One of the most commonly found tools in any photographer’s and visual artist’s toolbox, DSLRs have come a long way and are bound to keep evolving, becoming better and even more powerful by every passing day. These cameras are successors to the good old film SLRs or Single Lens Reflex Cameras, which are called so on account of the presence of a single lens within their durable bodies. Now, it is time to examine the best DSLR cameras and present our findings so you will be able to make a decision as to which model to purchase for the shutterbug within you.
When purchasing a DSLR camera, make sure you pay close attention to the system as a whole, for, a DSLR is not intended for use in isolation. Over time, you will find yourself assembling a whole system comprising of an array of lenses, flashes, filters, and other accessories. It is important to take compatibility factors into consideration so as to ensure everything fits together and syncs electronically well. In case you’d like to learn more about this, make sure to read this article in its entirety.
Best DSLR Cameras for Photo & Video Shooting!
While we list the best camera models below, you’ll note that we also list the main factors that inspired us to choose these cameras at the bottom of this article. Therefore, there are many things you need to know, so let’s get started.
1. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
- Features: High-definition photo and video shooting; High-speed CMOS sensor; Dual pixel AF; DIGIC 6+ image processor.
- Image Resolution: Up to 30.4 MP.
- Sensor Size: Full frame.
- Burst Capabilities: 7 fps continuous.
- Autofocus: Dual pixel, 61-point AF.
- Size 5.9 x 4.5 x 2.9 in.
- Weight: 31.4 oz.
The Canon EOS 5D MARK IV is the illustrious successor of the legendary 5D Mark III. The camera has inspired millions of photographers around the world to pursue their dreams knowing that a faithful companion was there by their side all along. The 5D Mark IV enhances their vision, even more, introducing a host of useful features that weren’t present in the original model while also enhancing further its existing capabilities.
The camera features a completely redesigned full frame sensor that comes with a whopping resolution of 30.4 megapixels. The sensor produces stunning 4K stills and moving images that will stand heavy post production and retouching without a problem. You will be surprised at the amount of information the camera sensor retains even after heavy cropping- such is the power of the imaging sensor.
Also, this model has an amazing ISO range that varies from 100 to 32000. The range is expandable up to 50-102400. Needless to say, this range guarantees an unprecedented dynamic range. Large sensors such as the one found on this camera will help you take stunning low-light images with ease, which is often a difficult task with other cameras.
Finally, a few words on the video capabilities. The Mark IV can record 4K videos with ease – and it records 4K videos in the MJPEG format at 30 or 24 fps in the progressive mode. Also, the camera allows users to grab still images from 4K videos at resolutions of 8.8 MP.
2. Nikon D850
- Features: a Backside-illuminated image sensor; Outstanding dynamic range; Tilting touchscreen; Incredibly long battery life.
- Image Resolution: Up to 45.7 MP.
- Sensor Size: Full frame.
- Burst Capabilities: 7fps continuous (9fps with optional grip).
- Autofocus: Multi-cam 20K, 153 focus points.
- Size 5.7 x 4.8 x 3.0 in.
- Weight: 35.8 oz.
Nikon D850 has received rave reviews online. This DSLR camera has been appreciated for its whopping pixel count, which blows the other cameras out of the water. This is the one camera that will suit both videographers and photographers. The D850, according to its specs, can shoot 8K UHD timelapse shots. You will also be able to shoot 4K or 1080p in 120p. The camera features an ISO range varying from 64 to 25600 and uses a 153-point focusing system that utilizes a specially designed sequence control microcomputer.
What makes D850 a milestone camera is the fact that this is Nikon’s first DSLR with a back-illuminated sensor, which is known for its high efficiency. This is the key to the power of the DSLR, which easily reaches up to 25600 ISO despite having a monumental pixel count. The camera uses the EXPEED5 image processing engine, which renders images in superb quality.
The Picture Control system will allow you to choose from the seven presets built-in. Individual settings such as sharpness and clarity can be fine-tuned in each preset to achieve the desired effect. The Nikkor lenses enable you to exploit the full resolution of the 45.7 MP sensor. The camera also has dual memory card slots: UHS-II SD cards and XQD. And lastly, it also comes with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth support.
3. Nikon D500
- Features: DX-Format CMOS sensor; EXPEED 5 image processor; 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen; Advanced ISO capabilities.
- Image Resolution: Up to 20.9 MP.
- Sensor Size: Nixon DX format.
- Burst Capabilities: 10 fps.
- Autofocus: Multi-cam 20K, 153 focus points.
- Size 5.7 x 4.5 x 3.1 in.
- Weight: 30.3 oz.
