Whether you’re on a tight budget or you’ve got some cash to spend, or you want the finest photographic kit around, read on to find out what we think are the best DSLRs right now.
For quite some time now, if you’ve wanted to get serious about your photography your best option is to have invested in a DSLR camera. These cameras are designed for users at all technical levels, and they have traditionally offered three main advantages over smartphones and compacts: a large sensor, plenty of manual control, and the option to change lenses to suit the scene and subject.
Today, mirrorless cameras are incredibly popular as they manage to offer the benefits described above but, usually, in an even more compact and lighter package. The reason for this is that they lack the mirror common to DSLRs (hence the name), and most replace the optical viewfinder with high-resolution, electronic alternatives too. They may use smaller and lighter lenses too, which further helps to reduce size and weight.
If you want to know more about how they compare, read this: Mirrorless vs DSLR: 10 key differences. Or, if you want to know more about different camera types in general, check out our step-by-step guide: What camera should I buy?
BEST DSLR CAMERA
With a staggering 45MP full-frame sensor, a sophisticated AF system, blistering performance and a robust body, Nikon’s awesome D850 is hard to beat. It’s not cheap – but for good reason.
Read our in-depth Nikon D850 review
While mirrorless cameras are grabbing all the headlines at the moment, don’t think DSLRs are dead and buried.
A DSLR is still the cheapest way to get a camera with interchangeable lenses and a viewfinder (you’ll find most entry-level mirrorless cameras don’t have viewfinders). At the other end of the scale, almost all professional sports, press and wildlife photographers choose full-frame DSLRs over every other camera type.
That said, there are some cracking mirrorless cameras out there at the moment that are taking the place of DSLRs in pro photographers’ kit bags, including the Fujifilm X-T3, Olympus OM-D E-M1 II, Panasonic Lumix S1 and Sony Alpha A7R III.
In between entry-level and full-frame DSLRs are a whole range of models aimed at different users, different levels of experience and different budgets. Here’s our pick of the best DSLR cameras you can buy right now.
Great value option: Nikon D7200
It’s getting on a bit, but still a great DSLR
Sensor: APS-C CMOS | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Autofocus: 51-point AF, 15 cross-type | Screen type: 3.2-inch screen, 1,299K dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 6fps | Movies: 1080p | User level: Intermediate
Before we get onto our top 10 picks of the best DSLRs you can buy right now, let’s take a look at this great value option. The D7200 is a prime example of an older mid-range DSLR that packs enough under its skin to maintain its relevance in today’s market. Ideal for those capturing outdoors, the 24.2MP APS-C sensor lacks a low-pass filter to help it retain plenty of detail, while the 51-point AF system is adept at tracking moving subjects. You also get a tough, magnesium-alloy body that’s protected against inclement weather, together with two card slots and an LCD screen that can be tilted to make shooting from awkward angles easier. Its age, and the launch of the D7500 that updated it (below), has allowed its price to drop to a tempting level too. Well worth a look if you don’t need the very newest camera.
- Read our in-depth Nikon D7200 review
Best DSLR cameras in 2019
1. Nikon D850
High resolution meets high speed
Sensor: Full-frame CMOS | Megapixels: 45.4MP | Autofocus: 153-point AF, 99 cross-type | Screen type: 3.2-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 2,359,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 7fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Expert
It’s hard to think of another DSLR that wows like the D850 does. It’s on the pricey side for sure, but this is justified by excellent image quality, bags of features and a rugged, weather-resistant magnesium alloy body. The 45MP sensor is one of the highest in terms of resolution in any DSLR, while the 7fps burst mode is unusually high for a camera with such a sensor. Add to that a cracking AF system, wonderful handling and great 4K video, and it’s versatility should be easy to appreciate. Like the sound of the D850, but want to go mirrorless? Well, while not strictly a mirrorless version of the D850, Nikon’s newer Z7 mirrorless camera shares the same 45MP resolution as the D850, but features some clever tech of its own, including an all-new lens mount.
