The 8 Best Nikon Cameras of 2019

See which Nikon cameras are a must-own

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The Rundown

Our Top Picks

Most Popular: Nikon COOLPIX B500

4.2

Nikon’s COOLPIX B500 is an excellent inexpensive digital camera with a powerful optical zoom lens that is simpler to operate and less expensive than the P900. The 16-megapixel camera weighs just over a pound and records video in 1080pFull HD, which you can see on the convenient flip-up LCD. The 40x optical zoom lens (80x dynamic zoom) gets you close to the action, while lens-shift vibration reduction provides essential stabilization to give steady shots.

The camera is always connected via Nikon’s Snapbridge app, powered by built-in Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth. The camera maintains constant connection to the app, so your photos transfer right away and are ready to upload to social media or share with friends.

Best Overall: Nikon COOLPIX P1000

4.2

The Nikon COOLPIX P1000 is not just a new zoom camera, its Nikon’s attempt to redefine what “zoom camera” means. With a focal range of 24mm to 3000mm, it's suited for anyone itching to capture 16.7-megapixel memories of the world around them. At 3000mm, you can set your photomicrographic sights on everything from flower petals to craters on the moon. The fully articulated 3.2-inch LCD display tilts so you can effortlessly snap otherwise tricky compositions. Meanwhile, a framing assist button helps you temporarily widen the field of view before shifting back to your previous zoom position. 

The camera also comes with 4K video, RAW support, and a 250-shot battery life. Fast-motion footage can be easily created thanks to the inclusion of both time-lapse and Superlapse modes. Superlapse captures videos at speeds of up to 30x, while time-lapse modes are either manual or automatic, letting you snap sunsets or the paths of stars. Bear in mind, however, that things can get shaky at 3000mm, so you may want to purchase a tripod while you're at it.

Best Value: Nikon D5600

4.3

Striking a perfect balance between performance and affordability, Nikon’s D5600 is a smart choice for photographers who want excellent image quality at a reasonable price. The D5600 is great for beginner and intermediate photographers, with a high-resolution 24.2-megapixel CMOS sensor and broad ISO range (100-25,600) for better quality photos in low light. You can even shoot 1080p video at 60 fps. Advertising "great photos and videos without the learning curve," the D5600 is simple to use with an expansive set of more advanced features. 

The ergonomic hand grip makes this camera comfortable to hold for one-handed shooting, and the button placement puts critical controls at your fingertips. The 3.2-inch LCD vari-angle touchscreen folds into the camera body to keep things compact. Images captured by the D5600 can quickly be moved to a compatible smartphone or tablet with Nikon’s SnapBridge technology, which makes photo sharing a snap. 

If you want some extra help looking for more options, check out our picks for the best advanced cameras for under $500.

Best Entry-Level DSLR: Nikon D3400

4.6

If you want to upgrade from your smartphone camera, but you aren’t willing to shell out one thousand or more dollars on one, the Nikon D3400 is an excellent compromise. For less than $400 you get a major jump over even the most powerful cellphone or point-and-shoot camera. This camera has a 24.2-megapixel sensor with no optical low-pass filter that can take rich and vibrant photos that appear as lifelike as the real moment. EXPEED 4 image processing and a native ISO of 100-25,600 give you versatility in a wide range of lights and colors, making this a camera designed for anything. Just peer through the bright optical viewfinder to frame your shot and a precise auto-focus will help take care of the rest. Nikon’s Snapbridge makes sharing even easier, helping you show your latest captures to friends and family.

Need some more help finding what you're looking for? Read through our best entry-level DSLR cameras article.

Best Mirrorless: Nikon Z7

As a brand that has earned its claim to historic status, it’s unfortunate just how late to the game Nikon is with its mirrorless cameras. But, at long last, the Z7 has arrived, and it's better late than never. At its core, the CMOS sensor is full-frame, resulting in stellar low-light performance and true-to-size, no-crop lens compatibility. The effective 45-megapixel sensor is important because, in a mirrorless camera body, it’s the key thing to consider when ensuring formidable low-light performance. Plus, Nikon has the necessary steps to make the camera more compact. It is now 26 percent lighter in weight than its predecessors.

