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Best camera 2019: The very best DSLRs, mirrorless cameras and compacts

What’s the best camera right now? The best camera for you may not necessarily be the best for another photographer: it really comes down to what you want to shoot and what kind of budget you have to play with. 

Right now, however, we reckon the Sony Alpha A7 III is the best camera for most people out there, from enthusiast photographers needing an all-round option for general use through to professionals who may be working across different applications. Its relatively small and light, takes great images and videos, and works with a growing collection of high quality lenses, both from Sony and many third parties. 

So what if you’re not quite sure what you need? It helps to think about a specific need, a price point, or a way of working. Perhaps you want to enter the world of mirrorless shooting and you’re on a tight budget? Maybe high-quality video recording is your focus? Or maybe you just want a small camera for holidays and travelling? Even starting from the question of whether you want a camera that can work with different lenses, our one that has one built into it, can immediately narrow your selection into something more manageable.

Part of the difficulty is that there is lots of crossover between formats. It’s possible, for example, to buy superzoom bridge cameras with huge lenses that rival the quality of DSLRs and mirrorless cameras under certain conditions. It’s also now possible to buy full-frame mirrorless cameras that are smaller than DSLRs that have smaller APS-C sensors.

If you demand the best quality of output, then an interchangeable-lens camera makes a lot of sense. Large sensors that can gather lots of light, combined with many lens options and the support of further accessories, make these the choice of discerning photographers worldwide. Don’t want to carry more than a compact camera for everyday use of travels? Then make sure it has a nice large 1-in sensor as this will elevate image quality beyond what we normally get from compacts. Or consider a bridge-style superzoom, as what you lose in portability over a compact you can gain in zoom range.

Here are the best cameras right now, whether you’re just looking to get started with more considered photographer or you’re a pro with greater demands or anyone in between.

1. Sony Alpha A7 III: Best camera overall

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Sony Alpha A7 III

A perfect all-rounder at a great price makes this our top pick

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Full frame | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Lens mount: Sony E | Screen: 3-inch tilting touchscreen, 921k dots | Continuous shooting speed: 10fps | Viewfinder: Electronic, approx. 2.3 million dots | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Enthusiast/professional

Great image and video quality
Sensor-based image stabilisation is a huge bonus
EVF could be higher in resolution
Menu system could be better

Sony worked hard to polish up the Alpha A7 II’s (position 7) feature set for this successor, and while some of its sheen has been rubbed away by newer models, the A7 III is still a hugely popular camera – and one many DSLR users have ended up switching too. Aside from its headline features (above), it lists sensor-based image stabilization, a hybrid autofocus system that covers around 93% of the frame and far better battery life than before among its star features. Sony has also been crafting some impressive lenses alongside, and now has 51 native options available too, but if you don’t quite have the budget for the body and a one of these lenses, option for the older Alpha A7 II would be a good alternative.

2. Nikon Z7: Best mirrorless camera

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Nikon Z7

Nikon first crack at the full-frame mirrorless market is mighty impressive

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Full frame | Megapixels: 45.7MP | Lens mount: Nikon Z | Screen: 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen, 2.1 million dots | Continuous shooting speed: 9fps | Viewfinder: Electronic, 3.69 million dots | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Enthusiast/professional

Small body but generous grip makes for great handling
Strong high ISO results 
AF system can struggle a little in low light
Only one card slot

Right now, if you want a mirrorless camera that can deliver on all key fronts, you’re looking at the likes of Sony’s Alpha A7R III, Nikon’s Z7 and Panasonic’s S1R – but it’s the Z7 that gets our vote. The first of two cameras that kickstarted the company’s latest Z series, the Z7 blends an excellent 45MP sensor with 4K video recording, a beautiful viewfinder and great handling thanks to a generously proportioned grip, but all in a body that’s lighter and more compact than the company’s equivalent DSLRs. You can use it with F-mount lenses thanks to the FTZ adapter, although partnering it with the NIKKOR Z 24–70mm f/2.8 S makes for a killer combination. Want something similar but different? The Sony Alpha A7R III is perhaps its closest rival right now.

3. Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II: Best cheap mirrorless camera

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Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark II

A prime example of an older model stack still packs a punch for a great price

Sensor size: Micro Four Thirds | Resolution: 16.1MP | Viewfinder: EVF, 2,360,000 dots | Monitor: 3-inch tilting touchscreen, 1,040,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting rate: 8.6fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Beginner/Intermediate

Sensor-based stabilisation is great
Lots of compact lenses to choose from
Menu system a little disorganized 
No 4K video

Olympus’s junior OM-D E-M10 line of cameras has long provided a more affordable alternative to its E-M5 and E-M1 models, and this second addition to the series is now at a great price point. While the newer E-M10 Mark III option delivers a couple of advantages – 4K video being the main one – the older Mark II option provides much the same camera elsewhere for a far nicer price. Key highlights include five-axis sensor-based image stabilisation to help steady videos and capture sharp stills, as well as a compact, well-built body and a detailed electronic viewfinder. For those use getting to grips with mirrorless cameras the want something with a little more growing space than the norm, the E-M10 Mark II is probably the best-value option right now.

