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Best DSLR for Beginners to Unleash their Inner Photographer

When smartphones and point-and-shoot cameras can no longer satisfy your desire for eye-candy, it’s time to move to a DSLR for beginners.

DSLRs aren’t as simple to operate as modern smartphones or other cameras. They have a large learning curve that needs patience and thorough research. Only in recent times have companies like Canon and Nikon started releasing DSLRs that are beginner friendly without compromising much on performance and image quality.

But like in true consumer brand fashion, the companies have released countless models in a short time, making it difficult for buyers to decide which DSLR for beginners is the ideal one for them.

Best DSLR for Beginners in 2018

Most of the brands that make DSLR cameras have very confusing nomenclature that are hard to follow or understand. It’s difficult to determine from their names alone what level they are designed for and the features they may or may not offer.

We’ve compiled a list of the 5 best DSLR for beginners out there, keeping in mind value, overall performance, reliability, and ease of use.

There’s also a buyer’s guide at the end of the reviews to help you make a wiser decision.

Our Top Pick

Our Top Pick

Canon EOS Rebel SL2 / EOS 200D

The Canon Rebel SL2 or EOS 200D is a great DSLR for beginners as it offers an excellent pivoting touchscreen that combines with contemporary specs. It is a 24.2 megapixels camera that can record full hd videos, has Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity, and is an all-round great performing at a reasonable price.

The Canon Rebel SL2 is the best DSLR camera for beginners because of its perfect balance between ease of use, great features, and good value.

Great Alternative

Great Alternative

Nikon D3400

Great Battery and Nonsense Features

The Nikon D3400 is one of the entry level DSLRs in Nikon’s massive range of digital shooters. This camera strips down to the basics and offers great performance at an incredible price, utilizing its powerful 24.2 megapixels and APS-C sensor. This camera has the best battery life in the entry level lines as well with one full charge lasting 1,200 shots.

If a big battery and incredible performance without added features is what you’re after, then look no further than the Nikon’s D3400.

Canon Rebel SL2 / EOS 200D

RebelSL2

Specs:

  • Megapixels – 24.2MP
  • Sensor Type – APS-C
  • Screen – 3in, 1,040,000 dots
  • Max Video Resolution – 1080p

The Canon EOS Rebel SL2 is, in our opinion, the best all-round entry level DSLR for beginners you can buy right now. This offering from Canon features a pivoting touchscreen that is one of its highlights, even making selfies with an SLR seem like a breeze.

The interface is simple and intuitive. Users can star with the guided interface till they become accustomed to what the camera can offer. Once that’s done, you can switch to the standard setup and utilize the camera’s versatile offerings.

The burst shooting of this camera is at 5fps. It utilizes a DIGIC 7 processing system in addition to Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS autofocus that works brilliantly in both photoshoots and videos.

There’s also Wi-Fi and NFC on board for quick transfer of photos you take from your camera to your phone or laptop. Additionally, like most Canon EF-S mounts, this camera will accept a huge variety of different lenses.

We believe all these offerings – particularly the high quality screen – as well as the performance of this camera make it the standout DSLR for beginners.

Pros

  • Guided screen option
  • Great, pivoting touchscreen
  • Takes great photos when combined with a good lens

Cons

  • Kit lens isn’t great for low-lights and macros
  • Autofocus system only has nine points

Nikon D3400

NikonD3400

Specs:

  • Megapixels – 24.2MP
  • Sensor Type – APS-C
  • Screen – 3in, 921,000 dots
  • Max Video Resolution – 1080p

If you don’t like Canon (for some reason) and prefer a different brand instead, their main competitor is Nikon. The D3400 is the most junior offering in their line of digital SLR cameras. This camera goes to the basics that allow users to point and shoot without too much hassle.

Nikon ignores most of the fancy bells and whistles and focuses on getting the basics of the camera. The sensor comes without an antialiasing filter, giving rawer and more detailed footage when recording videos.

The autofocus system is also superior to our top choice, the Canon EOS 200D, as it offers an 11-point AF system instead of a 9 one. Like the EOS 200D, Nikon’s D3400 also has a Guide mode to get you through the settings and features when you’re getting started.

In addition to the no-nonsense performance and good functionality ideal for a DSLR for beginners, the Nikon D3400 also has an impressive battery, lasting roughly 1,200 shots per charge which is more than double what many of the other cameras in this price range and level offer.

