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An In-Depth Look at the Best Nikon Cameras on the Market Right Now!

There are so many great cameras out there whether you’re a DSLR or Mirrorless user. Choosing the right camera for your needs is no easy feat. In this article, we share the best Nikon Cameras on offer in 2021.

We’ve covered every potential photographer’s needs, from the beginners to the pros, ensuring there is something for everyone!

The Best Nikon Cameras

  • D5600 (Best Entry Level Camera)
  • D7500 (Best Mid-Range Crop-Sensor Camera)
  • D500 (Best Crop-Sensor Camera)
  • D850 (Best Mid-Range Full-Frame)
  • D5 (Best Overall)
  • Z6 (Best mirrorless)
  • Z50

Nikon D5600

Best Entry Level
Best option for beginner photographers on a budget

A great buy if you are a beginner photographer or someone looking to migrate from a smartphone to a DSLR. Balanced camera with good still as well as video capabilities.

Nikon has a generous selection of entry-level cameras. Among them, the D5600 is the latest and quite possibly greatest.

The D5600 with its flip-out screen, top continuous shooting speed of 5 fps, full HD movie shooting, and the option to plug in an external mic makes it a great choice for first time DSLR buyers. It has a bit of everything that any photographer willing to migrate from smartphones to DSLRs may want. Additionally, someone looking to explore what a larger sensor can do will also find the D5600 worth a look.

It is powered by a 24.2 MP (Effective) CMOS sensor capable of producing large fine JPEGs and RAW files of the size 6000 x 4000 pixels. Native ISO capabilities of the sensor are from ISO 100 to 25600.

Nikon D5600 w/AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR + 64GB Memory Bundle

The fastest Shutter Speed is 1/4000 and the continuous shooting speed is 5 fps at full resolution.

Entry-level Nikon DSLRs don’t have great video capabilities. Notwithstanding, they can shoot full HD videos at a maximum frame rate of 60p. There is a built-in stereo mic or you can plug in an external mic for better quality sound recording.

The camera has been designed with ergonomics in mind. Plus it has a good overall build quality. The camera should appeal to most starting photographers because it has an interactive user interface.  It is geared towards new photographers and gives visual guidance to someone using manual controls for the first time.

With both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth built-in, the D5600 should also appeal to the modern generation of smartphone photographers. You can shoot and share on the go just as you would normally do with your smartphone.

Nikon D7500

Best Mid-Range
Best synergy of stills and videos

The perfect camera if you love shooting both stills as well as videos. Offers the best of both worlds.

The D7500 is a formidable camera and we recently listed it on our review of the best APS-C cameras. We listed it as the second-best Nikon pick. It shares the same sensor as the flagship D500. However, it loses out to the D500 in terms of auto-focusing prowess. It also comes in second in the area of continuous shooting speed as well as build quality.

That said the D7500 is not a pushover. It has been one of the best mid-range Nikon cameras of-late and continues to be one of the best Nikon cameras 2020 has to offer. It is a weather-sealed design with a robust AF system and features that would suit a large number of photography genres. Plus it is great as a video shooter too.

The D7500’s 20.9 MP sensor produces large fine JPEGs and RAW files of the dimension 5568 x 3712 pixels. The native ISO range of the camera is 100 – 51200. The autofocusing mechanism of the D7500 has a 51-point AF system including 15 cross-type points.

It shoots 4K/UHD videos at 30p with stereo sound recorded with the built-in mic. You also get a mic-in port to plug in an external mic. This allows you to record crisp quality sound in-camera. Plus, the D7500 has 8-bit 4:2:2 output when recording to an external recorder. Something that even the D500 does not offer. A lot of entry-level videographers prefer to shoot with the D7500 for this particular functionality.

Nikon D500

Best crop-sensor camera
Best for photographers looking for a powerful crop-sensor camera

Pro features packed inside a crop-sensor body. Ideal for birding, wildlife, and fast action or sports photography. If you are looking for a crop camera you don’t have to look any further.

