Ready to buy your first DSLR or looking to upgrading your existing camera?
We’ve selected the very best DSLR cameras available in 2017, making sure that there is something for everyone in our selection.
So whether you’re a complete beginner, or a budding amateur photographer you’ll find the perfect DSLR camera for you in our list.
Best Budget DSLR
The best budget DSLR in 2017 is the Nikon D3400.
What makes the Nikon D3400 the best budget DSLR?
The high sensor resolution and the absence of the OLPF means the camera is capable of producing ultra-sharp images. Plus, it has 11 AF points compared to 9 on the entry level DSLR cameras of rival makes.
The Technical Stuff…
The D3400 is built around a 24.2 megapixel DX sensor with no optical low pass filter. Image processing is handled by Nikon’s EXPEED 4 image processor. Native ISO range of the camera is 100 – 25600 and the burst shooting speed of the camera is 5 fps. At the back of the camera is a 3” 921k-dot LCD monitor. Auto-focusing mechanism is powered by an 11 point AF system. The system is capable of shooting full HD videos at a maximum frame rate of 60 fps. A maximum of 29 mins and 59 seconds can be recorded in a single clip along with mono quality sound. Bluetooth LE ensures connectivity for transfer of images. The weight of the camera is a meagre 395 grams.
- High resolution 24.2 megapixel sensor
- No OLPF
- Full HD video capabilities at 60 fps
- 11 AF point based auto-focusing mechanism
- SnapBridge Bluetooth connectivity
- Compatible with the new AF-P motor powered Nikkor lenses
- Rear LCD screen does not tilt or flip
- No touchscreen functionality on the rear LCD screen
- No built-in wireless feature
- Continuous shooting speed is only 5 fps
- Built-in microphone records mono sound quality only
Best Canon DSLR For Beginners
The best Canon DSLR for beginners in 2017 is the EOS 800D.
What makes the EOS 800D the best Canon DSLR for beginners?
This camera is powered by a 24.2 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor. The big advantage of the EOS 800D is the dual-pixel CMOS auto-focusing technology. This is arguably the best live-view and video auto-focusing technology in the market right now. Live-view auto-focusing technologies are perennially slow because they use contrast detection.
Additionally, a 45 point all cross-type AF system ensures fantastic coverage and trusty breezy AF lock every time you press down the shutter release in most lighting conditions.
Image processing on the EOS 800D is powered by the DIGIC 7 image processor. Continuous burst speed is a decent 6 fps. The native ISO range of the camera is 100 – 51200.
Another plus point of the camera is that the 3” rear LCD screen is a vari-angle one and has a resolution of 1.04 million dots. Additionally, the EOS 800D has a built-in wireless feature as well NFC and Bluetooth functionalities.
- 2 megapixel CMOS sensor
- 45 point all cross-type AF system
- Dual pixel CMOS auto-focusing technology
- DIGIC 7 image processing
- 6 fps continuous shooting speed
- Full HD video recording at a frame rate of 60 fps (MP4) and 30 fps (MOV)
- Unique HDR movie mode
- Built-in microphone jack for an external stereo mic
- Electronic Image Stabilization
- Tilting flipping LCD screen
- Built-in Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth connectivity
- Does not have pro video capabilities like focus peaking or zebra
- Built quality is good but not pro grade
- Does not have a top LCD panel for quick exposure settings check
Best Nikon DSLR For Beginners
The D5500 is the best Nikon DSLR for beginners.
What makes the D5500 the best Nikon DSLR for beginners?
There are a number of reasons!
First, it is powered by a 24.2 megapixel CMOS sensor. And to make matters more interesting the optical low pass filter is omitted from the sensor. This promises ultra-sharp imagery but also increases the chances of moiré and false colors.
Image processing is powered by Nikon’s EXPEED 4 image processor. Native ISO range of the camera is 100 – 25600. The D5500 is capable of shooting at a continuous speed of 5 fps. That isn’t the fastest by any means. But it is definitely not a pushover either.
Full HD video shooting at 60 fps frame rate gives the camera decent video shooting capabilities as well.
At the back of the camera is a 3.2” 1037k-dot vari-angle touchscreen. An interesting feature of the screen is the smartphone like pinch and zoom feature.
Plus, the D5500 now has an eye-sensor feature that will turn-off the display at the back of the camera when you are looking through the viewfinder. Powering the auto-focusing mechanism of the camera is a Multi-CAM 4800DX 39-point AF sensor (9 cross-type). Another RGB sensor (2016-pixel) takes care of the exposure metering functions. Additionally, the camera has built-in wireless feature.
- Absence of OLPF means sharper images and more detail
- 2 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
- Bit depth of 14-bit
- 5 fps continuous shooting speed
- 39 point AF system with 9 cross-type sensors
- 2” vari-angle touchscreen
- Full HD video at 60 fps
- Built-in stereo mic
- Built-in Wi-Fi
- Built-in intervalometer
- A monocoque (single unit) design for better durability and strength
- Lighter than the previous D5300
- Loses out on burst speed to other beginner DSLRs in the segment
- Built-in GPS is now missing (was present in the D5300)
Best DSLR Under £500
The Pentax K-70 in our opinion is the best DSLR under £ 500.
