by Alex W.
If you've decided that you want to take your photography seriously and are looking for an upgrade from your smartphone or compact camera then the most obvious next step is a DSLR camera. Now, it's certainly not the only option (more on the fast-growing mirrorless systems later) but it's the step many photographers will want to take.
The choice available to the amateur photographer is enormous though, with dozens of models spread across multiple different brands and all with their own positives and negatives. For a beginner, it can be tough to even know where to start looking, but that's why we're here!
We've compiled a list of the very best DSLR cameras for beginners covering all budgets. Or, maybe you've decided that mirrorless cameras suit your needs? Check out our top beginner mirrorless cameras here.
Let me get this out of the way first. Photographers often have very strong opinions on the age old debate of Canon vs Nikon. Parties from both camps will tell you about the incredibly new autofocus system on their DSLR, or the low light capabilities of the competitor DSLR.
But let's clear something up: It doesn't really matter!
It's true. Both Canon and Nikon produce some world-class DSLR cameras. Both have models suited to every photographer's need (including some of the best beginner DSLRs out there), and both offer a huge variety of lenses. Simply put, just choose whichever one feels the best for you.
I personally shoot Nikon, but that's just because that's what I received as a present once and I've stuck with it due to investments in lenses. I can definitely endorse Nikon for their supreme backwards compatibility, which allows you to mount older vintage lens on your modern DSLR.
However, apart from that there is very little to choose between the two DSLR behemoths.
To be clear, Canon and Nikon aren't the only DSLR manufacturers capable of producing excellent cameras. There are plenty, but in most cases I would recommend going with one of the big two, simply because of the huge range and availability of lenses and accessories. It just makes life easier going forward in your photography career.
Anyway, let's get started and pick out the best beginner DSLR for you!
I started off with a Nikon D3100 back in the day and it was excellent. Nikon have continued that trend with their 3xxx series, with the D3400 being one of the newer models. Design-wise it has changed little, and the learning modes on offer make it a fantastic beginner DSLR camera.
As far as image quality goes it's hard to argue with their 24.2MP sensor, and versatile autofocus system. The D3400 has added in bluetooth capability as well, although some might be put off by the fact it doesn't have a touchscreen. This does make it a very affordable camera though, and the release of the D3500 drove the price down even further.
Overall it's hard to find many flaws with the D3400. The 18-55mm lens it comes with is surprisingly good quality as well, even if the build quality does feel a little plasticky.
Canon's line of beginner DSLR cameras, as you would expect, bring a similar level of offering to the Nikon D3xxx line. The EOS 1300D is firmly placed at the budget end of the spectrum - perfect for beginners on a tight budget.
For that you get a slightly lower, but still more than acceptable 18MP resolution sensor that delivers fantastic image quality. Additionally, sharing your images is made easier by the WiFi and NFC connectivity.
As with the Nikon D3400, there is no touch screen, but this does help to keep that price nice and attractive for beginner photographers.
Heading into the pricier realms of beginner cameras afford us a little more luxury in terms of the features available to us. The Nikon D5300 continues to use their excellent 24.2MP sensor with EXPEED 4 processor, and also boasts a maximum ISO sensitivity of 25,600. Perfect for those who find themselves shooting in low light often.
It also introduces some fun new creative effects, but the biggest addition is the articulating LCD screen and integrated GPS along with WiFi.
The articulating LCD screen a massive help in certain situations, such as when shooting very low to the ground or for the selfie-takers among you. If connectivity is important to you the WiFi and GPS are large benefits as well, and Nikon's upgraded battery lasts up to 600 shots.
The Nikon D5300 sits squarely in the mid-range price point at the moment, and if you want to spent the extra for the creature comforts I'd recommend it.
This is Canon's answer to the Nikon D5300, and once again it's a very capable camera and perfect for the beginner with a bit of extra cash to spend, costing almost exactly the same as the Nikon equivalent.
There are a few differences between the two though, with the Canon 750D offering a lower battery life than it's Nikon counterpart but making up for this shortfall by integrating a brilliant articulating touchscreen to bring a touch of modernity to the realms of user friendly DSLRs.
The T6i doesn't include in-built GPS though, and while the 24.2MP sensor is more than adequate it doesn't quite live up to the quality of the Nikon D5300. The Canon also offers a lower maximum ISO of 12,800 compared to Nikon's 25,600.
The choice between these two largely comes down to personal preference: The Canon offers a greater ergonomic experience while the Nikon is more convenient with the GPS and longer battery life, and marginally edges it in terms of image quality.
We're heading into the pricier realms of beginner DSLR cameras now, and with that comes a little more luxury in terms of the features on offer.
The Nikon 5600 definitely gives the beginner photographer more room to grow into before needing an upgrade. Straight out of the box you can feel the improvement - excellent build quality, increased size and more ergonomic button placement.
