Check Out Our List Of The Top 10 Best Beginner DSLR Cameras for 2018

TL/DR Version;

The Best Entry-Level DSLRs in 2018

  1. Nikon D3400
  2. Canon Rebel T6i
  3. Nikon D3300
  4. Nikon D5600
  5. Pentax K-S2
  6. Nikon D5500
  7. Canon EOS Rebel SL1
  8. Sony Alpha A58
  9. Pentax K-70
  10. Canon EOS Rebel T5

Why Upgrade to a DSLR?

Whether you’ve outgrown your point-and-shoot or you’re looking for something more robust than your smartphone snaps and want to take your photography to the next level – an entry-level digital single-lens reflex (or DSLR) camera is the best choice.

There are many reasons you’d want to upgrade to a DSLR camera if you’ve never owned one before. It may be a big (and more expensive) step for you and your photography journey, but once you get the hang of all the new features and capabilities of a DSLR, you’ll wonder how you ever got along without it!

There are several reasons why upgrading your camera to a DSLR can make a big impact in your photos. You might be wondering if the best DSLR for beginners is a Canon or Nikon. These two represent the biggest share of the market, and they both make exceptional cameras. However, smaller brands also make exceptional cameras, so this choice really comes down to personal preference. Below we’ll cover the biggest benefits of most entry-level DSLRs.

The Sensor

Because of the larger size of the image sensor in a DSLR compared to its point-and-shoot cousin, you’ll be able to capture a larger image with better image quality. This is due to the larger pixel sizes you’ll be able to capture with the sensor – in turn, you’ll also be able to use a faster shutter speed and higher ISO. Your images will likely have less grain or noise because of built-in noise reduction when generating JPEG images as well.

The Speed

You’ll generally have greater control of the speed in which you can capture images with a DSLR. When it comes to things like focusing and shutter speed, a DSLR will easily beat out most other cameras with fast image capture abilities. The optical viewfinder on a DSLR also allows you to see with good accuracy what you’ll “get” when you click the shutter.

The Versatility

The DSLR’s ability to change lenses is arguably its best feature. With different lenses, you have the ability to adapt to many different shooting situations. A quality wide angle lens and longer zoom lens alone can open up a world of possibilities for your photography. Add in other DSLR accessories such as filters, flashes, or light settings, and you can adapt to many different changing environments with your camera. The depth of field you can achieve with a DSLR can change greatly depending on your situation as well – from a super focused foreground to background in focus or nicely blurred with a bokeh effect.

In general, the lenses you’ll find for a DSLR are superior compared to those on a point-and-shoot camera. These larger lenses generally have a greater range of capability and are worth saving your money for. When in doubt, going with a less expensive camera body with more expensive lenses will give you better quality photos than the reverse.

The Controls

While many point-and-shoot cameras now come with an array of controls, most DSLRs were designed with a fully custom or ‘manual’ mode in mind for the photographer to have control over their own settings. The large ISO range of a DSLR will also aid in giving you greater control over shooting in varying conditions. In case you want to ease into these settings, you’ll also have the option of choosing ‘Auto’ mode which controls the aperture and shutter speed for you.

DSLR Kits

Most DSLR cameras com with the option of buying a “kit.” which usually includes an 18 – 55mm lens. This kind of lens is perfect for beginners because it gives you a broad zoom range – allowing you to capture everything from portraits to interesting landscapes with varying depths of field.

You can keep adding accessories to your starting kit depending on the types of photography you’re into and your needs around different situations. Nikon and Canon are the two largest DSLR manufacturers that offer the widest ranges of DSLR lenses, but Pentax and Sony also offer adequate collections. It’s also worth a note that lesser known brands such as Tokina, Sigma, and Tamron offer quality lenses equivalent to the more popular brands for more affordable prices.

