Smartphone cameras might be getting smarter and more feature-rich, but they’re still a far cry from what a DSLR is capable of.
The small sensors and lenses are really no match for a full-fledged DSLR. Anyone who truly wants control over their camera and shoot professional photographs will have to learn how to use one of these cameras.
DSLRs can be a little daunting to look at initially, but if you buy the right one, it has the potential to be a permanent travel companion.
If you’ve been looking around for a bit but the options and features are getting confusing, then this list could help. These are all the best entry-level DSLRs compiled on one page, so that you don’t have to wander around the interwebs comparing specs or wondering why the Mark III is better than the Mark II.
If you are thinking about a mirrorless camera, then you might want to read this: Mirrorless vs DSLR cameras: 10 key differences.
Or if you’re not sure what kind of camera you need at all, then read our easy-to-follow guide to camera types: What camera should I buy?
Canon and Nikon offer the largest collections of DSLR lenses, but Pentax and Sony also offer decent ones. On the other hand, brands like Sigma, Tamron and Tokina are selling quality lenses at reasonable prices.
A great update to a great line
Sensor: 24.2MP APS-C CMOS | Lens mount: Nikon F | Screen: 3.0-inch fixed display, 921,000 dots | Burst shooting: 5fps | Autofocus: 11-point AF | Video: Full HD 1080p | Connectivity: Bluetooth | Battery life: 1,550 shots | Weight: 415g (with battery and card)
Great image quality
Remarkable battery life
Compact and easy to use
No built-in Wi-Fi
Lacks 4K video
Nikon’s D3400 and its predecessor, the D3300, were popular entry-level cameras, and the newest addition to the line, the D3500, continues the tradition of quality meets value for money.
The D3500 is a great option for a cost-conscious buyer looking to take their photography to the next level without breaking the bank. While the sensor retains the 24.2MP pixel count as the D3400, Nikon insists that the sensor in the D3500 has been newly-developed. A close perusal of the speaks shows that the total count on the D3500’s sensor stands at 24.78MP, compared to 24.72MP on the D3400.
It doesn’t have a touchscreen display, which is a tad disappointing, and also no 4K video or WiFi. But its revamped design offer a better grip and balance, especially with the longer and/or heavier lenses, which makes this camera quite a bit easier to use than its predecessor.
Read the full review: Nikon D3500
Canon EOS Rebel T7i / Canon EOS 800D
A compelling combination of top-notch ergonomics and a superb sensor
Sensor: 24.2MP APS-C CMOS | Lens mount: Canon EF-S | Screen: 3.0-inch, 1,040,000 dots | Burst shooting: 5fps | Autofocus: 19-point AF | Video: Full HD 1080p | Connectivity: Wi-Fi and NFC | Battery life: 440 shots | Weight: 555g
Wi-Fi with NFC
Average battery life
Only 95% viewfinder coverage
Canon almost always has a competitor for any Nikon camera on the market. The EOS Rebel T6i (Called the EOS 750D in India) may have been superseded by the EOS Rebel T7i / 800D, but due to the fairly hefty price difference, the older model seems like a better choice.
Featuring a 24.2MP sensor that delivers stunning image quality, there’s a solid auto-focus (AF) system, built-in Wi-Fi with near-field communication (NFC) pairing and a touch-sensitive screen that’s a joy to use.
Choosing between Canon and Nikon is tougher than ever
Sensor: APS-C CMOS | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Lens mount: Nikon DX | Screen: 3.2-inch articulating touchscreen, 1,040,000 dots | Continuous shooting speed: 5fps | Max video resolution: 1080p | User level: Beginner/enthusiast
Excellent image quality
Slow Live View focusing
SnapBridge needs work
The D5600 is an upgrade to the D5500 and competes directly with Canon’s EOS Rebel T7i/EOS 800D at the upper end of the entry-level DSLR market. Where Nikon’s D3000-series cameras are designed as cost-effective introductory DSLRs, the D5000-series allows more creativity.
The D5600 sports a large 3.2-inch variable angle touchscreen, and while the live view focusing speed could be quicker, the 39-point auto-focus (AF) does an excellent job. There isn’t much wrong with the D5600’s 24.2MP sensor either, delivering excellent results, while the logical control layout of the D5600 makes it easy to use.
Read the full review: Nikon D5600
Canon EOS Rebel T7i/Canon EOS 800D
One of the best options out there, but a bit pricey
Sensor: APS-C CMOS | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Lens mount: Canon EF-S | Screen: 3-inch articulating touchscreen, 1,040,000 dots | Continuous shooting speed: 6fps | Max video resolution: 1080p | User level: Beginner/enthusiast
The EOS Rebel T7i (known as the EOS 800D outside) is an update to the EOS Rebel T6i / 750D. The resolution stays the same, but it’s a new design with improved high ISO performance.
You get better auto-focus (AF) with the 45-point arrangement that’s backed up by excellent live view AF, while the newly designed graphical interface will certainly make this camera even more appealing to new users.
The absence of 4K video and build quality are slightly disappointing, and the price may not agree with many. Until this drops (which it will), get the T6i/750D and buy a lens with the money you save.
