10 Best DSLR Cameras for Beginners in Photography
The research process before purchasing a new beginner can be intense. There’s so much information out there, and it can often feel intimidating, especially if you’re new to photography. That is where we come in.
Over here at KEH, we’ve seen, held, graded, and shot with many cameras. So we decided to put our expertise to good use and create a helpful resource featuring our top 10 DSLR cameras for beginners.
But why DSLR? DSLR cameras are generally better for beginners than other digital cameras like medium format or mirrorless cameras. They offer a wider selection of interchangeable lenses, longer battery life, and their optical viewfinder works wonders in low-lighting conditions. This makes them awesome entry-level cameras.
Whether you’re looking to pick up your very first DSLR, making the switch from a point-and-shoot to DSLR, or just wanting to see some of our top picks for easy-to-use options, we’ve got you covered. Here’s our beginner’s guide to cameras — DSLR edition.
Best overall value for students — Canon EOS Rebel T3i
If you’re searching for a high-value option on a smaller budget, the Canon EOS Rebel T3i has the top spot. This compact DSLR features an 18-megapixel CMOS image sensor and Canon DIGIC 4 image processor to deliver rich, impactful photos and videos… and it’s so simple and fun to shoot. As far as we’re concerned, it’s the best bargain in full-featured DSLRs.
Best Nikon for students on a budget — Nikon D3200
Boasting a 24.2-megapixel CMOS sensor, a 3-inch LCD screen display, and the EXPEED 3 imaging engine, the Nikon D3200 delivers unrivaled high-quality detail and depth in every image and video… even in low light situations. Plus, it features an easy-to-use Guide Mode to help you get comfortable with the camera, and six optimized Shooting Modes (including Portrait, Landscape, Close-up, and more) to help beginners get the perfect shot.
Best all-purpose budget Canon for shooting everything — Canon EOS 70D
This semi-pro shooter is a great all-around camera for anyone new to DSLRs. With weather-sealed housing and a silent shutter mode, this 20.2-megapixel option can go anywhere and shoot everything. Plus, the accurate autofocus is great for new photographers.
Best all-purpose Nikon for high-performance shooting — Nikon D7100
Searching for a budget-friendly beginner DSLR for both still photos and video? The Nikon D7100 is a great pick. This semi-professional camera boasts an impressive 6 fps, making it an excellent pick for action photography. Plus, the 3.2” screen makes it easy to navigate menus and sort through photos — perfect for new photographers.
Best affordable camera for shooting sports — Canon EOS 7D
If you’re looking to snag a reasonably priced, action-oriented camera body, the EOS 7D is your best bet. It’s one of the most capable cameras on the market, designed for shooting sports, action, and wildlife photography. The EOS 7D is a top choice for pros and beginners alike.
Best full-frame Nikon for students or enthusiasts — Nikon D600
Get consistently beautiful images and full HD video with this pro-level full-frame DSLR. The superior low light performance and fast frame rates mean that there’s lots of room for trial and error for anyone shooting with this compact camera. Plus, the built-in pop-up flash really opens you up to a whole world of shooting possibilities.
Best full-frame Canon for students — Canon EOS 5D Mark II
This full-frame DSLR from Canon is wildly popular — and for good reason, too. With a stunning 21.1-megapixel CMOS sensor and exclusive EOS technologies like Auto Lighting Optimizer and Peripheral Illumination Correction, this camera packs a huge punch. If you’re on the hunt for an affordable full-frame camera, look no further than the 5D Mark II.
Best ultra-high resolution budget camera — Nikon D800
An all-around sharp shooter has some seriously impressive specs — 36.3-megapixels, true 1080p HD video recording, and incredible dynamic range. Capture unbelievable clarity, depth, and texture knowing that you won’t have to sacrifice any of the details if you choose to print. Plus, with environmental sealing and a well-designed ergonomic body, this camera can handle a variety of situations.
Honorable mention: Most compact DSLR for school or travel — Canon EOS Rebel SL2
This Canon might be light and small in size, but it’s enormous in performance and impact. It has an impressive APS-C sensor with 24.1-megapixels of resolution, ISO range (100-25600!), and vivid Live View shooting. Thanks to a fully-articulating touchscreen display and a fast Dual Pixel CMOS AF autofocus, you won't miss a thing. The Rebel SL2 is the ultimate in beginner DSLR cameras for anyone looking to upgrade from iPhone shooting.
Honorable mention: Best affordable Nikon with swivel screen — Nikon D5000
Thanks to Nikon’s Scene Modes, you can skip all of the confusing and complex camera settings. This, paired with the flip-down swivel screen makes the D5000 so easy to navigate and just start shooting. Nikon didn’t skimp on quality here, either — 12.3 megapixels and low noise ISO sensitivity are just the beginning.
Great cameras are not hard to come by if you know what to look for. We hope our compilation of the best entry-level DSLR cameras was helpful. Enjoy the journey of picking up a new-to-you DSLR… and get out there and shoot.