What makes the Pentax K-70 the best DSLR under £500
The Pentax K-70 is a strange choice in some sense, no doubt. But there are many reasons for this choice.
First, the K-70 is no pushover. It is powered by a 24.24 megapixel DX CMOS sensor. There is no dedicated optical low pass filter. The good thing, however is that the effects are selectable. This is a unique proposition for shooters who look for a camera that is equally suitable for ultra-sharp high resolution landscape images as well as for fashion and portraits. Native ISO range of the camera is 100 – 102400 (expandable to 204800).
Image processing is powered by a PRIME MII image processor. The K-70 has a pentaprism viewfinder compared to traditionally pentamirror viewfinders on enthusiast models.
The camera has an 11-point SAFOX X auto-focusing mechanism with 9 cross-type sensors. These 9 points are sensitive down to -3 EV. The 3” rear LCD screen is vari-angle and has a resolution of 921k-dots. Body based image stabilization (sensor-shift) type makes all compatible lenses stabilized.
- 24 megapixel APS-C sensor
- No fixed optical low pass filter
- Bit depth of 14 bit
- Switchable OLPF (anti-aliasing filter simulator)
- 6 fps continuous burst speed
- Weather resistant construction
- Body based image stabilization
- Built-in Wi-Fi
- Pentaprism viewfinder
- Built-in stereo mic
- Option to plug in an external mic
- Full HD videos a 60 fps can be shot only at a scaled down 1080i
- Boxy, non-fluid design
- Rear LCD screen has a resolution of 921-k dots
Best DSLR Under £750
The Canon EOS 77D is the best DSLR under £ 750.
What makes the Canon EOS 77D the best DSLR under £750?
In many ways this is the only camera you would ever need for travel, marriage, family get together and even for some light sports work.
Being a crop sensor camera means you can take advantage of the 1.6x crop factor which makes long lenses acquire an even longer perspective. Perfect for wildlife and birding.
The EOS 77D is built around a 24.2 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor. Image processing is powered by a DIGIC 7 image processor. The camera has a 45-point all cross-type auto-focusing system. Plus, it has Canon’s extremely efficient dual-pixel CMOS auto-focusing system for live-view shooting.
The other features of the camera include a 6 fps continuous shooting speed, a native ISO range of 100 – 25600 (further expandable to 51200) and a host of connectivity options. As a matter of fact it is one of the few upper-entry level DSLRs that comes with the full board of connectivity features including built-in wireless, NFC and Bluetooth.
Much like a pro camera the EOS 77D gets a top LCD panel. It can shoot full HD videos at a frame rate of 60 fps. It has a 3” vari-angle touchscreen with a resolution of 1.04m-dots
- 2 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
- 45-point all cross-type auto-focusing mechanism
- DIGIC 7 image processing engine
- Dual pixel CMOS auto-focusing
- Built-in wireless, Bluetooth and NFC connectivity options
- Top LCD panel
- Rear quick control dial
- Multi-function lock switch
- Auto-display off when looking through the viewfinder
- Built-in stereo mic with option to mount external mic
- Continuous shooting speed is a tag low only 6 fps.
- Build quality not at par with something like a Pentax at this price range
- Viewfinder coverage of only 95% of the scene
Best DSLR For Video
The 5D Mark IV is the best DSLR for video shooting.
What makes the 5D Mark IV the best DSLR for video?
Designed for the avid photographer who also wants to shoot videos, the 5D Mark IV is a great camera for doing serious video work. For some the ability to shoot 4K videos is extremely important. The 5D Mark IV is capable of producing DCI 4K videos at a frame rate of 30 fps.
The sensor of the camera is a 30.4 megapixel full-frame behemoth. The large file size allows you to pull 8.8 megapixel grabs from the videos. A high density reticular AF system with 61-AF points forms the auto-focusing mechanism of the camera. 41 out of these are cross-type. All of the 61 points are sensitive down to f/8. Image processing is powered by a DIGIC 6+ image processor.
The back of the camera is dominated by a 3.2” touchscreen with a resolution of 1.62m-dots. Native ISO range of the 5D Mark IV is 100 – 32000. It can be further extended to 102400.
A unique feature of the camera is the dual-pixel RAW technology. It allows some minor adjustments like bokeh shifting during post-processing. Plus, this is the first full-frame Canon DSLR that comes with dual-pixel CMOS auto-focusing.
