back to top

15 Best Nikon Cameras to Buy in 2022

Nick Dale width=
A- A+

Subscribe Below to Download the Article Immediately

You can also select your interests for free access to our premium training:

Your privacy is safe. I will never share your information.
Related course: Photography for Beginners

I know what it’s like trying to decide on the best Nikon camera. As a wildlife photographer, I’ve been through quite a few cameras.

I started with a Sony HX200V bridge camera because I wanted a superzoom for my first safari. But then I saw pictures from another person who had a DSLR. I had ‘camera envy’, so I splashed out on a Nikon D800 with a 28-300mm lens. Eventually, I upgraded to the D810 and D850.

So what’s out there now? To help you decide on the best Nikon camera for you, I’ve listed the best Nikon camera specs, along with their strengths and weaknesses. That way, you can see which one best suits your needs.

The author with his Nikon D810 and D850 nikon cameras for wildlife photography
© Andy Skillen

[Note: ExpertPhotography is supported by readers. Product links on ExpertPhotography are referral links. If you use one of these and buy something, we make a little bit of money. Need more info? See how it all works here.]

The Best Nikon Cameras to Buy

There are lots of different kinds of photographers out there. So here are a few questions to ask yourself:

  • Are you a professional photographer looking for the very best spec?
  • Are you a hobbyist hoping to improve?
  • Or are you just a casual user looking for something to take on holiday?

There are also different types of cameras… do you want a DSLR, a mirrorless, or a point-and-shoot? Do you want a full-frame or crop sensor? We’ve broken this list down into a few categories. So let’s take a look at your options!

The Best High-End Nikon DSLRs

Maybe you already have a Nikon DSLR and don’t want all the expense and hassle of trading in your F-mount lenses for their mirrorless equivalents. Here are some of the most powerful Nikon cameras available.

3. Nikon D780

  • Full-frame (FX) sensor
  • 24.5MP
  • Two SD card slots
  • ISO 100 – 51,200
  • 7 frames per second (12fps in Live View mode)
  • 51 focus points
  • 4K Ultra HD video

The Nikon D780 is a full-frame camera aimed at professional photographers. It’s a versatile gadget, and you can use it for multiple genres.

It’s the improved version of the Nikon D750. It comes with a large sensor and an ISO expandable to 204,800. The resolution and dynamic range result in excellent picture quality.

Its 51-point AF system ensures smooth autofocus even in low-light situations. And it offers rapid continuous shooting at up to 7fps—12fps in Live View mode.

The D780 can also capture 60p (frames per second) HD video. Although, it’s not the best choice for videographers.

Strengths

  • Excellent high-ISO performance
  • Fast autofocus, even in low light
  • Custom settings saveable to a memory card
  • Touchscreen

Weaknesses

  • No built-in flash

A picture of a D780 Nikon camera body

2. Nikon D6

  • Full-frame (FX) sensor
  • 20.8MP
  • Two XQD/CFexpress card slots
  • ISO 100 – 102,400
  • 14 frames per second, 3D-tracking
  • 4K Ultra HD video

The Nikon D6 has a relatively fast frame rate for a DSLR. That and its chunky, weather-sealed body make it the ultimate, rugged, reliable, professional camera.

Its frame rate comes at the expense of sensor size, and it’s the second heaviest camera in this comparison after the Z 9. But it offers excellent dependability.

It’s the updated version of the Nikon D5. And although it’s heavier, it comes with many improvements:

  • 14fps vs. 12fps
  • 105 focus points vs. 55
  • Centre autofocus (AF) point works down to EV -4.5 vs. EV -4
  • Three times as many selectable cross-point AF sensors
  • Internal GPS receiver
  • Movies can be saved as MP4

Strength

  • Durable and reliable

Weaknesses

  • Large and heavy

A picture of a Nikon D6 Nikon camera

1. Nikon D850

  • Full-frame (FX) sensor
  • 45.7MP
  • SD and XQD card slots
  • ISO 64 – 25,600
  • 7 frames per second (9fps with battery grip)
  • 153 focus points, 3D-tracking
  • 4K Ultra HD video

The D850 is a high-end camera and the best Nikon DSLR on the market. It’s designed for professional photographers and is highly versatile. If you’re a wildlife photographer like I am or an event or sports photographer, it will provide good service.

