Best Camera for Artwork Photography in 2022

By Iva Mikles •  Updated: Sep 07, 2022 •  Guides

Purchasing a digital camera for taking pictures of or digitizing your artwork is one of the best and most intelligent investments you’ll ever make – especially if you get the right one.

So let’s look at which camera for artwork photography you should get!

💡 Please note: We are supported by our readers. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you! For more info, please read our disclosure.

Top 4 Cameras for Artwork Photography Compared

Here is a quick summary of my favorite cameras for photographing your artwork. There are more picks in the overview below, including mirrorless, DSLR, and compact cameras.

My Pick
Value Pick
Budget Pick
Premium Pick
Description:

Best DSLR Camera for Artwork Photography

24.5MP backside illuminated FX full-frame image sensor for excellent light sensitivity for highly detailed photos and 4K UHD videos with shallow depth of field and sharp, clean low light shots :: Tilting LCD touchscreen for angled shots :: Wireless connectivity

Description:

Best Value DSLR for Photographing Artwork

24.1 megapixel CMOS (APS-C) sensor, DIGIC 8 image processor, and Dual Pixel CMOS Autofocus help produce high image quality :: 3-inch variable angle touch screen :: 4K recording capability :: Wi-Fi connectivity

Description:

Best Budget Compact Camera for Photographing Artwork

Compact Camera with EF-M 15-45mm lens :: Vertical 4K video support :: 3.0-inch touch LCD panel :: Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

Description:

Best Premium Digital Camera for Artwork Photography

47-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor for amazing image quality :: Built-in body image stabilization for steadier shots with all lenses :: Video recording of up to 5K

My Pick
Description:

Best DSLR Camera for Artwork Photography

24.5MP backside illuminated FX full-frame image sensor for excellent light sensitivity for highly detailed photos and 4K UHD videos with shallow depth of field and sharp, clean low light shots :: Tilting LCD touchscreen for angled shots :: Wireless connectivity

Value Pick
Description:

Best Value DSLR for Photographing Artwork

24.1 megapixel CMOS (APS-C) sensor, DIGIC 8 image processor, and Dual Pixel CMOS Autofocus help produce high image quality :: 3-inch variable angle touch screen :: 4K recording capability :: Wi-Fi connectivity

Budget Pick
Description:

Best Budget Compact Camera for Photographing Artwork

Compact Camera with EF-M 15-45mm lens :: Vertical 4K video support :: 3.0-inch touch LCD panel :: Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

Premium Pick
Description:

Best Premium Digital Camera for Artwork Photography

47-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor for amazing image quality :: Built-in body image stabilization for steadier shots with all lenses :: Video recording of up to 5K

Table of Contents

Overview: Best Digital Camera for Photographing Artwork in 2022

My Pick: Nikon D780

DSLR Pick
Nikon D780 w/AF-S NIKKOR 24-120mm f/4G ED VR

Best DSLR Camera for Artwork Photography

24.5MP backside illuminated FX full-frame image sensor for excellent light sensitivity for highly detailed photos and 4K UHD videos with shallow depth of field and sharp, clean low light shots :: Tilting LCD touchscreen for angled shots :: Wireless connectivity

Get it on Amazon

Nikon D780 is the finest DSLR by far in its price range. 

It is, in fact, not the most expensive DSLR, or the most expensive Nikon for that matter, but the D780 is a considerable investment and yet represents not just best-of-class performance but a substantial value.

With a bright, clear, and accurate fully articulated LCD view screen, amazingly user-friendly interface, complete manual control, and perfect results in fully automatic mode, the D780 seems designed specifically for high-quality artwork digitization.

But it is the quality of the full-frame Nikon FX full-frame sensors, the perfect precision of the physical body, the legendary Nikon lenses, and the brilliance of every level of engineering that makes this camera so beloved among the top professional photographers and artists and so ideal for capturing professional quality images of your art.

One of the finest cameras in the world and my opinion, the finest in its category, the Nikon D780 is a truly top-level choice that, at under 3,000 dollars, is surprisingly affordable.

It is easily the best DSLR available today for photographing artwork and a wonderful companion and creative partner for any artist.