- 4 megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor
- DIGIC 6+ image processing engine
- Dual pixel CMOS auto-focusing
- Native ISO range of 100 – 32000
- Dual pixel RAW
- DCI 4K video at 30 fps with 8.8 megapixel grabs
- Larger sensor means shallower depth of field
- 150,000 pixel RGB + IR metering sensor
- 7 fps continuous shooting speed
- Built-in wireless, NFC and GPS
- 4:2:2 sampling at 8-bit color
- Better weather sealing than the previous versions
- Option to plug in an external mic
- No articulated screen as yet.
- Subject tracking in iTR mode is a bit slow at times
- Built-in mic records mono quality sound
Best Small DSLR
The Nikon D3300 is the best small DSLR.
What makes the Nikon D3300 the best small DSLR?
It is built around a 24.2 megapixel APS-C (Nikon’s DX format) CMOS sensor. Image processing is handled by EXPEED 4 image processing. This is part of those select few entry level DSLRs that come with no optical low pass filter. The absence of which is both a good and a bad thing, depending on how you look at it. Auto-focusing is handled by a Multi-CAM 1000 11-point AF mechanism. The central point is cross-type. The D3300 lacks many of the pro features that you would find in mid-range and pro cameras but has everything that you need to get started on your photography career.
- 24,2 megapixel DX (APS-C) format sensor
- No optical low pass filter
- 11 AF sensors compared to 9 on rival cameras in this segment with one cross-type point
- 5 fps continuous shooting speed. Which is far better than rival systems.
- Full HD video shooting at 60 fps (better than rival systems)
- Native ISO range of 100 – 12800. Further expandable to 25600.
- No tilting / flipping LCD screen
- No touchscreen functionality
- No built-in wireless functionality
- Build quality is plasticky but solid.
Best Mid Range DSLR
The Nikon D500 is the best mid-range DSLR.
What makes the Nikon D500 the best mid-range DSLR?
It is powered by a 20.9 megapixel DX format sensor. Image processing is powered by EXPEED 5 image processing. A Multi-CAM 20K auto-focusing mechanism with 153 AF points takes care of focusing. 99 out of these AF points are cross-type. The native ISO range of the D500 is 100 – 51200 with a further extended capacity of 50 – 1640000.
The D500 comes built-in with the full spectrum of connectivity features including wireless, Bluetooth and NFC. A top LCD panel gives quick check of the exposure and basic shooting settings.
The rear of the camera is dominated by a 3.2” tilting touchscreen that gives a whopping 2539k-dots resolution. The burst speed of the D500 is one of the fastest in the business. A whopping 10 fps. It can shoot a maximum of 200 RAW frames at that speed.
Additionally, the camera has UHD video recording capabilities at a maximum of 30 fps. Stereo mic records good quality sound. There is also an option for plugging in an external stereo microphone.
- 2 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor
- DIGIC 7 image processing engine
- 45-point all cross-type AF sensors
- Dual-pixel CMOS auto-focusing
- Built-in wireless, NFC and Bluetooth connectivity
- Top LCD panel
- Continuous shooting speed of 10 fps.
- UHD (3840 x 2160p) video recording at a frame rate of 24, 25, 30 fps.
- Continuous shooting speed is just 6 fps
- Maximum shutter speed is stuck at 1/4000 sec
- Weather sealing could have been better
Best Affordable Full Frame DSLR
The Nikon D610 is the best affordable full-frame DSLR currently available in the market.
What makes the Nikon D610 the best affordable full-frame DSLR?
It is built around a 24.3 full-frame CMOS sensor. EXPEED 3 image processing engine takes care of image processing. Auto-focusing is taken care of by the Multi-CAM 4800 39 point AF system with a central cross-type AF point.
Metering on the camera is handled by Nikon’s 3D Color Matrix Metering II. A 2016-pixel RGB sensor evaluates the scene for metering purposes.
Native ISO range of the D610 is 100 – 25600 and is further extended to 102400. The back of the camera is occupied largely by the 3” 1.04m-dot Clear View LCD screen. Video mode on the D610 is respectable.
It can shoot full HD videos at a maximum frame rate of 30 fps. Manual exposure control is possible when shooting videos. Additionally, an external microphone can be plugged for recording stereo sound quality as well as a headphone jack port for monitoring the audio level when recording videos.
- Cheapest full-frame DSLR
- 3 megapixel sensor
- DIGIC 5+ image processor
- 39 AF points (with 9 cross-type) AF points
- 7 central AF points are sensitive at f/8 or faster
- Full HD videos with manual exposure control
- External stereo mic input and headphone output for monitoring
- You can optionally record the uncompressed footages to an external recorder
- Two SD card slots
- 6 fps shooting speed
- The rear LCD screen does not have tilting or flipping properties
- No touchscreen functionality on the rear LCD screen
- Build quality is ok but still
- No built-in wireless connectivity
Best Professional Full Frame DSLR
The Nikon D5 is the best professional full-frame DSLR. It beats the likes of the Canon 1 DX Mark II, the Nikon D810, the EOS 5DS R and also the EOS 5D Mark IV.
What makes the Nikon D5 the best professional full frame DSLR?
