Just like Canon and Sony, Nikon is one of the leading brands we trust when it comes to the selection of the best cameras for photography. The brand is known for its DSLR, mirrorless, and point-and-shoot cameras.

Of course, mirrorless and DSLR cameras (compared to compact models) come with more powerful features you would enjoy. They also provide a better opportunity for growth. One good example is the Nikon Z6 II that comes with the perfect combinations of features such as a 273-point Hybrid AF system, two card slots, and continuous shooting mode up to 14 FPS. Given its nature as a mirrorless camera, you can also try a wide variety of lenses as you explore your skills and the field of photography more and more.

Despite all of those things, that doesn’t mean that compact cameras are incapable of offering you great experiences. They are lighter and smaller, but Nikon equipped them with great features, functions, and value that can still make them stand out on the market. For instance, the Coolpix series cameras are very handy due to their relatively compact, yet functional bodies. Nikon Coolpix W300 proves it. Besides providing 16 MP photos and 4K videos on land, it can also perform wonders underwater.

Nonetheless, if you are still clueless about what kind of camera to pick among Nikon DSLR, mirrorless, and compact, think about the skills you have. This is one important aspect to consider to get the right model of the cam.

If you are a pro you might want to consider Nikon’s mirrorless and DSLR units that offer vast possibilities. However, if you just intend to find a camera for occasional use, compact models would still do great. The features and the price of the cam should also be considered. By ticking these boxes, you’ll certainly find the best model for you.

With this, we tried some of the brand’s cameras and decided to give you a roundup of its five best models. Together with SolidSmack’s editor and former NatGeo photographer, Evangeline Summers, join us as we get a close look at each item on this list that will certainly amaze you. Here they are.

Best Nikon Cameras Comparison & Rating

Nikon Cameras

Features

Nikon Z 6II FX-Format Mirrorless Camera Body Black
  • two SD card slots
  • two Expeed 6 processors
  • continuous shooting mode up to 14 FPS
Nikon Z50 Compact Mirrorless Digital Camera with Flip Under Selfie/Vlogger LCD, Body
  • 20.9 MP sensor
  • 4K and 11 FPS shooting
  • viewfinder with 2.36m dots
Nikon Z 5 Camera Body, Black
  • better EN-EL15c battery
  • dual memory card slot
  • stabilized non-BSI 24 MP CMOS sensor
Nikon D3500 + AF-P 18–55 Non VR Kit - Black
  • Guide Mode on the dial
  • 24.2 MP APS-C sensor
  • 5 FPS continuous shooting speed
Nikon W300 Waterproof Underwater Digital Camera with TFT LCD, 3", Yellow (26525)
  • 16 MP low-light sensor
  • hybrid vibration-reduction image stabilization
  • underwater depth capacity of 30 meters

1. Nikon Z6 II Mirrorless Camera

Nikon Z 6II FX-Format Mirrorless Camera Body Black
Specifications:
98% Overall

Camera Type

Mirrorless

Sensor

Full-frame CMOS

Megapixels

24.5 MP

Video Resolution

4K UHD at 30 P (updated: 60 P)

98%
performance
97%
features
97%
ease of use
98%
value for money
Pros:
  • Provides 273-point Hybrid AF system which is fast and reliable.
  • Comes with two card slots.
  • Offers better burst shooting.
  • The AF is faster and more accurate.
  • Has a larger buffer and faster than Z6.
  • Includes the second processor.
  • Offers a wide area eye detection.
Cons:
  • Comes with cropped 4K (60 P) videos.
  • The monitor only tilts and doesn’t offer much flexibility for vlogging purposes.
Final Take:

The best thing about camera models is that they keep on getting better and better as time goes by. Nikon proves it with the release of the Nikon Z6 II. This new model bears the great features it has inherited from its predecessor and Nikon’s first-ever full-frame mirrorless camera model, the Z6.

“Basically, you still get the same sensor resolution at 24.5 MP, image stabilization, autofocus points, and a lot more,” said Summers. “So, if you already own Z6, there is probably no need for an upgrade. However, if you still don’t have a cam and need to choose between Z6 and the Z6 II, the latter is better as it has two SD card slots, better continuous shooting, and more.”

