Where mirrorless cameras are the new champions of videography, the best DSLR cameras are still the old masters of photography. That’s why they still hold loyal users. The older users still appreciate their familiar deeper grips and find their bulkier bodies more balanced with the bigger lenses. Some photographers also prefer them for their older optical viewfinders which give them more natural viewing than the newer electronic viewfinders of the mirrorless cameras. And obviously, who wouldn’t like the longer battery life that DSLRs offer over mirrorless cameras?
But where mirrorless technology is improving quite rapidly, DSLRs seem to have reached the pinnacle of their advancement. Finally, the DSLR market is experiencing some stagnancy with fewer DSLRs introduced every new year. But like they say every cloud has a silver lining, this brings opportunity for those users who are price conscious or for some reason can’t pay higher amounts. Now to compete with the cheaper mirrorless, DSLR prices have also been reduced in the last couple of years. And you now have more choices of excellent DSLRs available for under 1000 $ than ever before. You can even go cheaper with DSLRs under 500 $, and still, find excellent beginner DSLRs or pick some older models.
Another advantage that DSLRs bring to the table is the more established and wider lens selection. Yes, it’s true, some professionals prefer lens selection over camera type. Moreover, for enthusiasts and hobbyists looking for better gear, DSLRs offer a more established lens system to grow with. And even if you are a beginner who just wants to upgrade from your cell phone camera, or want to replace your point and shoot camera with a more serious interchangeable lens camera, DSLR is a better choice as its lens collection is diverse and cheap. And it gets even cheaper if you don’t mind buying used lenses.
For those looking for the most advanced professional camera in the market, the newer DSLRs offer excellent 4K and even feature mirrorless technology of on-sensor phase-detect autofocus on their advanced models. Moreover, their bigger and bulkier bodies not only give a professional touch to the photographer’s persona but also hold bigger space for bigger sensors.
Finding the best DSLR cameras isn’t a difficult task because of the limited number of DSLRs produced each year recently. The ones new in the market are already reviewed and categorized. And the older models and used DSLRs are well tested and now available at reasonable prices. Whether you’re are landscape and street photographer, sports and wildlife shooter, a Vlogger, or a serious videographer, there is a DSLR for everyone. And the only thing you need to do is go through our list.
10 Best DSLR Cameras In 2021
1. Nikon D850 – The best DSLR camera for photographers
Sensor: Full frame CMOS Sensor | Megapixels: 45.7 MP | Resolution: 8256 x 5504 |Autofocus: 153-point AF |Screen Type: 3.2-inch diagonal tilted touch screen | Burst Speed: 7fps |Video Resolution: 4K |Viewfinder: Pentapris| User Level: Professional/Expert
This High-resolution camera is still at the top of the list due to its versatile features and excellent performance. With a sensor of 45.7 MP, Nikon D850 is still one of the top trending DSLR cameras in the current market right now. It has a native ISO sensitivity range of 64-25,600, with an upgraded 181,000-pixel RGB metering system. At the same time, ISO can be boosted up to 102,400. The advanced 153-point autofocus system of the camera can also capture 7fps and can shoot 9 fps with a firm grip battery.
Apart from this, this best Nikon camera has become the first of Nikon DSLR cameras to shoot 4K video. It can cover a bitrate of about 144 Mbps at 30 or 24p. Battery life can quickly get you around 1200 stills, and for video, it can last up to 1 hour. However, its autofocus performance is not that good for video, but auto-tracking is still one of the best you can get in DSLRs. And if you are into static videography and want full-frame capability, then you can’t go wrong with Nikon D850.
The physically weather-sealed camera can fulfill any photography need, varying from landscape to astrophotography and wildlife to sports. This all-rounder camera has a 3.2 tilted touch screen. Moreover, its adaption down to -4 EV makes the autofocus system more functional in low-light situations. It makes it the best shooter for studios, and it can be a better option for astrophotography. It has been described as the best DSLR ever produced. And if you are a pure stills photographer and want a camera that can deliver the best landscape photography, then Nikon D850 is for you.
2. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV – The best all-around DSLR camera
Sensor: CMOS | Megapixels: 30.4 MP | Resolution: 6720 × 4480 |Autofocus: 61-points |Screen Type: Touch Screen | Burst Speed: 7fps |Video Resolution: 4,096 x 2,160 |Viewfinder: Optical Pentaprism | User Level: Professional/Expert
With pretty much improvement in every element of 5D Mark III, Canon launched Canon EOS 5D Mark IV in 2016. Although many new cameras have been launched since then, still 5D Mark IV remains in the top list of best DSLR cameras due to its competing features. In fact, it is the first one in the Canon 5D line to record in 4K and it wouldn’t be wrong to call it the best Canon video camera apart from Canon Mirrorless cameras. The camera has an excellent sensor with a resolution of 30.4 MP, and improved noise and dynamic range. It is designed to appeal to professionals with its upgraded Autofocus System and 4K video capture. The LCD is an easy-to-use touch screen with improved weather sealing.