4. Nikon D850: Best DSLR

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Nikon D850

A robust and rugged powerhouse that delivers on all fronts

Type: DSLR | Sensor: Full frame | Megapixels: 45.4MP | Lens mount: Nikon F | Screen: 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen, 2.36 million dots | Continuous shooting speed: 7fps | Viewfinder: Optical, approx 100% coverage | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Enthusiast/professional

High MP with fast burst rate
Supremely solid build 
Live view and video AF could be better
SnapBridge system needs work

Probably the most well-rounded, versatile DSLR out there, there D850 caters for enthusiast and professional photographers who need everything from speed and resolution through to high-quality video. The body is built from a weather-resistant magnesium alloy and is finished with buttons that can be illuminated for use in low light, while the generous 153-point AF system has 99 cross-type points to help keep things extra sensitive. Its ages has meant it’s dropped quite some way in price too, making it a cost-effective option for the landscape, wedding, sports or nature photographer - but if you don’t own any optics already, the AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8E ED VR would be a perfect partner. And if you need a full-frame Nikon DSLR but  money won't stretch this far, check out the Nikon D750.

5. Canon EOS Rebel SL2: Best cheap DSLR

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Canon EOS Rebel SL2

Not the newest entry-level DSLR but don’t let that put you off

Type: DSLR | Sensor: APS-C | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Lens mount: Canon EF | Screen: 3in vari-angle touchscreen, 1.04 million dots | Continuous shooting speed: 5fps | Viewfinder: Optical, approx. 95% coverage | Max video resolution: Full HD | User level: Beginner

Dual Pixel CMOS AF is great
Lots of lenses to choose from
No 4K video recording
Not as portable as similar mirrorless models

With the arrival of the EOS Rebel SL3, the EOS Rebel SL3 (also known as the EOS 200D outside the US) might not seem all that relevant. But if you don’t need 4K video and you’re happy shooting bursts of images at a maximum 5fps, you may as well go for this older offering and save yourself some cash. We love the Dual Pixel CMOS AF system that makes focus nice and swift when you're using live view and shooting videos, and that flip-out touchscreen is super responsive too. It'd be nice to see more AF points when you're using the viewfinder – there are only 11 here – but for most people this won't stop them from focusing where they need to.

6. Sony Alpha A9: Best camera for professionals

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Sony Alpha A9

A sports machine that recently gained powerful AF updates

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Full frame | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Lens mount: Sony E | Screen: 3in tilting touchscreen, 1.44million dots | Continuous shooting speed: 20fps | Viewfinder: Electronic, approx. 3.69million dots | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Professional

20fps burst shooting with no EVF blackout 
Excellent high-resolution viewfinder
Touchscreen could be better
UHS-II only in one card slot

Without question, the most serious threat to the likes of the Nikon D5 and Canon EOS-1D X Mark II, the A9 is a sports-focused powerhouse. The focusing system sticks to subjects like glue, and that's only gotten better thanks to a recent firmware update, while the 20fps burst shooting mode works without giving you any blackout in the viewfinder. The fact that Sony is focusing on bringing out some serious (if expensive) telephoto lenses to challenge Canon and Nikon further only makes it more credible for the action-shooting professional.

7. Sony Alpha A7 II: Best cheap full-frame camera

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Sony Alpha A7 II

This last-gen mirrorless model offers plenty for the budget-conscious enthusiast

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Full frame | Megapixels: 24.3MP | Lens mount: Sony E | Screen: 3-inch tilting, 1.23 million dots | Continuous shooting speed: 5fps | Viewfinder: Electronic, approx. 2.36 million dots | Max video resolution: Full HD | User level: Enthusiast/professional

Great image quality from the sensor
Sensor-based stabilisation a huge plus
LCD not touch-sensitive
No 4K video recording

While Nikon’s Z6 may be a great, affordable full-frame camera that many users have switched to, we reckon Sony’s A7 II is a better all-round option if you’re really looking to save money without compromising on quality. Right now, it’s significantly cheaper than the Z6 and offers such the same idea, such as a 24MP full-frame, a tilting LCD and sensor-based image stabilisation. It doesn’t have 4K video and its EVF isn’t quite as detailed by comparison, but in terms of value for money you’re not going to find a better full-frame option this cheap. The fact that it works with a healthy range of high-quality lenses from Sony and third parties also means that the case you save on the body can be put towards some tasty glass. We love it, but the A7 III (position 1) is a stronger option if you can stretch to it.

