Best camera: whether you're after a CSC, DSLR or action cam, these are the top snappers around

Channel your inner Ansel Adams with these excellent cameras

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These days buying a camera is something a lot of people don't bother doing. After all, the expensive smartphone in your pocket probably has a camera that produces nice results, and for a lot of people that's enough.

But for most people, camera phones still aren't up to the job of producing 'photo album-worthy' images, and that's where these cameras come in.

For that you need something that offers a bit more creative control. That might be through an interchangeable lens system, the option to use a proper flash, and a variety of shooting modes from automatic, through to fully manual.

Every camera handles this sort of thing differently too, so picking the right one can be daunting in itself.

So what we've done is broken down some of our favourite cameras. There are compacts, interchangeable lens system cameras and some DSLRs too.

Of course, all will be priced in totally different ranges, so while the cheaper cameras might be good, they won't offer anywhere near the control of the more expensive models.

It's true to say though that every camera here will offer you more than your smartphone currently does.

Here are T3's best cameras:

Best action camera - GoPro Hero 4 Silver

King of the action cameras, and a petit travel companion as well

Sensor size: 1/2.3-inch
Resolution: 12MP
Lens: Ultra Wide
Viewfinder: N/A
Monitor: 1.75-inch LCD
Continuous shooting: 30fps
Video: 4K
User: Action-types

The action camera market as really taken off in the past few years, and one brand reigns supreme - GoPro - almost synonymous with the segment. The Hero 4 Silver can take detailed, wide-angle, 12MP images, and sharp 1080p video at 60 fps (it'll even go up to 4K, but at a less useful 15 fps).

The small built-in screen is useful for framing your images without the need for a phone, and you can take it (and clamp it) pretty much anywhere thanks to the massive number of accessories available. If you want the best camera for recording your epic adventures, you can't go wrong with a GoPro.

Best superzoom camera - Panasonic TZ70

A long zoom travel camera that puts picture quality ahead of pixels

Sensor size: 1/2.3-inch
Resolution: 12MP
Lens: 24-720mm
Viewfinder: Electronic
Monitor: 3-inch LCD
Continuous shooting: 10fps
Video: 1080p
User: Beginner

Like Canon and Nikon, Panasonic knows cameras, and it's a rarity to find one of its compact devices that isn't a great little shooter. The TZ70 gets special mention here though because it's small, affordable and produces amazing shots.

Consider it a worthy competitor to the very slightly more expensive. The TZ70 is affordable and has some nifty features like Wi-Fi and a 30x zoom. A very nice camera that produces amazing results.

Best compact camera - Sony RX100 IV

Sony's small compact camera with a big sensor

Sensor size: 1-inch
Resolution: 20MP
Lens: 24-70mm
Viewfinder: Electronic
Monitor: 2.95-inch
Continuous shooting: 16fps
Video: 4K
User: Enthusiast

Sony's RX100 makes use of a 1-inch sensor, and while that's smaller than most DSLR and Mirrorless sensors, it's bigger than most found in other compact cameras (such as the Panasonic, above). The result of this is a larger depth of field, and the ability to capture more light, ultimately, better pictures.

Sony's miniature compact also manages to record 4K video at 25 fps, shot images at an impressive 16 fps, and somehow engineers have found space in the body to fit a fold-out EVF. It's a miracle of packaging, and perfect if you want something smaller than a CSC, but with similar image quality.

Best retro camera - Fujifilm X-Pro 2

A retro delight, with serious picture-taking tech inside

Sensor size: APS-C | Resolution: 24MP | Lens: Interchangeable | Viewfinder: Optical-Electronic Hybrid | Monitor: 3-inch LCD | Continuous shooting: 8fps | Video: 1080p | User: Film-lovers

The Fujifilm X-Pro 2 is a stunning rangefinder-styled snapper with a innovate optical/electronic viewfinder. Despite its retro styling, the X-Pro 2 is bang up to date, with a brand new X-Trans CMOS III sensor, 1/8000th sec. mechanical shutter, and 169 phase detect auto-focus system.

The camera comes with some brilliant film simulation effects, and design which is pretty, but also makes the camera easy to operate.

