The Best DSLR Camera for Beginners in 2020

The Best DSLR Camera for Beginners in 2020

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If you’re in a hurry and want to know which is the best DSLR camera for beginners, it is the Canon EOS Rebel T8i. Read the full review below.

There are a lot of options for beginner cameras in today’s market, even within the same manufacturer. If you haven’t used a DSLR before, then it can be difficult to know what features you should care about to ensure you get the best camera for photography, and which features are just marketing speak. And if you are looking for the best camera for beginners, then you’re requirements are likely to be different than someone upgrading to a mid-range, or professional camera.

This article covers those that I consider the best DSLR cameras for beginners, giving you a full run-down on the pros and cons of each one, and listing the specs so you can easily see which is best for you.

The top rated best starter cameras that will be reviewed here are:

Note: Some Canon cameras have different names for the same model, depending on the country they are sold in. This is listed above where applicable.

 

The Best DSLR Camera for Beginners

Canon EOS Rebel T8i

 Best Camera for Photography 
best dlsr for beginners canon t8i
  • Best DSLR for Beginners
  • 24.1 MegaPixel APS-C Sensor
  • 4K video
  • 45-point autofocus with eye tracking
  • Continuous 7 fps shooting speed
  • Pull-out Touchscreen

 

As one of the best cameras, and a brand new starter DSLR from Canon, The T8i is a fantastic camera that will cover pretty much any situation you can throw at it. With 45-point cross-type autofocus, 24.1 MegaPixel APS-C sensor, the ability to shoot 4K video, and a touchscreen, this is by far the best camera for beginner photographers. Read the full review below.

 

The Best Camera Under $300

Canon EOS Rebel T7

 Best Camera under 300 
best camera under 300
  • 24.1 MegaPixel APS-C Sensor
  • 9-point autofocus
  • 3 fps Photo Shooting
  • Full HD 1080p / 30 fps Video
  • Built-in WiFi and NFC

 

As the best camera under $300, the Canon T7 is a very competent camera, that makes a great introduction to DSLR shooting if you are coming from a point and shoot camera. It’s a good camera, but feels a little outdated with the slow continuous shooting speed and only 9-point autofocus. Nonetheless, it’s the photographer, not the camera, who takes great photos, and this camera certainly meets the minimum requirements for this job.


What is an Entry Level DSLR, or Starter Camera?

The more budget models of DSLR are often called entry level, starter cameras, or “prosumer”. All of these terms refer to the same thing: relatively cheap cameras that are easy to use, and do not require much in the way of foreknowledge in order to get great pictures.

When you hear professional photographers talk about the best entry level DSLR or the best entry level camera, new photographers can think that the cameras then mentioned are not worthy of “serious” photographers. This is not true, as the photos you get out of the camera are directly because of the effort and skill put in. If you can’t take a great photo with an entry level DSLR, then it is you at fault, and not the camera.

So, why does anyone buy a more expensive model? Well, cameras like the Canon 5D Mk IV do have a few extra features over more budget models that can make it easier to get great photos (more auto focus points for example), but in general the extra cost of a pro model is not value for money for most hobbyist photographers.

Unless you know that you are very serious about photography as a hobby, or are making money from it, then it is best to start out with a cheaper, entry level model, and take it from there.


Key Features to Look Out for in the Best DSLR Camera for Beginners

Even cheap DSLRs have a multitude of features these days, and it can be difficult for new photographers to tease out which matter and which don’t.

When considering what makes the best DSLR camera for beginners, I’ve gone back to the basics, ranking them on the things that make the most difference to the quality of your final photo. Thus, the best first DSLR will be the one which comes in first in most of the top points, and has at least a strong result in the lower criteria. 

The criteria I have used for the rankings are arbitrary by their nature, but as all cameras have been ranked against the same benchmarks, you can easily see which are better than the others.

