If you’re looking for the finest DSLRs for beginners, you’ve come to the right spot. Although there has been a significant change in recent years toward mirrorless technology, the conventional DSLR is still a great choice for individuals new to photography, particularly if your budget is tight.
Over the last ten years, we have tested every new DSLR extensively, allowing us to condense our results into this guide. We have a separate article for the best beginning cameras if you’d want to read a more broad overview.
The models mentioned here have been available since a brand-new DSLR hasn’t just entered the market. That’s not always negative since it means you’ll probably find fantastic discounts and can be sure both reviewers and customers have thoroughly examined them.
However, suppose you’re looking for the newest autofocus technology, a smaller body, and burst shooting that can run faster than 10 frames per second. In that case, you’d be wise to check out our guide to the finest mirrorless cameras. Otherwise, these affordable vintage cameras are worth looking at if you value extended battery life, optical viewfinders, superb handling, and a wide variety of compatible lenses.
What precisely is the finest entry-level DSLR available right now, considering all of this? Even though it was just announced that they would no longer be produced, we still believe it to be the Nikon D3500. Stock is still available, and because of its helpful “Guide Mode,” which guides you through crucial settings, it’s a terrific choice for folks who are new to photography. Additionally, it has superb picture quality, a wide variety of compatible lenses, and fantastic handling.
The comparable-priced Canon EOS Rebel SL3/250D/200D Mark II, although, as far as we know, is still in production, is an alternative. One of the newest models available, the Canon EOS Rebel T8i / Canon EOS 850D, was introduced in 2020, so if you have a little more money to spend, you could want to choose it.
It’s a good idea to keep in mind that Nikon isn’t the only company reducing DSLR output. The discontinuation of Sony’s DSLRs has been confirmed (no surprise to anyone, considering just how mirrorless-focused the company is). Canon has also stopped producing its well-liked 7D range. That is not to suggest that the DSLR is entirely extinct; both Nikon and Canon assist the models that are still available, including ones that are appropriate for novices.
Older models like the Canon EOS 80D and the discontinued but still accessible Nikon D5600 provide fantastic value. Even if it’s true that they don’t always provide the greatest and most advanced technology, these cameras nonetheless provide the newbie with a ton of capability without breaking the bank.
The top entry-level DSLRs for 2022:
1. Nikon D3500
Even though Nikon hasn’t recently launched any new entry-level DSLRs, the D3500 is still a fantastic choice for individuals just starting in photography. It continues where the D3400 left off, but with a few more benefits. This camera’s main benefit over power-hungry mirrorless devices is battery life. According to our research, it outperformed most DSLRs by lasting more than 1,500 photographs between charges. The 24MP sensor produced great picture quality in our testing as well.
In addition, Nikon updated the D3500’s body and control arrangement compared to earlier models, making it more pleasant to hold and simpler to use. The helpful Guide Mode holds the novice user’s hand and explains all the essential functions straightforwardly. If you’re just starting started, we believe you’ll share our passion for the D3500.
2. Canon EOS Rebel T8i / Canon EOS 850D
The popular Rebel T7i / EOS 800D, which is currently hard to obtain, is replaced by the Canon EOS Rebel T8i (also known as the EOS 850D outside of the US). The only noteworthy improvement in this new edition is a 4K video option, which we found constrained by frame-rate limitations. Even so, one of our favorite entry-level DSLRs for all-around use is the Rebel T8i / EOS 850D.
In our testing, the Dual Pixel phase-detection AF system proved quick, dependable, and excellent for video. The configuration of the buttons is likewise well thought out, and the vari-angle LCD screen operates flawlessly. As long as you disregard the hype around 4K video, which necessitates a crop and does away with phase-detection autofocus, it’s still a fantastic choice for anybody starting in photography and who values DSLR benefits like the handling and battery life above the most recent mirrorless technology.
3. Canon EOS Rebel SL3 / 250D / 200D Mark II
The EOS Rebel SL3 isn’t Canon’s most affordable DSLR, but we believe it delivers the finest balance of features, performance, and price. It is also known as the 250D and 200D Mark II outside the US. Beginning with the fact that it is the lightest DSLR with a movable screen, it is less intimidatingly massive than some of its competitors. It upgrades the Rebel SL2 (EOS 200Dprocessing )’s engine and adds a 4K video recording.