Pros

  • Fantastic battery life
  • Easy and intuitive
  • Good AF system for the price

Cons

  • Lacks a touchscreen

Canon Rebel T7i / 800D

RebelT7i

Specs:

  • Megapixels – 24.2MP
  • Sensor Type – APS-C
  • Screen – 3in, 1,040,000 dots
  • Max Video Resolution – 1080p

When it comes to pure performance, the Rebel T7i is perhaps the best camera in this list. There isn’t a camera that can match its incredible set of features as well as its ease of use. What prevents it from being our top choice is that it’s $300 more expensive than most DSLR for beginners.

The T7i offers a redesigned Guided menu that helps gets novice users up to speed way quicker than previous guided menus or the ones used by Canon competitors. The touch-based interface on the 3in screen is easy to navigate due to the touch sensitive and higher than normal dpi for this category of SLR cameras.

This Rebel T7i is basically a high-functioning camera that is also a DSLR for beginners. It has a whopping 45-point autofocus system that blows other competitors out of the park. The autofocus is both incredibly accurate and fast. The burst shooting mode can accommodate 6 frames per second, slightly quicker than other cameras in this category.

Using Canon’s DPAF technology, the videos are strong and sharp throughout, recorded at 1080p and 60 fps. It also comes with WiFI, NFC, and Bluetooth for optimal connectivity options.

Pros

  • Good battery life
  • Incredible 45-point AF
  • Loaded with features
  • Outperforms all DSLR for beginners

Cons

  • Expensive for an entry level DSLR
  • Kit lens is underwhelming

Canon Rebel T7 / EOS 2000D

Specs:

  • Megapixels – 24.1MP
  • Sensor Type – APS-C
  • Screen – 3in (fixed) 920,000 dots
  • Max Video Resolution – 1080p

The Rebel T7 is an upgrade to the older and popular T6 or 1300D camera that was well known for its small footprint, lightweight, and great performance for a competitive price point.

With the newer T7, you’re not getting too much different other than beefed up image detail. Canon has increased the number of megapixels from 18 to 24.1MP on the T7, but the rest largely remains the same.

You get multiple modes that can help you start from a complete novice and take you up to a capable photographer until you’re ready to upgrade to a more enthusiast focused DSLR. The Canon Rebel T7 is specifically a DSLR for beginners, and it work great as one due to its light weight and good performance for the price.

It also comes with Wi-Fi and NFC for easy transfer to your smart devices. You can also use your smartphone as a remote with these connectivity options.

The autofocus system of the Rebel T7 is limited to 9 points, and the Live View AF system isn’t great. However, you’re getting a full kit for a good price, and it’s a perfect way to get into the world of photography.

Pros

  • Easy and intuitive to use
  • Controls are simple and great
  • Good value for the full kit

Cons

  • AF system is outdated
  • No touchscreen

Pentax K-70

Pentax

Specs:

  • Megapixels – 24.2MP
  • Sensor Type – APS-C
  • Screen – 3in, 921,000 dots
  • Max Video Resolution – 1080p

Tired or Canon and Nikon? We don’t blame you if you are. The Pentax K-70 is a fantastic choice for those looking for something a little different. This is a heavy duty, workmanlike camera design to physically withstand harsh weather and rough use.

This is a DSLR for beginners that doesn’t try to sell you the brand name, but instead crams in as much features as a novice would need into a rugged body.

It is very slightly pricier than some of the other options (except the T7i) in this list, but it is also, ironically, the best value DSLR for beginners because of just how good it is design and performance. The all-weather resistant body is weighty and feels like a high quality product.

You get a larger, brighter pentraprism on the K-70 compared to the pentamirrors used in most DSLR for beginners. You also get superior 6fps shooting in burst mode, and a powerful max shutter speed at an impressive 1/6000secs. The Pentax K-70 is the only camera in this list with the image stabilization built into the camera itself instead of the lens, benefiting you greatly no matter what lens you put on.

Pros

  • Built-in image stabilization
  • Great build that is robust and weather-resistant
  • Great set of features

Cons

  • Autofocus isn’t the best
  • Expensive

Buyer’s Guide

    Megapixels

    Megapixels get a lot of importance, and we do believe a lot of it is deserved. However, the pixel count in a camera isn’t the only thing you should be looking at. Yes, a camera with more megapixels will create sharper images if the same sized pixels are used (which is true for all the cameras listed in this article), but there is so much more to look at.

    Shutter Speed

    One of the other important and often underrated specifications of a camera is the shutter speed. The shutter speed is variable, and it determines how quick or how slow sensor that captures the photo is exposed when you press the button. Cameras with large shutter speed ranges (1/6000 of a second, for example) are able to capture fast-moving objects without blur and distortion.