This is a technological powerhouse that can help you take stunning low-light shots. You will also be able to take stunning 4K UHD videos using the Nikon D500 – a great feature for this pricing point!
The camera boasts Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities as well, adding to its versatility. Called the SnapBridge technology, this will allow the camera to transfer its images to a smart device. Nikon D500 also features NFC (Near Field Communication) that allows the device to connect to a smart device placed nearby. This DSLR model will prove an ideal choice for beginners and intermediate users thanks to its compact design.
The AF system in the D500 takes a mammoth leap and this new upgrade is a major reason for its placement amidst the other models on the list of best DSLRs. The entire system has been redesigned and uses a dedicated unit for autofocus, which makes AF much more faster, reliable, and accurate. The AF system is so accurate you will be able to focus down to -4 EV from the central focus point and -3 EV from the other points. This will help you eliminate the common problems experienced when shooting under low light or with subjects that offer a very low contrast.
4. Canon EOS 80D
- Features: Improved CMOS AF; Built-in Wi-Fi and NFC; Vari-angle touchscreen; HDR movie, time-lapse, and creative filter options; Anti-flicker system.
- Image Resolution: Up to 24.2 MP.
- Sensor Size: Canon APS-C.
- Burst Capabilities: 7 fps.
- Autofocus: 45-AF points, all cross type, TTL-CT-SIR.
- Size 5.4 x 4.1 x 3.0 in.
- Weight: 25.7 oz.
A very powerful intermediate-level DSLR camera from Canon, this beast will deliver professional results in less than half the price of the heavyweights we mentioned earlier on this list. The camera is also much lighter than many similar models and thus easier to carry around.
As with the other cameras in this list, the 80D will easily connect to your smartphone. What’s more, you will not only be able to see a live view of what your camera sees from your smartphone but also be able to control it. The camera has 45 AF points, which can shoot even under -3 EV. This results in accurate focusing, which is critical in all areas of photography but especially important in areas where subjects are often beyond the control of the photographer: wildlife and sports.
Another important highlight of this camera is the fact that it uses a metering sensor, which is sensitive to both visible and IR light. The ISO sensitivity varies from 100 to 16,000, which will help you take HDR shots with ease.
The touchscreen LCD monitor at the back can be tilted, a feature which Canon calls Vari-angle. As we’ve said before, this is an intermediate level DSLR camera that is targeted at prosumers or professional consumers. These are basically users who are not usually beginners, being experienced in the world of photography and looking out for an affordable upgrade to their equipment.
5. Nikon D5600
- Features: SnapBridge-compatible; NIKKOR kit lens; Enhanced video features; In-camera tools; Free cloud storage.
- Image Resolution: Up to 24.2 MP.
- Sensor Size: Nikox DX format.
- Burst Capabilities: 5 fps.
- Autofocus: 39 focus points.
- Size 4.8 x 3.8 x 2.7 in.
- Weight: 16.4 oz.
The D5600 succeeds a hugely popular D5500 made by Nikon. An ideal camera for beginners to the world of DSLRs, the D5600 has some amazing features, which includes SnapBridge, the technology that allows you to connect your camera to your smart device. You can easily transfer images from your DSLR to your smart device using this technology.
What’s more, the camera can be remotely controlled from the app on your smartphone. You will be able to see a live preview of the image being captured: ideal when taking selfies and group pictures. The camera will also capture location information and append it to the picture metadata.
Last but not the least, you might be aware how looking out for firmware updates to the cameras you own is a real pain. Nikon D5600 simplifies that by sending you notifications on your app when a new update is ready to be installed.
6. Sony A68
- Features: Sony’s 4D Focus; APS HD CMOS sensor; SteadyShot technology; OLED viewfinder; Multi-interface shoe.
- Image Resolution: Up to 24.2 MP.
- Sensor Size: APS-C.
- Burst Capabilities: 8 fps.
- Autofocus: 79 phase points; 15 cross points.
- Size 5.5 x 4.1 x 3.2 in.
- Weight: 32.2 oz.
Well, this camera certainly deserves a place amongst the best DSLRs. It simply outpaces the Canon and Nikon models with a similar pricing by leaps and bounds, thanks to its pro features that make it truly stand apart. While Canon and Nikon seem to remove some essential features from their entry-level models, Sony has a number of amazing ones even in its lower-priced DSLRs.
The A68 is great for photographers and cinematographers alike. We were pleasantly surprised that this camera can, in fact, shoot Full HD movies with a bitrate of 50 Mbps, which is only found in the top-end video cameras. The A68 features 79 phase detection AF points and takes a different approach to AF than the other DSLRs in that it uses a translucent mirror, which directs some of the light falling upon it to the sensor behind apart from reflecting some onto the viewfinder. This enables the camera to use fast phase detection based AF.