These criteria are listed below, in order of importance. Feel free to use this list for any further research you need to make, to guide you to the right camera for you:

  • Good photo quality / sensor size: Sensor size is often directly related to photo quality.
  • Are cheap lenses available? A hallmark of DSLRs is their ability to change lenses, and you want to have plenty of choice.
  • Ease of use: You don’t want the design of the camera to get in the way of your photography.
  • Good low light performance: If you take photos at night, or indoors, you need to make sure that photos don’t come out too grainy and unusable.
  • Long battery life: There’s nothing worse than missing a shot because you had to change batteries.
  • Good video performance: Does the camera have a high resolution and framerate?
  • Extra features: How many autofocus points are there? Is there internal stabilization?
  • Are there any kit deals?: Can you get a decent included lens or two for a reasonable price?
sunrise over angkor wat

Best DSLR Camera for Beginners: Canon or Nikon

When looking for the best digital camera for beginners, you can’t avoid the Canon v Nikon debate, with photographers on both sides saying their preferred model is the best. In truth, the best Canon DSLR cameras are no different than the best Nikon cameras, but whichever brand you choose, remember that it is thereafter more difficult to switch to the competing brand, as lenses for Canon will not fit Nikon, and vice versa.

You will see from the reviews that there are far more Canon cameras for beginners than Nikon starter cameras, as Canon seem to prioritize this group, presumably to get more photographers locked into their ecosystem.

It pays to look at more professional cameras from a brand, before buying a starter camera, to check that you will be able to take your photography further with that manufacturer in the future, if you decide to get more serious about your photography.


Photo Quality / Sensor Size

Generally speaking, the larger the sensor, the higher the quality of photos produced (although this isn’t always true).

In basic terms, the larger the sensor, the more light that it can collect. This has a knock on effect for better performance in low light situations.

Larger sensors also tend to fit a greater number of pixels onto their surface, meaning they can resolve details to a higher level.

On the diagram above, professional cameras are often full frame, with sensors the same size as a frame of 35mm film. The best starter cameras are often crop sensor, otherwise known as APS-C, which you can see are slightly different sizes for Canon when compared to other brands.

The effect of having a crop sensor is lower image quality with more grainy low light images, but this does depend on the internal architecture of a camera. As sensor technology improves, there will be gradual improvements in the camera software that decodes the data from the sensor, and in areas such as pixel density, meaning that more modern crop sensors will deliver a better performance than full frame sensors from ten years ago.

Pixel density / ISO performance

Pixel density does not directly refer to the photo resolution, but to how many individual points of light each sensor can detect. This is otherwise known as pixel pitch (which refers to the distance between the centers of two adjoining pixels ). As cameras become more advanced, pixels are able to be more tightly packed on the sensor, meaning more can be fit into the same space. This has the effect of increasing the amount of detail that can be resolved (depending on lens) and increases photo quality.

This also directly affects ISO performance, how grainy a photo appears when taken in dark conditions, but in the opposite way. As pixels become smaller (that is, there pixel pitch becomes smaller) the amount of light each pixel can collect also becomes less, meaning noise becomes a greater proportion of the data collected by each pixel, and that dynamic range is reduced.

This means that pixel size and density is a trade-off between smaller pixels giving greater detail and larger pixels giving greater low light performance / dynamic range.

The best DSLRs for starters in photography tend to offer excellent ISO performance and range, as they have a large pixels.


Max. Shutter Speed

Maximum shutter speed is often overlooked when searching for the best affordable DSLR camera, but this will be relevant if you are shooting a lot of sports of wildlife. For the ultimate in max shutter speed, you need to look to professional cameras like the Fuji X-T3, which can shoot at up to 1/32000 of a second, but even some beginner cameras will be suitable for fast action photography. These are indicated in the reviews below.


What Lenses are Available?

When looking for your best starter DSLR camera, it’s not enough to only consider the camera body, you must also think about lens availability.

The real advantage of DSLRs over point and shoot cameras is the ability to change lenses to access different focal lengths and apertures, so you really want to be able to make use of this.

You need to think about the kinds of photography that you want to do – wildlife photography requires long lenses, in the range of 100mm plus, while landscape photography often needs wide angles, in the range of 17 – 24 mm.

On top of this, you also have features like image stabilization available for some lenses, along with expensive fast aperture lenses, giving a shallow depth of field for perfect macro shots, and cheaper, slower lenses. The range can be quite overwhelming.

So, you need to decide what kinds of photography you will be doing, then check the availability and price of the relevant lenses. Don’t forget to think about second hand lenses, although higher quality lenses, like the Canon L series, tend not to lose much value over time, if kept in good condition.

Related Articles:

What is the best lens for Night Photography?

What is the best macro lens for Canon?

Compare the Canon 40mm vs 50mm

Which is the best Canon 50mm lens?

