canon for beginners

Canon cameras offer the best compromise with its line of entry-level digital cameras that suit varying price points and preferences. If you’re in the market for a DSLR, mirrorless, or point-and-shoot camera with an approachable user interface, affordable price, impressive performance, and scalable ecosystem for developing your skills, look no further. Here’s our rundown of the nine best Canon for beginners:

Many people want to try their hands at photography. But most high-end cameras are loaded with so many features that the steep learning curve can be intimidating to aspiring shutterbugs. And with the hefty price tag, it’s no surprise beginners end up buying entry-level cameras only to have their skills plateau. This is because many cameras in the low end can be disappointing and impossible to upgrade. Then there’s another dilemma: it’s also pointless to spend a fortune on a camera only to find out photography is not for you.

Canon For Beginners

Canon EOS Rebel SL3 / 250D best Canon DSLR camera for beginners

Canon EOS Rebel SL3 / 250D ($549)

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Size and weight are big sticking points for many beginners buying their first camera. And they should be because when you’re just learning the ropes, you should start small and simple. But this doesn’t mean you should forego a DSLR. The Canon EOS Rebel SL3 / 250D is so compact and lightweight you’d mistake it for a mirrorless camera. It weighs just around a pound but is as feature-rich as its predecessor, the Rebel SL2, and with longer battery life than a mirrorless camera of the same price.

While the image quality is a bit similar to the previous model, this one comes with a few but noteworthy upgrades. It comes with the DIGIC 8 image processor and wider native sensitivity range (100-25600), as well as UHD 4K24p video and 4K Time-Lapse movie recording. The Creative Assist mode is especially noteworthy, as it helps you adjust color tones and compose images more creatively on-the-fly.

Key Specifications:
  • 24.1MP APS-C CMOS Sensor
  • DIGIC 8 Image Processor
  • ISO 100-25600, Up to 5 fps Shooting
  • Optical Viewfinder w/ 9-Point AF System; Dual Pixel CMOS AF
  • 3.0″ Vari-Angle Touchscreen LCD
  • UHD 4K24p Video and 4K Time-Lapse Movie
  • Built-In Bluetooth and Wi-Fi

Canon EOS 80D best all-rounder Canon camera for beginners

Canon EOS 80D ($999)

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If you’re sure you want to take photography seriously, the Canon EOS 80D is worth every dollar spent. This feature-rich, versatile DSLR camera is our best all-rounder Canon camera for beginners. It boasts professional-grade image quality courtesy of its robust 24.2 MP APS-C CMOS sensor and DIGIC 6 image processor. On top of its sleek body and intuitive interface, you’re also rewarded with high-resolution images boasting reduced noise and an extended sensitivity of up to ISO 25600 in low light conditions.

The 45-point all cross-type AF is an impressive number for the camera’s price, and is frankly, an ideal number for casual shooters. And you’ll hardly be able to tell the difference thanks to its high-speed and precise AF system, which can perform in virtually any lighting condition.

Key Specifications:
  • 24.2 MP APS-C CMOS Sensor
  • DIGIC 6 Image Processor
  • Wide sensitivity range (ISO 100-16000)
  • 3.0” 1.04m-Dot Vari-Angle Touchscreen
  • Full HD 1080p Video at 60fps
  • Continuous shooting rate of up to 7fps

Canon EOS M50 best Canon mirrorless camera for beginners

Canon EOS M50 ($579)

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The EOS M50 is Canon’s contender in the entry-level mirrorless camera market. And there are just so many things to appreciate about it. This pocket powerhouse comes with some of the most advanced sensors and image processors to date and an interchangeable lens ecosystem, allowing you to expand your horizons in the world of photography.

Tucked neatly into its small and compact body are a 24.1 MP APS-C CMOS Sensor, DIGIC 8 Image Processor, Dual Pixel CMOS AF, and Combination 5-Axis Image Stabilization system. For beginners, this means clear, vivid images; artful focusing; and smooth video recordings. User-friendly settings are also accessible using the 3.0” 1.04-Dot Vari-Angle Touchscreen, while the built-in Wi-Fi with NFC and Bluetooth connectivity lets you share your content in real time within seconds. To top it all off, its price tag screams real value for your dollar.

