Top five cameras for 2020
By Hollie Hennessy
Our expert view on the best digital cameras tested at Which?. All models deliver excellent picture quality and are easy to use.
The best digital camera for you
Camera technology has moved on in recent years – resolution, speed and picture quality have all improved, meaning you can pick up an excellent camera for a great price. Here, we round up the very best cameras among the hundreds we test each year. Whether you're looking for a point-and-shoot compact model, a bridge camera that offers you more control or a DSLR or mirrorless model that will deliver the ultimate in picture quality, you'll find our top-scoring models below.
|Camera||Click for full review||Overall picture quality||Ease of use||Score|
|This is a high-end compact camera that is suitable for photography and video enthusiasts alike. It supports 4K video, and the quality was brilliant in our testing. Still-image quality is also top-notch, and there are plenty of extra premium features you'd more likely see on a bridge camera or DSLR, such as multi-function rings to set aperture and manual focus. Find out which camera we're talking about by logging in or taking a Which? trial.|
|A fantastic premium compact camera that takes high-quality photos, even in low light. It's fast to start up, it can take more continuous shots and has a grip which makes it super-comfortable to hold. Plus, there's a wide range of image settings, meaning this camera is a great alternative to a larger DSLR. It also impressed us slightly more than its successor – although, this is also a brilliant choice. Find out which camera we're talking about by logging in or taking a Which? trial.|
This is a bridge camera with a fantastic sensor capable of capturing very good detail in photos, even in low light. It's expensive (almost as much as some DSLR and mirrorless models), but you'll be hard pressed finding something similar in the same price range, with the same focal length, image stabilisation and 4K video recording. Find out which camera we're talking about by logging in or taking a Which? trial.
This model leads the way in photography. It's an outstanding compact system camera, scoring higher than all other mirrorless and DSLR models we've tested. Image quality is superb, as is video quality – and it has all the features you'd expect of a camera fit for professional use, such as a high adjustable ISO, 12fps continuous shooting, high-end vibration reduction, a full range of touch controls, plus plenty of controls and dials. Find out which camera we're talking about by logging in or taking a Which? trial.
|While this isn't a DSLR for professionals, if you're a beginner or enthusiast photographer looking to make the step up from a point-and-shoot or bridge model, this is a brilliant choice. It's super reasonably priced and opens up a world of additional possibilities with the ability to change lens. It's also less bulky than other DSLRs, simple to use and offers 4K video recording, which isn't something we always see with DSLRs. Find out which camera we're talking about by logging in or taking a Which? trial.|
What type of camera should you buy?
The first thing to think about when buying a new camera is how you intend to use it. This will help your decision when choosing between the different types on the market, from waterproof, rugged models to high-end, professional DSLR or mirrorless cameras.
If you're into sport or action photography, a tough camera will let you be adventurous with your shooting locations, without worrying about breaking it. If you're a beginner, not interested in learning more about photography, but need something that does the job on special occasions or family holidays – an inexpensive compact is for you. For enthusiasts (beginner or not) premium compact, bridge and even entry-level DSLRs or mirrorless models will give you that extra bit of creative freedom, with the ability to control settings such as aperture, shutter speed and ISO sensitivity, without being too difficult to use.
Of course, if you're a pro photographer or on the way to becoming one, DSLR or mirrorless models have the largest sensors, highest resolutions and capacity for better picture quality.
To find out more about the different types of digital cameras and their various features, read our guide on which type of digital camera you should choose.
How much should you spend on a camera?
Camera prices vary greatly depending on which type you're buying.
Looking at compact cameras, it's around £60 for a basic point-and-shoot model. However, the best compact cameras are premium or high-end models and can cost as much as mirrorless or DSLR cameras. You can expect to pay up to £1,200, although the average price for a Best Buy compact is £805 – still a substantial investment. That said, there are Best Buys from around £450.
Waterproof models tend to be cheaper, although they're not particularly impressive in terms of image quality. These are around £149 to £399.
Bridge cameras sit in between compacts and interchangeable lens cameras. You can get a cheap one for less than £200, but our cheapest Best Buy is £500. Some, such as premium compacts, are much more expensive – up to £1,200.
Interchangeable lens models are the most expensive. Although they begin at around £300 for beginner models, if you're a professional photographer, some kits can cost up to £5,000. There are a wide range of DSLR and mirrorless cameras on the market, and a wide range of prices. Our Best Buy mirrorless models can cost anywhere between £442 to £4,199.
What makes a good digital camera?
- Sensor – More so than megapixels, it's the sensor which really determines the capability of the camera. The sensor is the part of the camera that is sensitive to light, and the larger the sensor, the more light it can let in. This is important, especially in low-light conditions. Basic compact cameras and waterproof models tend to have smaller sensors. DSLR and mirrorless models often have larger sensors, which means they're far more equipped to take high-quality images in different lighting conditions.
- Megapixels – That's not to say the resolution (Mp) doesn't matter – this is important if you want to blow your image up, if you're taking professional photographs or are keen on printing large photos to display around the home. The higher the resolution, the more pixels and detail the image should theoretically have. However, this must be combined with a big enough sensor to make the difference. The very best system cameras, which professionals use, will have a large sensor, plus a high resolution, to make images suitable for commercial photography. For a standard print, even a 5Mp camera can do the job.
- Zoom – If you're keen on zooming, look out for a camera with an optical zoom. This means the lens is actually zooming, rather than the camera digitally enlarging the pixels, which can sacrifice image quality.
- Build – Some models will have brilliant grips and be made out of sturdy plastic or metal. The best will also have well-placed buttons that are easy to press. Some cameras are also weather-sealed. Although this doesn't make them waterproof, it will protect them from the elements.
- Connectivity – It can be a pain to transfer your images over to your computer with a cable, especially as they're small and easy to misplace. Most modern models offer wireless connectivity, meaning you can transfer photos over a Bluetooth or wi-fi connection. The best also allow other features such as live view and shutter release, so you can see what the camera is shooting and take a photo without having to touch the camera.
We test cameras more thoroughly than anyone else
Our tests go further than those carried out by other organisations, and because Which? is independent and does not accept advertising or freebies, you can trust our reviews to give you the full, honest and impartial truth about a product.
Which? tests more than 100 cameras a year. We put every model through our rigorous lab tests to make sure we can recommend the best camera for you.
There's nothing more important with a camera than the quality of the pictures it takes and that's why when we test cameras we take indoor shots, outdoor shots, and put the flash and zoom through its paces. This lets us give you clear advice on which models can take great shots which ones will give you blurred lines and red eyes.
But we also go beyond picture quality. Will the automatic scene modes and auto-focus give you a decent snap, can you see what you're shooting on the viewfinder and how easy is it to use?