Despite the ubiquity of picture-capturing smartphones and the emergence of modern devices such as mirrorless cameras, DSLRs are still highly popular among both amateur and professional photographers. The market is filled with models ranging from entry-level to high-end, with even the former packing loads of features that are more than enough even for the enthusiast photographer. Prices for both camera bodies and lenses are also quite competitive so now is surely a good time to get one of the best DSLR for beginners available.
Nikon D3400 w/ 18-55mm
The D3400 is the latest entry-level DX-format DSLR from Nikon. It comes with a 24.2 MP sensor that is capable of capturing an impressive amount of detail even in low-light conditions while also enabling you to apply different crop techniques with ease. There’s no Low-Pass filter in front of the sensor so you get to enjoy sharper images as well.
The D3400 gives you flexibility in terms of ISO settings (100-25600), and you get 5 fps shooting that’s great for sports or other fast-moving subjects. The kit includes the versatile 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G lens with the VR (vibration reduction) feature that helps reduce camera shake.Buy from Amazon.com for ($439)
Canon REBEL T7i w/ 18-55mm
With the Canon REBEL T7i, you get a 24.2 MP APS-C sensor that can capture even fine details, a 45-point cross-type AF system for quick focusing and sharp images, and a Dual Pixel CMOS AF (only in Live View Mode) that is capable of autofocusing in just 0.03 seconds.
The 3-inch Vari-angle Touch Screen can help you compose perfect pictures even from weird/uncomfortable positions while also giving you quick control over focus and zoom functions. There’s also a high-speed continuous shooting mode that can take up to 6 fps.
This model comes with the 18–55mm f/4–5.6 IS STM lens which makes it a prime choice if you’re looking for Christmas presents for guys.Buy from Amazon.com for ($749)
Canon Rebel SL2 w/ 18-55mm
If you’re looking for a good DSLR for beginners that sells for a reasonable price, you might want to consider the Canon Rebel SL2 + EF-S 18-55mm STM Lens kit. With this package, you get a compact and lightweight camera equipped with a 24.2 MP sensor as well as a snap-fast and highly accurate AF system.
The Vary-angle Touch Screen allows you to take pictures from any angle while also giving you enough detail to make adjustments on the fly. You also get all the modern connectivity features you could want and need, such as Wi-Fi, Bluetooth Technology, and NFC.Buy from Amazon.com for ($599)
Pentax K-70 w/ 18-135mm
The Pentax K-70 boasts a 24.2 MP APS-C sensor without an AA filter, which means you get a high resolution to play with as well as sharper images to begin with. This little camera can take pictures at ISO settings from 100 to 204800. The body is weather-resistant and dustproof so you can snap your favorite pics even in unfavorable weather conditions.
The K-70 also features a built-in shake reduction mechanism so you can take photos even at slower shutter speeds. The swivel LCD display is easy to use, and you also get a Night vision red light. The body is sold along with the 18-135mm 3.5-5.6 lens.Buy from Amazon.com for ($796.93)
Nikon D5600 w/ 18-55mm
The Nikon D5600 is a model that has received plenty of positive beginner DSLR reviews since its launch. It is equipped with the latest 24.2MP DX-Format CMOS Sensor as well as 39 autofocus points for increased versatility and speed for the perfect focus.
The 3.2″ 1.037m-Dot swivel touch display helps you obtain creative compositions while also allowing you to pinch, swipe, focus or zoom with your fingers. You can take pictures at ISO values of up to 25,600 or record Full HD videos as soon as you take this camera out of the box, as it comes with the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR lens (you can also pick the bundle that includes the 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED).Buy from Amazon.com for ($696.95)
How to find a DSLR camera for beginners
The market is teeming with loads of cameras for beginners that come with the latest APS-C sensors, modern AF systems, as well as a plethora of other features and connectivity functions that are bound to impress even more experienced photographers.
The problem is that, with so many DSLR or mirrorless for beginners and features to look into, it can be both challenging and time-consuming to find the right model. There are quite a few things to consider when buying your first camera, and you want to make sure you pick the model that’s right for the type of photographic work you want to do.
You might be looking for a small and compact camera that’s easy to take with you to college, on mountain hikes or to keep with you everywhere to go. Perhaps performance might be more important to you, in which case you’d probably want to go for a camera body that might be a bit heavier, but offer a significant increase in ISO or Autofocus performance.
Price is also an important factor you want to take into consideration while also balancing your needs and preferences. So read our buying guide below and get help in choosing a beginner DSLR for sale.
