Best Camera for Instagram and Social Media Photography
Researching the best camera for Instagram in 2021 has been an interesting experience. We’re so fortunate to have access to these incredible tools, which allow us to get our photos seen by the world.
Obviously, you can use any camera to get your images on Instagram, and many people just get by with their trusty smartphone.
With features like the iPhone’s portrait mode, it’s getting harder and harder to tell what was shot with a phone or with a fancy camera.
Having said this, a dedicated camera still gives you better results than a photo taken with a phone… especially in low light.
Here’s a quick look at some of our top picks.
Table of Contents
Best Cameras for Instagram Photos in 2021
|Sony A7iii||View Price →|
|Sony RX100 VII||View Price →|
|Fujifilm X-T30||View Price →|
|Olympus Tough TG-5||View Price →|
|Nikon D3400||View Price →|
|Canon T6i||View Price →|
|GoPro Hero 8||View Price →|
As you will see in the reviews below, the features offered by modern cameras are unrivaled – you can simply do more with a camera than you can with a smartphone.
Here are the top cameras for Instagram photos right now.
Top 7 Cameras for Instagram in 2021
1. Sony A7III
Dimensions: 127 x 96 x 74 mm (5 x 3.78 x 2.91″)
Weight: 650 g (1.43 lb)
If you’re looking for a beginner-friendly yet pro-worthy camera, look no further than the Sony A7iii. It’s hands down one of the best cameras on the market today. Not only does it give you full-frame quality in a body much, much smaller than comparable DSLRs, but it’s also easy to use and functions like a dream.
Some might argue that you don’t exactly need a full-frame camera for Instagram, but the amazing dynamic range, lightning fast autofocus, excellent color quality, and superb image quality of the Sony A7iii will probably convince you differently.
While you can certainly find cameras out there with a higher megapixel count, the Sony A7iii’s 24.2 megapixels is more than enough for Instagram and really just about anything else you might want images for.
Whether you’re shooting for the internet or print, everything looks great. Of course, if megapixels really matter to you, the 42MP Sony A7Riii has come down in price recently.
The Sony A7iii camera features fast autofocus, excellent face and eye-detection, and continuous shooting at 10 frames per second.
It also lets you quickly transfer photos to your phone (including RAW files) via its convenient Send To Smartphone feature. Add the free PlayMemories Sync To Smartphone Camera app and you can post directly to Instagram.
It also offers 4k video recording, which is quickly becoming the standard for amateur and pro film-makers wanting the highest in quality/the ability to crop heavily in post.
The Sony A7iii is also a third-generation camera, so has had plenty of time to have its kinks worked out. (Nikon and Canon are only in their second generation of mirrorless cameras – there’s still plenty to improve.)
The only real downside to the Sony A7iii camera is its price – just under $2,000 body-only. While that’s a phenomenal price for a full-frame camera, it’s a bit much if you’re only shooting for Instagram. The lenses are also pretty pricey.
Still, if image quality matters to you and/or you’re looking to go pro, the Sony A7iii is definitely the best mirrorless camera for Instagram.
2. Sony RX100 VII
Dimensions: 101.6 x 58.1 x 35.9 mm (4 x 1.7 x 2.4 in.)
Weight: 240 g (9.8 lbs)
If you’re looking for something more compact than a mirrorless camera, the Sony RX100 VII is one of the best compact cameras you can buy. It’s the camera of choice for many travelers and Instagrammers, especially those who want superb images but want a camera that will fit in their shirt pocket.
While far from a full-frame, the Sony RX100 VII’s 20MP sensor still packs a punch, especially when paired with its incredible f/2.8–4.5 high-resolution lens. From wide-angle landscapes to telephoto sports shots, the 24–200 mm zoom lens has you covered.
Speaking of speed, f/2.8 is not only fast enough to work great in low-light, it also renders soft, creamy bokeh that no one will believe came from a point-and-shoot.
If you’re into action shots, the Sony RX100 VII doesn’t disappoint. It comes with a whopping 20-fps blackout free continuous shooting mode. Wow! Paired with its lightening-fast autofocus and optical image stabilization, you’re sure to catch amazing shots.
