How to choose the best Nikon cameras? It depends if you are a happy collector looking for a simple camera, an enthusiast eager to develop your skills, or an expert or professional looking for the best Nikon DSLR camera full-frame or mirrorless. But don’t worry because we have sections dedicated to these three types of cameras. If you already know what you want, just click on our navigation links on the left. And if the debate about full-frame or mirrorless cameras is raging, both types of cameras have their fans. As far as we’re concerned, both are good, and it’s the type of camera you like to use that count.
On the DSLR side, the new Nikon D780 combines the best features of a DSLR (optical viewfinder, battery life, size, and robustness) with the live view, sensor autofocus, and 4K video of Nikon’s mirrorless cameras, in this case, the Nikon Z 6. This is a new era in DSLR design, and it’s great to see another full-frame Nikon DSLR joining the lineup.
Best Nikon Cameras of 2020
Whatever your budget, needs, or tastes, there is a Nikon camera perfect for you – and you’ll probably find it in our list of the best Nikon cameras.
1. Nikon Z6
Nikon’s full-frame mirrorless camera is a triumph
Nikon’s Z6 is a worthy rival to the Sony Alpha A7 III, offering a high-quality, full-frame experience with careful handling, a high-resolution sensor, and high-end performance. That’s why the news of its successor is so exciting: the Nikon Z6 II is expected to be launched very soon. We don’t yet know what improvements the Z6 II will bring, but we’re hoping for a variable-angle touch screen, next-generation autofocus, increased buffer memory, and enhanced video capabilities.
Either way, the price will play an important role in determining whether it will dethrone the current king of that list: at current prices, the Z6 continues to offer excellent value – and that will only become more true if prices drop when the second-generation variant arrives. For now, the Z6 is still the model to beat, with performance and features that make professionals and enthusiasts alike happy.
Its 24.5 MP full-frame sensor is capable of delivering excellent results, while the 273-point AF system and 12-frame/second burst shooting mean you’ll never miss a shot again. It’s very easy to handle, while the large and bright electronic viewfinder is a pleasure to use. Overall, this is one of the best Nikon cameras.
2. Nikon D3500
The best DSLR for beginners
While you’re still learning and deciding what type of device is best for you, choose a device that’s simple enough to understand right away and affordable enough that you can change your mind and change it later if you decide you need something different. The D3500 is the entry-level model in Nikon’s DSLR lineup, but it has a 24.2MP sensor that is as good as a camera at twice the price, and it offers a very good continuous shooting speed of 5 fps for a beginner’s camera.
The Guide mode will help beginners get started and understand the basics, but the D3500 has all the manual controls you need to become familiar with photography while improving your skills. It sometimes comes a little cheaper with a non-VR (unstabilized) kit lens, but it’s certainly worth paying a little more for the VR version. Overall, this is one of the best Nikon cameras.
3. Nikon D7500
A powerful DSLR for professionals
Nikon fans ready to switch from a beginner’s model should look at the Nikon D7500. It’s a larger and more robust camera that offers 8fps continuous shooting, Nikon’s renowned 51-point autofocus system, and the ability to shoot 4K movies. Its rear screen is tiltable, unlike the Nikon D5600’s, which is fully articulated, making vertical shots more difficult, but it is suitable for both video and horizontal shots. The D7500 has a lower resolution sensor than the D5600 (20MP vs. 24MP), but it’s a newer design that sacrifices a few megapixels in exchange for better image quality at high ISO levels and faster image capture. Overall, this is one of the best Nikon cameras.
4. Nikon D780
The new Nikon D780 offers the best of both worlds!
The Nikon D780 takes the phase-detecting autofocus on Nikon’s mirrorless Z6 model sensor to offer DSLR with mirrorless camera live view performance – great! In fact, the D780 is like an upgraded and upgraded version of Nikon‘s ever-popular D750 full-frame DSLR. Not only does the D780 feature advanced AF in live view mode, but it’s also equipped with a high-resolution tilt-touch screen, 4K UHD video, two UHS-II-compatible memory card slots, and a continuous shooting speed of up to 12 frames/s in live view mode.