We also featured the D500 in the Best APS-C Cameras list I mentioned above. This is currently the flagship APS-C DSLR that Nikon makes. In many ways, it is the perfect companion for anyone looking for a small yet powerful camera that they can use to shoot sports, wildlife, and action photography. With its superior build quality, the D500 can go anywhere and shoot almost anything when paired with the right lens.

It has the same resolution as the D7500 (20.9 MP) and produces large fine JPEGs and RAW frames of the size 5568 x 3712 pixels.

The native ISO of the camera is 100-51200. It can be extended from ISO 50 all the way up to 1640000.

But the fastest Shutter Speed is 1/8000. Something that the entry-level DSLRs don’t offer. It beats all of the APS-C Nikon DSLRs with its 10 fps continuous shooting speed. Up to 200 RAW captures can be made at that speed before the buffer overruns.

One of the prime reasons that the D500 is considered as a sports and action camera is its fantastic auto-focusing mechanism. It is the equivalent of the D5 (discussed below) in the crop sensor category. It is powered by 153-point phase detection points. 99 out of which are cross-type. And 55 of them are actually selectable.

With still photography no longer the only criterion for setting benchmark every camera needs to shoot videos as well. The D500 is no exception in that regard. The D500 shoots excellent 4K videos at 30p and full HD videos at 60p. It has a built-in stereo mic. Plus there is option to plug in an external stereo mic for better quality audio.

The tilting screen of the camera allows you to shoot from an angle other than your eye level. As a movie shooter or a still photographer you can exploit those acute angles that otherwise remain elusive for a camera with a fixed screen.

The camera is ideal for a large number of photography genres. Not just birding, sports and wildlife. You can shoot landscapes, portraits, wedding and everything in between.

Nikon D850

Best Mid-Range Full-Frame
Great for photographers looking for a professional quality body

Extremely high-resolution camera with superb autofocusing perfect for challenging photography requirements.

If you are not a professional sports and wildlife photographer, you don’t need the D5. The D850 is more than enough.

The D850 is a powerful full-frame DSLR. The sensor offers a resolution of 45.7 MP. The back-side illuminated design comes without an Optical Low-pass Filter. If you love a large amount of detail with good low light performance, the D850 is a safe bet. An EXPEED 5 image-processing engine powers the camera.

The continuous speed of the D850 is not as high as the D5. As a matter of fact, it is not as good as the D500 that we discussed above. At 7 fps at full resolution, you can only shoot about 51 RAW frames before the buffer runs out. But overall this camera has everything that you may need for all kinds of photography requirements.

The native ISO range of the camera ranges from ISO 64 to 25600. It can be further extended from 32 to 102400.

Coming down to video capabilities the D850 shoots UHD/4K videos at a maximum of 30p frame rate. But it is limited to the length of the videos that it can shoot at 29 mins and 59 seconds. There is a built-in stereo mic and an option to add an external stereo mic should the need arise.

The 3.2-inch LCD screen at the back of the camera gives you plenty of real-estate to compose and review your images. The screen has a resolution of 2359k-dots. The tilting screen is a great solution for those other-than-eye-level shots that you would normally shoot with an external display.

Nikon D5

Best Overall
Professional photographers don’t have to look beyond this!

Class-leading autofocusing performance. This is the sort of camera that you would bet your life on to get you the picture.

THe D5 is the ultimate when it comes to wildlife, sports, and action photography. The king of Nikon cameras. It is by far the best of the best Nikon camera out there. Now, you may be wondering why on earth I am not referring to the latest flagship, the Nikon D6. But truthfully, the D6’s inflated price is not justified when compared to the D5.

If you are a professional photographer looking for a pro body you can easily save a ton of money by not buying the D6 and choosing the D5 instead. Because the D6 does not represent a lot of improvement over the D5.

The D5 offers a 20.8-megapixel sensor with a native ISO of 100 – 102400.

For fast action, the D5 has a continuous shooting speed of 12fps and has a 200 frame buffer meaning you’re practically guaranteed to get the perfect shot, no matter the subject!

As with some of the other cameras listed, the D5 has an EXPEED 5 image processor.

It is worth noting that the D5 is very limited in terms of its connectivity functionality. For many professionals, this could be a drawback.

