Professional Cameras That Are Easy to Use

Reconsider the assumption your phone can do it all. Because if you’re serious about capturing the journey of your first 14er in Colorado or your kid’s first bike ride sans training wheels, you can’t settle for pixelated mediocrity. Top-of-the-line professional cameras might seem daunting, but all DSLRs aren’t created equally. And they’re not your only options.



From pocket-size to pro, pixel-cranking cameras have never been so accessible. Here are the best cameras to consider if you’re a budding photographer.

Best new cameras of 2021
Best new cameras of 2021, from top to bottom: Canon EOS R6, Nikon Z5, Fujifilm X100V, Sony ZV- 1, and GoPro Hero9 Black Chris Wellhausen

5 Pixel-Cranking Cameras That Are Professional Grade but User-Friendly

1. Canon EOS R6

Be creative, not overwhelmed. This 20-megapixel, mirrorless do-it-all features a “flexible priority” mode that offloads complex decisions (like ISO) to the camera, while you keep manual control over others (like shutter speed). And there’s no rival for action video at this price (20 fps with unique subject-tracking and amazing stabilization).


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2. Nikon Z5

If still photos are your game, there’s no better mirrorless camera for the money. The 24-megapixel Z5’s five stops of stabilization can’t top the pricier Canon R6, though it matches its astonishing 1/8000 max shutter. The electronic viewfinder is so sharp you won’t miss your DSLR.

[From $1,400;]

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3. Fujifilm X100V

With a fixed 23mm f/2 lens, this retro-styled pocket camera provides as much manual control as possible while capturing 26 megapixels. The functions all have their own dials—after setup, you may never need to use the rear touchscreen. Bonus: abnormally stellar subject-tracking, plus surprisingly gorgeous 4K video.


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4. Sony ZV- 1

Talk about superior specs: constant subject-tracking, 20.1-megapixel sensor, in-body stabilization, superb low-light sensitivity from a zoomable, f/1.8 lens, and stereo audio capture. A clever top button instantly provides out-of-focus blur for more dramatic video, and the ZV-1 plugs into your computer for far cleaner video during Zoom calls.


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5. GoPro Hero9 Black

A new “hypersmooth” level of stabilization turns bouncy trail footage into a fluid surf over craters. And forget about worries over sunset exposures. The kicker is 23.6-megapixel images (twice the size of most smartphones), and up to 14-megapixel stills pulled from video shot up to 5K—negating some needs for a “real” camera.


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