Almost all best camera brands produce the same types of cameras. That’s why all beginning photographers ask themselves what is the best camera to buy or what is the best camera brand for you? In this article I will try to help you choose the best camera company, which will satisfy your needs as a photographer.
It is difficult to name the one best camera brand. You’ll not find the only company that produces a camera that will make you a successful photographer. Today photography equipment market has the exact leaders in each category. If you are looking for the best DSLR camera brand, you’ll need to choose between Canon and Nikon. If we’re talking about best mirrorless cameras, you can choose between Sony and Fujifilm. Panasonic will be your top camera brand if you are interested in video recording. GoPro and Sony are absolute leaders when it comes to action cameras. For those shooters, who have the unlimited budget and strive for the best quality, Hasselblad or Leica have lots of interesting models.
Today, there are many brands that produce cameras, lenses, lighting, tripods, and other photography accessories, which are respected and demanded. I’ve chosen 15 popular digital cameras brands that are worth your attention.
Company opening date: August 10, 1937
Main competitors: Sony, Nikon
Equipment: cameras, lenses, flashes, binoculars, printers
Softwares: Digital Photo Professional, EOS MOVIE Utility, EOS Utility, ImageBrowser EX, Picture Style Editor, PhotoStitch
Price: From $100 to $6500
Canon is a Japanese company that produces video cameras and cameras, lenses, accessories for cameras and printers. It doesn't matter if you are a beginner photographer, amateur or professional, if you have $200 or $2000 in your pocket, Canon will have a good camera for you.
Comparing Canon with other popular camera brands, I can say that this company doesn’t try to create the best device for photo and video shooting. They do something in between, combining good video and photography features in one camera. What about the legendary L lenses line, which has been growing since 1969? The first lens that all photographers really liked was FL-F 300mm f/5.6. Thanks to professional quality, reliability, practicality in any conditions and technical characteristics – the lens became the best one among competitors leaving them behind for many years.
Company opening date: July 25, 1917
Main competitors: Canon, Pentax
Equipment: cameras, lenses, binoculars, flashes, film scanners
Softwares: ViewNX 2
Price: From $350 to $6700
If you’re going to take high-quality photos and do not need video recording, you’d better visit the Nikon store. From the very beginning this Japanese company decided to create and improve the niche of cameras for professional shooting, while losing video recording quality.
That’s why the Nikon DSLR lineup takes exclusively leading positions in various tests of matrices, lenses, and autofocuses. This is the strongest side of the Nikon Company – they try to achieve the best picture quality among competitors. As for the disadvantages of Nikon camera brand, you should know that only professional camera bodies (without lenses) starting with $3000 can ensure high image quality.
Company opening date: May 7, 1946
Main competitors: Fujifilm, GoPro
Equipment: photo and video cameras, lenses, games and network services, home appliances, mobile phones
Softwares: Sony Vegas, Xperia
Price: From $100 to $6100
Sony, as well as Canon camera brand, provides excellent stabilization and video recording, Sony has one distinguishing feature, this company produces top quality action cameras and best mirrorless cameras. Sony action cameras are so popular because of their electronic stabilization and excellent picture quality at any time of the day. The Sony camera brand offers a small variety of mirrorless cameras (approximately 30 models), while DSLRs have not been released for about ten years.
Company opening date: May 28, 1942
Main competitors: Panasonic
Equipment: cameras, dictaphones, binoculars
Softwares: Viewer 3
Price: From $100 to $1500
Olympus is a Japanese company specializing in the production of optics, photo gear, high-quality optical equipment. The whole line of Olympus cameras is top-quality and stylish devices with the 4/3 micro-matrix, which is a hallmark of Olympus Corporation camera brand. Personally I like this type of matrix, because it has one of the best stabilization. All in all, it is easier to work with such matrices and they are perfect for reportage, sports and documentary shooting. However, in my opinion, such matrices have a significant drawback in terms of optics usage – a crop factor greatly distorts the shots you get with film and full-frame lenses.
Company opening date: 1849
Main competitors: Hasselblad
Equipment: cameras, lenses, microscopes
Softwares: Microscope Imaging, Leica Geosystems
Price: From $1300 to $9000
All Leica cameras are made of high-quality assembly materials and are equipped with one of the best optics on the market. It’s famous “Leica effect” is everything professional studio and street photographers look for. All lenses are sharp, high-aperture, and compact.
Besides, it can be called the best camera brand among film cameras, which functioned efficiently after 50 years they’d been released. Leica is in the list of top 10 camera brands, which even now continue to produce rangefinder cameras that seem to be outdated. As for the disadvantages, it’s their high price. This is one of the most expensive camera brand names on the market.