It has a backside-illuminated sensor. The wide ISO range expandable to ISO 32-102,400 equivalent is suitable for low-light conditions.

The D850 has a 153-point AF system with 99 cross sensors that provide powerful focus in diverse situations. However, it can only capture 7fps compared to 30fps or more with mirrorless cameras.

Thanks to its range of features, photo quality is incredible. It’s also perfect for making videos as it offers 4K UHD.

The two memory card slots prevent you from running out of storage during a long shoot. And the use of XQD cards means a massive increase in read-write speed. It’s ideal for maintaining the frame rate and cutting down the time to copy the files to your computer.

The Nikon D850 is an excellent option if you don’t want to trade in your existing DSLR lenses and accessories or use an FTZ adaptor.

Strengths

  • Large sensor
  • 51-frame buffer using 14-bit lossless RAW (or 170 frames using 12-bit lossless RAW)
  • Excellent picture quality at high ISOs

Weaknesses

  • Slow frame rate
  • No way to store custom settings
  • No built-in flash or GPS

Note: Nikon plans to release an upgrade to the D850 called the D880. It will have a 55 – 61MP sensor, 10fps, and dual CFexpress memory card slots. So, you might want to wait before taking the plunge!

A picture of a nikon D850 DSLR camera

The Best Nikon Entry-Level DSLR Cameras

Perhaps you’re buying your first DSLR. Here are some fantastic entry-level Nikon cameras for enthusiast photographers.

4. Nikon D3500

  • Crop/APS-C (DX) sensor
  • 24.2MP
  • SD card slot
  • ISO 100 – 25,600
  • 5 frames per second
  • 11 focus points
  • HD video

The Nikon D3500 is for those just stepping into photography. It even has a guide mode to help you hone your photographic skills.

The 11 autofocus points are less than you can find in other DSLRs. But the focusing system is accurate, and it’s good enough for most amateur photographers.

The 5fps continuous shooting speed is not bad for capturing movement. And it’s capable of recording 60p HD video.

Strengths

  • Guide mode for absolute beginners
  • World’s lightest DSLR
  • Automatic Sleep mode and longer battery life than mirrorless bodies

Weaknesses

  • Fixed rear screen
  • No GPS, electronic level display, or depth of field preview

A picture of a D3500 Nikon camera body

3. Nikon D5600

  • Crop/APS-C (DX) sensor
  • 24.2MP
  • SD card slot
  • ISO 100 – 25,600
  • 5 frames per second
  • 39 focus points, predictive tracking
  • HD video

The Nikon D5600 is a good entry-level DSLR camera. Its 24.2MP crop sensor and ISO range leave no reason to worry about picture quality in insufficient lighting.

This gadget comes with a 39-point autofocus system. It’s not as impressive as the higher-level DSLRs, but it’s still a reliable choice for still and moving subjects.

The continuous shooting can go up to 5fps—which again, doesn’t seem to be much—but it serves budding professionals. The 60p HD video shows this camera is also a good choice for dabbling in videography.

Strengths

  • Lightweight body
  • Image quality compares to high-end models
  • Swivelling LCD touchscreen

Weaknesses

  • No camera presets
  • No GPS
  • No facial recognition

A picture of a D5600 Nikon camera body

2. Nikon D7500

  • Crop/APS-C (DX) sensor
  • 20.9MP
  • SD card slots
  • ISO 100 – 51,200
  • 8 frames per second
  • 51 focus points
  • 4K Ultra HD video

The Nikon D7500 can be the best DSLR for those planning to level up their photography to a professional level. It’s a cross between two other Nikon cameras—offering a lot of the same features as the D500, but in the more accessible and compact body of the D7200.

Its ISO range is expandable to ISO 1,640,000. And it has a 51-point AF system that features group-area AF for secure subject tracking.