The D5 is a formidable all round camera. It is built around a 20.8 megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor and EXPEED 5 image processor. Auto-focusing is powered by a Multi-CAM 20K 153-point AF system. 180,000 pixel RGB sensor used by the 3D Color Matrix Metering III technology for advanced scene recognition and accurate metering.
The D5 has a group area AF system that uses a bunch of AF points to work as a single AF point for more accurate and faster autofocusing performance. The D5 has arguably the best subject tracking among all full-frame DSLRs currently sold.
At the back of the camera is a large 3.2” touchscreen with a resolution of 2.36m-dots. The D5, just like the D4S before it is a fantastic camera.
It is designed to withstand pretty much everything that Mother Nature can throw at it. It has terrific weather sealing as well. Along with normal JPEG and full resolution RAW, the D5 also support a scaled down 12-bit S-RAW option.
- 8 megapixel CMOS sensor
- EXPEED 5 image processor
- 153 point auto-focusing system with 99 cross-type sensors
- UHD (3840 x 2160p) video shooting at a frame rate of 30 fps
- 2” touchscreen with a 2.36m-dots resolution
- Continuous shooting speed of 12 fps for a maximum of 200 RAW frames
- Native ISO range of 100 – 102400 with an extended ISO of 50 – 3280000
- Built-in stereo mic
- Option to add an external mic and headphone to monitor the sound levels
- Much improved battery life compared to the rival Canon flagship full-frame
- Extremely well built with fantastic weather sealing
- Scaled down 12-bit S-RAW support
- Superior subject tracking
- No built-in flash
- No built-in wireless, Bluetooth or NFC
- Slow mo videos would not be possible with the 30 fps maximum frame rate
Best DSLR Camera By Average Review Score
What is the best DSLR camera available in 2017? It’s tough to come up with an objective answer to that question as we all have our preferences – be that brand, functionality, or price.
So we decided to use the power of many brains instead of one, and collated review scores of all cameras from Nikon, Canon, and Pentax from the world’s leading camera review sites. We then calculated the average score for each camera to find out which DSLR came out on on top.
Here are the results:
By a clear margin, the DSLR camera with the highest average rating in 2017 is the Nikon D810. Indeed it is the only camera to score above 90%.
So if we are to pick a best DSLR camera in terms of overall performance, it has to be the D810.
But we should point out that the D810 is a full frame pro model, with a price tag to match (around £1,700 in the UK).
If your budget is a little lighter then the entry level model with the highest score is the Nikon D7200, which is currently priced at just under £850. And if that’s still too rich, then the D5500 (again a Nikon) is a great camera which just missed out on the top ten and is available for under £600.
And talking of Nikon, their cameras dominated the list, with 7 out of the top 10. Although we should point out that scores were not available for the Canon EOS 77D, the Canon EOS 800D, and the Pentax KP at the time of publication.
The Review Sites
Review scores for each camera were collected from the following sites:
Last Year’s Top 5 Cameras
1. Nikon D3400
Considering the price, then, there’s very little negative that can be said about the D3400.
Let’s start right off by saying that it’s pretty impressive that Nikon are able to offer a camera capable of producing such sharp, detailed images at this price point.
Sure, you don’t get all the latest time and labour-saving features of more expensive models, but if your number one priority is shooting good quality photographs that will stand up to enlarged printing then this camera will get you there more cheaply than anything else currently on the market.
While the 3400’s predecessor, the 3200, also offered an impressive 24.2 megapixel image sensor (APS-C CMOS), what makes this model a real leap forward in terms of image quality is the removal of the anti-alias filter, leading to much sharper photos.
The D3400 offers a fairly stripped-down shooting experience, without too many unnecessary distractions or gimmicks – in many ways exactly what is needed when first getting to grips with the technical basics of photography. As if this didn’t sufficiently establish the camera’s beginner credentials, Nikon have included a useful guide mode that offers example images and step-by-step instructions on how to achieve certain kinds of photographs.
Considering the price, then, there’s very little negative that can be said about the D3400.
Continuous-shooting is at a very respectable 5 fps, ISO ranges from 100 through to 12800, and video recording is full HD 1080p at 60 fps. The only notable omission, when compared to higher priced cameras, is the lack of Wi-Fi for offloading your images. Although even this isn’t such a big deal in the end, as for those that cannot bare the tedium of having to use ye olde card-reader to get their files onto the computer, Nikon sell a fairly cheap Wi-Fi adapter separately anyway.
Oh, but you wanted one of those nice shiny-touch screens? One that swivels out too? Tough. This camera does everything you actually need to shoot high quality images, and it does so at an amazing price. You want integrated back-scratcher and foot-massager? Fine, but you’ll pay a lot more.
2. Canon EOS 750D
The 750D offers many of the ‘luxury extras’ that the Nikon D3400 lacks.
