Looking for the best beginner DSLRs? If you’re just starting a new photography hobby, trying to choose which DSLR to purchase can be a little overwhelming. Fortunately, our in-depth testing of all the latest models from the likes of Canon, Nikon and Pentax is here to find you find the right match.
The photography world may be moving towards mirrorless tech, but DSLRs remain good options for beginners. There are a few reasons for this:
Firstly, DSLRs are still the cheapest way to get a camera with a built-in viewfinder, which is an essential tool for framing and composition.
Secondly, thanks to their heritage, DSLRs also continue to offer a wider and more affordable range of lenses than mirrorless cameras.
Lastly, DSLRs also continue to offer some advantages over their mirrorless counterparts, particularly when it comes to handling and battery life. Plus, they remain the only cameras to feature true optical viewfinders.
1. Nikon D780
A DSLR still more than fit for purpose in the mirrorless age
The D780 is, in fact, a Nikon Z6 (mirrorless) camera inside a traditional DSLR body. It’s evidently been designed for those who crave the traditional handling and feel of a DSLR camera. Rather than switching to mirrorless. If you’ve got a whole cabinet full of DSLR lenses too, you’re also more likely to desire a DSLR for your next model, too.
Here, we’ve got something very remarkable. It uses the same sensor and processor as the Z6. But due to the larger body, we’ve got room for dual memory card slots. Plus, a lot more direct control dials and buttons. There are also attractive features like 4K video recording, charging via USB and 12fps shooting.
The D780 is more expensive than its mirrorless counterparts, both the Z6, and the Z6 Mark II. However, if you’ve already got enough lenses, then you’ll be saving cash that way instead.
2. Nikon D850
Still one of the best cameras in the world
In camera-terms, the D850 features a collection of fantastic specs, available at a better price than ever. It’s a perfect multipurpose which is well suited to professionals and advanced enthusiasts who want to capture lots of different types of subjects.
Advanced aficionados will also get a kick out of how well it handles a variety of different subjects. Equipped with a high-resolution 45.4-megapixel sensor, 4K video capture, a 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen, a 153-point / 99 cross-type AF system. You wouldn’t be disappointed.
3. Canon EOS 90D
A camera which proves that the DSLR isn’t quite dead yet
One of the newest DSLRs in this list, the 90D is a mid-range model which packs a lot of power for its price-range and position in the market.
4. Nikon D3500
The best all-round option for learner photographers
The D3500 follows up on the D 3400 but with some extra perks. The major advantage of this is its battery life. 1,550 images can be taken once fully charged. The 24MP sensor delivers excellent image quality.
The body and control design has been improved also. Additionally, there’s a Guide Mode. This mode is a walk-through for beginners that helps them through how everything works.
It alleviates the problems newbies might face. It also help as a user-friendly interface.
5. Canon EOS Rebel T8i / Canon EOS 850D
A fine but modest upgrade from its predecessor. Formerly known as the EOS 850D outside the US.
The Canon EOS Rebel T8i has now officially taken the baton from its Rebel T7i / EOS 800D predecessor. With products of the latter tricky to find. This new model isn’t a grand upgrade. With the most notable addition being a 4K video mode that’s somewhat hampered by frame-rate restrictions. Still, the Rebel T8i / EOS 850D remains one of our favorite all-round DSLRs for beginners.
Furthermore, you get a Dual Pixel phase-detection AF system. This is fast, reliable and works just as well for video as it does stills. Additionally, its button layout is also very considered, while the vari-angle LCD screen handles really well.
Battery life, check. Handling, check. What more do you want?
6. Canon EOS Rebel SL3 / 250D / 200D Mark II
The world’s smallest and lightest DSLR with an articulating screen
The EOS Rebel SL3 – also known as the Canon EOS 250D and EOS 200D Mark II – is one of the more recent additions to this list.
In fact, it’s one of the few beginner models announced in recent years. Evident from its name, it picks up from where the Rebel SL2 (EOS 200D) left off. Plus a fresh processing engine and 4K video recording on top of a collection of smaller extras. There may be lots of competition from entry-level mirrorless cameras right now, but if you like the traditional handling of a DSLR. Including an optical viewfinder – and the flexibility of that articulating screen, the 250D remains one of the most attractive and affordable models available right now.
7. Nikon D3500
This entry level camera is a classic
Featuring an impressive battery life, finely detailed images and a relatively compact build for its class. If you want a DSLR format camera and are just starting out on your photographic journey, then the Nikon D3500 isn’t a terrible option.
Additionally, battery performance aside, there’s not a massive amount of difference between the D3500 and its predecessor. A 24-megapixel APS-C sensor, Full HD video recording using built-in monoaural microphone. Plus, rear plate 3-inch LCD sensor. With its price, expectations were fulfilled
8. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
A full-frame camera with a strong heritage and innovative technologies, perfect for the working professional
The 5D series of Canon professional cameras has long been esteemed and with good reason. The latest restatement of the successful model brings with it all the respected features of its predecessors. But capitalizes on it to result in one really impressive model. It has a 30.4-megapixel sensor, and has a new innovation in the form of “Dual Pixel RAW”. This allows you to shift the focus ever so slightly after you’ve taken the shot.
Ideal for weddings, portraits and commercial photography. The only downside of the 5D series is that it’s not particularly geared for action and high-speed photography. For those type of photographers, check out the 1DX Mark IV. But know that it’s pricy.
9. Canon EOS 6D Mark II
A modest full-framer useful for those looking to step up
For those who like to keep to traditional way of shooting, the Canon 6D Mark II is an excellent first full-frame DSLR. And it’s currently available at a fantastic price.
You get a 26.2 megapixel full-frame sensor, a much-improved AF system (when compared to the original 6D) and an articulating touch-sensitive screen. There are some things which seem to be absent for a modern camera, such as 4K video. But if you’re more concerned about stills than your movies, you may not be too worked-up by that.
This is not a particularly exciting model. But it performs well in a good range of tests. Plus being compatible with a wide range of optics makes it a good choice for those firmly fixed on the idea of the DSLR.
10. Pentax K-70
Rugged and great value – an impressive alternative to the big two
Although it’s old, the Pentax K-70 remains a good value option for those who want something different from the ‘big two’ DSLR manufacturers. It’s a particularly good choice if you have a stash of old Pentax lenses gathering dust in a basement. The K-70 has a very useful articulating screen, while the hybrid live view autofocus system makes it an actual practical alternative to using the viewfinder.
Furthermore, our favorite thing about the K-70 is its tough credentials, which is typically lacking from entry-level models. If you’re keen to take lots of pictures outdoors – such as landscape shooting – being able to rely on it not being destroyed by inclement weather is a big bonus. One slight disappointment is the kit lens which is often bundled with the camera – while it offers a much longer focal length than most others here, it can be a little soft in places.
DSLRs still have mirrorless rivals beat when it comes to battery life, and the 90D gives you a whopping 1300 shots per charge, making it ideal for situations where you can’t stop to charge.
There’s also a host of other appealing features here, such as a super high resolution 32.5 megapixel sensor, uncropped 4K video recording and an optical viewfinder which offers a 100% view of the scene.