Ready to make the step up from your smartphone or point-and-shoot camera to something a bit more powerful? You’ve landed in the right place: these are the best beginner DSLRs you can buy right now in 2019.
An entry-level, beginner DSLR is the natural progression when you feel like you’ve outgrown your point-and-shoot compact camera or are no longer satisfied with the snaps you get from your smartphone.
With so much competition between Canon and Nikon at this end of the market, and a raft of older models and new arrivals fighting against each other, it’s entirely possible that this will be the opportunity for one or both manufacturers to drop their asking prices to a new low.
DSLRs for beginners deliver a big step up in image quality over a compact camera or smartphone. They may share the same number of megapixels, but the size of an entry-level DSLR’s sensor is physically much larger, which allows for superior results with more detail and better low-light performance.
On top of that, you get plenty of manual control over things like shutter speed and aperture, together with the option to change lenses to suit whatever it is you’re shooting. Don’t worry if you’re still finding your feet here, as you can let the camera do all the hard work at first and slowly take more control as and when you feel more comfortable, all the while benefitting from that better standard of image quality.
You may also want to consider a mirrorless camera as an alternative. If so, you’ll find our video above or Mirrorless vs DSLR cameras: 10 key differences guide very useful. 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?
Still set on a DSLR? We think the best DSLR for beginners is the Nikon D3500. It’s small, light and cheap, but manages to provide a much better user experience than we normally get at this level, with a helpful Guide mode on board to show how to get the most out of the camera in an easy-to-understand way. Handling is great and the sensor produces very nice images, while features like 5fps burst shooting and full manual control give you some growing space too.
Should you buy a mirrorless camera over a DSLR? Watch our guide video below to learn more:
Entry-level DSLR bundles
If you’re buying your first DSLR, it makes sense to buy it as a kit, which generally includes the camera body along with an 18-55mm lens. Often referred to as a ‘kit’ lens, this covers a pretty broad zoom range, perfect for everything from landscapes to portraits – but that’s just the start.
A word of warning, though. Look closely and manufacturers will often offer two types of kit lens, one with image stabilization and one without. Normally there’s not much difference in price, so make sure to go for the kit with the image-stabilized lens as it’ll make it easier to sharper images at slower shutter speeds.
These kinds of lenses are more than adequate to get you started, but the key advantage of DSLRs over compact cameras is that you can add to your kit with additional lenses. For example, wide-angle and telephoto zoom lenses, as well as high-quality macro options. You can also add a flashgun and other accessories, which help you to make the most of whatever types of photography you’re into.
What you need to know about Black Friday 2019
The Black Friday and Cyber Monday deals period is an ideal time to pick up a bargain compact camera. Lots of the big retailers are likely to have some great camera bargains, especially as they try to tempt you away from your smartphone camera. That said, don’t necessarily assume that flagship models will suddenly see a huge reduction in price when it comes to Black Monday. If you’re keen on one of the fantastic cameras featured on this page, you’ll notice that our handy widgets always show you the latest and best prices. On the other hand, if your primary concern is a great bargain – bookmark our Black Friday camera deals page to keep your eye on the latest deals.
Best entry-level DSLRs 2019 at a glance
- Nikon D3500
- Canon EOS Rebel T7i / EOS 800D
- Nikon D5600
- Canon EOS Rebel T7/ 2000D / EOS 1500D
- Canon EOS Rebel SL3 / EOS 250D / EOS 200D Mark IIpty list
Mirrorless option: Canon EOS M50
Baby DSLR styling with 4K video and a lovely EVF
Sensor: APS-C CMOS | Megapixels: 24.1MP | Lens mount: Canon EF-M | Screen: 3-inch, 1,040,000 dots | Continuous shooting speed: 10fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Beginner
Great handling for a mirrorless camera
Cheap considering the built-in EVF
4K video has a 1.6x crop factor
Lack of native lens options
We’ll get onto the best DSLRs for beginners in a second, but before we do, we just wanted to highlight a mirrorless option that has a handful of advantages. The EOS M50 is styled very much like a DSLR, but it’s far smaller and has a lovely electronic viewfinder that makes it particularly good for use in low light. It shoots 4K video and images at up to 10fps, which is speedier than what we get in DSLRs of a similar level, while the Dual Pixel CMOS AF system means it can focus smoothly and promptly across all manner of situations. There aren’t too many lens options around right now, but you can use EF lenses though an adapter. If you want something a little smaller than the average DSLR, it’s well worth a look.
Best DSLRs for beginners in 2019
You don’t need to spend huge sums on a DSLR to get something that handles well, takes great images and works with a huge variety of lenses. In fact, you can often save yourself a fair chunk of cash if you’re happy to go for a slightly older model. Manufacturers often keep these available as newer DSLRs arrive to give users a choice between the very latest tech and a better-value option. Here, we’ve listed the best cheap DSLRs, from recent arrivals to older favourites.
