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Best camera brands in 2021

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by David Em
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With many camera brands available, knowing the best ones will help you find the right fit. Learn what the top camera brands are.

Estimated reading time: 14 minutes

Logos of different camera brands.
Logos courtesy of Canon, Sony, Olympus, Leica, Panasonic, Fujifilm, Nikon, GoPro, and Pentax.

Whether you’re looking to buy your first camera or you’re a long-time photographer, keeping up with what’s going on in the camera world is essential.

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A part of staying up to date is knowing what the top camera brands are.

With so many camera brands, it’s difficult to compare and evaluate each one. Canon, Nikon, and Sony have dominated the market.

They’re also the most popular. However, there are other excellent brands.

Related: Holy Trinity of Lenses: 3 Lenses Every Photographer Needs

The following are the top camera brands of 2021 and information about why they’re the best.

Photographer with text overlay.

Canon

Three Canon cameras.
Photo courtesy of B&H.

Canon is perhaps the most well-known camera brand. It’s typically the first brand that comes to your mind.

Canon was founded in Japan in 1937. While Canon manufactures other products, such as printers, industrial products, and medical equipment, photography gear is a big part of their business.

Related: Canon EOS 90D review

In the Americas, Canon opened its first office in 1955 in New York. In 1956, Canon released the VT model, which was their first camera designed for mass production.

In 1959, Canon introduced its first 35mm single-lens reflex camera, the Flex. Today, Canon makes cameras and lenses for all skill levels and budgets.

Whether you’re a beginner or pro, Canon has a high-quality camera for you. They offer DSLRs, mirrorless, and point-and-shoot cameras. The most popular Canon cameras are as follows:

Regardless of the type of camera you want, Canon is a reliable, high-quality, durable, and overall excellent brand for buying photography gear.

Nikon

Three Nikon cameras.
Photo courtesy of B&H.

Nikon is another extremely popular camera brand. Over the years, photographers have debated about whether Canon or Nikon is better. You can’t go wrong with either brand.

Like Canon, Nikon originates from Japan. However, Nikon is an older brand, as it was founded in 1917.

It’s well-known for high-quality cameras and lenses in addition to its other medical and industrial imaging products.

Related: The best tripod brands in 2021

The Nikon Model I was its first camera, which launched in 1948. The D1 was its first DSLR, which launched in 1999. Today, Nikon has many options.

Whether you’re looking for an entry-level or top-tier camera, Nikon produces excellent photography gear.

The following are the most popular Nikon cameras:

Overall, Nikon is an excellent camera brand. After using a Nikon camera, you’ll see why.

The image quality and performance are what make it a top camera brand.

Sony

Three Sony cameras.
Photo courtesy of B&H.

Sony is the leader of mirrorless and point-and-shoot cameras. While other brands became popular for DSLR cameras, Sony didn’t.

Instead, Sony has a strong line of mirrorless cameras that Canon and Nikon are trying to compete with.

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Sony was founded in 1946 in Japan. It’s known for music, films, and a wide range of products. However, its cameras and lenses are incredible.

The Alpha line of cameras is one of the best that you can find. They have excellent image quality, performance, and in-body stabilization.

Related: 10 best portrait lenses for Sony cameras

The following are the most popular Sony cameras:

If you’re looking for a proven mirrorless camera, Sony’s Alpha line has plenty of options to consider.

With superior performance and image quality, Sony is one of the top camera brands.

Fujifilm

Three Fujifilm cameras.
Photo courtesy of B&H.

Fujifilm was founded in 1934 in Japan. While it’s known for its film, it offers more than that.

It’s an incredibly innovative and high-quality brand. Fujifilm is versatile, as you can get instant cameras, digital cameras, top-tier medium-format cameras, and sharp lenses.

Whether you’re a professional or hobby photographer, Fujifilm has great cameras that you’ll quickly fall in love with.

One of Fujifilm’s most popular cameras among the general population is the Instax Mini. It’s an aesthetic instant camera that allows you to save memories on a film.

For hobby and pro photographers, the X and GFX System are excellent cameras. The following are the best and most popular Fujifilm cameras:

You’ll notice that Fujifilm has crop-sensor cameras. They’ve invested a lot into them, and the cameras produce high-quality images.

The crop-sensor cameras from Fujifilm are on par with full-frame cameras from other brands.

Leica

Three Leica cameras.
Photo courtesy of B&H.

When you think of a luxury, high-quality, and lightweight camera brand not from Japan, Leica is most likely what’ll come to mind. It’s a German company that was founded in 1914 by Ernst Leitz.

Leica cameras are popular because they’re small, fast, and take incredibly sharp images.

They also come with a higher price tag. However, Leica cameras are worth the investment.

Aside from incredible cameras, Leica lenses are some of the best in the world.

When you combine the lenses and cameras, you get beautifully crafted, well-built, and high-performing cameras.

