Nikon is such a popular name that it almost seems unfair. There’s no doubt that they’ve earned their reputation at the top of the camera pantheon. Whether you’re looking for a point and shoot camera, or a more serious option like a DSLR or mirrorless camera, Nikon has some of the best options that are going to be worth your time. However, that doesn’t mean that finding a time-worthy Nikon camera is necessarily easy. There are a lot of models to choose from, and the naming conventions can be hard to parse even for experienced photographers.
Fortunately, we’ve put together reviews for the best Nikon cameras of 2020. We’ve also compiled a guide that can help you answer the most frequently asked questions for camera shoppers.
- The 12 Best Nikon Cameras
- Nikon Camera Buying Guide
The 12 Best Nikon Cameras
1. Nikon COOLPIX B500
The Coolpix B500 is what's known as a bridge camera: a point and shoot model that doesn't offer interchangeable lenses but offers most of the features and the level of quality you'd expect from a Nikon D S L R camera. The Coolpix B500 bears an eminently affordable price tag that's less than $300 and it comes with a whole range of different accessories. That makes it both one of the most affordable and effective ways for amateurs to dip their toes into the world of photography.
The connectivity options here are stellar. There's support for Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and NFC, which also allows you to share your image and videos. Its also equipped with super zoom, which can magnify to a level of 80X. The tilting LCD display of this DSLR camera is bright, large, and expressive, and that makes it a great choice if you're looking for an affordable Nikon camera for video. In addition to a range of accessories, you'll also get a copy of PaintShop Pro.
2. Nikon D850
Looking for a Nikon D850 review? Well, you've come to the perfect spot. The D850 couldn't be any more different from the aforementioned entry level Coolpix if it tried. While it may cost ten times as much, it's also one of the best, most impressively high-functioning DSLR models around. It's likely going to be too much camera if you're just starting off on your photography journey, but it's easily one of the gold standards for seasoned professionals looking to invest in the best Nikon camera.
What's especially great about the D850, when compared to other Nikon models, is how well rounded it is. Regardless of the type of photography your craft focuses on, this camera DSLR is sure to be up to the task. The auto-focus system in particular is incredibly well crafted, while the high megapixel count makes it an appropriate choice if you're looking to blow an image up to incredibly large sizes. It also sports a meaningfully long battery life.
3. Nikon COOLPIX A10
The Coolpix A10 is effectively Nikon's best budget point-and-click entry level model. With a price tag of under a hundred bucks, you can pick it up for a song. And while it won't suit the needs of hobbyists or professionals, it's still one of the best compact camera options for people who just want a handy still camera. Ease of use was clearly a high priority with the design of this model. The A10 makes use of simple AA batteries, and the "point and click" sensibilities are strong here. There isn't much in the way of complicated control schemes here, but then there isn't supposed to be.
The A10, however, does come with decent zoom sensibilities, and it can shoot video at a resolution of up to 720p at good speed. Additionally, this simple and compact camera has VR capabilities that ensure that your image shots are clear and sharp even if your hands are shaky.
4. Nikon D7500
You can pick up a D7500 for under a thousand dollars, a sensible choice for professional photographers who already have their lenses and gear or for new hobbyists looking to build their kit out from scratch. In either case, it's a reasonable price for a camera that can stand up to the needs of pros and semi-pros. This is one of Nikon's best mid-range models that takes the portability and all around capabilities of the D5 and D500 Nikon digital cameras and lowers the price without sacrificing too much in the process.
This certainly isn't an entry level camera, but it can produce photos far better than what you'd expect from the price when handled by a capable photographer. The autofocus system is quite notable, especially in terms of how well it handles facial identification. And in an actual improvement over the D500, it actually includes a flash built right in to the frame for better image capturing.
5. Nikon D3500
If you find yourself liking the D7500 but find it a little outside your comfort zone either in terms of pricing or complexity, the D3500 is another Nikon's best that deserves a look. The megapixel count is respectably high and comparable even to plenty of high-end models. You'd have to look far and wide to find a better entry level DSLR option. Its pricing and accessibility puts it right in the sweet spot for new hobbyists and aspiring pros.