How to Choose the Right Camera: 5 Considerations

  1. Price: For most of us with a limited budget, it’s important to consider the price of new equipment you’re considering purchasing. DSLRs have a wide range of prices – from lower-cost beginner or used cameras to very high-end professional equipment (like the Nikon D5). Starting with your budget in mind ensures you can get everything you need while considering the additional costs of owning a DSLR, such as: lenses (whether you get the “kit” lenses or upgrade to your own custom picks), batteries (it’s always good to buy a spare), a camera bag (you don’t always get one for free with your camera), memory cards, filters, and, of course, a warranty (which you may want to add in case of theft or damage).
  2. Intended Use: The type of photography you want to do will greatly influence the gear you will eventually buy. What do you intend to use your camera for? Do you want to have the ability to record high-quality video or shoot lots of macro photography? Or do you just need a good all-purpose camera for recording life? It’s worth it to ask yourself this question so you can think about the type of gear you’ll need and what you can spend less on vs. splurge when buying equipment.
  3. Resolution: DSLRs also come in a fairly wide range of megapixel sizes. This may not be your biggest consideration (more megapixels isn’t always better), but megapixels do matter when you consider what you will use your images for. If you’re planning on selling large prints of your photographs, for instance, then more megapixels will help retain their quality and sharpness. Another thing to consider would be the size of the image sensor in your new camera. In general, the larger the sensor the more capabilities you have, but this can also greatly increase the cost.
  4. What You Already Have: If you already have another DSLR or a film SLR that may have compatible lenses, it makes sense to upgrade to something compatible with your current gear. Not all lenses will be compatible so it’s important to look into this before spending the money on a new camera body.
  5. Future Plans: This is different for everyone and depends on the type of photography you want to pursue as well as how far you want to take it. Entry level DSLRs are very versatile and affordable but you’ll want to consider how soon you may need to upgrade again as your skills and expertise grow. If you know you’ll eventually want a better camera with more capabilities, then it makes sense to purchase a model that can grow with you instead of the most basic camera body.

Special Features

If you’ve never owned a DSLR before, you may feel a little overwhelmed by all the features and possibilities now at your fingertips. Not to worry! Here we’ll break down some of these features by explaining what they do and why you may want to consider (or completely ignore!) them.

  • ISO Ratings – most DSLRs offer ISO ranges from around 200 – 1600, which works for most types of photography for beginners. If you’ll often be shooting in low light, you may want to opt for a higher ISO range DSLR.
  • LCD Screen – All DSLR cameras these days have a high-res LCD screen, but they come in different sizes. Just a half an inch of screen size can make a huge difference in viewing your images on the camera. It might not make any difference when you’re in the middle of shooting (most likely looking through the viewfinder), but it can be nice to view your shots on a bigger screen.
  • Shooting Modes – Entry-level DSLR cameras usually have an array of different shooting modes (such as Portrait, Night, or Auto modes). Higher-end models don’t have these, so if you still want to use these modes that are similar to a point-and-shoot, then check if your new camera choice comes equipped with them. Another feature to make note of is the ‘Burst’ mode, which allows you to take multiple images in quick succession, which can be very useful for any action or street photography. Different DSLRs have varying specifications for their burst mode feature.
  • Flash – As with different shooting modes, most higher-end DSLRs don’t come with a built-in flash (they come with connectors called a ‘hotshoe’), so you’ll want to consider if you need this or want to buy a special flashgun for this purpose.
  • Anti-Shake – Relatively few DSLR cameras have anti-shake technology built into the camera, though this can be an attractive feature if you need an ultra-steady hand for your work. However, most lenses already come equipped with image stabilization technology so this may not be necessary to worry about.
  • Dust Protection/Cleaning – A new popular feature appearing in many DSLR models is image sensor dust protection. Some models even come with a self-cleaning function for image sensors, to help alleviate the headache that dust poses for many photographers.
  • Connectivity – Also becoming ever more popular in the photography world is faster and simpler image sharing. Transferring photos from your computer can now be aided by FireWire or Wireless technology – a huge plus for any photographer battling time constraints.

Without further ado, here are our Top 10 DSLR camera picks for 2018:

#10: Canon EOS Rebel T5

Canon EOS Rebel T5

Image via Digital Trends

Price: $365

Sensor: APS-C CMOS

Megapixels: 18.7

Burst Speed: 3 fps

Video: 1080p HD

User level: Beginner

First released in 2007, Canon’s EOS Rebel T5 DSLR is still a decent choice in the world of entry-level cameras. The T5 is a great choice if you’re still on the fence about moving from a point-and-shoot to a DSLR.

