Last year, when we teamed up with Leica for our inaugural Gentleman’s Journal photography competition, the number of entries took us by surprise. You snapped and shot and sent in by the thousands for a chance to win one of Leica’s impressive C-Lux compact cameras.
So, although there could be but one winner, we’ve decided to give the rest of you a helping hand to win this year — and have zoomed in on the best cameras for amateur photographers. So forget your £14,000 SLRs — because even though none of these cameras cost over £1,000, they’ll still boost your photography credentials in a flash.
To dive in at the deep end, buy a DSLR
Let’s start at the serious end of the amateur scale. DSLR cameras — that’s Digital Single Lens Reflex, for those of you out of the loop — are larger and heavier than compact cameras. In fact, many cameras favoured by professionals these days are DSLRs as their quality is so good. With removable lenses, manual settings and a design inspired by traditional film cameras, they’re a great place to start if you’re planning on taking your hobby very, very seriously in the future.
From Nikon, the D5600 is capable of sharply capturing fine textures and is particularly good in low-light situations. Canon’s EOS 200D is similarly capable, and links wirelessly with your smartphone if you just can’t wait to share your snaps on Instagram. Or, if you’re looking to capture dynamic shots, the vari-angle LCD monitor on this Pentax K-70 will ensure you can get creative without sacrificing quality.
For a dependable piece of kit, opt for a mirrorless camera
They may offer fewer features than a DSLR, but mirrorless cameras might just be the future of amateur photography. Named for their lack of an internal mirror that other cameras use to reflect light onto the sensor, these cameras harness the light directly, and thus have offered a powerful alternative to the DSLR.
So, if you’re in the market for something versatile and reliable, look no further than these three. First up, from Fujifilm, the X-T100 was engineered in Japan with amateurs in mind, and is incredibly user-friendly as a result. Next up comes Panasonic’s Lumix G DC-GX800, with a tilt-able 180-degree monitor and selfie beauty-boosting functions. Or, for a vintage touch, why not opt for Olympus’ PEN E-PL8?
Fujifilm X-T100 Camera
Panasonic Lumix G DC-GX800
Olympus PEN E-PL8
For a take-anywhere camera, pick up a premium compact
And then there are the compacts. If you fancy yourself as a photographer, but don’t want to be lugging around a long-lensed DSLR all the time, these premium compact cameras are ideal for slipping into your pocket and whipping out whenever a noteworthy situation or shot presents itself.
From Leica, the C-Lux was offered as the prize in last year’s photography competition and is a fierce piece of auto-focusing, face-detecting, touchscreen kit. Canon’s Powershot G9 X Mark II boasts 0.14-second auto-focus, full HD video recording and a 3x optical zoom. And the Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 from Sony has an extra large sensor that gives you unparalleled image capture with richer colours and incredible depth.
Leica C-Lux Compact Camera
Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II
Sony Cyber-shot DSC-RX100 Compact Camera
Looking for more of the best gear money can buy? Check out this week’s Editor’s Picks…