The new Nikon Z6 II now offers continuous shooting mode up to 14 FPS (24.5 MP for up to 124 frames). This is a dramatic change since Z6’s burst mode comes at 12 FPS. It also delivers excellent 4K videos at 60 FPS. Lastly, it offers two Expeed 6 processors which help it deliver faster image processing, more buffer capacity, and better AF performance.

“When we tried to compare Z6 and Z6 II using the same lens, the latter was able to focus faster. It can also designate a smaller frame to focus on the eyes of the subject. This allows the new model to deliver more accurate autofocus even when used with complex subjects,” Summers added.

Most of all, according to Summers, another major factor to consider Z6 II is its dual SD card slot which gives you more room for your stills and videos. With this new feature, it is perfect for professionals who need to work non-stop during demanding events like weddings and other big celebrations. Perfect!

2. Nikon Z50 Mirrorless Camera

Nikon Z50 Compact Mirrorless Digital Camera with Flip Under Selfie/Vlogger LCD, Body
Specifications:
98% Overall

Camera Type

Mirrorless

Sensor

APS-C CMOS

Megapixels

20.9 MP

Video Resolution

4K UHD at 30 P

98%
performance
97%
features
98%
ease of use
97%
value for money
Pros:
  • Excellent size and ergonomic design of the body and buttons.
  • Provides 4K UHD (30 P) videos.
  • Capable of 11 FPS continuous shooting.
  • Bright viewfinder with 2.36m dots.
  • Great set of features for its price.
Cons:
  • Doesn’t offer an in-body stabilization feature.
  • Only allows slower UHS-I cards.
Final Take:

Nikon Z50 is a small mirrorless unit packed with great features that can allow the growth of users. It has an ergonomic build that allows a solid hold. The genius placement of buttons also allows ease of access to the buttons of the unit. Nonetheless, there are more things Nikon Z50 can offer besides its external and physical appearance.

“Z50 can offer you almost the same set of things you love from other Nikon camera models,’ started Summers, “For instance, it uses just the same Expeed 6 processor you can find in Z6 and Z7, so you can expect the same quality of performance from its 20.9 MP sensor.”

Z50 also allows 4K and 11 FPS shooting. The stills it can produce, on the other hand, are great and vibrant, with shades and tones that are extremely realistic. The number of details is also overwhelming and the eye-detection of AF makes everything easier to help the subject stand out.

Most of all, the unit is very promising and offers a wide room for improvement, thanks to its Z mount. With this, you can use it with a vast option of lenses such as Nikkor Z DX lenses, full-frame Nikkor Z lenses, and regular Nikon DSLR lenses using FTZ adapter. With all of these things, we must say that Nikon has done an excellent job of producing an impressive mirrorless camera!

3. Nikon Z5 Mirrorless Camera

Nikon Z 5 Camera Body, Black
Specifications:
96% Overall

Camera Type

Mirrorless

Sensor

Full frame CMOS

Megapixels

24 MP

Video Resolution

4K UHD at 30 P

95%
performance
96%
features
96%
ease of use
97%
value for money
Pros:
  • Delivers 24 MP full-frame images and 4K UHD videos.
  • Great body and offers a solid grip.
  • Offers VR image stabilization and a 273-point autofocus system.
  • Comes with dual SD card slots.
  • Reasonable price for the features it offers.
  • Great in-body 5-axis VR image stabilization.
Cons:
  • The 4K videos are cropped.
  • The burst shooting only comes at 4.5 FPS.
  • A bit weak AF system in low-light conditions.
Final Take:

Nikon has managed to offer a great entry-level full-frame camera through the introduction of the Nikon Z5. It has a great resemblance to the Z6 which is another masterpiece Nikon is known for. It costs higher than the said model but it offers great value that is worth considering.

“Just like Z6, Z5 can offer you great features from 3.69 M-dot OLED viewfinder to Expeed 6 processor and 273-point hybrid AF system,” said Summers, “However, it is undeniable that its sensor is quite different from what Z6 has.”

According to Summers, Z5 uses a stabilized non-BSI 24 MP CMOS sensor which is more related to the brand’s D750 DSLR. It also offers a dual memory card slot and a better EN-EL15c battery which will benefit any kind of user.