In many ways the 750D is quite similiar to Nikon’s highly recommended D3400 (above): the excellent quality sensor (APS-C CMOS) captures 24.2 megapixel images; burst shooting is an identical 5 fps; and ISO also runs from 100 up to 12800 (although this is expandable to 25600). Likewise, video is full HD 1080p.
However, it should be noted that Nikon’s (cheaper) offering outperforms the 750D as far as frame rate is concerned, with the Canon only managing 30 fps (as opposed to the Nikon’s 60 fps).
If stills photography is your main concern, rather than video, then naturally this last point isn’t likely to sway your decision too much. What might push you further in the direction of the Canon, however, is the fact that the 750D offers many of the ‘luxury extras’ that the Nikon D3400 lacks.
There’s no foot-massager or peanut-dispenser unfortunately, however the Canon is equipped with Wi-Fi and a 3-inch articulating touch-screen, so if you really do feel like you need these convenient features then laying down the extra cash to invest in the 750D will net you them without either breaking the bank or forcing you to accept a compromise in image quality.
In fact, if anything, the Canon’s sensor is perhaps marginally better than the Nikon’s. This is especially the case in lower lighting conditions, where the Canon performs extremely well and shooting at a higher ISO produces relatively little noise.
Finally, as another point in its favour, the 750D offers a 19-point focusing system, so will likely be a touch faster than the Nikon (which has 11 focus-points).
Aside from the price difference and the somewhat average video fps-rate, the only other slight drawback of the EOS 750D, when compared with the Nikon D3300, is just the size of the camera: Nikon’s offering is on the small size for a DSLR, while Canon’s leans more towards the larger end of the scale (but obviously isn’t nearly as big as a full-frame camera).
To sum up, then, if video isn’t your primary concern, and you’ve got a little more money to spend, then by all means make the jump up to the EOS 750D and enjoy the unquestionable convenience this camera offers in the way of extra features.
Note: The Canon EOS 750D is known as The EOS Rebel T6i in the USA.
3. Pentax K-50
All in all, then, Pentax’s K-50 offers an affordable route into shooting all-weather action and adventure photography.
The primary advantage the K-50 offers over the other DSLRs we’ve looked at so far is that this camera is weatherproof (note that this means it’s dust and rain proof and fully functions down to -10 degrees, not that you can drop it in the bath).
Of course, the K-50 is by no means the only such DSLR on the market, but it’s certainly one of the cheapest cameras to offer this level of protection against the elements – although you’ll need to use it with one of Pentax’s similarly weather resistant (WR) lenses if you want to be sure it’s fully doing its thing.
This fact, coupled with a marginally faster burst-shooting rate, make the camera an ideal tool for capturing extreme sports. In this context too, the 100% viewfinder will prove an aid to fast and accurate composition of the action and Pentax’s built-in Shake-Reduction image stabiliser will help keep your images free of movement even when shooting on the run.
Naturally, in offering such a durable piece of equipment at this cheaper price point something had to give, and in many respects the K-50 is inferior to other similarly or even lower priced cameras. Most glaringly, although its sensor (APS-C CMOS) is of high quality, the Pentax manages only a paltry 16.3 megapixels.
Additionally, there’s no Wi-Fi and the screen is neither touch-sensitive nor articulating. Equally, the limited range of compatible lenses might put some people off too (but really, how much choice does anyone actually need?).
For the rest, everything is pretty standard though, and certainly wont hold you back in any way: ISO is 100 to 51,200; video is full HD 1080 and will capture at a rate of up to 60 fps. Slightly less standard, though, is that the K-50 comes in an enormous choice of different colour schemes – should you be in the market for a fuchsia and lime-green camera.
All in all, then, Pentax’s K-50 offers an affordable route into shooting all-weather action and adventure photography. if this is your thing, and you can live with the trade-off in other areas (principally image quality), then there’s little else out there that’ll get you up and running (or skiing, or dirt-biking, or…) at so reasonable a price.
4. Nikon D5600
The only notable criticism we can make is that, given the increased financial outlay for this camera when compared with the D3300, Nikon really should have made more of an effort to get the live-view focusing working a bit faster.
Lighter and more compact than some of the other DSLRs we’ve looked at here, Nikon’s D5600 makes a great alternative to the D3400 for anyone wanting to get the same great Nikon image quality without compromising on either portability or features.
Like the D3400, the D5600 has a fantastic 24.2 megapixel, non-anti-aliased sensor (APS-C CMOS); burst shoots up to 5 fps; has a maximum video resolution of 1080p and will capture video at a rate of up to 60 fps.
However, unlike the D3400, built-in Wi-Fi is included and the camera not only features an articulating touch-sensitive screen, but one that is slightly bigger than the usual 3-inch screen found on most entry-level cameras. ISO goes up to 25,600 and the D5600 produces relatively noise-free images up to around 6400 ISO.
For sure, this is not the same kind of bargain-priced, foot-in-the-door to top-standard imagery that the D3400 offers, however for the extra premium you pay for the D5600 you still get all the same high-quality essential features as on the 3400, plus many additional ones that no doubt make shooting just that little bit easier.