Further, it has built-in WI-FI, NFC, and GPS connectivity. It is first to be among Canons full-frame cameras that can continuously focus in Live View and can capture during the Live View. The ISO sensitivity of the camera is between 100-32000. If you want an outstanding stills camera that shoots excellent 4K with continuous autofocus, Canon EOS 5D Mark IV is the best choice.
3.Nikon D780 – The best DSLR camera for video
Sensor: CMOS | Megapixels: 24.4 MP | Resolution: 6048 x 4024 |Autofocus: 51-point |Screen Type: Tilting touchscreen | Burst Speed: 7 fps |Video Resolution: 3840 x 2160 |Viewfinder: Optical Pentaprism |User Level: Professional/Expert
With the unique feature of on-sensor hybrid AF, D780 is the first Nikon DSLR to share this feature of mirrorless cameras. It is among the most popular DSLR cameras nowadays and is a competitive alternative to its rival cameras. Like other trending Nikon DSLR Cameras, it has a 24-megapixel resolution and fast live view autofocus. It is also a better option for a 4K video shoot. The burst shot speed of D780 is can be enhanced to 12 fps in ‘Silent live view’ using the e shutter but for 12 bit RAW only. The focus system is 51 points and an easy-to-use viewfinder with fast capturing capability. EXPEED 6 processor of the camera helps to handle the data faster and gives improved quality images. It has a high-resolution tilting touch screen, which allows wider 90 % vertical and horizontal coverage.
At the same time, D780 can give high-quality videos, even 4K with no crop, so it is preferable for those who want the best DSLR for video making. The ISO range for D780 lies between 100-51,200, and it can be expandable to 204,800. Besides, it has dual memory card slots and impressive battery performance that is capable of 2260 shots. Furthermore, the camera can be controlled remotely by using Bluetooth/Wi-Fi or Nikon Snapbridge app. Its solid design also provides a comfortable grip during shooting. If you are into events and wedding photography and want a DSLR video camera that can shoot quality uncropped 4K, Nikon D780 is the best all-around camera choice.
4. Nikon D500 – Best DSLR camera for sports and wildlife
Sensor: CMOS (APS-C) | Megapixels: 20.7 MP | Resolution: |Autofocus: 153-point AF |Screen Type: Tilting Touchscreen | Burst Speed: 10 fps |Video Resolution: |Viewfinder: Pentaprism | User Level: Professional/Expert
The Nikon D500 is another beautiful creation with a 21 MP APS-C sensor. It is capable of shooting up to 10fps with a featured autofocus system. The 153-point AF allows full-width coverage. Another significant feature of the D500 is that it can shoot 4K videos. The viewfinder is outstanding, but the Live View shooting is not that incredible. Regardless of its APS-C sensor, it has high ISO performance with a range of 100-51200. Simultaneously, the EXPEED 5 image processor is fast, and it can handle fast continuous shooting. It has much improved features in comparison to older versions such as Nikon D300S. Despite built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, it also has a Snapbridge system. However, it does not have a built-in flash. In comparison to other models such as D7200, D500 is larger and heavier. But still, if you want a fast camera for sports and wildlife photography, it is one of the best-cropped censor DSLR cameras that you can consider in 2021.
5. Nikon D750 – Best DSLR camera for wedding and event photography
Sensor: CMOS | Megapixels: 24.3 MP | Resolution: 6016 x 4016 |Autofocus: 51-points |Screen Type: Tilting | Burst Speed: 6.5 fps |Video Resolution: 1280×720 |Viewfinder: Pentaprism | User Level: Professional/Expert
It is a full-frame camera with a 24.3 MP CMOS sensor. Therefore, it would be a better choice for any photographer willing to switch from APS-C Sensor to full-frame. It has a processing engine of EXPEED 4 with a native ISO sensitivity range of 100-12,800. Besides, it can extend the ISO to 50-51,200, which can be considered as an excellent range to compete with other top DLSR cameras on the list. However, its burst shoot speed is 6.5 fps, as there are cameras with faster shooting speed. Simultaneously, the good news is that the autofocus system of D750 has 51-points, making it useful for the professionals who are willing to add an extender with their telephoto lens. Thus, you can rely on D750 for fantastic photography, but the video capability is limited to 1080p, and it can record a max of 60 frames per second.
