Choosing the right beginner camera takes an incredible amount of research. To help you out, we put together this list of (in our humble opinion) the best beginner cameras under $1,000 from the big four: Canon, Sony, Fuji, and Nikon.

We chose these cameras based on their specifications, price, and consistent popularity. We understand that some of these are contentious picks and we encourage you to tell us how wrong we are in the comments below.

Looking for a few less expensive options? We recommend you check out our list of the 5 best beginner cameras under $500.

Best Beginner Cameras Under $1,000 - Canon, Sony, Fujifilm, Nikon

SpecsCanon T8iSony a6400Fujifilm X T-30Nikon D3500
Price$749.00$898.00$799.00$396.90
Announcement DateFebruary 2020January 2019February 2019September 2018
TypeDSLRMirrorlessMirrorlessDSLR
MountCanon EFE-MountFUJIFILM XF-Mount
Sensor24.1 MP CMOS24.2 MP CMOS26.1 MP CMOS24.2 MP CMOS
ProcessorDigic 8Bionz XX-Processor 4Expeed 4
ISO100 - 25,600100 - 32,000160 - 12,800100 - 25,600
AF Points4542542511
Weight18.17 oz14.22 oz13.5 oz12.9 oz
Dimensions5.16" x 4.04" x 3.00"4.72" x 2.64" x 2.36"4.66" x 3.26" x 1.84"4.88" x 3.82" x 2.76"
FPS (Stills)7fps11 fps30 fps5 fps
Video4K4K4KFull HD
Max. Resolution6000 x 40006000 x 40006240 x 41606000 x 400
Screen3.0" 1.04 million dots3.0" 921 thousand dots3.0" 1.04 million dots3.0" 921 thousand dots
Articulated LCDfully articulatingtiltingtiltingfixed
TouchscreenX

Canon T8i

  • Price: $749.00
  • Key Specs & Features
    • Sensor: 24.1 MP CMOS
    • Frames Per Second: 7 fps
    • Video: 4K
    • Screen: Fully Articulating LCD

The Canon T8i is the newest model in our beginner camera comparison. Sadly, that means we don’t have a lot of sample footage or images for this model. However, it also means it’s packed with a lot of useful, updated features including a vari-angle LCD, fast eye-detection autofocus, and a powerful processor (the Digic 8).

This is one of the DSLRs on our list so it’s a bit heavier than its mirrorless alternatives, but don’t let that scare you away. That extra weight is often considered an asset by photographers who prefer a little more heft to their cameras—DSLRs look and feel sturdier.

Sony a6400

  • Price: $898.00
  • Key Specs & Features
    • Sensor: 24.2 MP CMOS
    • Frames Per Second: 11 fps
    • Video: 4K
    • Screen: Tilting LCD

The Sony a6400 is one of the most popular Sony cameras on the market and for good reason. It has 425 phase-detection autofocus points, great subject tracking, and a .002 second AF speed. But perhaps our favorite Sony feature is its manual “peaking” function that color-highlights the sharpest area of an image. This is especially useful for new photographers who need a little extra guidance.

All of these features make this camera uniquely suited for both stills and video. If you’re interested in expanding the a6400’s video capabilities, it has connectivity for external microphones via the built-in microphone jack or the option for an XLR adapter kit.

Fujifilm X T-30

  • Price: $799.00
  • Key Specs & Features
    • Sensor: 26.1 MP CMOS
    • Frames Per Second: 30 fps
    • Video: 4K
    • Screen: Tilting LCD

The Fujifilm X T-30 is arguably the nicest looking of the beginner cameras under $1,000 (it also packs the biggest punch). The X T-30 boasts the classic lines of a film camera with the sleek body and high quality of a mirrorless.

Its powerful X-Processor 4 combined with a 26 MP sensor gives you high-quality photos at a remarkable 30 fps. The X T-30 also shoots 4K which you can watch in real-time with the camera’s tilting LCD.

Nikon D3500

  • Price: $396.90
  • Key Specs & Features
    • Sensor: 24.2 MP CMOS
    • Frames Per Second: 5 fps
    • Video: Full HD
    • Screen: Fixed LCD

Yes, the Nikon D3500 is significantly less expensive than the other items on our list. It’s not necessarily the fastest and it only shoots Full HD instead of 4K. However, new photographers still buy this camera in droves.

It has a tough body, a solid sensor for the cost, and takes reliably high-quality images. Sure, it doesn’t have a ton of extras but that’s part of the appeal. The D3500 does the basics very well without the user worrying about adjusting too many advanced settings.

That concludes our list of the 4 best beginner cameras under $1,000. Disagree with one of our pics? Make a good argument in the comments below and we just might change our minds.

1 COMMENT

  1. I own the Canon T7i, and really, I think I would choose the T7i over the T8i because I’m going to be shooting far more pictures than videos. The T7i has a better sensor for my purpose, and I also wanted the fully articulating screen. If/when I upgrade, I’d be looking for a really good deal on a full frame-mirrorless … probably Canon in keeping with the EF mount.

    Interesting you didn’t select the Nikon D5600 instead of the D3500 in this comparison. The D5600 was on my final “hit list” at the time I chose the T7i. The D5600 is also more closely matched in price and release date as well. The D5600, even for a beginner, would, at least, provided a growth path. Is the resolution right for the D3500 in the above comparison?

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