Best DSLR Camera for Beginners
Today we’re counting down our top picks for the best DSLR camera for beginners.
DSLR (Digital Single-lens Reflex) cameras are a type of digital camera which allows you to swap out the lenses with the same device.
It’s a very versatile type of camera, which makes it one of the best options if you’re just starting out with photography.
While many of the top DSLR cameras don’t come cheap, they will help you hone your skills, providing plenty of options for you to tinker with along the way.
Here’s what to expect in this article:
- Reviews of the best DSLR camera for beginners
- A detailed selection guide
- Your burning questions answered in a FAQ
Without further ado, here are our top picks…
👑 Our Pick for Best Overall
⭐ Our Other Top Picks for DSLR Camera for Beginners
- Best of the Best: Nikon D3500 B07GWKDLGT
- Runner Up: Canon EOS 250D/Rebel SL3 B089H2B1BT
- Most Versatile: Pentax KP B01N5RH90B
Best Beginner DSLR Camera Reviews
Nikon D3500 (👑 Best of the Best)
For our money, the best DSLR camera for beginners is the Nikon D3500.
While there’s much debate over whether Nikon or Canon reigns supreme in the world of DSLRs, in this case, Nikon rises to the top. Its D3500 camera is perfect for beginners, due in no small part to its reasonable price. But aside from that, this camera has plenty to offer for the amateur photographer, so it’s well worth strong consideration.
With a stellar 24-megapixel camera sensor, which remains competitive in 2021, the D3500 is capable of taking fantastic stills – the likes of which will surely have your friends doubting your beginner status. Considering the low price compared to other DSLRs that are beginner-friendly, it’s almost impossible to beat the image quality offered by this Nikon model. It’s hard to overstate how advanced the sensor is, so you should have no trouble at all capturing crisp shots without even trying too hard. This is, for many people, reason enough to invest in a camera as a beginner.
However, a camera is more than just its sensor, so what else can you expect from the Nikon D3500?
Well, first of all, there’s the autofocus. There’s plenty to be said about the utility of good autofocus on an entry-level DSLR, since it really helps the amateur photographer steady up their shots. If you’ve ever taken a photo that you thought you lined up perfectly but came out blurry, then you’ll understand the importance of autofocus. This camera has eleven autofocus points in its viewfinder, which while not top of the range, is certainly sufficient for the beginner photographer. Unless you’re wanting to capture fast movement or action, you should be absolutely fine with this competent autofocus system.
Other specifications worthy of mention include the ‘guide mode’ which walks you through the camera, and provides assistance when you need a little help figuring out what to do. Using a camera for the first time can be intimidating due to the number of buttons, functions, and settings, so this feature can be very useful. There’s also the possibility to capture excellent video footage with this DSLR, as it offers a smooth 60fps at a crisp resolution of 1920×1080, so if you want to try your hand at vlogging or documentary-making, then you can.
As for features, the D3500 is compatible with Nikon’s handy SnapBridge app. This iOS and Android app provides a quick and easy way for you to extract your photos from the camera. With minimal fuss, you can upload the photos you’ve taken for the day to your mobile device or tablet, which is hugely useful if you’re starting out. When you first discover the art of photography, chances are you’re going to want to take as many pictures as possible and then play around with them as you please. This is a lot more tricky to do if you don’t have an easy and reliable way of first uploading them to a device. With this camera, it’s as simple as activating the Bluetooth feature and your photos will soon after appear in your device.
- 24.2 Megapixels
- EXPEED 4 image-processing engine
- SnapBridge app compatibility
- Guide Mode function
- 1,550 shots per charge
- ISO 200-25600
- 1920×1080 video at 60fps
- 11 autofocus points
WHY WE CHOSE IT AS OUR TOP PICK
1. The Nikon D3500 has by far one of the best image sensors of any entry-level DSLR, which makes it straightforward for anyone to take good photos regardless of experience level.
2. There are a number of beginner-friendly functions with the camera such as a ‘guide mode’ and compatibility with the Nikon SnapBridge app.
Canon EOS 250D/Rebel SL3 (🥈 Runner Up)
The recent Canon EOS Rebel SL3 is an incredibly capable DSLR, which makes it a solid choice for beginners.
