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If you're off on holiday, the chances are you're going to get close to some water, whether it's a hotel pool or the deep blue sea. It's also likely you'll want to capture some snaps of your aquatic adventures – and most cameras won't thank you for taking them anywhere near water.
However, this bunch of waterproof wonders are right at home capturing subaquatic scenes, and will let you dive as deep as 30 metres to fish out the perfect shot. They're all shock-proof and freeze-proof too, and some are even crush-proof.
The fun doesn't stop there, as you'll also find many rugged cameras come packed with features such as GPS location tagging, Wi-Fi connectivity and even action-orientated extras like a compass or altimeter.
Pick the right camera, and image quality will also give a typical land-loving compact a run for its money. The only compromise you'll need to make in exchange for the ability to shoot during some rough and tumble is a below-average zoom range.
If you want a camera for holiday with a longer zoom range, take a look at our pick of travel zoom compacts.
So don't let your camera hold you back – all of these waterproof and rugged snappers are cut out for the wet and wild life.
Few rugged cameras can match the TG-5's exceptional build quality and confidence-inspiring rugged feel. Certainly, from our time using it, the TG-5 is built to survive pretty much anything you could throw at it, literally. A chunky, ergonomic design and well-designed controls make the TG-5 a pleasure to use in any weather. Olympus has taken the unusual step of actually dropping the pixel count from 16MP on the TG-4 to 12MP on the TG-5. While resolution drops a bit, it means the pixels are not quite as densely packed in, delivering a better noise performance. The TG-5 borrows the built-in Field Sensor System we've seen on the TG Tracker, which consists of a GPS sensor, pressure, compass and temperature sensor. The data gathered can be displayed with images and videos using the Olympus Image Track app. It also gets the latest TruePic VIII processor found in the E-M1 Mark II, and can now capture 4K video at 30p or high speed footage at 120p in Full HD. Our pick of the bunch.
The Coolpix W300 comes fully-loaded with a host of features - there's 4K video for starters, a terrific GPS system, interactive world map and Wi-Fi connectivity, plus an altimeter and underwater depth gauge to boot. The W300 also offers a high resolution, 921k dot OLED monitor, but perhaps most impressive of all is that the W300 can function down to a depth of 30 metres - as far as an Advanced Open Water diving certificate will get you.
Panasonic's FT5 (called the TS5 in the US) may be getting a bit long in the tooth now, but it can still cut it against the best of today's waterproof compacts. A 4.6x optical zoom lens provides a focal range of 28-128mm and is optically stabilised to smooth out camera shake. However, a 5cm minimum focusing distance does fall short of the 1cm macro modes offered by many competitors. An impressively bright LCD monitor makes it easy to compose your shots, while the swift and reliable autofocus system and accurate exposure metering ensure images turn out how you'd planned, whether you're above or below water. Factor in extras like GPS, Wi-Fi with remote camera control and NFC pairing for easy image sharing, and the FT5 shapes up as a great all-rounder.
The D30's design features oversized controls that makes the camera exceptionally easy to operate, even when underwater as we found or while wearing gloves. The D30 is certainly a pleasure to use, but it's let down by underwhelming image quality. Its 12.1MP sensor and DIGIC 4 processor are starting to show their age, and are prone to generating noticeable levels of noise at ISO 400 and above. At least detail levels are relatively high and there's little evidence of smearing. The D30 features GPS location tagging, but doesn't record altitude or depth data, while their is no Wi-Fi connectivity either. There's no doubt that the PowerShot D30 is a waterproof wonder, going down to 25 metres, but aside from this and it ergonomic benefits, its been surpassed by the competition.
Compared to ultra-rugged competition, the XP120 doesn't have quite the same credentials. That means that it might not be quite up to some of the more active users, but still more than up to the job of a family beach or skiing holiday. There are a host of fun filters included, and Wi-Fi connectivity, but no GPS. Simple to use, this is a great option if you're after a durable point-and-shoot compact camera for family use.
Chromatic aberration is an optical deficiency caused by a lens’ inability focus all wavelengths of light on the same plane. The different wavelengths are actually different colors, which when brought together create ‘white light’. But when they’re dispersed as a result of chromatic aberration, colored fringing can be seen along the edges of subjects.
