Our guide to the best cameras for photojournalism and documentary lists options for beginners and professionals alike.

As the business of newsgathering and documenting current events has evolved, so have the best cameras for journalism and documentary photography. News is faster than ever these days, with stories travelling and developing a light-speed, and as such it’s essential for photojournalists to have a camera that’s capable of keeping up. Documentary shooters, meanwhile, can get a lot of use out of digital conveniences, with bigger sensors, faster focusing and video features in addition to stills, for those who dabble between disciplines.

Of course, not all journalists and documentarians of current events are built the same, and the same camera won’t suit every user. That’s why we’ve put together this guide, with a lot of options for all types of user, from beginner to expert. We’ve included cameras at a range of different price points, as photojournalism isn’t reserved for those with deep pockets. Before we get into the list, let’s take a quick look at the key features any of the best cameras for photojournalism and documentary photography need to have.

How to choose the best camera for photojournalism and documenting current events:

  1. Image quality: While you’ll want a decent sensor, the amount of megapixels does not a great photojournalist make. A growing portion of World Press Photo award-winning photographers are using mirrorless cameras, which due to their size, tend to have smaller sensors (source).
  2. Size and weight: Thinking back to where it all began, with street photographers and war correspondents, the general rule was to go for something that was easy to carry, as it is more likely to be with you when news happens.
  3. Durability: Weather-sealing is arguably an advantage in any situation, especially given how unpredictable weather in the UK is, but it is particularly important in wildlife and sports photography.
  4. Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity: This feature is useful for both professionals sending photos to their editors and beginners wanting to quickly post their images on social media. Many camera manufacturers have apps you can use to shoot using your phone.
  5. Dual card slots: Dual card slots made many photographers happy when they were first introduced and it’s not hard to see why. You get twice the amount of memory and in some cameras you can even switch between memory cards and shoot photos on one and video on the other.
  6. Silent shutter: There is a saying in journalism that the journalist should never be the story. A silent shutter is useful when capturing raw, candid moments without interrupting.

Our picks for the best cameras for photojournalism and documentary photography

Best budget camera for students: Panasonic Lumix DMC-GX80

Best cameras for photojournalism and documentary photography, best budget camera for students Panasonic Lumix GX80

Panasonic Lumix GX80 credit: Panasonic

At a glance:

  • Mirrorless
  • 16 MP
  • ISO 200-25,600 (ISO 100-25,600 extended)
  • 4K 30p video recording
  • £549 with lens/ $597.99 with lens

The Panasonic Lumix GX80 (or the GX85 as it is known in North America) hits a sweet spot for many. It’s not too big, not too expensive, and its sensor may be modest in terms of megapixels but this in no way stops the camera from producing sharp, quality images. A highlight is that it has a completely silent and shock-free electronic shutter that offers speeds up to 1/000 sec.

If you’re a student looking for an affordable compact camera to start on your photojournalism career, then the Panasonic Lumix GX80 fits the bill. You can read our team’s full review of the Panasonic Lumix GX80/ GX85 when it first came out here.


  • Highly effective in-body image stabilisation
  • Quiet, discreet shutter
  • Easy to use
  • Compact, portable, rangefinder-style design


  • No weather-sealing
  • Default control set-up feels dated

Best Canon DSLR camera for documentary: Canon EOS 90D 

Best Canon DSLR for documentary photography, Canon EOS 90D

Canon EOS 90D in use. Photo credit: Michael Topham

At a glance:

  • DSLR
  • 32.5 MP APS-C CMOS sensor
  • 7 fps burst shooting w/continuous AF
  • 4K 30p video recording
  • £997-1299/ $1199 body-only

Documentary photography is where you might want a higher megapixel count and the Canon EOS 90D, the first of two DSLRs on this list, does not disappoint. It boasts a massive figure of 32.5 megapixels and produces incredibly sharp images. It also has a fast and reliable AF, which can be changed via joystick or the touchscreen.

Another point to consider is Canon’s colour profiles, which have a solid reputation and their ability to accurately render skin tones comes in very handy when shooting portraits. Read our Canon EOS 90D review here.

For more great Canon DSLRs, have a look at our guide to the best Canon DSLRs. 


  • Good construction and weather-sealing
  • Comfortable to use with large lenses thanks to a deep grip
  • Finds faces and eyes in live view with good accuracy
  • Rotating screen that enables artsy angles


  • Lighter, easier-to-carry options available with similar live view AF and image quality
  • Through-the-finder AF less accurate than competition
  • Live view burst limited to 7 fps

Best ‘hybrid’ camera for stills and video: Panasonic Lumix GH6

Best 'hybrid' camera for photojournalism and video journalists, Panasonic Lumix GH6 with lens

The Panasonic Lumix GH6 excels at photography and videography alike. Photo credit: Jon Devo

At a glance:

  • Mirrorless
  • 25.2 MP Four Thirds sensor
  • 8 fps shooting with continuous autofocus
  • Video recording options include: 5.7K 60fps, 4K 120fps, Full HD up to 300fps
  • £1,949/ $1697.99 body-only

For photojournalists and documentary shooters who want both stills and video in their arsenal, the Panasonic Lumix GH6 is one of the best choices you can make. It’s a Micro Four Thirds mirrorless camera, meaning you’re fielding a smaller sensor than you would be with many of the other cameras on this list, but the sheer breadth of shooting options it provides is staggering. Video users have practically every codec they could dream of. Want to shoot Full HD video at a super-slow 300fps? Go for it. There’s also the Apple ProRes high-quality, visually lossless codec, capturing a huge amount of information in-camera for a smoother edit.