How we chose the best DSLR cameras for beginners
Because we know that choosing the right camera can be quite tough, especially if you don’t know much about these devices or photography in general, then we’ve written this short guide below to help you decide on a model that’s ideal for your needs.
We chose DSLRs based on their performance, build and connectivity features, as well as consumer reviews, and selected the ones which we believe would make great cameras for first-time users.
Sensor resolution and performance
Most modern DX-format cameras come with 24 MP sensors which can capture an amazing amount of detail even when the light conditions aren’t the best. With such a high resolution, you also get plenty of cropping possibilities without losing much in terms of picture quality, a thing that’s great, especially until you learn to compose in the viewfinder and not in Photoshop.
With a 24 MP sensor, you can take pictures with a resolution of 6000 x 4000 pixels, which should be more than enough to obtain fine prints at larger sizes without a significant decrease in quality.
Since sensor resolution is just one aspect of performance, you’d also want to know how these cameras fare in various lighting conditions. At base ISO and a couple of stops above it, you can expect to get excellent results, especially considering the advances in sensor and internal processing technologies.
Depending on the camera you choose, you can obtain above-average results at ISO values of up to 3200 or even 6400 from even the dirt-simple Nikon D3400. Couple that with the wide range of fast DX lenses (i.e. with a large maximum aperture such as f/1.8, f/2.8, etc), and you get to enjoy night photography like never before.
Another thing worth mentioning is that the Pentax K-70 also comes with a Sensor Shift (SR) technology which helps reduce camera shake similar to VR (Nikon’s Vibration Reduction) or IS (Canon’s Image Stabilization) systems on lenses. This model, as well as the Nikon D3400 and D5600 also got rid of the AA (anti-aliasing) filter which results in sharper images.
Focus system and fps
Here is where you might find some significant differences between the showcased models. If the Nikon D3400 comes with a simple 11-point AF system with a single center cross-type focus point, the Canon REBEL T7i has 45 cross-type sensors that don’t just offer fast and accurate focusing, but also decent frame coverage.
All cameras come with both Passive and Active AF systems that either use off-sensor Phase Detection, or on-sensor Dual Pixel CMOS AF, as is the case with the Canon REBEL T7i and SL2 (only in Live View mode).
Regardless of the model you go for, you get to choose between Single Servo, Continuous, and Auto Focus modes, as well single- or multiple-point focusing.
In terms of fps or frames per second, most of these entry-to-mid-level cameras hover around 5-6 fps. While not on par with high-end sports-oriented cameras (which can cost 10 times as much), they still offer a decent performance even for the action lover, especially with a bit of practice.
When it comes to improvements that modern DSLRs have added over the past few years, you surely have to mention the new line of LCD screens. While they still can’t boast a high resolution most pros would want (these still peak at 1 million dots), most offer touchscreen functionality that can help you choose a focus point or zoom in and out.
Another important aspect to consider is whether the screen is fixed or Vary-angle. You can find the former in the Nikon D3400, while most other models come with a swivel screen that allows you to compose pictures from just about any angle.
DSLR cameras in general and entry-level models in particular aren’t known for the best video capabilities. However, you can still expect a decent performance out of several cameras, including the Nikon D5600, Canon REBEL T7i, and Pentax K-70.
You can record 1920 x 1080p video at around 60 fps with most cameras, as well as 4K at 30 fps with models such as the Pentax K-70, which should make these perfect teen gifts, especially if they’re into shooting video (as most teens nowadays are).
Connectivity and battery life
In our modern world, connectivity is becoming more important by the day. Especially given the amazing pace with which smartphones are advancing, camera makers are also scrambling to add all sorts of connectivity features to their DSLRs.
What this means is that, regardless of the model you choose, you can enjoy WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, and apps such as SnapBridge (Nikon) or Camera Connect (Canon) and share your photos with friends and family as soon as you take them. This is why such a camera would also make one of the most useful gifts to get your boyfriend.
When it comes to battery life, most models can take 400-600 shots per charge for most models, with the simple-yet-efficient Nikon D3400 able to capture up to 1200 shots with just one fully charged battery.
Bear in mind that battery usage depends on a variety of factors, from settings and type of files you shoot (Jpeg or RAW) to whether you use Live View or not to even outdoor temperatures (batteries drain a lot faster in colder environments).
So take all these factors into consideration and you’ll surely be able to pick a DSLR that’s suited to your needs and budget.