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The best camera 2021: The ultimate purchase advice + personal test winner

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Camera purchase advice: these are the 9 best cameras for 2021

Canon, Nikon, Sony or another camera manufacturer? Who builds the best cameras? Mirrorless system camera (DSLM), digital single lens reflex camera (DSLR), Bridge camera or Compact camera? And which sensor is the best? Full format, APS-C or MFT? And which Lenses do you even need Finding a good camera can be confusing, right?

I'll answer these and many other questions about buying a camera in mine detailed purchase advice. I will help you who (for you!) best camera to find. Besides, I'll tell you my personal test winner - a jack-of-all-trades for all situations - and affordable too.

If you still after my camera purchase advice ask have: leave behind a comment at the end of the article. I am happy to answer all of your questions!

tip: Here we have collected comprehensive information for you on the topics of travel tripods, camera accessories and camera filters. By the way, here you will find our tips for great smartphone photos and here you can download our presets for travel and landscape photographers.

When are the best camera bargains available?

You are looking for a new camera. Before I introduce you to my top models, I'll also tell you when you will get them best camera bargain do: around the Christmas time. Why? Because then many camera manufacturers advertise with high discounts - every year anew. Here you can find the current promotions:

  • Fujifilm currently grants up to 500 euro Cashback. The discount campaign runs until January 17, 2021. More information on the Fujifilm website.
  • At Sony is there Winter cashback. The manufacturer pays you after you buy up to 400 euros back. The discount campaign goes until January 31, 2021. More information on Sony.
  • Nikon advertises with the Immediate discount promotion, with the selected cameras and lenses up to 400 euros are cheaper. The discount promotion ends on January 10, 2021. More information on the Nikon website.
  • Canon granted until January 17, 2021up to 300 euros Discount on selected cameras and lenses. More information on the Canon website.
  • At Panasonic you get up to on selected cameras and lenses 300 Euro Cashback. The promotion ends on January 10, 2021. More information on the Panasonic website.

Some manufacturers grant the discount directly with the purchase. Others will pay you back the amount to your account after the purchase if you have submitted all the receipts. This discount promotion is called Cashback. With cashback, please note that not all retailers usually take part in the promotion! So make sure to find out before you buy whether the retailer is taking part in the cashback campaign! You can find the information on this in the small print on the respective information pages of the manufacturers. Many retailers advertise directly with the cashback discount. So here you can be sure that the dealer will take part in the promotion.

The image sensor

Before you decide on a manufacturer or a camera system, you have to decide on a sensor. What are you planning to do with your photos? It depends on which one Image sensor you should grab.

The common sensor sizes at a glance (from small to large)

  • 1 inch
  • Micro Four Thirds (MFT)
  • APS-C
  • Full format (also "KB", small picture)
  • Medium format

Do you mainly do Photos for social networks like Instagram or Facebook, the answer is clear: a camera with APS-C sensor or with an even smaller one Micro Four Thirds sensor usually meets your requirements. The highest possible resolution (e.g. for printouts) or image noise do not play a major role on the small displays of smartphones.

If you travel a lot or hike a lot (in the mountains), they will come for you compact dimensions of cameras with a small image sensor opposite. For my part, even on long mountain tours, I usually go for full format. Why? I'll tell you below in the article.

An alternative for your appearance on the Internet are modern ones Top smartphones like the Samsung Galaxy S20 or the iPhone 12 Pro Max, with which you breathtaking photos for Instagram and Co shoots. Even prints in A4 are easily possible with a 12-megapixel camera of a modern smartphone in the best print quality.

The full frame sensor

Full frame cameras are the first choice for photographers who the best picture quality and particularly a wide range of top quality lenses want to have.

The great The range of top lenses is one of the main reasons for me to rely on cameras with full-frame sensors. In addition, full-frame cameras have one compared to cameras with a smaller image sensor Noise advantage.

There are also other aspects:

1. The Viewfinder the full-frame camera - whether optically like the DSLR or electronic like the DSLM - is always superior to the viewfinder of smaller camera models.