The D7500 is capable of continuous shooting with a rate of 8fps. Additionally, it can record 4K UHD (30p) high-quality videos.

Strengths:

  • Swivelling LCD touchscreen
  • Great sharpness, color saturation, and exposure
  • Excellent autofocus with facial recognition
  • Electronic video stabilisation at 1,080p

Weaknesses

  • No depth of field button
  • No battery grip is available
  • No GPS

A picture of a D7500 Nikon camera body

1. Nikon D500

  • Crop/APS-C (DX) sensor
  • 20.9MP
  • SD and XQD card slots
  • ISO 100 – 51,200
  • 10 frames per second
  • 153 focus points
  • 4K Ultra HD video

The Nikon D500 is Nikon’s best and fastest crop-sensor DSLR camera. You can use it for any niche, but I highly recommend it for action, sports, and wildlife photography. Its DX-format, AF system, and high frame rate make it a favorite among professional photographers.

The APS-C sensor offers outstanding agility, primarily when using a telephoto lens. Being a DX (Nikon’s crop sensor) system, the addition of a telephoto lens extends the focal length longer than that with a full-frame camera.

The ISO range is expandable to an impressive ISO 1,640,000. Even in meager light, you can preserve the details in your shots.

The 153-point AF system makes it suitable for action photography, as it can keep the moving subjects in focus. It’s capable of approximately 10fps continuous shooting to capture those split-second moments.

The 4K UHD videos are professional-grade. And the results are jaw-dropping!

Strengths

  • Fast, accurate autofocus system (same as the D5)
  • Good auto white balance
  • 79-frame buffer
  • Tilting LCD touchscreen
  • Excellent high ISO performance

Weaknesses

  • No way of recalling different camera settings
  • No built-in flash or GPS

A picture of a D500 entry level - best Nikon camera

The Best Mirrorless Nikon Cameras

Nikon’s first mirrorless camera was introduced in 2018. Since then, they’ve designed more and more high-quality products in this category,

This is where the market is heading due to faster continuous shooting speeds and improved full-frame autofocus systems with animal and even bird eye-detection technology!

Note: If you already have F-mount lenses for a Nikon DSLR, you can always use a Mount Adaptor FTZ. There is no glass in it—so the sharpness won’t be affected—but it will slow down the autofocus and cause problems with tripod plates.

6. Nikon Z fc

  • Crop/APS-C (DX) sensor
  • 20.9MP
  • SD card slot
  • ISO 100 – 51,200
  • 11 frames per second
  • 209 focus points
  • 4K Ultra-HD video

The Nikon Z fc is a Z 50 mirrorless camera redesigned to match the bare-metal-and-leather look of the old Nikon FE from the 1970s (see the next section). It has a nice retro look if you like that kind of thing!

Strengths

  • Compact size and easy handling
  • People and animal face- and eye-detection
  • Tilting LCD touchscreen
  • Settings saveable to a memory card
  • Easy-to-use menus

Weaknesses

  • No User-1 and User-2 modes like the Z 50
  • Auto ISO can only be switched on or off in the menus

A picture of a Nikon Z fc Nikon mirrorless camera

5. Nikon Z 50

  • Crop/APS-C (DX) sensor
  • 20.9MP
  • SD card slot
  • ISO 100 – 51,200
  • 11 frames per second
  • 209 focus points
  • 4K Ultra HD video

The Nikon Z 50 is a mirrorless camera light enough to take anywhere. The 180° tilting screen is also handy if you’re an Instagram influencer prone to taking selfies!

The 209 focus points cover almost the whole frame and give you great freedom when composing your image. It also has eye-detection autofocus that’s particularly useful for portraits.

Strengths

  • Compact size and easy handling
  • People and animal face- and eye-detection
  • Tilting LCD touchscreen
  • Settings can be saved to a memory card
  • Easy-to-use menus

Weaknesses;

  • Auto ISO can only be set in the menus

A picture of a Z 50 Nikon camera body

4. Nikon Z 5

  • Full-frame (FX) sensor
  • 24.3MP
  • Two SD card slots
  • ISO 100 – 51,200
  • 4.5 frames per second
  • 273 focus points
  • 4K Ultra HD video

The Nikon Z5 has a portable, weather-sealed, and easy-to-handle body that makes it ideal for most kinds of photography.