The basic model isn't new. The fundamental frame of this DSLR has been in use for years. However, Nikon has polished it to diamond precision. The combination of top notch image quality, speed, and great auto-focus extends well beyond the expectations for this price, but the real innovation comes from of its simplicity. While many DSLR cameras are intimidating, learning the functionality of this model will be easy for even complete novices.
6. Nikon D5300
The D5300 occupies a similar price point in the best Nikon camera lineup to the D3500, but it still manages to retain its own sense of personality and unique usage. In practical terms, the D5300 is the model on which the D3500 was built. It's four years older, and you can see the influence that the company drew from it when creating their new and improved entry level model. And while the D3500 offers Bluetooth, a better battery, and a lighter frame, there are still enticing reasons to pick up the D5300 instead.
The articulating screen is a major selling point. It's larger and significantly more detailed. Moreover, this model offers GPS tracking, better Wi-Fi, and a microphone port for shooting videos. The changes are fairly minimal, but this older model is far from outdated. It also comes with better flash capabilities and supports time lapse recording.
7. Nikon D500 DX-Format Digital SLR
The D500 is the main choice for countless photographers, and that's largely due to the great sense of balance it manages to offer. The 20 megapixel camera doesn't offer the most detailed image shots you'll find on a Nikon camera, but it performs well in practically any situation you can imagine. There's a nice sense of vibrancy and resolution even in tricky lighting situations. And it's similarly positioned in the middle of the pack in terms of its $1500 price.
It's one of the more solid choices for shooting videos as well. This model is equipped with HD capabilities allow for 30 minutes of 4K video shooting at a time, a marvel for a DSLR in this price range. Additionally, the continuous shooting speed of 10 frames per second makes this an exceptional choice if you're looking for an action camera. Also worthy of mention is its live view capabilities, which allows you to compose any image via the monitor instead of the viewfinder.
8. Nikon COOLPIX W300
The W300 is a Coolpix camera that can suit your needs in just about any situation. The "W" in its name stands for waterproof, and it's easily the most adventure-friendly point and shoot option in the catalog of Nikon's best weather sealed cameras. It's safe at depths of up to 30 meters and can sustain a drop from a height of about eight feet without damage.
But its value as a rugged outdoor camera goes beyond build quality. With its GPS capabilities, this camera allows you to geotag all of your adventures. It also has both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities which makes it easy to share your outdoor excursions. And the ability to shoot 4K video is a pretty exceptional selling point for a point and shoot that clocks in at under $400. The 5X optical zoom allows you to get up close and personal photos of mother nature as well.
9. Nikon D3400
If there's one thing that Nikon offers in abundance, it's DSLR cameras built for entry level consumers in terms of both price and features, and that would be a problem if so many of them weren't so good. The D3400 constitutes a fairly robust improvement on the D3500 that savvy shoppers can track down for about the same price. The new sensor oddly enough offers roughly the same megapixel quality but provides somewhat sharper image and video performance overall.
More noticeable is the improved battery life. The D3400 bulks up the number of image shots you can take on a single charge by about a third, and it even draws some inspiration from the build quality of the higher priced D5600 (which we'll get into below). These include a firmer and more meaningful grip and a more intuitive design interface. It's an iterative rather than evolutionary improvement on the D3500 but a welcomed one.
10. Nikon D5600
The D5600 is a DSLR that feels far more nimble and portable than a DSLR should. However, it's still a capable choice for hobbyists and semi-pros alike. The screen is flippable, allowing you to more easily capture whatever tricky image shots you can imagine. It has live view capabilities and offers a remarkably high level of image quality for a camera that's this lightweight and compact.
It stands out as a very hands off Nikon model. You can almost always count on the automated options to provide you with acceptable results, although the option to adjust things manually are of course available as well. And the edges don't become blurry even when you're using high level zoom settings for your photos. Although this camera doesn't have 4k video capabilities, its ability to capture image and videos in high quality shooting conditions is incredible.
11. Nikon Z7 FX-Format Mirrorless Camera
There may only be one Nikon mirrorless camera on our list of best Nikon cameras, but it's a real knockout. The Z7 sports a pretty serious price tag, but it also offers arguably the best image quality of any frame mirrorless camera available today. It really finds the ideal balance between frames per second and megapixels in a way that few other cameras do. And the VR stabilization means that you can achieve crisp and beautiful image shots even in extreme lighting situations.
