Choosing the best DSLR cameras for your photography and video needs can be as intense of a search as choosing a new car. Whether you’re a rising YouTube star, need the best DSLR cameras for your profession, or you just want to take great pictures and videos of your daily adventures, the perfect digital camera is waiting for you.
With so many specifications, features, conflicting reviews, and price differences, this guide will help you sort through all the clutter to find the most affordable and best DSLR cameras available.
Out With the Old, in With the New
With digital camera technology improving so rapidly, staying on the cutting edge can be costly. The key to choosing the best DSLR cameras is to compare the specifications, pinpoint what you need, and buy something within your budget, but without settling.
Let’s say you’ve found a camera that blows the competition away in terms of megapixels, sensor type, video quality, and more, but it’s out of your price range. If you’re taking your love for photography and video seriously, find a way to bump up your budget to get what you need. If you save a little bit of money by choosing a bargain camera, its subpar features may eventually have you regretting not buying the best DSLR camera. Instead of potentially buying two (or more) cameras in a short time period, buy what you want up front! You’ll save money in the long run, and you won’t have a drawer of unimpressive cameras gathering dust.
Best DSLR Cameras Comparison Guide
Best DSLR Cameras: Specs to Look For
A lot of people get caught up in the megapixel war, with camera manufacturers constantly touting higher numbers. However, any digital camera enthusiast will tell you that megapixels aren’t the most important feature of a DSLR camera.
- Megapixels (Mp). Megapixels are the amount of detail a camera can capture. Megapixels aren’t the most important factor when picking out the best DSLR cameras, especially if you don’t plan on printing your pictures. Higher megapixel count is also important when using digital zoom. A very high megapixel amount can actually be a bad thing if you take a lot of pictures in low light, such as indoor settings. Too many megapixels interfere with the amount of light the sensor absorbs, resulting in grainy low light photos. Also, to capture an astronomical amount of megapixels (like 50Mp), you’ll need a top of the line lens. For the average camera enthusiast, your best bet is to find a modest megapixel count. If you’ve got a top of the line lens and you’re making huge prints of your pictures, feel free to go as high as possible.
- Sensor Type & Size. Camera sensors capture light and turn that into an image. The size of the sensor determines how much light a camera can take in. There are a few different sizes of sensors – full frame (largest), APS-C, Micro 4/3, or others. APS-C sensors are the most common but are smaller. Micro 4/3 is even smaller than the APS-C, but the image quality is comparable. Full frame sensors are the largest, meaning they absorb more light and capture images at the same size as 35mm film. Full frame cameras are considered the best, but are also the most expensive. Some experts believe that over time, full frame sensors will be seen on entry level DSLR cameras
- Shutter Speed. To really catch the detail of something, especially movement, a good shutter speed is essential. However, a slow shutter speed can add a creative element to your photos. For example, a quick shutter speed of 1/8000th of a second will show cars on a highway in individual detail, while a shutter speed of 5 seconds will show the cars and lights as blurs. Many of the best DSLR cameras have the ability to change shutter speed.
Other features to consider are the number of autofocus points, aperture, video resolution (1080p, 4k), touch screen capabilities, articulating screen, continuous shooting speed, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi capability, and whether the camera comes with a lens or not (some are sold as “body only”).
Top 5 Best DSLR Cameras Reviews
The EOS Rebel T5 is a wonderful first DSLR camera, especially for those who want to keep things simple. If you’re upgrading from a smartphone camera, the EOS Rebel T5 is a great camera to learn about different types of DSLR lenses. Full HD video recording is a major plus and the 18 megapixel camera is a nice entry level perk.
This Canon’s EOS Rebel T5 has similar features of its rival the Nikon D3300 and costs considerably less. Based on a spec sheet, one can see that the EOS Rebel T5 doesn’t quite match up to the power of the Nikon D3300. With a lower megapixel count, a slower image processer, and no option for Wi-Fi, the Canon EOS Rebel T5’s most redeemable feature is its price.
At first glance, you may wonder what drives the Nikon D7200’s high price tag (double the Nikon D3300). Despite having some similar features with the D3300, dig a little deeper. You’ll see impressive specs like 51 points of autofocus, 6 frames per second of continuous shooting speed, incredible ISO sensitivity of 100 – 25,600, built in Wi-Fi (no accessories required), and 24.2 megapixels.
Some users have complained that the Wi-Fi system is a bit buggy, but firmware updates seem to keep most issues at bay. If you want to take a leap past entry level DSLR cameras, the Nikon D7200 may be right for you. Paired with a few good lenses, the Nikon D7200 is advanced enough to grow with you yet affordable enough for almost any camera enthusiast.
Despite getting a bit “old” (released in 2013), the Canon EOS 70D continues to feature an impressive array of features, like 20.2 megapixels, 7 fps, full HD video recording (30 fps), built in Wi-Fi, and a nice articulating screen. It also handles high ISO levels without getting too noisy, and features the Digic 5+ image processor. Finally, the Canon EOS 70D’s touchscreen really makes it stand out from competitors.
However, when compared to more modern releases of comparable price, like the Nikon 7200D, the features of the EOS 70D can seem outdated. The EOS 70D has only 19 point autofocus while the 7200D has 51, and only 20.2Mp compared to the 7200D’s 24. Unfortunately, this version of the EOS 70D is body only, so look for a bundle that includes the lens and other accessories.
The Canon EOS Rebel T6i was released a few years after their entry level EOS Rebel T5. Featuring an impressive array of updated features, Canon EOS Rebel T6i is one of the best DSLR cameras for the price. Fully competitive with similarly priced Nikon’s and Sony’s, a few of the Canon EOS Rebel T6i specs include 24.2 megapixels, built in Wi-Fi, updated autofocus with 19 points of cross-type AF, self-cleaning sensor, and touchscreen LCD
Additionally, the ISO sensitivity has a recommended maximum of 12,800, meaning you can take pictures in low light settings without worry of a noisy and grainy photo. Costing under a grand for just the body, there are several kits on Amazon for the Rebel T6i that include lenses and accessories.
For videographers, one thing to note is that the EOS Rebel T6i is only capable of recording up 30fps at 1080. Whether you’re picking out your first DSLR camera or looking for an upgrade, you can’t go wrong with Canon’s EOS Rebel T6i.
The Sony Sony A7R II isn’t a DSLR camera. Instead, it’s a newer type of camera called mirrorless. These mirrorless cameras are smaller than their DSLR counterparts yet image quality remains comparable. However, smaller doesn’t mean cheaper, as in the case of the Sony A7R II. The Sony A7R II boasts 42 megapixels, a full frame sensor, impressive 4K video shooting, and a wide range of compatible lenses. With several updates over the Sony A7R, this mirrorless masterpiece features incredible stabilization, a smooth and silent shutter, and amazing autofocus. The Sony A7R II can also capture images in uncompressed RAW format. However, like most mirrorless cameras, battery life isn’t as good and the cost is relatively high. The Sony A7R II definitely isn’t for the average photographer, and if you have a lot of DSLR lenses you’re attached to, they won’t work on the Sony A7R II.