2. A full format sensor has (with the same number of pixels) larger sensor pixels than a camera with a small image sensor. In difficult lighting conditions and high ISO values, full-frame cameras have a (with the same number of pixels) due to the larger sensor pixels lower image noise. That is a Advantage when taking pictures by hand in difficult lighting conditions (For example in wedding and concert photography, but also in the twilight in nature).

3. There is also another reason to buy a full-frame camera: you really want it detailed recordings (in order to crop the pictures later on the computer) or if you want to develop or print your photos in large format (edge ​​length of 100 centimeters and more), you need a digital camera with the highest possible number of megapixels. Here too, full-format sensors often have an advantage.

  • In the field of full-frame cameras, the Sony Alpha 7R IV currently the leader with 61 megapixels
  • In the field of APS-C cameras, the Canon EOS 90D currently the leader with 32.5 megapixels

Are you planning one Photo exhibition With large format photos, you should use a full-frame camera with a high number of megapixels.

Even if you look at your photos Picture agencies sell, you can drive better with a high resolution (advantage of a full-format sensor) because the photos are also interesting for customers who are looking for very detailed work.

4. For many photographers this is image a reason to buy an expensive full-frame camera - no joke! The full-frame camera with the powerful monster lens makes an impression. Photographers who deal directly with customers therefore rely on the prestigious full format.

But even those who take photos of a great sunset spot with many other photographers in the evening usually prefer to show the large professional cam rather than the compact hobby camera.

Full frame cameras are big and heavy - this also applies to mirrorless system cameras (DSLM). You have to have good reasons to carry a full-frame camera with the appropriate lenses on a trip around the world or a summit climb. Then there is the high price. If you are not ready several thousand euros to spend on camera equipment, a full-frame camera is out of the question for you.

If the size, weight, and price don't put you off, consider buying a full frame camera. Provide even more details (requirement: an even higher number of megapixels) Medium format cameras. But they are even more expensive and larger and are really only suitable for professional photographers who, for example, take advertising photos in the photo studio. For amateur photographers, there is no reasonable reason to buy a medium format camera (other than the good feeling of having one).

Advantages of full frame cameras

  • The sensors usually have a very high resolution (megapixels) and the photos are very detailed
  • Photos from a full-frame camera (with a high number of megapixels) can be easily cropped on the computer
  • Full-frame cams have better noise behavior (with the same number of pixels as smaller image sensors)
  • The larger pixels (with the same number of pixels as a small image sensor) ensure a higher dynamic range
  • The data / images in the large viewfinder are easier to see
  • The model cycle takes a relatively long time. Full-frame cameras are relatively stable in value
  • The shallow depth of field enables great portraits (this is a small disadvantage with landscape photos, but you can compensate for it with a wider aperture)
  • Many full-frame cameras are dust and splash-proof
  • You have a huge selection of high-speed professional lenses
  • Professional image

Disadvantages of full frame cameras

  • Very high price for the camera body (from approx. 800 euros to approx. 5000 euros)
  • Full-frame cameras and the associated lenses are large and heavy - this also applies to mirrorless system cameras (DSLM)

Advantages of APS-C cameras / MFT cameras

  • Light and compact
  • Cheaper to buy
  • Telephoto lenses in particular are much cheaper (keyword sports and wildlife photography)

Disadvantages of APS-C cameras / MFT cameras

  • The resolution is lower than with the full format (if you compare the leaders)
  • With the same number of megapixels, the image noise is higher than with the full format
  • Professional lenses are reserved for full-frame cameras

More megapixels = better photos?

The Number of pixels says nothing about that picture quality out. There are expensive full-frame cameras with a relatively low number of pixels (and therefore one low pixel density).

The Sony α7S III has "only" twelve megapixels despite the full-format sensor. The Image pixels are with the Sony α7S III extraordinary big. Thanks to the gigantic pixels, the Night photography specialized cam over a high light sensitivity and a large dynamic range over the entire ISO range. This is what makes the Sony α7S III the perfect camera for concert photography in difficult lighting conditions.

