2019 Buying Guide: Best cameras for beginners
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Good as your smartphone is, a dedicated camera will generally take better images. It doesn’t have to be complicated, though. Here we look at the beginner-friendly cameras that aim to make it easy to get better photos without necessarily having to learn about f-numbers and shutter speeds. We're also including a camera that offers more advanced controls for those who want to go beyond the basics.
Our Pick: Canon EOS Rebel SL2 (EOS 200D)
The Rebel SL2 is a very lightweight, compact DSLR with excellent JPEG rendering and manual exposure controls when you're ready for them. It provides a few useful features that beginners will likely find useful, like a touchscreen and quick Dual Pixel autofocus in live view, and still offers the traditional (albeit small) optical viewfinder that its mirrorless peers lack.
You'll have plenty of options when you decide to add new lenses to your kit, but you'll already be well-equipped to get started with the kit lens. Finally, Canon's useful Feature Assistant beginner mode will ease you into the wide world of setting shutter speed and aperture.
Also consider: Olympus OM-D E-M10 III
The Olympus OM-D E-M10 III has a lot of premium features, such as built-in image stabilization, a high-res electronic viewfinder, dual control dials and 4K video capture, but it's also remarkably accessible to beginners, assuming that they don't wander into the confusing menu system.
Despite all that tech, the SLR-styled E-M10 III manages to have a capable Auto mode, twenty-seven scene modes, several time-lapse models and fun 'Art Filters' to make your pictures more interesting. The camera is responsive, well-built and has an autofocus system that handles most situations well. Its photos look great straight out of the camera, though they can be overly saturated in Auto mode.
With its abundant controls and expansive feature set, the E-M10 III is a great option that won't intimidate novice users, but will give them plenty of room to grow when they're ready to.
We considered all of the cameras below when picking our winner, and even though we think the SL2 and E-M10 III are our top picks, the cameras on our short list are all worthy contenders. If you're not convinced by our choices, read through this buying guide for a detailed breakdown of each camera's strengths and weaknesses.
- Canon EOS M100
- Canon EOS Rebel SL3 (EOS 250D)*
- Canon EOS Rebel T7 (EOS 2000D)*
- Canon EOS RP
- Nikon D3500*
- Sony a5100
* This camera has not been reviewed and is thus not eligible for an award.