Purple fringing is a common term that you may have come across, and it's the result of chromatic aberration. It’s most often visible along high-contrast areas of an image, such as a tree against a bright sky. And while purple is a common color, fringing can also be green, blue, purple, red, magenta or yellow. The exact color depends on the lens, and how it’s affected by chromatic aberration.
There are two types of chromatic aberration: longitudinal and lateral. Longitudinal chromatic aberration occurs when the different wavelengths of light don’t converge on the same point after passing through a lens. This type of chromatic aberration is visible across the whole image, and is a common problem with fast prime lenses when shooting at wider apertures.
Lateral chromatic aberration occurs when the different wavelengths of light entering the lens at different angles focus on the same focal plane, but at different positions. This type is only visible in the corners of images, and is more common with wide-angle lenses and cheaper lenses. It’s worth noting that longitudinal and lateral chromatic aberration can both occur in a single image.
Dealing with fringing
More expensive lenses often suffer less from chromatic aberration – an example of where the adage, ‘you get what you pay for’ rings true. However, even if you can’t afford the very best lenses money can buy, all is not lost.
If you shoot raw files, Chromatic aberration can often be removed, or at least reduced, in post-processing software such as Abobe Lightroom, Adobe Camera Raw and DxO OpticsPro.
The automatic detection and defringing process in Adobe Camera Raw is very quick and very effective, while using the manual sliders enables you to tackle more resilient purple and green halos that sometimes continue to cling to the edges of objects at the extreme edges of the picture.
Looking for the best Fujifilm Instax Mini prices? We're here to help you compare all the best deals on the most popular Instax Mini cameras, including the Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 prices, the newer Instax Mini 9, or the retro-themed instant cameras like the Fujifilm Instax Mini 70 or Instax Mini 90.
Prices alone might not be enough though, so we've given each of these Instax Mini cameras a rundown of information to help you choose the one that's right for you.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 prices
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 is one of the most popular instant cameras on the planet thanks to its super cheap price and bold, cheerful and colourful design. Simple to use and with brightness controls, built-in flash and cool 1.8-inch x 2.4-inch images printed straight from the camera, this really is a bargain. But could you be tempted by the newer Instax Mini 9?
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 8 requires two AA batteries and is available in black, grape, raspberry, pink, blue and yellow.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 9 prices
There's really only one difference between the Instax Mini 8 and the Instax Mini 9 and it's a tiny little mirror. The Instax Mini 9 has a small mirror next to the lens, making lining up selfies much easier and ensuring a more accurate picture. The newer Mini 9 is slightly more expensive than the Mini 8, but consider this: if you're likely to be taking a lot of selfies, the mirror could save you a small fortune on film costs as you'll have fewer wonky, poorly framed snaps. If the price is right for the colour you want, this is the one we'd go for.
The Instax Mini 9 requires two AA batteries and is available in cobalt blue, flamingo pink, ice blue, smoky white and lime green.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 70 prices
There's certainly an argument that the Instax Mini 8 is aimed towards a younger or more casual market with its bright pastel colours and chunky build. But there are some slicker options available for not much more - namely the Fujifilm Instax Mini 70.
The Instax Mini 70 features more control options and shooting modes than the Mini 8/9 and takes better pictures in the dark. It comes with the selfie mirror as standard too. With a smoother metallic paint job, it loses the toyish vibe of the above models for something much more professional looking while maintaining the compact instant camera vibe. If you'd feel silly holding the Instax Mini 8, but want a similar design, this is your best bet.
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 70 runs off two CR2 batteries and is available in moon white, canary yellow, island blue, passion red, stardust gold and midnight black.
Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 prices
If you're looking for something with a more retro feel then it's hard to beat the Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 and its traditional leather-style binding. As you can see in the price comparison chart below, it's also the most expensive of the Instax Mini cameras in Fujifilm's range.
You're not just paying for the old-school vibe though. Bulb modes ensure you won't get pictures that are too blurry or dark. On the other side of the scale, this is the first Instax Mini camera that allows you to turn off the flash, meaning you won't get any images with way too much white light. A double-exposure mode allows you to put two images on one piece of film too.
The Fujifilm Instax Mini 90 instant camera is powered by a rechargeable NP-45A lithium battery making it the only rechargeable Instax Mini camera from Fujifilm. Colour options are much more modest than the other Instax Minis as the only differences are in the leather-style wrap finishes where you can choose between brown or Neo Classic (black).