For those who like to shoot Instagram selfies, the Sony RX100 VII camera comes with a rotating touchscreen, so it feels a bit more like using your phone. Also similar to phones, you can select the focus area simply by touching the screen.
The Sony RX100 VII also has face and eye detection that make shooting portraits a breeze.
Like the Sony A7iii, this pocket rocket of a camera offers NFC, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi connectivity perfect for transferring photos to your phone, Adobe CC, or uploading directly to Instagram.
Also like the Sony A7iii, the only real downside to the Sony RX100 VII compact camera is the price. At just under $1,200, it’ll be out of range for many.
Still, if you’re looking for exceptional image quality, action shot capability, and great overall performance from a camera that fits in your pocket, you won’t find better than the Sony RX100 VII.
3. Fujifilm X-T30
Dimensions: 118.4 x 82.8 x 41.4 mm (4.7 x 3.3 x 1.6 in.)
Weight: 383 g (13.5 oz.)
If you’re after an interchangeable lens camera that’s smaller and less expensive than the Sony A7iii, the Fujifilm X-T30 is a great option. Its sensor is bigger than the 1″ in the Sony RX100 VII camera, while its 26MP delivers strong, high-res images, all in a small, compact housing.
In fact, for a camera with an interchangeable lens system, the Fujifilm X-T30 is satisfyingly small. Add to it one of the superb Fujifilm prime lenses and you’ll get amazing low-light performance, tack-sharp portraits, and excellent bokeh, all in a setup that can sit in the hand.
Other features of the Fujifilm X-T30 include a fast 425-point autofocus system, face- and eye-detection, and a respectable 8 fps mechanical shutter (up to 20 fps with the electronic shutter). Not ideal for action photography, but not a sluggard either.
Unique to Fujifilm cameras, the X-T30 has a retro-inspired design that feels great in the hand, is easy to use, and frankly, looks great. (Don’t worry, you wouldn’t be the first photographer to put a picture of your Fujifilm camera on Instagram!)
If you shoot in Jpeg, you’ll also get images with Fujifilm’s unique color profile, a feature that’s gained Fujifilm a loyal following over the years.
What the Fujifilm X-T30 doesn’t have, however, is in-body stabilization. IS is particularly helpful when dealing with smaller cameras, especially at longer focal lengths and slower shutter speeds.
Luckily, Fujifilm offers plenty of stabilized lenses, so look for those if you’re using it while zooming or in low-light situations.
At just under $800 (body-only), the X-T30 camera hits the sweet spot for many. Its balance of excellent image quality, affordability, and small size make it an excellent camera for Instagram and beyond.
4. Olympus Tough TG-5
Dimensions: 113 x 66 x 31.9 mm (4.43 x 2.6 x 1.23 in.)
Weight: 250 g (.55 lbs)
If your Instagram feed is full of adventure photography, the Olympus TG-5 might be the camera for you. The TG-5 is one of the toughest cameras out there and even supersedes the GoPro in indestructibility.
Into kayaking, canoeing, or snorkeling? No problem. The Olympus TG-5 compact camera can survive under 50 feet of water… which is why we named it the best waterproof camera this year.
Into rock climbing, skateboarding, or extreme sports? This little gem can withstand up to 7-foot drops.
Love to go out on the slopes in the winter? The TG-5 works great in freezing temperatures, as does its successor, the Tough TG-6 (see full review).
It doesn’t quite have the bells and whistles of ordinary cameras, but you can take it places you wouldn’t dare to take a more expensive camera or even your phone. The TG-5 is waterproof, shockproof, crushproof, freeze-proof, and dust-proof, allowing you to get photos in situations that others can only dream about.
The TG-5 uses a fairly small camera sensor, which while being better than a smartphone isn’t going to give you the best low-light capacity when compared with larger sensors. Still, the f/2 lens is faster than other waterproof cameras and the images come out bright and crisp.
(See also our guide to waterproof camera cases.)
For Instagram, you don’t really need high resolution photos, so the 12MP sensor won’t be a downer there. In fact, Olympus is known for putting excellent lenses on their point-and-shoots, yielding beautifully sharp, contrasty shots that look great straight out of the camera.