Of course, there’s a lot more to this story, too. The ISO sensitivity stands with 64-25,600 for even more detail at lower lighting. There’s a 9 frames-per-second ceiling for continuous shooting, at the maximum resolution. It takes NIKKOR Z lenses and even has the option for F-mount lenses. A 493-point hybrid auto-focus system provides subject tracking and even eye-based auto-focus. There’s a 3.6-million-dot viewfinder for ultra-crisp monitoring, and Nikon has even included in-body image stabilization that works on 5 axes. This will come in handy for the 4K 30p max video capabilities, which is pretty insane when you consider, once again, the full-frame sensor. Nikon has left few stones unturned in the making of this professional mirrorless camera. 

Best High-End: Nikon D500

The D500 combines the technology and sophistication of Nikon’s professional FX-line of DSLR cameras with the versatility and streamlined magnesium alloy body of Canon’s hobbyist DX series. The camera packs the same powerful EXCEED 5 processor found in the FX series, as well as a 20.9-megapixel CMOS sensor and an ISO sensitivity range of 100-51,200. The clarity of the high resolution photos in all lighting conditions will surpass anything you’ve taken before, while the gorgeous 4K video footage is absolutely cinematic.

The camera sports a 153-point auto-focus with 99 cross type points that come together to create amazing images. The camera uses XQD memory card technology to provide faster read and write transfer speeds to transfer your RAW files and video footage faster. Or you can transfer your shots instantly with Snapbridge technology to any phone or paired device. This powerful and agile camera will be the perfect tool for any photographer.

Best Professional DSLR: Nikon D5

Released in 2016, the D5 is the current king of Nikon’s lauded FX-series of high-performance digital cameras. It possesses all the hallmarks of what makes the FX line famous. It has an impeccably designed ergonomic body with quality lightweight construction and attention to detail. It also continues the tradition of astounding ISO range for low-light shooting. This edition has a native range of 100 to 102,400, plus the highest expanded range of up to Hi-5 ISO 3,280,000.

To complement these impressive features, Nikon has added a top-of-the-line AF system that can perform in near darkness, through fast movement, and can handle anything else an autofocus system has had trouble with before, all while delivering clear and sharp images that look composed in perfect light and stillness. Image quality is boosted by a newly developed 20.8-megapixel FX-format CMOS sensor and EXPEED 5 processor, the most powerful Nikon has ever included. As a result, you can expect to enjoy exceptional 4K UHD moviemaking at 12 fps.

Best for Zoom: Nikon COOLPIX P900

 

The ultimate in optical zoom is here: Nikon’s COOLPIX P900 has a staggering 83x optical zoom and 166x Dynamic Zoom, which means it's an immensely powerful telephoto lens camera. To improve concentration and framing, Nikon built this camera to resemble DSLR styling. That includes an ergonomic frame with a sure grip and a high-resolution electronic viewfinder, with all the display and controls in the most strategic location. And don’t worry about losing focus while capturing an image so far away. Optical vibration reduction accounts for movement and automatically compensates to improve accuracy.

The camera sports a 16-megapixel sensor to help capture all the details. Full-manual control gives you the creative control to adjust for the shot that you want, while a swiveling vari-angle display helps you capture different perspectives. Built-in GPS and Wi-Fi add even more flexibility.

Looking mainly for a good zoom? Check out our picks for the best optical zoom cameras.

Tested by

How We Tested

We bought three top-rated new Nikon cameras and our reviewers tested them for 45 hours. We asked our testers to consider the most important features when using these cameras, from their price to their photo quality. We’ve outlined the key takeaways here so that you, too, know what to look for when shopping.

What to Look for in a New Nikon Camera

Level of camera - Nikon makes a wide range of cameras suited to all kinds of consumers. No matter if you’re looking for a classic point-and-shoot or a more advanced DSLR, the company probably has a camera that fits the bill.

