9 best entry-level cameras from £299

Photography beginner or on a budget? Choose from our shortlist of entry-level cameras.

9 Best Entry-Level Cameras From £299

by Kirk Schwarz |

Cameras. We love them, but even we marvel at the sheer number of different models. If you’re stepping into the world of photography for the first time, it’s going to be a daunting place. Do you go DSLR, or is mirrorless the way forward? Should you stick with a compact camera, or invest in a bridge camera with a superzoom lens?

Related: The best budget cameras for portrait photography

We can’t give you a definitive answer to those questions. The kind of camera that best suits you is a personal affair, and one that depends on a great many factors. That said, we can offer you a head-start. These nine entry-level cameras are a great place to begin, whatever your budget…

Best entry-level cameras 2021

Canon EOS 2000D

Canon EOS 2000D
Amazon

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This is the slightly more advanced version of the 4000D and has a price-tag to matchu2026

The slightly more advanced version of the 4000D, this offering is a little more up to date, with a price-tag to match. It boasts a 24.1MP APS-C sensor, EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II lens and 3in 920k-dot rear LCD screen. However, beyond this, and a few cosmetic upgrades, it’s a very similar story. You still get the 9-point phase detection autofocus system, 3fps continuous shooting speed and native ISO range of 100-6400, which isn’t as impressive an offering as others in test.

As you’d expect, the Canon has an in-built flash, which keeps it in-line with the rest of the competition and helps when shooting in low light, where an extra pop can be incredibly handy. It also manages to capture Full HD 1080p video at 30fps, which isn’t stand-out, but is handy to have if you’re looking to shoot some moving images.

Overall, there’s little to separate this from the 4000D, except build quality and megapixels. If you have the budget this is the superior choice, but if you’re looking to spend less, it’s the 4000D.

Pros

Easy to use

Good price

Guided menus

Cons

Limited AF

Lacking a touchscreen

Only 3fps burst shooting

Nikon D3500

Nikon D3500
Amazon

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Nikonu2019s latest entry into the budget DSLR category is bundled with an AF-P DX 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G lens.

Under the hood, you’ll find a brand new 24.2MP sensor, ISO range of 100-25,600 – perfect for low-light shooting – and nippy 5fps continuous shooting speed. There are 11 AF points, which utilise phase detection, or contrast detection when composing using the fixed 3in 921k-dot tilting rear screen.

If you’re looking for style, the D3500 has had a physical overhaul compared to its predecessor, and now rocks in at a lightweight 415g. It also boasts a handy guide, much like the Canon offerings. If you want to record life’s moments, it captures Full HD 1080p at 60fps, which is double the speed of the Canon – ideal for occasional movie shooting.

As with others here, you have access to a number of colour profiles, or the Picture Control System, which can add that extra something to your shots. It also offers a phenomenal best in test 1550-shot battery life.

Pros

Guided menus

Easy to use

Amazing battery life

Cons

Limited AF

Lacking a touchscreen

No Wi-Fi

Canon EOS 4000D

Canon EOS 4000D
Amazon

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The 4000D packs a punch thanks to a tried and tested 18MP APS-C sensor, borrowed from the popular 1300D. The most budget-friendly DSLR currently available, Canon is a popular choice for beginners. The 4000D manages this price by sacrificing some of the construction quality. However, it can still pack a punch, thanks to a tried and tested 18MP APS-C sensor, borrowed from the popular 1300D.

The most budget-friendly DSLR currently available, Canon is a popular choice for beginners. The 4000D manages this price by sacrificing some of the construction quality. However, it can still pack a punch, thanks to a tried and tested 18MP APS-C sensor, borrowed from the popular 1300D. The 4000D offers shooters a 9-point phase detection autofocus system, 3fps continuous shooting speed and 100-6400 ISO range. There’s also a handy guided menu system – great for learning.

If you like to experiment, there’s a range of Creative Filters, such as Toy Camera or Fish-eye, while the Scene Intelligent Auto will help you get the best shots from the start. You’re able to switch between different Picture Styles, such as Portrait, Landscape or Monochrome, with each adding a different look to your shots. The kit also comes with an EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 III lens, which is a great everyday walkabout optic.

While maybe not the best in test, looking a bit cheap and weathered against the competition, it is very budget friendly.

Pros

Guided menus

Easy to use

Ideal on a tight budget

Cons

Low-res LCD

Cheap construction

Bit outdated

Fujifilm X-T100

Fujifilm X-T100
Amazon

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This latest offering has a 24.2MP Bayer sensor and a design layout that mimics 35mm classic style.

Fujifilm has carved a niche in the APS-C mirrorless market with its stunning range of retro-looking X Series cameras. This latest offering has a 24.2MP Bayer sensor and exudes charm, with its design layout mimicking 35mm classic style. It packs in an impressive 91-point phase detection AF system, 6fps continuous shooting speed and a handy 1040k-dot 3in 180° three-way tilting touchscreen.

Those who like to photograph people will love the impressive AF tracking mode, which also includes Face and Eye detection modes, while the 15-45mm f/3.5-5.6 XC OIS PLZ lens gives pleasing results, regardless of your chosen genre.

Fujifilm excels at colours. This is especially true if you’re shooting JPEGs. The in-built Film Simulation modes allow you to recreate some of the company’s most iconic classic film styles. You can preview these through the EVF or rear screen, and choose from classics, such as Velvia, Provia and Classic Chrome – perfect for those not ready to jump into shooting RAW.

