The 10 Best Canon Cameras
This wiki has been updated 22 times since it was first published in January of 2018. In the image-capturing world, no name resonates as much as Canon. The company's reputation for producing quality equipment – including cameras, lenses, printers and scanners – gives customers confidence that they're investing in high-quality craftsmanship. The cameras on our list represent some of the company's best choices for producing stunning stills and cinematic videos. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.
January 18, 2021:
It was a busy round of updates that saw half of our previous picks switched out for superior, updated models that’ve been released since we last visited this list.
In the realm of consumer-level cameras for casual use, the PowerShot G7 X Mark II was replaced by the PowerShot G7 X Mark III, and the EOS Rebel SL2 was replaced by the EOS Rebel SL3. A little further up the line, the EOS Rebel T7i had to yield its position to the EOS Rebel T8i. And, for professional consideration, we swapped out the EOS R and EOS 1D X Mark II for the EOS R5 and EOS-1D X Mark III.
Although all of our new picks boast some superior ratings, when compared to their predecessors, they also all bear a strong similarity to the models they’re replacing. So, depending what your specific needs are, the models that’ve left our list may still be worth considering, as they’re often (but not always) much more affordable, once they become yesterday's news.
March 27, 2019:
One big release made a splash since we last visited the fine folks at Canon: the mirrorless EOS R. It's definitely marketed toward the pro-sumer level, featuring a full-frame sensor and a price tag that's heavy enough to scare off frugal hobbyists. For some shooters, that makes it merely an aspirational model, but it's also positioned to be a durable investment for a great deal of enthusiasts looking to up their game. The 1DX II still reigns supreme, but this newer body has a lot to offer.
Given that the R is Canon's big swinger in the mirrorless sector, we went ahead and said goodbye to the M model that previously held a spot on our list, as the company only ever seemed to have one toe in the water with that line's development.
Why Canon Reigns Supreme
Canon has been an imaging behemoth for decades, making not only stills cameras and lenses, but also scanners, copiers, and, most importantly, video cameras.
If you’re in the market for a camera, you have more professional-grade digital options at your fingertips than ever before, at prices that may surprise you. The big question, especially if you haven’t already hitched your wagon to a particular company, is what brand you’re going to choose.
This is no small decision, either. When you invest in an interchangeable lens system, you’ll pay much more for your lens collection than you will for the camera body itself. That means that if you ever wanted to jump ship and go with another brand, you’d have to sell off all that precious glass at a loss. That’s why the vast majority of shooters end up sticking with whatever the brand was on which they started shooting.
Fortunately for Canon, it seems like a good chunk of the marketplace starts with them, because Canon holds a whopping 61 percent of the market compared to Nikon’s 25 percent. When it comes down to it though, a great deal of what these companies offer is rather similar. Both offer great entry-level options for new photographers, and both provide professional shooters with cameras that can survive war zones. They also have ways of catering to everyone in between those two groups. So, what makes Canon better, if anything really does?
For still photography, it’s incredibly difficult to pick a winner. Both the top brands boast incredible sharpness and skin tones, as well as collections of lenses that are fast, bright, and stunning. Either company has a naturally offset color profile, however, and many people find the subtle red shift in Canon’s RAW images to be more pleasing than the almost yellow-green shift you get with Nikon. That could make developing files a little faster and a little more satisfying with Canon.
One area in which Canon has an undisputed advantage is in video capture. Nikon’s video is certainly capable of providing sharp, high-resolution documentation at 1080p and 4K, but it’s never been able to give shooters the same pro-level quality that has been employed on film sets from The Walking Dead to Francis Ha. The reason for this is simple: R&D. Canon has been an imaging behemoth for decades, making not only stills cameras and lenses, but also scanners, copiers, and, most importantly, video cameras. Over the years, they’ve poured more resources into their video sector than Nikon has, and it shows.
Finally, it’s important to remember that Canon has had the lion’s share of the camera market cornered since the dust settled on the digital revolution, so there are more aftermarket accessories and software hacks for Canon (like the beloved Magic Lantern that turned the 5D MkIII into a true cinema camera) than for Nikon. That means an investment in Canon gives you the best in stills, video, and augmentations.
How To Choose Your Canon Camera
When evaluating the available Canon cameras on the market, things can get confusing fast. This is not only because the company has a large number of pretty similar models available, but also because the company uses different names for those models in different markets, and those designations tend to get mixed up and become very confusing online. Rather than evaluate one line of cameras over another, we’ll take a look at two of the most important features that will make a difference to you.
If you already have the basics of photography under your belt, you should invest in a body built around manual control.
One thing you should decide is whether you want a full-frame or APS-C sensor size. For a multitude of reasons, including depth of field, dynamic range, and low-light performance, full-frame is the clear winner. If you aren’t a pro, however, you might not need it. APS-C sized sensors are just as powerful, and Canon uses a standardized mount for their APS-C and full-frame DSLR cameras, so you can still slap the industry’s best glass in front of a smaller sensor and reap all those benefits while also saving a little money. The APS-C crop factor can even take you closer than full-frame can with a telephoto lens. Just be aware that there is a quality ceiling here that’s compounded by the fact that many pro-level features are reserved for professional full-frame bodies.
Another thing to look into are degrees of manual control. Every camera Canon makes is capable of shooting with complete autonomy. More professional (read: expensive) models tend to bury automatic features and expand upon manual controls, where entry-level and pro-sumer models tend to have an emphasis on automation, with the possibility for manual overrides. If you already have the basics of photography under your belt, you should invest in a body built around manual control. If you’re new to the game, get something more user-friendly that you can outgrow in a few years.
Essential Camera Accessories
If you just got your hands on a new Canon body, there are some additional investments you should make to maximize your experience and to protect your gear. For starters, if your camera came with so-called “kit” lenses (usually a pair of lightweight zooms in the 18-55mm and 55-200mm range), you’ll want to upgrade those as soon as possible. You may limit your range in doing so, at least until you can afford more lenses, but you’ll vastly improve your image quality.
You may limit your range in doing so, at least until you can afford more lenses, but you’ll vastly improve your image quality.
If you’re interested in giving your camera a little fashion edge, you might want to look into a new strap system, whether it’s a traditional strap with funky colors or a more muted harness design. The latter can take a lot of the strain off your neck.
Finally, make sure your memory cards are as fast and large as you can afford. Fast memory cards are necessary with some models to unlock features like 4K video, and both video and stills take up a lot of space, so you’ll need something big and a backup just in case.