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The 5 best cameras for beginners: Start your photography journey

What is the best camera for beginners? Walmart's Canon EOS 250D bundle is ZDNet's top choice. We researched and compared cameras based on their pricing, advanced features, and value.
Written by Charlie Osborne, Contributor on
Reviewed by Elyse Betters Picaro

Starting a hobby or a career in photography doesn't have to break the bank. 

While it can be tempting to go all-out and buy a DSLR or top-spec mirrorless camera off the bat, a selection of lenses for different effects, lighting equipment, and more, a less expensive route to go down is to purchase an entry-level camera. By going for a lower-spec and more affordable option first, you can learn the basics of photography and also find out where your particular interests lie, whether this is shooting live events, landscapes, portraits, or something else. 

By finding this out first and taking the time to learn, you can make a more informed decision later on about purchasing the best camera and kit for you. 

Below, you can find ZDNet's top choices for beginner cameras in 2022. 

Canon EOS 250D / Rebel SL3 bundle


  • A good entry-level DSLR
  • Bundled with case, strap, and memory storage 
  • Canon EF-S 18-55mm lens

Currently on sale at Walmart is a Canon bundle that has everything a new photographer needs. This offer stands out for its value for money: $629.99 gets you a Canon EOS 250D DSLR camera (also known as a Rebel SL3), an 18 - 55mm lens, a battery pack and charger, neck strap, creative filter set, camera bag, a cleaning kit, and a 64GB storage card. 

The camera itself is a lightweight, versatile DSLR containing a 24.1-megapixel CMOS sensor and a DIGIC 8 image processor, and an optical viewfinder. You can shoot video in up to 4K.


  • Excellent value for money
  • A complete kit with bag, memory card, and more


  • You will want to pick up another lens or two
Panasonic Lumix G7 mirrorless camera


  • 16MP Live CMOS sensor
  • 14 - 42mm lens (f/3.5-5.6) 
  • 4K UHD video capture

The Panasonic Lumix G7 mirrorless camera is a popular device that has been compared to some of the best mid-range DSLRs on the market. If you want a high-grade camera as a beginner and are also interested in streaming or videography, the Lumix G7 is a solid option.

The camera comes with a 16MP Live CMOS sensor, Wi-Fi connectivity, and Venus Engine 9 image processor. The G7 is capable of shooting at 8fps (AF & ISO 25600), or 4K UHD video at 30/24fps. 


  • Portable
  • Crisp, quality images
  • Touchscreen


  • Limited range lens (14 - 42mm)
Nikon Red COOLPIX B500 compact camera


  • Affordable 
  • Travel-friendly
  • 40x zoom

For years, the Nikon COOLPIX range has been known for being entry-level, user-friendly cameras. 

As a beginner in the photography world, you could do worse than opt for one, such as the Nikon Red COOLPIX B500, a small point-and-shoot camera that will introduce you slowly to some of the foundations of photography.

This camera comes with a 16-megapixel CMOS sensor, a 40x zoom (extendable, but be wary of potential image degradation), Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity, and vibration reduction. There's also a handy remote control function via a mobile app.


  • A great option for novice and beginner photographers
  • Inbuilt zoom


  • Basic functionality and image quality
  • Limited storage - you will need to buy a memory card
Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX100 III


  • 20.1 megapixel CMOS sensor
  • Full HD video capture
  • Bundle includes kit, bag, memory card

Currently on sale at Walmart with a hefty discount is the Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX100 III. This camera is equipped with a 20.1 megapixel Exmor CMOS sensor, a BIONZ X image processor, viewfinder, Wi-Fi connectivity, and a speedy 24 - 70mm f/1.8-2.8 lens.

The bundle also includes a carry case, a spare battery, 64 GB memory card and reader, a wrist strap, and cleaning products. 


  • Powerful lens for a compact
  • Modern pop-up viewfinder


  • Not the best option for low-light photography
  • LCD screen
Nikon D3500 DSLR camera


  • 18 - 55mm and 70 - 300mm lens pack
  • 24.2MP DX-Format CMOS sensor 
  • Full HD 1080p video recording at 60fps

The Nikon D3500 is a DSLR for photographers who want to learn more and have progressed beyond the basics of compact designs and point-and-shoot cameras. 