We were delighted by its quick start-up time, fast touchscreen, and superior Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology, which also functions while shooting 1080p video (though not sadly in 4K). Those who like photographing sports or action should search elsewhere since its 5fps burst shooting cannot match the most recent mirrorless cameras. But if you have the extra cash, we think the EOS Rebel SL3 / EOS 250D is a better choice than Canon’s ultra-cheap DSLRs like the EOS Rebel T100 (also known as the EOS 4000D / EOS 3000D).
4. Nikon D5600
Here is another entry-level DSLR that is surviving the emergence of mirrorless cameras. The D5600 is an improvement over Nikon’s D3000-series devices, offering more powerful specifications to compete with cameras like the Canon EOS Rebel T8i and EOS 850D. (see above). Wi-Fi and a sizable number of extra controls on the interior, together with a huge touchscreen with an articulating design that rotates around to the front, are key benefits of the D3500.
In our testing, the 24.2MP camera also delivered impressively detailed photos. You’ll probably need to upgrade to a full-frame camera to achieve better results despite the D5600’s age. The D5600 is a well-rounded entry-level DSLR thanks to some slick handling and a respectable, though somewhat old, 39-point AF system. Although the price is somewhat higher, it makes sense to choose the D5600 if you need a little more room for expansion since it will serve as a trustworthy ally for many years.
5. Canon EOS Rebel T7 / EOS 2000D / EOS 1500D
This is one of Canon’s more affordable DSLRs, making it a relatively affordable way to access an almost limitless selection of lenses, flashguns, and other accessories. Although it misses some of the fancy gimmicks of its larger brethren, such as a flip-out LCD and 4K video, it still offers a very high degree of tactile control.
We thought the 24MP sensor’s output had excellent picture quality. With a Feature Guide to help you grasp basic settings and an amazing battery life that outperforms many mirrorless devices in this price range, the camera is built with its target market in mind. The specifications are completed with Wi-Fi, NFC, and Full HD video recording, making it a well-rounded first-time alternative for people on a budget.
6. Canon EOS 90D
If so, the Canon EOS 90D is going out with a bang. It may be the final enthusiast-level DSLR the business ever produces. The adaptable 90D is equipped with a high-resolution sensor that, combined with Canon’s Digic 8 image processor, provides the allure of uncropped 4K video at 30 frames per second.
In our testing, color reproduction was excellent, and both still images and video had a ton of detail. Even while the noise did appear in photographs over ISO 8000, a new 216-zone metering system contributed to this improvement. The 90D felt extremely comfortable in our hand’s thanks to a larger grip, and a joystick made choosing between the Dual Pixel CMOS AF points a breeze.
Additionally, the battery life is excellent, with at least 1,500 photos per charge in our experience. It may be a little expensive and feature-rich for a complete novice, but there’s no denying it provides many potentials. In any case, the 90D demonstrates that DSLRs are still relevant in the mirrorless industry.
7. Canon EOS Rebel T100 / EOS 4000D / EOS 3000D
You don’t necessarily need a camera that can do everything if this is your first DSLR purchase. The Canon 4000D (also known as the 3000D in certain areas) is a good initial pick if you’re searching for something extremely basic yet reasonably priced.
Compared to the most recent entry-level devices, several aspects of the 4000D look outdated. The small 9-point autofocus system and 18MP sensor, featured in Canon’s catalog since 2009, are also becoming older. With a 2.7-inch diagonal & 230k-dot resolution, the LCD also seems a touch dated, and we were unimpressed with Live View performance. Finally, it should be noted that the polycarbonate casing feels cheap.
The button arrangement was simple, and the battery life, which lasted for roughly 500 shots per charge, performed well in our testing. We discovered that the picture quality was sufficient, and the noise was managed well. Results from smartphone and compact upgrading should be respectable, with a nice degree of saturation and a fair quantity of detail. At the same time, Picture Style presets allow for simple tone adjustments. With its outdated components and unimpressive performance, the 4000D will seem like a step backward in time to more knowledgeable shoppers. However, if cost-effectiveness is your top concern, you may be able to get beyond the constrained feature set and detect some possibilities for saving money.
8. Pentax K-70
The Pentax K-70 is still a decent bargain choice for anyone looking for an alternative DSLR option from the “big two” despite being a few years old. This is a particularly wise pick if you have a collection of outdated Pentax lenses collecting dust in your cellar. With its hybrid live view focusing mechanism and highly helpful articulating screen, the K-70 offers a real-world substitute for utilizing the viewfinder.