The T5 features an 18 Megapixel APS-C sensor with a Digic 4 image processor, so you’ll get the excellent image clarity Canon has become known for without breaking your budget. In addition, the ISO range is 100 – 12,800, which is very reasonable for an entry-level camera (though on the low side compared to professional DSLRs now offering ranges up to 25,600). Not only do you get excellent photos with this camera, you can also shoot in 1080p HD at 30 frames per second. Not bad for beginners!

So what, if any, are the downsides of the T5? Continuous shooting mode is only 3 fps, a little less than most comparable DSLRs. The LCD display only has around half the pixel count as other similar DSLRs (460,000). WiFi connectivity is also missing on this model, so you’ll have to transfer photos the ‘old-school’ way from memory card to your computer.

One more thing to note would be the kit lens Canon offers with the T5. While Nikon offers similar lenses to all levels of expertise, Canon manufactures lenses on a scale from beginner to advanced photographers. Therefore, the kit lens offered with the T5 is aimed at beginners and will soon be outgrown by any serious photographers. We recommend skipping the kit lens and getting the better-quality Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 to get the most out of your camera.

Aside from a few slimmer features, the T5 is still a great bargain considering it’s price. Canon advertises the T5 as “Perfect for families, budding photo enthusiasts and first-time SLR users alike.” We’d have to agree with them.

#9: Pentax K-70

Pentax K-70

Image via DPReview

Price: $500

Sensor: APS-C CMOS

Megapixels: 24.2MP

Burst Speed: 6fps

Video: 1080p HD

User level: Beginner

Pentax offers some very comparable DSLR cameras on the market today, with bigger and better features quickly being added at more affordable prices compared to the big brands.

The K-70 is weatherproof as well as rain and dust resistant – perfect for enthusiasts shooting in all weather conditions (as long as you pair it with weather-resistant lenses). Along with protection against the elements, Pentax offers a new hybrid live autofocus feature that allows you shoot in a more practical way without using the viewfinder.

The K – 70 also comes standard with Shake Reduction to help balance camera shake and straighten tilted horizons. Overall these features combine to give the user improved color detail and less noise. Not bad for the price!

So, what are the cons of purchasing the K-70? Not many. Pentax is a smaller brand with a slightly restricted lens range compared to the big market players like Canon or Nikon.

Due to having the bigger hybrid viewfinder and SR feature, the K-70 ends up being the heaviest camera on our list with the shortest battery life. If you don’t mind carrying a little extra weight from the camera and an extra battery or two, the Pentax K-70 is still a worthwhile choice for an entry-level DSLR.

#8: Sony Alpha A58

Sony Alpha A58

Image via Ephotozine

Price: $599

Sensor: Exmor APS HD CMOS

Megapixels: 20.4 Megapixels

Burst Speed: 8fps

Video: 1080p HD

User level: Beginner

Sony’s A58 DSLR comes in at number 8 on our list of the best entry-level DSLR camera. In this price range, you’ll still find plenty of DSLRs that seem to skimp on features. But even if it doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles like higher-end cameras, the A58 offers fantastic image quality for the price.

At an impressive 8 frames per second, the A58 rivals other cameras for its action photography capabilities. Autofocus is excellent compared to other entry-level DSLRs out there, and it also comes with a highly useful tilting LCD screen. Perhaps more impressively, even above the 6000 mark, ISO quality doesn’t suffer.

But like the K-70, the A58 camera body is on the heavier side and, similar to the T5, the kit lens is subpar. In addition, sadly, Sony skipped adding its signature ‘Alpha’ series continuous shooting speed feature to this model., and you won’t find any WiFi capabilities either.

For the 500 – 600 dollar range, the A58 is a very reasonable camera for those looking to capture sharp images fast. Even if it’s missing a few nicer features, this entry-level DSLR is accessible and useful for budding photographers.

#7: Canon EOS Rebel SL1

7_Canon_EOS_Redbel_SL1

Image via plemix.com

Price: $399

Sensor: APS-C CMOS

Megapixels: 18

Burst Speed: 4fps

Video: 1080p HD

User level: Beginner

Our next great entry-level DSLR is the Canon EOS Rebel SL1. This camera is quite fast, compact (SL stands for ‘super lightweight’), and comfortable to shoot with – something Canon often exceeds in offering over other brands.