Nikon Z6

Best Nikon Mirrorless Pick
Nikon’s best overall mirrorless camera so far

Great image quality. Great value for money.

Both Nikon and Canon have found themselves making the shift to mirrorless cameras. Nikon currently has several mirrorless options including the Z6 and the Z7 that released earlier and the latest Z5 and the Z50.

We have picked the Z6 for this discussion based on the overall cost to benefit ratio that it offers. The Z7 is no doubt the best. But we felt that the Z6 offers the most value for money.

The Nikon Z6 is powered by a 24.5-megapixel full-frame BSI CMOS sensor. Paired with the sensor is an EXPEED 6 image-processing engine.

Auto-focusing on the Z6 is powered by a 273-point phase-detection auto-focusing system. The phase-detection system is more powerful and certainly faster than contrast-detection systems. And in that regard, this is a more sought after feature in the photography world.

Although the AF performance is not the same as a DSLR in terms of speed, accuracy and focus retention has improved quite a lot. As a mirrorless camera you will find it a lot easier to lock on to a subject’s eye (closest to the camera) and then retain focus until the image is captured.

Subject tracking is one area that you will enjoy using with the Z6. And with that, you will also enjoy Focus Peaking and Zebra Stripes. These features take care of focusing accurately in manual mode and allow you to keep an eye out for good exposure and not clip your highlights in the process.

With internal 4K/UHD you have your bases covered when it comes to video shooting. But what we don’t like is that they haven’t utilized the whole sensor when recording 4K/UHD videos. So, you are unable to utilize wide-angle lenses for that dramatic effect.

Nikon Z50

First Nikon APS-C Mirrorless
Great choice for someone looking for a Nikon mirrorless

Great second camera if you are already invested in the Nikon ecosystem. Also, great for someone looking for their first ILC camera.

We like the Nikon Z50. It is a nice, compact camera perfect for travel photography. Design-wise, the EVF looks to be overgrown when compared to the rest of the body. The EVF has a resolution of 2.36 million dots giving you a beautiful high-res perspective of what’s being captured by the frame.

However, this is a crop camera and with that comes a range of positives and negatives to consider.

Under the hood, the Z50 is powered by a 20.9-megapixel DX-format CMOS sensor. Paired with the sensor is an EXPEED 6 image processor.

Auto-focusing on the Z50 is powered by a 209-point Hybrid AF system. The Z50 also features the eye-detection system that the Z6 has and this is extremely useful when shooting portraits.

Auto-focusing acquirement, in general, is very fast. Performance is comparable to the more established cameras in this line-up – the Z6 and the Z7. However, subject tracking can leave you expecting more from the camera. Continuous auto-focusing with subject tracking sometimes goes awry. But with a decent frame rate, you can still probably get some good shots.

When it comes to still photography the Z50 has a fantastic continuous shooting speed of 11 fps.

However, one more thing that you should know about the Z50 is that it does not have IBIS (In Body Image Stabilization). That’s too bad for someone trying to make their foray into the APS-C mirrorless segment. This means that you’ll have to shoot with image stabilized lenses if you intend to use very low shutter speeds hand-held. Low light photography is one area where you will miss this.

The camera is a capable video shooter as well. It shoots UHD/4K videos at 30 fps. Switching to full-HD you would be able to shoot at 120 fps.

And if you are particularly interested in things like vlogging the 180-degree flipping rear LCD screen gives you the option to monitor what you are recording and to keep yourself within the frame (hopefully in focus) at all times.

To boot this flipping screen comes with touch properties. And that immediately gives you a lot more flexibility in terms of interacting with the interface as well as when shooting.

Surprisingly the Z50, despite being a crop camera and on the budget side, comes with weather-sealing. Together with the auto-focusing quality, still quality, and video abilities, the Z50 is a great all-round camera and a good choice if someone is trying to get into the Nikon mirrorless world.


  • Rajib is an avid travel photographer and an overall shutterbug. He loves to test and review new photography gear. He has been writing about cameras and lenses for over 10 years now. You can consider him as your "master guide" here at PhotoWorkout.

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