Best DSLR Cameras for Beginners – Top 6 & Insider Tips

Every budding photographer or videographer needs a great DSLR camera in their arsenal. DSLR cameras give you the professional picture quality and lens versatility you need to take your photography to the next level. Thankfully, there are a number of entry level options designed just for beginners. The best DSLR cameras for beginners feature all the settings and functionality you need when starting out.

If your current compact camera or smartphone is limiting your creativity, it’s time to upgrade to one of the best DSLR cameras for beginners. Our list features DSLR cameras with the specs and convenience every beginner needs, all priced so you don’t have to hide the receipt from your spouse.

Important Features to Compare

DSLR cameras sometimes list dozens of specs but some are more important to beginners than others. Here are the features and specs to look for when choosing the best DSLR camera for your applications.

  • Sensors and Megapixels. All of the DSLR cameras on our list feature APS-C sensors or Nikon’s DX format equivalent. Since they all share the same size sensor, the difference to note is megapixel count. Megapixels determine a photo’s resolution as well as its size. A higher megapixel count means more detail and more versatility when editing, but is not necessarily an indicator of image quality.
  • Video. Videography is in a golden age where sharing your video with the world is only a click away. If you’re a novice videographer looking to up your game with one of the best DSLR cameras for beginners, look for those with the highest video resolutions and frames per second (fps). Also look for built in mics or mic mounts, as well as front facing screens and WiFi connectivity for easy file exchange.
  • Burst Speed. The best DSLR cameras for beginners offer a wide range of burst speeds from 3-9fps. Invest in high burst speed if you take a lot of action shots. If you mostly take still photos, however, then you can save a lot by sacrificing a few frames per second.   

Best DSLR Cameras for Beginners Comparison Guide

PictureNameMegapixelsBurstPriceRating (1-5)
PictureNameMegapixelsBurstPriceRating (1-5)
1. D5600 DX format Digital SLR NIKKOR24.2 MP5fps$$$4.8
2. Canon EOS Rebel SL1 Digital SLR18 MP4fps$$4.7
3. Canon EOS 80D Digital SLR Kit20.2 MP7fps$$$$4.5
4. Nikon D3400 w/ AF-P DX NIKKOR24.2MP5fps$$4.4
5. Pentax K-S2 20MP DSLR Kit20 MP5.4fps$$$4.3
6. Sony a68 Translucent Mirror DSLR Camera24.2MP8fps$$$4.1

Top Rated Beginner DSLR Camera Reviews

1. D5600 DX format Digital SLR NIKKOR

This is one of the best DSLR cameras for beginners that is considered mid-range and is a great choice for those transitioning from hobbyist to serious photographer. Even beginners can take amazing shots with the D5500, and as your skills improve you can explore this camera’s extensive capabilities. At first, take advantage of various automatic features including the 39-point autofocus, auto ISO, and auto white balancing. Later you can experiment with the manual versions of these and a myriad of other features.

Access to manual settings is made easy with the 3.2” articulated touchscreen display. From here you may touch focus in live mode, enlarge pictures, and move between pictures without ever entering a menu. The Nikon D5500’s display is also ideal for vloggers and videographers. The articulated display means you don’t have to be behind the lens to see what your camera is capturing. And, while all the best beginner DSLR cameras record video in FHD, the D5500 does so at a smooth 60fps.

The Nikon D5500 also features great battery life and is rated for up to 820 shots. That’s particularly impressive due to the high resolution 24.2MP sensor and this camera’s light weight. At .9lbs, you can work with this camera all day without getting weighed down. With its combination of advanced and beginner features, along with its exceptional picture and video quality, the Nikon D5500 is the best DSLR camera for beginners who want to build their skills.

2. Canon EOS Rebel SL1 Digital SLR

If you have a little less to spend but still want to spread your photography wings, the Rebel SL1 is an excellent choice. This compact DSLR camera was made with the beginner in mind, and even uses a “Feature Guide” that helps explain all the complicated options and settings. Whenever you’re shooting a new subject or environment, just refer to this built-in cheat sheet that teaches you while you shoot.

The Rebel SL1’s slight .9lb frame supports an 18MP sensor. That’s the lowest on our list, but it’s still enough that even generous cropping still leaves you with rich detail. Speaking of, the Rebel SL1 allows you to crop from the 3” touchscreen display. Crop manually or choose from 4 standard aspect ratios for a perfectly sized photo every time.

With just a 4fps burst, there are better options if you take a lot of continuous shots. Actual shooting speeds are quite high though, up to 1/4,000 seconds. That means you can easily get sharp, detailed action shots. There’s also a predictive 9-point autofocus system that dependably follows your subject no matter where it reaches in the frame. Without sacrificing much, the Rebel SL1 is a great starting option for those who are new to photography or DSLRs.

3. Canon EOS 80D Digital SLR Kit

The Canon 70D is a great camera for experienced users who want the freedom to capture amazing photo or video at a moment’s notice. This DSLR camera helps preserve the quality and integrity of your photos with a number of advanced features, including the manual settings experienced consumers expect.

The APS-C sensor uses 20.2 megapixel resolutions and works alongside a DIGIC 5+ image processor for crisp, clear, vibrantly colored images even in low light. Although there is a built-in flash, you may set the ISO up to 12800 (expandable up to 25400) to take low noise photos in dark settings without one. The 70D also uses 14-bit A/D color conversion to ensure flawlessly reproduced, saturated colors in any light.

Like the Nikon D5500, the 70D features a 3” articulated touchscreen display, an indispensable feature for both photographers and videographers. This camera records video at FHD resolutions at 60fps, and takes a blazing 7fps burst shots. Shutter speeds are adjustable down to 1/8,000 seconds as well, making this camera incredibly quick. As the most versatile and capable camera on our list, choose the 70D if you can find space in the budget.

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