If you’ve ever wondered which is the best Canon camera for photography, then you’re in the right place! In this article, you will find an answer to that question. Of course, it’s not as simple as just telling all photographers that there is only one best camera for everyone.
Simply put, the best camera for landscape photography is quite often not the perfect camera for action sports. Neither is a high-speed action sports camera also perfect for casual everyday photography, either.
For this reason, I’m going to tell you which is the best Canon camera (for photography) based on the type(s) of photos you capture.
Also, it is very important to note that in this article I am completely disregarding each camera’s video capabilities, and only talking about photography. Why? Because, in my experience, this is how a lot of photographers shop for a camera. Why be concerned about a feature you’ll barely ever use? (Don’t worry, we’ll create an entirely separate article about the best Canon camera for video!)
The Best Canon Camera (For Photography)
So, which is the actual best Canon camera, for photography? Well, do you want a camera that can do everything (hint: it will cost more!) or a camera that excels mainly at the one type of photography you usually shoot? Answer this one question for yourself first and foremost, because it’s very important. In fact, knowing the answer to such a question will almost guarantee that you both save money and get better images, long after the cameras I mention here eventually become outdated…
Canon EOS R5
The Canon R5 is the closest thing you will get to a “Jack of all trades” camera from Canon, so far in 2022. With 45 megapixels and decently fast speed, how can you go wrong? The autofocus is next-generation, which means it competes well with similarly-priced Nikon and even Sony cameras.
The star of the show with the Canon R5 is definitely its sensor. Not just the impressive 45-megapixel resolution, of course, but also, this is Canon’s best sensor ever in terms of overall image quality. Whether you do a lot of low-light work at extremely high ISOs, or you do a lot of landscape photography at your base ISO, you’ll be blown away by the R5’s images.
The only drawback to the Canon R5 is the price tag. At nearly $3,900 for the body only, it matches the Canon 5DsR for the title of “most expensive Canon camera with a “5” in its name”… Is the R5 worth it, though? Yes, absolutely, if you want a camera that does everything…
The only caveat is that this camera does offer 8K raw video, which likely is part of why the price is a bit higher than, say, a Nikon Z7 II or a Sony A7R IV. Still, I know many full-time wedding and portrait photographers who will never capture 8K raw video but absolutely love their EOS R5’s!
Canon EOS R6 II
The Canon R6 II is the (newest) little sibling to the R5, and it’s almost identical in every way except the sensor. The R6 has 24 megapixels, the R5 has 45. (Also, the sensor controls the autofocus; we’ll get to that in a minute!)
What does this similarity to the EOS R5 mean, though? It means you get the same flagship-grade robust build quality, functionality, and even the best AF system Canon has to offer. This is a first for Canon, considering the price tag of the R6 II is just $2,500. No sub-$3K Canon full-frame camera has ever inherited 1-series autofocus before the Canon EOS R6/II!
Of course, 24 megapixels is almost half the resolution of the R5. So, if you do make a lot of large prints, or if you frequently need to crop to APSC, then the added cost for the R5 is worth it. (Landscape photography, wildlife, etc)
However, with that compromise in resolution, and especially with the Canon R6 II, you gain things, too. Specifically, the new 24-megapixel sensor gives you even more speed than its predecessor, the Canon R6; you now have up to 40 FPS with the electronic shutter!
Additionally, with the new sensor comes an improved autofocus system. Canon has added even more machine learning, as well as subject tracking options for horses, vehicle, aircraft, and trains. This is even more similar to the Canon EOS R3, which means that AF on the R6 II could be not just a bit faster, but almost even more importantly, more able to “stick like glue” to subjects when in tracking mode.
Despite the modest resolution, in a time when many cameras are now well over 40 megapixels, I highly recommend checking out the Canon R6. It’s got impressive speed for action sports and wildlife. It’s got beautiful low-light image quality (and AF reliability) for professional work such as wedding photography and other photojournalism subjects. Lastly, it’s got a highly rugged pro build quality that will stand the test of time and serve you well for many years.
Canon EOS R3
For those looking for the complete 1-series flagship experience, the Canon R3 is by far the most expensive Canon mirrorless camera. ($6,000) However, it is truly a worthy successor to Canon’s legendary 1D-series flagship DSLR cameras! It offers blazing fast speed, (30 FPS raw) snappy, reliable autofocus, and a beefy, rugged body with the iconic built-in vertical grip design.