One of the first things you’ll notice about this camera is that it has a lightweight, compact design. This makes it a lot easier to take with you on trips, and generally more travel-friendly. It’s the kind of camera that you won’t have to think twice about taking out with you, as it isn’t heavy or bulky. It fits right into most pockets, which is not something that’s possible with a lot of DSLRs. Despite its small size, you don’t lose out on any grip with the Rebel SL3. Its firm, ergonomic design makes it easy to hold in one hand and snap away.
As for image quality, this camera is working with a high end 24.1 megapixel sensor, which is very impressive for an entry-level DSLR. So despite the fact that this camera is geared towards the amateur photographer, it is also widely used and respected by those with more experience in the field. This sensor is Canon’s latest variation, so you know that with this camera you would be getting up to date technology which always feels good to know.
Yet this camera doesn’t just rely on its high image quality, as it has a whole host of functions and features to whet the appetite. For a start, there’s dual pixel autofocus, which has become the latest trend for mobile manufacturers to use in their phone models. To omit the technical jargon, this autofocus system is fantastic for shooting video with your camera. Which makes sense for the EOS Rebel SL3, given that it’s capable of shooting 4k video. This is a huge point in this camera’s favor, given that this top level resolution isn’t present in most entry-level DSLRs.
The touchscreen LCD screen is also worthy of note, as it can be tilted with full range of motion, making it easy to compose your shots and see exactly what’s in frame.
- 24.1 Megapixel APS-C CMOS Sensor
- DIGIC 8 Image Processor
- 9-point Autofocus system/dual pixel CMOS AF
- Built-in WiFi and Bluetooth
- 4k 24p video
- ISO 100-25600
Pentax KP (⭐ Most Versatile)
If you’re new to the world of photography, then versatility is likely a quality that you’ll rate quite highly in a camera. After all, it can be a lot of fun to play around with your photos, right?
While this may seem like a slightly intimidating camera to get to grips with as a complete beginner, it’s well worth the initial learning curve as the features of this model are incredible. The first thing you need to know is that it’s packing a 24.3 Megapixel image sensor, which is better than par for the course for a good DSLR camera. It ensures that every shot you take has a chance of being something truly special, which as a beginner is a great thing.
Although a little expensive compared to its main competition, if you have the budget and you’re looking for a highly versatile camera then the Pentax KP should be a strong contender. The main reason for this is the complete control it allows the user. While other cameras have the equivalent of stabilizers to make it easier for amateur photographs to figure things out, this camera doesn’t hold back and has the functionality of a camera two or three times its price.
The body of this camera is heavy-duty, and fully weather-sealed to mitigate potential disasters if you happen to get caught out in the rain. It also features interchangeable grips, which gives you various options in how you hold this camera.
Yet, it’s the inner mechanisms of this camera that make it well worth its significant price tag. First of all there’s five-axis Shake Reduction which brilliantly compensates for camera shake, so that even if you feel like you don’t have the steadiest hand, it shouldn’t be reflected in your photos. This works together with the impressive 27-point autofocus system which has 25 central cross-type points and provides clear focus in your shots, whatever the subject. 7fps continuous shooting allows for multiple photography to be taken in quick succession, which should let you capture moving subjects perfectly.
- 24.3 Megapixel APS C AA CMOS sensor
- 5 axis Shake Reduction
- Interchangeable grips
- 7fps continuous shooting
- 27-point autofocus
- Built-in WiFi
It can be challenging to find the perfect camera for you regardless of your experience level with photography.
There are so many models out there, and if you don’t know exactly what to look for, they all seem to offer the same experience.
That’s why we put together this ultimate buyer’s guide, as it should help inform your decision and ensure you don’t part with your hard-earned cash on a camera that doesn’t satisfy your needs.
There are many features which determine image quality in a camera, but the most important thing to look out for in this regard is the number of megapixels it has.
While your photos won’t look good if they’re out of focus, blurry, or in the wrong depth of field, nothing determines the crispness of an image like the quality of the image sensor.
So what exactly is a megapixel?
