DSLR cameras, or digital single-lens reflex cameras, are still some of the most popular types of camera around. With a strong visual resemblance to classic film SLRs, DSLR cameras are some of the most ruggedly built and dependable shooters around. They’re interchangeable-lens cameras, meaning there is an extensive range of DSLR lenses to choose from, no matter which brand of DSLR you use.
There’s also an extensive ecosystem of accessories available for your DSLR digital camera body, including tripods, bags, filters and more. We’ll dive into the best brands of DSLR and give you a few recommendations for which models to choose if you want to shoot stills, video or a bit of both. But if you're still not sure, be sure to check read our in-depth digital camera round-up and buying guide.
The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Digital SLR Camera Body offers a 30-megapixel CMOS sensor with a maximum ISO sensitivity of 32,000, and an expanded 61-point AF-system. Capture magnificent detail even in the toughest conditions as the camera body features a weather-resistant design. Users can enjoy beautiful 4K video recording at 30 fps; whereas, HD video can be captured at 120 fps when trying to achieve a slow-motion effect. In addition to this, WiFi and NFC connectivity are also available allowing for easy file transfer and more.
Aimed at passionate and serious enthusiasts, the Nikon D500 with 16-80mm f2.8-4 VR lens offers many of the professional features that exist in the D5, Nikon's flagship FX-format model, into a compact, lightweight DX-format body. The D500 incorporates a powerful 153-point AF system to keep the pace of moving subjects, a 20.9-megapixel CMOS sensor for stunning resolution and a brand-new EXPEED 5 image processor to allow up to 10fps so that you never miss a moment of the action. It also offers a wide sensitivity range from ISO 100-51,200 (exp. 1,640,00) and is the first Nikon DX camera to utilise SnapBridge support and the new XQD memory card technology, which provides faster read/write and transfer speeds to take full advantage of its capabilities, such as 4K UHD in-camera video recording and timelapse.
Introducing, the Nikon D850, a photographic workhorse that has been equipped with a huge 45.7 megapixel sensor that will not disappoint. The 45.7 megapixel back-illuminated, full-frame CMOS sensor and extended battery life will keep up with all any photographic adventure you can throw its way, from the studio photo shoots to the remotest places on Earth. The tough and rugged magnesium-alloy build and all-weather sealing allow you to take its power wherever you want to go. The stunning image quality and impressive performance of this camera makes it the ultimate choice and will continue to be a game changer for years to come.
The Canon 6D Mark II represents a marked upgrade on its predecessor. A new 26.2MP full-frame sensor offers enhanced low-light performance , greater depth-of-field control, and stunning image quality. The camera's ISO has also been upgraded, with the upper limit now expandable to 102,400.
The Nikon D750 Digital SLR Camera Body is a Full-Frame format camera that features a 24.3-megapixel imaging sensor, EXPEED 4 image processor, and 51-point AF system in addition to Full HD video capture at 50/60p. Users benefit from the outstanding low light performance and fantastic cropping flexibility, thanks to the large sensor and the aforementioned image processor. The wide dynamic range delivers sharp and tonally rich images across all ISO sensitivities. All of these fantastic features have been packaged into a lightweight, weather-sealed body boasting an energy-saving design.
The Nikon D500 is a professional quality crop-sensor camera system that delivers pure quality with every shot that is taken with it. Built to the same high standard as Nikon's flagship FX-format counterparts, this camera is aimed at serious enthusiasts that want to take the next step but need a more affordable option than some pro-level bodies. The D500 has the high-end technology to cater for most situations that you can find yourself in including, but not limited to, a huge 153-point autofocus system, 20.9-megapixel sensor and a powerful EXPEED 5-image processor. Take a look at the key features that this camera has to offer!
The Canon EOS 90D comes as the upgrade to the popular Canon 80D. The 80D became a go to camera for both professionals and amateurs because it was such a versatile system, so this upgrade is sure to impress any level of photographer. It features a larger 32.5 megapixels APS-C imaging sensor that will produce some incredible detailed photographs and video footage. Like the 80D, the 90D has been designed for speed; catering to sports and wildlife photographers - Or anyone who has fast moving subjects. It's also capable or capturing some stunning 4K footage and of course, features Canon's EF-S mount, meaning there are a huge range of compatible lenses for you to choose from. Take a look at the impressive list of features this camera has!
The Canon EOS-1D X Mark III offers huge upgrades to the MKII including 5.5K RAW video recording, Deep-Learning AF, and an ISO range of 100-102,400. Whatever the situation, whatever the lighting, EOS-1D X Mark III will deliver exceptional images - beating the competition to the punch with its exceptional speed. The camera body is tough, reliable and intuitive. Ideal for sports, wildlife and documentary shoots, this high-performance camera forms the creative toolkit you need to capture the unrepeatable moments with.
The Nikon D5600 Digital SLR Camera Body is a mid-range DSLR designed for hobbyists who wish to explore the creative world of photography. The D5600 utilises a 3.2" vari-angle touchscreen, 24-megapixel DX-format sensor, EXPEED 4 processor, and a 39-point AF system, same as its predecessor. There are, of course, new features such as Bluetooth and NFC connectivity; enhanced touchscreen functionality; and time-lapse movie mode.
The Nikon D7500 Digital SLR Camera Body has been engineered for passionate photographers to support their creative endeavours. It offers fantastic performance, faster and cleaner image processing, in addition to cinematic 4K/UHD video capture packed into a durable camera body that can withstand whatever the elements throw at it.
The Canon 6D Mark II represents a marked upgrade on its predecessor. A new 26.2MP full-frame sensor offers enhanced low-light performance, greater depth-of-field control, and stunning image quality. The camera's ISO has also been upgraded, with the upper limit now expandable to 102,400. This kit includes the sharp and compact Canon EF 24-105mm f3.5-5.6 IS STM Lens.