Instax Mini Film
Looking for some extra Fujifilm Instax Mini film packs? We've compared the best deals from multiple retailers in our price comparison charts below. The cheapest packs usually have 10 or 20 Instax Mini film papers to print out your latest photos. Take a look at the options further down the chart and you'll see prices for larger packs too.
These film packs are compatible with all the cameras on this page. You might not see the Mini 9 mentioned on the packaging or item description, but that's only because the Instax Mini 9 is still quite new and the film packaging hasn't caught up. The Instax Mini 9 takes the same film as the Instax Mini 8.
- Be sure to take a look at our deals guide for cheap cameras.
Sony's Alpha A7 full-frame mirrorless cameras became an instant hit when they were launched back in 2013. However, a limiting factor of any star-quality system camera is the depth and breadth of lenses and accessories to back it up. Initially, the small selection of full-frame E-mount lenses gave a distinct lack of versatility, but it hasn't taken long for Sony to develop an enticing range of optics that enable the Alpha A7 range of mirrorless cameras (along with the flagship Alpha A9) to really take the fight to professional DSLRs.
There are still a few holes in Sony's more specialist lens line-up. For example, there are no tilt and shift (perspective correction) or super-telephoto prime lenses. But for everything else, from wide, standard and tele zooms to high-class prime lenses, there's some seriously attractive glassware on offer, and here's our top picks right now. Keep in mind that these full-frame E-mount lenses can also be used on Sony's APS-C mirrorless models – we've put the effective focal lengths in brackets.
The Zeiss-badged Sony Vario-Tessar T* FE 16-35mm f/4 ZA OSS has been the main choice for Alpha users after a high-quality wide-angle zoom lens, but the arrival of the Sony FE 16-35mm f/2.8 GM now makes that decision much harder. A stop faster as f/2.8, this is a larger piece of glass that weighs in at 680g. Build quality is excellent and includes a full set of weather-seals, while the 11 blade rounded aperture diaphragm delivers ultra-smooth bokeh. Focusing is fast and silent, while the image quality is stunning - the perfect partner for the 42MP Alpha A7R II.
This is a stunning lens and the perfect optic for beautiful portraits. The 11 blade rounded diaphragm helps produce sumptuously soft and dreamy bokeh in defocused areas. Sharpness across the entire frame is very good at f/1.4 – and stunning at f/2.8 and beyond. Sony’s Nano AR coating fends off ghosting and flare, while lateral and longitudinal fringing are both minimal. The focus hold button and de-click aperture ring option are nice bonuses, with the latter working very well when shooting video.
There are plenty of affordable yet fairly fast standard primes for full-frame cameras. By contrast, standard primes for Sony’s full-frame E-mount system look very pricey, but the FE 50mm f/1.8 fills an obvious hole in the market. Measuring just 69 x 60mm, weighing a mere 186g and full-frame compatible, it definitely has something to offer APS-C format shooters, where the ‘effective’ 75mm focal length is ideal for portraiture. The stepping motor autofocus system is quick and very quiet, although not completely silent. There’s no shortage of bite, with good sharpness and contrast even when shooting wide-open at f/1.8. However, vignetting is noticeable unless you stop down to f/2.8.
At its closest focus distance, this 90mm lens gives full 1.0x macro reproduction, ideal for monstrous enlargements of tiny bugs and other small objects. Attractions include top-quality glass, quick and ultra-quiet autofocus, OSS (Optical SteadyShot) stabilization and a nicely rounded nine-blade diaphragm. Image quality and handling are excellent, and the lens isn't just a one-trick macro pony. The combination of a 90mm focal length and fairly fast f/2.8 aperture make the lens equally useful when you want to minimise depth of field for portraiture or still life.
This fairly chunky optic nonetheless only weighs in at a pretty modest 371g thanks to a predominantly plastic construction, but balanced really nicely on the Alpha A7R II we tested it with. The design is very clean - so much so that there's no distance or DOF scales, but those niggles aside, it's a cracking portrait lens. Focusing is nice and brisk while the nine-blade diaphragm delivers to really beautiful bokeh. Optically, there's little to fault it on either - it's incredibly sharp at the centre of the frame through the aperture range. If you can't justify one of the more exotic Sony portrait lenses, this is a great option.
