Compare the 10 Best SVP Digital CamerasJanuary 2018(Last Updated 16 January 2018)
|The best digital cameras on the market, from small compact cameras to powerful SLRs|
|Compare top brands including Nikon, Canon and Sony|
|Every week we rank the best digital cameras based on features, reviews and price|
|We compare:||1,470 Digital Camera Models||205,000 Digital Camera Reviews||9,690 Digital Camera Prices|
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Compact cameras are small fixed-lens cameras meant for casual photography and everyday carry. In previous generations compact cameras were significantly less powerful than other types, but modern variants are almost as powerful as SLRs.
Digital Camera Buying Guide
There are four main camera types that you will need to decide between when choosing a new camera. Each have their own advantages and disadvantages and which one is right for you will depend on what type of photos you plan to take and what you aim to get out of your photography. Many people use a mobile phone as their camera these days, which is fine for day to day snaps but for quality photographs it's hard to beat a dedicated camera.
Compact cameras pack an incredibly large amount of technology into a tiny design that will easily fit inside your pocket. Compact cameras produce better quality images than mobile phones mainly because they have much bigger lenses which allow more light and more detail to be received by the camera's sensor. They also feature zoom lenses which let you get close to the action without any loss in image quality that comes with the digital zooms found on phones.
Bridge cameras are designed to bring many of the features found on a DSLR camera, into an easy to use design. The often feature very powerful optical zooms that extend from very wide angle (which is great for architecture) to over 40x times zoom (which is ideal for wildlife and sport photography). They often feature an image stabiliser which will allow you to take photos with a long zoom without using a tripod.
System cameras are similar to bridge cameras in that they offer many of the features found on a DSLR, but in a smaller and easier to use form. They differ from system cameras in that you can change the lens on a system camera, which gives you far greater creative control. Many different lens types are available from ultra zoom lenses that get really close to the action, to macro lenses which allow you to photograph small objects really close up.
Digital SLR cameras give you outstanding image quality through very high quality components, large image sensors and a great range of lenses. You have full creative control by being able to adjust every aspect of the camera's exposure settings. Optical viewfinders let you see exactly what the camera sees and make it much easier to frame the shot in bright sun light conditions.
Image Sensors Explained
Megapixels & Sensor Size
Megapixels are a quick and easy way of measuring the level of detail that you can expect from a camera. One megapixel means 1,000,000 pixels and refers to the number of individual pixels that the camera's sensor can capture.
Whilst megapixels are a quick guide to the camera's performance, equally important is the physical size of the camera sensor. Larger sensors are able to capture more light which produces images with less noise and better dynamic range. Because they capture more light they can also take superior photos in low light conditions without flash.
Bigger sensors require physically bigger cameras and also bigger lenses to gather enough light to cover the sensor. For this reason the biggest sensors tend to found on the biggest cameras such as the DSLRs. This is also the reason why mobile phone manufacturers use very small sensor sizes.
The physical size of the sensor is described in many different ways including fractions and letters. Unfortunately it is not easy to relate these sizes to one another, but the chart to the left provides a guide and shows how each sensor size relates to the size of traditional 35mm film.
Full frame sensors are sensors that are physically the same size as traditional 35mm film. Full frame sensors are desirable because they capture very detailed images, but also because they are directly compatible with the huge range of lenses designed for 35mm film. There are plenty of DSLR cameras with sensors which are smaller than full frame. These cameras can still be used with 35mm lenses, but the smaller sensor size means that a conversion factor will apply to the lens. For example if a camera with non-full frame sensor has a conversion factor of 1.5 then a 200mm lens will behave like a 300mm lens, which is great if you want to be closer to the action, but not so good if you need a wide angle shot.
Charge Coupled Device (CCD) sensors have been around for over a decade and produce high quality low noise images. However they consume a lot of power and struggle with burst photography (taking lots of photos in quick succession). CCD sensors are still found on some cameras but most manufacturers have now switched to CMOS sensors.
