The 5 Best Nikon Cameras of 2021

See which Nikon cameras are a must-own

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The Rundown
Nikon’s attempt to redefine what 'zoom camera' means.
Best Value:
Nikon D5600 at Amazon
A perfect balance between performance and affordability.
Best Entry-Level DSLR:
Nikon D3400 at Amazon
Best if you want to upgrade from a smartphone camera, but don’t want to shell out $1,000+.
Best Mirrorless:
Nikon Z7 at Amazon
Nikon has left few stones unturned in the making of this professional mirrorless camera.
Best High-End:
Nikon D500 at Walmart
This powerful, agile camera is the perfect tool for any photographer.

The best Nikon cameras deliver stunning images, are simple to set up and use, and offer a tremendous range of features including broad format support for RAW and beyond. Our top pick, Nikon's COOLPIX P1000, captures gorgeous 16.7 megapixel memories, shoots 4K video, and sports absolutely shocking 3000mm zoom.

Read on for our best Nikon camera picks, or consider our best action cameras roundup, if you're keen to capture highly kinetic imagery.

Best Overall: Nikon COOLPIX P1000

Nikon Coolpix P1000

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.

"In our testing, the battery on the P1000 only took a few hours to charge from empty." — Andy Zahn, Product Tester

Nikon COOLPIX P1000

 Lifewire / Andy Zahn

Best Value: Nikon D5600

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. 

Best Entry-Level DSLR: Nikon D3400

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.

"The aggressive noise reduction means that you don’t have to deal with too much noise, albeit at the expense of detail at higher ISO sensitivities." — Jonno Hill, Product Tester

Nikon D3400

Lifewire / Jonno Hill

Best Mirrorless: Nikon Z7

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. 

"Color is really where the Nikon Z7 shines, and it’s one of the main reasons to buy this camera." — Jonno Hill, Product Tester

Nikon Z7

Lifewire / Jonno Hill

Best High-End: Nikon D500

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.

Final Verdict

Nikon's COOLPIX P1000 (view at Amazon) is their best overall camera, a camera with awesome resolution capable of shooting 4K video and sporting broad format support. If you're looking for something slightly more affordable, however, their D5600 (view at Amazon) is a great choice that doesn't compromise much in terms of features or quality but costs significantly less.

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.

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