The often addressed but seemingly difficult to answer question, ‘What is a good camera for photography in 2018?’ plagues entry-level and advanced photographers alike. This is a challenging question first and foremost because all cameras these days are of good quality. But what is the best camera for you? If you’ve outgrown the point-and-shoot camera, you may be looking for the best DSLR camera or possibly the best compact camera. Your specific use case is extremely important in the decision, so I’ll give you a little help on that as well.
When you’re considering a new camera, determining what it will be used for will give you a good starting place for finding the perfect model for you. Especially if you’re getting your first camera or you’re not invested in a particular system already, the number of choices can be overwhelming. By considering your needs and being honest with yourself, you can narrow those choices down quickly.
The Entry-Level Model
If you’re a hobbyist or simply picking up your first camera to start working with something more capable than your phone, it’s hard to recommend anything other than a mirrorless camera. A few years back, I’d have suggested you opt for an entry-level DSLR but for the same cost now, you can get a more capable and easier to use mirrorless camera system.
The Sony Alpha a6300 or Sony Alpha a6500 are great options, or even the older Sony RX10 Mark II (or Sony RX100 if you are willing to max out on your spending). They have a modern styling and superior autofocus. They have all the bells and whistles of good low-light performance, WiFi connectivity and battery life, not to mention good lenses for pairing.
Both cameras have good autofocus systems that help to create great image quality when you’re just starting out and give you enough room to grow into the system should you begin to take photography more seriously down the road. Sony doesn’t necessarily create the best mirrorless cameras (there are Nikon, Canon and Olympus counterparts) but these are great options based on my experience.
The Intermediate Model
Here’s where things get a little trickier. Once you’ve learned a little about photography, your needs start to become a little more specific. You’re starting to have a style you like to shoot in, a subject matter that interests you, or perhaps specific features that make your life easier. It’s at this point that you need to decide which camera or full-frame camera best suit your needs. Nevertheless, I’m going to go out on a limb here and recommend a single camera for the intermediate user, especially the one looking to take their photography craft as far as possible.
This time around, I’m actually going to offer up an older model that still holds strong in 2018: the Nikon D750. This is Nikon’s true all-rounder and can be purchased at a great price point. This robust and extremely well thought out DSLR camera is still a favorite among many photographers. It may not be the latest release but it still packs everything you need into a compact DSLR full-frame camera. Even in 2018, this is a good camera for photography at all levels.
The Advanced Model
At the high-end of things, there really are no bad choices. All manufacturers have poured their best technologies into their cameras and the results are spectacular.
There is one camera that truly stands out this year, however, and that is the Nikon D850. It draws on everything that makes Nikon the company they are and improves on it. The autofocus system is fast and accurate. The controls are at your fingertips so for most of your shooting you’ll never even have to look at the menu system. Nikon’s lens catalog is nothing short of stellar and this high resolution, full-frame sensor will get the best out of those lenses for you. Plus, it offers Nikon’s SnapBridge Bluetooth connectivity to make transferring images easier.
Use Case One
This photographer is somewhat of a “jack of all trades.” She has a lot of experience and needs a good camera of her own to get the job done. In the past, she has used her company cameras (Canon EoS Rebel) but is now doing more of her own freelance work and needs her own camera. She works a mixture of corporate events (fast autofocus, good low-light performance), some architectural work (a wide selection of lenses, including tilt-shift options), various editorial assignments from food to portraits, and some weddings.
She doesn’t mind carrying a little weight and just wants one camera system that will get all this work done and will be great for continuous shooting. The lack of tilt-shift lenses knocks Fujifilm or Sony out for her, so she’s looking at Canon or Nikon. As she is familiar with Canon, we’ll look at a Canon camera. She doesn’t need the resolution of the 5DS R or the burst rate of the 1D, so in this case, I would recommend the 5D Mark IV. This is the camera that will get all of her jobs done and offer an iso range, shooting speed and zoom range she is familiar and happy with.
Use Case Two
Unlike our previous photographer, number two has little experience. However, he is eager to learn. He is looking for something easy to use in a small package that produces great quality. Although he’s not looking to become a professional photographer, he would like a camera that he can grow with. So, the demands of a professional do not need to be there, but the option to expand should be. He’s not fond of computers and if at all possible, would like to keep the need for post-production to a minimum. He’d also like to be able to share images directly to his phone as he will be traveling a lot over the coming years and wants to send pictures home.
In this case, I would recommend a Fujifilm X-T20. This is a small body that is lightweight and has some excellent lenses that our photographer can grow into. Because it is a mirrorless camera, he is able to preview his images in an electronic viewfinder before he shoots them and see the changes he makes in live view. Fujifilm is also famous for its in-camera colors and the in-built WiFi will allow him to share his images on the go. The 4k video feature will allow him to share images as well as video.
Every camera in this article is capable of creating high image quality shots and some are more advanced than others but in 2018, nearly all cameras are fantastic machines. The recommendations on this list offers a dynamic range of options whether you’re shopping for an entry-level DSLR camera or simply looking for the best mirrorless camera out there. Once you’ve settled on a model or two, I recommend renting or borrowing to see how they feel. If you don’t like holding your camera, you won’t use it. Make sure it’s the right tool for you before you commit.