Photographers, meanwhile, can enjoy 75fps burst with fixed focus using the electronic shutter. With 25.2 megapixels, the GH6 is one of the highest-resolution Micro Four Thirds cameras you can buy, and the autofocus system does perform reliably, even if it is still the contrast based Depth From Defocus system Panasonic has used for years. (The news that the full-frame Lumix S5 II would depart from this tradition was greeted with much rejoicing from photographers and videographers alike). The Lumix GH6 hugely continues to impress us as Panasonic continues to release firmware updates to bring new features. You can read our full Panasonic Lumix GH6 review.


  • Superb pro-level video features
  • No recording time limits
  • Excellent resolution for MFT
  • Fast burst modes


  • Aging autofocus system
  • No 6K or 4K photo modes

Best second-hand DSLR for documentary photography: Nikon D810 

Best second-hand DSLR for documentary photography, Nikon D810

Credit: Nikon.

At a glance:

  • DSLR
  • 36.3 MP FX-format CMOS sensor
  • 5 fps shooting
  • ISO 32-51,200 (expanded)
  • 4K 60p video recording
  • £1149 body-only (renewed)/ $1099.95 body-only (used)

The Nikon D810 replaced the D800 and D800E, which at the time they were released were two of the highest-resolution DSLRs ever made. Its relatively slow autofocus might make it impractical for sports photography or other high-paced situations. On the upside, however, anyone who buys the Nikon D810 will have a very wide range of lenses to choose from, and this alone is a big reason why it’s one of the best cameras for photojournalism and documentary.

The lens range includes all Nikkor and Nikon-compatible lenses, and thanks to this the D810 has been popular among portrait, wedding, and architecture photographers. All in all, it makes for an affordable full-frame DSLR option for professional documentary photographers who want high-quality images and whose work might be more slow-paced. Nikon did release one final update to this camera, the magnificent Nikon D850, but the D810 provides excellent value on the used market. For more details on this camera, check out our Nikon D810 review.


  • Weather protected
  • Tough magnesium alloy build
  • Dual card slots
  • Loads of physical controls


  • No integrated wi-fi
  • LCD screen is fixed and not a touchscreen

Best camera for beginners: Sony Alpha A7 III 

Best camera for beginner photojournalists, Sigma 16-28mm F2.8 DG DN C on Sony Alpha A7 III

The Sony Alpha A7 III is an impressive full-frame all-rounder. Photo credit: Joshua Waller

At a glance:

  • Mirrorless
  • 24.2 MP full-frame sensor
  • 10 fps continuous shooting
  • ISO 100-204800 (extended)
  • 4K video recording
  • £1699 body-only/ $1999 body-only

Released as part of Sony’s entry-level full-frame mirrorless A7 series, the Sony Alpha A7 III would become one of the best-selling cameras of 2018 and 2019. Some reasons for this are its twin card slots, extremely accurate eye-tracking auto-focus, 10 fps continuous shooting, good low-light shooting and impressive battery life- all shoved into a compact mirrorless package.

While these features are more commonplace in today’s cameras, this camera is a well-rounded alternative to the more expensive Sony A9 series cameras. Sony has also released a successor to the A7 III, the Sony Alpha A7 IV. However, it’s a pretty significant hike in terms of features – probably more than photojournalists need – and it comes with a corresponding price hike of around £1,000/$1,000. So we’re sticking with the A7 III as our pick here.

To read more on the specifications of this camera, click here: Sony Alpha 7 III revealed


  • High-speed performance contained in a compact body
  • Silent shooting
  • Great battery life
  • Fast and accurate face-and-eye detection


  • Underperforming buffer
  • Only one card slot supports UHS-II

Best Fujifilm camera for photojournalism: Fujifilm X-T5

Best Fujifilm camera for photojournalism, Fujifilm X-T5 in use

The Fujifilm X-T5’s viewfinder is large, bright and clear, perfect for immersing yourself in the shoot. Photo credit: Andy Westlake

At a glance:

  • Mirrorless
  • 40.2MP APS-C sensor
  • 15 fps full-resolution continuous shooting
  • 6.2K 30p video recording
  • £1,699 body-only/ $1,699 body-only

Getting back to basics with a photography-forward camera, the Fujifilm X-T5 is the latest entry in a much-loved series among photographers. While it shoots video, and does so very well, the real joy of the Fujifilm X-T5 is in the shooting experience. With a large, clear electronic viewfinder, as well as dial-based controls and a system of lenses that commonly feature aperture rings, the X-T5 is a pleasure of a camera to use. But don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s a lightweight or frivolous camera – with 40.2MP of resolution, the X-T5 delivers on superb image quality.

