Looking for the best camera for under $1,000? We’ve got you covered. If you’re on a budget and looking for an upgrade to your current camera, investing in a first camera or buying for a loved one, we’ve rounded up the best affordable cameras to buy in 2020. (This guide covers all camera types – if you’re looking specifically for a DSLR camera, take a look at our best beginner DSLR guide.)
Although $1,000 can get you a pretty decent new camera, sometimes the best option may be an older model that can still hold its own. Here, we’ve covered a mix of the latest and greatest cameras currently available to buy, to help you get the best value for your money.
In this roundup we’ve included cameras to suit a variety of needs. Each camera that’s made the list has been chosen based on its size, price and features. Some models are better suited to beginners, while others are higher-end models that may be a year or two old. Selecting the best camera under $1,000 is subjective, which is the reason they’re ranked from all-round capabilities, down to more niche uses. Each model in our roundup is the best in its class, so what you can be sure of is that it will help you capture winning photos, videos or both, whatever your pursuits.
Best camera under $1,000 at a glance:
- Sony A6600
- Fujifilm X-T200
- Fujifilm X-T3
- Canon EOS M50
- Canon EOS 80D
- Nikon Z50
- Nikon D7500
- Panasonic Lumix G9
The best cameras under $1,000 2020:
The A6600 is the latest in a long line of über-popular Sony APS-C cameras. There are quite a few to choose from, so what makes the A6600 one the best cameras under $1,000?
Aimed at enthusiast photographers, the A6600 has a 24.2-megapixel sensor and a 425-point phase detection autofocusing system. This makes it ideal for sports and action photography. If you’re comparing specs, then the advantages of the A6600 over the A6400 and A6100 may not be immediately obvious, since in that regard they’re similar, coming with the same sensor, too. The main difference with this model is that it includes in-body image stabilisation and has a more powerful Sony Bionz X image processor.
The increased processing power and improved focusing system, borrowed from Sony’s full-frame lineup, means the A6600 also gets full-time animal/human eye autofocus while recording video. This is a major advantage over many other models at this price, since it ensures that faces are consistently in focus when recording interviews or vlogging content, for example. The A6600 also gains HDR video-recording capabilities, capturing the full tonal glory of sunset views and broad vibrant landscapes.
The A6600 is well built, but it’s designed for the more nimble-fingered; it will feel miniature in larger hands, despite its relatively deep grip. There are two customisable buttons on the top and a handful of physical controls, too, that keep it approachable. Unfortunately, though, this camera still uses one of Sony’s less user-friendly menu interfaces. You can use touch to tap AF, but Sony hasn’t enabled touchscreen navigation of the A6600’s menus. The settings will take some getting used to; making changes can be quite the task, particularly for people who are new to the system.
Nevertheless, the A6600 remains a small, fast and powerful camera, capable of keeping up with the action to produce stunning images and video. It also offers decent battery life, achieving 700+ images on a single charge – plenty for a day out.
Aiming to bridge the gap between smartphone photography and the world of interchangeable lens cameras, the Fujifilm X-T200 provides a decent mix of physical controls and touchscreen functionality. As well as a decent viewfinder, which makes it easy to take pictures in bright sunlight, the X-T200 has a 3.5in display – the largest in its class. Its screen can even be flipped out to face forward, making it perfect for taking selfies and vlogging.
Having access to settings via a touchscreen keeps things familiar for people moving across from a smartphone. But this camera also offers physical controls, including three dials and a joystick, for those confident enough to explore them. It has a simple-to-use layout and helpful instructions displayed on the screen to explain menu items within the settings. Fujifilm mirrorless cameras are famed for producing incredible JPEG images in-camera that don’t require editing. In part, this is thanks to the inclusion of a range of award-winning Film Simulation modes, which replicate the look and feel of a classic film. Move over social media filters!
If you’re looking for a significant step up from a smartphone that offers decent photo performance with video capabilities, the X-T200 is a strong choice. As an entry-level camera, the X-T200 comes with the f/3.5-5.6 lens, which is a great everyday option for street portraits and travel. It also offers lens stabilization to help avoid blurry images in low light.
The X-T200 gives you access to a broad range of incredible Fujifilm lenses. This makes it an ideal camera for those ready to invest in a system that can grow with their skills.
Fujifilm’s award-winning X-T range has been on a roll for a number of years now, although some may say that the X-T3 fell slightly short of expectations. If this is indeed the case, then why did it make it into our best cameras under $1,000 list?
Eye-catching vintage good-looks aside, the X-T3 is a brilliantly designed camera that provides physical access to all of its key settings. Beginners may find its full control layout style a little intimidating. However, once you’re familiar, the X-T3 is one of the most intuitive and enjoyable cameras to use from any camera manufacturer.
Launched in 2018, the X-T3’s specs hold up today. It has a 26.1-megapixel APS-C sensor and a comprehensive autofocusing system that uses phase detection areas that cover 100% of the camera’s sensor. It also offers face/eye detection autofocusing, and can rattle off up to 11fps (with AF) if you’re using the mechanical shutter, or 20fps using the electronic shutter. Whether you plan to shoot sports or capture portraits, landscapes and pets, the X-T3 will help you do so with relative ease.
If you’re interested in making movies, the X-T3 can record up to 4K/60p 4:2:0 10-bit video, which is rare in this sub-$1,000 price bracket. I’m a huge fan of Fujifilm JPEG quality and the company’s famed Film Simulation modes. Pictures taken with this camera look sumptuous without you needing to spend much time (if any) editing them. And best of all? Investing in the X-T3 gives you access to a huge range of top-quality Fujifilm lenses.