A megapixel is what happens when you take a pixel and multiply it by a million. And the more of these megapixels that you have in your camera’s image sensor, the higher quality the image will be. A good way to think of it is to imagine how much more detail you get with a 1,000 piece puzzle versus a 500 piece puzzle.
More megapixels also means you will have higher resolution photos, which makes for better printing, if you want to have physical copies of your images.
But while megapixel count does indicate the quality of the image to a large degree, having a solid knowledge of photography and the various camera settings can balance it out to a degree.
For example, a proficient photographer with a 24 Megapixel camera is likely going to produce better quality photos than an amateur with a 25 Megapixel camera.
So when it comes to deciding between one with 24 Megapixels, and another with 24.2 Megapixels, the likelihood is it won’t make a huge amount of difference.
This is especially true for beginners, since you probably won’t be able to notice the difference.
Having said that, the better the image quality is, the less effort you’ll be able to put in and still capture crisp images as the camera will do the work for you.
Aside from image quality, there are many features which should influence your buying decision.
These features can either make your life easier, or improve the overall quality of your photos.
Autofocus is a hugely important feature for taking great photos.
One of the biggest issues beginners face when taking up photography is producing images that are either blurry, or have out of focus subjects.
There are two main ways to counter this: the first is to get a steady hand or tripod, and the second is to find a camera with a top autofocus system.
While you should always aim to have a steady hand, it isn’t always possible, especially when we want to capture a subject that’s moving.
This is where autofocus shines.
The main thing which separates one autofocus system from another is the amount of AF points it has.
The more AF points the camera has, the more accurate the system is likely to be in determining the subject of the image and putting it in focus.
Interestingly, a lot of top cameras, such as both the Nikon D3500 and Canon EOS Rebel SL3 have less than 10 AF points which isn’t ideal.
Whereas others, like the Pentax KP, have as many as 27 or even more.
Dual pixel autofocus is a feature of the Canon Rebel SL3, and this sophisticated system allows for greater focus during video.
The ability to shoot high quality video is a feature that shouldn’t be overlooked.
While your main priority will likely be taking high quality stills, you never know when you might want to shoot some video while out and about.
Of course, you may be fine with any video resolution, but if you do enjoy crisp video footage then it’s worth taking into account.
The Canon Rebel SL3 for example features 4k video capturing at 24fps, which is impressive for a beginner-friendly camera.
This means that you can shoot some incredible footage on your travels without needing to pack a camcorder too.
This 4k resolution, coupled with the camera’s dual pixel autofocus system, can make for some unforgettable results.
Really though, unless you love the idea of 4k footage, you would be fine with just about any video recording resolution.
It’s one of those features that will either be something you value highly, or something you couldn’t care in the slightest about.
Bluetooth and Wifi
Features like Bluetooth and WiFi shouldn’t be a priority, but they can be very useful for the beginner photographer.
For example, the Nikon D3500 has compatibility with the brand’s app called SnapBridge, this allows the user to easily upload photos to their mobile device or tablet.
The same goes for WiFi, which many DSLRs will have, such as the Pentax KP.
What Is A DSLR Camera?
Photographers are often overwhelmed with the wide range of mirrorless cameras available online, but there are some amazing DSLR cameras that are worth a try. There are newer models that come packed with features, and a few older models that are known to be the most capable cameras of all time.
In this article, let us have a look at the best DSLR camera for beginners and the factors you need to keep in mind while choosing one.
A DSLR camera is a single-lens reflex camera and is one of the most loved cameras of all time. A DSLR camera has a mirror inside its body that reflects the lens from the lens by using more mirrors or a prism.
The light gets reflected on an optical viewfinder, helping you to see the object you are trying to shoot. It is one of the reasons why the term reflex is used in its name.
A DSLR camera is known to have excellent battery life, and there is absolutely no lag during shooting. If you get your hands on the best DSLR camera, then you can get more than 600-700 shots as the viewfinder uses very little power.
What Should A DSLR Camera Help Beginners With?
If you haven’t owned a camera before, you might be wondering what a DSLR camera can do for you. The camera you choose needs to help you with a lot of things when in use.
A DSLR camera is not only easy to use but does not include intuitive controls like mirrorless cameras. Even a novice user can operate the camera like a pro in no time.