1. Nikon D3500
Not the flashiest camera here, but we reckon it’s the best right now
Sensor: APS-C CMOS | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Lens mount: Nikon DX | Screen: 3-inch, 921,000 dots | Continuous shooting speed: 5fps | Max video resolution: 1080p | User level: Beginner
Excellent image quality
Easy to use
No touchscreen control
Bluetooth but no Wi-Fi
Nikon may not have announced any new entry-level DSLRs in 2019, but the D3500 remains an excellent option for those new to photography. It picks up from where the D3400 left off, but with a handful of extra perks. Unlike power-hungry mirrorless models, the major advantage of this camera is battery life. You can keep going for 1,550 images between charges, which is way ahead of most other DSLRs, while the 24MP sensor delivers excellent image quality. Nikon has also revised the body and control layout, not only to make it nicer to handle but easier to use too, while the Guide Mode takes the first-time user’s hand and walks them through all the key features in a way that makes everything easy to understand. We love it – and if you’re just getting started, we reckon you will too.
2. Canon EOS Rebel T7i / Canon EOS 800D
This older model packs a good boost in features over cheaper DSLRs
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
No 4K video
The EOS Rebel T7i (known as the EOS 800D outside the US) still sits at the top of Canon’s entry-level EOS DSLR range, despite being a few years old now. Sporting a 24.2MP sensor that delivers an improved high-ISO performance over older models, the Rebel T7i’s autofocus also gets a boost, now with a 45-point arrangement that’s backed up by excellent live view AF system. There’s also newly designed graphical interface that will certainly make this camera even more appealing to new users, although if you need 4K video then you’re better off looking at the EOS Rebel SL3 / EOS 250D (see below) or a mirrorless model.
3. Nikon D5600
Need a little more power? The D5600 could be what you’re after
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
Here’s another model which is still holding its own against the rise of mirrorless. The D5600 is a step up from the D3000-series models, with a stronger set of specs to rival the likes of the Canon EOS Rebel T7i / EOS 800D (position 3). Key advantages over the D3400 and D3500 include a larger LCD screen, which not only flips out and swivels all the way around to face the front, but also responds to touch, together with a more advanced autofocus system, Wi-Fi and a healthy range of additional control on the inside. Sure, you pay a little bit more for the privilege, but if you need a little more growing space it makes sense to go for the D5600 so that it stays with you for years to come.
4. Canon EOS Rebel T7 / Canon EOS 2000D
Pick up Canon’s no-frills entry-level DSLR at a bargain price
Sensor: APS-C CMOS | Megapixels: 24.1MP | Lens mount: Canon EF-S | Screen: 3-inch, 920,000 dots | Continuous shooting speed: 3fps | Max video resolution: 1080p | User level: Beginner
Easy to use
Logically laid out controls
Dated AF system
This is one of the cheapest DSLRs in Canon’s current line-up, which also makes it a very cost-effective way to get access to an endless assortment of lenses, flashguns and other accessories. Its low price tag means that it understandably lacks some of the fancy tricks of its bigger brothers – flip-out LCD, 4K video and so on – but there’s still a very good level of physical control on offer. And, most importantly, image quality from the 24MP sensor is sound. It’s designed very much with its target audience in mind, with a Feature Guide to help you understand everything, and battery life is also better than many mirrorless models at this price point – still a key advantage of DSLRs. Wi-Fi, NFC and Full HD video recording round off the specs, making it a well-rounded first-time option.
5. Canon EOS Rebel SL3 / EOS 250D
The world’s smallest and lightest DSLR with a movable LCD
Sensor: APS-C CMOS | Megapixels: 24.1MP | Lens mount: Canon EF-S | Screen: 3-inch, 1,040,000 dots | Continuous shooting speed: 5fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Beginner
Nice JPEGs straight from the camera
Cheapest DSLR with 4K video
9-point AF system is dated
Heavy rolling shutter in 4K
The EOS Rebel SL3, also known as the Canon EOS 250D, is the latest entry-level arrival to this list – indeed it’s one of only a handful of models announced in 2019. Like its name suggests, it picks up from where the Rebel SL2 (EOS 200D) left off, adding a fresh processing engine and 4K video recording on top of a collection of smaller extras. There may be lots of competition from mirrorless right now, but if you like the traditional handling of a DSLR – including an optical viewfinder – the 250D is one of the most attractive models available right now.
None of the above take your fancy? Here’s another option to consider.
Canon EOS 77D
A little more control and mid-range features on board
Sensor: APS-C CMOS | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Autofocus: 45-point AF, (all cross-type) | Screen type: 3-inch articulating touchscreen, 1,040,000 dots | Continuous shooting speed: 6fps | Movies: 1080p | User level: Beginner/enthusiast
Dual Pixel CMOS AF is great
Huge lens range
Body a bit plasticky
No 4K video
The EOS 77D is a slightly more advanced beginner DSLR, and it provides a few extra treats for those who feel they may outgrow more basic models before long. While we weren’t too excited about it at the time of its release, the fact that it’s spent some time on the market now means it can be bought for a much more agreeable price tag. On top of the bones of the EOS 800D, there’s a top-plate LCD screen that gives you shooting options at a glance, as well as two control dials to make adjusting options faster. You also get some extras on the inside such as bulb and interval timers. If you can stretch to the EOS 80D that sits just about it, even better – otherwise, this would be a slightly more capable option than its more basic siblings.