Finding the best digital camera in 2021 that will meet all your needs can be a bit of a challenge, even for the most seasoned of photographers. While many manufacturers still create some of the best point and shoot digital cameras, the market has turned its attention toward advanced models that carry higher price points. Advanced digital cameras include DSLR cameras, full-frame mirrorless cameras with interchangeable lens (ILCs), as well as fixed lens cameras. And while these cameras have a higher price point (topping out at over $3,000), they offer excellent image quality that often exceeds that of instant cameras. If you want to use any of these cameras for wildlife photography, you might also be interested in our review of the DSLR red sight dot (makes for killer wildlife photography) and the best DSLR cameras.
We focused on a wide variety of options for our review and came up with the 15 different digital cameras to purchase and test in person. During our testing, we focused mainly on image quality, but also took into account other features like the camera’s build quality and video recording capabilities. After taking landscape pictures, selfies and more, we have crowned the Canon PowerShot SX530 as the best digital camera for 2021 because of its huge zoom lens, superb image sensor size and overall reliability. Keep reading to learn more about this option and the other four best digital cameras you can buy.
Top 5 Best Digital Cameras Compared
#1 Canon PowerShot SX530 Digital Camera
Award: Top Pick/Best Image Quality
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Canon PowerShot SX530 is a super versatile digital camera with strong image quality and a powerful zoom lens. We think it is among the best cameras you can buy.
If you’re looking to capture images from a distance without sacrificing quality, you’ll definitely need to consider the PowerShot SX530.
Read Full Review: Canon PowerShot SX530 Review
- Best optical zoom on our list
- Includes Wi-Fi and NFC functionality
- Responsive overall performance
- Most expensive option on our list
- Focus speed while zoomed can be slow
- No electronic viewfinder
The PowerShot SX530 from Canon offers tremendous versatility thanks to its 50x optical zoom lens and its overall snappy performance. Image quality here is much better than what you find in a typical large zoom, fixed lens camera, which means you’ll have no problem making large prints from this Powershot. Because the SX530 has a large number of features that outperform the majority of large zoom lens cameras, this unit is one of the best on the market, especially when you use it as a travel camera or for blogging applications. It would’ve been nice if Canon had found a way to include a viewfinder with this model, but it’s still a very strong camera.
Unfortunately, the SX530 can struggle to focus quickly when fully zoomed in, which is the only gripe we had about such a large zoom lens. The good thing is that this small downside is by no means a make or break feature that you’ll need to worry about too much. You also get full HD 1080p video recording at 30 frames per second, a feature we were surprised to see here. We were pleased with both the image and video quality we were able to capture with the PowerShot SX530, which is why this super-zoom camera made our top pick. It could certainly be the best travel camera for you.
#2 Sony DSCW800 Digital Camera
Award: Honorable Mention/Best Point and Shoot
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Sony DSCW800/B is a very fast point and shoot camera that offers amazing image quality in a thin, compact package. The low price point also doesn’t hurt.
Read Full Review: Sony DSCW800
- Incredibly user friendly
- Ultra compact
- High-performance Xenon flash
- No 1080p video
- Plastic build feels cheap
- No Wi-Fi
With a powerful Super HAD CCD image sensor, you’re going to be hard-pressed to find a compact point-and-shoot camera with better image quality than the Sony DSCW800/B. The sensor offers an impressive 20.1 MP in it’s ultra-compact frame, and the size of the CCD sensor allows the Sony to outperform the other compact cameras we tested.
The Sony DSCW800/B unfortunately doesn’t offer much in the ways of optical zoom with only a 5x lens, but you do get several other features that are worth noting. Specifically, you get Sony’s SteadyShot image stabilization, which keeps your pictures crisp and clear, along with a 360-degree sweep panorama option for a more unique picture. The LCD display here is another really strong feature, with a diagonal 2.7 inches of colorful display that allows you to view your pictures whenever you’d like. The Sony DSCW800/B is a great point and shoot camera that won’t leave you disappointed. For great deals read about the best digital camera under $200.