Key Specifications:
  • 24.1MP APS-C CMOS Sensor
  • DIGIC 8 Image Processor
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF
  • Extended ISO 51200; 10 fps Shooting
  • Combination 5-Axis Image Stabilization
  • 2.36m-Dot OLED Electronic Viewfinder
  • 3.0″ 1.04m-Dot Vari-Angle Touchscreen
  • UHD 4K and HD 720p120 Video Recording
  • Built-In Wi-Fi with NFC, Bluetooth

Canon EOS 6D Mark II best entry-level full-frame Canon camera

Canon EOS 6D Mark II ($1399)

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So you’ve flexed your creative muscles using your smartphone or mirrorless camera and you’re ready to take your photography up a notch. The next logical step is to go full-frame and Canon has just the right DSLR camera to set you on the right track. A full-frame camera yields higher-resolution images thanks to its low light/high ISO performance and broader dynamic range.

Most full-frame cameras are designed with pros in mind, making them more expensive. To give amateurs and enthusiasts a taste of full-frame photography, Canon introduced the EOS 6D Mark II—a generous offering packed with pro-grade features at a reasonable price. But don’t get intimidated just yet: this featured-packed DSLR is extremely compact and lightweight for its kind (which many beginners will appreciate).

Key Specifications:
  • 26.2MP Full-Frame CMOS Sensor
  • DIGIC 7 Image Processor
  • Optical Viewfinder with a 45-point All Cross-type AF System
  • Native ISO 40000, Expanded to ISO 102400
  • Full HD Video at 60 fps; Digital IS; Movie Servo AF
  • 6.5 fps Shooting; Time-Lapse & HDR Movie
  • Built-In GPS, Bluetooth & Wi-Fi with NFC
  • Dust and Water-Resistant; SD Card Slot

Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III best Canon digital point-and-shoot camera for beginners

Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III ($999)

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Looking for a camera that’s built for the times and with the future in mind? The Canon PowerShot G1 X Mark III is your best bet. This compact digital camera beats many DSLRs while paying homage to them. It’s the first Canon point-and-shoot camera to carry a large 24.2 MP APS-C sensor and Dual Pixel CMOS AF for superb image quality and autofocusing.

A wealth of other advanced features make this a great camera for beginners. The built-in electronic viewfinder and 3.0” vari-angle touchscreen LCD, for one, make for some fast, natural image composition. Second, the Touch and Drag AF system that ensures you have more “keepers.” And not to mention the built-in Wi-Fi with NFC and Bluetooth technologies that allow you to share your content (either via file transfer or remote live view shooting) at a few taps of the screen.   

Key Specifications:
  • 24.2 MP APS-C Sensor
  • DIGIC 7 processor
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF; Continuous shooting up to 9fps
  • Wide sensitivity range from ISO 100-25600
  • Built-in 2.36m-dot OLED electronic EVF
  • Lightweight, refined physical design

Canon PowerShot SX70 HS most versatile bridge camera from Canon

Canon PowerShot SX70 HS ($549)

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Serious shutterbugs and pros invest in a wide array of accessories to expand the performance and capabilities of their camera bodies. If you’re not really willing to shell out a fortune on that, Canon’s PowerShot SX70 HS is the perfect all-in-one camera for you. As a bridge camera, it combines the style and cutting-edge technology of DSLRs with the versatile functionality of long zoom point-and-shoot cameras.

With its 65x zoom lens, 4K video, and Bluetooth and Wi-Fi with Remote Live View, this camera is the perfect companion for wandering shutterbugs. Whether you’re taking family photos or travel souvenirs, this camera ensures ease of use and high-quality photos, from macro and zoom shots to whole-frame landscape vistas.

