Are you thinking of buying a new camera? Perhaps your first one? Or do you already have a camera and a setup but are intending to upgrade? Whatever the reason may be behind buying a new camera, knowing about the brands is always a good way to start.
Of course, the brand doesn’t determine everything, but it surely does play an important role in shaping your setup and approach towards photography. Especially, if you’re only beginning. Brand of your camera will decide what other accessories you’re going to buy.
Brands are also important because each one has their own signature style. Some promise durability, while others boast of being hand-assembled. It depends on your budget, preferences, and requirements which one you’d choose.
Best Camera Brands
So, without further ado, let’s get into listing some of the best camera brands of this year. Bear in mind, they’re in no particular order.
Let’s Take a Look at Sony
Sony is one of the most versatile brands out there when it comes to electronics making basically everything from stereos to PlayStations. And they sure as hell put their best heads into designing their cameras. And the results? Sony cameras are as desirable as any other Sony product out there.
They started off in Japan as a manufacturer of transistor radios in the wake of WWII. Their products soon became so popular that even after the war when Japan was going through an economic crisis, they still remained up and running in business. This was due to the quality and durability of their products.
Now Sony is a huge group of industries comprising of electronics, semiconductor solutions, musical equipment, interactive entertainment, financial holdings, and many other products and services.
They first began venturing out of their comfort zones back in the 1950s, with a new array of electronics such as tape recorders and VCRs.
The first Sony digital camera was the Mavica first introduced in 1988. And that was only the beginning of the line of cameras and photographic services known as “Sony Pictures” today.
The brand is especially unparallel in making powerful full-frame mirrorless digital cameras that are tailored to suit the requirements of both enthusiasts as well as professional photographers alike.
They also have a great range of entry-level mirrorless cameras and premium compacts for complete beginners.
They are currently one of the leading brands in the production of them. And even their entry-level cameras can produce top-notch image quality even though they’re designed to go with the simple and intuitive nature of amateur photographers.
One of the signature aspects of Sony cameras is their focus on modern aesthetics and ergonomics while delivering the incredible image quality. They are basically easy to hold and handle regardless of how sophisticated their functions are.
For this purpose alone, Sony is one of the industry leaders in mirrorless cameras. They are also considered the pioneers of the autofocus technology. Their cameras are incorporated with real-time tracking and fast hybrid focusing modes. With Sony cameras, focusing becomes almost instinctive.
One of Sony’s most celebrated mirrorless cameras is the Alpha A7. This, along with its immediate successor the A7R changed the face of mirrorless camera sensors for good. Before that, mirrorless cameras were mostly limited to APS-C and Micro Four Thirds sensors.
Also, the entire revolutionary change in cameras that started with the introduction of the autofocus system also started with the Alpha A7.
They also brought along a bunch of other exciting features that were not seen in cameras of that time. Like a maximum ISO of 25,600 and 5fps continuous shooting for example.
With these two back-to-back innovative models, Sony set their own new standards for mirrorless cameras. And soon the other brands followed suit.
Sony is also well-known for their video cameras that were in use before the emergence of DSLRs. In fact, when I grew up back in the ‘90s, HandyCams were considered the epitome of coolness.
I dreamt of buying one of my own when I grow up, but by the time I was old enough to buy anything on my own, they were already out of production.
Could I interest you in Best Sony Lenses if you already have your camera lined up? Read my article to find out the candidates.
How is Canon Doing?
Canon has been manufacturing cameras for so long that they have become a household name in the industry. I’m pretty sure if you ask anyone which camera you should buy; one of their suggestions is surely going to be a Canon. And there is good reason for that.
Canon started off even before Sony, but solely as a camera-centric brand. It is said that Goro Yoshida, the founder of Canon was fascinated by two models of the then leading camera brands like Leica and Contax. They were considered the finest 35mm cameras on the market back then.
One day Yoshida de-assembled a Leica and was disappointed to find out that they charged so much for parts made of brass, aluminum, iron, and rubber simply by putting them together into a camera.
That’s how he came up with the idea of starting his own camera manufacturing business that’d make products within the reach of the common people.
They have been maintaining their loyalty to cameras ever since, becoming the largest manufacturers of cameras and accessories that they are today. But the brand is not hung upon its past glory. They are working tirelessly to add new innovations to their products by introducing new technologies.