This ultra-wide 12-24mm lens delivers a phenomenal viewing angle of 122 degrees, with a rectilinear design aiming to keep distortion to a minimum. Autofocus is practically silent and well suited to both stills and movie capture, while the fly-by-wire manual focus ring operates smoothly and with excellent precision. Even at the widest aperture of f/4, vignetting isn’t too obvious, while the drop in corner-sharpness is quite minimal at both ends of the zoom range, and negligible at mid-zoom settings. When you hit f/5.6, sharpness is excellent across the frame, with the lens also very resistant to ghosting and flare.
Two rear-mounted OSS (Optical SteadyShot) stabilization switches select on/off and static/panning modes. A further two switches are on hand for auto/manual focus modes, and to lock out the close autofocus range below three metres. Unusually for this class of 70-200mm f/4 lens, there's also a set of three focus-hold buttons towards the front of the lens, plus a tripod mounting collar. The optical path includes plenty of premium glass, plus Sony's Nano AR Coatings. Sharpness and contrast are generally very good, although extreme edge and corner-sharpness drops off at 70mm when using an aperture of f/4, and at 200mm throughout the aperture range. Ultimately, this lens is a highly competent telephoto zoom with excellent handling.
The first 35mm prime lens to be launched for full-frame E-mount bodies was the dinky little FE 35mm f/2.8, designed along Zeiss's Sonnar principles. The newer f/1.4 Distagon lens is massive by comparison, measuring 79x112mm and weighing 630g. However, it's two f-stops faster and has a much more sophisticated feature set. Unusually for an E-mount lens, there's a manual aperture ring. As a bonus, you can select one-third click steps or click-free rotation, the latter being ideal for shooting movies. Sharpness is exemplary, right across the whole image frame, chromatic aberration is only slight and barrel distortion is extremely low for a 35mm lens.
Unlike most up-market zoom lenses for DSLRs, this one has a widest available aperture of f/4 rather than f/2.8, which helps to make its size and weight a better match for the comparatively small A7 series bodies. As with most Zeiss-badged optics, the physical design looks minimalist, without any switches for auto/manual focus modes or on/off for the OSS (Optical SteadyShot) stabilizer. Even so, the metal lens barrels feel beautifully engineered and the build is dust/moisture resistant. Sharpness is good and very consistent throughout the zoom and aperture ranges although the corners become a little soft at longer zoom settings.
The FE 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6 GM OSS is Sony's only lens for it's mirrorless cameras that covers a focal length greater than 200mm, so it's just as well it's a great lens. Until more dedicated telephoto primes become available, this is a great partner of the Alpha A9, and isn't much bigger than Sony's 70-200mm f/2.8. Focusing is incredibly quiet and quick, while the built-in optical stabilization means you can reduce camera-shake by five stops. Optically, results are very good. Don't expect results to match rival primes, but sharpness is very good.
So you want to get into photography and are looking for a decent camera that you can build a system around?
A few years ago that was easy question to answer – you had to buy a DSLR. But then in 2009 Olympus launched its first mirrorless camera, the Pen E-P1, and everything changed.
Like DSLRs, mirrorless cameras (also known as CSCs or compact system cameras) allow you to change lenses, but as the name might suggest, the don't feature a complex mirror system like DSLRs do.
This means that they can in principle be smaller, lighter and mechanically simpler. They can also just like super-sized compact cameras to use, whereas DSLRs are a bit of a jump from a regular compact.
Enthusiasts and pros, however, have taken a bit of convincing on the merits of mirrorless cameras. With no mirror, there's no optical viewfinder, with models either relying on the rear screen or featuring electronic viewfinders, while there have been concerns over image quality, features and handling.
Perhaps most importantly, compared to established DSLR systems, the lens ranges of these mirrorless systems isn't as extensive.
With a raft of new mirrorless cameras and growing lens ranges, have mirrorless cameras done enough to be genuine DSLR rivals or, more to the point, are they already better? To help you decide, here are the key differences and what they mean for everyday photography.
- DSLR: Can be big and bulky, though this can be a help for big lenses (and big hands)
- CSC: Yes, they are smaller and lighter, but the lenses in some cases can be just as big as a DSLR's
Small size is one of the big selling points for mirrorless cameras, but it doesn't always work out that way because what you actually have to take into account is the size of the camera body and lens combination.
This is a problem for mirrorless cameras with either full-frame or APS-C sized sensors because you can get a nice slim body but a fat, heavy lens on the front. Some models now come with retractable or power-zoom 'kit' lenses, but that doesn't help when you have to swap to a different type of lens.