Compared to it’s newer and higher-priced cousins the SL still offers a lot more bang for your buck. The photo and video quality between the two are about the same. ISO quality does tend to fall past 1600, and full-scale prints at 1600 ISO looked sharper and cleaner with the Canon T5i.

The three-inch touchscreen makes the EOS Rebel SL1 easier to use than other Canon models, and with somewhat fewer features than high-end models this camera body is clearly priced and made for beginners. The ease of use, comfortable quality in this camera makes it a great choice for your first DSLR.

#6: Nikon D5500

nikon d5500

Image via CNET

Price: $499

Sensor: APS-C CMOS

Megapixels: 24.2MP

Burst Speed: 5 fps

Video:  1080p HD

User level: Beginner/Intermediate

Similar to Nikon’s older D5300 we have the D5500 next on our list. With a tilting LCD screen, WiFi capabilities, and an upgraded autofocus system, the D5500 is a great DSLR and highly affordable to boot.

Even though the image quality isn’t what you’d get with higher-end DSLRs, the D5500 still has a lot to offer. The DX-sized image sensor is much larger than you’ll find in similar DSLRs, and the image quality matches what you’d expect with such a large sensor. The battery life is exceptional compared to our previous options. In addition, the kit lens offered with this camera body is high-quality compared to most other kits out there.

The downsides are pretty minimal considering the price of this camera. With fast action photography, the autofocus feature may seem a little slow, and low-light image quality could be better.

If you’ve already owned and outgrown an entry-level DSLR, this camera works to give you those upgraded features you want without breaking the bank. If your previous model was also a Nikon, then migrating your equipment to this new model makes a lot of sense. But even if you’re new to the DSLR world, the D5500 offers excellent features and strong image quality in an affordable package.

#5: Pentax K-S2

pentax k-s2

Image via Ricoh

Price: $599

Sensor: APS-C CMOS

Megapixels: 20.1

Burst Speed: 5.5 fps

Video:  1080p HD

User level: Beginner

Next is the Pentax K-S2, a great DSLR that combines some of the best features Pentax has offered. One of the best features you’ll find with this DSLR is something any outdoor and landscape photographers will appreciate: weather resistance. Usually reserved for higher-end DSLRs, this feature is part of what makes this DSLR a great choice for enthusiasts.

The K-S2 also offers similar image quality and autofocus features to that of Nikon’s D3300, but with the addition of built-in WiFi. This DSLR is highly compatible with mobile storage devices and works well with supported smartphones. Most of all, this package is incredibly affordable for what you get!

As we mentioned before, the downsides of getting a Pentax include limited lens selection compared to the bigger brands. But considering its upgraded features, durability, and affordability, the K-S2 DSLR is well-worth it.

#4: Nikon D5600

nikon d5600

Image via Ken Rockwell

Price: $699

Sensor: APS-C CMOS

Megapixels: 24.2

Burst Speed: 5 fps

Video:  1080p HD

User level: Beginner/Intermediate

With its DX-format CMOS sensor and full HD video at 60 frames per second, the Nikon D5600 is a solid entry-level DSLR with modern capabilities.

The D5600 comes equipped with SnapBridge – Nikon’s new wireless technology which lets you share photos directly to your phone or tablet. The D5000-series Nikon cameras are designed to be a little more advanced than their more affordable D3000-cameras. Price-wise, this makes the D5600 less affordable but packed with capabilities.

The large 3.2-inch adjustable touchscreen lets you control the way you capture and focus photos, while the 39-point AF does a great job capturing images at a fast pace. The D5600 is also one of the smallest and lightest DSLRs available, at just over 1 pound (or 465 grams).

Even though you’re not getting some professional features (such as 4K video), the D5600 is a reliable camera kit that’s affordable enough to start with. It’s also small and lightweight enough to easily tote around like your old point-and-shoot!

#3: Nikon D3300

nikon d3300

Image via Nikon

Price: $399

Sensor: APS-C CMOS

Megapixels: 24.2

Burst Speed: 5 fps

Video: 1080p HD

User level: Beginner

Up next on our list is Nikon’s D3300 DSLR. Even though it’s since been replaced by the D3400, this DSLR is still in our top ten. When you consider the more expensive D7200 that shares the same 24.2 MP APS-C sensor, the D3300 is one of the most affordable quality cameras out there.