Nowadays, Canon makes a vast range of cameras of different varieties from DSLR to compact to mirrorless ones. And the best part? They not only make a wide variety of in-house lenses themselves, but also make their cameras compatible to work with a handful of third-party lenses.
They’re also surprisingly inexpensive compared to their German counterparts.
As a result, photographers lean towards Canon for the extra freedom. Even a complete beginner with absolutely no idea about cameras and lenses can get started with a Canon and whatever lens they fancy, and still be able to take great images after a little while.
Canon has brought the much-celebrated 35mm lens within the reach of the mass. Which on one hand has opened up new horizons for budding photographers, and on the other, have popularized the lens itself.
Now, these wide-angle prime lenses are much adored by photographers both amateur and professionals due to their focal length. Another reason why 35mm lenses are so popular is their size.
They’re handy and portable and almost as good as 50mms, minus the huge bulky size. They’re not exactly miniature, for obvious reasons. I mean, how small do you expect a prime lens to be? But they’re pretty compact and portable in comparison to their other counterparts with bigger focal lengths.
If you’re looking for a camera that is popular, reliable, as well as versatile, then Canon is certainly a brand for you to consider.
Taking a Peek at Nikon
Nikon is one of the oldest names in the camera business. Certainly, one of the most trusted ones as well. It’s no surprise that the brand has surpassed a century’s worth of technological advancements and still not only survived but kept running like an Arabian horse in the competitive market.
They started off back in 1917, and they’re a sister concern of the Mitsubishi group of companies. Throughout the passage of a century and technically a millennium, Nikon kept up pretty well with the innovations in modern science and technology.
From photolithography in the Industrial Ages to modern day digital photography, they’ve provided a consistent performance through and through. Due to their quality products and versatility, Nikon cameras are recommended by professionals, admire by enthusiasts, and fantasized by amateurs.
Nikon is mostly known for their range of professional level DSLRs. But they also develop cameras for amateurs and entry-level enthusiasts as well. Any camera you pick up from the brand’s shelf is guaranteed to give you premium level image quality without much hassle of post-processing.
They’re designed following a reasonably familiar aesthetics that makes sense. They’re portable, handy, and ergonomically designed to be user-friendly.
As a result, old users have been coming back to their trusty old Canon even after exploring other, more expensive brands, and bringing new ones along with themselves.
Nikon also makes a wide array of lenses of different lens types. On top of that, Nikon cameras are also compatible with a wide range of third-party lenses. You can pick whichever suits your budget, preference, and necessity.
Nikon pays extra attention to their telephoto lenses, so you can trust them to deliver the performance you expect even if you haven’t tried one before. Telephoto lenses are so popular because their focal length range goes with all types of photography.
Macro lenses on the other hand, are designed only for a specific kind of application. They are sort of like the microscopes or magnifying glasses of camera lenses. Their only job is to make small objects look big, amplifying their details.
But Nikon managed to add varieties and versatility to those as well. Currently they have 10 different macro lenses out in the market, each with their own distinct specs and features, and price ranges.
There is also a big juicy cherry on the top. Each Nikon camera is equipped with different types of shooting modes for specific genres of photography. And they provide excellent image quality in every genre whether you’re shooting in prime or telephoto or macro. Nikon’s image quality remains unchanged and unaffected.
Nikon is always sincere about their image quality. Their cameras support a wide variety of image qualities including RAW, JPEG, NEF, and TFF. You can pick the one that goes best with your style and preference.
Some of the best cameras by Nikon are the D850, D800E, and the Coolpix series. While the D series cameras are mirrorless DSLRs meant for serious professional photography, the Coolpix is a fun new toy that can be a great purchase for complete beginners to learn the basics of photography with.
Fujifilm – Out an Out Japanese
When you hear the name Fujifilm, the image that instantly pops into your mind is probably of old-school film cameras that were the only means of photography back when we were kids.
Most of us got our first pictures taken on a Fujifilm, and they sort of faded away as we slowly advanced from film cameras to digital photography.
But that’s all in the past now. The new Fujifilm, despite having the word ‘film’ in its name has moved on from making film cameras and started their own range of mirrorless digital cameras that are to die for. They’re not only innovative and high-performing, but also premium and compact.