Panasonic and Olympus cameras have an advantage here. The Micro Four Thirds sensor format is smaller (which many photographers don't like) but this means the lenses are smaller and lighter too (which many do), delivering a much more compact system all round.
Interestingly, some higher end mirrorless cameras are now growing in size as they take on more features and manufacturers respond to feedback from photographers who want larger grips, while entry-level DSLRs are shrinking to compete with the smaller footprint of similarly priced CSCs.
- DSLR: Canon and Nikon have a massive lens range for every job, while Sony and Pentax are not far behind
- CSC: Olympus, Panasonic and Fujifilm have good ranges, Sony is catching up, others are patchy
If you want the widest possible choice of lenses, then a Canon or Nikon DSLR is possibly the best bet thanks to their huge range of optics - they both have an extensive range of lenses to suit a range of price points, as well as excellent third party support from the likes of Sigma and Tamron.
Mirrorless cameras are gaining ground though. Because Olympus and Panasonic use the same lens mount and have been established the longest, the range of Micro Four Third lenses is the most comprehensive.
Fujifilm's lens system is growing all the time, with some lovely prime lenses and excellent fast zoom lenses. Even the 18-55mm 'kit' lens is very good. Sony offers some really nice high-end optics, but it could do with introducing more glass, especially at focal lengths beyond 200mm.
- DSLR: Many still prefer an 'optical' view for its clarity, natural look and lag-free viewing
- CSC: Others prefer to see a digital rendition of the scene as the camera will capture it
All DSLRs, even the cheapest, come with an optical viewfinder because it's an integral part of the DSLR design. However, quite a few compact system cameras don't have viewfinders at all, so you have to use the rear LCD to compose photos, which doesn't always work so well in bright light.
Compact system cameras with viewfinders cost more, and these are electronic rather than optical viewfinders – they display the image direct from the sensor readout and not via an optical mirror/pentaprism system.
Electronic viewfinders are advancing in leaps and bounds, so the latest rarely show any pixelation or 'granularity', though there can often be a slight but visible 'lag' if you move the camera quickly.
The advantage of electronic viewfinders is that they can display a lot more information than an optical viewfinder, including live image histograms, for example. They can also simulate the digital image the camera will capture, so you don't get any horrible surprises when you review your image.
This simulation is not always perfect, however, and many photographers prefer to see the world with their own eyes as they compose the image and check the digital version on the LCD straight after it's been captured.
This will come down to personal preference - get one of the latest high-end mirrorless cameras with a large magnification, large resolution electronic viewfinder, and you'll be hard pressed to find fault with it.
- DSLR: Still better, on the whole for tracking fast subjects, but weak in live view mode
- CSC: Full time live view AF means faster shooting when using the LCD screen
DSLRs use fast and efficient 'phase detection' autofocus modules mounted below the mirror in the body, but these only work while the mirror is down. If you're using a DSLR in live view mode, composing a picture or video on the LCD display, the mirror has to be flipped up and the regular AF module is no longer in the light path. Instead, DSLRs have to switch to a much slower contrast AF system using the image being captured by the sensor.
The latest Canon DSLRs (such as the EOS Rebel T7i / EOS 800D, EOS 80D and EOS 5D Mark IV) though include the company's Dual Pixel CMOS AF that uses phase-detection pixels built into the sensor. This is designed to give faster autofocus in live view mode to close the gap on CSCs.
CSCs have to use sensor-based autofocus all the time. Most are contrast AF based although, but these tend to be much faster than equivalent contrast AF modes on DSLRs, partly due to the fact the lenses have been designed around this system.
More advanced CSCs have advanced 'hybrid' AF systems combining contrast autofocus with phase-detection pixels on the sensor, with the likes of the Fujifilm X-T2 and Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II really impressing with not only their speed, but with the accuracy at which they can lock on and follow a moving subject – the one area where DSLRs have, until now, had a clear advantage.
- DSLR: The best DSLRs can no longer match the speeds of the best CSCs
- CSC: The mirrorless design makes it easier to add high-speed shooting
You need a fast continuous shooting mode to capture action shots, and compact system cameras are streaking ahead here, partly because the mirrorless system means there are fewer moving parts and partly because many models are now pushing ahead into 4K video – this demands serious processing power, which helps with continuous shooting too.