The Nikon D3500 is a compact 24.2-megapixel entry-level DSLR with an APS-C CMOS sensor and a versatile 18-55mm non VR zoom lens for everyday photography. Packed into the D3500’s ergonomic and lightweight body is an 11-point autofocus system, 5fps burst shooting, 1080/60p video, an easy-to-use Guide Mode, Bluetooth connectivity, and a battery life that offers approx. 1500 shots on a single charge.
Digital SLR cameras are designed to meet the needs of photographers and videographers at all ability levels. Whether you’re a total beginner, a seasoned professional or something in between, there will be a DSLR out there for you.
What defines a DSLR? There are a few key criteria that mean a camera qualifies as a DSLR. The main one is a mirror system that enables an optical viewfinder, giving you a real-time eye-level view of the scene before you. While users of mirrorless or compact cameras have to rely on an electronic viewfinder or Live View on the LCD screen, DSLR shooters can view a scene in real-time.
As mentioned, DSLRs also have interchangeable lenses, meaning you can pick your own optics. This does mean you have to factor in some extra cost, and add the price of your chosen DSLR lenses to the DSLR camera body-only price.
DSLRs also tend to be more rugged than other types of camera, with good weatherproofing. This varies by model, so always check before you buy, but it’s a decent rule of thumb that outdoor photographers should consider using a DSLR.
DSLRs have good-sized sensors, which improves their dynamic range compared to a smartphone or cheaper compact camera. Expensive professional models will be full-frame, but even beginner DSLRs tend to be at least APS-C. If you’re finding all this terminology a little confusing, check out our DSLR camera buying guide.
Frequently asked questions
- Can DSLR lenses be used on mirrorless cameras?
Not natively, but there are mount adapters that allow for lenses from different systems to work with different cameras. Be aware that attaching a lens this way often means that certain features like autofocus will not work.
- Is a bridge camera a DSLR?
A bridge camera has a fixed lens and no optical viewfinder, and is classed as a type of compact camera. They are deliberately styled to visually resemble DSLRs however, so the confusion is understandable!
- Can you shoot video with a DSLR camera?
Emphatic yes! DSLR video capture has been getting better and better. The Canon EOS 5D series kickstarted something of a DSLR video resolution in the late 2000s and early 2010s, to the point where there were plenty of Hollywood blockbusters that included DSLR shots! Examples include 2012’s Avengers Assemble and 2014’s Whiplash. These days, DSLRs still shoot fantastic video and are the camera of choice for many filmmakers and video content creators.
- Is it better to have more megapixels?
Potentially, but not necessarily. More megapixels mean more detail in an image, allowing you to get better results from cropping in, and print in larger formats. However, if you don’t need this level of detail, more megapixels can cause more noise (unwanted visual artefacts) in an image.
Video users prefer lower megapixel counts on larger sensors, as they obviously don’t need to worry about printing. It’s all about personal preference and what you’re going to use the camera for!
- Can you use a DSLR camera body as a webcam?
You can! Though, depending on your camera, it might take a little technical know-how. Refer to the manufacturer for more info on your specific model.
The main producers of DSLR cameras are Canon, Nikon and Pentax. Let’s quickly run through what these brands have to offer.
Canon is possibly the best-known name in DSLRs, and produces cameras for users of all abilities. It’s easy to get confused by all the letters and numbers in its camera names – the general rule of thumb is, the fewer numerals a camera has between “EOS” and “D”, the more sophisticated and expensive it is. So, the Canon EOS 2000D is a camera for beginners, and the Canon EOS 1D X Mark III is a camera for professionals.
Best beginner Canon DSLR:
Canon EOS 250D. A great starter camera that lets you grow into it, with useful guide modes to help learn the basics.
Best professional Canon DSLR:
Canon EOS-1D X Mark III. Quite simply one of the most capable cameras ever made.
Best Canon DSLR for video:
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV. The latest in the line that kicked off the DSLR video revolution (more on this below), with class-leading 4K video capabilities.
Nikon is one of the most popular and enduring manufacturers of DSLRs, beloved by amateurs and professionals alike. Its incredible range of F-mount lenses is one of the best and most comprehensive in the world. Like Canon, Nikon produces cameras for every user from beginner to professional. Once again, the general rule is that fewer numerals in the name equals a more advanced camera.
Best beginner Nikon DSLR:
Nikon D3500. This is one of the best starter DSLRs full-stop, the perfect buy for a photography student.
Best intermediate Nikon DSLR:
Nikon D850. A full-frame wonder that’s great for all genres of photography.
Best professional Nikon DSLR:
Nikon D6. The full-frame flagship for working professionals, with peerless image quality and speed.
Best Nikon DSLR for video:
Nikon D780. A cutting-edge DSLR that inherits its powerful AF system from mirrorless cameras.
A more affordable option for budget users, Pentax Ricoh specialises in cameras with extensive weatherproofing. They’re a good choice for outdoor and landscape photographers.
Best beginner Pentax DSLR:
Pentax K-70. A user-friendly DSLR with a wide array of imaging tools and scene modes.
Best intermediate Pentax DSLR:
Pentax KP. Lightweight and compact, but with powerful imaging technology.
Best professional Pentax DSLR:
Pentax K-1 Mark II. The full-frame flagship of the Pentax range.
Don't forget the accessories!
The best DSLRs can be made even better with accessories! Some are completely essential – you need a good memory card to store your image and videos, for instance. DSLR users also need to make sure they have the lenses they need for whatever type of photography or videography they’re planning.
Other good choices include a tripod, which provides camera stability and enables techniques like long exposures, which aren’t possible shooting handheld. You can check out the full range of camera accessories here.