11 Best DSLR Cameras for Any Budget & Level

By Tati Taylor 4 days ago, Cameras & Lenses

Average prices and photo examples made by popular DSLRs.

top 3 best dslr cameras

Why do so many photographers still find DSLR cameras better than mirrorless cameras? Which one is better: Nikon or Canon cameras? Let’s find it out below.

11 Best DSLR Cameras for Photographers

  1. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV - Our choice
  2. Canon EOS-1DX Mark II - Recommended Canon
  3. Nikon D5 - Most expensive
  4. Sony SLT-A99 II - Best from Sony
  5. Pentax K-1 Mark II - Weatherproof
  6. Nikon D850 - For Nikon fans
  7. Canon EOS 5DS R - Long-lasting model
  8. Nikon D750 - For beginners
  9. Canon EOS 6D Mark II - Movable display
  10. Nikon D500 - For nature & landscapes
  11. Sony SLT-A77 II - Fast autofocus

DSLR (Digital Single-Lens Reflex camera) is a camera body with a viewfinder, based on the use of a mirror located behind the lens at an angle of 45° to its optical axis. It allows live viewing directly through the lens.

The mirror is movable. It redirects the light from the shooting lens through the pentaprism to the aperture, through which the photographer directly looks.

Today many camera brands are focused on mirrorless models, but DSLR remains the most frequent choice of beginners and pros. Unlike its main competitors, DSLRs have a huge number of functions, accessories, and optics. What is more, they are reliable and for any budget.

Due to the popularity of DSLR cameras, each manufacturer has several dozens of models for different users, ranging from the simplest model for about $200 to a professional one for about $5,000.

1. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

canon eos 5d mark iv dslr camera
  • DIGIC 6 processor
  • Dustproof and waterproof body
  • Touch screen
  • 4K video
  • High dynamic shadow range
  • Unmovable screen
  • Small amount of information in the highlights when editing a RAW-file
  • 4K video mode is available only with 1,74 cropping
  • No focus picking

It is probably the best Canon DSLR camera popular among professional photographers. This particular model may be characterized by near-perfect performance. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV contains a 30.4-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor with photosensitive elements that are divided into pairs of photodiodes so as to provide fast focusing in Live View mode and during video recording. Autofocus works properly in low light.

The phase detection autofocus has 61 sensors (41 of them are of the cross type, 5 are of the double cross type). The speed of continuous shooting is equal to 7 fps maintaining the work of the tracking autofocus and exposure automation. In Live View mode, the maximum speed with autofocus is 4.3 fps. The maximum buffer size when shooting in the RAW format is 21 shots. In JPEG, the camera can shoot until the memory card is full.

Recommended camera lens:

Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Zoom Lens

Universal lens for shooting in any light conditions. It is suitable for reportage, weddings, shooting details, objects, medium-sized portraits, landscapes, and travels.

canon 24-70mm dslr lens photo

2. Canon EOS-1DX Mark II

Our choice
canon eos-1dx mark ii
  • Touch screen display
  • Weatherproof design
  • Huge memory buffer
  • 4K video at 60 fps
  • High price
  • Great weight
  • No Wi-Fi module
  • No focus picking
  • Requires expensive memory cards (CFast 2.0)

The camera features a full-frame CMOS sensor with 20.2 effective megapixels. The developers managed to achieve the highest quality not only in photo but also in video mode. The highest level for this model is a video with a resolution of 4096 × 2160 at 60 fps.

However, each frame of the video can be saved as an 8.8-megapixel image. One can’t agree more that it is the best DSLR for video. The camera will be interesting primarily to sports photojournalists since the burst speed here is maximum, compared to other DSLR cameras.

The burst speed is possible with a frequency of up to 14 fps with autofocus and up to 16 fps in Live View mode. The volume of a series is up to 170 shots in RAW format.