This entry-level DSLR comes with a 24.2-megapixel DX-Format CMOS sensor, EXPEED 4 image processor, Bluetooth connectivity, strong video capture function, and is capable of 5fps image capture with an ISO range of 100-25600.

As a bonus, you are given two lenses: an 18 - 55mm and a 70 - 300mm telephoto lens. The vendor has also included a Guide mode, useful for learning as you shoot and raising your photography to the next level.


  • Two lenses included
  • In-camera special effects


  • LCD screen
  • Not the cheapest option for beginners

What is the best camera for a beginner?

When you make your selection, you should consider its value for money as well as whether or not the camera has more advanced features -- such as setting an ISO -- that you can learn to use over time. If you want these types of features, it may be worth skipping entry-level compacts and choosing a mid-tier camera, instead. 

Beginner camera

Value for money

Advanced features


Canon EOS 250D bundle


Panasonic Lumix G7 


Nikon Red COOLPIX B500



Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX100

When on sale



Nikon D3500



Which is the right beginner camera for you?

Our top picks include cameras with simple and advanced features, different price points, and various sizes. When you choose your camera, you should also consider its portability and whether or not you can switch lenses. 

Choose this beginner camera...

If you need…

Canon EOS 250D bundle

A DSLR with a full kit included

Panasonic Lumix G7 

A mirrorless camera with video capture

Nikon Red COOLPIX B500

A budget-friendly option

Sony Cyber-Shot DSC-RX100

A powerful pocket point-and-shoot

Nikon D3500

Lens options off the bat

How did we choose these cameras for beginners?

When you are just starting out, you don't need to invest in a kit full of lenses, bodies, lighting accessories, flash guns, or otherwise. 

My first camera was a basic Olympus point-and-shoot, and while it was very limited, I was able to take it backpacking and it was the best hands-on education I could have wanted in learning the basics of photography. 

I've since moved on to a Canon and professional-grade kit, but at the start, all you need is a camera with enough functionality to make you explore features including depth of field, ISO, lighting, and framing. When we chose these products, functionality and affordability were first in our minds. 

A basic guide to photography terms

There are a few terms you should become familiar with when you are starting out in the world of photography. 

  • Aperture: A camera's aperture lets light in and its size is recorded with f-stops or f-numbers. 
  • Shutter speed: The shutter speed determines how long a camera's sensor is exposed to light (exposure time). Generally, you want higher shutter speeds for motion/action photography. 
  • ISO: ISOs can be set to change how sensitive your camera is to light. A higher ISO is for higher sensitivity, and a low ISO setting reduces sensitivity. 
  • Exposure: Exposure is how much light reaches a camera sensor.
  • Bokeh: Bokeh is the blurry background effect you often see in professional photos. This can be achieved with lenses or during the editing process. 
  • Depth of field: Depth of field is the distance between the closest and furthest objects that are still sharp. You can change this by tweaking your aperture settings or by switching lenses. 
  • Burst: Burst modes are used to simultaneously capture images in quick succession. You could use this mode to capture a bride walking down the aisle, for example, but there may be a subsequent delay in shooting as they are processed. 
  • RAW: RAW is a file format -- like JPG or PNG -- which photographers often prefer. Images are not compressed and so these source images save a lot of information. During editing, the more information, the better. 
  • Noise: Noise is the term used to describe distortion in images that can appear as specks or grain.

I want to learn about photography but where do I start?

Once you've acquired a camera and your basic necessities, you can start learning what a camera can really do. To get started, you can either simply go out and learn as you go, or read up on foundational concepts first. Below are some excellent resources to get started:

Are lenses important?

Arguably, lenses can be more important than a camera body. If you have a camera able to support interchangeable lenses, you can experiment with different ways to frame an image -- whether by using a telephoto, a fixed lens, a fisheye, or macros -- and this can also further your own development as a photographer. It's absolutely worth exploring both fixed and zoom lenses, too, as the former can give you better still quality -- but the latter has more versatility. 

Are there alternative cameras for beginners worth considering?

There is a massive range of beginner and intermediate-level cameras, kits, and bundles on the market which are suitable for different skill levels. Your choice also depends on your budget, and whether or not you want to learn with a basic point-and-shoot, casually, or go straight for a DSLR/mirrorless device. 

Other alternatives worth considering are below.


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