#3 Canon PowerShot ELPH 180 Digital Camera
Award: Best Value/Best Compact
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Canon PowerShot ELPH 180 is the most compact camera on our list, measuring in at only 0.87 inches thick. Fortunately, this compact digital camera is packed full of features, so you’re not missing out just because of the small size.
Read Full Review: Canon PowerShot ELPH 180 Review
- Super compact design
- Large and colorful display
- Great for beginners
- No 1080p video
- Doesn’t offer much in manual controls
- Doesn’t do well in dim lighting
If you’re looking for a digital camera that won’t get in the way of the rest of your things, look no further than the Canon PowerShot ELPH 180. It’s the perfect point-and-shoot camera to take on trips or while you’re on the go. The ELPH 180 offers you a ton of useful features in its tiny, 0.87-inch frame. For starters, this 20 MP digital camera uses a CCD sensor and additional image stabilization features that help you take the best pictures possible.
Of course, considering the price and size of this digital camera, you won’t be able to achieve similar image quality as premium digital cameras, especially in dim lighting. However, we were overall very pleased with the images we were able to capture with the ELPH during our testing. The camera also features an 8x optical zoom and impressively large display (5 inches), which makes this one of the best cameras for beginners. You don’t get full HD video camera capabilities, but considering everything else you get with the Canon PowerShot ELPH 180, we just couldn’t pass it by. If you need something more rugged, check out the best waterproof camera.
#4 Yisence Waterproof Camera
Award: Best Budget/Best Waterproof
WHY WE LIKE IT: When you’re on an adventure, you want to be able to take pictures of everything, even underwater. With the Yisence waterproof digital camera, you can take pictures underwater without a worry.
Read Full Review: Yisence Waterproof Camera Review
- Fully waterproof
- Most affordable on the list
- Unique “selfie” display
- Display isn’t very high resolution
- Can only go 10 ft deep
- Controls aren’t as intuitive
There aren’t tons of high-quality waterproof cameras out there unless you want to explore the expensive GoPro territory, which is why the Yisence waterproof digital camera is a refreshing addition to our list of best digital cameras. Obviously, the most attractive feature about this camera is its waterproof design that doesn’t require any kind of attachment or box. While you can only go 10 feet underwater for up to an hour at a time, you’ll still get excellent underwater pictures without much effort.
The Yisence digital camera also includes a unique, dual-display design so you can more easily take selfies and get them right on the first shot. In addition to the display on the back of the camera, there is also a smaller display on the front of the camera so you can see what you’re shooting in “selfie mode”. We were surprisingly impressed with this feature, although the display doesn’t offer the highest resolution we’ve experienced. If you need something a little more rugged and 100% waterproof, then you can’t pass up the Yisence waterproof digital camera. You may also want to read about the best underwater camera.
#5 Longin Digital Camera
Award: Best Beginner
WHY WE LIKE IT: Starting the journey to becoming a photographer can be a complicated and expensive one, which is where the Longin digital camera comes into plan. This digital camera is affordable and easy to learn, giving you superb images straight out of the box.
Read Full Review: Longin Digital Camera
- Super easy to use
- 2.7K video recording
- Tilting display
- Disappointing optical zoom
- Design feels a little cheap
- Battery drains too fast during video recording
If you’re a photographer just starting out, you’re probably hesitant to drop a ton of money and time into a brand new DSLR camera. And while digital SLR cameras are something you should aim for eventually, the Longin digital camera is an excellent starting point, especially if you’re on a budget. With a 24 MP still image resolution and 2.7K video resolution (2704×1520), you’ll be equipped with a powerful little camera capable of taking high-quality photos and videos with ease.
And while the display isn’t a tilting touchscreen, it still does tilt up to 180 degrees vertically, giving you a ton of flexibility in getting your shots. During our testing, this was one of our favorite features. Overall, the design of the Longin digital camera is good, but it does feel a little plasticky and almost too lightweight, creating a cheaper feel than what we typically like to see. That being said, we didn’t run into any durability issues. These features and its ease of use make the Longin digital camera our top pick for beginners. Also check out the best mirrorless camera.
What To Look For
The best digital camera brands generally offer models that meet a few key criteria.