Recommended camera lens:

Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM

Top high-aperture wide-angle fixed lens. Perfect for landscape photography and as a component of a lens kit for capturing a general view in reportage and event shooting.

canon 35mm dslr lens photo

3. Nikon D5

Recommended Canon
nikon d5
  • Protected body
  • EXPEED 5 processor
  • Expanded upper limit of ISO is 3280000
  • Burst speed is up to 14 fps
  • 1/250 s X-sync shutter speed
  • Very expensive
  • Camera weight is 1240 g without a battery and memory cards
  • Dimensions 160 x 158.5 x 92 mm
  • No Wi-Fi and GPS

The company implemented its best inventions and made this model one of the best Nikon SLR cameras. It is desired by all professional photographers (among Nikon lovers). It is characterized by a CMOS sensor with 20.8 effective megapixels. The camera can take pictures in almost total darkness. The focusing module has 153 sensors (99 of them are X-shaped).

The square shape design is traditional for flagship models. Moreover, the controls are also duplicated. Among all DSLR cameras, Nikon D5 is not a leader in sensor resolution, but it has no competitors in the speed. Thus, professional reportage and sports photographers consider it the best DSLR camera that completely satisfies their needs.

Recommended camera lens:

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 70-200mm f/2.8E FL ED VR Lens

The professional telezoom lens became sharper and faster after upgrades. Focus buttons were returned and zoom barrel position was changed. The minimum focusing distance was reduced to 1.1 m. A new fluorite element has also been added for the correction of chromatic aberrations.

nikon 70-200mm dslr lens photo

Photo by Nikon D5

4. Sony SLT-A99 II

Most expensive
sony slt-a99 ii dslr camera
  • No noise at high ISO
  • Fast burst mode
  • Five-axis image stabilization
  • Tilting screen
  • Use of slow SD UHS-1 memory cards
  • Long time of recording photos on the memory card after a continuous shooting
  • Video recording is available only in “P” mode

This is a full-frame professional SLR camera. Durable dustproof and waterproof body, very fast continuous shooting (12 fps), high resolution (42 MP), “raw” files are as flexible as possible and easily “pulled out” via a RAW converter. The system of five-axis optical image stabilization through sensor shift adds 2-4 exposure steps. Also, Sony Alpha 99 II works confidently at high ISO. Even at values up to ISO 3200, the frame at the output is almost noiseless. At higher values up to ISO 26000 ‒ the picture is still quite detailed and moderately “noisy.” It is certainly the best DSLR for the money.

Recommended camera lens:

Sony 70-200mm f/2.8G SSM II

It has great sharpness, contrast, and smooth original bokeh. This is the most expensive lens among the ones I have reviewed. It is an ideal option for professional reportage photography, sports shooting, wildlife, and portraiture.

sony 70-200mm dslr lens photo

Photo by Sony SLT-A99 II

5. Pentax K-1 Mark II

Best from Sony
pentax k-1 mark ii dslr camera
  • New semi-automatic shooting mode ‒ ISO priority
  • Weatherproof body
  • 5-axis stabilization
  • Pixel Shift mode (unique and original image enhancement mode)
  • Pixel Shift mode works properly only with a tripod
  • 4K video mode is not available
  • Slow switching-on

This is the second full-frame SLR camera from Pentax, an updated version of the K-1. Featuring a 36.4-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor, the maximum frame resolution is equal to 7360 x 4912 pixels. Among all the top DSLR cameras presented here, Pentax is a standard of creating the most protected and reliable devices. It is certainly the best DSLR camera for a photographer shooting in the landscape or wildlife genre since these genres are not commonly shot in convenient conditions.

Recommended camera lens:

HD Pentax D FA 24-70mm F2.8ED SDM WR Lens

Universal high-aperture zoom lens with a standard set of focal lengths. It is one of the top models for Pentax cameras.

pentax 24-70mm dslr lens photo

6. Nikon D850

nikon d850 dslr camera
  • Minimum base ISO 64 (extended minimum is ISO 32)
  • Video in 4K mode
  • Focus-picking mode (for manual focusing in Live View mode)
  • Protected magnesium alloy body
  • Considerable weight (1005 g)
  • High price
  • Slow autofocus in Live View mode

Until quite recently, Nikon’s D8xx series cameras have been studio models. These were the best Nikon SLR cameras for landscape photographers and object photography lovers. Nikon D850 is certainly a breakthrough which combines reportage and studio cameras. The advertised shooting speed is equal to 7 fps, and in case of installing the battery grip ‒ 9 fps.