Santorini

Ease of Use

Beginner professional cameras like the Canon 5D Mk IV have much more complex menu systems than starter cameras, as they are aimed at photographers with plenty of experience of using DSLRs.

Less experienced photographers may have trouble navigating cameras like this, so should aim for cameras with simpler, more intuitive menu systems. This is marked in the reviews below.


Screen Resolution / Movement

A good camera for beginners will have a screen that gives enough detail for you to be able to review your images, but is also useful for taking photos in live view, where you don’t look through the viewfinder.

Ideally, you want a screen that can be flipped or rotated from the back of the camera, as this gives you maximum flexibility when trying to frame photos in tight spaces, or if you are taking a self-portrait of you and your family.


Battery Life

Strong battery life is something I consider to be highly beneficial in a camera. Having to change batteries in the field, potentially missing a shot can be frustrating. This is particularly important for sports or wildlife photographers. In any case, always be sure to buy spare batteries with your camera, and don’t forget to take them with you!


Video Performance

The best camera for photo and video will not only be able to take high resolution photos, but also high resolution video, in the region of 4K. It’s also worth looking out for a high frame rate, in the order of 60 fps.

Some of the best cameras for beginners only shoot full HD video (1080p) at 30 fps. This is what I would consider the bare minimum for video, and is acceptable for most beginner uses, assuming that video is not the primary reason for buying a DSLR.

Related Article: What are the best cameras for filmmaking?

sunrise in the bamboo forest kyoto

Extra Features

What is the Autofocus like?

Autofocus can be broken down into two areas: the number of autofocus points that a camera has, and the ability for the camera’s systems to track objects as they move across the frame. Good cameras for beginners tend to not offer as many points, or have as good tracking, as pro models, but some are better than others.

Autofocus points can be either single type, or cross-type. Single type sensors are only capable of looking in one dimension, either horizontal or vertical, in order to gain focus. This means they can struggle in real-world practice. Cross-type sensors look in both orientations simultaneously, and so tend to offer faster performance.

This is really only relevant if you are a sports or wildlife photographer, in which case you should go for a camera with a large number of autofocus points, such as the Canon T7i with 45 points.

Does it have a touchscreen?

Touchscreens tend not to be common on entry level DSLRs, but the best camera for photography beginners, the Canon T8i, does have one. Touchscreens make shooting in live view much easier, as you are able to touch to select focus points, and control other details much more intuitively.

Is there internal stabilization?

Although lenses more often have image stabilization features, some camera bodies have this built in. This aids handholding the camera in low light conditions, and means that you can get clearer shots, without camera shake ruining your photos.

Is there internal dust removal?

One issue with DSLRs over traditional film SLRs is their tendency to collect dust on the sensor. This can get inside the camera when you change lenses, or even when it is stored improperly. Cleaning sensors used to be a necessary chore, but most beginner photography cameras now have automatic systems to remove dust, such as those that shake the sensor whenever it is turned on or off.

What kind of memory cards does it use?

Most beginner cameras use full size SD cards, but some models also offer micro SD, compact flash and other card types. Most laptops and some desktop computers are able to accept full size SD cards, but for other card types you may need to buy a card reader.

Related article: What size of memory card should I buy?


Kit Deals / Value for Money

Many of the best starter cameras for photography come in kit deals where you get bags, extra memory cards, mini tripods, and much more. These are almost always a bad deal for you.

As an example, you can currently buy the Canon T7i body only for $700. You can then buy the lenses and accessories you want separately. Also on offer is a kit deal, at $800, which includes the Canon T7i, a low quality kit lens, two very slow memory cards, and a whole host of low quality accessories.

Canon T7i kit deal
Canon T7i with low quality accessories

Although this looks like a good deal on the surface (look how much extra you get for $100!), everything included are actually cheap and low quality products that you could buy separately for less. If you wanted the lens (which I wouldn’t recommend – there are plenty of better options), then it is only $70 on its own, and everything else can be had for about $20 maximum.

But really, you should be looking at a higher quality memory card than the Sandisk Ultra, and higher quality accessories, if you want the best DSLR camera on a budget.


Reviews

The best cameras for beginner photography are listed in the entry level DSLR camera comparison reviews below. These are what I have determined are the top DSLR cameras based on the criteria above. I know that budget is different for each person, so the cameras fall into a range of prices, from about $300 to $750. You will struggle to get an entry level DSLR below this, with those at the top of the range having all of the features you would need, and most of the features found in pro level models.