Key Specifications:
  • 20.3 Megapixel* CMOS Sensor
  • DIGIC 8 Image Processor
  • High-speed Continuous Shooting up to 10 fps
  • Powerful 65x Optical Zoom; Zoom Framing Assist
  • Image Stabilization of up to 5 Stops for Excellent Performance
  • 4K Video and 4K Time-lapse Movie
  • Built-in 0.39-type OLED EVF with Approximately 2.36 Million Dots
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

Canon EOS RP best full-frame Canon camera for beginners

Canon EOS RP ($999)

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Do you travel often and wish you had a camera that could capture your amazing adventures in rich detail? Ditch the crop sensors and go daring with the EOS RP, the best full-frame Canon camera for beginners. It’s also the smallest and lightest full-frame in the EOS line, but it sure packs a lot of punch. It boasts a 26.2 MP full-frame CMOS sensor and an accompanying DIGIC 8 image processor that lives up to your eye for beauty.  

The extended sensitivity range (ISO 100-40,000) is truly impressive and ensures you get more “keepers” even when you’re shooting in low light. The in-body image stabilization system, continuous shooting at 10 fps, and Dual Pixel CMOS Autofocus allow for artful focusing and composition when shooting cluttered scenery or moving objects.  

Key Specifications:
  • 20.3MP CMOS Sensor
  • DIGIC 8 Image Processor
  • Image Stabilization; Continuous Shooting up to 10 fps
  • 65x Zoom Lens; Zoom Framing Assist
  • 2.36m-Dot OLED Electronic Viewfinder
  • UHD 4K Video Recording, 4K Time-Lapse
  • Built-In Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II best entry-level compact camera from Canon

Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II ($429)

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If you’d rather grab your smartphone to snap a photo than carry a mirrorless or DSLR camera, you haven’t been introduced to Canon’s PowerShot G9 X Mark II. This compact, point-and-shoot gem comes with a 20.1 MP 1” CMOS sensor, DIGIC 7 Image Processor, and extended sensitivity (up to ISO 12800) that will help you capture high-resolution images in all kinds of light. It also features a 31-point autofocus and contrast-detection AF system, which not many compact cameras have.

With a Canon 3x optical zoom lens included in the package, you’ll have more creative control over your images without fumbling over complicated settings. And the best part is that the camera’s small, lightweight, and rugged body can fit in your pocket.

Key Specifications:
  • 20.1 MP 1” CMOS Sensor
  • DIGIC 7 Image Processor
  • Native ISO 125-6400 range; extended ISO range of up to 12800
  • 31-point AF; Continuous shooting up to 8.2fps
  • 3.0” 1.04m-Dot Touchscreen LCD Monitor
  • Full HD 1080p Video at 60fps

How to Buy a Digital Camera

1. Determine what you need

A mistake I see some digital camera buyers making is that they get sucked into buying cameras that are beyond what they really need. Some questions to ask yourself before you go shopping:

  • What do you need the camera for?
  • What type of photography will you be doing? (portraits, landscapes, macro, sports)
  • What conditions will you be largely photographing in? (indoors, outdoors, low light, bright light)
  • Will you largely stay in auto mode or do you want to learn the art of photography?
  • What experience level do you have with cameras?
  • What type of features are you looking for? (long zoom, image stabilization, large LCD display etc)
  • How important is size and portability to you?
  • What is your budget?

Ask yourself these questions before you go to buy a camera and you’ll be in a much better position to make a decision when you see what’s on offer. You’ll probably find the sales person asks you this question anyway – so to have thought about it before hand will help them help you get the right digital camera.

2. Megapixels are NOT everything

One of the features that you’ll see used to sell digital cameras is how many megapixels a digital camera has.

When I first got into digital photography, a few years back, the megapixel rating of cameras was actually quite important as most cameras were at the lower end of today’s modern day range and even a 1 megapixel increase was significant.

These days, with most new cameras coming out with at least 5 megapixels, it isn’t so crucial. In fact at the upper end of the range it can actually be a disadvantage to have images that are so large that they take up enormous amounts of space on memory cards and computers.

One of the main questions to ask when it comes to megapixels is ‘Will you be printing shots’? If so – how large will you be going with them? If you’re only printing images at a normal size then anything over 4 or so megapixels will be fine. If you’re going to start blowing your images up you might want to pay the extra money for something at the upper end of what’s on offer today.

