Modern DSLR cameras make it easy to take dazzling photos and videos! But with so many available products, it can be tricky to choose the right one. This expert buying guide is designed to help you quickly find a great affordable DSLR camera. We've tested over 25 different digital cameras and selected the best ones for you. All winning cameras are great choices!DSLR Camera BasicsBest DSLR Cameras
DSLR cameras are the best way to take your photos to the next level! Whether you're a beginner, hobby photographer, or pro, there are four reasons why a digital SLR camera will help you take much better pictures and videos: Manual controls, faster performance, better camera sensor, and interchangeable lenses.
So what should you look for when when buying your DSLR camera? Here's what you need to know:
Megapixels (MP) show the camera's image resolution. One megapixel is equal to one million pixels. As a rule of thumb: More megapixels are better and are needed if you plan to print large images or do a lot of cropping. Rest assured, all cameras in this review have plenty of MP.
ISO is one of the key factors for for taking great photos. It's your camera's level of sensitivity to light. The higher the ISO level, the more light is captured - and vice versa. Chose a camera with a large ISO range because this will give you more flexibility in different light conditions.
Your camera's sensor determines how much light it uses to create an image. In short, a bigger sensor offers better image quality. The three main sensor types are: Full Frame, APS-C, and 4/3. Full frame is expensive so we recommend the popular APS-C size, which works great.
One of the most fun things you can do with your new DSLR camera is to record high-end videos! The quality of those is measured by resolution (e.g. 1080p HD) and the frames per second (fps). The higher the resolution and the FPS the better. 30 FPS is great and 60 FPS even smoother.
All DSLR cameras feature an LCD screen on the back which you use to frame your shots and look at the pictures and videos you've taken. Most high-quality DSLR cameras have a display that's either two or three inches big. Both sizes are great, but we generally recommend three inches.
All right, this is a pretty straight forward spec, but an important one. Your camera's battery life is measured by how many photos it can take on a full charge before it's completely depleted. Tip: We always recommend buying extra batteries for peace of mind, especially when travelling.
Some new DSLR cameras offer built-in Wi-Fi connectivity. This is an optional but convenient feature which allows you to share photos quickly with your computer, smartphone, photo printers, and on social media. Tip: For cameras that don't have built-in Wi-Fi, simply get a Wi-Fi memory card!
Last but not least, lets quickly talk about the weight of your camera. If you plan to use your DSLR a lot, then a lighter camera is a smart choice. All top DSLR cameras recommended here are already on the lighter side, but we still have included their weight for your convenience.
All DSLR cameras featured in this list got high marks in our tests and are very affordable. They offer great photo and video quality, many pro features, and have very good online customer reviews. In short, all of them are great choices!
The Nikon D3300 is one of the very best budget DSLR cameras you can buy. It has impressive specs, including a whopping 24 megapixels sensor, excellent battery life, plus very high photo and video quality. It's our overall winner.
The camera uses a 24.2 MP CMOS sensor, which takes incredibly sharp, detailed, and vibrant pictures - even in low light settings. The sensor is definitely one of the best in its class, delivering pro-quality photos and videos. Speaking of, unlike many other DSLRs on the market, the D3300 offers 1080p 60fps HD video recording. This means that your videos will look sharp and very smooth.
We really liked the long battery life of the D3300, which can take more than 700 photos per charge. It's always a good idea to get an extra battery, but this camera offers a lot of performance before you need to plug it in. The D3300 is also very compact and reliable, making it a great choice if you're using it on-the-go and when travelling.
Out of all entry-level DSLRs we've reviewed, the Nikon D3300 is overall best choice. It takes excellent photos and videos and includes all features you need. It's the perfect camera for DSLR beginners and for photographers who are looking for a camera that can do everything automatically and can also be switched to fully manual controls. You won't find much better picture quality in this price class.
Buying tip: You can find a great deal on the Nikon D3300 here. If you want to be savvy, consider buying a refurbished D3300. It offers the same quality, a good warranty, and you'll save a lot of money.
The Canon EOS Rebel T5 is an amazing DSLR camera that's available at a great price. It features a very good 18 megapixel CMOS (APS-C) image sensor and Canon's proven DIGIC 4 image processor for fast performance.
The Rebel T5 takes wonderful photos and high-quality videos. Canon's experience as one of the market leaders for digital cameras is really showing here. We liked the accurate Auto mode, which is great for beginners. The camera's ability to shoot up to 3 frames per second is amazing, too. This features is especially useful when you're planning on capturing photos of fast moving objects (e.g. sports).