Best Compact System Camera - Olympus OM-D E-M1

A good balance between sensor size and camera size

Sensor size: Micro 4/3
Resolution: 16MP
Lens: Interchangeable
Viewfinder: Electronic
Monitor: 3-inch
Continuous shooting: 10fps
Video: 1080p
User: Retro-SLR fans

For us, a Micro Four Thirds sensor is the sweet spot between APS-C and 1-inch. The cameras are portable, and the image quality is great. Our current favourite is the Olympus OM-D E-M1, which has all advanced controls of a professional shooter in a portable body that can make use of the excellent M43 lens system.

It's fully weather sealed, solid, and the 5-axis image stabilisation is a wonder, helping you get sharp shots even when you're sitting on a washing machine. Weirdo.

Canon's entry-level DSLR

Sensor size: APS-C | Resolution: 24MP | Lens: Interchangeable lens | Viewfinder: Optical | Monitor: 3-inch | Continuous shooting: 5fps | Video: 1080p | User: Beginner

If you're an amateur looking to make a step up from a compact (and, for some reason, don't want a mirrorless camera), an entry-level APS-C sized sensor is the perfect starting block. Canon's 750D comes in at a shade over £450, so it's not going to break the bank. Perfect, if, in a couple of months time you decide photography isn't for you.

Despite being an old-fashioned looking DSLR, it packs Wi-Fi and NFC. As it's Canon, videographers are well catered for, with a 3.5mm external mic input and flexible screen. This is excellent value and a beautiful camera to use. Sensibly priced and with great video options too, it's a solid choice for someone just starting the hobby.

Best enthusiast's DSLR - Nikon D810A

The D810A makes use of an excellent full-frame sensor to capture ALL THE MEGAPIXELS

Sensor size: Full frame
Resolution: 36MP
Lens: Interchangeable
Viewfinder: Optical
Monitor: 3.2-inch
Continuous shooting: 6fps
Video: 1080p
User: Pro-tog

Nikon's full-frame sensors used to be out of the reach of most people, and while these cameras still cost a lot, they offer photographers who want to capture photos with a full-sized 35mm sensor the option to do so. It's good for photos, it's okay for video, the D810A is an all-rounder that really does have a lot for everyone (even astrophotographers, with a modified infrared cut filter).

It's not hard to use either, although it will take some time to become acquainted with it, but the draw of full-frame is strong. The downside, of course, is that lenses cost more and you don't get one included with full-frame cameras as you do with more budget models. But if you're looking for lots and detail, and the ability to crop in post - the D810A is worth a shout.

Best mirrorless full frame camera - Sony A7R II

Lots of pixel, and it's very futuristic - Sony is a real challenger to Nikon and Canon

Sensor size: Full frame
Resolution: 42MP
Lens: Interchangeable
Viewfinder: Electronic
Monitor: 3-inch
Continuous shooting: 5fps
Video: 4K
User: People who hate DSLRs

For years, the camera market has been dominated by Canon and Nikon. But now there's a new kid on the block - Sony. The Japanese company is making a splash in the photography sector with its innovative propositions, most notably the A7 range, a collection of full-frame, mirrorless cameras.

The newest model in the range, the A7R II, is a corker. With a massive 42-megapixels, it's perfect for landscape and portrait photography. The body is compact and wether-sealed, and the video capabilities are brilliant. The big two should be worried.

Best camera for artists - Leica M Typ 262

A stylish camera focusing on the essentials of photography

Sensor size: Full frame
Resolution: 24MP
Lens: Interchangeable
Viewfinder: Optical Rangefinder
Monitor: 3-inch
Continuous shooting: 3fps
Video: None
User: Artist

If you've spent time researching the best camera gear, chances are you've spent an equal amount of time lusting over the little red dot. Leica is one of the oldest camera brands, renowned for making top quality lenses and cameras. Their most iconic range is the M series - rangefinder cameras with full-frame sensors and no autofocus.

Many think M the 'purest' for of photography, allowing you to slow down and work to get the perfect shot. The M Typ 262 is the ultimate embodiment of that, there's a new silent shutter, no video option, no live view. As Leica puts it, the Typ 262 has been 'minimalised to perfection'.

Be cautious though, purchasing the camera is only the first step - you then have to decide which glorious (and pricey) lens you want to go with it.