Price - As you can imagine, the more advanced the camera, the higher the price tag. If you’re looking to get into photography, you don’t need all the bells and whistles of a high-end DSLR; it might be better to go with an advanced point-and-shoot or entry-level DSLR until you get accustomed to the basics.

Size and weight - If you’re planning on taking your camera with you everywhere you go, then its size and weight matter. A word to the wise: a camera with a bunch of advanced features might not fit in your purse or messenger bag, so decide which add-ons you really need before you buy.

Test Results: Nikon COOLPIX B500 (Most Popular)

4.2

What We Like

  • Good photo quality

  • Great battery life

  • Super portable

What We Don't Like

  • No touchscreen

  • Image quality decreases in low-light settings

Nikon COOLPIX B500
Nikon COOLPIX
Nikon B500
Nikon COOLPIX B500 camera
Nikon COOLPIX camera

This camera was a hit with one of our testers because of its great overall value: “It has good picture quality and other features (like zooming, connectivity with devices, and wide-angle photography) at a decent price.” Its battery life was another plus, according to one reviewer: “Nikon claims 600 photos from a single [battery] charge, but I took around 1,000 pictures and the camera still had some battery left,” he noted. Our testers also thought it was very portable. In terms of negatives, our reviewers wished that it had a touchscreen, and one tester thought its photo quality was worse in low light.

Test Results: Nikon COOLPIX P1000 (Best Overall)

4.2

What We Like

  • Unbeatable optical zoom range

  • Impressive video quality

  • Great ergonomics

What We Don't Like

  • Expensive

  • Unimpressive battery life

  • Difficult to use at a maximum telephoto range

  • Unimpressive low-light performance

  • Flimsy articulating screen

Nikon COOLPIX P1000
Lifewire / Andy Zahn 
Nikon COOLPIX P1000
Lifewire / Andy Zahn 
Nikon COOLPIX P1000
Lifewire / Andy Zahn 
Nikon COOLPIX P1000
 Lifewire / Andy Zahn

Our tester was blown away by the 3000mm optical zoom of this camera: “You can photograph the rings of Saturn or animals many miles distant,” he raved. Another plus? “The 4K video is so good that it could be confused with footage from much more expensive professional cameras,” our reviewer added. Our tester said that the downside is “it does not perform well in low light.” He also called its durability “questionable.” Overall? “There are much more practical superzoom cameras available at much more affordable prices, but none is quite so exciting as the P1000,” our tester said.

Test Results: Nikon D5600 (Best Value)

4.3

What We Like

  • Crisp image quality

  • Seamless sharing

  • Touchscreen

What We Don't Like

  • Fair video quality

  • Learning curve

Nikon D5600
Nikon D5600 camera
Nikon
Nikon camera
Nikon D5600 nikon camera

“To call this camera’s image quality clean and crisp would be an understatement,” raved one of our reviewers, “especially if you know your way around its various settings.” Its “helpful” touchscreen, as well as its wireless syncing and sharing capabilities, were other pluses: “I could easily send high-quality photos from this camera to family and friends in pretty much a snap,” noted one tester. The downsides? Our reviewers thought its video quality could have been better, and one tester noted that it had a learning curve: “It may take some time for you to find the placement of the settings, features, and buttons,” he said. “Some are not where you would expect them to be.”

Test Results: Nikon D3400 (Best Entry-Level DSLR)

4.6

What We Like

  • Great image quality

  • Lightweight

  • SnapBridge Bluetooth app

What We Don't Like

  • Learning curve

  • Spotty Bluetooth connection in some instances

Nikon D3400
Nikon D3400 camera
Nikon camera
Nikon camera
Nikon
D3400

This camera’s photo quality impressed one of our testers: “It takes very nice, high-quality pictures even if you've got a minimal background in serious photography,” he said. Our reviewers also thought that it was “lightweight and well designed” and that its video functionality was a “nice value-add.” However, its learning curve was fairly steep, especially when it came to using its manual modes. One reviewer, for instance, had trouble taking quality photos in low light, but also suspected he’d improve quickly: “I think photo quality will go up as I get better at the manual modes,” he said, “including adjusting the shutter speed and F-stop.”