Besides, the ergonomics of the camera are fantastic. It has remained compact and light-weight, with a firm grip and comfortable buttons for prolonged use. The LCD can tilt at different angles. It has a built-in flash. Furthermore, the built-in Wi-Fi also allows the camera to be controlled remotely with a smartphone’s help. Also, battery life is capable of 1230 shots. Therefore, the performance of the camera is still compelling in 2021. Nikon D750 is the best budget full-frame DSLR you can get, and it is an excellent camera for weddings and event photography.
6. Canon EOS 90D – Best mid-range all-rounder DSLR
Sensor: CMOS | Megapixels: 32.5 MP | Resolution: 6,960 x 4,640 |Autofocus: 45-point AF |Screen Type: Fully articulating touchscreen | Burst Speed: 7 fps |Video Resolution: 3840 x 2160 |Viewfinder: Optical Pentaprism | User level: Intermediate/Enthusiast
Canon EOS 90D, A mid-range best semi-pro DSLR camera with a higher resolution sensor is also among the latest trends and one of the best DSLR cameras in the global market. With raw image quality, Canon EOS 90D also offers 4k video capture and modest live view AF. It has an APS-CMOS Sensor of 32.5 Megapixels with dual pixel autofocus. This model’s viewfinder is 45-point AF and capable of burst shoot with a speed of 7fps continuously. Further, it has a fully articulating touchscreen display that makes it more convenient. It may look like its predecessors in physical outlook and can be an easy thing to use for users of Canon EOS 80 D. With a similar viewfinder and the LCD screen, 90D is easy to operate.
When it is assessed for its image quality, it would not be wrong to say that the 90D has the highest resolution among all Canon series, currently. Further, the native ISO range is 100 to 25,600, which is fair enough to compete with its rivals in the market. For video making, it offers a 4K shoot with no crop. However, it has no in-body stabilization feature that could irritate you when you are capturing a sudden scene. Overall, it is a great all-around camera with the capability to capture high-quality photos and high-resolution videos.
7. Nikon D7500 – Best affordable DSLR for video and low light photography
Sensor: CMOS | Megapixels: 20 MP | Resolution: 5568 x 3712 |Autofocus: 51-point |Screen Type: Tilting touchscreen | Burst Speed: 8 fps |Video Resolution: 3,840 x 2,160 |Viewfinder: Pentaprism | User level: Intermediate/Enthusiast
Nikon D7500 is another outstanding DX-format DSLR camera for amateurs and enthusiasts, however, with a reduced sensor resolution of 20 MP by Nikon. Irrespective of the resolution, it still makes it to the best DSLR cameras because D7500 gives impressive image results through a better combination of efficient processor and sensor. Simultaneously, some advanced features are also added to the camera, such as a fully articulating tilted touchscreen that can help shoot at different angles. The autofocus system of D7500 is also reliable, and burst shoot speed is quite fast as 8fps. Other than these, it has a built-in flash, Wi-Fi, NCF, blue tooth, and GPS connection. Therefore, it can be said that it would not disappoint modern photographers. With a Focus of 51- points, D7500 has a wide range of ISO sensitivity varying from 100-51,200. With average battery life, it is capable of shooting 950 shots.
Further, it has appreciable ergonomic and menu-related touches that would allow the user to switch from Auto ISO to Manual ISO. It is built with quality in comparison to its predecessors. It is lighter in weight, having a carbon fiber frame. Moreover, weather sealing features guarantee protection from dust and water. Overall, D7500 is an ideal option for shooting video and for its low light image quality. Its speed and low-light performance compensate for the lower sensor resolution.
8. Canon EOS Rebel SL3 / 250D – Best compact DSLR for Vloggers
Sensor: CMOS (APS-C) | Megapixels: 24 MP | Resolution: 5328 x 4000 |Autofocus: 9-points AF |Screen Type: Fully Articulating Rear Touchscreen | Burst Speed: 5 fps |Video Resolution: 3840 x 2160 |Viewfinder: Optical Pentamirror | User level: Beginner/Entry-level
It is an ultra-compact camera with an APS-C sensor camera of 24 MP resolution. It has an accurate and user-friendly Dual Pixel autofocus. It has a user guide like Canon Rebel T7i, which can help beginners get used to the camera. At the same time, the image result of Rebel SL3 is outstanding. It is also capable of 4K videos cropped.
Moreover, the fully articulating rear touch screen makes it fun to use. It is small in size with excellent battery life and solid performance. It is considered the lightest DSLR with a tilting screen in the world. The ISO sensitivity ranges from 100- 25,600, a better range like all the other best DSLR cameras on the list. However, the viewfinder is not up to the mark in the current market because it offers a 9-point autofocus system that is very basic. At the same time, the Live View autofocus is much better.