However, I must be honest: most of you will probably find the Canon R5 or R6 to be a better choice, unless you specifically need 30 FPS raw stills capability, and/or the cutting-edge autofocus system. The Canon R5 and R6 are simply that good, and both are significantly more affordable than the R3. So, I definitely must disclaim that the EOS R3 may be superior on paper, but it isn’t exactly the best all-around value or the smartest choice for most photographers.
The Canon EOS R3 is a speed demon that mainly suits the highest of high-speed photography.
Canon EOS R10
This is Canon’s (current) newest camera, along with its bigger sibling the Canon EOS R7. They’re the first APSC Canon RF-mount mirrorless cameras, compared to the older Canon EF-M mount which was a compact, APSC-only mount.
The Canon EOS R10 is a good camera for anyone who really wants to keep things simple and affordable while still getting the best image quality they can afford. It’s not the fastest or most advanced camera, however, for entry-level photographers that’s a good thing. The controls are user-friendly, and there’s plenty of speed for almost anything. (15 FPS is actually truly impressive for a sub-$1K camera body!)
Canon’s RF APSC lens selection is currently very limited, and the R10 body alone is still “coming soon”. (They’re in stock with the 18-45mm kit lens for $1,099) EIther way, it will likely be one of the best cameras you could possibly put under a Christmas tree for any aspiring photographer in 2022 and beyond.
Canon M50 II
The Canon EOS M50 Mark II is the only camera on this list that uses Canon’s EF-M mirrorless mount, but it’s a great camera! Incredibly affordable, it offers similar impressive image quality to the RF-mount R10. However, it has the benefit of the EF-M mount lens lineup, which is decently extensive, though not exactly “vast.”
I would highly recommend the M50 II for photographers who are on a budget and looking for a truly simple, user-friendly, but high-quality camera system. There are some lenses that are true gems, such as the EF-M 22mm f/2 STM which are phenomenally sharp, and yet absolutely tiny and affordable.
Best Canon Camera (DSLR)
I could dedicate an entire article to the debate between mirrorless and DSLR cameras, but that is not what we’re here for. The bottom line is this: DSLRs are incredibly capable cameras. Furthermore, sometimes having an optical viewfinder is just a preferable user experience.
Since Canon’s latest-and-greatest DSLRs behave a lot like mirrorless cameras when live view is activated, you can almost think of a DSLR as a mirrorless camera with an analog viewfinder.
Having said that, most of Canon’s older DSLRs are just not worth buying, especially if you aren’t already heavily invested in Canon EF lenses. Not because they’re “outdated”, but simply because the newest mirrorless cameras are that much better.
With that being said, there are a few “classic” Canon DSLRs that I recommend, especially for those who just enjoy that “analog viewfinder”:
Canon 5D IV (Mark 4)
The Canon 5D Mark IV may be one of the last pro-series DSLRs that Canon makes, but that’s okay because it’s almost the perfect DSLR! For just $2.7K new, or as little as $2K used, you can own a highly professional camera with virtually no shortcomings. The image quality is impressive, and only slightly behind the latest-and-greatest full-frame mirrorless sensors. The autofocus is excellent, both through the optical viewfinder and in live view.
As I mentioned, you should get the Canon 5D IV if you actually like optical viewfinders. It is a totally different experience, and for things like fast action or event journalism, where you really want to connect with the moments as they’re happening, an optical viewfinder will always be a thing of beauty.
This basic Canon full-frame DSLR is now almost a decade old, but that makes it a great bargain. Why? Because its sensor is just that good. Of course, in some ways, it truly is “old” by Canon’s current standards. The video is 1080p, but we don’t care about video, right?
The autofocus is Canon Rebel-style, too. It’s not a high-speed action camera at all. Indeed, the one reason you’d buy the Canon 6D is for its image quality, in “easy” photography situations. Also, you’ll have access to some incredible, very affordable lenses from Canon as well as Sigma, Tamron, Tokina, Rokinon/Samyang, and more. The 6D can be found for about $500 in good used condition if you’re patient.
