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, the best option for getting serious about photography has been to invest in a DSLR camera. These cameras are intended for users of all technical levels, and they have traditionally offered three major advantages over smartphones and compacts: a large sensor, a large amount of manual control, and the ability to switch 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. This is because they lack the mirror found in DSLRs (hence the name), and most replace the optical viewfinder with high-resolution, electronic alternatives.
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
Nikon’s awesome D850 is difficult to beat, with a staggering 45MP full-frame sensor, a sophisticated AF system, blistering performance, and a robust body. It’s not cheap, but there’s a reason for that.
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). On the other end of the spectrum, nearly all professional sports, press, and wildlife photographers prefer full-frame DSLRs over any 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
- 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 difficult to think of another DSLR that can compete with the D850. It’s not cheap, but it’s justified by excellent image quality, a plethora of features, and a tough, weather-resistant magnesium alloy body. The 45MP sensor is one of the highest resolution sensors in any DSLR, and the 7fps burst mode is unusually fast for a camera with this sensor. Add to that a fantastic AF system, superb handling, and stunning 4K video, and its versatility should be easy to appreciate. Like the sound of the D850 but prefer mirrorless cameras? 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 has been replaced by a 20.9MP APS-C sized chip, allowing the D500 to shoot at 10fps and deliver excellent high ISO performance. With a high-performance 153-point AF system, it excels at fast action photography such as sports and wildlife photography while also being capable of shooting landscapes and portraits. If the price is too high, 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’s getting on in years – it’s one of Canon’s oldest DSLRs – it’s still a great buy. It has a quick and accurate 45-point autofocusing system, and the clever Dual Pixel CMOS AF system for Live View shooting provides quick focusing speeds. The camera’s handling is superb, encouraging creative shooting while also making setting adjustments quick and simple. It also has a high-quality 24.2MP sensor that can capture a high level of detail while controlling noise. A fantastic enthusiast DSLR with respectable 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
The D3500 is at the opposite end of the price spectrum as some of the full-frame DSLRs here, has one of the sharpest APS-C sensors available, 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 demonstrates that you don’t have to spend a fortune to get a great camera, and we believe its value for money makes it just as impressive as far more advanced (and far more expensive) alternatives. It has a fantastic 24MP sensor, and while the controls are designed to be simple for beginners, in the right hands, the D3500 can compete with cameras costing much 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
The Canon EOS Rebel T7i (known as the EOS 800D outside the US) is a great entry-level DSLR that costs slightly more than the Nikon D3400 but offers significantly more features. The sensor is impressive, as is the 45-point autofocus system, which is supported by excellent live view AF, and the graphical interface will undoubtedly make this camera more appealing to new users. The lack of 4K video and the poor quality of the exterior materials are disappointing, but if you’re looking for a well-rounded and easy-to-use camera for your first DSLR, the EOS Rebel T7i / EOS 800D is a safe 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 higher up, but don’t want to spend quite that much? Then look no further than the D750’s 24MP full-frame sensor. It lacks the D850’s magnificent 45MP sensor, but its 24MP alternative still produces excellent results, especially at high ISO settings. The D750 also has a respectable 6.5fps continuous shooting speed, a handy tilting screen, and a reasonably priced asking price. Wi-Fi allows you to easily upload your photos to the internet, though as an older model, there is no 4K video or 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
The EOS 7D Mark II, which is still one of the best options for sports and action photographers, prioritizes performance and speed. 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, as well as a 10fps burst shooting mode and a 65-point AF system, to that end. It also has excellent ergonomics and a tough, weather-resistant body, making it an excellent choice for anyone who shoots outside in varying conditions, whether 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
The D5300 has been on the market for a while, but we still have a soft spot for it – and the fact that it can still be purchased brand new attests to how relevant it remains. It offers first-time DSLR users a more robust set of specifications than the average entry-level DSLR, including a 3.2in LCD that flips all the way out to face the front, a 39-point AF system, Full HD video recording up 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.