Image Quality: First, you’ll want to seek out a camera that can achieve excellent image quality, which means crisp clean images without much noise. Whether you’re planning to make large prints or share photos on social media, still image quality should be a top priority. And while picture quality is subjective, there are generally a few top brands and models that stand out again and again. So pay close attention to user feedback; there is no harm in basing your purchase off anecdote. It should meet your needs. You wouldn’t get the best vlogging camera for underwater sightseeing after all.
Easy to Use: Second, the camera should be easy to use. Dials and controls should be distinct and fairly intuitive. Moreover, the menus should be easy to navigate, clean, fast and need little explanation. If you’re constantly searching through the manual for the answer then this camera isn’t for you. For those new to digital photography, but who are familiar with smartphone navigation, finding a camera with a touchscreen LCD can be easier to use than one without a touchscreen. Another element of ease of use is the size of the camera. Some people may find a thin point and shoot camera is easier to use because it fits in a pocket, while a more advanced camera will be thicker and may require a camera bag to carry it, which will require more planning on your part.
Value: Third, there’s no point in paying for a bevy of features that you’ll never take advantage of. So keep in mind what you’re going to use the camera for or the task at hand. For instance, do you need 4k video recording, manual exposure or aperture settings? WiFi connectivity is great, but is it a necessity? Create a list noting the must haves and the “it would be nice to have”. In short, you want your top camera choice to feel like it’s of good value, which means leveraging all or the majority of the camera’s capabilities.
Read: Best DSLR Camera 2021
Most Important Digital Camera Features
- Image sensor:
- You can think of the image sensor of a digital camera as being similar to the film in a film camera.
- The image sensor measures the light traveling through the lens using pixels, which are tiny light sensitive elements on the sensor. The image sensor then converts each element’s measurement of the light to a digital number, allowing a processor to recreate the image on a display screen.
- Cameras with 1-inch sensors (in physical size) will typically outperform a camera that makes use of a smaller image sensor size, because a larger image sensor will contain larger light sensitive elements, allowing them to measure the light more accurately than smaller elements.
- While the number of megapixels a camera can record — its resolution — is important in terms of image quality, don’t make the mistake of solely relying on resolution when comparing cameras.
- Resolution plays a role in image quality, but it’s not the only factor. The quality of the image sensor weighs big on this and if the sensor can’t produce a clean image, those extra megapixels will become moot.
- A 20 megapixel camera will have 20 million light sensitive elements on the image sensor. With high-resolution pictures, the best digital picture frame in your house will always be up to date.
- Zoom lens:
- If you’re looking at fixed lens digital cameras, only pay attention to the optical zoom measurement of the lens.
- Optical zoom magnifies the scene without sacrificing image quality, unlike digital zoom.
- An interchangeable lens camera, either a mirrorless ILC or a DSLR, can make use of multiple lenses. An interchangeable lens that can make use of a range of focal lengths is a zoom lens. You also can purchase prime lenses with an interchangeable lens camera, which only use one focal length.
- It can be challenging to find digital cameras that include a viewfinder, which is the small window on the back of the camera that you’ll look through to frame the scene.
- A viewfinder was the only way to frame a scene using a film camera, so some photographers are used to using a viewfinder with a camera.
- Additionally, when shooting photos in bright sunlight, it can be tough to see the LCD screen to frame a scene because of glare on the screen, so a viewfinder can alleviate this potential problem.
- More and more of today’s best WiFi digital cameras work with a smartphone app, rather than connecting directly to a WiFi network.
- WiFi connectivity allows you to transfer photos directly to your smartphone, tablet or computer and even in some instances allows instantaneous review of your captured memories.
- Remember, WiFi connectivity doesn’t eliminate the need for a memory card slot. In fact, we recommend buying a digital camera with both options available. A card slot is important.
- Touchscreen display
- A touchscreen camera is helpful for beginners, because the touchscreen usually makes it easy to use. But they’re not all built the same and nor is the user interface.
- Still Image Speed
- When shooting in burst mode, action cameras will be able to record a certain number of frames per second, which is great for fast-moving subjects or moments when you’re not sure when the action will transpire.