- Read our in-depth Nikon D850 review
2. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
One of the most complete DSLRs we’ve seen
Sensor: Full-frame CMOS | Megapixels: 30.4MP | Autofocus: 61-point AF, 41 cross-type | Screen type: 3.2-inch touchscreen, 1,620,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 7fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Expert
Canon’s EOS 5D series of cameras has a rich heritage – the original EOS 5D bought full-frame photography to the masses, the Mark II unleashed Full HD video capture for the first time on a DSLR, and while the Mark III became a firm favourite amongst photographers for doing everything it did so well. The EOS 5D Mark IV pretty much tweaks and improves on everything before it, with a newer 30.4MP sensor and advanced 61-point AF system along with 4K video recording. It’s still a brilliant DSLR that was until recently our top pick, but the arrival of the D850 means it slips a place down to number two.
- Read our in-depth Canon EOS 5D Mark IV review
Nikon’s baby D5 is perfect for the action photographer
Sensor: APS-C CMOS | Megapixels: 20.9MP | Autofocus: 153-point AF, 99 cross-type | Screen type: 3.2-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 2,359,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 10fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Expert
Nikon has taken its flagship D5 DSLR and most of its high-end features and distilled all of this into a smaller, but still very durable metal body. The full-frame sensor is replaced by an 20.9MP APS-C sized chip that allows the D500 to shoot at a rapid 10fps and deliver a great high ISO performance. A brilliant all-rounder with a high-performance 153-point AF system means it excels at fast action like sports and wildlife photography, but still has the chops to shoot landscapes and portraits. If the cost is a bit steep, then take a look at the D7500 below.
- Read our in-depth Nikon D500 review
4. Nikon D7500
Nikon’s enthusiast DSLR is a brilliant all-rounder
Sensor: APS-C CMOS | Megapixels: 20.9MP | Autofocus: 51-point AF, 15 cross-type | Screen type: 3.2-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 922,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 8fps | Movies: 4K | User level: Intermediate
The D7500 is cheaper than the D500, and while it doesn’t offer quite the same pro-spec performance and build quality, it packs the same excellent 20.9MP sensor inside an even more compact and affordable body. The new camera may not get the 153-point AF system from the D500, but the enhanced 51-point system in the D7500 still puts a lot of rival systems in the shade, while the 4K video capture, tilt-angle touchscreen display and 8fps burst shooting are some of the other highlights. If you’re on a bit of a tighter budget, take a look at the 24.2MP D7200 – it may have been surpassed by the D7500, but it’s still one of the best enthusiast DSLRs out there.
- Read our in-depth Nikon D7500 review
5. Canon EOS 80D
A great step up for EOS photographers
Sensor: APS-C CMOS | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Autofocus: 45-point AF, 45 cross-type | Screen type: 3.0-inch, 1,040,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 7fps | Movies: 1080p | User level: Intermediate
The EOS 80D is Canon’s high-end enthusiast DSLR, and while it might be getting on a bit – it’s one of the oldest DSLRs in the Canon line-up – it’s still a great buy. It features a fast and effective 45-point autofocusing system, while the clever Dual Pixel CMOS AF system for Live View shooting delivers snappy focusing speeds. The camera’s handling is excellent, promoting creative shooting as well as making setting adjustments quick and easy. It also has a high-quality 24.2MP sensor that is able to capture a good level of detail while keeping noise under control. A great enthusiast DSLR that packs a decent performance.
- Read our in-depth Canon EOS 80D review
6. Nikon D3500
The D3500 is basic but brilliant
Sensor: APS-C CMOS | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Autofocus: 11-point AF, 1 cross-type | Screen type: 3.0-inch, 921,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 5fps | Movies: 1080p | User level: Beginner
At the opposite end of the spectrum to some of the full-frame DSLRs here, the D3500 is super affordable, has one of the sharpest APS-C sensors out there, and a neat retracting kit lens (there are two versions, spend the extra $20/£20 and get it with VR, Nikon’s image stabilization system). It’s proof that you don’t have to pay a fortune to get a great camera, and we say its value for money makes it just as impressive as much more advanced (and much more expensive) alternatives. It has a great 24MP sensor and although the controls are designed to be simple for novices, in the right hands the little D3500 is a match for cameras costing far more. If you’re looking to get more creative with your photography, and looking for your first DSLR, the Nikon D3500 is hard to beat.