The rule of thumb is: ever larger the sensor pixels (= few megapixels), the more better the noise behavior.

Conversely, have Cameras with a high number of megapixels (= high pixel density) at Image noise a disadvantage. But you also have to know that technical developments are advancing rapidly and that manufacturers are getting a better grip on the “noise” problem, even with cameras with a high pixel density.

Modern image sensors (especially full-frame models with a low number of megapixels) take good photos even with ISO 10,000 and beyond (with a view to the noise behavior).

However, a high number of pixels means more Details in the recordings. You can also print larger images from a high-megapixel camera.

Maximum print size

The one already mentioned Sony Alpha 7R IV resolves with 61 megapixels (9,504 x 6,336 pixels) on. At a Top print quality of 300 dpi (“Dots per inch”; for photos in magazines, for example) you can use a Print size of maximum 81 x 54 cm realize.

As a rule, very large print products are not viewed up close, but from a certain distance. Therefore, you do not need a print quality of 300 dpi for every print product.

Often a low resolution in the print is completely sufficient. At a 150 dpi print quality the resolution is enough Sony Alpha 7R IV for prints the size of maximum 162 x 108 cm.

For a print that is viewed from a distance of two meters, print product manufacturers recommend a resolution of at least 75 dpi. With the Sony Alpha 7R IV are prints with a size of maximum 324 x 216 cm possible.

High ISO value = great night shots?

Many camera manufacturers also advertise particularly high ISO values. In principle, you increase the ISO value in difficult light situations when taking pictures by hand, because so shorter exposure times possible are.

tip: If you double the ISO value, the exposure time is halved. Always - without exception!

However, a maximum ISO value of 102,400 is of little use if the photo is then very noisy and almost nothing can be recognized. When the camera is at ISO 6400 still delivers good images, that's a big plus.

Full-frame cameras usually have an advantage here. With the same number of megapixels (thanks to the larger sensor pixels), full-frame cameras have better noise behavior than APS-C cameras or Micro Four Thirds systems (MFT). The information about the maximum ISO value says nothing about the image quality.

For great Night shots (e.g. the Milky Way) you definitely need one Tripod and ideally a bright lens - but not a camera with a particularly high maximum ISO value.

Do you often take photos out of hand in the dark (for example on Concerts or weddings), it's best to use one Full-frame camera with a low number of megapixels (such as the Sony α7S III) and uses a fast fixed focal length.


Micro Four Thirds, APS-C, full format or medium format: Did you choose an image sensor? Then you have to between mirrorless system camera (DSLM) and digital single lens reflex camera (DSLR) (for our comparison DSLM vs. DSLR). The difference between the two camera systems is the missing mirror at the DSLM. That saves space and weight.

With the mirrorless system camera (DSLM) you get one electronic viewfinder (Warning: some entry-level DSLMs do not have a viewfinder built in - that is a disadvantage). All data that is also shown on the camera display is shown in the electronic viewfinder. The DSLM also shows, even before the shutter release, what the photo will look like after the shutter release.

This is an advantage for beginners. After all, you can immediately see the effects of a different aperture or ISO value.

However, the electronic viewfinder consumes a lot of electricity, which is why System cameras are not as durable as DSLRsequipped with an optical viewfinder. Here the image is generated on a focusing screen via the mirror of the camera and directed into the viewfinder via a prism. What you see in the optical viewfinder is the “live image” without any change or delay.

Electronic viewfinder or optical viewfinder? Each system has its advantages and disadvantages. I recommend testing both technologies and then making a decision.

Personally, I love the clear optical viewfinder of a single lens reflex camera (DSLR), but I can also work very well with the electronic viewfinder of a DSLM. But there are differences here. Especially with inexpensive system cameras for beginners, the electronic viewfinder often leaves much to be desired, while expensive professional DSLMs are equipped with excellent technology and are getting better and better.

If height and weight are an important factor for you, a DSLM is more likely