The K-70’s sturdy construction, which is generally absent in entry-level models, is one of its best features. Counting on not being ruined by bad weather is a significant plus if you want to take plenty of photos outside, like landscape photography. The kit lens, which is often included with the camera, is a small letdown since, although having a considerably larger focal length than the majority of the others, we discovered that it might sometimes be a touch soft.
What qualities should a novice DSLR have?
When purchasing a beginner-friendly DSLR, the camera’s size, screen, and kit lens selections should be considered.
A compact and lightweight model is great if you’re attempting to learn how to use manual camera settings like aperture or shutter speed and is one of the key advantages of a DSLR. This implies that you’ll likely use it often and proficiently with those controls. Look closely at them as they tend to be the smallest DSLRs and the ones most user-friendly for beginners, such as the Nikon D3500 and Canon 250D.
Want to take a lot of video in addition to still photos? DSLRs may also be an affordable entry point into vlogging, so if you need one, search for versions with a variable-angle screen (like the ones on most Canon models). These may assist you in taking pictures from various angles and flip around to the front so that you can check your framing when taking a video.
The last thing you should think about is optics. Since you’ll probably be a newbie beginning from scratch, purchasing your DSLR with a kit lens makes more sense. But first, a word of caution: most manufacturers sell two different kits of lenses, one with and one without image stabilization. The kit lens with image stabilization is ideal since it will allow you to take crisper pictures while using slower shutter speeds.
Adding additional lenses for various types of photography is one of the major advantages of DSLRs, even though an 18-55mm starter lens will be plenty to get you started. For instance, high-quality macro lenses, telephoto, wide-angle zoom lenses, etc. Additionally, you may add a flashgun and other accessories to help you get the most out of the kinds of photography you like.
Still unsure about whether a DSLR or a mirrorless camera is necessary? Remember to look at our comparison of mirrorless and DSLR cameras. Alternatively, read our simple guide to camera types if you’re unsure what camera you need: What kind of camera should I get?
Which is better for beginners, Canon or Nikon?
Even though Pentax continues to produce DSLRs, Canon and Nikon dominate the market because of the sheer number of DSLR models each company has produced. They also rival in pricing, picture quality, and feature set. Which entry-level DSRL from which company is ideal for you, then?
That will depend on the individual. As we see from our list above, both brands provide a wide range of fantastic options. Both provide entry-level DSLRs that are small, simple to use, and equipped with a wide range of lenses to assist your developing interest in photography. Several of them are likewise budget-friendly if you’re searching for a low-cost DSLR.
The internal menu structure and outward button arrangement are the sole features that differentiate Canon from Nikon. Nevertheless, both are user-friendly, so your final decision will depend on which one best fits you.
How we evaluate DSLRs
These days, purchasing a camera is a significant investment. Thus we thoroughly examined each camera in our guide. We place a lot of emphasis on real-world testing since they provide the most insightful understanding of a camera’s performance and personality, combined with standardized tests for things like ISO performance.
To determine who the camera is intended for and who would like to use it the most, we first examine the camera’s design, handling, and controls. When we utilize it on a shoot, we’ll evaluate its starting time while holding it both-handed and on a tripod to see where its strengths lie.
We utilize a formatted SD card for performance and shoot in both raw & JPEG (if available). For burst shooting testing, we set up our standard test parameters (1/250 sec, ISO 200, continuous AF). We take a series of pictures while keeping a stopwatch to check whether the camera achieves the speeds it promises. The speed at which the buffers clear will also be examined, and the test will be repeated using raw and JPEG data.
When appropriate, we test the camera’s various focusing settings in a single point, area, and continuous modes in various lighting situations (including Face and Eye AF). To obtain a feel for metering and the sensor’s capacity to manage noise and resolve fine detail, we also take a variety of images in raw and JPEG in several photographic genres (portrait, landscape, low light, macro/close-up).
We’ll also run some test shots using Adobe Camera Raw to see how we can improve things like shadow recovery if the camera’s raw files are supported by it. Additionally, we’ll test the camera’s performance at every ISO setting to determine the highest settings we’d be willing to push it.
We use the camera throughout the day with the screen’s default settings to evaluate the battery life in a realistic environment. We’ll count the number of shots after the battery is completely depleted and compare it to the camera’s CIPA rating. Finally, using its companion app and some test footage shot at various frame rates and resolutions, we evaluate the camera’s video capabilities (as needed).
Then, after considering all we’ve learned about the camera, we add its price to gain a feel of the value it provides before making our final judgment.