10. Canon Rebel T100 / EOS 4000D

Canon Rebel T100 Review
  • 18 MegaPixels
  • 0.96 lbs (436g)
  • APS-C (Cropped) Sensor
  • 9 AF points (1 Cross Type)
  • 1080p, 30 fps Video Recording
  • 3 fps Continuous Photo Shooting
  • ISO Range: 100 – 12800
  • Built-In Wifi

As Canon’s most basic DSLR for beginners, the Canon Rebel T100 is both the cheapest DSLR camera, and similarly spec’ed to the Canon T6, as it is actually a cut-down version of the Canon T7. As a cheap DSLR camera for beginners looking to move on from a point and shoot camera, it makes a good first choice, particularly if you are more budget conscious.

It features an 18 MegaPixel sensor (the same as was used on the Canon 7D) and uses the common DIGIC 4+ processor which first debuted in 2014. Video recording of up to 1080p at 30 fps is possible, which is well suited to a beginner DSLR camera like this. There is a 9-point autofocus, with only the central point being cross-type, meaning autofocus performance will not be the best on the market, but there are some modern touches to the camera, such as the inclusion of WiFi.

You should get approximately 500 shots per full battery charge, which is consistent with other models in this price range. Canon’s useful shooting modes, selectable with the dial or in the camera’s menu, make taking photos very easy, with minimal technical knowledge needed. Canon’s Creative Auto Mode even lets you move sliders to set the amount of background blur, or the brightness of the image, making photography even easier for learners.

At only 436g (0.96 lbs) with battery (but no lens), the Canon T100 is the lightest Canon beginner camera, and one of the lightest DSLRs of all. Combined with the very low price of just over $300, this could be an excellent introduction to serious photography for those on a more restricted budget.


9. Canon EOS Rebel T6 / EOS 1300D

Canon Rebel T6 review
  • 18 MegaPixels
  • 1.07 lbs (485g)
  • APS-C (Cropped) Sensor
  • 9 AF points (1 Cross Type)
  • 1080p, 30 fps Video Recording
  • 3 fps Continuous Photo Shooting
  • ISO Range: 100 – 12800
  • Built-In Wifi and NFC

One of Canon’s older models of entry level DSLR cameras, the Canon T6 does not have the most modern feel to it, but does pack a good punch for its low price. Like other Canon entry level DSLRs, such as the T100, this offers an 18 MegaPixel sensor, with 9 autofocus points, of which only the central point is cross-type. This has a fairly accurate autofocus tracking mode, but better can be found in models like the Canon T7. You get the DIGIC 4+ image processor, a battery life that gives about 500 shots, and video recording of 1080p at up to 30 fps.

In use, the camera can shoot at 3 fps, which most sports and wildlife photographers will find is too slow, but will be more than good enough for landscape photographers. There are more modern features like WiFi and NFC to help you easily move your photos from camera to your phone, or even to control the camera through Canon’s phone app.

With a weight of 485g (1.07 lbs), the T6 is in the middle of the pack. Although it’s not going to win any awards for its performance, you can occasionally get an excellent deal consisting of this camera plus two lenses for a little over $400, which would be fantastic value for a Canon entry level DSLR.


8. Pentax KP

Pentax KP review
  • 24.3 MegaPixels
  • 1.55 lbs (703g)
  • APS-C (Cropped) Sensor
  • 27 AF points (25 Cross Type)
  • 1080p, 60 fps Video Recording
  • 7 fps Continuous Photo Shooting
  • ISO Range: 100 – 819200
  • Built-In Wifi
  • Internal 5-Axis Stabilization

The Pentax KP is a strong offering from Pentax as the best camera to start photography. It stands as almost a pro level camera, with three dials to change settings, a high quality 24 MegaPixel cropped sensor, and video recording at 1080p of up to 60 fps. The 7 fps continuous shooting speed and 27 point AF is welcome, particularly as almost all points are cross-type, although you should note that all of these are fairly central in the frame, meaning that you will not be able to use this on objects towards the edge of the picture.

The low light capabilities of this camera are almost unrivaled, with an ISO range extending up to 819,200, far greater than most other cameras. Although pictures are grainy at this ISO level, they are still usable, at least for snapshots or family photos. If you intend to shoot indoors with this camera, this feature could be a real lifesaver, particularly when combined with the internal 5-axis stabilization, meaning that you can handhold the camera even at slow shutter speeds.