- Read our in-depth Nikon D3500 review
A compelling combination of top-notch ergonomics and a superb sensor
Sensor: APS-C CMOS | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Autofocus: 45-point AF, 45 cross-type | Screen type: 3-inch articulating touchscreen, 1,040,000 dots | Continuous shooting speed: 6fps | Movies: 1080p | User level: Beginner/enthusiast
Costing a bit more than the Nikon D3400, but offering quite a bit more in the way of features, the Canon EOS Rebel T7i (known as the EOS 800D outside the US) is a great entry-level DSLR. The sensor impresses, as does the 45-point autofocus system backed up by excellent live view AF, while the graphical interface will certainly make this camera even more appealing to new users. The absence of 4K video and the quality of the exterior materials disappoint, but this aside, if you’re looking for a well-rounded and easy to use camera for your first DSLR the EOS Rebel T7i / EOS 800D is certainly a very good bet.
- Read our in-depth Canon EOS Rebel T7i / EOS 800D review
8. Nikon D750
A full-frame DSLR with performance, versatility and value
Sensor: Full-frame CMOS | Megapixels: 24.3MP | Autofocus: 51-point AF, 15 cross-type | Screen type: 3.2-inch tilting, 1,229,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 6.5fps | Movies: 1080p | User level: Intermediate
Like the look of Nikon’s D850 further up the top, but don’t want to shell out quite that much? Then look no further than the 24MP full-frame D750. It doesn’t have that magnificent 45MP sensor that the D850 does, but its 24MP alternative still delivers top-quality results – especially at high ISO settings. The D750 also features a very respectable 6.5fps continuous shooting speed, together with a handy tilting screen and a pretty attractive asking price. Wi-Fi allows you to get your shots online without any hassle too, although as an older model there’s no 4K video nor a touchscreen.
- Read our in-depth Nikon D750 review
9. Canon EOS 7D Mark II
As fast as pro DSLRs but priced for amateurs, the 7D Mark II ticks all the boxes
Sensor: APS-C CMOS | Megapixels: 20.2MP | Autofocus: 65-point AF, 65 cross-type | Screen type: 3.0-inch, 1,040,000 dots | Maximum continuous shooting speed: 10fps | Movies: 1080p | User level: Expert
Still one of the best options for sports and action photographers, the EOS 7D Mark II has performance and speed as its primary focus. To that end, it combines a 20.7MP APS-C sensor with Canon’s excellent Dual Pixel CMOS AF system for smooth autofocus in live view and during video recording, together with a 10fps burst shooting mode and a 65-point AF system. It also boasts excellent ergonomics and a rugged, weather-resistant body, which makes it a fine choice for anyone who tends to shoot outside in variable conditions, whether it’s for sports, wildlife, nature or landscapes.
- Read our in-depth Canon EOS 7D Mark II review
10. Canon EOS Rebel SL2 / EOS 200D
This upper-entry-level smasher is still hard to beat
Sensor: APS-C CMOS | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Lens mount: Canon EF-S | Screen: 3-inch vari-angle touchscreen, 1,040,000 dots | Continuous shooting speed: 5fps | Max video resolution: 1080p | User level: Beginner
It may not be the smallest or most affordable way into Canon’s vast EOS DSLR ecosystem, and has recently been updated by the Rebel SL3, but we’d sooner choose the Rebel SL2 – also known as the EOS 200D – over the company’s more junior and older offerings. Its strong feature set includes Canon’s excellent Dual Pixel CMOS AF system, which delivers swift autofocus during videos and in live view, while the LCD screen flips out and responds to touch – and it’s 2019, after all, so why settle for anything less? Despite its small size, handling is great too, making it a solid choice for those with small or larger hands alike. What’s not to love? Other than the understandably plasticky body and lack of 4K video, not much at all.
- Read our in-depth Canon EOS Rebel SL2 / 200D review
A brilliant entry-level option with plenty of growing space
Sensor: APS-C CMOS | Megapixels: 24.1MP | Lens mount: Nikon DX | Screen: 3.2-inch articulating, 1,037,000 dots | Continuous shooting speed: 5fps | Max video resolution: 1080p | User level: Beginner
It’s been on the market for some time but we still have a soft spot for the D5300 – and the fact that it can still be bought brand new is testament to just how relevant it continues to be. It provides first-time DSLR users with a stronger set of specs than the average entry-level DSLR, with a 3.2in LCD that flips all the way out to face the front, together with a 39-point AF system, Full HD video recording to 60p and 5fps burst shooting. Of course, none of that would matter if the image quality wasn’t up to scratch, but fortunately it is; the 24.1MP APS-C sensor has been designed without the optical low-pass filter to help as much detail to get into images as possible, and results at high ISO settings remain strong.