The best starter DSLR camera needs to provide you with an option to use additional lenses while offering you an excellent experience as a beginner. One of the things that you need to notice in the beginner’s DSLR camera is to see if it provides anti-blur images.
This is particularly helpful for beginners. So, once you start using a DSLR, you should want to use it for long.
A DSLR camera offers you more than just pointing at your object and shooting. The sophisticated features of a DSLR camera not only help you get started with photography but also allow you to get better at it with every click.
If you wish to learn photography in no time, you need to carry the camera with you all the time. To do so, you need a camera that is lightweight and this is how most DSLR cameras are made. They are easy to operate, carry and maintain.
Factors To Consider While Buying The Best DSLR Camera For Beginners
Wondering how to choose the best beginner DSLR camera? Mentioned below are a few factors you can consider before buying one.
1. The Price
This is the first thing you need to think about when choosing a DSLR for the first time. You find these cameras in various price ranges, with some beginner models costing less than the advanced ones. If you have a set budget, you also need to consider the cost that involves buying lenses, extra batteries, memory cards, filters and more.
If you are looking for an extended warranty, the camera body, you need to spend a few extra dollars than decided.
2. The Use
Before you get blown away by the amazing features of a DSLR camera, you need to ask yourself as to what you want to use it for. The objective should be clear; it will help you in shortlisting the best camera for your needs.
Asking this question to yourself will help you choose the best entry level DSLR camera with the features you need. You can even choose accessories like lenses and filters accordingly. Will you use the camera to capture your life moments or are you planning to get into professional photography? These are a few questions you can ask yourself.
3. The Size
A DSLR camera can be a little bigger when compared to the other cameras online. Though these are a little heavy, photographers do not mind carrying it along. Thanks to the new models, photographers now get to choose from lightweight models that are even smaller in size.
4. The Gear
If you have owned a camera before and have the gear, you should check if it can be used with the DSLR you are planning to buy. In most cases, DSLR cameras are mostly compatible with most of the gear, especially when it comes to the lenses, memory card and the filters.
5. The Weight
One of the factors that you need to consider is the weight of the camera. Since you will be using it all through the day and carrying it along with you, it becomes important that you must choose a camera that is lighter in weight.
6. The Resolution
Another important factor you need to keep in mind before buying a DSLR camera is the resolution. How many megapixels does a specific model have? Well, this is the first question you ask when you see a DSLR camera.
The highest resolution for the DSLR camera is 50.6 pixels. Based on your requirements, you can choose the right resolution. Though this is overemphasized, it helps to choose a DSLR that offers a range of ratings when it comes to megapixel.
Choosing a camera with high megapixels is important if you are planning to print enlarged pictures from what you have captured.
7. The Sensor
8. Dust Resistant
You certainly need to choose a DSLR that protects the lens and the body from dust and dirt. Most of the cameras these days also feature the anti-shake technology that boosts image stabilization.
9. Other Features
Some of the other features you can look into are the burst mode, the shutter speed, ISO ratings, connectivity to Wi-Fi and the LCD size of the camera.
Related: Best Bridge Cameras
Benefits Of Choosing A DSLR Camera
There are various benefits to choosing a DSLR camera as a beginner. Let us have a look at what they are:
1. The Image Quality
A good DSLR camera guarantees you great image quality. The DSLR cameras are known to have large image sensors and this provides you with excellent picture quality.
These cameras can be easily used with a fast ISO that in turn provides the user with excellent shutter speeds. Most of the latest DSLR cameras also have features like noise reduction built-in and this improves the image quality furthermore.
2. Better Sensitivity To Light
One of the best features of the DSLR camera is that it has lesser noise, which means that you can get great images even in dim light.
Pick any DSLR and you will be surprised by its compatibility to almost every lens you find one. This not only makes it easy for you to use your old lens but opens up tons of possibilities for novice photographers.
Users can pick from wide-angle lenses to lenses of varying focal lengths. Remember that the image quality depends mostly on the lens you use.
4. The Speed
DSLR cameras provide you with excellent shutter speeds. These are even quick to start up and work like a charm when you need to focus on the object.