As a bonus, if you’re looking for a camera that you can modify for astrophotography, the 6D is certainly one of the best Canon DSLRs for the job!
Canon 1DX III
Let’s say you’re looking for a bargain, but this time you want a high-speed champion flagship Canon DSLR body, you might want to go hunting for a good deal on a Canon 1DX Mark III. They’re not cheap, even in used condition. Expect to pay about $5K. However, considering it was also a $6,500 camera when it was first released, and is still relatively cutting edge today, you might really enjoy the experience.
Again, I must mention that I can’t recommend DSLRs if your only reason is to save a few dollars compared to mirrorless.
Today in 2022, for a DSLR to be the right investment, you ought to actually enjoy using an optical viewfinder. Personally? I do love nostalgia, and I dislike staring at electronic viewfinders! They’re getting better, but EVFs still do hurt my eyes compared to an OVF.
What New Canon Cameras Might Come Out Soon?
As a gear reviewer, I get asked one question quite often, and it’s honestly a good one! “Should I buy this camera that has been out for 1-3 years, or wait for its replacement in the next 1-3 years?”
Asking this smart question means you are looking to the future and treating your camera as an investment in your art. This isn’t easy, because camera technology does change very rapidly. You may buy a lens that becomes your favorite for a decade, but the camera body you mount that lens on may change at least once or twice in that time!
Canon EOS RP II?
Right now, in the summer/fall of 2022, there is one “imaginary” camera that I am keeping my eyes out for, and that is a new entry-level full-frame mirrorless camera. A Canon EOS RP Mark II, as it were. This could indeed be the best Canon camera, at least for anyone who is looking to keep things simple, affordable, and portable, but also still very serious about getting the best image quality possible.
If a “Canon EOS RP II” does arrive, we’ll update this article with our thoughts about it!
If this sounds like you, if maybe you want excellent photos but you want an ultra-lightweight camera body that costs around $1,200 or so, then yes, I would recommend waiting. Continue to use whatever camera you already have, and keep an eye out for whatever Canon announces in the next 6-12 months. You could by an RP now, but I wouldn’t recommend it because it’s a 1st-gen product with significant room for improvement.
Canon EOS R1?
Other than that, a lot of people are talking about whether or not Canon will make an “EOS R1”, which would likely be a $6,500 (or more) camera with 45+ megapixels, 8K video, and blazing fast stills (30+ FPS) to go with it. Such a camera would compete well against the Nikon Z9 and Sony A1, of course, but is likely out of reach of most photographers due to price.
Compared to the flagship-sized Canon EOS R3, which sits at $6,500 and offers 20 megapixels, a Canon EOS R1, with 45-60 megapixels, would likely cost $7,500-8,000.
The Best Canon Camera (Photo vs Video)
It is important to note that the worlds of photography and videography are totally different.
If you do both photo and video, or especially if you mainly shoot video, then you may find yourself choosing a different camera from any of the ones recommended in this article about the best Canon camera for photography.
For example, do you want a camera that delivers excellent 4K video, but you don’t need 8K, or raw video? If you’re on a budget, (or if you’re saving up for some RF lenses), then you can save a lot of money by opting to go with the Canon EOS R6 instead of the EOS R5. Oppositely, if you’re looking to capture 8K raw video, the R5 is one of the most affordable 8K cameras on the market.
Of course, if you’re “making movies” or doing anything along the lines of professional cinematography, then you may skip photography-oriented Canon cameras entirely. I would strongly recommend opting for a video-centric camera such as the Canon EOS R5C, or of course the Canon C-series video cameras.
This is an entirely different article for another day, of course, so we’ll leave it at that! The important thing to ask yourself is what your balance of photo+video will be, or if you may be doing exclusively one without the other.
Conclusion | The Best Canon Camera for Photography
Canon has come a long way in recent years in terms of camera technology. I dare say that the images which are now possible are significantly better than what was possible just 5+ years ago!
It is true that the subtle differences in new camera sensor image quality (and lens options) may not be visible at a glance, and it is certainly still true that the photographer themselves is far more important than the camera or the lens. However, there is no mistaking that Canon’s latest camera bodies are absolutely their best yet. Whether you photograph high-speed action, everyday life, or dramatic, sweeping landscapes and nightscapes, Canon has some of the best cameras available.