When it comes to buying a standalone camera, Canon is one of the oldest and most-trusted names in the market. In 2019, it still commands the bulk of sales, in fierce competition with its major rival, Nikon.
If you’re drawn to the brand, but not sure which model is the right one for you, then our guide is designed to help you get things straight. We’ll choose the best Canon camera for a range of different kinds of users, hopefully meaning at least one matches up to what you want to do with your new camera.
What kind of cameras do Canon sell?
Over the past few decades, Canon has launched a wide variety of different digital cameras. These days, the line-up is a little bit more streamlined, with brand new point-and-shoots thinner on the ground thanks to the onslaught of increasingly capable smartphones.
Where Canon excels however, is offering something that your smartphone can’t do. So whether that’s a large sensor, a long zoom, the ability to change lenses, or take full control of every shooting setting, then there’s something here for you.
Canon does still manufacture low-cost compact cameras, but it has put most of its marketing efforts into pushing its premium range of “G series” compacts, which feature one-inch or larger sensors of late. The company also has a robust range of traditional EOS DSLR models, including those in the professional and semi-professional full-frame 1D and 5D ranges - the latest of which are the Canon EOS 1DX Mark II, and the 5D Mark IV. For those on a tighter budget but still wanting to access 35mm goodness, there’s the 6D Mark II, an “entry-level” full-frame camera.
There’s also plenty of models with an APS-C sensor in Canon’s DSLR range, including the fantastic Canon EOS 80D, which makes for a great all-rounder, as well as the 7D Mark II, the 800D and all the way down to the most-basic, entry-level models, the 2000D and the 4000D. The Canon EOS 250D is the world’s smallest and lightest DSLR to feature a fully-articulating screen and is a great option for beginners.
Moving on to Canon’s compact system camera offerings. There are two separate ranges - the EOS M range, which uses APS-C sized sensor, and includes models such as the very likeable EOS M50, plus the EOS R range, which is newer and uses full-frame sensors, such as the beginner-friendly EOS RP.
How to buy the best Canon camera
If you’ve definitely decided that you want a Canon camera, the next step is to decide what kind of photographer (or perhaps videographer) you are.
If you’re looking for something to take on your travels that you can slip in your pocket, your attention will likely be turned towards the G series range of PowerShot cameras, which offer fantastic image quality in diminutive bodies. If you’re fine with carrying a little more weight, but still want to travel relatively light, set your sights on one of Canon’s compact system cameras, with the APS-C models in particular offering good travel options.
Perhaps you’re making your first steps in “serious” photography and are looking for something to learn with, without investing too much money to begin with. In which case, something like the Canon EOS 250D would be a great option, while the Canon EOS RP speaks to those looking for their first full-frame camera.
If you’re looking for a great all-rounder which is very capable of shooting lots of different subjects and you’re starting to get a little bit more serious about your photography, take a look at something like the EOS 80D, or the EOS 6D Mark II.
For those with the biggest budgets and the biggest craving for an expert-level camera, there’s models such as the EOS 5D Mark IV or the 1DX Mark IV.
Let’s take a look at some of the best Canon cameras available to buy in 2019.
If you’re looking for a dependable camera that you can rely on to produce the goods in a wide variety of situations, and you have the cash to stump up, you can’t go far wrong with the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV.
Still one of the best DSLRs on the market despite being a couple of years old, you get all of Canon’s decades-worth of knowledge in a solid, reliable body with a raft of direct access controls.
Images are beautiful, and with a heritage as lengthy as Canon’s, you’ll never be short of lens options and accessories to buy. Using the camera is a great experience, with a superb AF system nailing your shots without question in most situations.
There are a couple of weak points of this camera to consider - if you’re a sports or action shooter, 7fps isn’t particularly fast, while some features, such as the fixed screen are bettered elsewhere on the market. But, generally, there’s a heck of a lot to love about the 5D Mark IV.
It might feel like DSLR cameras are becoming steadily more old-fashioned, with mirrorless rivals the way to go. While there is some truth in that, there are still several benefits to shooting with DSLRs, especially for those who are just starting out and are on a restricted budget.
The EOS 250D is one the cheapest interchangeable lens models you can buy, especially brand new, while an extensive battery life and decent handling still make it worth considering over mirrorless options. Learning your craft on a DSLR is also made easier thanks to the guided interface found on the 250D to help you learn what all the different settings mean and do.
All that said, there are some negative points to consider. The optical viewfinder only offers 95% scene coverage, meaning that things can occasionally stray into the edges of your frame without noticing. 4K video is available, but in a cropped state - be prepared to buy a wide-angle lens to get around that if vlogging is your thing.