The only notable criticism we can make is that, given the increased financial outlay for this camera when compared with the D3400, Nikon really should have made more of an effort to get the live-view focusing working a bit faster. Nonetheless, overall it’s a great all-round camera that is capable of delivering high-quality images and is unlikely to leave you wishing for too many extra features.
In short, the only real step up beyond the D5600 would be to a full-frame model – which, it just so happens, is precisely what we’ll look at next…
5. Canon EOS 6D
If you do decide to go the full-frame route then what’s certain is that it currently doesn’t come much cheaper than this.
The 6D offers the same high-quality, full-frame sensor (36 x 24mm CMOS) as Canon’s famous 5D MKIII – but for a lot less money.
Sure, 20.2 megapixels doesn’t sound particularly impressive in this day and age – especially when you consider that even the cheapest camera we’ve looked at here outdoes this figure – but it’s important to mention that, while megapixel-count is clearly still an important factor, it is no longer the sole determinant of image-quality. This is not the place to go into a full discussion of precisely what does dictate image quality, but needless to say that a camera that comes equipped with a full-frame sensor has a pretty considerable head-start over others that aren’t quite so well endowed.
Some of you might be asking whether a full-frame DSLR counts as a ‘beginner’s camera’. It’s a reasonable question. A reasonable answer might be to make a comparison with cooking: just because an assistant-chef is only starting out in their profession doesn’t mean that they should use poor-quality ingredients (someone still has to eat the results of their handiwork). Likewise, just because you still have a lot to learn doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re never going to want to make large-scale prints of any of the images you produce in your first few years.
Whether you’re serious enough about photography to justify spending the kind of money that the 6D retails for is a question you’ll have to answer for yourself, but if your interest in shooting goes beyond just documenting personal and family moments to upload to social-media then you may want to consider making the leap to a full-frame camera sooner rather than later.
Although all the other cameras we look at here are no doubt capable of producing great prints, none will have quite the level of quality and depth as photos shot on the 6D. Again, for anyone just uploading their shots to flickr, full-frame is clearly overkill. But if, on the other hand, you think that you might one day want to do something else with your images, then shooting them full-frame now will keep that door open for you until such a day might arrive. If you do decide to go the full-frame route then what’s certain is that it currently doesn’t come much cheaper than this.
OK, so full-frame is good. We got that. What’s the bad news?
Well, if you were hoping you could talk yourself out of the 6D on the grounds that it’s missing numerous essential features, I’m afraid I’m going to have to disappoint you somewhat. Of course, even at this relatively high price you can’t expect to be given absolutely everything. Firstly there’s no built-in flash (although this is often a sign that a camera is pitched towards more serious photographers). Perhaps less forgivable in the eyes of some users, however, is the fact that the rear screen is fixed. Also, while not the end of the world, the viewfinder covers only about 97% of the image area. Furthermore, there’s only space for one SD card – again, not a major crime, but a little moan about this doesn’t feel totally unjustified considering the price tag. The 11-point autofocus system is certainly no better than some of the much cheaper options we’ve looked at here, and at 4.5 fps the burst rate is actually the worst of all five. But that’s pretty much it.
Meanwhile, the 6D’s video capability is equal to all the other cameras we’ve reviewed above (1080p), if not better (60 fps), so there’s nothing to worry about on this front, and ISO runs from 100 to 25,600, so no problems there either. Likewise, Wi-Fi is present, as is GPS, so anyone craving a little pampering and luxury is equally catered for.
We should note that the 6D has been around for a few years now and rumours about the imminent release of a MKII version have reached feverish levels in the last few months. Hence if you do decide that the 6D is for you then it might be worth biding your time slightly – either to pick up the next generation with all its inevitable improvements as it hits stores, or alternatively to grab the original version at a discounted price.
A Buyer's Guide
What is a DSLR Camera?
The first bit is easy. The D in DSLR stands for ‘Digital’.
SLR is an acronym for ‘Single-Lens Reflex’. In single-lens reflex cameras, both digital and traditional, the light that passes into the lens is reflected via a mirror and prism to the viewfinder.
Which means that the image you see through the viewfinder is (almost) exactly what the camera is capturing through the lens.
DSLR cameras have huge, powerful sensors that give you amazing clarity and control over your choice of shot.
You can also easily change lenses to shoot better, higher quality images.
What to Expect From Your DSLR Camera or Camera Kit
Most of the time when you purchase a camera, it comes with the DSLR camera and a lens (between 18-55mm) for a good medium-range shot.
An 18-55mm lens will have around a 3x optical zoom.
Even further, even if your camera isn’t the most expensive, DSLR cameras can switch lenses, meaning you can still get pretty much any shot you want (such as a panoramic image, a fish-eye shot, an extreme close-up, or long zoom shot).