The Rebel T5's autofocus system is very good. It uses a nine-point AF system which delivers accurate and quick focus when you need it. And like most Canon DSLRs, the Rebel T5 is compatible with the full line of Canon EF and EF-S lenses, which means it's easy to upgrade later if needed.
Another plus of the EOS Rebel T5 is that it's currently available in a great bundle which includes two lenses and a carrying case. You get a 18-55mm IS II zoom lens and a EF 75-300mm telephoto zoom lens. Both are great choices for a starter kit, since they'll cover all your needs for up-close and far-away photography for a while. In summary, the EOS Rebel T5 is an excellent DSLR. There's a lot to like about this camera and you can use it for years to come.
Buying tip: If you're looking for the next step up, consider getting the Rebel T5i (notice the "i"). You get a higher-res touchscreen, even faster shooting performance, and an extended ISO range.
The Nikon D3200 is a great DSLR camera that's similar to the D3300 reviewed above. It offers 24 megapixels, excellent video quality, good battery life, and is also very lightweight and compact. The camera also uses the same EXPEED 3 processor as Nikons professional D4. In short, it's a great choice as an entry-level DSLR camera.
You'll notice that the D3200 looks similar to the D3300, so what are the differences? Well, the D3300 has no anti-aliasing filter which means slightly sharper images. It also offers a larger ISO range and it comes with a retractable lens that saves space. The D3300 also features a better processor, better battery life, and faster shooting.
So should you get the D3200? It's definitely a very good entry-level DSLR camera, there's no question about that. If you're an absolute beginner or on a budget, the D3200 offers a lot of value and great features. But if you are looking for some room to grow, we would recommend getting the Nikon 3300 (our top choice).
Buying tip: You get can the D3200 as a bundle with all accessories you need to get started. It's a great choice and you get three lenses, a memory card, tripod, flash, extra battery, case, and more. It's really a great deal, you can check it out here.
While the Pentax K-50 offers fewer megapixels than Nikon's and Canon's entry-level DSLRs, it still provides excellent image quality. More megapixels are not always ideal as they can introduce noise. The K-50 shows that you can take absolutely stunning photos with 16 MP.
The K-50 features ISO speeds of up to 51200 and an in-body image stabilization technology that makes taking sharp photos easy. In addition to taking shake-free photos, the camera is also auto-leveled for higher quality images.
We loved that the Pentax K-50 is weather sealed, dust-sealed, and cold-proof. This means that you can safely use the camera in hot, dusty, wet, and cold environments - providing a lot of peace of mind. These features are surprising and very welcome, especially if you take outdoor photos. All camera manufacturers should adopt these technologies, but for now Pentax takes the lead.
Another fun feature of the K-50 is that the camera comes in three colors - black, red, and white. It shows that Pentax is thinking outside the box and wants to give customers more choices. We like it! In summary, the Pentax K-50 is an excellent DSLR camera. It takes great pictures, is weather-sealed, and also very affordable. There's a lot to like about this digital camera. We recommend it!
The Nikon D5300 is an advanced DSLR camera that's positioned right between the excellent D3300 and the pro-level D7200. It's a great mid-level DSLR camera.
Similar to the D3300 you get a 24 megapixel sensor, 1080p 60fps video, and an excellent battery life. The D5300 then adds more features: It offers built-in Wi-Fi and GPS to send photos to your smartphone and tablet and automatically geo-tag locations. It also offers a swiveling, variable-angle LCD display which is helpful for taking photos in difficult positions. The camera's Expeed 4 processor is lightening fast. Like most mid-level Nikon cameras, the D5300 drops the anti-aliasing filter for crisper images. Lastly, the D5300 offers an advanced, 39-point auto-focus system.
Usually, the D5300 can be pricey, so why did we included it here? Well, after a lot of research we actually found a great option for the D5300. This version is actually the international model of the camera. No worries though, because it's essentially identical. The main difference is that this version doesn't have a warranty. But frankly, we never had issues with Nikon cameras. Ultimately, it's of course up to you if you want to save money or get the (full warranty) U.S. version of the D5300.
Either way, the Nikon D5300 is a spectacular camera. It takes excellent photos and videos, even in low-light conditions, and offers all the features you can possibly want from a top DSLR. It's a pro-level DSLR all-around.
