their specific focus and target audience, the A7 III really is a camera for all. A 24MP full-frame sensor, hybrid AF system that covers a staggering 93 per cent of the frame and 4K video from oversampled footage are just a sliver of the highlights. Sony has focused on the details too, installing the useful AF joystick that found fans on previous models, and boosting battery life to a very respectable (by mirrorless standards) 710 frames.
The A7 III is a great all-rounder, with a versatile feature-set that makes it a great fit for a range of applications, but the older Sony A7 II is still very much on a sale and worth considering if you fancy something more keenly priced. Either way, grab it with the FE 28-70mm F3.5-5.6 OSS if you’re just getting started, unless you already own a lens or two.
07. Sony Cyber-shot RX100 Mark IV
The best compact camera – particularly for action or travel photography
Type: Compact | Sensor: 1in type | Megapixels: 20.1MP | Lens: 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 | Monitor: 3in tilting screen, 1.228 million dots | Viewfinder: EVF, 2.35 million dots | Max burst speed: 16fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Enthusiast
Today’s compact cameras are incredibly advanced, and while the RX100 Mark IV is now a couple of years old, it’s hard to think of a camera that offers the same great balance of price, specs and portability. Despite the powerful partnership of a large 1in sensor and 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 optic at its heart, and a high-quality electronic viewfinder that pops up on demand, it somehow manages to be smaller and lighter than most other compacts.
And for anyone looking to travel light, it delivers plenty. The rear LCD screen flips up and round to face the front, while a maximum shutter speed of 1/32,000sec (with the electronic shutter) permits super high-speed motion to be captured with clarity. On the other end of the shutter-speed scale, a built-in ND filter allows for longer exposure than would be otherwise possible, as well as video recording in bright light. And all of this is before we get to 4K video, with slow-motion footage recorded at up to 1000fps too. It’s also wirelessly connected and charges through its USB port. Really, there’s little it can’t or doesn’t do.
The camera has been updated by both the RX100 Mark V and the recently announced Mark VI model, and these are worth considering if action or travel photography are more your thing. For everyone else after a more everyday camera for photography, the Mark IV's more modest feature set and price tag will no doubt suit you better.
08. Sony Cyber-shot RX10 III
The best travel camera for your holidays
Type: Compact | Sensor: 1in type | Megapixels: 20.1MP | Lens: 24-600mm f/2.8-4 | Monitor: 3in tilting screen, 1.228million dots | Viewfinder: EVF | Max burst speed: 14fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Enthusiast
The Sony RX10 III is another camera that has been updated since its launch but is still recommended for its price-to-spec sheet – particularly as it often subject to the odd cashback offer. So why is it so tempting for travel photography? The core combo of a stacked 1in sensor and an impressively bright 24-600mm (equiv) f/2.8-4 lens is mostly why it's so special, as you just don’t get that balance of sensor size, focal range and brightness in such a compact package anywhere else. But it’s the fact that these features are both excellent performers, rather than marketing highlights, that makes the camera such a pleasure to use.
Thankfully the lens is primed with a very effective image stabilisation system to keep everything crisp. Meanwhile, 4K video recording is augmented by a range of supporting technologies and recording options, including both headphone and microphone ports and a raft of slow-motion shooting options. The weather-sealed body is also a massive bonus for those traveling through the odd patch of inclement weather, while the ergonomics allow you to get the kind of purchase that you’d normally have to turn to to a DSLR for.
Don't need such a humongous optic? The older Sony RX10 Mark II provides much the same but with a 24-200mm (equiv) lens. Feeling fancy and want something more powerful? The newer RX10 Mark IV boasts a superior 315-point phase-detect AF system and a touchscreen, and a faster 24fps burst rate on top of sundry changes.