Sometimes, you can purchase the camera without a lens (note: usually called “body-only”). These kinds of purchases are only recommended if you already own a collection of lenses
You should also make sure that your existing lenses fit your new camera before making any purchases. For example, a Canon lens won’t fit on a Nikon without purchasing a separate adapter.
APS-C v Full Frame Sensor
When you’re going to purchase your camera, there will be an option to select either APS-C image sensors (typically called crop sensors) or full-frame sensors.
Image sensors are basically used to catch light in your picture, digitally recording that light as an image to your camera when you press the shutter button.
Because this sensor is dramatically larger than the sensor in mobile phones (even in point and shoot phones), DSLR cameras can shoot amazingly high quality shots in practically all light situations (especially with high ISO).
The biggest difference between APS-C sensors and Full Frame sensors are size, and usually bigger is better.
Full frame sensors are about 46% bigger, meaning they capture bigger, sharper images – especially when light is an issue.
However, if you’re constantly zooming in, you might actually want an APS-C, because the sensor fits the frame of a subject more completely than full-frame sensors would.
Sometimes, ultra-high quality full frame sensors are overkill for new photographers, and can deliver flawed results.
In these situations, novices could save some money and still get exceptional quality with APS-C sensors.
How Many Megapixels Does Your Camera Need?
Each tiny square of a photo (usually you don’t notice them until one is broken) is considered a pixel.
Each megapixel is made up of a thousand pixels. These tiny pixels take a specific color to form the resolution of your photograph.
Obviously, you’d want more, right?
Believe it or not, you don’t always want higher amounts of megapixels.
You actually want better megapixels.
When you put a ton of pixels into every picture, you’re often trading off the quality of pixels as smaller pixels don’t behave as well as big pixels.
Bigger pixels of DSLR cameras absorb light more efficiently, transfer color, and aren’t distorted by noise and color.
What this means is that a 12 megapixel DSLR camera will almost always outperform a 24 megapixel point-and-shoot camera, no matter the brand of point-and-shoot camera.
And that 24 megapixel point-and-shoot would beat a 40 megapixel phone in a side by side comparison.
How Do DSLR Cameras Process Images?
DSLR cameras process images far better than other cameras.
This gives you a lot of options when it comes to the types of photos you might want to shoot. Consider this processing speed the “brain” of your camera.
Compared to a camera phone, a DSLR is like Einstein.
Manufacturers usually don’t share the specific specs of their cameras because of the competition that exists between them. They’re also designed with specific functions in mind, to give each artist their own approach to photography.
That being said, relevant image processing speeds are far superior to other cameras despite being controlled by internal settings.
The best way to evaluate a camera is by its ability to shoot the photos that you’re regularly going to be shooting.
Look at how many frames per second the camera can handle, and whether or not it has immediate auto-focusing abilities, even when used in burst or macro-mode.
Camera processors are always improving, operating significantly faster than older models (and their point and shoot counterparts).
DSLR cameras can even use several processors at once (like phones and laptops) to give them even more enhanced speed and capture abilities.
How Does Exposure Affect Your DSLR Camera?
The most basic parts of the picture are the aperture range, the shutter speed of your camera, and how sensitive it is to ISO.
The best DSLR cameras give you complete control over these settings + a lot more individual features like brightness and contrast.
But if this sounds a little confusing, don’t worry! Most modern cameras come with automatic settings if you aren’t sure what you’re looking for or aren’t prone to guessing.
Here are some facts to consider when it comes to aperture, shutter speed, and ISO sensitivity:
No matter what type of camera you buy, your camera lens has an aperture range.
When the number on your F-stop is higher, your aperture is actually lower, meaning less light gets through.
When your F-stop is lower, the aperture of your pictures is higher, and they’ll look more diffused and stylized, with more unique color and blending.
A good example of this is comparing an F-stop of 22 with an F-stop of 3.2.
The higher aperture puts the majority of your image in focus while the lower one puts a much smaller portion as the focal point.
Because DSLR cameras move so fast, they can capture better images at low apertures. This is why they’re so good at night.
Shutter speed controls the light that goes through your camera.
When your shutter is open longer, you’ll get more light.
Lower shutter speeds blur pictures, but it’s easy to use a DSLR camera to carefully adjust the speed to the perfect level to freeze action when people are moving, but also give more color brilliance, beauty, or blending on a still shot with the perfect light.
Often, finding the best camera means finding an easily adjustable shutter speed with a wide variety of options.
ISO measures your camera’s sensitivity to light coming in through the lens (NOT exterior light).
The easiest way to understand this setting is to remember that to catch stars, you’ll need a camera with extremely high ISO.
Brighter scenes require lower ISO settings, which is why most point-and-shoot cameras have low ISO sensitivity.
DSLR cameras can shoot well in both scenarios, mastering shots in a wide range of lighting conditions. So much so that you often don’t need flash.
The best rule of thumb when it comes to ISO is to use as little as you can get away with.
On the other hand, higher ISO gives you sharper pictures, less noise, and far less distraction (with flash or lights) than you’ll ever get on a camera with a small sensor.
