Ready to buy your first DSLR or looking to upgrading your existing camera?
We’ve selected the 5 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 DSLR Cameras 2017
Below are our top 5 DSLR cameras for 2017. You can also scroll down, or click the links for our full reviews of each camera.
Best DSLR Cameras 2017
Thinking of buying your first DSLR? Ask yourself this important question:
Do you primarily want a camera with lots of flashy gimmicks and gadgets so that you can show them off to everyone you know? Or are you getting into photography because you want to take good photographs?
If it’s the former, then you can quickly empty your bank account paying for (admittedly often useful, but rarely actually essential) features that will be the envy of all your friends for at least several…umm, minutes. Or, if you really just want to take good photos but haven’t got a huge budget to play with, then you can save your money and go for the camera that offers the best image quality at the lowest price possible.
The choice is entirely yours of course, and it’s true that having built in Wi-Fi can be pretty handy, as can be a touch-sensitive screen – or many of the other extra options that start to be included in camera designs once you move up the price-scale. But just remember that neither of these additions will make even the slightest bit of difference to the quality of the photographs you take with the camera. None. Zero. Whereas investing in, say, a decent lens, or a tripod that doesn’t wobble around each time you use it, very definitely will have a positive effect on your image making.
So, if cost is an issue, then you might be better advised to go for the simplest model and save any extra money for one of these other more essential items instead.
Ask yourself this important question: do you primarily want a camera with lots of flashy gimmicks and gadgets so that you can show them off to everyone you know, or are you’re getting into photography because you want to make good photographs?
With that said, here’s our review of the 5 best entry-level DSLR cameras currently available at different price points.
Nikon D3400 – Best DSLR For Beginners In 2017
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.
Canon EOS 750D – Best Mid Range DSLR In 2017
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.
Pentax K-50 – Best DSLR For Action Photography In 2017
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.
Nikon D5600 – Most Feature Packed Affordable DSLR
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…
Canon EOS 6D – Best Affordable Full Frame Camera In 2017
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.
So Which Is The Best DSLR Camera in 2017?
In closing, lets go back to what was said in the introduction regarding essentials and luxuries: Wi-Fi, touch-screens, built-in flash etc. are all fine, and can be a genuine aid to shooting, but they will not help you become a better photographer.
Furthermore, as a beginner who still hasn’t found their own particular shooting-style, you are not yet in a position to know which of the many extra technical features out there you might genuinely have need for. This will come with time and experience ‘in the field’.
In the meantime, whether you trigger the release by means of Wi-Fi over your smartphone or by dialing up an assistant from a payphone on the other side of the street and asking them to press the shutter, viewers of your photos will be none the wiser. On the other hand, you can be sure that they will notice if the technical quality of your images isn’t up to scratch. By all means choose a camera that offers useful extra features, but make sure it doesn’t do so at the expense of image quality.
Having said this, while the 5 different DSLRs we review here offer varying levels of technical sophistication, and some may have more or less handy features than others, they are all capable of producing high quality images and offer excellent value for money.
However, if we were to choose two from these that are best suited to beginners who want to get to grips with the basics of serious photography whilst keeping an eye on their budget, then the clear favourites would be the Nikon D3400 at one end of the spectrum, and the Canon EOS 6D at the other.
Both are no-nonsense workhorse cameras that dispense with unnecessary gimmicks in favour of knuckling down to do the job they are designed to do in the most straightforward way. Yes, there’s a major step up in cost between the one and the other, but arguably if you’re going to spend more than the price of a D3400, then you might as well go the whole-hog and jump for the full-frame 6D and be done with it.
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.