The Pentax KP is of course heavy at 703 g (1.55 lbs) thanks to it’s wealth of features, and only has a battery life of about 390 pictures, but it is really the price and value for money that pushes it down the list of best cameras. You are looking at close to $1000 with a lens, making it expensive for a first DSLR, but if you have the budget, then this is one of the best cameras for beginners, among the highest build quality and specifications of any camera reviewed here.


7. Canon EOS Rebel T7 / EOS 2000D

Canon EOS T7 review
  • 24.1 MegaPixels
  • 1.05 lbs (475g)
  • APS-C (Cropped) Sensor
  • 9 AF points (1 Cross Type)
  • 1080p, 30 fps Video Recording
  • 3 fps Continuous Photo Shooting
  • ISO Range: 100 – 12800
  • Built-In Wifi & NFC

The Canon T7 ranks as a good beginner DSLR camera, thanks to a 24 MegaPixel sensor with DIGIC 4+ image processor, and a relatively cheap price of not much more than $400. The sensor included with this model is one of Canon’s older versions, so does not have quite the image quality of the newer 24 MegaPixel sensors, and it’s otherwise fairly standard for DSLRs in this price range, with 9 point autofocus and video recording of 1080p at 30 fps.

ISO range is good, though does not match the Nikon D3500, and the 3 fps continuous shooting speed also lags behind, meaning this will not be the camera for wildlife photography.

Battery life falls into the 500 picture range, fairly standard for Canons in this price range, and weight is a little over one pound. Despite its flaws, picture quality is still very good, and with a little practice you can easily get professional-looking photos. The Canon T7 may not quite be the best budget DSLR, but for the price, it is a very reasonable compromise.


6. Nikon D3500

Nikon D3500 review
  • 24.2 MegaPixels
  • 0.92 lbs (415g)
  • APS-C (Cropped) Sensor
  • 11 AF points (1 Cross Type)
  • 1080p, 60 fps Video Recording
  • 5 fps Continuous Photo Shooting
  • ISO Range: 100 – 25600
  • Built-In Wifi & Bluetooth

As a relatively recent entrant into the Nikon beginner camera category, the Nikon D3500 makes a good case to be the best budget DSLR, and is a well-considered step up from a point and shoot camera, or from phone photography. It uses Nikon’s EXPEED 4 image processor to produce fantastic images from the 24.2 MegaPixel APS-C sensor, and offers 1080p, 60fps video recording support.

With only 11 autofocus points, including a central cross type sensor, and 5 fps continuous photo shooting speed, this may not be the first choice for action photography, but will credibly hold its own in the field, thanks to Nikon’s proprietary 3D tracking feature that is more typically found on pro level models. It is also an excellent choice for people photography, with the high ISO range of 25600 making it a useful camera to have in low light conditions.

Image quality is very high, thanks to the removal of the anti-aliasing filter, one of the few starter cameras to exhibit this, with the D3500’s only real flaw being its relatively constrained abilities when in the field when compared with the D5600.

With a variety of special effects modes (eg. night vision, toy camera mode, etc) that may come in handy to beginner DSLR users who lack the technical knowledge to create these effects themselves, and with the long battery life of about 1550 pictures, higher than any other beginner camera, the Nikon D3500 makes a very strong case to be one of the best beginner DSLRs.


5. Canon EOS REBEL T7i / EOS 800D

Canon T7i review
  • 24.2 MegaPixels
  • 1.17 lbs (532g)
  • APS-C (Cropped) Sensor
  • 45 AF points (45 Cross Type)
  • 1080p, 60 fps Video Recording
  • 6 fps Continuous Photo Shooting
  • ISO Range: 100 – 25600
  • Built-In Wifi, NFC & Bluetooth

From the Canon T7i and onwards in this list, these cameras could all be considered the best beginner DSLR camera. The T7i is a fantastically well-balanced camera, hitting the sweet spot between performance and usability, and is a significant upgrade on the T7. With the newer 24 MegaPixel sensor, running on the upgraded DIGIC 7 image processor, you know that image quality will be fantastic. Video recording shoots at 1080p at up to 60 fps, meaning there will be little discernible blur, even if shooting action videos.