Value Pick: Canon EOS REBEL SL3

Value Pick
Canon EOS REBEL SL3 Digital SLR Camera with EF-S 18-55mm Lens

Best Value DSLR for Photographing Artwork

24.1 megapixel CMOS (APS-C) sensor, DIGIC 8 image processor, and Dual Pixel CMOS Autofocus help produce high image quality :: 3-inch variable angle touch screen :: 4K recording capability :: Wi-Fi connectivity

Get it on Amazon

The SL3 is incredibly small, light for a large CMOS sensor (APS-C) digital single lens reflex camera and incredibly easy to use.

The quality of the image from edge to edge makes it ideal for photographing/digitizing artwork.

The wonderful Canon zoom lens is versatile for pretty much any use or situation or use and offers such accurate geometry at each focal length that you can make sure your art will be reproduced with the utmost precision – the same is true of the EOS’s color fidelity and resolution, which are both simply amazing at this low price.

If there is one drawback, the beautiful Canon lens is not as fast as some others, which is not optimal for hand-held photos of art in darker environments.

That said, for the most professional results, you will probably be using a tripod, and you will often be working in your well-lit studio or with lights, and anyway, the low-light capabilities of the sensor are quite good, so this is not a big deal.

Speaking of big deals, though, it is important to realize that this superb camera and lens combination, for all of its near-perfect results, incredible ease of use, and top-notch physical quality and durability, is way less than a thousand dollars – easily the best value camera for beginners on the market today.

The incredibly popular Canon EOS Rebel SL3 is the best affordable DSLR for photographing artwork or any other use you can think of, and an absolute joy to use!

Mirrorless Pick: Fujifilm X-T3

Mirorless Pick
Fujifilm X-T3 Mirrorless Digital Camera w/XF18-55mm Lens

Best Premium Mirrorless Camera for Photographing Artwork

26.1 MP X-Trans CMOS 4 APS C sensor with X-Processor 4 image processing engine :: OLED color viewfinder :: 4K video recording

Get it on Amazon

One of the first things you’ll notice about the Fuji X-T3 camera is its incredible solidness and premium quality fit and finish, emphasized by the whisper-quiet operation.

Also striking is the remarkably clear and visible range of controls and dials, which not only appear as they might on an old film camera but make sense in their placement and function, as well as the easy and intuitive overall user interface.

Yes, the Fujifilm X-T3 is a wonderful and wonderfully easy camera to use, but the reason it gained such passionate, even fierce, loyalty among owners, is the beauty of the images.

To be clear here, this beauty is not due to some kind of artificial digital enhancement but to accuracy, clarity and resolution, and a stunning range of light values, all of which are made possible by the superlative Fuji lenses and the large (APS-C) high-resolution sensor, not to mention the superb overall engineering.

This makes the Fujifilm X-T3 a perfect camera for photographing any type of artwork, as do the bright and clear articulated LCD display, the full range of manual controls and the performance in automatic mode, and the low distortion and high speed of the aspherical lens.

A great camera for artists in every way and (short of the three grand Leica below) the finest premium mirrorless digital camera for photographing artwork.

Budget Pick: Canon EOS M200

Budget Pick
Canon EOS M200 Compact Digital Camera with EF-M 15-45mm Lens

Best Budget Compact Camera for Photographing Artwork

Compact Camera with EF-M 15-45mm lens :: Vertical 4K video support :: 3.0-inch touch LCD panel :: Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth

Get it on Amazon

The Canon EOS M200 is about the least expensive camera you can get that will give professional quality photographs of your artwork, allowing you to display your pieces in their full glory – in print or on the screen – and/or put together a portfolio that will wow potential clients or investors.

No, there are no 200-dollar cameras in my guide for the best digital cameras for artists.

But from personal experience and the feedback I get from pretty much any commercial or fine artist I know, it is important to have a digitized portfolio of your artwork.

It should represent your work’s beauty, life, and attractiveness, reflecting your commitment to quality and your personal work ethic.

If your portfolio or online presence isn’t first-rate – really, fully professional and beautiful – what will that say about your level of craft?

And the Canon EOS M200 truly, accurately, and beautifully captures your artwork and offers actual professional quality images.

Billed as a simple camera for everyday use, vlogging, and even HD video, all of which it does beautifully, the M200 is a high-resolution camera that produces images with a full range of light and color, incredibly high accuracy and low distortion, and presents them with real energy.