To put this in perspective, Canon's top professional DSLR, the EOS-1D X Mark II, can shoot at 14 frames per second, but the mirrorless Olympus OM-D E-M1 Mark II can shoot at staggering 60fps.
That's not quite the full story though - while the Canon will blitz away at this rate with continuous focus tracking in action, the Olympus will use an electronic shutter to achieve this and the focus will be fixed. That said, activate the mechanical shutter on the Olympus and 10fps is possible with full focus tracking.
Panasonic, meanwhile, is pioneering the use of 4K video to capture 8-megapixel images at 30 frames per second.
- DSLR: Massively popular with pros but, arguably, only because DSLRs got there first
- CSC: 4K video becoming more common, better live view AF – this looks like the future
DSLRs were the first to offer professional HD and Full HD video, together with a vast range of lenses and other accessories, and pros prefer systems with solid, long-term support.
This means that most pros shooting video use a DSLR, but that's changing as mirrorless cameras advance and offer a wealth of video features that match DSLRs or in some areas, better them.
4K capture is a more common feature for starters on mirrorless cameras, while DSLRs have been slow to offer this functionality. There's also the efficient live view autofocus and processing power, while there's a growing range of adapters and accessories out there to offer users a complete system.
Panasonic has carved out a niche for itself with the Lumix GH5, offering a hybrid stills/video camera that's loved by enthusiast photographers and professional cinematographers, while Sony has opted for a similar approach with the Alpha A7S II.
- DSLR: Even entry-level models have full manual controls, and DSLRs are powerful cameras
- CSC: They match DSLRs feature for feature, often going a step or two further
In terms of photographic features and controls, DSLRs and CSCs are hard to split here.
They all offer full manual control over exposure and focusing and can shoot raw files as well as JPEGs, allowing you to get the best image quality possible. In any one sector, such as entry-level cameras, enthusiast or pro models, the control layouts and capabilities are pretty similar. Entry-level DSLRs tend to hide away the manual controls under a layer of automation, but it's the same for CSCs.
Keep in mind the point about viewfinders, though – all DSLRs have viewfinders, but often cheaper compact system cameras don't.
- DSLR: DSLRs use the latest and best state of the art APS-C or full-frame sensors
- CSC: They use the same sensors, but there are also smaller formats for even smaller cameras
It's not just about megapixels, though, because the main factor in image quality is sensor size. Full-frame sensors are the biggest and offer the best quality, while cameras with APS-C sensors are almost as just good and much cheaper – and you can get either of these size sensors in both DSLRs and CSCs.
But the compact system camera market offers smaller formats too. The Micro Four Thirds format used by Panasonic and Olympus is smaller than APS-C, but so are the cameras and lenses, so you need to weigh up what's most important to you - size or ultimate image quality.
Nikon uses a 1-inch sensor in its Nikon 1 series cameras, but this is a much smaller sensor size that's yet to cut much ice with experts. That is for interchangeable lens cameras at least, as the 1-inch sensor has proved incredibly popular in premium compact cameras like the Panasonic Lumix LX10 / LX15.
Overall, then, there's no intrinsic image image quality advantage in a DSLR, given that the same sensor sizes are available in compact system cameras too.
- DSLR: 600-800 shots is average, better models can shoot over 1,000 shots on a charge
- CSC: Much weaker, and typically around 300-400 shots. You'll need spare batteries
Battery life comparisons might not be exciting, but they are important when the differences are as great as this. The Nikon D7200 DSLR, for example, can take 1,100 shots on a single charge, while the Fujifilm X-T2 CSC, a close match on paper, can only shoot 340 photos before the battery expires. This pattern is repeated across the range of DSLRs and CSCs.
It's not clear why. DSLR batteries are sometimes larger, though not always, and you might have thought that driving the mirror up and down for each shot would consume more power, and that that LCD display would be used just as much.
Apparently not, though, and this is one area where DSLRs do often have a substantial practical advantage. You'll certainly need an extra battery or two with most mirrorless cameras.
- DSLR: You get more for your money with a cheap DSLR than a cheap CSC
- CSC: Cheap CSCs don't have viewfinders; those that do cost a more
You might hope that the simpler design of a compact system camera would make them cheaper to buy, but that's not necessarily the case.
