Home » Articles » Gear » Best DSLR camera for beginners

Best DSLR camera for beginners

Published:
by David Em
Last updated:

Portraits Refined may earn a commission on purchases made from links on this page. For more information, read Affiliate Disclosure.

Buying your first digital camera can be difficult. Here’s your complete guide to the best DSLR camera for beginners so that you can find the perfect camera.

Estimated reading time: 10 minutes

We receive a commission on purchases made through links on this page. For more information, read Affiliate Disclosure.

Close-up of hands holding a camera.

The digital camera you buy should align with your goals and purpose.

David Em

What’s a DSLR camera?

Many times, people link a DSLR to a “professional camera”.

If you’ve made this same connection, you aren’t wrong because there are many professional photographers that use a DSLR camera.

Related: How to start a photography business

However, there’s a large number of cameras from different brands that fall under the DSLR category.

A DSLR camera is short for a digital single-lens reflex camera.

DSLRs use an electronic sensor to record the image data and the single-lens reflex mechanism. This is also known as the SLR mechanism.

RelatedBest camera brands in 2021

How it works

Inside the camera body is a prism or series of mirrors that reflect light from the lens up to an optical viewfinder.

This reflection is what allows you to see the image that you’re photographing and is also how the word “reflex” came about.

Finding the best DSLR

Whether you’re buying your first camera, upgrading your point-and-shoot, or you’re getting bored of shooting with your smartphone, a DSLR is a great next step.

Although you’ll learn what the best DSLR cameras are for beginners here, it’s important to test out the camera and ensure that it works for you.

Aside from being comfortable with your camera, creativity is required.

A great camera doesn’t mean great photos. This is a common misconception because you need to understand composition, posing (for portraits), and the ability to be creative.

Using a high-quality beginner camera will help you put in the time and practice it takes to learn how to use a camera and grow as a photographer.

Camera-buying tips

Before we go over the best DSLR camera for beginners, let’s discuss a few tips to help you through your journey to purchasing a DSLR.

1. Have clear goals

Instead of choosing “the best camera” out there. Think about your lifestyle and what you intend to use it for.

You want to make sure you have a camera with an interchangeable lens. This will allow you to get different lenses and use them when you feel that it is the right situation for them.

Having clear goals also means understanding how you plan to use the camera. If you plan to travel a lot and shoot portraits while traveling, it may be best to get a lighter camera with a zoom lens.

If you’re shooting in a studio, you can have multiple prime lenses and the weight of the camera might not matter.

This is where you have to decide what characteristics you want in a camera.

2. Mirrorless vs. DSLR

Many times, people automatically think that a DSLR is the best and that it’ll produce the highest-quality images.

Mirrorless cameras and DSLR’s are very similar when you compare the same sensor size and focal lens. Now, what are the differences?

A DSLR uses the same system as the film cameras did. It has a mirror inside the camera body that reflects light coming in through the lens up to a prism, and into the viewfinder.

When you click the shutter, the mirror flips up, a shutter opens like a door and the light travels onto the image sensor. This results in the image.

A mirrorless camera is a camera without a mirror. This means that light passes right through the lens and onto the sensor. It sounds like a lot less work than a DSLR, right?

DSLR advantages:

  • Longer battery life
  • More lens choices
  • Cheaper

Mirrorless Advantages:

  • Smaller and lighter
  • Does not have a mirror, so it’s quicker
  • Faster continuous shooting speed

You’ll find that there aren’t too many advantages to either one. Both offer great quality, durability and image stabilization. The biggest thing here is weight and size.

3. Budget for accessories

You can buy the camera by itself, but to use it, you need a few accessories. This may seem like something small and many overlook it, but you shouldn’t.

Along with the camera, you will or might need:

These items can total up to $100 or more depending on the brand, size, quality, etc.

When you decide on a camera, keep an eye out for bundles. Often, companies will offer bundles where you get free accessories for purchasing the camera from them. This can save you $100 or more!

Best DSLR camera for beginners

There are DSLR cameras of all skill levels and prices. For example, you can find a used Canon EOS Rebel XTi for about $100, while the Pentax 645Z is just under $5,000.

Although there’s a wide gap between the many DSLRs, here are the best DSLR cameras for beginners.

Canon

Canon Rebel cameras are one of the most popular entry-level DSLR cameras because they’re affordable and offer great quality. Along with the Rebel cameras, here are the best Canon DSLR cameras for beginners.

Canon EOS Rebel T7

Canon Rebel T7 camera.
Photo courtesy of Adorama.

Features:

  • 24.1 Megapixel CMOS sensor (crop sensor).
  • ISO range of 100-6400 (H: 12800).
  • Canon DIGIC 4+ Image Processor.
  • Built-in Wi-Fi Capability.
  • 9-point AF System.
  • 3.0-inch LCD with 920,000 Dots.
  • Continuous Shooting at up to 3.0 fps.
  • Full HD 30p.