Combine that with its solid design and comfortable grip, and you’ve got a camera that’s an instant classic. We’d just like the price to come down a bit, though – being brand new, it’s a bit expensive at the moment. It also reminds us how good (and cheap) the older Nikon D750 is at the moment. If all you need is a good quality classic camera, the D750 is still a great buy. Overall, this is one of the best Nikon cameras.
5. Nikon D750
Nikon’s cheapest full-frame DSLR still feels surprisingly fresh
The Nikon D750 is a few years old now, but it has proven to be an excellent all-around camera at an increasingly attractive price. The D750 is now Nikon’s entry-level full-frame DSLR and takes its controls and handling cues from Nikon’s top-of-the-line digital SLRs rather than its professional models, but it features Nikon’s proven 51-point AF system which was, for a while, the best in the Nikon range. The D750 does not record 4K movies, but it can shoot Full HD 1080p at 60 frames per second. Overall, this is one of the best Nikon cameras.
It also has a tilting rear monitor, so even though its live autofocus isn’t particularly fast, it’s still one step ahead of most fixed-screen DSLRs. The big news for Nikon fans is that the new Nikon D780 corrects all the shortcomings of the D750 while keeping its best features. The D780 is equipped with the Nikon Z 6’s fast live autofocus without a mirror, 4K movie, and continuous shooting at up to 12 frames per second – while the D780 is ideal for videographers and sports enthusiasts, the D750 still offers the best value for money.
6. Nikon Z7
Nikon’s first full-frame Z camera is a smash
Like the company’s D850 DSLR (below), the Z7’s trump card is that it manages to combine a high-resolution sensor with fast burst shooting and a rich 4K video recording option, making it versatile enough to be used in all kinds of applications. Key advantages over its D850 cousin include 493 phase-detecting AF points that span 90% of the vertical and horizontal axes and 5-axis vibration reduction that can be used with a variety of lenses.
As we found in our study, the handling is excellent and the 3.69 million-dot viewfinder is a pleasure to use, while the video quality is also very good. Only a few native lenses have been developed so far, although it is possible to use F-mount lenses through an adapter, and although some may be hindered by the presence of a single XQD card slot, this should not be an obstacle considering all that Nikon has managed to achieve here. Overall, this is one of the best Nikon cameras.
7. Nikon D850
This is the ultimate Nikon pro DSLR, the camera with everything
Fans of mirrorless cameras often complain about the size and weight of DSLRs, and they are right. The Nikon D850 is a camera that makes a lot of noise compared to the new Nikon Z models. But this size works in your favor if you photograph with big and heavy lenses, and most pro lenses are big and heavy! This is a handling factor that many users without mirrors do not take into account. As a digital SLR, the D850 has a bright, clear optical viewfinder that many photographers still prefer to a digital display, no matter how good it is.
The D850’s 45.7-megapixel sensor produces fairly superb image quality, but it can still maintain a shooting speed of 7 frames per second or 9 frames per second with the optional battery handle. Even without the handle, the D850 has an incredible 1,840 shots – more than any of its competitors without the mirror – and is equipped with two memory card slots: one for the new XQD card format and one for regular SD/SDHC/SDXC cards. Overall, this is one of the best Nikon cameras.
8. Nikon Z50
A mirrorless marvel with perfect proportions
The mid-range market without mirrors has never been so crowded. Does this make Nikon’s first foray into the APS-C arena any less appealing? Not at all: with its fantastic handling, compact construction, and many features, the Z50 offers an excellent price-performance ratio for Nikon fans. It’s not as small as some of its competitors, but its deep grip and the good distribution of buttons make it a pleasant camera to hold and use – even if a joystick would allow you to select the AF point faster by looking through the viewfinder (which you will often do, considering its ease of use).