With highly precise automatic focus and exposure, full manual control of either (including a highly useful magnified-focus mode), an articulated LCD screen that is bright and accurate, and good low light capabilities, the Canon EOS M200 ticks all the boxes.

It is designed to be the perfect affordable all-around camera, and it may very well be. It is the best budget digital camera I know of for photographing artwork and a phenomenal performer for the money.

Premium Pick: Leica SL2

Premium Pick
Recommended
Description:

Best Overall Digital Camera for Artwork Photography

47-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor for amazing image quality :: Built-in body image stabilization for steadier shots with all lenses :: Video recording of up to 5K

Description:

Goes well with Leica SL2 47MP Mirrorless Full-Frame Camera

Premium Pick
Description:

Best Overall Digital Camera for Artwork Photography

47-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor for amazing image quality :: Built-in body image stabilization for steadier shots with all lenses :: Video recording of up to 5K

Recommended
Description:

Goes well with Leica SL2 47MP Mirrorless Full-Frame Camera

I have a photographer friend who is fond of saying that professional photographers usually buy Nikon or Canon, but artists have Leicas. Come to think of it, while he is truly a gifted artist, he may have missed his true calling in advertising.

Including a 9,000-dollar camera and lens combination in my artists’ guide may seem like a bit of a shock, but I am simply staying true to the category – the best overall.

And there is no better digital camera on the market today than the Leica SL2 mirrorless full-frame digital camera.

It is hard to imagine better picture quality than you can get from the Nikon D780 DSLR above.

When you see what the Leica SL2, coupled with the stunning Summicron-S Vario-Elmarit-SL 24-70mm zoom lens, is capable of, you realize this is a whole different world.

The images are so beautiful, energetic, deep, and real that they physically impact the viewer that no other camera can come close to.

Perfect color fidelity, range and saturation, unsurpassed actual resolution with its full-sized digital sensor, perfect physical precision, lifetime-use robustness, the best lenses ever made, incredible manual control, and absolutely the best and most consistent fully-auto results of any system available.

All these make the Leica SL2 a perfect camera for digitizing art and the best choice by all standards for any artist or photographer.

In the interest of full disclosure, there are better cameras.

The Leica S, just plain S, is a medium format camera that is more than twice as expensive as the SL2 and without a lens! And then there are Alpa, hand-crafted Swiss cameras that can easily run into six figures with a bit of associated kit.

But while the difference between the Nikon D780 and the almost unbelievably good Leica SL2 is obvious, the difference between the SL2 and the more expensive Leica S, or the legendary Alpa, is quite subtle.

It is easy enough to call the SL2 the finest digital camera that is affordable (to some, at least).

It is, without question, the finest camera for artists and the best camera available for photographing artwork. 

Best Tripods for Photographing Your Artwork

My Pick
Budget Pick
Description:

A very solid and stable tripod with a high-quality fluid head that provides smooth movements of horizontal and vertical adjustments

Description:

Lightweight and compact aluminum camera tripod with 360 panorama ball head and quick release plate for travel and work

My Pick
Description:

A very solid and stable tripod with a high-quality fluid head that provides smooth movements of horizontal and vertical adjustments

Budget Pick
Description:

Lightweight and compact aluminum camera tripod with 360 panorama ball head and quick release plate for travel and work

I could go off here with a whole section of tips and hints for photographing artwork, a list of all the accessories you might want or need, advice for creating a portfolio or presenting art to clients, and lots of ideas about digitizing and playing around with art in cool and creative ways, on and on.

But all the tips, advice, creative ideas, and all that may be a whole different article for another time.

Anyway, creative types like us can figure much of that stuff out on our own and in our own style.

And as far as gear goes, I think you only truly need two things: a great camera and a tripod.

A tripod is necessary for photographing any kind of artwork for any reason – whether for display, art installations or multi-media work, portfolios, or promotional copies.

No matter how steady your hand is or how good you are with a camera, you will never get the absolute accuracy – especially in focus and alignment/geometry – that you can with a tripod.

Selecting the best tripod for shooting or digitizing your artwork could also be a whole new article and buyer’s guide, but to close this article I want to mention just a couple of great tripods – one premium and professional quality and one pretty darn cheap, but both just ideal for our needs.