Fujifilm used to make optical glass for military use during the 1940s. They started producing cameras around the end of the same decade under the name of Fujica. They kept using the name until the 1970s. They changed the name to simply Fuji in 1980, and finally settled for Fujifilm in the late 1990s.
Fujifilm as one of the pioneering brands in making digital cameras in the late 1980s.They switched pretty quickly and swiftly from film to digital imaging.
For some time, they were one of the leading brands in producing smaller digital cameras with high sensitivity. Even today, they’re one of the largest manufacturers of sophisticated CSCs.
Fuji cameras are aesthetically pleasing to look at and hold, apart from being compact and easy to handle. And they have that classic film tone in their images that give out that nostalgic retro vibe many of us adore.
Fujifilm makes digital cameras for all levels of expertise ranging from entry-level to pro-level. But even in their most basic cameras, they use the same extensive Fujifilm lens range that they use in their professional cameras.
This brilliant level of diversity helps you to advance and improve as a photographer. You can start off with an entry-level lens, and then gradually upgrade your gear as you progress in this field by acquiring skills through experience.
If you’re already professional photographer, Fujifilm has a wide range of mirrorless cameras of medium-format to suit all your needs. And the best part about medium format cameras is that they are small and portable, they look and feel almost like compact cameras, but they aren’t.
Panasonic – Bringing forth The New Revolution
Panasonic is another name for versatility that has been producing electronics and other accessories for more than a century. They are reliable, well-experienced in what they do, and is currently one of the leading brands in making electronics and home appliances in the world.
Like most other leading camera brands, Panasonic also started its journey in the 1900s in Japan. At first they were manufacturing lightbulb sockets. They started making cameras much later, back in 2001 with the Lumix series. And they never had to look back ever since.
Panasonic started off pretty slow in the camera business, but they have been going quite steady ever since. Ever since they started making cameras, they’ve introduced the industry to many of its firsts.
For example, Panasonic is the producer of the world’s first AVCHD video recording, world’s first touchscreen LCD, world’s first continuous AF, and many more.
Not only that, Panasonic is also the proud manufacturer of the world’s first DSLR and mirrorless camera, the GH2. Its innovative new "Rockstar" touch feature will give you the ability to pull and adjust focus points simply by touching the screen.
Even if you’re a complete beginner, you’ll be able to blur out the background of a frame to centralize all the attention upon the subject.
Staying loyal to their all-rounder status, Panasonic now makes an exciting range of DSLRs and cropped-sensor digital cameras in the Lumix series. Not just that, they are also the producers of high-end lenses for their own cameras as well as for Leica.
Their L-mount lineup, which is a registered trademark of the Leica Camera AG is designed especially for using with Leica cameras. Together they work their magic with imaging quality and color grading.
Panasonic is also quite the attention-grabber in the video market. Their camcorders that hit the markets back in the ‘90s are still in the business and now they’re packed with all the latest innovations of modern technology like image stabilization, twin-camera shooting, WiFi/NFC, and 4K Photo Mode.
Panasonic is a brand that offers premium quality along with versatility. If you’re looking for a little higher-end camera, then this is the go-to brand for you.
Leica – The Old Guard
Since I’m mentioning cameras for all types of consumers here, I must be fair and inclusive and not leave the super high-end brands out just because they’re expensive. Even if they’re so expensive that they’re considered unsuitable for the mass market. Yes, you’ve guessed it right. I’m talking about Leica here.
Leica began its journey around the middle of the 19th century in Germany as a brand that produced all sorts of lenses. They made binoculars, rifle scopes, microscopes, ophthalmic lenses and of course, camera lenses.
The brand was founded by Ernst Leitz, a fine mechanic and watch maker from Switzerland who later moved to Germany at the wake of WWI.
The name Leica is a conjunction of the first three letters of the founder’s surname Leitz, and the first two letters of the word ‘camera’. Therefore, Leica cameras were established.
Leica cameras are not that well-equipped in terms of specs and features. For instance, all of them are manual focus only and don’t have any high-tech funky automatic modes either that make photography faster and easier.
Then why are they so expensive? And more importantly, why are they so sought-after?
The first thing that makes Leica so desirable is the unparallel build quality of their cameras. There are also some additional factors such as the small and compact size, the quiet action, their discrete style, and etcetera.