Furthermore, it has a Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connection, which offers image transfer and remote control through a camera. However, it has a single slot for a memory card. Though Canon EOS Rebel SL3 has some limited features, its performance, battery life, and lightweight make it a better beginner DSLR choice even in 2021.
9. Nikon D3500 – Best budget DSLR for beginners
Sensor: CMOS | Megapixels: 24.2 MP | Resolution: 6,000 × 4,000 pixels |Autofocus: 11 AF points |Screen Type: Fixed Screen | Burst Speed: 5 fps |Video Resolution: 1920 × 1080 |Viewfinder: Pentamirror | User level: Beginner/Entry-level
Like Canon, Nikon also offers better choices for its entry-level users. Nikon D3500, with its guide mode, can be helpful for all those interested in photography but who don’t know much about cameras. It has arrived with updated specifications in the market and can be considered an improved version from its predecessors. It is an excellent package of image quality, lightweight and advanced menu system for an affordable price. If you don’t mind buying used cameras you can buy them at a cheap price under 500 $ only.
It has a 24.2-megapixel sensor with an image processor of EXPEED 4. With the capability of 5fps non-stop shooting speed, Nikon D3500 secures its position among the top ten DSLR cameras around the world. The camera’s viewfinder feature is 11 AF points with the capability to cluster in the middle of the frame. Battery life is much improved as compared to D3400. D3500 can take 1550 shots on a single charge. The native ISO sensitivity range of D3500 is 100 to 25,600. However, it lacks some advanced-level features in comparison to its rivals in the market. It has a fixed rear LCD that limits the camera from shooting at awkward angles. Moreover, its Optical viewfinder is also small as compared to high-end cameras in the market. Regardless of some missing features, D3500 is an outstanding option and the best DSLR camera for beginners who want to shoot sports and want fantastic battery life.
10. Canon EOS Rebel T7i – Best beginners DSLR camera for landscape photography
Sensor: CMOS (APS-C) | Megapixels: 24MP | Resolution: 6000 x 4000 |Autofocus: 45-point |Screen Type: Fully articulated Touch screen | Burst Speed: 6fps |Video Resolution: 1920 x 1080 |Viewfinder: Optical Pentaprism | User level: Beginner
Canon EOS Rebel T7i is another best canon camera that is ideal for beginners. Maintaining the resolution of 24 MP, T7i has an upgraded sensor with a Dual Pixel AF system, which has a better autofocus capability in live view mode and video making. No matter how old Rebel T7i is, still a better choice for all types of photographers due to its enhanced performance, affordable price, and outstanding features. Likely, the 45- AF points viewfinder allows getting through horizontal and vertical sensitivities. The optical viewfinder of the camera is pentamirror but a little dimmer. It is user-friendly with its new guide mode, which helps new users use the camera by highlighting photographic techniques. T7i also possesses advanced features such as built-in Wi-Fi, Android, or iOS device as a remote control, Bluetooth connectivity, and Vari-angle touches LCD. The continuous capture rate for the camera is 6fps.
However, it lacks 4K video support, and the camera’s image stabilization feature is also weak. Besides, its ISO sensitivity lies between 100-25600. Therefore, it would not be wrong to say that T7i is introduced for beginners, who can get help from its user interface to adjust the right exposure mode. It has a fully articulated screen that can frame at odd angles and reverse the LCD. However, some professionals consider it as a hinge due to its fragile nature as a fall or knock could rip the LCD off and ruin the camera. Overall, Canon EOS Rebel T7i is the best entry-level DSLR for beginners who want to shoot in low light and are interested in landscape photography.
What to look for when buying a DSLR camera?
The factors that need to be considered when buying a DSLR camera are wholly dependent on what level of photographer you are, and what type of photography you are interested in. Once you have already sorted that out, it’s time to delve into the following factors to consider.
You need to look into two aspects of the sensor when buying a DSLR. The sensor size and megapixels. Now sensor size is the reason people prefer DSLR over compact (point and shoot) cameras. Bigger sensors that hold bigger photosites ensure the greater dynamic range and hence ensure better picture quality. While megapixels are only important for professionals who want to print their photos. It’s helpful especially for wildlife photographers who want to crop their photos in order to get a closer print of their subject. In other words, it allows good digital zoom.
Another aspect you have to look into is sensor type. Usually, you’ll have to choose between, APS-C and Micro four thirds or Medium format and full-frame sensors. Now, sensor format varies among different brands but for the simple thumb of rule, APS-C and Micro four-thirds come with crop factor and are considered as defacto for beginner cameras while Medium format and Full-frame sensors offer no crop or very little crop and hence are considered defacto for professional cameras.