Company opening date: 1934
Main competitors: Sony, Hasselblad
Equipment: lenses, cameras, instant print cameras, binoculars, medical equipment
Softwares: Fujifilm Global
Price: From $100 to $1500
Fujifilm is a Japanese manufacturer of amateur and professional photo equipment, as well as accessories and consumables. The strong point of Fujifilm is that they produce some of the best matrices on the market, which, by the way, have been frequently used by many camera manufacturers, for example, Nikon and Canon camera brands. Moreover, Fujifilm Company offers the matrices with the best color rendering among other good camera brands. Fujifilm is a rare example of how a company can combine the retro camera design and top characteristics inside. It was Fujifilm that released the first modern instant cameras, reviving the trend of old camera brands.
Company opening date: November 1919
Main competitors: Hasselblad, Canon, Nikon
Equipment: cameras, lenses, binoculars, flashes, 360 cameras
Softwares: Ricoh imaging
Price: From $500 to $9000
This Japanese company produces optical equipment, cameras, and components for them. The entire line of Pentax cameras has a huge advantage over other manufacturers, as all devices are protected from weather conditions: dirt, rain, cold, dust, etc. Of course, Canon and Nikon camera brands also produce cameras with weather protection, but they cost more and are of the professional level. Pentax camera brand offers protected models in each price segment. Though, this company has a small drawback – it is unpopular and difficult to find in the store. Because of the small demand, the company has released about twenty cameras, which is quite hard to find. You cannot come to the hardware store and test it, which can be done with any Canon, Sony, and Nikon mirrorless and DSLR cameras.
Company opening date: 1918
Main competitors: Olympus, Sony
Equipment: photo and video cameras, lenses, TV sets, household appliances
Softwares: Content Management Software, Viewer Software Lite
Price: From $200 to $3200
Panasonic is another Japanese company that produces different equipment, including cameras. Similar to Olympus camera brand, it develops and equips its cameras with micro 4/3 matrixes. However, Panasonic, unlike Olympus, has focused on video shooting, and if you are looking for a good video camera or a camera with video recording mode – Panasonic will be an excellent choice. It has one of the best stabilization and autofocus systems on the market.
Company opening date: 1936
Main competitors: Olympus, Panasonic
Equipment: cameras, printers
Softwares: Global | Ricoh
Price: From $150 to $600
Previously, Ricoh was one of the top camera brands and largest manufacturers of various types of digital cameras and video cameras, printers, copiers. Recently, Pentax has bought Ricoh’s ownership and now they work together. However, despite this, Ricoh is one of the first companies that has produced cameras for underwater photography/filming in extreme conditions. The entire camera lineup has a metal with rubberized inserts, and a waterproof case that allows you to shoot under water and in poor conditions, like dirt, rain, etc.
Company opening date: April 1946
Main competitors: Sony, Olympus
Equipment: camera, watches, projectors, musical instruments
Softwares: Scientific Calculator
Price: From $100 to $700
Originally known for excellent watches and calculators, this Japanese company also produces several compact cameras and occupies a deserved place in our best camera brand list. Looking through Casio devices range, you’ll mainly notice “point-and-shoot” cameras.
The main advantage of compact cameras by Casio are small dimensions and price. Besides, these cameras are very easy to use. Still, the low cost negatively affects the matrix quality and autofocus. These cameras are recommended to buy if you want to get a better image quality than your smartphone can offer.
Company opening date: 1993
Main competitors: Hasselblad, Leica, Pentax
Equipment: cameras, lenses, digital camera backs
Softwares: Сapture One
Price: From $5000
Phase One is a Danish camera brand specializing in the production of high-end photo equipment and image editing softwares. The main products are digital camera backs and operating systems for medium format cameras with a resolution of up to 150 megapixels.
Besides, you have probably heard about Capture One Pro photo editing software, which is designed for RAW image editing. Today it is one of the best photo editors used by professional photographers. Phase One can’t be called the best camera brand as it designs devices only for studio shooting that aren’t affordable for beginning photographers.
Company opening date: 1941
Main competitors: Phase One, Leica
Equipment: cameras, lenses, scanners
Price: From $7000 to $35000
Hasselblad is a Swedish camera brand, which creates cameras and other photo equipment manually. The company produces only medium-format cameras in a rather massive, but high-quality assembled case. Previously, Hasselblad cameras were leaders among film cameras. Also, this is the first company that provided the market with a mirrorless electronic medium format camera called Hasselblad XLD-50C. As for me, the main advantage of Hasselblad cameras is a lifetime warranty and maintenance. Despite the warranty and quality, Hasselblad has one significant drawback. This is the most expensive company among other popular camera brands. You won’t find a Hasselblad camera for less than $7000-$8000 or a lens cheaper than $3000-$4000.