These are merely surface-level factors as to why one not only chooses to buy a Leica camera but even saves up for it making small and big sacrifices in their lifestyles.
It’s the X-factor. Leica cameras don’t improve your photography just because they produce better images; it’s actually the other way round. For instance, the M series models will enable you to put your photographic skills to the test by letting you concentrate on three of the most important elements- subject, exposure, and composition.
Like what Olivander the Wandmaker said in the Harry Potter series, “The wand chooses the wizard”, a Leica camera will only help you if you’re willing to put enough effort into your photography to justify the price you paid for it. The results will clearly be reflected in the progress you make in the process.
Surely, you will get their reward when you discover that you can charge more for your photos just because it was shot on a Leica camera. Leica is like the Rolls Royce of cameras. You won’t know its true benefits until you get one yourself.
Olympus is mostly known for their compact cameras like (Insert a product here and link it), but they make some professional quality digital mirrorless cameras as well.
They are small, handy to operate, and aesthetically pleasing to look at. Apart from aesthetics, the brand also boasts of durability. And there’s solid evidence to prove why they do so.
Like many other well-known camera brands, Olympus also started off in Japan some tie around the beginning of the last century. At the beginning, they were specializing in the production of microscopes and thermometers.
They officially started making cameras with the PEN series in 1959. And they have been gifting us some medium to top range cameras ever since.
Olympus Mirrorless cameras are a beauty to the ones who seek for it. They’re designed to have a retro-inspired look, which adds an aristocratic aura to their appearance.
But the looks are not the only thing that they’re famous for. Thanks to their compact size and light weight, Olympus mirrorless cameras, especially the OM-D digital cameras are ideal for using as travel cameras.
The handy design and the feather light body offer more flexibility than their counterparts, while producing the image quality of a mirrorless camera. It’s like having a mirrorless camera in the body of a compact one. Two of the ranges that stand out in such aspects are the OM-D and the PEN series.
The OM-D series is known for its 5-axis image stabilization that allows the user to shoot stills and 4K videos handheld without having to worry about blurs. The Sync IS provides a shutter speed of 7.5, making it the world’s most effective image stabilization performance.
They also offer weather sealing. Something that is not commonly seen in mirrorless cameras and lenses. Some of the OM-D series products feature the industry’s best IPX1 construction that makes them splash proof, dustproof, and freezeproof.
This is why they are loved by travel and documentary photographers.
On the other hand, the PEN series embodies what it’s been named after. PEN series cameras are tiny, sleek, almost discrete… yet… aesthetically appropriate to go with your ensemble. And they enable you to write your story in your own style just like a pen does.
Apart from the looks and compactness, the PEN series also offers flexibility and compatibility to a great extent. They are compatible with a wide variety of lenses and accessories that will enhance the performance of the camera as well as add more efficiency to the user’s experience.
Kodak – The Brand We Forgot About
Kodak is probably one of the oldest brands in the camera industry, and for a long time they have been one of the leading brands as well. The company that used to boast of its innovative approach demised almost poetically within a short time just because it failed to reinvent itself when it was supposed to.
But ironically, that’s the case with Kodak.
Kodak first started off with the tagline, “You press the button, we do the rest.” back in the 1880s when photography used to require a huge amount of technical knowledge and expertise apart from aesthetic sense. Kodak made it simpler and easier following the razor and blades business model.
Their intention was to make photography appear easier to the common people. And they succeeded in doing so with their leading product, the Kodachrome. And it was the hottest thing in the market for 74 years, occasionally coming up with new versions equipped with technological innovations of certain eras.
But things started going downhill with the emergence of digital photography in the 1980s. When the industry was slowly shifting towards digital technology, instead of going with the flow, Kodak seemed to focus on developing antibodies that would outsmart anything that went against the film.
They even ventured out to make new business ideas to cope up with the world going virtual way before it was cool. Years before Facebook, Instagram, and even Flikr, they came up with a photo sharing website called Ofoto in 2001. But again, instead of making things virtual, Kodak used Ofoto to get people to print digital.
Their plan didn’t work for obvious reasons, and the Kodachrome officially went out of business in 2006. But they made a comeback by developing a new business direction; printers. They took their time for getting back into the camera business, and in the meantime got quite good at making printers as well.