If you’re a novice, these settings are often best left alone.
What Features Does Your DSLR Camera Offer?
This next section will highlight some of the many reasons that DSLR cameras are so popular.
You won’t find these features on point-and-shoot or mobile phone cameras, and if you do, they’ll work far better on a DSLR camera because they have such superior components and design.
Many of these features are so essential for developed photographers that they’d never go back to traditional point-and-shoot cameras.
This speed and performance is one of the number one reasons that DSLR cameras have become so popular.
That’s why it’s more important than ever to know what the best DSLR cameras can do, and how to choose a DSLR camera that has the perfect features for you.
Burst Mode Pictures and Frames Per Second
Burst mode means that you can shoot an expansive amount of photos at once – usually as many as ten or more. This total is measured as “frames per second.”
After you’ve taken a succession of shots (we’ve taken as many as a thousand pictures) it’s then time to review your pictures and take a few of your favorites.
To get this speed, your camera has to be able to process images fast. That’s why the best DSLR cameras have lots of processing power and are best at shooting demanding, high-speed pictures.
To make the most of this combination, you have to give your camera a high quality memory card that can handle the task of saving at a moments notice.
Some good rules of thumb for picking camera speeds:
- General photography: 3 frames per second
- Kids and pets photography: 5 frames per second
- Action, sports, and wildlife photography: 10 frames or higher
Auto focus and facial recognition
While most cameras have decent focus functions, some cameras let you pick moving targets, tracking a single image (and keeping it in focus above the rest), as well as scene recognition and facial recognition to make sure you always have the right exposure.
Other digital SLR cameras auto focus and adjust automatically in the time it takes to hit the shoot button.
HDR (High Definition Resolution) Photography
If you thought that all your camera could do is take basic pictures, think again.
Some DSLR cameras take pictures at different exposure levels automatically and pick the best overall image to keep (showing you which ones to toss), or even combine elements of all of the photos together.
Can DSLR Cameras Record Video?
One of the best parts of a DSLR camera is that it can shoot video as well as it can shoot pictures.
Cameras with high ISO saturation are the best for video, because they deliver high quality details and brilliant colors, with amazing focusing technology that keeps subjects in focus the entire time.
This allows DSLR cameras to capture brilliant, but sizable video files.
The video below was captured on a Canon EOS 1200D.
You might not know you need WiFi connectivity yet, but it’s a welcome addition for anyone on the go.
Some DSLR cameras can create a WiFi hotspot and project that network for phones around you to download pictures, giving instant wireless sharing access.
Other phones even have GPS technology that lets you tag the photos if you wanted to.
Making Your Final Digital SLR Camera Decision
When it comes down to it, there are three aspects that really decide what you should purchase:
DSLR Camera Price
DSLR cameras come in many different price ranges – from a moderate price, to a premium price for a professional model of camera.
Size of the Camera
You absolutely have to find a camera that you enjoy carrying, or you’ll never use it. Many brands offer flexible neck straps that make it much easier to carry a big, bulky camera.
Finding the Best DSLR Camera Features for Your Needs
Make sure that your camera fits your needs!
Think about why you’re buying it, what you’re going to be taking pictures of, and how high of quality you’d like those pictures to be.
When you’ve got these answers in mind, read back through the guide and make your decision.
Accessories for Your New DSLR Camera
There are an endless variety of options when it comes to accessorizing your camera, and each option could very well have it’s own buying guide:
- Memory Cards in a Huge Range of Capacities
- Camera Bags
- Lenses and Filters
- Do you Need Flash (External Flash for Special Events)?
- Wrist Straps and Neck Straps
- Lens Cleaning Kits and Protective Screen Covers
What is the Best DSLR Camera For Beginners?
They are both very similar cameras feature wise, with fantastic automatic shooting settings, so really it comes down to personal choice.
Some say the Nikon has slightly better image quality, although I would personally recommend the Canon (it was in fact my first DSLR camera).
In Conclusion: Which DSLR Camera is Right For You?
In the end it comes down to your specific needs; because there are far too many features, options and new models to ever pick a single “best” digital SLR camera for your needs.
Just remember that it’s important to pick a model that works well with your style of photography, offering you plenty of options for general purpose pictures.
If you’re shooting wildlife or sunsets (even architectural photos) opt for more megapixels to give you options to manipulate the pictures.
If you like shooting at dusk, dawn, or nighttime, get a camera with a high ISO saturation to make sure you get the clarity you need in low light.
If you like to frame your shots, you might even be interested in an articulating screen, so you can see what you’re shooting at an awkward angle (like over your head or at your waist).
You should also consider camera packages and what you get for your purchase – because accessories can get expensive quick.
Perhaps what’s most important is having fun! That’s what makes the entire purchase worthwhile.
Now head over to our DSLR camera review section, where we compare the best DSLR cameras on the market, and match them up with the best deals online in the UK.