8. Panasonic Lumix ZS200: Best travel camera

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Panasonic Lumix ZS200

Huge lenses often mean tiny sensors - but not here

Type: Compact | Sensor: 1-inch | Megapixels: 20.1MP | Lens: 25-360mm f/3.3-6.4 | Screen: 3-inch touchscreen, 1.24 million dots | Continuous shooting speed: 10fps | Viewfinder: Electronic, | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Beginner/enthusiast

Versatile zoom lens with effective OIS system
Tough body
LCD doesn’t tilt
EVF could be better

Panasonic’s previous Lumix ZS100 was the first camera to manage squeezing a 1-inch sensor and a long zoom lens inside a still-pocketable body, making it an obvious candidate for holidays and travels. And the Lumix ZS200 (also known as the Lumix TZ200 outside the US) picks up where that camera left off, with a longer lens in tow, together with a better electronic viewfinder, a more detailed LCD and longer battery life. All of this makes it one of a kind, as its next closest rival - the Sony RX100 Mark IV - is still considerably much more expensive. If you don’t mind having a slightly shorter zoom, the previous Lumix ZS100 might be worth seeking out too, and if you want DSLR-style handling then the Sony RX10 III (position 12) is worth a look.

9. Sony RX100 IV: Best advanced point-and-shoot compact camera

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Sony RX100 IV

This diminutive, solidly built compact conceals a large sensor and a cracking lens

Type: Compact | Sensor: 1-inch | Megapixels: 20.1MP | Lens: 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 | Screen: 3-inch tilting, 1.23 million dots | Continuous shooting speed: 16fps | Viewfinder: EVF, 2.36million dots | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Enthusiast

Masses of tech inside a tiny body
Excellent image and 4K video quality
No in-camera raw processing
Handling could be better

The RX100 IV might be small enough to fit into most pockets, but in certain conditions it manages to produce images and videos that can rival those from interchangeable cameras. That’s largely down to a large 1-inch sensor, a sharp lens and Sony’s processing expertise. Somehow, Sony has even managed to find space for a high-quality EVF that hides inside the top plate when not in use. While the RX100 line has welcomed two excellent further models since the RX100 Mark IV’s release, their extra functionality comes with asking prices that place them out of the reach of many. And that’s why the RX100 Mark IV gets out vote, as it will deliver what the average user needs at a far more sensible price point.

10. Panasonic Lumix GH5: Best camera for video

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Panasonic Lumix GH5

The GH5 packs a slew of video tools not present in most other cameras

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: Four Thirds | Megapixels: 20MP | Lens mount: Micro Four Thirds | Screen: 3.2-inch vari-angle screen, 1.62-million dots | Continuous shooting speed: 9fps | Viewfinder: Electronic, approx. 3.69 million dots | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Professional

Excellent viewfinder 
Has dropped some way in price since launch
Relatively small sensor
V-Log not included as standard

Panasonic’s GH line of mirrorless cameras is aimed at those needing a little more video power than the average mirrorless camera offers, and the GH5 is (arguably) the most advanced model yet. While it’s older than the GH5S that followed it, the presence of sensor-based image stabilisation makes it a more flexible option for those needing to be more mobile, while the higher-resolution sensor produces more detailed stills. On top of a solid body of core specs there’s a host of additional video tools, from focus peaking and zebra through to a waveform monitor and vectorscope and support for anamorphic shooting. It’s also now been on the market long enough for its price to come down some way, making it something of a bargain. 

11. Fujifilm X-T30: Best cheap 4K camera for video

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Fujifilm X-T30

With plenty of tech from the X-T3, the X-T30 is a tiny and powerful video tool at a nice price

Type: Mirrorless | Sensor: APS-C | Megapixels: 26.1MP | Lens mount: Fujifilm X | Screen: 3-inch tilting touchscreen, 1.04-million dots | Continuous shooting speed: 8fps | Viewfinder: Electronic, approx. 2.36 million dots | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Enthusiast

Excellent image quality and great videos too
Comprehensive AF system with wide coverage 
Small body a bit fiddly at times
No sensor-based image stabilisation

The X-T30 takes the best bites from the excellent X-T3 and packs them into a learner and more affordable body. Indeed, it’s surprising just how much you get from the more senior camera here, from the 26.1MP X-Trans APS-C sensor and X-Processor 4 engine though to 4K video recording and a collection of popular Film Simulation modes. It’s nicely balanced with the XC 15-45mm F3.5-5.6 OIS PZ kit lens but if your budget has a little stretch, the XF18-55mmF2.8-4 R LM OIS would be recommended. Need something more powerful? The X-T3 is where to turn, although you get far better value for money here.

12. Sony RX10 III: Best bridge camera

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Sony RX10 III

DSLR-style control and handling with a powerful, stabilised optic

Type: Bridge-style superzoom | Sensor: 1-inch | Megapixels: 20.1MP | Lens: 24-600mm f/2.4-4 | Screen: 3-inch tilting, 1.23-million dots | Continuous shooting speed: 14fps | Viewfinder: Electronic, approx. 2.36 million dots | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Enthusiast

Reliable image quality
Very effective image stabilisation system
LCD not sensitive to touch
One of the priciest cameras of its kind

Superzoom cameras similar to the RX10 Mark III used to try to offer too much in too small a package, and compromises were obvious to see. But since Sony and Panasonic started to kit their models with large sensors, more modest lenses, the quality has improved markedly. And this is as good as it gets right now, with excellent image and 4K video quality and all the control those used to using interchangeable-lens cameras would expect. It’s a great option for wildlife, but if sports is your thing the RX10 Mark IV would be a better fit thanks to its phase-detect AF technology and speedier burst shooting capabilities.