Ironically enough, in this case, Kodak acted like a typical Orthodox anti-change Japanese firm although it was an American one, while Fujifilm went on like a liberal and flexible American firm despite being Japanese.
Now Kodak makes a new range of unique and showcase-worthy instant-print cameras, but they’re more like novelty items rather than useful photography tools. And their former glory has certainly gone with the wind.
Pentax cameras were the epitome of coolness especially during the golden age of film photography. The name Pentax was primarily used by the Japanese multinational imaging and electronics company Ricoh for its range of DSLR cameras, lenses, and different kinds of optics.
The brand originally started its journey way back in 1919, but the first official Pentax camera came out in 1952. Although they are not as well-known as other leading camera brands like Canon and Nikon, but they have certainly made their mark in the industry.
In the beginning, Pentax used to make glasses under the brand name of Aoco (which is thought to be the acronym of Asahi Optical Company. It kept manufacturing projection lenses until 1923. Soon they changed their name to Asahi Optical Co. Soon after, came up with their first camera, the Asahiflex, which was a 35mm SLR camera.
Pentax was actually the name of a model by Asahiflex. They got the name from the shape of the prism that was used in the lenses of Asahiflex SLR cameras (pentaprisms). Even the name Pentax was a trademark of the ZEISS Ikon, hence the similarity with the ZIESS Ikon Contax.
For a certain period of time, Pentax cameras were also sold with the stamp ‘Honeywell’. But apparently, Honeywell was only the distributor of Asahi cameras and were pretty much the same as Asahiflex cameras in every way.
It seems like Pentax acted more like a range or type of cameras that different producers manufactured over the course of time rather than a brand itself. The producers and the distributors changed, so did the stamps on the cameras.
But Pentax cameras stayed the same in terms of quality regardless what brand was sponsoring them.
Today, they produce a wide range of medium and full-format DSLR cameras. Pentax is also known for their production of a wide variety of lenses for their full-frame and APS-C cameras. Pentax is the manufacturer of some quality K-mounts that are used by a handful of renowned camera brands.
The brand strictly follows two predominant design styles with their DSLR cameras.
The first one is a retro, film-style camera appearance where the body is a bit bulky with a rugged finish. This gives the camera an old-school look and feel that many people prefer, especially as gift items.
The other model is pretty much like any other DSLR camera of this day, with all the features and functions that give it a modern look.
Regardless of style and design, both the models are reliable and have the capacity of meeting the requirements of both experienced photographers as well as amateur enthusiasts.
GoPro – The GOAT for Fans of a bit of Action in Their Lives
Nowadays things have become more instant and on-the-go than ever before. We instantly need to record what’s happening and share it instantly onto various platforms.
The brand was established by Nick Woodman, a photographer himself, who went on a surfing trip in 2002 hoping to capture some high quality action photos but could not due to lack of proper equipment and also the high price of them.
He founded the company GoPro in 2003, and they have been making action cameras that fit into our pockets both literally and metaphorically ever since.
Apart from action cameras, the brand also makes video applications and tools such as the CineForm 444 video codec which was used in the production of the Oscar-winner film Slumdog Millionaire. They also make 35mm cameras and digital wide angle cameras.
GoPro is a brand that gained popularity in this field mainly due to the portability of their cameras. Their action cameras are compact and durable. They’re suitable for all kinds of action from outdoor sports to kayaking to mountaineering to downhill skiing.
Catch your life in-motion while you’re on the go with a GoPro.
Even if you’re not that much into action, a GoPro can be well-suited for a travel camera as well. It can shoot in 4K and have an exciting range of features that will make your travel videos look professional.
Thanks to their compactness and durability, you can use them in literally any kind of weather condition. This includes rain, snow, blizzard, and sandstorm.
A GoPro will have it all covered for you. You can even film underwater with them. And they’re so tiny that you can carry them around in your pockets without having to carry an extra camera pouch.
To Wrap It All Up…
Each brand has their own signature style and approach towards meeting the requirements of their target mass. But there are some common aspects such as price, price-to-performance ratio, efficiency, warranty, which are considered to be the standard features every good camera should provide.
Of course, there are exceptions. But in general, the camera brand you prefer usually determines the kind of photographer you’ll be.