And while the interface design is very different from most of its Nikon DSLR contemporaries, it feels nice and comfortable in the hand. That's especially great because this 4K video camera has a lot of versatility for use in a variety of different shooting situations. With a continuous shooting speed of 9fps and an awesome dynamic range, the Z7 is definitely one of the best action DSLRS out there. The autofocus is similarly really at the head of the pack both in the field of mirrorless and DSLR models.
12. Nikon COOLPIX P1000 Digital Camera
The P1000 stands significantly apart from the other cameras in the Coolpix lineup. That's due both to its relatively high price tag and its truly cool and unique design. With its vintage frame and enormous lens, this camera is a real looker. But where this bridge camera really stands apart is in its specialized use cases. This is designed as a superzoom camera through and through, and that lends it a completely standalone niche within our list of best Nikon cameras.
The lens here is enormous, but that allows you to shoot at focal lengths ranging from 24 to 3000 millimeters. That's practically unheard of but will be of great value to a certain breed of photographers. Fortunately, it has the image stabilization system to keep pace with such a massive telescope lens and a smooth control ring for easy adjustment.
Nikon Camera Buying Guide
We already have a ton of buying guides to help you get the best cameras. Whether you’re looking for mirrorless or DSLR cameras, our dedicated guides can help you understand the intricacies. You can treat this guide as a complement to our Nikon camera review – here to help you understand the traits specific to Nikon models.
Why Pick a Nikon
There are a lot of camera manufacturers in the world, but for hobbyists and pros, the question usually boils down to Nikon vs. Canon. These are the two leading manufacturers in the world, and they’ve spent decades building up reputations for quality. Those years of work means that new camera models are incredibly compatible with old kit. You’ll never be at a loss for Nikon camera lenses to choose from. But how well does Nikon stack up against Canon? Pretty well to be honest.
Ultimately, the differences between Canon and Nikon cameras are ones that can’t be quantified in qualitative terms. Both provide some of the best image quality, performance, and compatibility with a variety of different lenses (at least on mirrorless and DSLR models). And there are so many models on the market that it can be impossible to directly compare the two. Instead, choosing between Canon and Nikon means comparing different models side by side, both in terms of performance and how they feel in your hand. Then using that to decide on the right one for you.
Understanding the Different Models
The complex combination of letters and numbers that are affixed to the end of Nikon cameras can be exceedingly confusing to both amateur and professional photographers, but once you understand the fundamentals, they provide you with a quick and easy way to understand what sort of features these cameras can offer. We’ll walk through the definitions one by one.
Coolpix cameras refer to practically any Nikon camera that doesn’t fall into the DSLR or mirrorless category. They can cover anything from point and click models to bridge cameras, but they’re best defined by the fact that they don’t support interchangeable lenses. For the most part, they’re simple enough in design that you don’t need to worry yourself about the lettering or numbering and can instead just look at the basic features.
Things get more complicated once you move past the Coolpix series. These other cameras are defined by both a letter and a number. The lettering refers to the type of mount used for the lenses. A “D” designates a traditional DSLR camera, while a “Z” designates a mirrorless model. Both are generally well regarded in the photography field, with mirrorless cameras often being less expensive and more lightweight but sometimes sacrificing features in the process.
Things get a little more complicated once you start factoring in the numbering, but they break down pretty simple once you get the hang of it. You generally need to keep in mind the first number listed as well as the number of total digits on the model.
- Models with four digits are generally the least professional and the cheapest, although they’re also some of the most varied. All use an APS-C sensor. They raise in value from entry level to semi-professional as the numbers become bigger. A D3xxx model is generally going to be one of the best cameras a beginner can pick up.
- Three digit cameras fit comfortably in the semi-professional and hobbyist market. They can utilize either full frame or APS-C sensors, and they also become generally more complicated as the numbers go higher.
- One digit cameras are all full frame Nikon cameras. They’re expensive and built explicitly with the needs of professionals in mind. The higher the number, the more recent the model. And while that usually means that it’s packed in with more features, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best option around.
If you’re looking for a great Nikon camera for your image and/or video, you fortunately have a lot of choices available to you. We’ve picked 12 of the best options around in this review. However, we’re still just scratching the surface. Regardless, you have a sweeping variety of models to choose from, and all of them meet the high standards that Nikon are praised for.