The brand is important because It is usually very difficult and costly to change once you get used to it. So, it is better to choose a brand that you find feasible. And that you can decide by seeing how rich the lens line of the brand is, as well as how costly are its other accessories. The most common brands for DSLRs are Nikon and Canon, but you’ll find some good DSLRs from Pentax as well. These brands usually offer limited compatibility outside their brand but you can use their DSLR lenses on their mirrorless cameras from the same brand with an adopter. But it will certainly cost you more. And it is also important to see how much compatibility the brand offers with third-party accessories like microphones and flashlights.
Battery life is one aspect that makes DSLR superior to mirrorless cameras. DSLRs come with excellent battery lives and it is indicated by shots per charge or video hours per charge. So make sure your DSLR comes with good battery life especially if you want to shoot for long hours.
Conventionally, most DSLRs use phase detection. In phase detection, the camera employs a number of fixed autofocus points to focus on the subject. The greater the number of AF points the faster and more precise the autofocus is.
Some DSLRs now also use contrast detection which was until recently only used in mirrorless and point and shoot cameras. This type of focusing is sensor-based and the more advanced type.
Now both types work great. And it is advisable to have either one instead of having non. Autofocus is important because it makes shooting easier where your subject needs fast-tracking for instance while shooting fast-moving subjects in sports or while shooting wildlife.
Another very important factor to consider, for sports and wildlife photography, in particular, but also very important for street and travel photographers as well. DSLRs use two types of image stabilization, sensor-shift image stabilization, and lens-shift image stabilization.
Sensor shift-type also called in-body image stabilization is ideal as it stabilizes any lens footage. But lens-based stabilization is considered more specialized as being specifically tailored and lens-specific.
View finder and monitor
Most DSLR cameras use an optical viewfinder with either a pentaprism or pentamirror design. Pentaprism is the more traditional component when compared to pentamirror and hence slightly bigger and heavier, while pentamirror on the other hand comes with a slightly darker viewable image on the viewfinder. High-end DSLRs usually use pentaprism while most entry-level DSLR use pentamirror to lose weight.
One more thing to consider in the viewfinder is its frame coverage, which usually comes in the range of 95 to 100%. 100% is ideal since lesser coverage means you’d lose some portion of the image.
Most DSLR cameras now come with rear monitors that can be 3 inches in size and even bigger in some models. A bigger screen usually looks better but what matters the most is its resolution. You can easily find DSLR screens with resolutions up to over one million dots. The higher it is the sharper the image will be on the screen. So always ensure that the bigger monitor you choose is backed by higher resolution. Because it’s no use to have a bigger screen that’s dull.
Some DSLRs also use touch monitors. These monitors come with touch screens that allow menu navigation and autofocus on the screen, which can be quite intuitive than working with multiple wheels and dials.
Another aspect that is important to look into, especially if you are a vlogger or pro videographer, is the tilting or swiveling design of the screen. Some DSLR cameras now even come with fully articulating touch screens that really add up to the multiple angles shooting capability of your camera.
Most DSLRs are capable of shooting 1080p, while some high-end cameras can now shoot in 4K or even higher. Where 4K is becoming popular 1080p is commonly used for its vivid playback and rich editing capabilities. Another aspect to look into is your HDMI output, if you are interested in linking your DSLR to HDTV for full quality playback, you’ll need a clean HDMI.
Remember, for videographers audio capability becomes as important as their camera’s video capability itself. So always check if your DSLR support an external microphone, in case it doesn’t come with a good quality internal microphone.
Auto controls are helpful when you are just starting up, but it becomes crucial for your DSLR to possess the full range of exposure adjustments including ISO, aperture, and shutter speed as you grow as a photographer. Manual adjustments allow you to master full control over your photography and it plays an important role in your photography style and skills development.
Even though the crown for the best DSLR goes to Nikon D850, it is the best camera for professional photography for quite some time now and still remains photographers’ favorite. But there is never an absolute best in the camera world. Some cameras are best for still photographers, and some are best for videographers. Some are all-rounders, but then again, you can always find a specialized camera that beats them in either stills or videography. And that is how the camera marketing world works.
That’s why in our list of best DSLR cameras, we have included the top choices for all users of all levels. And we have also made sure that we list the best DSLR cameras from the market for you. Whether they are the full-frame or cropped sensor, whether they are expensive, midrange, or budget DSLRs, new or older ones, we have addressed them all for you. And we are pretty sure that when you are reading this, you’ve already made your choice by now. Congratulations!