Canon is a name to which many beginners will be drawn. In a crowded market, brand recognition has helped make the Canon EOS M50 one of its most popular releases in recent times.
It may not be the latest in the range, but the M50 still offers beginners an approachable way into the world of interchangeable lens photography and video making. At its heart sits a 24.1-megapixel APS-C sensor and Canon’s award-winning Dual Pixel AF system covering 143 points across its frame. This means it’s quick to focus on a range of subjects and will suit people keen to explore the type of photography in which they may be interested.
It has an uncluttered settings menu with plenty of tips and suggestions to help beginners along the way. Of course, tips can be disabled once they’re no longer needed. It’s light on physical controls, but has a slickly implemented flip-out touchscreen that makes controlling the camera as intuitive and straightforward as using a smartphone. The M50’s video specs aren’t anything to write home about: it records up to 4K/24p with a large 1.6x crop, so this isn’t the best option for video-centric amateurs.
One drawback of the M-series cameras from Canon is their limited lens range, but there’s an EF-M converter that we’d recommend picking as part of a bundle. The converter opens up the M50 to a plethora of EF lenses from Canon, as well as reputable third parties such as Sigma.
One of Canon’s most popular enthusiast-level DSLR cameras, the EOS 80D is a versatile camera body with advanced Dual Pixel autofocus capabilities.
On paper, the 80D may look a little out of sorts compared to some of the latest mirrorless camera bodies. It doesn’t offer any in-body image stabilization, and can record Full HD video only up to 60fps, for example. Many rivals, including phones, can record 4K resolution video at 60fps. So how did the 80D make it into the best cameras under $1,000 list? If your primary interest is capturing photos, the 80D is a reliable camera that will give you consistently beautiful and detailed photos.
It has a 24.2-megapixel sensor, with Canon’s award-winning Dual Pixel AF technology covering 45 points across the sensor. It locks onto subjects quickly and tracks them well. It’s body is well designed with an aluminium alloy frame, and it’s moisture- and-dust-resistant. It also has a flip-out 3.2-inch LCD screen, which is great for composing images at creative angles. It’s comfortable, and it offers decent battery performance, which means it will easily get you through a day of use.
Canon’s menu system offers helpful tips for beginners, so this is a good option for people who are new to dedicated interchangeable lens cameras and could do with some guidance.
The Nikon Z50 is one of the most competitive cameras in this price bracket right now. It may be a trimmed-down version of Nikon’s popular full-frame Z-camera range, but there are few corners cut when it comes to build quality and features.
Aimed at beginner and intermediate photographers, the Z50 has a simple layout with minimal buttons. It has a large 3.2-inch touchscreen that flips down below the camera for selfies and vlogging. In typical Nikon fashion, the Z50 enjoys a deep grip and thumb-rest, which make it comfortable to use. Paired with a 16-50mm f3.5-6.3 VR pancake kit lens, the Z50 is perfectly balanced and will be able to capture detailed shots of everyday scenes, portraits and family life. It’s also a good, inconspicuous combo for travel.
The Nikon Z-mount is still relatively new, so lens options are limited. However, Nikon does have an FTZ adapter that allows you to pair hundreds of Nikon F-mount lenses to the Z50 with full autofocusing functionality.
If you want reliability and consistently great image quality, the Nikon D7500 is a strong all-round option for beginners and enthusiast photographers.
Created using much of the same winning technology inside the pricier D500, the D7500 uses a powerful Nikon EXPEED 5 imaging processor and 51-point autofocusing system combination that’s designed to keep up with fast-moving action. This also means that it can capture full-resolution images at up to 8fps with continuous autofocus.
The D7500 is a camera you can count on to keep shooting in a range of environments: it has a tough frame with sealing against weather and dust. It also has a durable battery that will have you covered for a day trip.
Its screen may be relatively low in resolution at 922k dots, but it’s fully articulated and comes with touchscreen functionality, which is great for capturing content at extreme angles. There’s 4K video here, but it maxes out at 30fps and has a recording time limit of 29 minutes and 59 seconds. DSLR’s are beginning to feel a little outdated in 2020, but the D7500 keeps things connected via Nikon’s SnapBridge smart device pairing app. It allows you to remotely control your camera, and share your content, directly from your phone.
The Panasonic Lumix G9 was well ahead of its time when it was released in 2018, which is why it still merits inclusion in best camera lists in 2020. Housing a 20.4-megapixel Micro Four Thirds sensor, the G9 can capture full-resolution JPEGs at 20fps with continuous autofocus.
If that isn’t quick enough, Lumix cameras also have 4K and 6K Photo modes. These can capture up to 15 minutes of ultra-high-resolution video at 30fps, and allow you to extract individual still frames at 8-megapixel and 18-megapixel resolutions respectively. Other great features include an 80-megapixel high-res photo mode that combines eight images into one, and 4K video recording at up to 60fps.
The G9 also has in-body image stabilization that will help you capture clean nightscape images and smooth video when shooting handheld. Its body is compact and tough, with an approachable button layout and intuitive menu system. Its extensive list of features and compact size makes the G9 a great companion camera for day trips and travel photography. It also has a flip-out screen, which is ideal for selfies and vlogging.
Micro Four Thirds sensor cameras are compatible with hundreds of relatively affordable lenses, making this a system you can invest in without having to shell out huge sums as your skills grow. The G9 is one of the most versatile cameras money can buy at this price point.