The autofocus module consists of 153 focal points (99 of them are of a cross type). Simultaneously, the resolution was increased to a medium format level ‒ 45.4 megapixels. The focus-shift function allows you to increase the depth by gluing several pictures into one.

At the moment, due to its advancements, it is the best DSLR camera produced by Nikon. This particular digital SLR camera significantly surpasses competitors in the number of focus sensors, which makes it the absolute leader in image clarity.

Recommended camera lens:

Nikon AF-S FX NIKKOR 24-70mm f/2.8E ED

Convenient and reliable zoom lens from wide-angle to medium telescopic coverage is suitable for shooting a variety of scenes. Fluoride coating reliably protects from water, dust, and dirt without detriment to image quality. The coating is applied to the glass that protects the front and rear lens. So the glass can be easily cleaned without damaging the surface.

photo by sony a9 camera for sports

Photo by Nikon D850

7. Canon EOS 5DS R

Long-lasting model
canon eos 5dsr dslr camera
  • Protected body
  • No low pass filter
  • Highly detailed images
  • Improved mirror depreciation
  • The speed of continuous shooting is 5 fps
  • No 4K video mode
  • Requires special optics
  • Small information reserve in the shadows (RAW)
  • Weak battery
  • Unmovable display

Canon’s most multi-pixel camera is positioned by the manufacturer as a competitor to medium format DSLR cameras. The device has a 50.6-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor and currently has no competitors by the number of pixels on the market. The maximum frame resolution is 8688x5792 pixels. The focus area consists of 61 points. This camera provides the most detailed image due to its full leadership in resolution among the best DSLRs. If you are going to print photos, this is the best option. Though it is not the best Canon DSLR for reportage photography, it is truly the best DSLR camera for any other style, especially studio shooting.

Recommended camera lens:

Canon EF 16-35mm f/4L IS USM

Super wide-angle zoom at a constant aperture is free from the drawbacks that are typical of this class of optics. The lens is not subjected to chromatic aberrations, flare, and contrast drop in backlight. One of the best models for landscape shooting has the most versatile set of focal lengths for wide area coverage.

canon 16-35mm dslr lens photo

Photo by Canon EOS 5DS R

8. Nikon D750

For beginners
nikon d750 dslr camera
  • Tilting display
  • Speedy autofocus
  • 6.5 fps burst speed
  • Protected body
  • 24-megapixel CMOS sensor
  • 1/8000s shutter speed is not available
  • The absence of 4K video mode
  • Quite small monochrome display
  • Limited RAW-format series (15 frames)

Today, the Nikon D750 is undoubtedly one of the best DSLR cameras and the most favorable option on the DSLR market. Though inventors successfully found a delicate balance between characteristics and a price, it can’t compete with the famous Nikon D700. It is targeted at the contemporary demands of shooters. The camera is not rather costly but it can boast of wide functionality.

Convenience and workability are achieved thanks to the movable display. It should be mentioned that this feature is quite new for top DSLR cameras. Although the speed characteristics of D750 and its buffer size are formally lower than those of expensive models, they are good enough to operate while shooting in different genres. Finally, I believe that D750 is a must-have for wedding and event photography.

Recommended camera lens:

Nikon 16-35mm f/4.0 G ED VR AF-S

This wide-angle premium ZOOM lens features optical stabilization. It is the best lens for landscape, interior, and architecture photography.

nikon 16-35mm dslr lens photo

Photo by Nikon D750

Read about cheaper DSLR cameras that can be the best cameras for amateur photography that take nice photos as well.