The following are the top Leica cameras:

Overall, Leica makes cutting-edge cameras with spectacular quality. They’re also durable and will last a long time.

Ricoh Pentax

Three Ricoh Pentax cameras.
Photo courtesy of B&H.

Pentax was a well-loved camera brand, as it sat between low-end compact cameras and pro-level DSLRs.

It was founded in 1919 in Japan as a company producing spectacle lenses. In 2011, Ricoh acquired Pentax and has continued the Pentax line of cameras.

Together, Ricoh Pentax has several great cameras, including the medium-format DSLR that Pentax was known for.

Pentax cameras are also popular because it has a retro design, along with being weatherproof. On Ricoh’s side, it’s known for high-end digital compact cameras.

The following are the most popular and best-performing cameras from Ricoh Pentax:

If you’re looking for a camera with in-body stabilization and a weatherproof design, Ricoh Pentax is an excellent brand to consider. Keep in mind that its cameras are at a mid to high price point.

Panasonic

Three Panasonic Lumix cameras.
Photo courtesy of B&H.

Panasonic was founded in Japan in 1918 as a lightbulb socket manufacturer.

Today, Panasonic is known for its variety of electronics and appliances, including cameras and lenses. Its line of cameras and lenses is under the name of Lumix.

Related: Panasonic Lumix GH5 II review

The DMC-LC5 and DMC-F7 were the first two products in the Lumix series, which was launched in 2001. Both of the cameras were compact digital cameras.

Panasonic is a trusted camera brand offering DSLRs, mirrorless, and point-and-shoot cameras.

The following are the top cameras from Panasonic:

Panasonic also manufactures excellent lenses for not only their own cameras but also Leica. It’s a great representation of the quality.

GoPro

Three GoPro cameras.
Photo courtesy of B&H.

GoPro was founded in the United States in 2002. It’s become the most popular action camera, as it’s versatile, works well for many activities and travel.

What makes GoPro cameras a top choice is that they’re small, waterproof, and records 4K videos. You can also mount a GoPro on virtually anything.

The following are the best GoPro cameras:

Unlike other camera brands, GoPro hasn’t been around for almost a century.

Its relativity quick growth is due to the ability to capture high-quality photos and videos with a small, waterproof, and durable camera. Plus, its price is low and accessible to most people.

Polaroid

Three Polaroid cameras.
Photo courtesy of B&H.

Polaroid is an American company founded in 1937 by Edwin Land. He’s the inventor of the instant camera.

Unfortunately, Polaroid struggled as digital cameras were introduced and went under.

However, it’s now owned by the Dutch photography company Polaroid B.V. They’ve continued the Polaroid brand and now produce trendy instant film cameras.

The following are the best Polaroid cameras today:

Polaroid cameras are affordable and offer an excellent way to print images to save memories.

Hasselblad

Three Hasselblad cameras.
Photo courtesy of B&H.

Hasselblad is a Swedish company founded in 1841. Originally, it became popular for its analog medium-format camera with a viewfinder at waist-level.

Hasselblad is also known for going to space. In 1962, NASA purchased a few 500Cs, used to capture images in space.

Today, Hasselblad offers several high-end medium-format cameras geared towards professionals. The large sensors and quality build make the cameras expensive.

The following are the best Hasselblad cameras:

Hasselblad cameras have a futuristic design, incredible lenses, and take extremely high-quality photos.

Olympus

Three Olympus cameras.
Photo courtesy of B&H.

Olympus is known for cameras, binoculars, and audio equipment. The company was founded in Japan in 1919.

In 2021, OM Digital Solutions acquired the Olympus imaging division. Now, it’s being sold under OM System.

However, you can still buy an Olympus camera. Olympus cameras are appealing because of their low to medium price point, compact size, and sturdy design.

The following are the most popular Olympus cameras:

Olympus cameras are equipped with a Micro Four Thirds system. For the price point, it offers great cameras.

Kodak

Two Kodak cameras.
Photo courtesy of B&H.

When you think or talk about film photography, Kodak is a brand that likely comes to mind. Eastman Kodak was founded in New York in 1888.

It’s the company that invented color film and made photography accessible to the general public.

Unfortunately, Kodak faced troubling times due to the digital camera. It moved beyond bankruptcy in 2013 and decided to focus on imaging.

Today, Kodak makes film, cameras, and a variety of other products and services. A few popular Kodak cameras include the Kodak PIXPRO FZ53 Digital Camera and Kodak PIXPRO AZ421 Digital Camera.

If you’re getting your first camera and don’t want to spend a ton of money, you can start with a Kodak and upgrade from there. They’re around $80 to $200.

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Featured image courtesy of Canon, Sony, Olympus, Leica, Panasonic, Fujifilm, Nikon, GoPro, and Pentax.

About David Em

David Em.

David Em is the founder of Portraits Refined. He’s a published portrait photographer dedicated to helping photographers develop skills, capture incredible photos, and build successful businesses.

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