- Still image continuous shooting speed is different from shutter speed, which is the speed with which the shutter on the camera remains open, measured in tiny fractions of a second. The still image continuous speed measures the ability of the camera to recover from recording one photo and being prepared to record the next one.
- Video Recording Mode
- Still image cameras have become very good at recording movies, and different resolutions and frame speeds are available.
- Today, some cameras offer 4k video as well as 4k output. But again, not all are built the same. At the very least look for a camera that can capture full HD video, as in 1080p.
- The cameras with the best video recording modes also tend to have quick autofocus systems, allowing you to only need to worry about getting the shot without having to manually focus.
- Maximum ISO Setting
- A camera’s ISO setting will determine the image sensor’s sensitivity to light, and a high maximum ISO setting means a camera may have good low light performance.
- Good low light performance is reflected in how noisy the image is as the scene gets darker and darker. The best low light cameras, such as the Sony A7S, are expensive, but shoot images with little noise despite the lack of ambient light.
- Noise is equivalent to stray pixels, or incorrectly recorded pixels, that can appear in low light photo.
Which Digital Camera Is Right for You?
As you can see from these digital camera reviews, the current camera market features intermediate and advanced cameras that offer top-end image quality and plenty of add-on features. Some of these types of cameras can carry a hefty price tag, but it’s impossible to duplicate the sharpness and vibrancy of the photos you can create with these models, even if you’re using the best compact digital camera or a top-end camera phone. If you have the room in your budget, the Canon PowerShot SX530 is one of the best camera deals out there that provides great image quality while remaining easy to use. Or if you want to save a little money with a fixed lens camera, and you’re looking for something more waterproof and rugged, the Yisence is a terrific choice. For further reading, go to our how to choose the best digital camera for your needs.
Other cameras that almost made our list include Nikon’s D3500 DSLR camera, the Canon EOS 5D Mark II (Along with the Mark II, the Canon EOS Rebel SL3 is also a good pick), Olympus OMD EM10, Kodak Pixpro, Nikon D500, and the Panasonic Lumix S1.
Learn More About Best Digital Cameras
Gadget Review brings you expert digital camera reviews on professional and consumer electronics including the best digital cameras from companies such as Canon, Nikon, Panasonic, Samsung, Sony and more. We have also reviewed the best camera for filmmaking on a budget. We provide specifications, advice, ratings and comparisons of the best DSLR cameras and DSLR camera bundles, point-and-shoot digital cameras, top rated waterproof cameras, point-and-shoot digital camera bundles, waterproof cameras, and 3D cameras.
Digital Cameras have revolutionized photography. The technology first emerged in consumer markets in the 1990’s and eventually replaced most film cameras in the 2000’s. The DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex) is widely popular among professionals and amateurs alike, with the ability to swap lenses depending on situation. MILCs (Mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras) are also becoming an alternative to DSLRs, with some models featuring full-frame professional image sensors and even rivaling the best digital cameras.
How Can You Pick The Best Digital Cameras
We offer reviews for the best consumer electronics including the best digital cameras which are products of companies like Panasonic, Canon, Sony and Nikon like panasonic lumix canon eos, nikon d850 and nikon z7.
Our digital camera reviews include specifications, image quality, price point, image stabilization, battery life, ratings, advice, and comparisons of the best DSLR cameras, DSLR camera bundles, 3D cameras, waterproof cameras, vlogging cameras, wi fi cameras, 4k video, waterproof cameras, point and shoot cameras, and bundles
Digital cameras or bridge cameras first emerged in the 1990s and have revolutionized photography since then. In case of entry level DSLR camera, lenses like zoom lens, wide angle and optical zoom can be swapped as required.
They are popular with both professionals and amateurs. MILCs like a7 iii mirrorless cameras are also popular with many features.
Every home should have point and shoot cameras or a compact camera that has fixed lenses. While they may not match DSLRs in quality, they are a more practical option. Other cameras like waterproof and 3D digital cameras provide for specialized shooting.
We at Gadget Review save your research time by reviewing top digital cameras and providing ratings from experts to help you buy, and digital camera comparisons for the best cameras you can buy.