Three best digital cameras

Kyle Schurman

Although people like to shoot photos with a smartphone camera, a dedicated digital camera yields better image quality and more shooting options.

Digital cameras are incredible pieces of technology. If you remember the days of film cameras, you've likely noticed that digital cameras have drastically changed the way people use and share images. Digital cameras allow photographers to edit and improve the quality of the images after they're shot, creating further benefits.

However, not all digital cameras are made the same. Some excel at creating extremely sharp and vibrant images. Some are able to work quickly, capturing fast-moving subjects. You may want a digital camera that excels in video recording as well as still image photographs. Or, you might need a camera with a big zoom lens.

To get the best image quality and camera performance, you need a digital camera that excels in the areas that match your photographic needs. With so many different designs and choices, finding the perfect camera is easier than ever.

Considerations when choosing digital cameras

If you want a digital camera with excellent image quality, pay attention to the physical size of the image sensor. This is the chip that measures the light entering the lens to record the photo. Large sensors do the best job of measuring light accurately.

The sensor size is a different measurement from the number of pixels the sensor can record, which is listed as megapixels. Although having more megapixels does yield a better-quality photograph, it's not as important as image sensor size.

In terms of camera body style, you can pick between fixed lens and interchangeable lens designs. A fixed lens is built into the camera body, so you can't swap it out for new lenses. The interchangeable lens may be replaced with another lens at any time to gain new features. However, you will end up paying extra over the long term with an interchangeable lens camera. The interchangeable lens camera probably will ship with one lens, but you'll need to purchase extra lenses separately.

Digital camera prices

Cameras are available in a wide range of prices; you could pay anywhere from $100 to several thousand dollars for a digital camera.

Basic: Point-and-shoot cameras, also called fixed lens cameras, run from about $100 to $1,000. These cameras have lenses built into the camera body, meaning they cannot be swapped out. They provide optical zoom lenses, but they normally don't offer top-quality image or video quality.

Mid-range: Mirrorless cameras make use of interchangeable lenses. They deliver very good image and video quality and tend to have fast performance levels. They are quite a bit thinner than DSLR cameras. Most mirrorless cameras fit in the $300 to $1,500 range.

Top-end: DSLR cameras use interchangeable lenses and provide the best image and video quality. What's more, they're extremely fast. Low-end DSLRs will lag behind the best mirrorless cameras in regards to these features. But nothing can match a high-end DSLR for performance, image, and video quality. DSLRs may cost anywhere from $500 to $5,000.


Q. What is the biggest advantage of a digital camera over a smartphone camera?

A. Digital cameras have lenses that can zoom in to the subject using optical zoom technology. A smartphone camera uses digital zoom technology. Optical zoom maintains the sharpness of the original image without software manipulation. Digital zoom uses software to magnify the individual pixels in the photo. This causes a degradation of image quality.

Q. Can a digital camera shoot video, too?

A. Yes. Digital cameras record both still images and video. Because of this feature, many people forego buying a digital camcorder and stick with a digital camera that can do both.

Digital cameras we recommend

Best of the best: Panasonic Lumix FZ300 4K Camera 

Our take: Easy-to-use fixed lens camera that delivers a big zoom lens and 4K video capabilities.

What we like: Offers a 24X optical zoom lens, which is perfect for shooting far-off subjects. Good image stabilization features, which is key with such a large zoom lens.

What we dislike: Cannot swap out lenses. Doesn't deliver image quality like a DSLR camera.

Best bang for your buck: Canon PowerShot SX420 Camera 

Our take: It's a small-body camera, but it gives beginning photographers a huge zoom lens. Slightly older camera, but the price is impressively low.

What we like: Small camera that you can carry and use easily. With a 42X optical zoom lens, you can shoot almost any target from far away.

What we dislike: Limited to 720p HD video recording capability.

Choice 3: Nikon D3300 DSLR Camera 

Our take: Great price for an entry-level DSLR camera. Will give you a high level of image quality, especially in tough shooting conditions.

What we like: Fixed-lens cameras just can't match the images you can shoot with a DSLR camera like this. For an advanced style of camera, it's pretty easy to use.

What we dislike: Purchasing extra interchangeable lenses will end up costing you a bit more over the long run.

Kyle Schurman is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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