If you want a fully-featured, 'proper' camera for the least money, then a DSLR is still the cheapest option...but it's getting a lot closer between the two.
For example, the 24MP Nikon D3300 DSLR has just about the best APS-C sensor currently on the market, an optical viewfinder (of course), decent manual controls and 700-shot battery life.
Its nearest rivals on price in the compact system camera market can't match its resolution or its battery life and they don't have viewfinders, but for only a little more the Sony Alpha A6000 packs in an almost identical 24MP APS-C sensor and features a built-in electronic viewfinder. You'll still need to get a second battery though. That said, it's only that cheap because it's just been superseded.
Once you get into enthusiast and pro market, however, the differences largely disappear – for any given amount of money you get broadly the same features, performance and power.
- DSLR: Sturdy, good value cameras offering old-school handling and top image quality
- CSC: Smaller, technically more advanced and arguably the way forward
The technical differences between DSLRs and CSCs aren't the only things you need to consider, and may not even be the most important to you.
The only way to decide once and for all is to pick them up and try them out to see which you prefer. You might prefer the fat, chunky feel and optical viewfinder of a DSLR, or you might prefer the smaller bodies and more precise feel of a compact system camera. It'll really come down to what you like to shoot and what the camera can deliver - and pay attention to the lenses offered and accessories available as well.
For novices and those on a budget, a cheap DSLR gives you more than a cheap compact system camera. Further up the price range, it's a close call, but you'd have to say that while some might prefer their handling and their viewing system, there are fewer and fewer technical reasons why a DSLR should be considered the best option for photographers.
Okay, we admit it – it's an impossible question. The best camera for a pro photographer is a million miles from the best camera for an adventure sports nut. So what we've done is pick out what we think are the standout cameras in their fields. This may be because they have the most amazing features and specifications, because they're amazing value for what they offer or because they are just brilliant at the job they've been designed for.
Along the way we'll explain some of the jargon and the differences between cameras, though if you need a bit more help deciding what kind of camera you need, you can get a lot more information from our special step-by-step guide: What camera should I buy?
On the other hand, you may already have a clear idea of the kind of camera you want, in which case you could go straight to one of our more specific camera buying guides:
Last year we saw some stunning cameras launched - many of them making it onto our list below, but if you want to know what else might be coming along later this year, take a look at our in-depth Camera Rumors 2017 article.
But if you just want to know what we think are the top ten standout cameras you can buy right now – regardless of user level or price point – then keep on reading.
All these are cameras have been extensively tried and tested by ourselves, so if you want to know any more about any of them as well as check out sample images, just click the link to the full review.
The update to the X-T1 may look similar at first glance, but there have been some huge improvements made to Fujifilm's follow-up flagship mirrorless camera. Perhaps the biggest update though is the autofocus. A huge leap forward compared with the system found in the X-T1, AF tracking of moving subjects is very snappy, while the level of sophistication and customisation is impressive. Add in 8 frames per second burst shooting, a clever double-hinged rear display, bright EVF, Fujifilm's excellent 24.3MP X Trans III CMOS sensor and plenty of body mounted controls and you're left with one of the best cameras available today.
Read our in-depth Fujifilm X-T2 review
Canon's EOS 5D series of cameras has a rich heritage – the original EOS 5D bought full-frame DSLR photography to the masses, the Mark II unleashed Full HD video capture for the first time on a DSLR, and while the Mark III became a firm favourite amongst photographers. The EOS 5D Mark IV pretty much tweaks and improves on everything before it. With a new 30.4MP sensor that delivers pin-sharp results through the ISO range, a 61-point AF system that's incredibly advanced and some very polished handling, the EOS 5D Mark IV has to be one of the best DSLRs we've seen.
Read our in-depth Canon EOS 5D Mark IV review
Nikon has taken their flagship D5 DSLR and most of its high-end features and distilled all of this into a smaller, but still very durable metal body. The full-frame sensor is replaced by an 20.9MP APS-C sized chip, so it hasn't got quite the same resolving power as the D7200, but the small sacrifice in resolution is worth it for a number of reasons. ISO performance is brilliant, with an expanded setting that hits an equivalent of ISO1,640,000, while it can rattle off a burst of 200 raw shots at 10fps. That's not forgetting the 153-point AF system that is perhaps the best autofocus system out there right now. A brilliant all-rounder, it excels at fast action like sports and wildlife photography.
