In many ways, 2018 was the year of mirrorless. Sales of mirrorless cameras outpaced the once mighty DSLR, and photographers waited with bated breath for Nikon’s and Canon’s long-rumoured full-frame mirrorless cameras.
And while the EOS R is the headline of the year for Canon, it’s thanks to the strength of its improving EOS M range of APS-C-format mirrorless cameras that the company has quietly climbed the mirrorless sales rankings and become the market leader.
But, of course, Canon still makes some great DSLRs and compact cameras, as well. In this guide we’ll round up our picks for the best Canon cameras for a range of different subjects.
Best Canon camera for low light
Canon EOS R
- Excellent touch-control
- Good AF system
- High-quality electronic viewfinder
The Canon EOS R is a very capable camera. In the right hands, it captures plenty of detail with good exposure and attractive colours. And while it’s AF system isn’t the best (nor the worst) at tracking fast-moving subjects, it focuses with confidence in low light conditions.
This is helped along by the EOS R’s AF system, which is sensitive down to an impressive -6EV. That means it can focus in near darkness. And in our tests, it could do just that.
What’s more, the Digic 8 processing engine enables Canon to claim that the R has the World’s fastest AF system, with focus acquisition at just 0.05secs.
Best Canon camera for video
Canon EOS 80D
- Vari-angle touchscreen
- Strong AF system
This might be a controversial choice for some people. One might think the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV should be sitting here. While the 5D Mark IV boasts good video quality, the fact that the screen is fixed rather than tilting or articulating seems a little out-dated and limiting.
There’s also no Log mode to record flatter footage for grading, nor focus peaking or a zebra display option. The 5D Mark IV is an excellent all-rounder for shooting stills but some videographers maybe frustrated by the missing features.
Enter the Canon EOS 80D. Sitting in the middle of Canon’s DSLR range, the 24-million-pixel APS-C format 80D has a very capable 45-point autofocus system. And although there’s no 4K recording capability, its Full HD footage is very good with the live view AF system enabling smooth focus transitions during recording.
The Dual Pixel CMOS AF system that operates in live view and video mode is very good. It’s not quite as fast as the best systems in a compact system or mirrorless camera, but it’s pretty snappy and positive. When the menu option is set to slow AF adjustment subjects move smoothly into focus making professional looking movie footage.
Are there more capable cameras for video out there? Yes, of course. But if you don’t need to shoot 4K, if you’re already a Canon user and you want the best Canon camera for video on a budget, the EOS 80D will surprise you.
Best Canon camera for vlogging
Canon EOS M50
- Excellent image quality
- Superb implementation of touch-control
- High-quality viewfinder built-in
The Canon EOS M50 is a 24Mp APS-C format mirrorless camera that sits between the Canon M100 and M6 in the manufacturer’s line-up. However, unlike both of these cameras (and like the flagship M5), it has an electronic viewfinder built-in.
Further good news is that Canon has finally realised that people now expect more than Full-HD recording capability and the M50 is 4K enabled, but that comes with some limitations. Other notable features include a vari-angle touchscreen and Canon’s DIGIC 8 processing engine.
The Face Detection system is particularly good and this combined with the flip-out screen makes the M50 an excellent camera for vlogging provided you don’t want to use the 4K video. While the quality of the results in 4K video mode can’t be called into question, the restraints applied to it can. The loss of phase detection focusing is a shame and the 1.6x crop is a pain.
Although the limitations imposed on the 4K video mode are frustrating, the M50 is the best Canon mirrorless camera to date. Crucially, the autofocus system, which was so bad in the early days of EOS M, is now very good (provided you limit yourself to shooting stills or Full HD video) and the quality of the results is excellent.
Provided you don’t have your heart set on shooting 4K video, the M50 is a great little camera for vloggers and anyone who wants a small camera with a viewfinder paired with a large (APS-C format) sensor. It might not be the Canon’s flagship mirrorless camera, but the technology inside it is the most advanced that Canon has put in a mirrorless model.
Best Canon camera for beginners
Canon EOS 200D / Rebel SL2
- Small size
- Touch control implemented well
- High Image Quality
The Canon EOS 200D, known as the Canon EOS Rebel SL2 in the US, is a DSLR camera aimed at novice photographers who want a few more creative controls than is offered by the EOS 2000D and 4000D below it in the Canon SLR line-up.
Like many other DSLRs it has an APS-C sized sensor but it’s the World’s smallest, lightest DSLR with that sized sensor. It’s also boasts a vari-angle touchscreen.
Quite simply put, it’s a great little camera with well-integrated touch controls and Wi-Fi connectivity.
The Canon EOS 200D / Rebel SL2 is a significant step up in specifications from its predecessor, the EOS 100D / SL1, and it looks and feels nicely designed. The EOS 200D / Rebel SL2 also introduced a new Guided interface, which is very good and helps encourage novice photographers to move beyond Auto mode. And you can always swap back to the Standard interface if you prefer it.
The EOS 100D / Rebel SL1 was a hugely popular model for Canon, and its successor here is building on that success and blazing new paths. This is the best beginner camera on the market and one you can really grow with.
Best Canon camera for portraits
Canon EOS 6D Mark II
- Full-frame 26.2Mp sensor
- Fast and accurate AF system for use with the viewfinder
- Useful vari-angle screen with well-implemented touch-control
Sitting beneath the 5D Mark IV in Canon’s full-frame DSLR line-up the 6D Mark II is attractively priced and a solid upgrade on the original 6D. The sensor is new and brings a 6million-pixel jump in resolution yet thanks to improvements in technology that the passage of almost five years brings and the Digic 7 processor the standard sensitivity (ISO) range has also expanded to ISO 100-40,000.
The 6D Mark II is a well-rounded camera that has just about everything enthusiast photographers could want. The touch-control is excellent and the vari-angle screen is a real bonus for shooting from creative angles.
In addition, the always-on Bluetooth connection makes controlling the camera via your smartphone, or transferring images to share a doddle.
Best Canon camera for landscapes
Canon EOS 5DS / 5DS R
With a staggering 50.6-megapixel sensor, the 5DS and 5DS R capture a stunning amount of detail. What’s more, Canon introduced a new anti-alias cancellation technology in the 5DS R that helps this further.
If you’re looking to produce large prints from one of these cameras – which is probably one of the main reasons you’d want to buy one of these – you can produce 300ppi prints from the 5DS and 5DS R that measure 73.6×49.1cm.
To process images of this size presents a huge challenge to manufacturers, and Canon has employed its Dual DIGIC 6 processors to keep the 5DS and 5DS R running smoother and employ a moderately fast burst rate of 5 frames per second.
So from purely a detail and image size perspective, the Canon EOS 5DS or 5DS R is the best Canon camera for landscapes. But they come at a high cost. Alternatively, you might consider the EOS 5D Mark IV or EOS 6D Mark II.