Complementary Metal-Oxide Semiconductor (CMOS) sensors are a newer technology that is commonly found on the latest cameras. They consume very little power so your battery lasts longer and can take many shots in quick succession. When first released CMOS sensors had problems with image noise, but technological developments have completely elimated these concerns.
Optical vs Digital Zoom
Many cameras have incredible zoom capabilities which let you get really close to the action. However when checking a camera's zoom capability it's important to check whether it has an optical zoom, a digital zoom or a combination of both.
Digital zooms let you zoom in by effectively cropping the photo. They do produce a zoom effect, but the quality of the image will be reduced because it has been cropped. Most mobile phones use a digital zoom.
Optical zooms work by physically moving the lenses that capture the image. The zoomed in photo is still captured using the full extent of the camera's sensor so there is no loss in image quality as you soom in.
Almost every digital camera has a built in screen which lets you frame the shot you are taking, review and edit photos that you have taken, and also adjust the camera settings. Some cameras have fold out screens which make it easy to take self portraits and allow you to take photos when the camera is not at eye level such as in a crowd.
Touchscreen camera displays offer very intuitive control systems similar to those found on a mobile phone. Touch allows you to choose which part of the picture you want to be in focus or to be exposed correctly simply by touching it.
As digital screens have become more advanced many camera manufacturers have dispensed with the traditional camera viewfinder. However there are many advantages to a traditional viewfinder. Firstly it is much easier to see what you are photographing in bright sunlight conditions through a viewfinder. Holding the camera to your face also steadies the camera giving you sharper photos. Finally a viewfinder uses much less power than a screen so you can switch the screen off when taking photos to make your battery last longer.
Traditional cameras have optical viewfinders. This means that the image viewed through the viewfinder is exactly the same as the image that camera will photograph. Optical viewfinders reflect light entering the camera's lens off a mirror and into the viewfinder. When the photo is taken the mirror quickly flicks out of the way to let the sensor receive the image. All top end DSLRs have optical viewfinders. Some cameras have digital viewfinders which are basically a second very small screen viewed through the viewfinder. Digital viewfinders have the advantage of allowing you to preview how the final image will look including any applied effects, however generally speaking they are considered inferior to an optical viewfinder.
Some cameras have image stabilisers. These devices are designed to reduce the effect of hand shake on the stability of the camera thereby producing a sharper photograph. They are particularly important for large zoom cameras as zooming in will amplify the effect of any hand shake on the camera image.
There are two main types of image stabiliser: optical and digital. Optical image stabilisers work using a special lens which moves to counteract the effect of any hand shake. Optical stabilisers are considered superior as they do not artificially manipulate the image quality.
Digital image stabilisers work by a processor analysing the photo after it has been taken in order to reduce image blur. This can be achieved by the camera taking multiple photos and then combining the best parts of each photo together.
The camera's focus setting determines which part of the image is sharp.
Compact cameras will have an intelligent autofocus system which attempts to determine which part of the image should be in focus. These generally work well, but sometimes the camera can focus on wrong thing, for example when shooting through a window the camera may focus on the glass. Often budget compact cameras do not have a manual focus setting.
Premium compact cameras and above have manual focus as well as autofocus. Manual focus lets you control which part of the image is sharp by either twisting a focus ring or on touchscreen cameras, touching the part of the image that you want to be sharp. This is particularly useful when the subject is not in the centre of the image.
Cameras with viewfinders such as DSLRs often have multiple focus points which can be seen through the viewfinder. You can preselect which focus point is going to be used, which is great if you know that your subject will definitely be in a particular part of the picture. High end DSLRs also have predictive focus which will track the subject that you are taking, such as a fast moving car, and predict the position of the subject at the exact moment the photo is taken to give the sharpest possible image.
ISO, White Balance & Manual Exposure
With the exception of budget compact cameras most cameras allow you to manually set the exposure settings. Primarily this means setting the ISO level, the lens aperture and the shutter speed. Manual control is useful for capturing images in difficult light conditions such as at dusk, or for controlling creative effects such as depth of field (which parts of the image are in focus and which aren't).
