If you’re new to photography and want to get the best possible portrait shots for a small budget, check out our shortlist of the best budget cameras.
Photographing people encompasses such a wide realm of expressive and creative possibilities. It can also be one of the least taxing genres in terms of camera performance. That said, recent advancements in mirrorless technology, such as expanded focusing zones and automatic Eye AF, have made framing the perfect shot a much less daunting prospect.
We’ve picked out these three superb budget-friendly cameras that all offer similar benefits to their professional alternatives, but won’t make the same dent in your bank balance. Each of these cameras has a form of Eye AF, with the Fujifilm X-T30 even being up there among the best on the market. They also have the added bonus of being compact and reliably discreet – perfect for grabbing those candid shots at weddings, or documenting travel through local city streets and far-away lands without drawing unnecessary attention.
CANON EOS M50
Canon’s most advanced mini mirrorless features a 24.1MP APS-C sensor, DIGIC 8 processor and up to 10fps continuous shooting. However, it’s the 180° tilting vari-angle touchscreen that we’re most interested in. This fully articulated flip-out screen is ideal for framing subjects from any angle, as well as getting in on the action yourself – if you’re into that sort of thing.
The autofocus system packs in 99 points, or up to 143 depending on your lens. It lacks a joystick for navigating, though allows for Touch and Drag AF, which works in tandem with the screen allowing you to select a focus point by touch. There is also the Eye AF mode that can be used to increase your chances of capturing ultra-sharp eyes. While it’s undeniably handy, it only works in One Shot AF and not with continuous focusing, which would have been a rather nice inclusion.
While the range of dedicated M mount lenses aren’t exactly teeming with wide-aperture telephotos, you can use the £105 EF-EOS M adapter to mount any of Canon’s finest EF glass – a must have.
Battery: 235 shots
Card type: SD/SDXC/SDHC
AF: 143-point phase detect with AF-S Eye AF
SONY RX100 IV
If you’re looking for a great compact that has a ‘go anywhere, do anything’ capability, this may be perfect for you. It packs a 1in CMOS sensor, with 20.1MP resolution, sturdy ISO range of 125-12,800 and rapid maximum shutter speed of 1/32,000sec.
While these specs may not scream ‘perfect for portraits’, it’s the 35mm equivalent 24-70mm f/1.8-2.8 Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T lens that really makes the combo. Packing a wide aperture, with an f/2.8 maximum at the telephoto end, it’s ideally suited for creating blurred backgrounds and adding bokeh in out-of-focus areas. You can isolate subjects with ease, allowing you to elevate your portrait shots to the next level.
You’ll find a small pop-up EVF to aid with composition on sunny days, and the high shutter speed pairs with the wide aperture to allow you to shoot at f/2.8, even in bright sunlight. The AF system only has 25 points and relies on contrast detection, but the Eye AF is rather impressive. We would have loved to see some touch functionality on the rear LCD, though it’s not a deal breaker.
Battery: 230 shots
Card type: SD/SDXC/SDHC
AF: 25-point contrast detect with Eye AF
Fujifilm is fast building a reputation as the king of APS-C, and the X-T30 bears this mantle well. With its 26.1MP BSI sensor, it not only takes great shots, but also has one of the nicest out-of-camera colour renditions on the market. Thanks to a range of 16 Film Simulations, the X-T30 can reproduce classic film looks from Fujifilm’s old film recipes, meaning you needn’t shoot in RAW for excellent results.
As well as stunning colour, you’ll also find a belter of an AF system, with 425 points of phase-detect AF covering almost 100% of the frame. This includes the latest revision to the company’s Eye AF system, which does a fantastic job of singling out your subject’s iris and capturing pin-sharp shots.
There’s a rather solid ISO range of 160-12,800, and the X-T30 does a great job when shooting in low-light environments. The 3in 1040k-dot tilting touchscreen is also perfect for getting creative with your framing, and the handy Advanced SR Auto scene recognition helps to ensure the perfect settings for your portraits every time.
Battery: 380 shots
Card type: SD/SDXC/SDHC
AF: 425-point phase detect with Eye AF
How we tested the cameras:
Despite featuring three different sensor sizes, we ensured that each camera was capable of capturing great shots in their given genres, including dealing with higher ISO, and producing pleasing colours.
FUNCTIONALITY AND USE
We divided our camera recommendations into separate categories, and based our rankings on each camera’s genre-specific abilities. So, for portraits the Eye AF was a major bonus, while dynamic range helped in landscape shooting, and speed in action photography.
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