Compared to previous models like the D3200, the D3300 has a greater ISO sensitivity range (100 – 12,800) and captures full HD video at frame rates of up to 60p with continuous autofocus. Unlike previous iterations, the D3300 does away with an anti-aliasing filter to maximize image sharpness and detail. It even comes with a ‘Clever Guide’ mode to walk you through using all the different features.  

The D3300 also comes equipped with an 11-point AF system (less impressive than the D5600s 39 points), and a battery life of around 700 shots, which isn’t bad. The D3300 is a little more bare-bones compared to higher-end models like the D5600 – you won’t find any WiFi or an articulated touchscreen display – but it does the job (and the price is hard to beat!)

#2: Canon Rebel EOS T6i

canon rebel eos t6i

Image via DPreview

Price: $649

Sensor: APS-C CMOS

Megapixels: 24.2

Burst Speed:

Video: 1080p HD

User level: Beginner/Intermediate

Canon’s latest addition to their Rebel line of cameras, the T6i, comes in at number 2 on our list. Compared to the T5i, the T6i doesn’t differ in a big way but still offers increased image resolution and higher quality.

In addition to quick timing in Viewfinder mode, the T6i offers a highly capable Live View mode, aided by an articulated LCD screen. You get highly improved video quality that Canon DSLRs are known for, along with STM lenses that focus quietly and smoothly. For those looking to shoot a lot of videos, the T6i shines.

So, the downsides? Unlike higher-end DSLRs, the T6i doesn’t have a huge feature list or large image sensor but does come with built-in WiFi and NFC that easily beats out Nikon’s SnapBridge app. Earlier versions such as the T5 still offer the same basic features at a much more affordable price (under $400 with the kit lens).

#1: Nikon D3400

nikon d3400

Image via luisgyg.com

Price: $499

Sensor: APS-C CMOS

Megapixels: 24.2

Burst Speed: 5 fps

Video: 1080p HD

User level: Beginner

For 2018, the Nikon D3400 tops the list as the best entry-level DSLR on the market. All in all, this camera is a great choice for those new to the DSLR world.

Similar to the D3400 mentioned earlier, the D3400 features SnapBridge technology to make sharing and transferring images easy via Bluetooth. You also get a boost in battery life and a slightly lighter, sleeker camera body. The 24 MP APS-C sensor is capable of delivering high-quality images comparable to higher-priced DSLRs, in addition to high-quality HD video at 60fps.

The D3400 viewfinder is based on a pentamirror design, allowing approximately 95 percent of the scene to show, and the 3 inch LCD screen comes with a respectable resolution of 921k dots.

Users may lament the lack of WiFi (more reliable than Nikon’s SnapBridge technology) and a touchscreen LCD. The built-in sensor cleaning technology also failed to make it into this model, so you’ll have to go through the more tedious process of raising the mirror and physically cleaning it.

Overall, the D3400 has enough going for it to make this camera a great entry-level DSLR. With a sleek, compact body, decent AF system, and reliable image quality, it comes out as one of the most affordable DSLR picks.

Conclusion

Entry-level DSLRs offer budding photographers a big step up from point-and-shoot compact cameras or smartphones, giving you far more options and manual control to help you get the quality images you’re after.

If you’re intimidated by all the options, don’t worry. Plenty of entry-level DSLRs also come with easier to use auto modes to guide you through the camera’s functions until you’re more comfortable with the creative controls.

In general, the more features you get means the more you will pay for your first DSLR, which is why it’s important to consider what you will use it for and if you can live without certain functions that may rally drive up the price. If you know you’ll quickly outgrow your first DSLR and want to take your photography to a professional level, then getting a higher-quality model may be the best choice (you know you will eventually “grow into it”).

When your first DSLR arrives, there’s no better way to learn than to just take it for a spin and get to know the new camera you’ll be using (just make sure you charge the batteries!). It’s usually helpful to start on ‘Auto’ mode to get a feel for how the image capture process works and take some test shots of various subjects. All of these entry-level DSLRs are designed with a new user in mind, so you can quickly start feeling more comfortable taking great photos – without lots of prior experience.