Things to Consider When Looking for the Best DSLR Camera

Technology  ·  Best Picks   Updated December 2019

DSLR cameras are getting more and more popular even among amateur photographers. This is mainly due to falling prices and the new models being easier to use.

One of the reasons why people buy DSLR cameras is the superior image quality in comparison with point-and-shoot cameras or smartphones.

Body Only or Body and Lens Kit?

Digital SLRs have larger and better sensors than most point and shoots, but it is important to understand that the camera body is just one part of the equation. The lens you will use with your camera is just as important.

When buying a camera, you will usually have an option to either buy a "body only", which is a less expensive option, or a camera kit that usually includes a zoom lens.

If you are new to DSLR cameras and using different lenses, you might think it would be good to start with an inexpensive kit lens. Depending on the kit, this could result in disappointment as kit lens might not offer sharpness or low-light capability you expected.

To avoid that, we recommend that after you choose your camera (body), do invest time in selecting the lens you will want to use it with.

What Kind of Photography?

One of the first questions you need to ask yourself is what you want your DSLR to be used for. Do you want it for portrait photography or rather wildlife photography? Do you plan to take landscapes or shoot action-packed sports events? Do you need good low-light capability (e.g. indoor shooting) or perhaps macro photography is what you will primarily use it for?

Most cameras are flexible enough so that they can be used for different kinds of photography, provided they are equipped with adequate lens. However, if you narrow down the types of situations you want to use it for, you will know more about what kind of camera and features to look for.

Budget

When researching DSLR camera prices, it is important to consider how much you want to spend not just on the camera body, but a desired lens as well. On top of that you will most need a high-speed memory card and a camera bag to protect your investment.

Image Quality

It's not just about megapixels. Today's digital SLR cameras all have about 16 and more megapixel sensor and it hardly makes any difference whether it's 16, 20 or 30MP unless you intend to make large prints. If you want to take great photos, camera lens, image stabilization, sensor size and sensitivity are much more important.

Camera Lens

When choosing a camera it is essential to pick the right lens focal length range. This will tell you what field of view (FOV) the camera will be able to cover. For instance, imagine one camera has a focal length range of 28-140mm and another covers 35-175mm. Both of them will have 5x zoom, but the former will offer a wider angle at 28mm, while the latter will have more zoom at 175mm. A wider angle of the 28-140mm lens means the camera will be easier to use in tighter spaces and to take photos of a group of people from closer distance. (e.g. at a party)

Image stabilization built-in into lens helps to prevent blurry photos, by compensating for the movement of your shaky hands.

Low Light Performance

If you want to take a lot of photos indoor, at dawn or dusk, or on a cloudy day, you will want to look into how well your camera performs in low light. ISO sensitivity tells you how much light is collected by the sensor, and the less light you have available, the higher the ISO-setting you will need.

In less expensive camera + lens combinations, indoor photos taken without flash at high ISO will often result in noise-filled images. On the In such a situation having a camera body with a better CMOS sensor would help, just as a faster lens would.

Size

The sizes and weights of DSLR cameras and lenses vary considerably, with the more expensive models being also the heaviest. If you plan to travel with your kit extensively, do a lot of hiking etc., picking a lighter and less bulky models might be a good idea.

Shooting Video

Although most DSLR cameras on the market today have the ability to record HD video, some are dedicated solely to taking still photos. Currently the most popular video formats are full HD 1080p, with more expensive models offering 4K UHD video recording. If video quality is important to you and you want your camera body to be future-proof, go for the 4K capability.

Our Picks

In the list below you can find the models, which are particularly outstanding and popular among users:

Nikon D700

 
   
    Nikon D700
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User Comments & Reviews
The Nikon D700 is a fantastic camera. It is heavy, which I really like.  
Click it Up a Notch ·  Best Photography Blogs

Nikon D500

D500 is a flagship digital SLR camera from Nikon with 4K video shooting and Wi-Fi connectivity. The camera body is made of magnesium alloy and is dust and water-drop resistant. It is equipped with 20.9MP CMOS sensor (DX Format) and the EXPEED 5 image processor is fast enough to shoot 10 frames per second.

The D500 is known for its low-light performance thanks to a native ISO range of 100 - 51,200. The 3.2" touchscreen LCD has 2,539k dots and can be tilted. The D500 is able to record 4K video at 30 fps. The autofocus system uses 153 points. It has a built-in Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and NFC for connectivity and sharing. It weighs 1.9 pounds.

   
    Nikon D500
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User Comments & Reviews
It is immediately my go to camera when I want to travel light and simple.  
Joe McNally ·  Best Photography Blogs
Good value is the Nikon D500 paired with the Tamron 150-600mm lens. Great combination for wildlife!  
Dan Carr Photography ·  Best Photography Blogs

Nikon D5 (XQD Version)

Nikon D5 is a full-frame FX-format camera with a 20.8MP sensor. Thanks to the native ISO of up to 102,400 and precise autofocus with 153 points and 99 cross-type sensors, it offers superb low-light capability even in near darkness (EV -4). This is the first camera from Nikon that uses a second processor dedicated solely to autofocus.