With 45 autofocus points, all of which are capable of cross type focusing, and with a continuous shooting speed of 6 fps, this is a very well suited camera for wildlife and sports photography. The AF system uses the Dual Pixel CMOS AF, a highly regarded autofocus setup usually reserved for higher end models.

This camera is particularly marked as a good beginner camera due to the 3 inch touchscreen that flips open, making it much easier to take photos in challenging environments using Live View. Canon’s Feature Assistant helps explain complex camera settings as you go, teaching you photography on-the-fly. Overall, the menu system and touch integration make the T7i very easy to use and quick to master.

Many people regard this as the best Canon starter camera, and it’s hard to disagree. In the Canon T7i is a beautifully balanced camera with many of the features of pro models, but at a much lower price.


4. Pentax K-70

Pentax K-70 review
  • 24.2 MegaPixels
  • 1.52 lbs (688g)
  • APS-C (Cropped) Sensor
  • 11 AF points (9 Cross Type)
  • 1080p, 30 fps Video Recording
  • 6 fps Continuous Photo Shooting
  • ISO Range: 100 – 204800
  • Built-In Wifi
  • In Camera Electronic Stabilization

Like the Pentax KP, the K70 Pentax has in body electronic image stabilization and a very high ISO range, making it highly suitable for photography in low light environments. It has a 24 MegaPixel sensor, and can shoot 1080p video at up to 30 fps. With 11 autofocus points, it appears to fall behind the Pentax KP, but actually this is more than sufficient for most beginner uses, as the AF system is very close to Canon’s brilliant dual pixel design. The additional cost saving of the K-70 is money that you can then direct towards better quality lenses.

Build quality is very high, as with all Pentax models, including advanced controls and dials, and a menu system that really lets you dive into the details of the camera. Pentax are known for their high-end features packed into starter devices, and this is no exception.

The K70 is aimed more at outdoor photographers than those who are studio based, meaning it has profiling suited for the outdoors, such as a movable screen with red light “night vision” display options, and is dust-proof and weather-resistant. This makes the Pentax K-70 particularly useful for landscape photographers and those regularly shooting outside in bad weather.

Ultimately, whether you go for a Pentax rather than Canon or Nikon will depend on lens lineup, as Pentax will offer far fewer options than their main competitors. Nonetheless, for beginner landscape photographers, this strikes a very good balance of features and price.


3. Nikon D5600

Nikon D5600 review
  • 24.2 MegaPixels
  • 1.03 lbs (465g)
  • APS-C (Cropped) Sensor
  • 39 AF points (9 Cross Type)
  • 1080p, 60 fps Video Recording
  • 5 fps Continuous Photo Shooting
  • ISO Range: 100 – 25600
  • Built-In Wifi, NFC & Bluetooth

As the most advanced of Nikon’s entry level camera, the Nikon D5600 is the best Nikon DSLR for beginners. With a 24 MegaPixel sensor and Nikon’s EXPEED 4 image processor, this camera is capable of shooting incredibly detailed images thanks to the removal of the anti-aliasing filter, and can handle 1080p video at up to 60 fps.

It is essentially Nikon’s answer to the Canon T7i, and has very similar specifications, although the D5600 always comes out on top in practice. Although you might think that the T7i would be the better action camera, with 45 AF points compared to the D5600’s 39, and with 6 fps shooting capabilities compared with 5 fps, the Nikon actually shoots sports or wildlife more consistently, thanks to Nikon’s brilliant 3D tracking autofocus system, that can focus according to contrast changes anywhere within the frame.

If you directly compare the D5600 with the Nikon D3500, you can immediately see the extra features and more high-end finishing that you get with the D5600. Where the D3500 has only 11 autofocus points, the D5600 has 39, and where the D3500 has a fixed non-touch screen, the D5600 has a fully articulated 3.2 inch touchscreen. Although the D3500 is a good camera for beginner photography, the D5600 is the best Nikon camera for beginners, and is aimed at those who want to pursue photography a little more seriously than the more casual shooters who would use the D3500.

Ultimately, the D5600 is probably the best all-round camera reviewed here, with the best-in-class autofocus system and very good video recording capabilities. With an easy to use touchscreen interface, plenty of connectivity options, very high image quality, and regularity of seeing this camera in a value for money kit deal, the D5600 is an excellent choice for those of you looking for a near pro-level polished, powerful DSLR.