In short, the D5300 is a great choice at a great price. It offers advanced features such as Wi-Fi, GPS, and 39-point auto-focus. Most importantly, it takes fantastic pictures.
See that little orange badge on the top right? The reason it's there is that the Pentax K-30 is the very best DSLR camera for people on a budget. The best part is that it still takes amazing pictures, so you don't need to sacrifice quality for price. Let's find out more!
The Pentax K-30 performed very well in all of our tests. It offers a very good 16 megapixels resolution, extremely quick, 6 frames-per-second continuous shooting (for fast objects), and a good ISO range. We also liked the camera's excellent auto-focus. You get an 11 point AF system with Pentax's new SAFOX IXi+ autofocus engine. It works great and results in consistently sharp, in-focus photos.
Like other Pentax cameras, the K-30 also has a feature that few other cameras can match: It's fully sealed for worry-free use in any weather condition. The camera is very rugged and provides automatic protection against moisture, dust, and cold temperatures. As a matter of fact, you can even use it at sub-freezing temperatures without a cover!
Other features that make the K-30 stand out include a very fast top shutter speed of 1/6000th second, a great optical viewfinder with nearly 100% frame coverage, and a bright three-inch display with a high resolution of 920k dots.
The Pentax K-30 is a great camera. It's very simple to use but at the same time has full manual controls to take your photography to the next level. Features like being fully weatherproof make this DSLR camera stand out from the competition. With all that in mind, the main reason to buy the K-30 is that it offers a professional DSLR experience and excellent photos at a very affordable price!
The Canon EOS Rebel SL1 is an all-around excellent DSLR camera and it's available at a great price. There are several features that make this camera stand out: First of all, it's the world's smallest and lightest digital SLR camera, weighing only 0.9 pounds! The EOS Rebel SL1 also features a very useful 3-inch touchscreen that lets you access menus and settings quickly. Lastly, the Rebel SL1 takes great videos. It uses what Canon calls "Movie Servo AF" which is a continuous and very quiet movie auto focus system which keeps videos smooth and sharp.
We also liked the great image quality that the 18 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor provides. Images looked consistently sharp, vibrant, and lifelike. Another useful feature is the camera's 3-inch touch panel LCD screen. It makes it much easier to get through menus and quickly find what you need. The display performs well in bright light and is very high-res (1,040,000 dots). The EOS Rebel SL1 also offers Canon's excellent quality, warranty, and customer service.
As mentioned, this camera is very light and compact. That's a great feature which makes it the perfect choice for people that want to carry it with them daily, plan on travelling, or are looking for the perfect outdoor DSLR. The Rebel SL1's grip is one of the best in its class, offering safe and stable handling of the camera. Overall, the Rebel SL1 feels very high quality and "just right." If you're looking for the flexibility and benefits of a APS-C sensor digital SLR in a smaller body, this camera is the way to go!
Buying tip: You can get a great bundle that includes extra lenses, flash, tripod, carrying case, memory cards, and more here. It's a really great option if you don't want to buy just the basic camera by itself! Take a look.
While Pentax may be a lesser known brand than Canon and Nikon, the company makes very high quality DSLR cameras. Luckily, the Pentax K-S1 SLR is no exception. Pentax just updated the K-S1 with a more compact design, a new, more intuitive user interface, and most importantly with a new 20 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor.
So what about image quality? Well, the K-S1 takes great pictures or it wouldn't make this list! It offers a very high top sensitivity of ISO 51200, which performs well in low-light conditions. Like the other Pentax cameras mentioned here it also offers a useful in-body shake reduction technology which helps you take better pictures. The camera's optical view finder offers a full 100% field of view so you can see exactly how your shots will be framed. All these features add up to very good photo and video experience.
When you look at the Pentax K-S1 you'll notice the LED indicator lights on the grip. The camera uses these as a countdown indicator for self-timed photos, to show how many faces where auto-detected, and to simplify controls. Some people may love this feature, others may like one of the other cameras mentioned here with a more traditional look. Speaking of look, the K-S1 also features light-up controls on the camera body. This is a very useful feature, especially for night-time photography. It makes finding your way around the camera much more intuitive in low light.
Overall, the Pentax K-S1 is a very good budget DSLR. It's a quite capable camera that takes stunning photos, is low weight, and features very innovative lighting. You get a lot of features for a great price. Note: If you're looking for a fully weather-proof Pentax camera, go with the Pentax K-50 or Pentax K-30.