09. GoPro HERO7 Black
The best action camera for adventures, now with super-stabilisation
Type: Action camera | Sensor: 1/2.3in | Megapixels: 12MP | Monitor: 2in, touch-screen LCD | Viewfinder: None | Max burst speed: 30fps | Movies: 4K at 60fps | User level: Beginner/Enthusiast
With each new HERO model, GoPro has been perfecting its action camera formula, so much so that you could have been forgiven for wondering how on earth they would improve on the 4K-shooting HERO6. The answer, as it turned out, lay in video stabilisation. The GoPro HERO7 boasts an ultra-smooth stabilisation system that keeps your footage smooth and professional-looking even in the choppiest of environments, as though you had the camera mounted on a sophisticated gimbal.
This isn’t the only improvement. The HERO7 will shoot Full HD at a super-slow frame rate of 240fps, meaning you can capture smooth slow-motion footage, and on the stills side, new intelligent automated shooting technology allows the camera to analyse any given shooting situation and selectively apply HDR, noise reduction and local tone mapping to make the finished shot as good as it can be.
If, however, you prefer to have complete control over the look of your shots, the GoPro HERO7 also shoots in RAW format. Alongside these, you’ve also got all the usual GoPro hallmarks – waterproofing down to 10m, built-in GPS and instant clip sharing (now with livestreaming capabilities).
All this tech doesn’t exactly come cheap. However, if budget is an issue, consider the Silver and White HERO7 models, which sacrifice a few features for a more affordable price point.
Also read: The best cheap GoPro deals for filmmakers
10. Canon PowerShot SX620 HS
The best camera under £200/$250
Type: Superzoom compact | Sensor: 1/2.3in | Megapixels: 20.2MP | Lens: 25-625 (equiv.) f/3.2-6.3 | Monitor: 3in fixed LCD, 922k dots | Viewfinder: No | Max burst speed: 2.5fps | Max video resolution: Full HD (1080p) | User: Beginner
Smartphones may have shrunk the compact camera market to a fraction of its former size, but the presence of cameras like the PowerShot SX620 HS prove that there are still good reasons for the two formats to co-exist. After all, what smartphone offers a stabilised 25x optical zoom range that stretches from 25-625mm (in 35mm terms), together with the SX620 HS’s level of physical control?
Despite its beefy focal range, Canon has designed the camera with a svelte body that will still slip inside your pocket without any bother. This makes it great for those after a basic travel camera that’s as happy to hone in on far-off details as it will capture sweeping landscapes. And with Wi-Fi and NFC on board, you can quickly get your creations out into the wider world without hassle.
If you’re after something similar but don’t quite need that monstrous zoom, the arguably more handsome IXUS 285 HS is worth popping on your shortlist.
11. Google Pixel 3
The best camera phone for creatives
Megapixels: 12.2MP | Max video resolution: 2160p | Secondary camera: 8Mp | Operating system: Android 9 Pie | Screen size: 5-inch | Battery: 2915mAh
The Google Pixel 3's smartphone camera may not boast the highest resolution or the largest aperture among its rivals, but you can’t argue with the images it produces. Its Android-powered smart learning means it gets better over time at optimising itself for different shooting situations, and the dedicated Pixel Visual Core chip that’s powering it gives the camera a real edge. The consistency of the Pixel 3’s camera is simply remarkable – to borrow an old saw from a rival company, it just works. It does well in low light, and has an impressive digital zoom mode that allows you to get closer with a minimal drop in quality.
You’ll be previewing your images on a gorgeous 5.5-inch screen, which is a nice size for one-handed operation. The downsides? Well, the battery life could be better – if you spend a day shooting, you’ll definitely want to bring along a portable charger – and 4GB of RAM is arguably a little underwhelming given that many rivals are providing 6GB. These are small gripes though, and if you have any interest in smartphone photography for your creative work, the Pixel 3 is a fantastic choice.
If you like things super-sized and don’t mind spending a little more, you can spring for the Google Pixel 3 XL. You do get a larger battery on the XL, however the effect is mitigated in real terms by the increased power drain of the larger screen. Ultimately we think that for price and comfort of operation, the Pixel 3 is your best bet.