Company opening date: 1881
Main competitors: Sony, Olympus
Equipment: cameras, 3d printers, headphones, instant print cameras, pocket printers
Softwares: PrintProjects, EasyShare
Price: From $200 to $800
Kodak is an American company that produces cameras, photo equipment, consumables and softwares for digital and functional printing. In 1976, Kodak specialists developed and provided the market with a product that, after a few decades, led to a revolution in photography. Though it occupies only the 14th place and can’t be called the best camera brand, the company created a film, thereby setting a trend for other manufacturers. Kodak also created and showed the world's first digital model with a matrix size of 0.1 megapixel, thereby becoming one of the most popular digital camera brands. After some time, the company went bankrupt. However, today it is trying to catch up with the modern trends, creating 360 cameras, various lenses, instant cameras, etc.
Company opening date: 2002
Main competitors: Sony
Equipment: action cameras, accessories
Softwares: Passenge, GoPro Fision Stodio, Oqik, GoPro App
Price: From $100 to $800
GoPro is an American company that produces action cameras and accessories designed for active sports and entertainment. With the help of special accessories, the camera can be fixed almost anywhere, which gives more freedom to record videos. GoPro cameras are often used in the film industry. So, in 2015, we saw a full-length film called “Hardcore”, which was recorded with a GoPro camera. If you open YouTube, you’ll see hundreds of first-person videos shot with GoPro devices attached to surfboards, ski helmets, bicycle frames, and even pets.
Company opening date: 1928
Main competitors: Casio
Equipment: film cameras, printers, medical equipment
Softwares: Measuring Instruments, Solution Software
Price: From $10 or $300
Minolta is a Japanese company that is best known as the manufacturer of the world's first 35-millimeter DSLR camera with an integrated autofocus system. However, in 2006 they decided to stop producing the best DSLR cameras for beginners and professionals because of large financial losses. Sony bought the business and created the Sony Alpha lineup, using Minolta groundwork.
If this question had an unequivocal answer, one of these professional camera brands would have already left the market a long time ago. It is true that Canon and Nikon produce the best cameras, flashes and lenses, and they have been doing this for many years. Whichever camera brand you choose, you will get a wide, well-supported system for any level, from beginner to professional. However, Nikon camera price will be higher, while Canon photo equipment, be it a lens or a camera, will be affordable. You should also remember that Canon offers high-quality video and photography quality, while Nikon ensures the best photo, but rather weak video features.
Canon and Nikon camera brands have the widest range of commercially available optics. All modern Canon and Nikon lenses have a built-in focusing drive and are compatible with digital SLR cameras. Canon L and NIKKOR lens lines are appreciated by professional photographers due to their reliability, practicality in any conditions and technical characteristics. Canon and Nikon lenses are one of the best on the market.
In general, you’ll need to pay 15% more for Nikon lenses compared with the analog models across the entire range of popular lenses. Cheap Nikon lenses for APS-C SLR cameras are much better assembled than Canon analogs, as they don’t creak or dangle. Expensive Nikon wide-angle and standard zoom lenses are sharper than their Canon counterparts. The quality of telephoto lenses from both popular camera brands is excellent. Canon lenses line includes high-aperture portrait models such as EF 50mm F/1.2 and EF 85mm F/1.2. Nikon can’t boast of such high-aperture optics.
As for the image quality, according to the DxOMark tests, the first positions are confidently held by Nikon cameras. This popular test evaluates RAW files based on the information you can get from them. Judging by the image quality at low ISO, color depth and width of the dynamic range, the Nikon model successfully occupied the first lines of the rating. I would like to mention one of the best models – Nikon D850 and its Canon closest competitor –Canon flagship EOS 5D Mark IV, which takes only the 8th position, being surpassed even by cameras with APS-C sensor. In practice, both Nikon and Canon camera brands ensure good image quality at high ISO. Actually, you’ll need to try several models to see what works best for you.
The first DSLR camera with video recording function was Nikon D90. The real boom of digital cinema and video clips began with the release of Canon EOS 5D Mark II, the first digital SLR camera with 1080p video support. It was used to shoot "Doctor House", "The Avengers" and many other films. Nikon is slowly getting into the video industry. For example, the filmmakers used D800 to shoot “Dexter”. Both top camera brands can provide awesome results if they are used by professionals, but Canon develops technology more confidently. The new Dual Pixel CMOS sensors finally allow you to focus while recording video smoothly and without using your hands. But only Nikon mirrorless cameras can boast of a hybrid focusing.
Hi there, I'm Ann Young - a photographer, photo retoucher and of course, journalist. Here on FixThePhoto blog you can find all of my reviews, photography and photo editing tips, pricing guides, and photography experiments.