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 Nikon D3500 is a compact entry-level DSLR with a large 24.2-megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor. Combined with the versatile 18-55mm VR zoom lens, this set up is perfect for everyday photography. The D3500's ergonomic and lightweight body features an 11-point autofocus system, 5fps burst shooting, 1080/60p video, an easy-to-use Guide Mode and a battery life that offers approx. 1500 shots on a single ...
Nikon extends its range of SnapBridge-compatible cameras with the D5600, a mid-range DSLR designed for hobbyists who want to explore the creative world of photography. Like its predecessor, the D5600 with 18-55mm lens uses the same 3.2" vari-angle touchscreen, 24-megapixel DX-format sensor, EXPEED 4 processor and 39-point AF system. It also comes with a host of new features, including time-lapse ...
The Canon EOS 850D comes as the upgrade to the 800D. With this body you can enjoy amazing detail and clarity with excellent low-light performance. The upgraded 24.1 MP APS-C CMOS Sensor and DIGIC 8 Image Processor provides you with a quick and accurate shooting which is particularly effective thanks to the precise autofocus. This accuracy of the AF is thanks to the 45 all cross-type AF points and Dual Pixel CMOS AF. This camera is perfect for an aspiring enthusiast photographer who wants to be part of the Canon ecosystem and who wants to have unlimited creativity to express themselves.
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 ...
The Nikon D780 comes as the eagerly anticipated successor to the well-regarded Nikon D750. It features a powerful 24.5 Megapixel Full Frame CMOS Sensor and EXPEED 6 image processor. This camera body can offer something to every level of photography and videographer alike. It features a 51-point Phase-Detection AF via the Viewfinder and 273-point Hybrid-AF system in Live View. It can shoot up to 7 ...
The Pentax KP Digital SLR Camera Body in black features a new-generation 24.32-megapixel APS-C CMOS imaging sensor along with a high-performance imaging engine. Take it anywhere, to any shoot as the camera body is dustproof, weather-resistant, and cold-proof down to -10-deg Celsius. In addition, it is lightweight and compact thanks to its Magnesium-Alloy body. Ideal for advanced-enthusiasts this camera also offers a 5-axis shake-reduction system 27-point autofocus system, and a maximum ISO of 819,200.
The Pentax K-3 Mark III inherits the basic concept of previous models, the K-3 and K-3 II, but builds on some key areas that help elevate the overall shooting experience of the camera for both imaging performance and user experience. The K-3 Mark III is afforded a powerful and high-resolution 25.7-megapixel APS-C imaging CMOS sensor that is able to capture stunning images that are rich with detail and clarity. This sensor is complemented by Pentax's super-effective 5-axis sensor-shift shake reduction that offers stabilisation compensation of up to 5.5 steps. Drawing from the original K-3, the Mark III features the intelligent AA filter simulator that eliminates false colour & moiré whilst maintaining high-resolution images. It also is equipped with a newly designed and highly accurate AF system and a redesigned high-magnification viewfinder with a wide field of view. But it doesn't stop there - There's a lot more to this camera...
The Canon EOS 850D comes as the upgrade to the 800D. With this body you can enjoy amazing detail and clarity with excellent low-light performance. The upgraded 24.1 MP APS-C CMOS Sensor and DIGIC 8 Image Processor provides you with a quick and accurate shooting which is particularly effective thanks to the precise autofocus. This accuracy of the AF is thanks to the 45 all cross-type AF points and ...
With a dustproof, weather-resistant, cold-proof construction, the Pentax K-70 with 18-135mm lens is designed to be an all-weather camera suitable for outdoor photography. The K-70 offers a vast amount of advanced, user-friendly features to optimise image quality, including: a large state-of-the-art 24 megapixel CMOS sensor; an optical viewfinder with almost 100 percent field of view; the ...
The Pentax K-70 Digital SLR is built for outdoor photography, with its compact body and weather-resistant construction. This ruggedness is married to high-sensitivity shooting and a shake reduction system, all of which amounts to reliability under demanding conditions met by adventurous photographers. This kit comes with an 18-50 mm zoom lens and a 50-200 mm telephoto zoom lens.
The Canon EOS 250D with 18-55mm IS STM Lens is an incredibly lightweight and compact DLSR with a 24.1-megapixel APS-C sensor, vari-angle screen, 4K video recording, and Dual Pixel CMOS AF. Easy to use and packed with the latest technology, the 250D is an entry-level digital SLR aimed at users looking to step-up from smartphone photography or upgrade from their existing compact.
The Pentax K-70 Digital SLR is built for outdoor photography, with its compact body and weather-resistant construction. This ruggedness is married to high-sensitivity shooting and a shake reduction system, all of which amounts to reliability under demanding conditions met by adventurous photographers. This kit comes with an 18-50 mm zoom lens.
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.