Magnus VT-4000 Tripod System with Fluid Head is an incredibly solid and stable tripod with a high-quality fluid head that provides smooth movements of horizontal and vertical adjustments and a design that ensures your camera stays put and doesn’t move once in position. Not too expensive, but as good as many professional tripods that are many times the price!

K&F Concept 62” DSLR Tripod is an amazing value for such a solid, over-built tripod, with full, precise, smooth adjustment control and absolute stability. Very light and quite small when folded up, this is a perfect tripod for on-site work but is also great for your home or studio. Less expensive tripods tend to be a little wobbly and insecure, but more expensive ones don’t necessarily offer substantially more stability or precision than this great value Concept.

Why Do You Need a Digital Camera for Photographing Your Artwork?

If you are a traditional artist, a good camera is one of the most important investments you will ever make.

If you want or need to show your art to clients, or display it online for sale, having good, professional images of your artwork will pay enormous dividends.

But that is just one reason to get a great camera, and as a commercial artist, fine artist, art student or crafter, you will find thousands more!

A good camera is one of an artist’s most inspiring and exciting tools.

As it turns out, the best cameras for capturing images of your artwork also tend to be the best for artists.

You will find that the possibilities, ideas, creative avenues, and inspirations are seemingly endless and that your new camera will help you see your art, and art in general, in exciting new ways.

A good digital camera will offer images that are so dramatically better than a smartphone that you’ll wonder why you ever thought your phone’s camera was so hot.

Sorry, not to get personal or to challenge your love and devotion for your phone, but it’s true – even if specifications are similar, there’s no comparison.

Since this is an artist’s guide to the best cameras for photographing your artwork, let’s list a few reasons why you might want or need to get one:

…and lots more!

But, again, we artists are creative, and having a good camera seems to bring out our creativity, and for some of us, it makes us want to explore photography as a creative path.

And for my money, anything that makes me even more creative, expressive, and engaged in my artistic energy is well worth the investment.

The question of whether it is better to scan your artwork with a good, high-quality flatbed scanner, or to photograph it, is not so very clear.

You can find more information in my article on the Best Art Scanner for Artworks in 2022, but for now, I would say each has its advantages.

Scanners may be easier and offer more consistent results (at least, more easily obtained consistency).

But though there’s more work in set-up and ensuring proper lighting, alignment and framing and all that, cameras will generally offer better image quality, and again have so many other uses and attractions that they’re pretty irresistible, and for many artists will be the obvious choice. 

Main Criteria for Choosing a Camera for Photographing Artwork

My guide for the best cameras for digitizing art may look much different than others on the web.

Because of my experience and work, I have a very clear idea of what is important and what you need in a great art camera.

The most basic and most important features you should look for are:

Large Sensor and Good Resolution

A large sensor and good resolution are important for the sharpest, most detailed images of your artwork.

Whether to create a beautiful professional portfolio, make large, scaled-up prints, or the most vivid screen displays, or for further digital editing and creative manipulation, sensor size and resolution are crucial.

Accuracy

Here we’re talking about as close to absolute accuracy as possible in color reproduction and geometry.

The cameras I recommend in my guide are especially well known for their lack of distortion from edge to edge.

Manual Controls

Adjusting focus and exposure manually will allow you to get the perfect image every time (which even the best cameras, in full auto mode, can’t always do).

Manual controls are also important to achieve certain special effects and results, enhancing and optimizing the basic image or offering new creative possibilities.

Fast Lens

When I say “fast,” I don’t mean how quickly it will roll off the desk if you set it down 😊, but how much light it will let in.

A faster lens will work better in low light and allow much more flexibility in photographing your art in all conditions.

Large, Clear, and Articulated Screen

You will hopefully be using a tripod when shooting your art, and a screen that folds out, moves around, and is easy to see from various angles and in various situations is a must.

Tripod Mount

This is basic, but not all cameras have it, and you need it.

One of my basic rules for getting the best possible digital images of my own artwork is, if you don’t need a tripod, use one anyway.

And again, these features are important to professional and fine art photographers and are key elements in making a camera not just great for capturing and digitizing your artwork but for anything else.

And ensure that all your new creative experiments and explorations are as successful – and fun – as possible.

Should you Get a DSLR, Mirrorless, or Compact Camera for Photographing Your Artwork?