The 273-point AF system offers accurate focus across the frame. Eye detection and animal detection are handy additional features.

It has a 4.5fps maximum burst rate that is commendable. Although, it’s not as impressive as the previous model.

If you’re into wildlife or sports photography, don’t make this your first choice! It’s also capable of recording 4K UHD video.

Strengths

  • Great picture quality
  • People and animal eye-detection
  • Bright and sharp electronic viewfinder
  • 5 stops of image stabilization

Weaknesses

  • No built-in flash or GPS

A picture of a Z 5 Nikon mirrorless camera body

3. Nikon Z 6II

  • Full-frame (FX) sensor
  • 24.5MP
  • SD and XQD/CFexpress memory card slots
  • ISO 100 – 51,200
  • 14 frames per second
  • 273 focus points
  • 4K Ultra HD video

The Nikon Z6 II is a mirrorless camera—a standout for exceptional image quality. It has an ISO range that is expandable to 204,800.

Its 273 autofocus points will keep your subjects focused in any part of your frame. It also has eye-detection and animal-detection autofocus for photos and videos as well.

It offers high-speed continuous shooting, with a capacity of 14fps. You won’t miss any critical moments in your shoot.

The Z6 II captures amazing 4K UHD videos. And with its autofocus system, it’s suitable for many different shooting situations.

Strengths

  • Great picture quality
  • People and animal eye-detection
  • Bright and sharp electronic viewfinder
  • 5 stops of image stabilization
  • Silent shooting possible
  • 3 user presets on the top dial (U1-3)

Weaknesses

  • No built-in flash or GPS
  • No AF mode switch

A picture of a Z 6II Nikon full-frame mirrorless camera body

2. Nikon Z 7 II

  • Full-frame (FX) sensor
  • 45.7MP
  • SD and XQD/CFexpress memory card slots
  • ISO 64 – 25,600
  • 14 frames per second
  • 493 focus points
  • 4K Ultra HD video

This Nikon Z 7II is a high-end, full-frame mirrorless camera and an upgraded version of the original Nikon Z 7. It’s the perfect choice for professionals working in any field.

It’s suitable for action and wildlife photography. It has eye-detection and animal-detection autofocus for both photos and videos.

It has a large, full-frame sensor like the D850, and the ISO range is perfect for shooting in bright and low-light conditions without harming image quality.

With the 493 point-phase-detect autofocus system, your subjects will be in focus irrespective of where they are in the frame. It can shoot 10fps, which isn’t bad if you’re interested in shooting live-action events. And 4K UHD video is a much-appreciated bonus.

Strengths

  • Great image quality
  • People and animal eye-detection
  • Bright and sharp electronic viewfinder (EVF)
  • 5 stops of image stabilization
  • Silent shooting possible
  • Three user-presets on the top dial (U1-3)

Weaknesses

  • No built-in flash or GPS
  • No autofocus (AF) mode switch

A picture of a Z 7II Nikon full-frame mirrorless camera body

1. Nikon Z 9

  • Full-frame (FX) sensor
  • 45.7MP
  • Two CFexpress Type B card slots
  • ISO 64 – 25600
  • 20 frames per second (and up to 120fps at 11MP!)
  • 493 focus points, 3D-tracking
  • 4K Ultra HD video

This Nikon Z 9 is the ultimate high-end camera in the Nikon mirrorless range. It’s the equivalent to the D850.

And it’s an upgraded version of the Z 7II with the same sensor and electronic viewfinder (EVF). But it has a much higher frame rate, better autofocus, an improved battery, and an integrated vertical grip for the first time on a Nikon.

From the list of features and strengths above, you can see that it’s one heck of a piece of kit! The other leading camera manufacturers are investing heavily in mirrorless technology. So this is Nikon’s attempt to compete with the Sony a1 and the Canon EOS R5.