The ISO range offered by the camera varies from 100 to 25600 so you get smooth tonal gradations and amazing color reproduction. In the movie mode, you will be able to benefit from an ISO range varying from 100 to 12800, resulting in superb HDR imagery.
How to Find The Best DSLRs? – Tips & Tricks!
So, you saw the list of the best DSLR models currently available. But, how did we choose them? What factors should you be looking out for when purchasing a DSLR? The following are the main factors which guided our selections when choosing the best cameras and should guide yours as well.
The imaging sensor, it goes without saying, is the single most important component of any DSLR. This is because DSLR bodies are differentiated into two types depending on the size of the imaging sensor: you can either go for a full-frame DSLR with a sensor measuring 36 mm x 24 mm or purchase an APS-C sized sensor (Canon: 22.2 x 14.8 mm) or DX (Nikon: 24 x 16 mm) sensor.
Each sensor type has its own advantages and disadvantages. While a full-frame camera will be much heavier with better color reproduction and low-light capabilities, an APS-C sized sensor camera will be lighter and offer better opportunities for wildlife and macros photographers looking to get as close to their subject as possible through the use of telephoto lenses, for this format multiplies the focal length of the lens placed on the camera. The sensor size will also have a bearing on the type of lenses the camera body will take.
2. AF System
The autofocus technologies are getting better by the day and can usually be trusted to deliver the best average performance under a variety of conditions. Pay a close attention to the type of AF system the camera has: how many cross-type sensors does it have? (these are more sensitive to light). Does the camera support parallel processing and have a dedicated AF unit? If so, as is the case with almost all modern DSLRs, the camera will focus much faster.
It is also important to note that though the accuracy of automatic focus is unmatched and it will work faster and more accurately than focusing manually at almost every instance under good lighting conditions, the moment ambient light levels drop, you’ll note that the AF system will begin struggling with focusing. Switch to the MF mode, in this case, to focus manually.
3. Burst Rate
Also called the drive mode on some models, the burst rate is the maximum shooting rate the camera offers when clicking stills. While the top-end models might go up to 10 fps (10 frames per second, which means the camera can shoot 10 still images continuously while the shutter button is pressed before the buffer becomes full), the lower-priced and entry-level DSLRs will have a rating of around 5 fps.
It must be noted that not all of us need the highest burst speeds – they are better suited to wildlife and sports photographers in particular. Another important factor is 4K compatibility, which many of the cameras in our list feature. In addition to recording in UHD, many cameras will allow you to extract still images from the recording, functioning in the manner of a 24 or 30 fps burst capture, though in a slightly lower resolution! Not bad when you need to grab as many frames as possible for that fleeting moment that comes once in a lifetime!
Well, this is the latest addition to the list of desirable features. A year or two ago, DSLRs, even the high priced ones, had no Wi-Fi connectivity. However, times have changed and users appreciate the convenience of having a camera that can quickly connect to their smartphones and tablets for them to be able to transfer images and share them quickly on social media.
This is a powerful new feature, and most modern DSLRs have this feature built-in. Most new DSLRs will not only allow you to transfer images from their SD cards to the phone through wireless bridges but also allow you to remotely control your DSLR from your smart device. This will come in handy when, for instance, you wish to set up your camera equipment in a hide in the wilderness and step back somewhere safe, waiting for the right moment.
5. Look and Feel
This is an often overlooked aspect when it comes to choosing a DSLR. While looking at several different DSLR camera models online, it is easy to get lost in their specs ignoring an important consideration of how the camera actually looks and feels in your hands.
The best camera in the world with every starry spec might be worthless if it is difficult to use or just doesn’t feel right in your hands. Are the buttons too tight or too loose? Can you easily access all crucial features easily? Make sure you give these factors a critical thought for you’ll be using your DSLR to shoot under a variety of operating conditions and it is important to be comfortable with a device you’ll be lugging all day.
6. Video Capabilities
The video capabilities of DSLR models are continuously improving. So much so that many of these models now rival the best in class professional video cameras. DSLRs are well-suited to video on account of their large sensors, which results in beautiful bokeh. The interchangeability of lenses all adds to the versatility of the video system.
Some models such as the Sony A68 really extend the video capabilities even more by adding high bitrate video shooting modes, which are the hallmark of the more expensive video camcorders. Gone are the days when DSLRs had video added only as an afterthought. Modern devices have professional video capabilities engineered from the ground up.
With this, we conclude our reviews of the best DSLRs on the market today. We sincerely hope you’ve found our models useful and that this article helps you make a decision. Make sure you test and try the camera and its controls yourself before you make the final decision.
Written by David Minister