Pros

Flip-out screen

Film Simulation

Stylish retro appearance

Cons

4K video only 15fps

Feels plasticky

Battery life

Nikon Coolpix P900

Nikon Coolpix P900

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This superzoom bridge camera from Nikon is ideal if youu2019re on a budget.

This superzoom bridge camera from Nikon is ideal if you’re on a budget. Though its 1/2.3in sensor may not provide the best image quality in class, its 83x optical zoom lens gives you a 35mm equivalent focal length of 24-2000mm with a variable aperture of f/2.8-6.5. You can even double this to 4000mm with the Dynamic Fine Zoom feature, though this will affect image quality.

Under the hood, there’s a 1/2.3in CMOS sensor with 16MP resolution, contrast detection autofocus system and 5-axis optical image stabilisation – a must when shooting at 2000mm. The P900 supports manual shooting, which is great when you need to input your settings, though it doesn’t support RAW files. The EVF is very handy for composing your shots, especially in bright daylight, and the 3in 921k-dot rear screen is perfect for reviewing your images to make sure you’ve nailed the shot.

Although the autofocus isn’t the best in class, you can select the handy Moon or Bird-watching modes to make it easier to capture those stunning images.

Pros

Battery life

Huge zoom range

Image stabilisation

Cons

Aperture range

Small sensor

Bulky

Panasonic Lumix TZ100

Panasonic Lumix TZ100
Amazon

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The TZ100 provides a 1in sensor, 4x bigger than its predecessoru2019s 1/2.3in.

Panasonic’s TZ range is known for its consistently high quality. The TZ100, however, takes this reputation to the next level by providing a 1in sensor, 4x bigger than its predecessor’s 1/2.3in. This larger sensor packs in 20.1MP, better low-light performance and improved image quality. You also have a 25-250mm equivalent Leica DC Vario-Elmarit lens with a variable f/2.8-5.9 aperture, depending on the focal length you’re using.

As well as impressive core specs, you’ll also find tons of goodies, such as the company’s 5-axis OIS (Optical Image Stabilisation), which helps when shooting at slower shutter speeds. The native ISO range of 125-12,800 will help to capture cleaner images in low light. You have access to a nippy 49-point contrast detection AF system, and the brilliant 4K Photo modes, which allow you to capture 30fps and export a still as an 8MP image, or even alter your focus point after taking the shot. It also packs in 4K video, an EVF and 10fps continuous shooting, in a lightweight 310g body.

Pros

4K video and photo modes

Image stabilisation

Focal range

Cons

No tilt screen

Aperture range

Battery life

Canon PowerShot G9 X MkII

Canon PowerShot G9 X MkII
Amazon

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The G9X MkII features a 1in sensor capable of capturing 20.1MP stills and 1080p 60fps Full HD video.

Another compact boasting a 1in sensor, the G9 is a premium offering with a great set of features and a shortest-in-test 28-84mm lens with variable f/2-4.9 aperture. The 20.1MP sensor and Digic 7 processor give the G9 a respectable 8fps continuous shooting speed and 31-point autofocus system. You can also use Touch AF with the 3in 1040k-dot rear LCD, which will be your sole point of composing shots, since the G9 doesn’t feature an in-built viewfinder. It also opts for streamlined psychical controls, with only four rear buttons, meaning the brunt of menu navigation will be via the touchscreen.

Despite seeming like the least advanced here, it has a sturdy metallic construction, easy-to-use control scheme and stellar image quality. It’s aimed at those stepping up from a smartphone, and nifty features such as face detection AF, RAW shooting and an in-built 3-stop ND filter make this a solid first camera choice.

Pros

1in sensor

Compact and lightweight

8.4fps burst shooting

Cons

Focal length

No EVF

Battery life

Olympus OM-D E-M10 II

Olympus OM-D E-M10 II

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Don't be fooled by the E-M10 II's retro looks, it's full of features including image stabilisation and a 16.1MP sensor.

The E-M10 II provides a great entry-level option to those photographers who would like the idea of the OM-D system but aren’t ready to spend upwards of £800 on the E-M5 II or E-M1. Existing users of the older E-M10 will struggle to justify upgrading to the II, but there’s no denying that the improved exterior styling and new internal features (particularly the five-axis image stabilisation) make this a much improved proposition. We would have liked to have seen a higher megapixel count and more innovation around on the tiltable screen. However, the robust build quality and availability of lenses for the OM-D system help increase up this camera’s appeal.

Sony Alpha 6000

Sony Alpha 6000
Amazon

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Sonyu2019s Alpha 6000 has some impressive features, such as 11fps shooting and lightning-fast AF.

The camera is a little short on style, and perhaps doesn’t have such a premium feel as more advanced CSC models, but it delivers where it counts, with many features rivalling even the best DSLRs on the market. Our only real criticisms of the Alpha 6000 would be a downgraded electronic viewfinder, the lack of touchscreen functionality, and missing audio in and out sockets. Other niggles include an awkwardly positioned memory card slot and image review button. Overall though, this is one impressive piece of kit that we wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to any enthusiast-level photographer.

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Kirk Schwarz is one of our resident tech experts. A tech-addicted photographer with more than a decade's experience, Kirk's used to putting new gear through extreme field-testing.

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