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The Best Cameras Under $1,200 New Photographers Will Love – The Phoblographer

There’s nothing like falling in love with photography. Lots of people know they don’t need a camera, but buying one is part of acknowledging your passion and love for photography. But do keep in mind that it’s an expensive hobby. So we’re rounding up the best cameras under $1,200 to get into photography with. There are lots more on the market, but these are the best ones out there.

How We Chose the Best Cameras Under $1,200

Here are some insights into how we chose the best cameras under $1,200:

  • Our Editorial Policies only let us talk about cameras we’ve reviewed. With that said, we’ve also reviewed nearly every camera on the market. So we’re very qualified to talk about the best cameras under $1,200. In fact, you should know all the product images in this roundup were shot by our staff. And you can find more in each of our hyperlinked reviews.
  • At $1,200, it’s hard to get really high-end features like weather-resistance, but it’s possible. The Canon EOS RP that we list has this! Make sure you get a lens that has it too.
  • You’re going to love Fujifilm’s colors. 
  • The best cameras under $1,200 aren’t all full-frame sensors, which is the size of 35mm film. They’re smaller, but they’re still incredibly capable.
  • This list of the best cameras under $1,200 includes stuff like cameras with amazing colors, cameras that have face detection, cameras that can detect your dog or cat, and cameras that will seriously grow with you.

Olympus EPL10

Pros

  • The E-PL10 is a fun camera to use, especially with smaller lenses.
  • The feature set is impressive and includes Olympus’s Live Comp and fun art filters.
  • 3-Axis Image Stabilization works really well.
  • The flip-down screen is great for those who love selfies.
  • A very good quality LCD: better than the LCD on Sony’s a6100
  • It’s small, light, compact, and it looks good. It can go anywhere with minimal fuss.
  • Pretty great battery life
  • Image quality is solid considering the sensor is six years old.
  • Good autofocus performance in adequate lighting conditions
  • Good build quality overall

Cons

  • The sensor is six years old! Come on Olympus, it’s time for an update.
  • Autofocus performance is hit and miss in low light (contrast only AF).
  • In bright sun, the LCD can be tricky to see.
  • The buttons and controls are a little hard to use due to their small size.
  • Even with some helpful splash screens, the main meat of the menu system is terrible.
  • There’s no weather sealing.
  • Apart from two small upgrades, the E-PL10 is the same camera as the E-PL9.

In our review we state:

“The 16-Megapixel sensor in the Olympus Pen E-PL10 maybe six years old, but it can still deliver beautiful images. I’m very impressed with the pictures I have been able to make with the camera. The colors are fantastic, the images are detail-rich, the JPEGS are excellent, and you can push and pull the RAW files quite a bit. Don’t let anyone tell you that 16-Megapixels aren’t enough. If you’re stepping up to this camera from a smartphone, you will be blown away. And honestly, 16-Megapixels is more than enough for the way most images are shared these days.”

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Sony a6100

Pros

  • Small and very light
  • Autofocus system is beyond fast.
  • 11 frames per second burst mode and 425 AF points
  • Real-time Eye AF and Animal Eye AF
  • Great tracking capabilities
  • Very good overall image quality
  • Decent battery life
  • Flip-up screen for selfies
  • The splash screens that tell new photographers what each mode does is a nice touch.
  • It’s under $600!

Cons

  • The EVF and LCD are very low quality.
  • No weather sealing: you’ll be seeing a lot of dust spots.
  • The layout of the controls should be simplified.
  • The menu system is still convoluted. Simplify, Sony! Simplify
  • You still can’t use the touchscreen to navigate the menus.
  • Only 1/4000s max shutter speed
  • The camera desperately needs a shutter speed dial on the grip.
  • Just one UHS-1 card slot
  • The camera slows down a lot when writing files to the SD card after a burst.
  • A USB 2.0 port. What year is this? Come on Sony
  • No included dedicated charger, just a USB cable and a wall outlet brick that you use to charge the battery while in the camera.
  • No image stabilization, but it cannot be expected at this price point (not really a con, just pointing out that it’s not there).

In our review we state:

“The Sony a6100 can track people (including eyes in real-time), animals (with eye detection in real-time also), and objects with ease. In good lighting conditions, the camera is blazing fast, though the autofocus does slow a little in low light situations. The wide variety of focusing options means you’ll be able to find the right one for your specific situation. Really though, I just found myself using continuous autofocus in wide or center mode, and I never had any issues. It nailed the shot I was after almost every time. Overall, this camera’s autofocus system will impress you.”

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Fujifilm XE4

Pros

  • The same sensor and processor as the pricier XT4
  • Compact design
  • Classic look and feel
  • Addition of a P mode

Cons

  • No in-body stabilization
  • No ISO dial
  • No weather-sealing
  • Autofocus tracking is sub-par

In our review we state:

“The Fujifilm XE4 is a good, affordable camera that doesn’t sacrifice image quality. It does omit stabilization and weather-sealing, while tracking autofocus also needs improvement. However, it’s not a bad buy for photographers on a budget, particularly those yearning for the look and feel of a film camera.”

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Canon EOS RP

Pros

  • This isn’t Canon innovating on the inside, but instead on the outside
  • This is the smallest and lightest ILC full frame camera on the market.
  • Goes well with a wrist strap and a light prime lens
  • Weather sealing
  • The autofocus isn’t bad, and it’s quite usable in a number of working conditions.
  • Pretty good image quality

Cons

  • This camera is begging to be paired with a nice 50mm f1.8 lens.
  • Could have done better with a joystick
  • The competition from Sony charges around 1/3rd more of the price and offers more.

In our review we state:

“There is a lot to like the Canon EOS RP. It’s a simple, fun camera if you’re inclined to the world of automation. But even so, with the right settings and a bit of patience, it can be a great camera in the hands of someone who has creative vision. You’ll just need to take your time with it. The Canon EOS RP is also stupidly affordable. With a full frame sensor at its heart, it’s going to appeal to anyone who says, “Oh well full frame is better.””

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The Phoblographer’s various product round-up features are done in-house. Our philosophy is simple: you wouldn’t get a Wagyu beef steak review from a lifelong vegetarian. And you wouldn’t get photography advice from someone who doesn’t touch the product. We only recommend gear we’ve fully reviewed. If you’re wondering why your favorite product didn’t make the cut, there’s a chance it’s on another list. If we haven’t reviewed it, we won’t recommend it. This method keeps our lists packed with industry-leading knowledge. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.