3. Keep in mind the ‘extras’


Keep in mind as you look at cameras that the price quoted may not be the final outlay that you need to make as there are a variety of other extras that you might want (or need) to fork out for including:

  • Camera Case
  • Memory Cards
  • Spare Batteries/Recharger
  • Lenses (if you are getting a DSLR)
  • Filters (and other lens attachments)
  • Tripods/Monopods
  • External Flashes
  • Reflectors

Some retailers will bundle such extras with cameras or will at least give a discount when buying more than one item at once. Keep in mind though that what they offer in bundles might not meet you needs. For example it’s common to get a 16 or 32 megabyte memory card with cameras – however these days you’ll probably want something at least of 500 megabytes (if not a gigabyte or two).

4. Do you already own any potentially compatible gear?

Talking of extra gear – one way to save yourself some cash is if you have accessories from previous digital cameras that are compatible with your new one.

For example memory cards, batteries, lenses (remember that many film camera lenses are actually compatible with digital SLRs from the same manufacturers), flashes, filters etc.

5. DSLR or Point and Shoot?

Dslr-Point-And-ShootWhile digital SLRs are getting more affordable they are not for everyone. Keep in mind that they are usually bigger, heavier, harder to keep clean (if you’re changing lenses) and can be more complicated to operate than point and shoot. Of course there are some upsides also.

If you’re trying to make a decision between a point and shoot and DSLR you might want to read my previous posts titled Should you buy a DSLR or a Point and Shoot Digital Camera? and it’s companion piece How to Choose a DSLR.

6. Optical Zooms are King

Not all ‘zooms’ are created equal.

When you’re looking at different models of digital cameras you’ll often hear their zooms talked about in two ways. Firstly there’s the ‘optical zoom’ and then there’s the ‘digital zoom’.

I would highly recommend that you only take into consideration the ‘optical zoom’ when making a decision about which camera to buy. Digital zooms simply enlarge the pixels in your shot which does make your subject look bigger, but it also makes it look more pixelated and your picture ‘noisier’ (like when you go up close to your TV).

If you’re looking for a zoom lens make sure it’s an optical zoom (most modern cameras have them of at least 3x in length – ie they’ll make your subject three times as big – with an increasing array of ‘super zooms’ coming onto the market at up to 12x Optical Zoom).

7. Read reviews

Before buying a digital camera take the time to do a little research. Don’t JUST rely upon the advice of the helpful sales person (who may or may not know anything about cameras and who may or may not have sales incentives for the camera they are recommending).

Read some reviews in digital camera magazines or online to help you narrow down the field. There are some great websites around that give expert and user reviews on virtually every camera on the market – use this wonderful and free resource.

A little self promotion here – one such site is my Digital Photography Blog which is a site that collates the reviews of many sites from around the web. To use it best enter the camera’s model name that you’re looking for a review on in the search feature in the top right side bar. It’ll give you a link to a central page that has information on the camera as well as links to any reviews published online on that camera from around the web.

8. Hands On Experience

Photo by erinmariepage

Once you’ve narrowed down your search to a handful of cameras head into your local digital camera shop and ask to see and play with them. There’s nothing like having the camera in your hands to work out whether it suits your needs.

When I shop for a camera I generally use the web to find reviews, then I head into a street in my city with 4 camera shops side by side and I go from shop to shop asking for recommendations and seeing the cameras live in the flash. In doing this I generally find the same camera or two are recommended in most shops and I get to see them demonstrated by different people (this gives a more well rounded demo). I also get to play with it and get a feel for which one I could see myself using.

9. Negotiate

After you’ve selected the right digital camera for you it’s time to find the best price.

Once again, I generally start online (on a site like our store) and do some searches to find the most competitive prices on the models I’m interested in. With these in hand I’m in a good position to be able to negotiate in person with local stores and/or with online stores. I generally find that retail stores will negotiate on price and will often throw in freebies. Online stores are more difficult – most bigger ones don’t give you the ability to negotiate but smaller ones often will if you email them.

Don’t forget to ask for free or discounted bonuses including camera cases, memory cards, extra batteries, filters, free prints, cases etc. I even know of a couple of stores that offer camera lessons that you can ask to be included. Some stores will also consider giving you a trade in on older gear.

I generally do negotiating from home on the phone and only go into a store to pick up the camera after a price is agreed upon.

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