When it gets to the technical stuff it continues to deliver. The 24.2MP sensor is the same as the D5300, with the D5600 also boasting a maximum ISO sensitivity of 25,600, an improved 39-point autofocus system, and a battery that can last for over 800 shots.
A vari-angle touchscreen LCD increases the luxury, and in-camera features such as WiFi, timelapse capabilities and auto exposure bracketing allow for more experimentation.
Despite all these improvements, Nikon still only included 1080p video recording rather than the standard 4k offered by most manufacturers these days.
Overall, if you're not constrained by a limited budget, the Nikon D5600 is definitely up there with the best beginner DSLR cameras. However, it does fall down when it comes to videography.
Into Canon's high-end portion of the beginner DSLR market, and the Canon EOS 800D offers much of the same excellent quality as it's Nikon counterpart at a similar sort of price.
A welcome addition is the improved 24.2MP sensor which rivals Nikon's offerings, and their overhauled DIGIC 7 image processor promises a better high-ISO performance than it's predecessors.
Not only that, but the native ISO now matches the 25,600 of the Nikon D5600, so Canon have definitely closed the gap in terms of image quality. Canon have also improved the autofocus system to a 45-point offering, and the new image processor promises an improved response from the autofocus system as well.
Everything else is much the same as Nikon have to give us, with Canon's excellent interface and articulating touchscreen LCD still present (although it is 0.2 inches smaller than the Nikon D5600.) Like the D5600, disappointingly, the Canon EOS 800D doesn't offer 4k video resolution though, which is a real drawback in this day in age.
On the balance of things there really isn't much to choose between this and the D5600, so don't be fooled into thinking that one is massively advantageous over the other.
This is right at the top of Nikon's APS-C DSLR range, and it's arguable whether it can even be considered a beginner DSLR camera. That being said, if you have the money to spend on the D500 it could last you for many years.
The Nikon D500 is arguably the best APS-C camera ever released. It's 20.9MP sensor looks modest, but it delivers incredible high ISO results and the improved processor means you can shoot at 10fps for up to 200 frames. This is an absolute gem for sports or action photographers!
Not only that, but it comes with a host of other features such as 4k UHD video recording, a tilting LCD screen, built in WiFi and NFC, in camera timelapse capabilities, a native maximum ISO of 51,200 and a borderline ridiculous 153-point autofocus system.
When you're ready to buy your first DSLR camera, it's important to do your research and find the model that best suits your needs. This buying guide will help you narrow down your choices and decide which features are most important to you.
DSLR cameras come in a variety of shapes and sizes, so it's important to choose one that will be comfortable for you to use. If you have large hands, you may want to consider a full-frame DSLR, which will be easier to grip. If you plan on using your DSLR for travel photography, a smaller body size may be more convenient.
The megapixel count is an important consideration when choosing a DSLR camera. A higher megapixel count means that your images will be crisper and more detailed. However, high megapixel counts also require higher image storage space and larger memory cards. Think about how much photo storage you're likely to need before deciding on a DSLR camera.
Many DSLR cameras also come with built-in Wi-Fi capabilities, which can make it easier to share your photos online or print them directly from your camera. If this feature is important to you, look for models that offer these wireless capabilities.
When choosing a DSLR camera, it's also important to consider the price of each model. Some DSLRs are more affordable than others, but they may have fewer features or lower image quality. Decide what budget you're comfortable with before shopping for a DSLR camera.
Now that you know what to look for in a DSLR camera, you're ready to start shopping! Be sure to compare different models and read online reviews before making your final decision. With a little research, you're sure to find the perfect DSLR camera for your needs.
A DSLR camera is a great choice for beginners who are looking to get into photography because it offers a number of important benefits that other cameras do not. Some of the main advantages of using a DSLR include its impressive image quality, wide variety of lenses and accessories, advanced autofocus features, and manual controls.
One of the biggest reasons why many photographers choose to use a DSLR camera is because of its outstanding image quality. Since these cameras use larger sensors than traditional point-and-shoot cameras, they are able to capture more details and produce richer colors in your photos. You can also achieve depth-of-field effects that are difficult or impossible to create with other types of cameras.
In addition to providing excellent image quality, DSLR cameras also offer a wide range of lenses and accessories to choose from. Whether you are looking for prime or zoom lenses, different filters and flashes, remote timers, or other accessories, there is a good chance that you will find it available for your camera model. This gives you the flexibility to easily customize your camera setup based on your needs and preferences.
Another key benefit of using a DSLR camera is that it allows you to have complete control over your photos. Since these cameras have manual settings for aperture size, shutter speed, and ISO sensitivitythat can be adjusted with ease using dials or buttons on the body. In addition to allowing more creativity in how you capture images, this also gives you greater control over the final outcome of your photos.