Supported by an Expeed 6 processor (like the one of the Nikon Z6/Z7), the 20.9MP sensor is very powerful. In addition to facilitating 4K video recording, it can produce images with vivid colors but realistic and with a good level of overall detail. Performance in low light could be much worse, and while it’s certainly not a sporty model, AF does a decent job with eye detection. Overall, this is one of the best Nikon cameras.
9. Nikon Z5
The best entry-level full-frame mirrorless camera right now
Almost identical to the exceptional Z6, the Nikon Z5 is the best entry-level mirrorless full-frame camera on the market today. Its 273-point autofocus system is competent, reliable, and intelligent, while the large 24 MP sensor delivers sharp, detailed images in a variety of scenarios. You’ll really need to look closely to spot any difference between Z5 and Z6 photos, even in low light. Accessibility is the hallmark of Nikon digital SLRs, but the Z5 also benefits from a rugged, waterproof body, although it loses the upper LCD screen of the Z6.
The 3.2-inch touchscreen is just a tilt thing, but it’s still very good. In reality, the Z5 has only three major compromises: the disappointing 4.5 fps burst shooting speed, the limited 1.7x cropping on 4K images, and the price. With its robust performance and large sensor, it’s a fantastic camera for beginner full-format photographers, but it’s not much cheaper than the Z6, which is superior. Overall, this is one of the best Nikon cameras.
10. Nikon Coolpix P950
The huge P1000 zooms further, but we think the P950 makes more sense
For our tenth camera, we chose a superzoom bridge camera, a type of camera that continues to be popular. There are compromises – you have to accept a smaller sensor and somewhat reduced image quality in exchange for the huge lens – but what you get is a camera with a colossal zoom range that DSLR and mirrorless camera owners can only dream of. So why recommend the smaller Coolpix P950 rather than the Coolpix P1000, which has an even greater range? Frankly, the P1000 is simply too much. It’s a huge camera with a fairly high price tag. The P950 comes with raw capture and 4K video, and it’s just a little more portable and affordable. Overall, this is one of the best Nikon cameras.
11. Nikon Coolpix W300
Best for adventure lovers: the Nikon W300 can survive anything you can!
Large, heavy cameras are not suitable for extreme environments. If you are skydiving, surfing, or diving into waterfalls in a kayak, you need a small, light, and resistant camera. There are many GoPro type action cameras to meet this need, but the Nikon Coolpix W300 is a “real” camera with a 5x zoom, a 3-inch screen, and camera control not found on an action camera. Its 1/2.3-inch sensor allows you to capture 16-megapixel photos and 4K videos, and it’s impressively robust.
It is waterproof to a depth of 30m, which is quite impressive, but it is also shock resistant, being designed to withstand a fall from a height of 2.4m. It doesn’t shoot raw files, which is a pity, but it’s quite rare in this category of devices, and it’s not a breaking factor. It’s the ideal device for families who like to let off steam a little! Overall, this is one of the best Nikon cameras.
12. Nikon Coolpix A10
We love the Nikon A10. It’s cute, it’s simple and it’s amazing value
Can you really get a decent digital camera for so little money? It depends on the level of image quality you expect. You wouldn’t really try to make wall enlargements with such a camera, but it’s more than adequate for photos and social sharing, and it’s much more versatile (and cheaper to lose or damage) than a smartphone. Of course, the economical price means compromises on sensor size and image quality, but you still get a 5x optical zoom, a decent 2.7-inch screen, and a simple layout of the controls that allows anyone to take and use it.
We also like the fact that it runs on a pair of regular AA batteries, so if there’s a power outage, just pick up a few extra batteries at a nearby store. Its continuous shooting mode is a bit too slow to use, and it can only capture 720p video, but at this price, you have to accept a few compromises, and the A10 ticks all the boxes for a low-cost family camera. Overall, this is one of the best Nikon cameras.