Canon EOS Rebel T7i

Canon Rebel T7i camera.
Photo courtesy of Amazon.

Features:

  • 24.2 Megapixel CMOS (APS-C) sensor.
  • HD 1080 videos.
  • 6.0 fps continuous shooting.
  • 45-point all cross-type AF system.
  • Optical viewfinder.
  • Built-in Wi-Fi.
  • Maximum ISO of 25600.
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF.
  • Autofocus speed of 0.03 seconds.
  • DIGIC 7 Image Processor.
  • Vari-angle Touch Screen, 3.0-inch LCD.

Canon EOS Rebel SL3

Canon Rebel SL3 camera.
Photo courtesy of Adorama.

Features:

  • 24.1 Megapixel CMOS sensor (crop sensor).
  • 4K Video, 4K Time-lapse Movie.
  • Built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth.
  • ISO range of 100-25600.
  • 9-point AF System.
  • Dual Pixel CMOS AF.
  • 3.0-inch LCD.
  • DIGIC 8 Image Processor.

Canon EOS Rebel T6

Canon Rebel T6 camera.
Photo courtesy of Amazon.

Features:

  • 18.0 Megapixel CMOS (APS-C) sensor.
  • DIGIC 4+ Image Processor.
  • ISO range of 100-6400 (H: 12800).
  • Built-in Wi-Fi.
  • A 3.0-inch LCD monitor with 920,000 dots.
  • 9-point AF system.
  • Full HD Movie mode.

Nikon

Nikon is another popular camera brand and often people will choose sides when it comes to Nikon and Canon (just like Ford and Chevrolet cars).

Nikon makes great cameras for both the well-seasoned photographer and the amateur. Here are the best Nikon DSLRs for beginners.

Nikon D3500

Nikon D3500 camera.
Photo courtesy of Adorama.

Features:

  • 24.2MP DX-format CMOS sensor (crop sensor).
  • EXPEED 4 image processor.
  • 5.0 fps continuous shooting.
  • HD 1080 video.
  • A 3-inch 921k-dot LCD screen.
  • 11-point AF.

Nikon D5600

Nikon D5600 camera.
Photo courtesy of Adorama.

Features:

  • 24 MP DX-format CMOS sensor (crop sensor).
  • Built-in WiFi.
  • HD 1080 video.
  • 5.0 fps continuous shooting.
  • The battery lasts over 970 shots per charge.
  • 39-point AF.
  • Max ISO of 25,600.

Sony

Sony is a popular brand in the mirrorless camera market. However, Sony does offer DSLRs. Here are the best Sony DSLR cameras for beginners.

Sony a68

Sony a68 camera.
Photo courtesy of Amazon.

Features:

  • Exmor CMOS sensor (crop sensor).
  • 24.8 MP.
  • 79-point AF.
  • Continuous shooting at 8fps.
  • In-body image stabilization.
  • ISO range of 100 to 25600.
  • Tiltable LCD screen.

Sony a77II

Sony a77II camera.
Photo courtesy of Amazon.

Features:

  • 24.3MP Exmor CMOS sensor.
  • Continuous shooting at 12 fps.
  • 79 point Phase Detection AF.
  • Full HD vid 1080/60p/60i/24p.
  • ISO range of 100–25600 (expansion down to ISO 50).
  • A 3-way tilting LCD screen.
  • BIONZ X image processing.

Pentax

Pentax cameras don’t get as much attention as the brands listed above. That doesn’t mean Pentax doesn’t make great cameras.

Pentax makes great cameras that can endure many outdoor conditions. Here are the best entry-level Pentax DSLRs.

Pentax K-70

Pentax K-70 camera.
Photo courtesy of Adorama.

Features:

  • 24.24 MP AA filter-less CMOS sensor.
  • 6 fps continuous shooting.
  • Built-in Wi-Fi.
  • 4k video.
  • ISO range of 100 to 102,400.
  • Flip-out LCD monitor.
  • 11-point AF.
  • 3-inch Vari-angle LCD monitor with 921k dot resolution.

Pentax KP

Pentax KP camera.
Photo courtesy of Adorama.

Features:

  • 24.3 MP AA filter-less CMOS sensor (crop sensor).
  • 8.3 fps continuous shooting.
  • HD 1080 video.
  • ISO range of 100 to 819200.
  • 27-point AF.
  • Built-in Wi-Fi.

Conclusion

I hope this guide helps you find the perfect camera for you and your goals. Remember, think about what camera will be best for you. Once you get your digital camera, learn about composition and practice.

There is nothing like putting in the repetitions and being out learning through experience.

More resources:

Featured photo by David Em/Portraits Refined.

About David Em

David Em.

David Em is the founder of Portraits Refined. He’s a published portrait photographer dedicated to helping photographers develop skills, capture incredible photos, and build successful businesses.

About Portraits Refined

Portraits Refined (PR) is a media company that publishes the latest expert-backed portrait photography tips, in-depth camera gear reviews, and helpful advice to grow your photography business.

Connect