For beginners who want to jump in at the deep-end, also think about the Canon EOS RP, which offers full-frame shooting in a mirrorless body.
If you want the best possible image quality, but you don’t want to carry around something big and bulky, then the G1X Mark III could be the answer to your prayers.
It features an APS-C sized sensor - the same size as you’ll find packed into many of Canon’s DSLRs - in something which is almost (but not quite) small enough to jam in your jeans pocket - a coat pocket should fare much better.
You also get a full range of shooting options, with decent handling thanks to plenty of dials and buttons and a fairly usable 3x optical zoom range. Downsides include a limited battery life and a narrow maximum aperture but if you’re looking for the best compromise between quality and portability, this is probably your best bet.
It doesn’t come cheap though - be prepared to shell out around £1000 for the G1X Mark III. Clever tech certainly doesn’t come cheap.
If you’re looking for something smaller and lighter than a DSLR, but you don’t mind something which needs its own bag, then the EOS M50 is a good compromise.
It’s styled and shaped like a miniature DSLR, but it won’t weigh you down too much and gives you the advantages and flexibility of being able to change lenses. While there’s not a huge amount of EOS M lenses available, optics such as the 18-150mm make a good all-rounder, while you can also pick up a few prime and super-wide-angle lenses which should cater for the needs of most holidaymakers.
The M50 is also a great all-rounder for anybody looking for something to learn with, plus functions such as 10fps shooting mean it doesn’t fare too badly when it comes to fast-moving subjects.
Things not to love include a fairly limited battery life, and 4K video recording which is cropped (that wide-angle lens is going to come in handy), but all-in-all, the M50 is a very likeable compact system camera.
If you want the best of the best, and have a budget to match, then the 1DX Mark II is the obvious choice. It’s big and it’s bulky, but it’s got the goods to back it up with a stunning AF system and fantastic image quality. Sports and action photographers will love shooting as fast as 14fps, while there’s also a full suite of video options here, too.
This is a camera which is designed for top-level pros, but enthusiasts who have a particular penchant for certain genres may also feel compelled to buy one.
The 1DX Mark II was released in 2016, so although it still holds up well against its DSLR competitors, some mirrorless options on the market are beginning to outshine it. The good news is that, with age comes price reductions - expect to see some sort of replacement for this model next year when the 2020 Olympics take place.
Canon’s range of G series compacts are good options for those who want something high-quality but want it to fit neatly into their pockets and their lives.
While not having quite as large a sensor as its brother, the G1X Mark III, the G5X Mark II probably represents the best compromise between size, lens, electronic viewfinder and handling.
Although not perfect by any stretch, the camera produces high-quality images and can shoot 4K uncropped. There’s no microphone input, so it’s more for casual videoshooters than dedicated movie-makers (see next recommendation), though.
Considering the body of the G5X Mark II is so small, it handles remarkably well. There’s a good range of dials and buttons, while the tilting screen can be pushed to face forward for easy selfie-framing. The pop-up electronic viewfinder is on the small side, but still very usable for those who like to compose in this manner.
If you’re after a Canon compact with a very long zoom, also take a look at the Canon PowerShot SX740. It has a much smaller sensor than those in the G range, but packs an impressive 40x optical zoom - the longest on the market.
If vlogging is your thing, then the G7X Mark III has been designed specifically with you in mind.
Sharing the same great sensor as the G5X Mark II, the G7X Mark III brings the benefits of uncropped 4K video recording, a microphone input (finally) and even the option to livestream directly to YouTube. You can also shoot vertical video for updating sites such as Instagram and Snapchat, too.
Otherwise, it’s also a very good option for a pocket camera, with a flexible range of shooting options, a decent focal length lens and a flipping screen which helps you to frame up all your selfies. It’s missing a viewfinder, but if you’re a smartphone user, you might not even care.
If you find yourself straddling the market between beginner and expert, you might be classed as an “enthusiast”. If so, there stands a good chance you might be considering upgrading to full-frame.
The 6D Mark II gives you the opportunity to do that, without breaking the bank (too much). With a sturdy body that offers a weatherproof construction, plus a fully articulating touch-screen, the 6D Mark II handles very nicely while also producing very good images.
There are some caveats to consider - if you’re into shooting sports or action, it’s a little limited with its 4.5fps frame rate, but otherwise it’s a great option for enthusiast photographers. Video-makers might be put off by the lack of 4K, too.
If you’re keen to go full-frame but are drawn more towards mirrorless options, also consider the Canon EOS R, which features a host of enthusiast-friendly options and also offers a full-frame sensor.