2. Canon EOS REBEL SL3 / EOS 250D

  • 24.1 MegaPixels
  • 0.99 lbs (449g)
  • APS-C (Cropped) Sensor
  • 9 AF points (1 Cross Type)
  • 4K, 24 fps / 1080p, 60 fps Video Recording
  • 5fps Continuous Photo Shooting
  • ISO Range: 100 – 25600
  • Built-In Wifi & Bluetooth

The Canon SL3 is one of the newest and most powerful entry level cameras from Canon, and despite this is also one of the smallest and lightest. It feels very lightweight and insubstantial in your hands, but build quality is very high, so it remains comfortable to hold and packs quite a punch when taking photos. As the first camera on this list that is capable of 4K video recording, at up to 24 fps, the Canon SL3 is the best budget DSLR for video.

Although the 9 point autofocus might seem lacking on paper, it uses Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF system, which covers nearly the entire frame to provide fast, accurate autofocus and includes eye detection for always in focus portraits. Combined with the decent continuous photo shooting speed of 5 fps, this camera firmly sites itself as a strong contender for the best all-round camera, and is suitable for action photography.

The 24 MegaPixel sensor is one of Canon’s newest models, with each pixel only taking up approximately 3.72 micrometres on the sensor, when compared with the larger 4.30 micrometer pixels on the Canon T6. The sensor data is processed through the new DIGIC 8 image sensor, and combined, these features give greater resolving power and records higher details in your photos, even using the same lenses.

With a battery life of 1070 shots per full charge, and a weight just under 1 lb, the SL3 outperforms rival cameras like the Canon T7i and the Nikon D5600 in just about every category other than autofocus performance. It has an excellent, articulated touchscreen like the D5600 with clearly laid out and easy to use menus. When combined with Canon’s signature Feature Assistant, which helps you to take advantage of the camera’s advanced features and create impressive photos with ease, and the low price of only $650 with a lens, the SL3 can offer performance on a level with Canon’s professional cameras, but in a much easier to use package.


1. Canon EOS Rebel T8i

  • 24.1 MegaPixels
  • 1.14 lbs (515g)
  • APS-C (Cropped) Sensor
  • 45 AF points (45 Cross Type)
  • 4K, 24 fps / 1080p, 60 fps Video Recording
  • 7fps Continuous Photo Shooting
  • ISO Range: 100 – 51200
  • Built-In Wifi & Bluetooth

As the newest Canon DSLR, the Canon T8i takes all the best parts of the SL3 and adds a fantastic autofocus system, to create the best Canon DSLR camera for beginners. This is a brand new camera and is top of the Rebel lineup, with a new 24 MegaPixel sensor connected to the most advanced DIGIC 8 image processor. Video recording remains at 24 fps for 4K, and 60 fps for 1080p, which even the most demanding beginner photographers should be happy with.

The standout for this camera is the 45 point autofocus system, with all points being cross type, as in the Nikon D5600. Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF tracks subjects accurately across the frame and includes eye detection. A new feature is an upgraded 220,000 pixel AE sensor, which determines light levels across the frame and sets aperture and shutter speed when in automatic modes. This has Face Priority, tracking people’s faces to ensure that they are always correctly exposed – perfect for family photos and portraits, and meaning this camera could even be considered the best camera for professional photography.

The best Canon camera for beginners must include features like a movable touchscreen that supports standard touch gestures, along with programmable controls, so that you can set the camera up to your liking. I’m pleased to say that the T8i has both of these, along with many other helpful features, like an AF assist beam, meaning that the autofocus should even be usable in low light conditions. Along with the high ISO range, up to 51200, this becomes an excellent low light camera.

Overall, there is very little that the Canon T8i is not suited to. The 45 point AF and 7 fps shooting speed (with max shutter speed of 1/4000 second) make it perfect for wildlife and sports photography, while the high max ISO makes it ideal for low light shooting. Eye Detection and Face Priority suit the camera to people photos and family snapshots, while the powerful sensor and programmable dials mean that landscape photographers are well catered for. It’s clear that this is the best Canon DSLR camera, and easily beats the offerings from other manufacturers to become the best DSLR camera for beginners

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Hi, I'm Tim Daniels, photographer and photo trainer, founder of Lapse of the Shutter and creator of the totally free Lightroom Develop System. I've travelled to (probably) 30 countries over the last few years, taking photos and licensing them around the world, and creating lots of free photography learning resources. Read More ...

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