The ISO level is particularly important as it effectively sets the sensitivity of the image sensor. Look for the maximum ISO level that the camera can support. A higher maximum ISO means that the camera's sensor is more sensitive to light which is very useful for taking photos in low light conditions without flash.
Some cameras let you manually set the white balance of the photo too. White balance is important because different light sources (such as the sun or artifical light) produce different types of light which can affect the colours in the photo and if set incorrectly can make the photo look unnatural.
Some cameras support rapid continuous shooting. This lets you hold down the trigger to take a rapid succession of photos, which is useful for capturing fast moving subjects. The speed at which the camera can take multiple photos is measures in frames per second and most cameras will have a limit on the number of photos that can be taken in quick succession. For best results you will also need a fast memory card which is capable of saving images very quickly.
For system and DSLR cameras there are hundreds of different lens types available giving you a huge range of creative possibility. Lenses fall in to a number of distinct categories each of which has their own unique benefit.
Prime lenses are set at a fixed focal length (zoom). This makes them more simple, requiring fewer pieces of glass to capture the image. The advantage of this is that they are able to capture more light through a very wide aperture which makes them great for taking sharp portraits with blurred backgrounds.
Zoom lenses let you vary the focal length so that you can quickly get close to the action. The ability to quickly zoom in and out makes them very versatile and ideal for travel photography when you are likely to be photographing a wide range of subjects.
Wide angle lenses are set at a very wide focal length which allows you to fit large objects such as buildings into the entire frame of the photo. Ultra wide angle lenses are called fish eye lenses and these can be used to create interesting distorted photos.
Macro lenses let you get really close to small subjects such as insects. With a macro lens you can hold the camera just a few centimetres away from the subject and still get a sharp, close up shot.
Some manufacturers have created 3D lenses which let you take a 3D image using a normal camera. They work by splitting the image into two halves so that in effect you are taking two photos on one image. Computer software then renders these images back into a 3D image.
Lens aperture refers to the size of the hole inside the lens that lets light through to the sensor. A large aperture will let lots of light in which lets you take very short exposures, effectively freezing any moving objects in motion. A small aperture lets through very little light which means a longer exposure time is required. This can be used to create motion blur and to control how much of the image is in focus (depth of field).
Aperture is measured with an f number and it is worth looking at what the lowest f number is that the camera supports. In the case of interchangeable lens cameras the f number will depend on the lens itself, not the camera body. The lower the f number the bigger maximum aperture is which means the lens is capable of capturing more light. Bigger aperture lenses produce better quality images in low light conditions.
WiFi, Bluetooth & NFC
WiFi, Bluetooth and NFC (Near Field Communication) are all methods of wirelessly connecting the camera to other devices and to the internet. This lets you send photos directly from your camera to your phone or computer, and some cameras let you take photos on the camera using a remote app on your phone. With a direct internet connection your camera can upload photos directly to Facebook and Twitter. Some cameras also allow you to download apps to your camera for editing photos.
Cameras with a built in GPS will automatically tag your photos with the location that they were taken at. The location is stored inside the photo so even if you copy the photo to your computer or other devices the location information will always be attached. Location data lets you view all the photos created in a certain location and also allows you to create cool maps of your trips.
Most cameras feature a host of creative effects that can be applied to the photos that you are taking. These include changing the image colour, perspective, tone and shape.
Create cool city shots in black & white or sepia, or apply artistic effects like watercolour or crayon to landscape shots. Many cameras include automatic scene detection which will adjust the camera settings for example when the subject is backlit.
Virtually all new cameras can record video, which saves carrying around a separate camcorder. Some cameras can record Full HD video and even 4K video. DSLRs with built in video recording can produce outstanding video quality and are a popular choice for amateur film makers. Don't forget that videos will take up much more space on your memory card than photos.
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We have analysed 16,002 expert reviews and 139,953 user reviews for cameras available online and used these reviews to determine the average rating for each brand of camera.