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The multitude of digital camera options available on the market today is astounding, from entry-level DSLR cameras with interchangeable lenses, image stabilization and an electronic viewfinder, to full-frame DSLR or mirrorless cameras with an optical electronic viewfinder. With so many to choose from, it can be hard to select the best one. 

And what about an image sensor? Different cameras have different sensor sizes, different kinds of sensors (such as a full-frame sensor) and more. Add to that the stiff competition among quality smartphone cameras or a travel camera, and it can be overwhelming to figure out just what the best camera or accessory (zoom lens, anyone?) to buy is, whether for beginners or professional photographers.

This buyer's guide has something for everyone. It won't be long before you get to zoom in and shoot high-quality photos and video with a new digital camera.

Joshua Goldman/CNET

When moving at high speeds, nothing beats an action camera for sharing the most breathless moments. The latest version of this excellent little action cam got rid of the separate mounting frame, improved on its already-terrific image stabilization with even better image stabilization, and made it easier to shoot better-looking videos. This travel camera is a perfect gift for the outdoor enthusiast or traveler landscape photographer shooting landscape adventures.

Read our GoPro Hero 8 Black preview.


Sarah Tew/CNET

This is a great camera choice for an experienced photographer who wants the photo and video quality that only a full frame camera can produce. It's one generation old, but it's relatively small and for just under $1,000 you get a lens with it -- not a terrific lens, mind you, but there are lots of FE-mount lenses to choose from at a wide range of prices before you shoot. 

Read our Sony A7 II preview.


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This travel camera gives new meaning to the term "travel camera." To quote our Mavic Air review, this is "a folding 4K mini drone that's close to perfect." It's an amazingly capable quadcopter that can shoot lovely 4K video -- and it's actually small enough to fit into a pocket, albeit a big one and is great for travel. Just make sure to keep an eye on the battery!

Read our DJI Mavic Air review.


Aloysius Low/CNET

Canon's entry-level full-frame mirrorless EOS RP is a quality camera. I recommend this mirrorless camera for people who already own Canon EF lenses or who'll be OK buying new ones. That's because the camera line is relatively new so there aren't many affordable R-mount options, but there are tons of compatible lenses (telephoto lens and otherwise) that can be used with an adapter. 

Read our Canon EOS RP preview.


Any newbie downsizing from a DSLR camera or upgrading from a camera phone will find this a great interchangeable lens mirrorless camera. Providing the image quality and performance you expect when graduating from using a smartphone camera to shoot, the A6000 mirrorless camera may be several generations old, but that just means it's inexpensive enough to make an affordable yet terrific gift. You can also send photos directly to your phone with the camera app. And at this size, it's a great travel camera.

Its current descendant, the A6400, has a much-upgraded autofocus system and improved image processing, but it's also $1,000 with a basic kit lens. And after all these years, people who shoot with the A6000 mirrorless camera still rave about it. 

Lori Grunin/CNET

Mirrorless digital camera models are lighter and more convenient than their cheaper mirrored counterparts. One of the best things about this quality Micro Four Thirds interchangeable-lens mirrorless camera as a DSLR alternative is that the lenses are tiny -- you can throw five in your bag and barely feel them. The E-M10 Mark II is fast, with solid photo and video quality and a useful feature set, plus Olympus' policy of adding features via firmware upgrades makes this compact camera a long-term choice. The Mark III succeeded this one, but most of the changes were in the interface, so performance and photo and video quality should be identical if you feel compelled to shoot with something newer.

Sarah Tew/CNET

It's easy to go for the cheaper models when it comes to general travel photography, but shooting fast-moving subjects such as sports and wildlife still requires a little more outlay. The Nikon D7500 takes great shots and is a terrific DSLR for the enthusiast action photographer. And at about $1,200 for a dual-lens kit, it's not even that expensive for its class anymore.

Read our Nikon D7500 preview.


Sarah Tew/CNET

You can find this quality general-purpose DSLR at a reasonable price for the camera body only. That makes it perfect for anyone who's done with their cheap DSLR and looking for faster focus and continuous shooting or looking for a good video experience in a DSLR. It's been succeeded by the 90D, which brings with it 4K video support, but that kit will run you at least $1,300 -- you can get a dual-lens kit of the 80D for less than that -- and may not see big discounts this holiday season. 

Read our Canon EOS 80D review.



Nikon and Canon's cheap (but good quality) DSLRs are great for the newbie photographer who's ready to move beyond a smartphone. Nikon's entry-level models will deliver sharper photos and video, thanks to a sensor that doesn't use a low-pass filter. It's a great bit of sensor innovation that makes for a great sensor. The current D3500 is essentially identical to the D3400 it replaced.

Read our Nikon D3400 review.


Joshua Goldman/CNET

For the video streamer on your list, the C922 Pro delivers 720p at 60 frames per second (fps) with solid image and video quality and decent audio. It also comes with a three-month subscription to XSplit Broadcaster and Gamecaster to do more than simple video broadcasts. (Note: Amazon is showing that this product is currently out of stock, but availability of items can fluctuate on the site.)

See our favorite YouTube webcams.



The Brio 4K has more features than the C922, like the option to use it to sign into a Windows 10 PC using facial recognition. The main attraction is the increased performance for streaming video at full ultra HD 1080p resolution at up to 60 fps and recording in 4K resolution at 30 fps. It can also compensate for bad light with HDR. And don't you want your giftee to appear in the best light? (Note: Amazon is showing that this product is currently out of stock, but availability of items can fluctuate on the site.)

See our favorite YouTube webcams.


More camera advice

Originally published last year and updated periodically as we review new products.