If you are interested in photography but have not yet made the jump to using a DSLR camera, consider the many benefits that it can offer you. With its impressive image quality, wide range of lenses and accessories, advanced autofocus features, and manual controls, a DSLR is a great choice for beginner photographers who want to take their craft to the next level.
If you are new to DSLR cameras, then you might be wondering what kinds of DSLR cameras there are. There are a few different types available, and each one is designed for different purposes. Let's take a look at the different options that are out there so that you can choose the one that best suits your needs.
The first type of DSLR camera is a basic or entry-level camera. These models tend to be smaller and simpler than other DSLRs in order to keep the cost down while still providing photo quality similar to professional equipment. Because they don't have as many features as more advanced models, these cameras may not necessarily be ideal for everyone, but they can still make great choices for those who are just getting started with DSLR photography.
The next type of DSLR camera is a mid-range or semi-professional model. These cameras offer more features than entry-level models, but they're still not as feature-packed as professional DSLRs. They usually have better sensors and autofocus systems, which can make a big difference in the quality of your photos. If you're serious about photography and want to get the most out of your camera, then a mid-range DSLR might be a good choice for you.
Finally, there are professional DSLR cameras. These are the top-of-the-line models that offer the best performance and features. They're very popular in professional photography, but they're also great for anyone who wants to get the best possible quality from their camera.
So there you have a quick overview of the different types of DSLR cameras that are available today. When it comes time to choose one, take your own needs and budget into account so that you can find the right model for you.
As a beginner DSLR user, it's important to take care of your camera so that it lasts for years to come. Here are some expert tips on how to do just that:
This might seem like a no-brainer, but you'd be surprised how many people don't bother to read their camera's manual before using it. By taking the time to understand all of your camera's features and settings, you'll be able to use it more effectively and avoid damaging it through misuse.
When you're not using your DSLR, make sure to store it in a safe, dry place where it won't be exposed to excessive heat, cold, or moisture.
When it comes to your camera's power source, you don't want to skimp on quality. Generic batteries may be cheaper up front, but they won't last as long and could end up damaging your camera. Stick with name brand batteries specifically designed for use in DSLR cameras.
One of the most vulnerable parts of your DSLR is the lens mount, so be extra careful when attaching or removing lenses. Always support the body of the camera with one hand while changing lenses, and never force a lens into place if it doesn't seem to fit properly.
Over time, your DSLR can accumulate dust and other debris on its sensor, which will show up as spots in your photos. To avoid this, make sure to regularly clean your camera's sensor using a special cleaning kit or the automatic "cleaning function" settings built into some cameras.
Nikon D3500 W/ AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR Black - Walmart, Etsy, eBay
Nikon D3400 w/ AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR (Black) - Walmart, Etsy, eBay
D5600 DX-format Digital SLR Body - Walmart, Etsy, eBay
Nikon D5300 24.2 MP CMOS Digital SLR Camera with Built-in Wi-Fi and GPS Body Only (Black) - Walmart, Etsy, Ebay
Nikon D3300 w/ AF-P DX 18-55mm VR Digital SLR – Black - Walmart, Etsy, Ebay
Canon EOS REBEL T7i Body - Walmart, Etsy, eBay
Canon EOS Rebel T6i Digital SLR (Body Only) - Wi-Fi Enabled - Walmart, Etsy, Ebay
Canon EOS Rebel T6 Digital SLR Camera Kit with EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS II Lens (Black) - Walmart, Etsy, Ebay
Canon EOS Rebel SL2 DSLR Camera with EF-S 18-55mm STM Lens - WiFi Enabled - Walmart, Etsy, eBay
Canon EOS Rebel T6 Digital SLR Camera Kit with EF-S 18-55mm - Walmart, Etsy, eBay
Nikon D5300 DSLR Camera with AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm - Walmart, Etsy, eBay
Canon EOS Rebel T6i Digital SLR with EF-S 18-55mm IS STM - Walmart, Etsy, eBay
D5600 DX-Format Digital SLR w/AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm - Walmart, Etsy, Ebay
Canon EOS Rebel T7i US 24.2 Digital SLR Camera with 3-Inch - Walmart, Etsy, eBay
Nikon D500 DX-Format Digital SLR (Body Only), Base - Walmart, Etsy, eBay
There you have it, seven of the best beginner DSLR cameras for any photographer looking to enter the market.
All of them offer fantastic image quality, and the enduring brands of Nikon and Canon promise a wide range of lenses and accessories to use in the future.
Feel free to research other brands such as Fuji and Pentax, but just be aware of the reduced range in lenses going forward. Also, don't forget about mirrorless options, which we've run through right here.
About Alex W.
Alex is the owner and lead writer for Click and Learn Photography. An avid landscape, equine, and pet photographer living and working in the beautiful Lake District, UK, Alex has had his work featured in a number of high profile publications, including the Take a View Landscape Photographer of the Year, Outdoor Photographer of the Year, and Amateur Photographer Magazine.