Strengths

  • Great image quality
  • Integrated vertical grip
  • 1000-shot buffer at 20fps
  • People and animal eye-detection, plus vehicle detection
  • 5 stops of image stabilization
  • Silent shooting possible
  • Three user-presets on the top dial (U1-3)
  • Two-hour 8K UHD recording time!
  • LCD tilts horizontally and vertically

Weaknesses

  • No built-in flash
  • No autofocus (AF) mode switch

A picture of a Z 9 Nikon full-frame mirrorless camera body - best Nikon camera

The Best Point-and-Shoot Nikon Cameras

Nikon also has compact cameras. They are easy-to-use and offer amazing images!

2. Nikon Coolpix W300

  • 1/2.3-inch sensor
  • 16.0MP
  • SD card slot
  • ISO 125 – 1600
  • 7 frames per second
  • 99 focus areas
  • 4K Ultra HD video

The Coolpix W300 is the best Nikon camera for those who love action photography, extreme sports, or underwater images and videos. Its 16MP sensor and ISO range of 125-6400 is a decent range for the target market.

It’s a waterproof gadget that goes down to 30m (100ft). It’s also shockproof to a drop of 2.4m (8ft), freezeproof down to -10°C (14°F), and dustproof. Now that’s a camera built for adventure!

It has a NIKKOR lens with 5x optical zoom and an angle of view equivalent to a 24-120mm lens. The maximum aperture is f/2.8-4.9, which provides satisfactory low-light performance.

It’s also capable of an impressive 4K UHD 30p movie recording. With four fun colors to choose from, you will indeed find one you like!

Strengths

  • Durable, waterproof construction
  • Easy to use
  • Good image quality

Weaknesses

  • No RAW file option
  • Poor low-light performance
  • Reflective screen

A picture of a Nikon Coolpix W300 camera

1. Nikon Coolpix P1000

  • 1/2.3-inch sensor
  • 16.0MP
  • SD card slot
  • ISO 100 – 1600 (up to 6400 in some modes)
  • 7 frames per second
  • 9 focus areas
  • 4K Ultra HD video

The Nikon Coolpix P1000 is the best Nikon for those who like a high-end compact camera with a superzoom. It’s ideal for different purposes—from documenting family events to traveling on safari.

With a 16.0MP crop sensor and ISO between 100 and 6400, you can’t compare the image quality to the Nikon DSLR or the mirrorless systems. But it’s good enough for everyday shooting.

The P1000 has a NIKKOR lens with an ultra high-power 125x optical zoom, equivalent to a 24-3000mm lens! However, it does cause noisy and blurred images at the extremes.

The maximum aperture is f/2.8-8, which means you can take photos with nicely blurred backgrounds or in low light if you don’t zoom in too much.

The 7fps burst rate also makes it suitable for action. And it can even record 4K UHD, time-lapse, and super lapse movies.

Strengths

  • 125x optical superzoom (equivalent to having a full-frame camera with a 24-3000mm lens!)
  • Up to five stops vibration reduction
  • Able to shoot in RAW image format

Weaknesses

  • Noisy, blurred images at both ends of the zoom range
  • Autofocus struggles to track moving subjects
  • Poor dynamic range

A picture of a P1000 point-and-shoot, one of the best Nikon cameras

Conclusion

So what is the best Nikon camera? What Nikon camera should you buy?

My gut instinct would say to go with the current trend towards full-frame mirrorless cameras… buy the Nikon Z 9—unless you don’t have the budget or you’re only interested in taking holiday snaps!

If you can’t afford the Z9 or can’t face parting with all your DSLR lenses, I recommend the D850. That was the DSLR I had before switching to mirrorless, and it’s a great all-rounder. Although you might want to wait until the newest Nikon camera—the D880—comes out!

Finally, if you’re on a budget or want something that will take a picture of a rhino a mile away, then the Coolpix P1000 may be for you. It has an insane 125x optical zoom! … I hope this article helps you pick the best Nikon camera for you.

Try out our Wonderful Wildlife e-book to develop an eye for shooting stunning photos of animals!

Show Comments (2)