Ken Rockwell’s full recommendation:
all equipment reviews
The Best Camera for Most Things
Nikon D3400 and included 18-55mm VR AF-P.
What camera do I suggest for my friends and family when they ask? What’s the best camera that can handle every kind of photo situation, but still lightweight and at a reasonable price?
The Nikon D3400.
You can pay a lot more, but no camera does anything significantly better than the D3400 for most people’s photography. Especially if you have kids in sports, a DSLR like the D3400 is a huge step up from a point-and-shoot, mirrorless or an iPhone because it can zoom-in (especially with a telephoto lens) and focus fast enough to track all the action
You can pay more for fancier cameras, but no camera takes better pictures than a D3400. The reason guys like me pay more for fancier cameras isn’t for better pictures; it’s for more controls and options that let us few who actually know how to use all these controls to get to them faster. The D3400 has the same adjustments, just that you’ll more often have to use a menu to set them instead of a knob or button. If you shoot all day every day as I do, it’s worth it, otherwise, there’s no reason to pay more since most people have no idea what these other settings do.
The D3400 is far superior to any mirrorless, superzoom or compact camera because it’s a real DSLR, meaning you view and the camera focuses live directly through the lens optically, not via an electronic screen. The D3400 focuses fast enough to catch people and kids doing anything in any light, while other kinds of cameras get lost hunting.
Sure, you can buy fancier DSLRs, but you don’t need to unless you want to. The D3400 is the most basic DSLR sold today, and is all I’d ever need. Sure, feel free to pay more as I’ll expand below (and many people do), but you’re only buying more durability or convenience, not better pictures. Better pictures come from knowing how to take better pictures, not from a better camera.
If you already have a preference for Canon, the Canon SL1 is even a little bit smaller and equally excellent. The differences between the SL1 and D3400 are a matter of which fits your hands better or which has controls or menus that you personally might find more convenient. I prefer the D3400, but if you’re already shooting Canon, the SL1 is just as fantastic. The Canon Rebel T6 is another top choice at about the same price.
*Also consider the Sony A6000 as a small, inexpensive and high-performance camera. It’s a little smaller, but costs more and has less battery life.(
The Nikon D3300 is the older model of D3400. It’s the same camera, without bluetooth but with a slightly more powerful flash. Either is excellent.