5. Use Of A Wide Range Of Lenses
One of the advantages of a DSLR camera is that you can mount different types of lenses. So, based on your need, you can choose the kind of lens and get excellent images.
6. The Viewfinder
Thanks to the use of high-quality reflex mirrors, users get what they see when it comes to DSLRs. The cameras are easy to operate and are thus considered to be the best for beginners.
7. ISO Range
One of the factors you look for when choosing any camera is the ISO range. DSLRs are known for their ISO range, which provides flexibility when shooting in any condition.
8. Manual Control
Though there are cameras that provide an option to shoot and choose the settings manually, DSLRs are made in a way to provide control to the user. Though there are auto modes to choose from, the cameras are made in a way that every control is on the user’s fingertip.
One of the advantages of the DSLR camera is that these cameras are highly durable, they are made from magnesium-alloy and you can use them rigorously without worrying about durability and longevity of the camera.
How To Use Your DSLR Camera Efficiently?
If you are new to photography, you might be wondering as to how you can use a DSLR to capture stunning images and videos. Once you bring home a DSLR, you might feel overwhelmed, thanks to the numerous buttons on its exterior.
Most of the DSLR cameras are a little heavy too, and this can often trick the person to enable the auto mode.
If you have purchased a DSLR, it is indeed worth the time to learn how you can use each of the functionalities it has? So, let’s get started.
1. Learn The Shooting Modes
If you are a beginner who is learning how to use a professional camera, then one of the first things that you must get to know is about the different shooting modes. Most of the cameras have various shooting modes and you can find a dial with labels that read P, Auto, M or Av. By selecting the shooting mode, you can control how your DSLR behaves.
2. The Aperture
It helps to learn about the aperture of the DSLR as you get to control it manually too. Aperture is the lens opening that allows the passage of light. A lens with a larger aperture allows more light to pass through. Such lenses come in handy even when the light conditions are bad.
3. The Shutter Speed
Most of the novice photographers do not pay much attention to the shutter speed when choosing the camera. A user can manually set up the required shutter speed and the device takes care of the needed aperture automatically.
The shutter speed is measured in seconds and it is the time shutter of the camera remains open when you are shooting. So, the longer this shutter remains open, the more the light passes through. Both shutter speed and aperture are important aspects to keep in mind when you are choosing a camera or a lens for a night or low light photography.
4. Understand ISO
ISO is the measure of the light sensitivity of your camera. When you are using the best beginner DSLR camera online, you need to choose devices that offer high ISO values. Most of the cameras come with various ISO settings which can be changed according to the shooting conditions.
5. The Exposure Triangle
The features like the ISO, the aperture and the shutter speed form the exposure triangle. All three are linked to one another and this help take control of your device. The depth of field again depends on the exposure triangle. You can make changes to the ISO and the aperture based on the light conditions and to capture better pictures and videos.
This is one of the most important features you need to master. DSLR cameras come with various autofocus modes, all of which help you to focus well on your subject.
Related: Best Slow Motion Camera
Tips To Care For Your DSLR Camera
A DSLR camera is equipped with some impressive features and it can last a lifetime if maintained well. If you own one of the best DSLR camera for beginners, you certainly want to take good care of it as it is the main device you use for photography. There a few tips you can follow to take good care of your DSLR camera at home. Let us see what they are.
1. Keep it Away From Water
Although, some of the best DSLRs would promise you to be water-proof, it’s good to keep them away from water splashes. No camera is resistant completely to water as liquids can increase the humidity inside the camera, causing terrible damage.
2. Maintain the Batteries
If you want your DSLR camera to last long, you need to start with the battery first. The batteries used in the cameras are made of Lithium-ion and they can be charged at least 500 times before being replaced. If you find that your battery is getting drained out after a few hours of use, it is time you replace it with a new one. Using a damaged battery can also damage your camera.
3. Clean the Lens
The lens is one of the most important parts of a camera, and it needs cleaning from time to time. Most of the modern-day cameras and lenses come with a coating to keep dust, dirt and moisture away, but it helps to clean it manually once in a while. You can make use of a microfiber cloth to wipe the lens. Avoid touching the lens directly with your finger, and use a lens hood if possible.