However, there are still some drawbacks to this model such as its unappealing continuous shooting rate at just 4.5 FPS. It is considered way slower if compared to Z6’s 12 FPS. Also, the LCD top-plate display you get from Z6 is removed to give way to the mode dial of the cam which is intended for beginners.

“There are some things this model lacks but still, we can say that it is still pretty capable of providing excellent performance with its 273-point autofocus system and 24MP sensor. Overall, you can still expect that Z5 can give you excellent details regardless of your shooting scenarios,” Summers said.

4. Nikon D3500 DSLR

Nikon D3500 + AF-P 18–55 Non VR Kit - Black
Specifications:
96% Overall

Camera Type

DSLR

Sensor

APS-C CMOS

Megapixels

24.2 MP

Video Resolution

1080 P

95%
performance
94%
features
98%
ease of use
96%
value for money
Pros:
  • Features a very beginner-friendly Guide Mode.
  • Very affordable for an entry-level DSLR camera.
  • Still offer great features which can deliver great stills and videos such as the 24 MP sensor.
  • Boasts long battery life that can reach at least 1,550 shots.
  • Captures fine details for stills.
  • Great grip and offers a solid feel.
Cons:
  • Only offers a maximum of 1080 P Full HD video resolution.
  • LCD can’t be tilted and doesn’t come with a touchscreen capability.
Final Take:

We have featured Nikon D3500 many times before and it is undeniable that it still deserves to be on this list. Well, no one can blame us as D3500 offers great value for an entry-level camera.

“It has this magnificent Guide Mode on the dial,” started Summers, “This feature is the reason we put this on the top of the list. Not only will it give you a virtual tutorial of the functions of the camera, but it will also allow you to adjust it depending on your needs. With this, you have the option between the basic assistance or the tutorial for more advanced features of the camera.”

The guide is delivered using the rear LCD screen which makes things more convenient to users. The controls are very intuitive as well and it is stripped off of Nikon DSLR’s Custom Settings menu. The latter might sound a bit drastic and more of a disadvantage but these things are compensated with just the right set of great features to aid your photography needs.

“D3500 will give you a 24.2 MP APS-C sensor which is very reliable to get crisp images with rich tones,” Summers added, “Also, its burst rate is still great at 5 FPS given that it is an entry-level cam that is reasonably priced! So, with this bad boy, you got the most affordable, most beginner-friendly camera possible!”

Furthermore, Summers noted that D3500 is armed with all the manual controls you need. With these controls, the brilliant Guide mode, and its price, the camera can be considered as a great stepping stone for beginners who want to explore and pursue the photography field.

5. Nikon Coolpix W300 Underwater Camera

Nikon W300 Waterproof Underwater Digital Camera with TFT LCD, 3", Yellow (26525)
Specifications:
95% Overall

Camera Type

Compact

Sensor

1/2.3 inches

Megapixels

16 MP

Video Resolution

4K

94%
performance
96%
features
95%
ease of use
95%
value for money
Pros:
  • Excellent protection from the freeze, water, and dust.
  • Offers autofocus and contrast-detect features.
  • Delivers 4K Ultra HD videos.
  • The LCD doesn’t reflect light which translates to a better visual of the screen.
  • Comes with a 16 MP low-light sensor.
  • Supports Time-lapse videos, super lapse videos, music montages, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, eCompass, altimeter, depth gauge, and more.
  • Sports NIKKOR lens with 5X optical zoom and telephoto power.
  • Has hybrid vibration-reduction image stabilization feature.
  • Fast charging at 2 hours and 20 minutes.
  • Has an underwater depth capacity of 30 meters or 100 feet.
  • Can tolerate falls up to 8 feet.
Cons:
  • Fiddly to operate and has no raw shooting.
Final Take:

W300 has thick body construction that protects the internal function of the camera. This protects it not just from the water but so as from accidental falls that can affect the camera performance. With this, Nikon Coolpix W300 can be an excellent option that you can use for extreme activities where a tough unit is a must.

“The main selling point of his camera is that Nikon tried to integrate everything its typical land camera has into this model. This means it could be as powerful as any other digital cameras you are using on the daily,” Summers said. “Most of all, it really is exciting that it uses optical zoom which means you have a more quality shot underwater with more details and more clarity!”