    Autofocus

    The autofocus of a camera is tied to both the lens as well as the camera itself. Focus points are what you should be looking at when you purchase a DSLR for beginners.

    The number of focus points determine how easily a camera can focus on the objects within the picture, greatly improving accuracy and reducing chances of blurry images. There are multiple types of autofocuses as well, such as Phase Detection and Contrast Detection. It’s complicated and deserves a full article of its own, but generally you should expect autofocus to greatly improve as you spend more for a DSLR.

    The Rebel T7i, for its price point and ease of use, has the best autofocus when it comes to DSLR for beginners.

    Accessories are what you get in the kit, and how many and what types of lenses are compatible with the camera. Eventually, you’ll grow tired of that single lens that comes in the kit and will want to invest in something more specialized, such as a wide aperture prime lens.

    In order to do so, you’ll need to make sure the camera you’re getting and the lenses you want are compatible. Camera sensors have their own specific width, and you will need to buy lenses of the same width.

    Canon and Nikon have countless dedicated and third-party lenses that fit a wide range of their DSLRs. Lenses of many mid and high-end digital SLRs can fit on entry level ones as well.

    Other accessories that you need to look out for are battery packs, flash mounts, microphones, and carrying bags. Even a DSLR for beginners is an expensive investment, so you’ll want as many accessories both now and in the future to maximize your photography experience.

    Use friendly features aren’t important for individuals with a lot of experience, but they’re invaluable for those moving from smartphones and point-and-shoot cameras to DSLRs. Many modern DSLRs that are designed for beginners utilize Guide systems for their menus to help individuals get started.

    A DSLR’s true power is truly unleashed in manual mode, but you want a helping hand at the start due to the learning curve. You’ll also want Wi-Fi and NFC in your camera for easy transfers of photos you’ve taken to your smart devices.

    You also want multiple modes in your camera, including a capable auto mode. Auto modes are never as good as a manual mode in trained hands, but they are excellent to start things off and give you a good idea of the ballpark shutter speeds, apertures, ISO, and type of metering you should be using once you know what each thing does. You can only go to manual mode once you have experimented and learned how to use the other modes first.

    Should the lack of touchscreen be a deal breaker in entry level DSLRs?

    It largely depends on your preferences. A touchscreen is handy on a DSLR, but for most people it shouldn’t be a deal breaker. You should look at the performance, ease of use, and reliability before a touchscreen.

    Remember: there are older DSLR cameras out there that still function better than many DSLR for beginners in 2018. They lack all the bells and whistles such as touchscreen technology, but they take stunning images regardless.

    Will a mirrorless camera be a better option for beginners?

    Mirror cameras have a lot of hype nowadays because they offer stunning, professional quality images in a more compact form, eliminating the bulkiness that DSLRs are infamous for.

    When it comes to entry level cameras, DSLRs are far superior because their sensors are much larger than what you’d get from a mirrorless camera in the same price range.

    It’s only when you starting shopping within the $1000 range and above that mirrorless cameras become attractive, and that is also mostly for their compactness and ease of use rather than pure image quality.

    Should I just buy the body of the camera?

    We don’t recommend that, as buying separate lenses is more expensive. It’s true that for any DSLR for beginners, the lens that will come in the kit might not be the greatest one. However, you can later invest in an even better one if you decide you want to take your photography a bit further.

    A kit is overall more cost-effective, and unless you already have a few spare lenses lying around, there’s not much you can do with just the body. And if you had a few lenses, then chances are you wouldn’t be looking for a DSLR for beginners.

    Can the best smartphone cameras rival a DSLR for beginners?

    Smartphone cameras have definitely grown in their usability for all kinds of situations to capture stunning photos that you could swear came from a DSLR. However, even with the amazing smartphone technology available in 2018, the current smartphone cameras still cannot rival a DSLR that came out 8 years ago.

    This is because smartphone cameras don’t work well in every situation. Smartphones require a lot of involvement from software, whereas DSLRs, despite being digital, use a lot of more traditional optical techniques to create images. For example, most smartphones have one (or two, in case of the S9/Note 9) aperture size that cannot be adjusted according to the situation. You won’t find that problem with even a DSLR made for beginners if you can get the right lens.

    This makes DSLRs overall superior for all purposes. A DSLR has a larger learning curve than a smartphone, but in trained hands it outperforms even the best smartphone camera.

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