4. Turn it Off
Even the best entry-level camera has a processor inside it, and this like a computer, cannot stand a change in electricity. So, if you are planning to take out the battery or memory card, it is advised to switch the camera off before doing so. This also applies when you plug-in the camera to your laptop.
5. The Strap
Another easy way to maintain your DSLR or keep it safe is to use a strap. You can find durable camera straps for purchase online, which can be equipped with the device.
The strap prevents the camera from falling. Make sure that you invest in a good quality strap. Most of the cameras come included with a strap when you purchase it new. But if you do not have one, make sure to buy one right away.
6. Avoid Sunlight
It is understood that you cannot keep your camera away from sunlight altogether, but it helps to avoid direct sunlight. Never leave the DSLR camera on a desk or in the car where it is exposed to direct sunlight. Excessive accumulation of heat can cause damage to the camera.
7. Keep it Away From Salt
You might love to capture the scenic beauty of an ocean or a sea, but make sure to protect your device when you do so. You need to be careful as the ocean water has good amounts of salt in it, and can damage the metal components inside the camera. Once you are done capturing the pictures, you can use a soft cloth to clean it before placing it inside the bag.
8. Do Not Force the Device
Most often, we see photographers use their device for a longer duration. You should never handle the device carelessly. If you find a button or a memory card that is stuck, do not force open it. Instead, take it to a service center to get it checked. Never try and take out the battery or a memory card when the camera is still on.
9. The Storage
Storing your camera is as important as cleaning it. Always place the device in a dry and cool place. If you are one of those who carry the device along, make sure you use a camera bag to store all the equipments carefully. You can even purchase a dry box to keep your camera and the lens safe and secure.
Now that we know the factors we need to keep in mind, the benefits and how to take care of the DSLR cameras offer, it is time we look into some of the best DSLR cameras for beginners.
Related: How to Make Money With Photography
Free Quiz: Find Your Ideal Gear Setup in 1 Minute or Less 📷
Frequently Asked Questions About Beginner DSLR Cameras
Which DSLR camera is best for beginners?
We believe that the best DSLR camera for beginners is the Nikon D3500.
This is a camera that ticks all the right boxes, making it ideal for anyone starting out with photography.
The excellent 24.2 Megapixel image sensor is by far its best feature, though it also has compatibility with Nikon’s SnapBridge app which makes image transfers incredibly easy.
What is the best camera to buy for a beginner photographer?
While both DSLR and mirrorless cameras have their merits, we believe that a DSLR camera is a solid place to start for a beginner photographer.
One of the most compelling reasons to invest in a DSLR camera as a beginner is the viewfinder.
Since many mirrorless cameras only have an LCD screen for image feedback, it can be hard to judge the perfect shot in sunny conditions. Whereas this problem is negated by the DSLR camera which should make it easier for you to capture your desired shot.
Is Canon or Nikon better for beginners?
As you can see from this guide, we’ve featured both Canon and Nikon cameras in our list of best DSLRs for beginners.
Generally-speaking, it’s hard to say definitively which brand makes the better camera for beginners, as both have put out a huge number of excellent models.
If we had to give an answer though, we’d point to the Nikon D3500 as being the best DSLR for beginners thereby making Nikon better for beginners.
What is the major difference between a regular camera and a DSLR?
A DSLR camera has a shutter, a lens and an aperture, all of which are a part of the camera. DSLR can look heavy and are often hard to carry. Normal digital cameras are compact and lightweight. But with changing times, modern DSLRs are lightweight and compact.
Why do the pictures taken using a DSLR look better?
Most of the DSLR cameras accommodate real flash and have a large image sensor. Both of these factors contribute to better image quality. DSLRs can also be used with high-quality lenses to achieve rich and sharp images.
A Final Word From Run Gun Shoot
Investing in a new camera, especially if it’s your first, is a decision not to be taken lightly.
Given how costly even entry-level DSLRs can be, it’s crucial that you spend some time considering the various factors in order to reach a satisfying conclusion over which model best suits your needs.
Before buying a DSLR camera, you also need to check its image sensor. Always remember that a camera body with a large sensor has always had its advantages when compared to the ones that have a smaller sensor.