According to Summers, buyers will love that it comes with the most common 20 scene modes. With this feature, the camera would do the basic adjustments for you according to the mode you are going to pick. Most of all, it comes with a 4K video capability and a lot of other cameras controls not present in the action cam units. That said, given its toughness, great set of functions, features, and capabilities, this is the immortal John McClane of Nikon cameras.

Best Nikon Cameras - Buyer's Guide

value

Keep in mind that Nikon, just like any other brand, often releases new models that are just based on the earlier ones already present on the market. If you are a buyer who still doesn’t have the earlier models, it is better to have the newer ones as they often come with better and improved features. For instance, Nikon Z6 II is based on the original Nikon Z6. The Nikon Z6 II offers better processors, continuous shooting mode, and two SD card slots. This is a better option than Z6 given their small difference in price. However, if you are a current owner of Z6, we don’t think it is necessary to have an upgrade to Z6 II. With all this, remember to always go for the model that will offer you the best value.

ease of use

The ease of use of the camera depends on how the camera is designed for users. Besides the physical features (how the buttons are placed, the flexibility of the rear LCD screen, availability of the viewfinder, how compact the body is, the texture of the body, etc.), it is also important to consider the software.

There are few camera models that offer some additional software features aimed at guiding beginners. For instance, the Nikon D3500 offers a Guide mode that educates the learners of the settings and functions of the camera. It can guide the learners from the very basic controls to more advanced settings of the unit. 

That said, make sure to check if that the unit you’ll have specialized capabilities that will make your photography experience smoother, easier, and more educational.

versatility and potentials

The versatility of the camera will be determined by the type of unit you will choose. While point-and-shoot cameras are much easier to use, their functions, settings, and features are so limited that your growth could also be very limited. This is the reason why we are recommending mirrorless and DSLR units over them. They offer a wide set of abilities and will allow you to grow in the field of photography. As your skills get better and better, you can do some upgrades and explore more complicated lenses that complement them.

other features

Considering the other features of the Nikon camera is also important in order to properly weigh the options you have. This includes the sensors which come in medium format, full-frame, or APS-C. The last two are the most common sensors that are commonly used, with 35 mm format or full-frame being more preferable due to its capability to manage more pixels.

A camera with a viewfinder is also a great choice. Nonetheless, be sure that it has at least 2.36 million dots resolution. If possible, do not get a camera lower than the indicated number. Also, if you have the means, better to have the one that has 3.69 million dots just like the Nikon Z5.

Besides the things mentioned, of course, there are more things to consider such as the megapixels, monitor size, continuous shooting speed, build, video max resolution, and more. In the end, make sure the unit ticks all the boxes of your checklist to make sure you have the best Nikon camera that suits your needs.

Best Nikon Cameras - FAQs

What is the best Nikon camera for beginners?

Nikon D3500 is probably the easiest and most beginner-friendly camera not just in Nikon models but so as in other brands. It’s because of its Guide Mode that provides a virtual tutorial of the functions of the camera. The guide is delivered using the rear LCD screen which makes things more convenient to users.

Are there waterproof Nikon cameras?

Yes, there are waterproof Nikon cameras available on the market, with Nikon Coolpix W300 being the most ideal of them. It has an underwater depth capacity of 30 meters or 100 feet and can survive an 8-foot fall.

Does Nikon use image stabilization?

Yes, some Nikon cameras use in-body image stabilization like Nikon Z6, Z7, Z6 II, Z5, and more.

Are Nikkor and Nikon the same?

Nikkor is only the brand of the lenses of Nikon. This is the reason that explains why you see the name always present in the lenses of Nikon cameras.

Author

Santi Bongco is an editor at SolidSmack which is the leading site for 3D CAD, robots, cool product designs, and other technologies. For the past seven years, he taught robotics and developed innovative 3D printer ideas with his students. He also helped in developing some innovative digital ideas and products for various digital marketing businesses and big companies in Asia. Now, aside from exploring buffet restos in California, he enjoys leading groups of our in-house experts in trying some of your favorite products and electronic brands to write insightful reviews for you. PS: He loves reviewing appliances and taking them home to personally ‘try’ them.