Other features include image stabilization, focus stacking (guide), and action track sensors that record the location, temperature, direction, and altitude of where your image was shot. For action shots, the TG-5 also comes with a speedy 20 fps burst rate.
Why invest in the TG-5 when you can get a GoPro? Well, the TG-5 has a faster and more accurate auto focus, a much more sensitive sensor (100 – 12800 ISO compared to the Hero 7’s 100 – 1600 ISO), a built-in flash, and a display with higher resolution. It also can go deeper into water.
The lens is also more versatile, with a strong 25mm-100mm focal range. GoPro cameras – even the Hero 8 – tend to a much more limited focal range available. Need a wider angle on the Olympus TG-5? No worries. There is a number of accessories available, including a clip-on fish-eye lens.
Of course, if you’re not out in places you’d be afraid to take a more expensive camera or smartphone, the Olympus Tough TG-5 won’t be much of a draw. But for those who are into hardcore adventure and like to share their exploits with the Instagram world, the TG-5 is one of the best options out there.
5. Nikon D3400
Dimensions: 4.9 x 3.9 x 3 in. (124 x 98 x 75.5 mm)
Weight: 445 g (15.7 oz)
If you’re thinking about going pro and are looking to buy you’re first DSLR, the Nikon D3400 is a solid, inexpensive entryway into the Nikon eco-system.
Amazingly well-built, the Nikon D3400 camera is not the newest or fanciest Nikon DSLR, but it’s a solid performer and comes in at a price that’s hard to resist. Its 24.2MP CMOS sensor is more than enough for Instagram, blogging, or any other internet needs you might have.
As with most Nikons, the Nikon D3400 is a strong low-light performer with a native ISO of 100-25600. This is far from what a full-frame or much more expensive DSLR can do, but it will blow your smartphone out of the water (as well as most point-and-shoots).
Another excellent feature of the D3400 is that it has excellent battery life – far better than many more expensive DSLRs and much better than mirrorless cameras like the Fujifilm X-T30 of the Sony a6500. (The Sony A7iii, on the other hand, has excellent battery life.)
One cool thing specific to Nikon DSLRs is that you can transfer your images directly to your smartphone as you take them using their Snapbridge app. That makes it super easy to get your images up on Instagram, almost as if you were taking them with your phone.
There’s also a solid selection of lenses for this camera, which range from fast little primes to versatile zooms – see our guide to the best D3400 lenses here.
In short, the Nikon D3400 is a solid, entry-level DSLR camera at a great price. The image quality will be world’s different than what you can get on your smartphone or point-and-shoot, and the price is honestly hard to beat. From there, simply invest in the lenses you want and upgrade to the next level when ready.
Check out our full Nikon D3400 review for a more detailed analysis, or click the button below to find out the latest price.
6. Canon T6i
Dimensions: 131.9 x 100.9 x 77.8 mm (5.2 x 3.1 x 4 in.)
Weight: 510 g (17.99 oz)
The Canon T6i is one of the best entry-level DSLR camera bodies for the budding pro. Canon is known for having a massive lens selection and fantastic color science.
A reliable performer, the T6i is a great introduction to the amazing array of Canon lenses, allowing you to up your Instagram game with a solid DSLR while not spending too much money.
Although an entry-level camera, the Canon T6i has a decently fast autofocus system, excellent ISO performance for its price point, and a 24 MP CMOS sensor that captures detail beautifully.
In fact, it has the highest resolution of any Canon APS-C camera yet.
The built-in Wi-fi and NFC allow you to edit and upload to Instagram on the go. You can even snag photos from other Canon cameras using the Canon Camera Connect app.
For beginners, the controls of the Canon T6i are nicely straightforward and easy to learn. The flippable touch screen will also feel pretty familiar, as it offers many of the features you’re used to using on a smartphone.
At just 8 fps when shooting Raw, the Canon T6i isn’t the best action photography camera out there. Also, the battery life isn’t the best if you primarily shoot in live view. Beyond these issues, though, the Canon T6i really is a solid performer.
Add to that the fact that you can buy one with a kit lens for under $600, and you have a great entry point into the world of Canon DSLRs. Use it well and you’ll up your Instagram game substantially.
