It’s possible to argue that any camera can be used by a hobbyist. Mainly because, until you start earning from this art form, everybody is in the hobby category. This is being very loose with the terminology, but I’ve seen many times people with very deep pockets buy a high-end camera and manual lens without any clue of how to use the things.
So, the best cameras for hobby photography really depend on your skill levels. You want something that can still produce fantastic results without overwhelming you.
There’s also the matter of if you want a more compact solution or a camera that lets you play about with interchangeable lenses. Each has its pros and cons, depending on your own particular needs. Which is why we are bringing you a selection of each type.
1. Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II
With the Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II we are taking the hobby term to mean a camera that is quick to use, isn’t overly complicated, and still provides excellent results. This pocket-sized solution comes with a 20.1MP, one-inch CMOS sensor, an ISO that goes up to 12,800 for low-light shooting, an 8.2 fps burst rate, and it’s capable of shooting HD 1080p video.
The lens may only have three times optical zoom, but it makes up for things with a f/2-f/4.9 aperture and built-in image stabilization for both stills and video. The Canon PowerShot G9 X Mark II is also a very cool-looking unit, for the more fashion-conscious types out there.
As with many cameras for hobby photography, the Canon is chock-full of features, with a fast autofocus system and plenty of ways to process your images in-camera. Most of all, the Canon’s pocket-size dimensions mean you always have the means to take high-quality images at a moment’s notice.
2. Sony a6000
If you want to dive straight into a mirrorless, interchangeable lens camera, the Sony a6000 provides the simplicity of a compact version, while still providing high-end features. This quite portable mirrorless camera comes with a 24.3MP, APS-C-sized Exmor APS HD CMOS sensor, with a rather high ISO of 25,600, a shooting speed of 11 fps, and video mode producing full HD 1080p footage.
Although the camera has an electronic viewfinder on the rear, it’s a little small for regular use. However, the rear three-inch 921k-dot XtraFine LCD screen covers everything you need for hitting the right exposure and skimming through the extensive camera settings. There are just enough external controls to cover all the pertinent shooting modes and exposure settings. Plus, all the autofocus modes, such as Eye AF, work extremely well, producing precise portrait shots.
The Alpha a6000 may not be a broadcast-quality video shooter, but it still has some advanced features for HD video that include 8-bit, 4:2:2 video output, focus peaking, and pretty good-quality audio.
With interchangeable lenses available, the Alpha a6000 is a veritable powerhouse of image processing in the right hands. It will allow you to take your photography skills from the most basic to the most advanced.
3. Nikon D5600
Just because mirrorless cameras are getting all the headlines, doesn’t mean the tried-and-trusted DSLR camp has been made redundant. The Nikon D5600 is more your entry-level DSLR, providing a flavor of the whole range and very capable of producing professional results.
The D5600 comes with a 24.2MP, DX-format CMOS sensor, a sensitivity range up to ISO 25,600, a continuous shooting mode of five fps, and full HD video output at 1080p.
The autofocus system features 39 AF points, with a multitude of tracking modes, which includes 3D tracking. These are further bolstered in Live View with the likes of face priority AF and subject tracking AF.
Images can also be processed in-camera, depending on the subject matter. One of the main benefits here is the introduction to the wide array of interchangeable Nikon lenses. DSLRs also have the advantage of the best battery life and an as-you-see-it optical viewfinder. We give you the full rundown in our Nikon D5600 review.
4. Canon EOS Rebel T6
Just like the Nikon above, the Canon Rebel series is not just an introduction to interchangeable lens cameras, but also an introduction to the company’s ecosystem. Once you’ve camped with one brand or the other and bought into a few lenses, a user usually sticks to the brand like glue.
The EOS Rebel T6 may be quite basic by today’s standards, but when it’s treated to a good-quality lens and reasonable light levels, this little DSLR can provide bags of quality. The camera features a still-very-capable 18MP APS-C CMOS sensor, with an ISO range of 100-6,400 and a nine-point AF system.
The Rebel T6 can compose images with either the optical viewfinder or the rear three-inch 920k-dot LCD screen. Plus, the HD 1080p video at 30 fps is reasonable enough for capturing spur-of-the-moment footage.
Where the Rebel series still excels is in providing all the basics in a lightweight package, which will allow you to expand your skills until you are ready to dive into a more full-blown option. Think this might be the one? Read our review of the EOS Rebel T6 before you make your final decision.
5. Sony W830 (Budget Winner)
The Sony W830 isn’t just a budget camera option; it also offers great resolution for both stills and video, with the added bonus of an eight times zoom, Carl Zeiss Vario-Tessar lens. All the resolution and detail comes from the 20.1MP Super HAD CCD sensor, which also provides a ISO range up to 3,200.
The video mode isn’t the greatest in the world at only 720p, but the stills side more than makes up for the things providing a fast autofocus system with face detection, panorama settings, and image stabilization. There’s also plenty of in-camera editing for beautifying and sharpening images. If your preference is for a straightforward compact camera that doesn’t cost a vast amount while still providing great image quality, the Sony packs in a surprising amount of features for the money.
All-Around Cameras for Hobby Photography
To cover the cameras for hobby photography category, we have erred on the side of cameras which cover all the essential features, while also easing you into the more advanced modes. A hobby camera can range from solutions to be used once in a while to those used on a regular basis.
Like any imaging solution, the end choice really depends on your favorite subjects to shoot. However, as general all-round cameras, all the solutions above tick all the boxes for the aspiring photographer.