It can take photos at 12 fps in continous mode, as well as shoot 4K UHD video at 30 fps. (or Full HD 1080 at 60 fps)  It weighs 3.1 pounds.

   
    Nikon D5 (XQD Version)
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User Comments & Reviews
The fullest fruition of the digital promise that was made years ago to photographers.  
Joe McNally ·  Best Photography Blogs

Nikon D750

D750 is a full frame 24.3MP camera and comes with Nikon's EXPEED 4 image processor. It can shoot up to 6.5 fps and record full HD 1080p video at 60 fps, as well as lower frame rates. ISO, shutter speed and aperture can all be manually controlled while recording.

D750 has a 51-point autofocus system with 15 cross-type sensors, same as the D4S. It comes equipped with 3.2" tilting display and built-in Wi-fi connectivity for sharing. It weighs 1.65 pounds.

   
    Nikon D750
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User Comments & Reviews
I love this thing. It has gotten me back into carrying a camera everywhere I go.  
Joe McNally ·  Best Photography Blogs
As of today, we consider the D750 to be Nikon’s best all-around camera.  
Photography Life ·  Best Photography Blogs

Nikon Df

Nikon Df is the thinnest and lightest full frame camera by Nikon. It has a 16.2 megapixel CMOS sensor and uses Expeed 3 for image processing. It is designed with still photos in mind and can take 5.5 images per second. Autofocus uses 39 points and 9 cross-type sensors for precision.

Nikon Df's classic style body is made of magnesium alloy and has five dedicated dials to control shutter, ISO and exposure. It features a 3.2" display with a resolution of 921,000 points. You can take around 1,400 photos with it on a single charge. It weighs just under 1.7 pounds.

   
    Nikon Df
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User Comments & Reviews
Excellent, unobtrusive walk around camera. [...] It has a very quiet shutter, and is light on the shoulder to carry all day long.  
Joe McNally ·  Best Photography Blogs
The Nikon Df remains an amazing tool for both everyday and professional needs.  
Photography Life ·  Best Photography Blogs

Nikon D810

The D810 is a professional full frame camera from Nikon with a 36.3 megapixel sensor and EXPEED 4 image processor. The autofocus has 51 focus points at its disposal, including 15 cross-type sensors. You can take 5 to7 full-resolution images per second with it, depending on the crop mode, as well as shoot full HD 1080p video at 60 fps.

Some of the newer features of Nikon D810 include unlimited continous shooting and exposure smoothing for time-lapse shooting. It weighs 2.2 pounds.

   
    Nikon D810
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User Comments & Reviews
The resolution of this cameras is astounding. Detailed files like you can’t believe.  
Joe McNally ·  Best Photography Blogs
This is the camera we primarily use for landscape and studio photography.  
Photography Life ·  Best Photography Blogs

Canon EOS 7D Mark II

Canon 7D Mark II features a 20.2 megapixel CMOS sensor (APS-C size) and dual DIGIC 6 image processors. This allows shooting still photos at 10 frames per second or full HD 1080p video at 60 fps. Its autofocus can use 65 cross-type focus points, depending on the lens. When shooting movies, autofocus will continuously track moving subjects.

The 7D Mark II is made of magnesium alloy and is dust and weather resistant. It has dual card slots for CF and SD memory cards and a built-in GPS for automatic location tagging. It weighs 2 pounds.

   
    Canon EOS 7D Mark II
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User Comments & Reviews
A brilliant sports and wildlife camera that can be used by pros and non pros alike.  
Dan Carr Photography ·  Best Photography Blogs

Canon EOS 70D

The Canon 70D is a 20.2 megapixel DSLR camera with a APS-C CMOS sensor and DIGIC 5+ image processor. It can shoot images at up to 7 fps in full-resolution and records 1080p videos. The ISO range of 100-12800 delivers high quality of images in low light conditions.

The autofocus system takes advantage of 19 cross-type AF points with a high precision dual cross f/2.8 in the center for accurate focusing.The touchscreen is 3.0-inch big and its angle can be adjusted for easier shooting.

   
    Canon EOS 70D
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Canon EOS 5D Mark III

Canon 5D Mark III is a full frame high-resolution camera with a 22.3 megapixel CMOS sensor and DIGIC 5+ image processor. The high density AF system uses 61 focus points is Canon's most sophisticated autofocus system to date and is very accurate. The native ISO range is 100 - 25,600.

It can shoot continously at 6 frames per second and record full HD videos at 1080p. The improved 3.2 inch display has now 1,040,000 dots and is even easier to use outside. The dual memory card slots can be used either with one card as a backup or in a span mode. This allow automatic switching to the second card once the first one is full. The camera body weighs 2.1 pounds.

   
    Canon EOS 5D Mark III
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User Comments & Reviews
Awesome photos, great HD video. I bought this to do still and video but now use just for stills.  
Roadtreking ·  Best RV Blogs
This has been my main camera for about five years now.  
Dan Carr Photography ·  Best Photography Blogs
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