This really is an impressive camera across the board. The expanded ISO range of ISO 64-51,200 gives you real versatility in low light, while the burst rate can be upped to 20fps if you switch to the electronic shutter and don’t mind a 1.29x crop (which works out to a perfectly acceptable 24MP). We absolutely love this camera; see our Fujifilm X-T5 review to find out precisely why it’s one of the best cameras for photojournalism and documentary.

To read our buyer’s guide on the best Fujifilm cameras, click here.


  • Excellent autofocus speed/accuracy
  • Tough and weather-sealed
  • A pleasure to use
  • Sublime image quality


  • Buffer fills up quickly at full res
  • 40MP on the upper end of what you need

Best camera for enthusiasts looking to upgrade: Canon EOS R6 Mark II

Best camera for photojournalism and documentary: Canon EOS R6 Mark II review photo by Andy Westlake

The Canon EOS R6 Mark II is a full-frame jack of all trades. Photo credit: Andy Westlake

At a glance:

  • Mirrorless
  • 24MP full-frame sensor
  • 40 fps full-resolution shooting
  • ISO 50-204,800 (extended)
  • 4K 60p video recording
  • £2,799 body-only/ $2,499 body-only

A good photojournalism camera should ideally be a bit of a mixed bag – able to cope with a variety of shooting situations and capable of keeping up at a fast pace. Canon’s mirrorless EOS R system has plenty of viable options, but for our money, the best pick right now is the EOS R6 Mark II. It’s not as high-resolution as the dazzling EOS R5, but it’s faster, not to mention cheaper. And on that subject, while the flagship EOS R3 has it outgunned in speed terms thanks to its stacked sensor design, that camera is firmly out of most people’s price range.

The EOS R6 Mark II, meanwhile, is good for just about everything. Its 24MP full-frame sensor is realistically providing more than enough resolution for most purposes. Its ISO range extends up to 204,800, making it a beast in low light, and with the electronic shutter it can manage a burst mode of 40fps. The autofocus speed and accuracy are excellent – something Canon always knocks out of the park – and its triple-dial control system provides a smooth handling experience. For more of our thoughts, check out our Canon EOS R6 Mark II review, which we’re updating as we spend more time with this excellent camera.


  • Solid all-rounder
  • Excellent autofocus
  • Well-engineered handling


  • Fluctuating stock makes it hard to get hold of

Best travel camera for current event photographers: Nikon Z7 II

Nikon Z7 II Long Term Review, Best camera for photojournalists and documentary photographers on the go

At a glance:

  • Mirrorless
  • 45.7 MP full-frame sensor
  • 10 fps shooting
  • ISO 64-25600
  • 4K 60p video recording
  • Dual-card slots
  • £2964/ $2996.95 body-only

The Nikon Z7 II is an update to Nikon’s successful high-resolution full-frame mirrorless camera. Some of the changes include the inclusion of dual card slots and faster burst speed. Additionally, there’s an option to get a battery grip for extended battery life. This plus the camera’s compact design make it a great shooting companion when travelling. Check out our Nikon Z7 II review for more information.

As Nikon continues to expand its lineup of Z-Mount lenses, giving photographers more choice of lens to pair their cameras with. You can check the latest updates here.


  • Excellent image quality for colors and dynamic range
  • High resolution sensor and low base ISO of 64 for great image quality
  • Small and lightweight design
  • Battery life doubles with the new MB-N11 battery grip


  • AF tracking not as dependable as best systems
  • LCD is tilt only, not tilt-flip or dual-axis tilt
  • Extended shutter speeds only available in manual mode

Best camera for sports journalism: Sony Alpha A9 II

Sony Alpha A9 II, Best camera for sports journalism

Credit: Sony.

At a glance:

  • Mirrorless
  • 24MP full-frame stacked CMOS sensor
  • 20 fps shooting
  • ISO 50-204,800 (extended)
  • 4k 30p video recording
  • £4199 body-only/ $4498 body-only

The Sony Alpha A9 II is a compact high-end sports camera capable of silently shooting 24 MP images at up to 20 frames per second with no blackout between frames. It also boasts a wide range of third-party lens availability (Sigma, Tamron, Viltrox, Samyang, and others are available for Sony’s E-Mount).

This camera’s speed and ability to nail shots in a variety of situations shook up sports and action photography when it was released in 2020, and the Associated Press went on to choose it to give to its global roster of photojournalists.

The flagship Sony Alpha A1 does outgun the A9 II on most fronts – but it’s also much more expensive.


  • Extremely quick blackout-free shooting
  • Dust and splash protection
  • A silent shutter
  • Impressive autofocus


  • Incredibly expensive
  • Dated user interface

Lead image credit: Colin Lloyd/Unsplash

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