9. Canon EOS 6D Mark II

Movable display
canon eos 6d mark ii dslr camera
  • Movable display
  • Integrated GPS module
  • Weather-resistant body
  • Excellent dynamic range
  • Latest DIGIC7 processor
  • The density of autofocus points is rather centered
  • No audio output for headphones

Being the best DSLR camera in this price category, Canon EOS 6D Mark II may be characterized by versatility and rather high image quality. Nevertheless, it is quite an affordable purchase. If we look through the updated Canon lineup, we will see that this model is the latest full-frame reflex camera. Unlike preceding models, the EOS 6D Mark II was significantly improved. It was modernized with 26-megapixel CMOS and 45-point autofocus system.

Moreover, continuous shooting was also upgraded, providing speed equal to 6.5 fps. Consequently, you may be easily engaged in reportage shooting. The buffer may store up to 21 RAW files. Wi-Fi, NFC, and Bluetooth modules easily transfer files from the device. Besides, you may control your camera remotely.

Recommended camera lens:

Canon EF 70-200mm f/2.8 L is III USM

This is a top-class telephoto lens that allows you to take gorgeous portraits and shoot wildlife in close-up. One of the main advantages is the improved glare protection achieved by the new lens coating.

photo by canon 1dx mark2

10. Nikon D500

For nature & landscapes
nikon d500 dslr camera
  • 153 autofocus sensors are evenly distributed throughout the frame
  • 10 fps burst speed (in RAW format)
  • Tilting touchscreen display
  • Extra memory card slot
  • Camera weight is 860g including a battery and memory card
  • Snap Bridge (wireless module) sometimes freezes

The Nikon D500 is a professional digital SLR camera with 20.9-megapixel CMOS sensor. Compared with the full-frame D5 flagship, the D500 model is lighter and more mobile, well suited for nature or landscape photography. These are genres where the focal length range and light weight are particularly important. In the D500, the sensitivity range is ISO 100–51200, and it may be extended to ISO 50–1640000. The model allows you to shoot at 10 fps burst speed, using a 153-point autofocus system. The buffer allows saving up to 79 consecutive 14-bit RAW files. Nikon D500 is ideal for shooting wildlife, has a robust body and protected all-weather performance (magnesium alloy on the top and rear faces, light carbon on the front side). Besides, it is the best DSLR camera for traveling.

Recommended camera lens:

Nikon AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G

It has fast autofocus and an effective image stabilizer. The disadvantage of the entire class of super-optics is low aperture. But if you choose the right lighting conditions and are able to use a tripod, the lens will not disappoint you. This model will simply be necessary while traveling. It combines all imaginable options of scene directions due to the complete set of viewing angles.

nikon 28-300mm dslr lens photo

Photo by Nikon D500

Read reviews of the best tripods for DSLR that you can use to take landscape or wildlife photographs with your heavy DSLR camera body and telephoto lens.

11. Sony SLT-A77 II

Fast autofocus
sony slt-a77 ii dslr camera
  • Crop frame 24.3-megapixel CMOS sensor
  • Button reprogramming is available
  • Tilting display
  • 12 fps burst speed
  • Fast-tracking autofocus
  • Wireless communication modules (Wi-Fi, NFC)
  • No autofocus backlight

Sony A77 II is the best DSLR camera suitable both for amateurs and professionals, being rather versatile. The camera offers 79 focus sensors distributed throughout the frame, improved tracking autofocus, brand ergonomics, and flexible system of control settings. In addition, it pleases users with high frame rate and a convenient tilting display producing qualitative pictures. Dustproof and waterproof body, excellent speed, and good image quality are also among this model's benefits.