No longer Nikon’s latest and greatest entry-level DSLR, but almost
Sensor: APS-C CMOS | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Lens mount: Nikon DX | Screen: 3.2-inch articulating, 1,037,000 dots | Continuous shooting speed: 5fps | Max video resolution: 1080p | User level: Beginner/enthusiast
High-res, non-anti-aliased sensor
GPS built in
Slow live-view focussing
The D5300 was around for little more than a year before the D5500 replaced it. It shares the same 24.2MP sensor with maximum ISO of 25,600, whilst the D5300’s EXPEED 4 image processor and 39-point autofocus system have also been carried over to its replacement. Thus, in terms of image quality, it was excellent and stays excellent. If it ain’t broke…
The D5300 doesn’t sport fancy touchscreen controls, but you do get GPS instead. The D5300’s 600-shot battery life has since been beaten by the D5500. But it’ll still outlast a Canon T6i / 750D.
All in all, it may not be the latest entry-level DSLR, but the D5300 is still a smart buy.
Read the full review: Nikon D5300
Canon EOS Rebel SL2 / Canon EOS 200D
A cheap and very cheerful entry level camera
Sensor: APS-C CMOS | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Lens mount: Canon EF-S | Screen: 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1,040,000 dots | Continuous shooting speed: 5fps | Max video resolution: 1080p | User level: Beginner
Easy to use
Battery life rated at 380 shots
Fixed rather than vari-angle screen
Canon introduced the EOS 100D (EOS Rebel SL1 in the US) to compete with the influx of compact system cameras. It was the smallest DSLR available when it was introduced in March 2013. Now replaced by the EOS 200D (EOS Rebel SL2), it’s slightly bulkier proportions make it feel more like a slightly pared-down Rebel T7i/800D rather than anything unique.
It’s not a bad option for new users, but there are better-value alternatives available at the moment.
Canon EOS Rebel T6 / Canon EOS 1300D
Great camera that replaces the EOS 1200D
Sensor: APS-C CMOS | Megapixels: 18MP | Lens mount: Canon EF-S | Screen: 3-inch, 920,000 dots | Continuous shooting speed: 3fps | Max video resolution: 1080p | User level: Beginner
Good image quality
Slow live view focusing
The EOS 1300D (also known as the EOS Rebel T6) uses the same sensor as the camera it replaces, the T5/1200D. But it has a newer processing engine and this enables it to produce slightly better quality images. Although the new T7’s sensor is 24MP rather than 16MP, the staggering price difference (and very few other upgrades) renders the T6 a more attractive option.
You’re unlikely to be able to spot much difference at normal image viewing sizes, so it’s not a real biggie.
Where the EOS Rebel T6 does score over the T5 is the connectivity department; its got Wi-Fi and near-field communication (NFC) technology built-in. This means you can transfer images to your smartphone for super-quick sharing.
You can also use your phone to control the camera remotely, which is ideal for taking group shots with you in the frame. The screen has also been upgraded from a 3-inch 460K dot unit to one with 920K dots, which makes images look much sharper.
Rugged build offers decent protection for an entry-level DSLR
Sensor: APS-C CMOS | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Lens mount: Pentax K | Screen: 3-inch articulating screen, 921,000 dots | Continuous shooting speed: 6fps | Max video resolution: 1080p | User level: Beginner/enthusiast
Hybrid live view AF
Few AF points
Poor kit lens
Pentax is renowned for producing DSLRs with maximum bang per buck, and the K-70 is no exception. Weatherproof DSLRs that are rain and dust resistant usually cost a packet, but the K-70 offers this protection at a reasonable price so that you can shoot in all conditions without ripping a hole in your pocket.
Just remember that you’ll have to partner it with more expensive WR (weather resistant) lenses to get the full benefit. Regardless of the lens you use, the new hybrid live view auto-focus (AF) system – a first for Pentax – makes live view shooting an enjoyable and practical alternative to using the viewfinder.
Pentax’s in-camera Shake Reduction system cuts camera shake and can even correct slightly skewed horizons. The only reason the K-70 isn’t higher on our list is Pentax’s relatively restricted lens range.
Read the full review: Pentax K-70
Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III
The brilliant E-M10 Mark III is a little powerhouse of a camera
Sensor size: Micro Four Thirds | Resolution: 16.1MP | Lens mount: Micro Four Thirds | Screen: 3.0-inch tilt-angle display, 1,037,000 dots | Continuous shooting speed: 8.6fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Beginner/intermediate
Compact size, lenses too
Smaller sensor than a DSLR
Focus tracking could be better
Carrying a Micro Four Thirds sensor, the OM-D E-M10 Mark III might not sound impressive to the buyers, but the image quality it delivers is really good. Its 5-axis image stabilisation reduces camera shake which allows users to click blur-free high-quality images.
The camera comes with a continuous shooting speed of 8.6fps and can shoot 4k videos. You can also transfer the files easily to your smartphone with the help of in-built Wi-Fi connectivity. These abilities make the Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III a perfect alternative to an entry-level DSLR.
Read the full review: Olympus OM-D E-M10 Mark III