Great for folks looking to become professional photographers. If you’ve got the budget, you may want to consider the Canon T7i – see here for the difference.
7. GoPro HERO8
Dimensions: 28.4 x 48.6 x 66.3 mm (1.1 x 1.9 x 2.6 in.)
Weight: 422.4 g (14.9 oz)
No list of the “best cameras for Instagram” would be complete without a GoPro Hero. GoPros are some of the toughest, most versatile action cameras available these days, and the GoPro Hero 8 is no exception.
The GoPro Hero 8 is small, waterproof, and nearly indestructible. Attach it to a helmet and record your rip roaring descent down a mountain, take it diving in the Caribbean, or mount it to your handlebars as you ride down the beach.
No matter the sport or activity, there’s some way to take the GoPro Hero 8 along with you. It’s also small enough to get some discreet footage of wild animals, or insects, such as dragonflies in flight.
The 12MP sensor is not the strongest, but again, for Instagram and other internet applications, you rarely need a super high resolution, especially when exporting from an image editor like Lightroom. Twelve megapixels is generally more than enough.
Beyond this, Hero 8’s image stabilization is top notch. It makes taking smooth video or time-lapse easier than ever.
Unlike the Olympus TG-5, the Hero 8 only offers four focal length options: 16mm, 16-34mm, 19-39mm, and 27mm. It also doesn’t have quite as good image quality as the Olympus TG-5 or even many Smartphones.
At the same time, the GoPro Hero 8 comes with a number of features the TG-5 doesn’t have, like TimeWarp, a phenomenal Liveburst feature, high fidelity audio. and voice control.
Speaking of video recording, the GoPro Hero 8 was designed mostly with video in mind. Nonetheless, it shoots in both Jpeg and Raw and has a fantastic still capture feature that allows you to grab any frame you like from its video. There’s also a Superphoto feature for adding pizzazz to stills.
The GoPro Hero 8 has its own app for basic editing. For more serious editing, you can use the built-in Wi-fi to transfer your photos or a standard camera card.
Granted, the GoPro Hero 8 isn’t really a standard camera – even though it has time-lapse (guide) and HDR capabilities, it’s primarily designed for action filming. Still, if live action is your game the GoPro Hero 8 will capture it better than just about anything else.
Curious to learn more? Check out some of the best GoPro photography on GoPro’s Instagram account, or click the button below to read some recent user reviews.
Frequently Asked Questions
What camera do most Instagrammers use?
Because the quality of smartphone cameras has increased dramatically, many Instagrammers use their phones to take and upload photos. However, those wanting to really impress their audience with high-quality photography with greater dynamic range or increased depth of field often level up with DSLRs or mirrorless camera systems.
Does Instagram reduce photo quality?
Instagram imposes limitations on all media that gets uploaded to its platform. Photos should be uploaded at a resolution of between 320 and 1080 pixels – if not, the app will automatically size the photo up or down to fit their limitations, which can lead to a reduction in image quality.
How do I make my Instagram pictures sharp?
The key to sharp Instagram pictures is to crop and resize your images before you upload them to your Instagram account. You can do this using any image editing software (like Lightroom, Photoshop, etc.). By uploading your images at the right size, Instagram doesn’t need to compress them, increasing their resolution, meaning they’ll stay sharp.
What format is best for Instagram?
The best image formats to use if you want to upload your photos to Instagram are JPEG and PNG. If you shoot your photos in RAW format (or any format similar to RAW, such as ARW), you can export them to JPEG or PNG using your image processing software.
Here in July 2021, many successful Instagrammers use their smartphones to capture and upload photos, but an equal number are using dedicated cameras to level-up from the competition.
It’s hard to choose an absolute best camera for Instagram, due to the enormous variety of options available to us to capture a great photo.
However, in this article we’ve shown you our recommendations of cameras that can do what most smartphones cannot – now it’s up to you to choose one and get out there and start shooting!
Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post may contain affiliate links.
Usnea Lebendig is a travel and landscape photographer who loves trekking in the wilderness, exploring other cultures, and using photography for social activism.