I consider three basic types of digital cameras for photographing your artworks:

DSLR Camera

Or Digital Single Lens Reflex type of camera.

It allows you to look directly through the lens for absolute framing accuracy and a more comfortable and natural feeling when aiming, framing, and photographing.

These are the choice of almost all top-level professional and art photographers and generally offer the best image and quality.

Mirrorless Camera

A camera that often looks a lot like a DSLR but shows you instead a digital image when you look through the eyepiece.

Younger photographers, who may not have used old film cameras, often prefer this type of camera.

Mirrorless cameras often offer high-quality images and superb quality – almost as good as a DSLR – but for less money.

At least one is far better than even the best DSLRs (see Leica above).

Compact Camera

Not as good as the two categories above (though that’s not always true – my top choice in compact cameras is one of the finest overall digital cameras on the market), compact cameras offer great value, simple controls, intuitive interfaces, real usability, and incredible value.

Plus, they can slip into a pocket that couldn’t even hold the lens of most DSLRs!

It’s important to realize that all the digital cameras I recommend offer incredible image quality, great build quality, durability and reliability, and clear, intuitive user interfaces. 

A DSLR camera is great if you simply want the best image quality, control, and flexibility and the best lenses and accessories.

For absolutely the best image quality, the most flexibility, and control, the most rugged construction, and the most evolved and complete systems (that is, add-on lenses and other accessories) DSLR camera is usually the way to go.

If you are a fine artist digitizing very high-quality works, a serious commercial artist, if you want the most professional and finest quality digital or print portfolio, or if you just want no limits in any creative pursuit, you may want to consider either my Best Premium DSLR or Best Value DSLR.

A mirrorless camera is great if you are on a budget (although it can also be quite expensive) and want to enjoy the benefits of the newest technology.

The right mirrorless camera will give you truly superb pictures for professional artists who are on a bit more of a budget but still want nearly first-tier quality.

And the kind of control and adjustment you need to make the images even better (or to make them whatever your creative heart desires), intuitive interfaces and controls, real usability, and excellent material quality and durability.

And, again, to be clear, a non-SLR mirrorless camera like the Leica below is better in pretty much every way than even the highest-level professional DSLRs.

A compact digital camera is great if you are on a tight budget or taking photos of your artwork on the go and need a highly portable camera.

Finally, suppose you are on an even tighter budget or don’t want to spend a cent on a camera.

In that case, you can still get beautiful results, and a beautiful camera in every way, by looking at the best compact digital cameras for shooting artwork.

They are so good that, with a little practice, creativity, and a clear artistic eye, you can get better results with the right compact camera than many people get with much more expensive cameras.

Ultimately the image quality and build quality are not as high, but you will be surprised at just how good they can be!

FAQs – Best Camera for Artwork

What camera is best for artwork?

Based on my experience, I think Nikon D780 is the best for artwork, followed by Canon REBEL SL3. However, if budget is no concern, you should go for Leica SL2.

What kind of cameras do fine art photographers use?

Fine art photographers use DSLR cameras because they deliver the best image quality, control, and flexibility and the best lenses and accessories. My recommendation is Nikon D780 or Canon REBEL SL3.

How do I photograph my artwork?

Photographing your artwork is all about correctly using light sources. Position your artwork to take advantage of indirect natural light. If you don’t have such an option, use natural fluorescent lightbulbs imitating natural light. Soften them by using diffusers. Avoid hard shadows and dappled light using two light sources at 45 degrees angle. Do not use flash to avoid reflection. Test as much as possible to achieve the best results.

I hope my guide helped you to get a new camera for photographing your artwork and you will have a lot of fun with it!

Visit my blog – Art Side of Life – for tons of other inspiring ideas, resources, articles, artists’ guides, and more!

Other articles in the Printers & Scanners series:

Hi, I am Iva (rhymes with “viva”). I am an artist, illustrator, founder of Art Side of Life®, and Top Teacher on Skillshare. Since 2009 I've worked as an illustrator, character designer, art director, and branding specialist focusing on illustration, storytelling, concepts, and animation. I believe that we are all creative in infinite numbers of ways, so I've made it my mission to teach you everything I know and help either wake up or develop your creative genius. Learn more about me.

Recommended: