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Best Beginner DSLR Cameras 2022: best choices for new photographers

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You’re in the right place if you want to find the best beginner DSLRs available. While DSLR cameras have been replaced by mirrorless models, they are still great ways to learn photography skills and often the most affordable way to purchase a camera that has a built-in viewfinder. (Looking for a general guide to the best beginner camera? You can also check out our separate buying guide for the ).

Our guide to DSLRs below includes models that are well-known and have been around for a while. It’s not common to see new DSLRs on the market after 2022. As larger DSLRs have fallen out of favor, manufacturers are now focusing on mirrorless cameras. They are still worth looking at, however. There are still many classics that can be purchased from Pentax, Nikon, and Canon.

Which is the best beginner DSLR that you can purchase right now? The Nikon D3500 is our choice. The Nikon D3500 has all the features a beginner photographer needs, including a guide mode that explains key settings. It also offers great handling, a large selection of lenses, and exceptional image quality. The Canon EOS Rebel T8i/ Canon EOS 85D is a great option, but it’s also quite expensive.

It is possible you are also wondering why a DSLR is better than a mirrorless. DSLRs still have some advantages over mirrorless cameras, such as superior handling and battery life, as well as large lens libraries. The only digital camera to have true optical viewfinders, which allows you to see the scene through a lens rather than digitally recreated. An entry-level DSLR may be the best choice if you value these features more than compact form factors or autofocus.

It is worth noting that most manufacturers have stopped making new DSLRs. Sony has discontinued its A-mount line, while Canon has discontinued the 7D line. This does not necessarily mean that DSLRs have gone extinct. Both Nikon and Canon continue to offer an extensive range of entry-level DSLR models with extensive lens catalogs.

Because there are fewer new models on the market, beginners will often find the best value in older options such as the Nikon D5600 or Canon EOS 80D. Although they may not have the most cutting-edge technology, these models still tick all the essential boxes for beginners without going broke. We have included both older and current models in the guide.

The top beginner DSLRs of 2022

1. Nikon D3500

SPECIFICATIONS

Sensor: APS – C CMOS

Megapixels: 24.2MP

Lens mount: Nikon DX

Screen: 3 Inch, 921 000 dots

Continuous shooting speed: 5fps

Max video resolution: 1080p

User level: Beginner

Although Nikon has not yet announced new entry-level DSLRs, the D3500 is still a great option for beginners in photography. The D3500 continues from the D3400, with some additional perks. The main advantage of this camera, unlike power-hungry mirrorless models, is its battery life. The battery can last for 1,550 shots without needing to be charged, which is a significant advantage over other DSLRs. Additionally, the 24MP sensor produces excellent images. Nikon also updated the control layout and body. This makes it easier to use and more comfortable to hold. The Guide Mode guides new users through the key features and helps them understand the basics. It’s a great tool that we love, and it will be a great help for anyone just starting out.

2. Canon EOS Rebel S3 / 250D/200D Mark II

SPECIFICATIONS

Sensor: APS – C CMOS

Megapixels: 24.1MP

Lens mount: Canon EF-S

Screen: 3 inches, 1,040,000 dots

Continuous shooting speed: 5fps

Max video resolution: 4K

User level: Beginner

One of the most recent additions to this list is the EOS Rebel SL3. Also known as the Canon EOS 250D or EOS 200D Mark II, it’s also called the Canon EOS Rebel SL3. It’s actually one of the few beginner models that have been announced in recent years. It picks up where the Rebel SL2(EOS 200D), left off and adds a new processing engine, 4K video recording, and a variety of small extras. Although there is a lot of competition for entry-level mirrorless cameras, the 250D is still a great option if you prefer the classic handling of a DSLR, including an optical viewfinder, and the flexibility that comes with the articulating screen.

3. Optical and electronics: Canon EOS Rebel T8i / EPIC-F 850D

SPECIFICATIONS

Sensor: APS – C CMOS

Megapixels: 24.1MP

Lens mount: Canon EF-S

Screen: 3 inch articulating touchscreen, 1,040,000 dots

Continuous shooting speed: 7fps

Max video resolution: 4K

User level: Beginner/enthusiast

The Canon EOS Rebel T8i (known as the EOS 850D in the US) has officially taken over from its Rebel T7i / EOS 800D predecessor. It is difficult to find stock of the former. The most significant addition to the new model is a 4K video mode, which is somewhat limited by frame rate restrictions. The Rebel T8i / EOS 850D is still one of our favorite all-around DSLRs. Dual Pixel phase-detection AF is included. It’s fast and reliable and can be used for both video and stills. The button layout is very thoughtful, and the vari-angle LCD screen works well. It is a great option for those who are just starting to take photos.

4. Nikon D5600

SPECIFICATIONS

Sensor: APS – C CMOS

Megapixels: 24.2MP

Lens mount: Nikon DX

Screen: 3.2-inch articulating touchscreen, 1,040,000 dots

Continuous shooting speed: 5fps

Max video resolution: 1080p

User level: Beginner/enthusiast

Another beginner DSLR is standing strong against the rising popularity of mirrorless cameras. The D5600 is an upgrade to the D3000-series models and has a stronger set for specs that can rival the Canon EOS Rebel T8i/EOS 850D (see below). The D5600 has key advantages over the D3500, including a larger LCD screen that flips out and pivots around to face the front, making it ideal for video vlogging. It also features Wi-Fi, advanced autofocus, Wi-Fi, and plenty of extra control. The D5600 is a more expensive option, but it will be an excellent companion for many years.

5. The Canon EOS Rebel T7, EOS 2000D, and EOS 1500D cameras are all taken by Canon

SPECIFICATIONS

Sensor: APS – C CMOS

Megapixels: 24.1MP

Lens mount: Canon EF-S

Screen: 3 inches, 920,000 dots

Continuous shooting speed: 3fps

Max video resolution: 1080p

User level: Beginner

This is the most affordable DSLR in Canon’s current lineup. It also allows you to access a wide range of accessories, including flashguns, lenses, and flashguns, at a very reasonable price. It has a low price, so it doesn’t have some of the fancy features of larger DSLRs like flip-out LCDs and 4K video. However, there is still good physical control. The 24MP sensor produces sharp images, which is a major plus. The Feature Guide is a helpful tool to assist you in understanding the features. Battery life is longer than most mirrorless models at this price, which is still a major advantage over DSLRs. It’s a great first choice because it has Wi-Fi, NFC, and Full HD video recording.

6. Canon EOS 90D

SPECIFICATIONS

Sensor: APS – C CMOS

Megapixels: 32.5MP

Lens mount: EF/EF-S

Screen: 3-inch vars-angle touchscreen, 1,040,000 dots

Continuous shooting speed: 11fps

Max video resolution: 4K/30p

User level: Beginner/enthusiast

The Canon 90D is the last enthusiast-level DSLR that Canon ever produces. The versatile 90D features a high-resolution sensor that, when paired with Canon Digic 8 imaging engine at 30 fps, allows for uncropped 4K video. The new 216-zone metering technology ensures that color reproduction is excellent and detail is preserved in stills and video. Noise can sometimes be an issue for ISO 8000. The 90D’s deep grip makes it easy to hold and a joystick makes it easy to select from Dual Pixel CMOS AF points. The battery life is excellent, with 1,500 shots per charge. Although it’s a bit expensive and lacks many features, the camera is still a great choice for beginners. The 90D is strong proof that DSLRs still have a place in mirrorless photography.

7. Canon EOS Rebel T100 / EOS 4000D / EOS 3000D

SPECIFICATIONS

Sensor: APS – C CMOS

Megapixels: 18MP

Lens mount: Canon EF/EF-S

Screen: 2.7 inches, 230,000 dots

Continuous shooting speed: 3fps

Max video resolution: 1080p

User level: Beginner

You don’t need a camera capable of doing everything if you are just starting out with DSLR ownership. The Canon 4000D, also known as the 3000D in certain markets, is a good choice if you are looking for something simple but affordable. The 4000D is a bit older than the entry-level models. Both the DIGIC 4+ processor and 18MP sensor are old, as well as the 9-point autofocus system that Canon has had in its catalog since 2009. The LCD display is also long-lasting, measuring 2.7 inches diagonally and offering a resolution of 230k dots. Live View performance, however, feels sluggish. The polycarbonate shell is also quite cheap.

It’s not all bad. The button layout is simple to use for new users. Battery life is good at 500 shots. Image quality is solid with acceptable noise handling. The results should be acceptable for those who have upgraded from a compact or smartphone. They will find good detail and saturation. Picture Style presets allow you to easily adjust the tone. The 4000D may feel outdated and slow to perform for more experienced buyers. If affordability is your primary criterion, the 4000D might not be for you. However, it may be possible to see some potential that will fit your budget.

8. Pentax K70

SPECIFICATIONS

Sensor: APS – C CMOS

Megapixels: 24.2MP

Lens mount: Pentax K

Screen: 3 Inch, 921 000 dots

Continuous shooting speed: 6fps

Maximum video resolution: Full HD

User level: Beginner

The Pentax K-70 is a great value option for anyone looking for something other than the big two DSLR manufacturers. This is a great choice for those who have an old collection of Pentax lenses that are collecting dust in a basement. The K-70’s articulating screen is very useful, and the hybrid live-view autofocus system makes it a practical alternative to the viewfinder. The K-70’s toughness is perhaps its best feature. This is something that is often lacking in entry-level models. It’s a great advantage if you want to take lots outdoors, such as landscape photography. The kit lens, which is often included with the camera, can sometimes be a disappointment. It has a longer focal length than other lenses here but it can be a bit soft at times.

What are the top things to look out for when purchasing a beginner DSLR camera?

Three main considerations should be taken into account when purchasing a beginner-friendly DSLR camera: size, screen, and options for a lens.

A small, lightweight model is ideal if you are trying to master manual settings such as aperture and shutter speed. You’ll be more likely to take your camera out frequently and learn the controls. You might be most comfortable with beginner-friendly cameras like the Nikon D3500 or Canon 250D. Take a look at these.

Do you want to capture lots of video with your stills too? DSLRs are a great way to start vlogging. If you’re looking for a low-cost option, make sure to look for models that have a Vari-angle screen (such as the ones found on Canon models). These screens can be used to shoot at different angles, and can also flip to the front to check your framing as you record to the camera.

You should also consider lenses. You will most likely start from scratch as a beginner. Therefore, it is more sensible to purchase your DSLR with a set lens. There are two types of kit lenses that most manufacturers offer: one with image stabilization and one without. You’ll be able to take sharper photos at slower shutter speeds if you choose the image-stabilized lens kit lens.

An 18-55mm kit lens is sufficient to get you started. However, DSLRs offer the ability to add additional lenses to suit different types of photography. You can add wide-angle or zoom lenses to your DSLR. There are also high-quality macro options. A flashgun or other accessories can be added to help you make the most out of any type of photography.

Are you unsure whether a DSLR camera or a mirrorless one is right for you? Check out our Mirrorless and DSLR cameras guide. If you don’t know which camera you need, read our simple guide to camera types: Which camera should I purchase?

 

Nikon vs Canon: Which is best for beginners?

Pentax makes DSLRs even though they are still made by Pentax, but Canon and Nikon dominate the market with the largest number of DSLR models. Both brands are competitive in terms of features, image quality, and price. Which brand’s entry-level DSLRs are best?

It will all be up to you. As you can see, both manufacturers offer many excellent options. Both offer beginner DSLRs that can be carried around with you, are easy to use and include a variety of lenses to help support your passion for photography. Many of these DSLRs are budget-friendly, so you can get one if you need it.

Only the internal menu layout and external button layout are different between them – they differ on Nikon and Canon. Both are easy to use, so it comes down to your preference.

How to test DSLRs

Cameras are a large investment. We have thoroughly tested every camera in this guide. Real-world testing is the best way to learn about a camera’s character and performance. We also focus on standardized tests that measure factors such as ISO performance.

We start by looking at the camera’s design and handling to determine who it is aimed at. To get an idea of its strengths and speed, we will use it on both a handheld and a tripod while out on a shoot.

We use a formatted SD Card for performance and can shoot raw or JPEG if possible. We use our standard test settings for burst shooting (1/250 sec ISO 200, continuous AF), and then shoot a series in front of a stopwatch. To see if the speed claims are true. The process will also be repeated for JPEG and raw files to assess how quickly the buffers clear.

We also test the autofocus modes of the camera in various lighting conditions (including Eye AF and Face AF), in single, continuous, and area modes. To get an idea of the camera’s metering, and its ability to deal with noise and fine detail, we also take photos in raw and JPEG.

We’ll process some test images if the raw files of the camera are compatible with Adobe Camera Raw. This will allow us to push areas such as shadow recovery. We’ll also test the ISO performance of the camera across the entire range to gauge the level we would be willing to push it to.

By using the camera for a day with the screen set to the default settings, we can test the battery life of the camera. We’ll count the number of shots taken to determine how the battery’s CIPA rating compares. The camera’s video skills are then tested (where possible) by taking some test footage at various frame rates and resolutions along with the companion app.

Finally, we calculate the value for money of the camera by adding all the information about it to its price.

Is it better to buy a DSLR or a mirrorless digital camera? See our video guide to learn more.

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