Recommended camera lens:

Sony DT 16-50mm f/2.8 SSM

A high-quality standard telephoto lens for APS-C cameras is suitable for a variety of genres. The pictures taken with it are a certain delight with pleasant soft bokeh, bright colors, as well as sharpness, even when taking close-up shots. The model is an indispensable tool while traveling.

sony 16-50mm dslr lens photo

Photo by Sony SLT-A77 II

canon eos-1dx mark ii
Canon EOS-1DX Mark II
  • 20.2 MP
  • Full-frame
  • CMOS
nikon d5
Nikon D5
  • 20.8 MP
  • FX-format
  • CMOS
sony slt-a99 ii
Sony SLT-A99 II
  • 42.4 MP
  • Full-frame
  • CMOS
pentax k-1 mark ii
Pentax K-1 Mark II
  • 36 MP
  • APS-C
canon eos 5d mark iv
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
  • 30.4 MP
  • Full-frame
  • CMOS
nikon d850
Nikon D850
  • 45.7 MP
  • Full-frame
  • CMOS
canon eos 5dsr
Canon EOS 5DS R
  • 50.6 MP
  • Full-frame
  • CMOS
nikon d750
Nikon D750
  • 24 MP
  • Full-frame
  • CMOS
canon eos 6d mark ii
Canon EOS 6D Mark II
  • 26.2 MP
  • Full-frame
  • CMOS
nikon d500
Nikon D500
  • 20.9 MP
  • Full-frame
  • CMOS
sony slt-a77 ii
Sony SLT-A77 II
  • 24.3 MP
  • APS-C

How to Choose a DSLR Camera?

Let us emphasize the main parameters affecting the qualitative camera performance. These particular characteristics should be learned in the first place to pick the best DSLR camera satisfying your needs.

Physical image sensor size is a measure of the digital noise transmitted to the images. The larger the sensor is, the lighter the light falls on it. Accordingly, more useful information appears. Finally, the use of a larger sensors allows getting a brighter image with natural colors.

Megapixels and their size affect the picture just like the image sensor size does. The highest megapixel cameras allow getting detailed images. The bigger these megapixels are, the more light will fall on them.

Dynamic range will allow you to get a more detailed picture, even in poor light. While editing images, you may slightly increase your exposure without quality loss.

Burst speed is an essential characteristic for sport and reportage photography. Most often the fastest cameras are not the quite affordable ones. Don’t forget about the buffer size for such shooting. It should be able to store all your images.

  • Read about the main differences and similarities between mirrorless vs DSLR if you still can’t choose a camera type you need.

The battery capacity and camera operating time using one battery are important in any genre, except possibly a studio one, where power sources are always nearby. In case of small capacity, purchase a battery grip.

Compatible optics pack suitable for this type of lens mount in the considered device is very important in order to exclude additional costs for adapters, which may sometimes cause autofocus failure.

Camera protection against dust and moisture is important for those who shoot in the landscape or street genre.

Dimensions and weight of the camera. It is not a secret that the heavier the DSLR, the better it is. But I would not take Canon 1DX Mark II to shoot a wedding without a tripod, because in 2-3 hours you will only think about the pain in your neck and hands.

Depending on the genre of work, photographers consider those camera models that focus on important performance features in the chosen direction. The least demanding type of photography is the landscape. When selecting the best camera for landscape photography, you just need to consider weather protection and dynamic range. Shooting may sometimes take place entirely in the field.

Wildlife and macro photography are very close to the landscape one, but in this case, the main demands are placed on lenses.

The situation with reportage and sports photography is more complicated. Without a special camera for sports that has a high-speed continuous shooting mode, successful shots will often be just a matter of chance.

For bloggers and travelers, it is useful to pay attention to the camera’s battery life, camera display mobility, and Wi-Fi communication modules for quick transfer of shots to smartphones or tablets.

A studio photographer may not particularly care for camera features. All that his/her brain is concerned about before the photo session is the correct selection of the lens and realization of his idea.

If you require the best DSLR for taking photographs, as well as for video recording, then most likely the choice doesn't consist in the set of features and their comparison. The permanent champion among best digital cameras and a real trendsetter here is definitely Sony. And no matter to what extent people support their favorite brand, there have never been heated arguments concerning this issue. If we consider mirror photo equipment, then SONY surely demonstrates the best results in terms of video recording.