Read our in-depth Nikon D500 review
Once, if you wanted a professional quality full frame camera it had to be a Nikon or Canon DSLR. Sony's growing range of mirrorless full-frame cameras offer a great alternative and the Alpha A9 sits at the top of the range. The AF system Sony has blessed this camera with is not only incredibly quick, the tracking performance needs to be seen to be believed. Partner that with incredibly fast 20fps burst shooting, and a large and bright EVF that doesn't blackout when you're shooting, and you've got a camera that can mix it with the best that Canon and Nikon have to offer when it comes to shooting action. The Alpha A9 doesn't fail to impress.
Read our in-depth Sony Alpha A9 review
Nikon's D3400 builds on the brilliant D3300 and is our top pick when it comes to entry-level DSLRs. Sharing pretty much the same design and specification as its predecessor, the D3400 adds Nikon's SnapBridge bluetooth connectivity to transfer images directly to your smart device to make it that much easier to share images. The 24.2MP sensor resolves bags of detail, while the D3400 is also a very easy camera to live with. Its clever Guide Mode is a useful learning tool that gives real-time explanations of important features. There's no touchscreen, but otherwise, this is our favorite entry-level DSLR right now.
Read our in-depth Nikon D3400 review
The X100F is a thing of beauty both to look and and to use, but it's not for everyone. It's a relatively large, retro-styled compact camera with a fixed focal length 35mm equivalent f/2.0 lens, and designed for photographers who hanker after the weighty feel and manual external controls of traditional 35mm film rangefinder cameras. It's a relatively specialised camera and most owners are likely to have other cameras too. It may be a touch pricey, but there's nothing quite like it – it's an exquisite camera to look at and to shoot with.
Read our in-depth Fujifilm X100F review
We loved the original E-M10 for its size, versatility and value for money, but the E-M10 II adds features that take it to another level. The old camera's 3-axis image stabilization system has been uprated to the 5-axis system in Olympus's more advanced OM-D cameras, the viewfinder resolution has been practically doubled and the continuous shooting speed, already impressive at 8fps, creeps up to 8.5fps. Some will criticise the smaller Micro Four Thirds sensor format (roughly half the area of APS-C) but the effect on image quality is minor and it means that the lenses are as compact and lightweight as the camera itself. It's small, but it's no toy – the E-M10 II is a properly powerful camera.
Read our in-depth Olympus OM-D E-M10 II review
Similar in size to earlier ZS/TZ-series cameras, Panasonic however has managed to squeeze a much larger sensor into the ZS100 (TZ100 outside the US). This enables the pixels to be about 2.4x bigger than they are in models like the Lumix ZS70 / TZ90, and this helps the ZS100 produce much higher quality images. The zoom lens isn't quite so extensive though, but you still get an electronic viewfinder that makes it easier to compose images in bright sunny conditions and in addition to 4K video recording, there's Panasonic's 4K Photo mode to help capture 8MP images of fleeting moments. It all adds up to be a powerful compact camera.
One of the best entry-level DSLRs out there, the EOS Rebel T7i (known as the EOS 800D outside) is an update to the EOS Rebel T6i / 750D. The resolution stays the same, but it's a new design with an improved high ISO performance. The autofocus also gets a boost over the older model, now with a 45-point arrangement that's backed up by excellent live view AF system that's as quick as mirrorless rivals, while the newly designed graphical interface will certainly make this camera even more appealing to new users. The absence of 4K video and the quality of the exterior materials disappoint, but despite this the EOS Rebel T7i / 800D is a great entry into the world of DSLR photography.
Our final camera is a 'bridge' camera, a type of camera that we don't normally like very much because the ultra-zoom design forces the makers to use titchy 1/2.3-inch sensors the same size as those in point-and-shoot cameras. You get the look and feel of a DSLR, but you certainly don't get the image quality. But the Panasonic Lumix FZ2000 (known as the FZ2500 in the US) is different. It sacrifices a huge zoom range in favour of a much larger 1.0-inch sensor - a compromise most serious photographers will applaud. While the zoom tops out at 480mm equivalent, which is relatively short for a bridge camera, that's still plenty for all but the most extreme everyday use. We'd certainly sacrifice a little for of zoom range for better and faster optics. We love the FZ2000 because it delivers both image quality and zoom range, while also offering full manual and semi-manual controls, the ability to shoot raw files and 4K video.