Top DSLR Cameras To Buy (2023)
Even though the DSLR (or “digital single-lens reflex”) is a term that’s become synonymous with digital cameras and interchangeable lenses, DSLRs are just one type of digital camera.
A digital single-lens reflex camera (digital SLR or DSLR) is a digital camera that combines the optics and the mechanisms of a single-lens reflex camera with a solid-state image sensor and digitally records the images from the sensor. The reflex design scheme is the primary difference between a DSLR and other digital cameras.
In the reflex design, light travels through the lens and then to a mirror that alternates to send the image to either a prism, which shows the image in the optical viewfinder, or the image sensor when the shutter release button is pressed.
The viewfinder of a DSLR presents an image that will not differ substantially from what is captured by the camera’s sensor as it presents it as a direct optical view through the main camera lens, rather than showing an image through a separate secondary lens.
DSLRs largely replaced film-based SLRs during the 2000s. Major camera manufacturers began to transition their product lines away from DSLR cameras to mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras (MILCs) beginning in the 2010s.
Most users will tell you that once you’ve felt the liberating power, speed and performance of a Nikon DSLR, you’ll see why they’re the preferred tool of pro and aspiring photographers everywhere.
See your photos and videos come to life with stunning clarity and rich detail through masterly-crafted Nikon DSLR cameras and world-renowned NIKKOR lenses.
The Best Mirrorless Cameras For Video, Beginners, and Low Budgets
DSLR cameras still have the advantage of longer battery life than mirrorless ones, and later models can shoot impressive video that’s nearly on par with a mirrorless camera. Buying a DSLR also means you get the advantage of a larger used market and a wider variety of branded or third-party lens options to choose from.
What Should I Look For In a DSLR?
There are a few things you should consider when making your first (or fifth) camera purchase. What’s your skill level? What are you looking to make with this camera—photos or video or both? What’s your budget? Are ergonomics and the way a camera feels in the hand important to you? Do you already have experience using a particular camera system, and are you willing to switch to another one if you find a great option?
Mirrorless vs. DSLR: What’s The Difference?
In DSLR and early film SLR cameras, a mirror inside the body of the camera reflects light coming in through the lens up into a prism to create the image you see through the camera’s viewfinder.
When the shutter button is fully pressed, a mechanism flips that mirror up and out of the way so that light can hit the camera’s image sensor and record the digital image.
In film cameras, the light hits and exposes a piece of 35mm film to record the image in the same way. Mirrorless cameras do away with the mirror and mechanism, leaving just the sensor.
Mirrorless camera viewfinders are actually tiny screens that project what hits the sensor to your eye, which is why they’re called electronic viewfinders (EVFs), whereas the ones in DSLRs are optical viewfinders.
There are several benefits to this design: you get faster shutter speeds with electronic shutters, lenses with a larger f-stop can be made because the reduced distance between lens and sensor allows for more light, and mirrorless autofocus systems for video are more advanced than DSLR cameras. However:
There are some issues that mirrorless cameras are still working out. A main one is battery life—since mirrorless cameras are basically always in live view mode and always transmitting an image, they use more power and their batteries die more quickly. Leaps and bounds have been made in this area, though, and pro mirorrless cameras have improved battery life today.
What is the difference of DSLR and SLR camera?
DSLR and SLR cameras both reflect light that enters through the lens using a mirror so that an image can be seen in a viewfinder. However, an SLR camera uses a film made of plastic, gelatin and other material to record the image – a DSLR captures the image digitally, on a memory card.
What are the 2 types of DSLR?
There are two different types of DSLR cameras; full-frame and crop sensor. The only difference between them is the size of the image sensor. However, their size does have an immediate effect on your equipment and the settings that you will use.
DSLR Camera Design
Focusing can be manual, by twisting the focus on the lens; or automatic, activated by pressing half-way on the shutter release or a dedicated auto-focus (AF) button.
To take an image, the mirror swings upwards in the direction of the arrow, the focal-plane shutter opens, and the image is projected and captured on the image sensor, after which actions, the shutter closes, the mirror returns to the 45-degree angle, and the built-in drive mechanism re-tensions the shutter for the next exposure.
Compared with the newer concept of mirrorless interchangeable-lens cameras, this mirror/prism system is the characteristic difference providing direct, accurate optical preview with separate autofocus and exposure metering sensors.
Essential parts of all digital cameras are some electronics like amplifier, analog-to-digital converter, image processor and other microprocessors for processing the digital image, performing data storage and/or driving an electronic display.
The Best DSLR Cameras
Best DSLR Camera Overall: Nikon D850 — $2496.95
If you’re looking for a monster of a DSLR that can handle pretty much any shooting situation you can think of, this is it. Nikon’s successor to the popular D810 has a powerful 45 megapixel sensor, a sturdy weather-sealed magnesium body, and is compatible with a range of excellent brand-name and third party lenses.
Released in 2017, the D850 is a few years old at this point, but still produces excellent images. Its ISO goes down to 64 for impressive dynamic range, allowing for clean images with a lot of room to edit when shooting RAW.
It’s also Nikon’s fastest-shooting DSLR according to DPReview, so sports and wildlife photographers will find a lot to like here. The D850’s high resolution also makes it great for portrait work, both in studio and on-location. It’s got the same large, bright optical viewfinder as the D810—a plus for any kind of shooting.
Best DSLR Camera for Beginners: Nikon D5600—$799.95
While many people would recommend starting on a less expensive full frame camera if you can swing it, there are some great options in the crop sensor market, too.
That’s because cameras with a full-size 35mm equivalent, or full-frame, sensor are what the pros use—they can capture more information for a richer RAW file, which allows for more editing flexibility.
Crop-sensor cameras, also called APS-C cameras, still provide very solid RAW files, however, even if they don’t perform quite as well in terms of resolution and dealing with low light. Case in point: the Nikon D5000 series.
The D5600 is Nikon’s latest iteration of its advanced entry level APS-C camera line. At around $800 for the body and kit lens together, this camera also has a flip-out screen—perfect for learning the basics of photo and video on a DSLR.
Smaller and lighter than a full frame, Nikon still has plenty of excellent lenses in its DX line that you can pop on this camera for some quality images.
This camera comes with a respectable 24.4 megapixels, around the same as a full-frame camera like the D750. It records 1080p full HD video, has Bluetooth connectivity, and works with Nikon’s Snap bridge app for remote shooting and wireless image transfer.
Best Value DSLR Camera: Canon 5D Mk IV_$1 ,635
The 5D Mk IV is the latest and final entry in Canon’s flagship DSLR lineup. Released in 2016, it was a monster of a camera and continues to be a workhorse for many pro photographers today.
With high-resolution photo and video capability and modern touches like a tap-to-focus touchscreen LCD, this camera represents some of the best of Canon’s DSLR tech outside of its top-tier 1D line.
At just over $1,600 for the body (at least according to one renewed listing), you can get a camera that still delivers pro results for around half the asking price of what it cost when it was originally released.
Pair it with Canon’s L lens lineup and you’ve got a camera that’ll still be good for years to come without making you drop a ridiculous amount of cash.
The 30 megapixel sensor paired with Canon’s lenses will easily get you professional looking images fit for delivering to clients, sharing to social media, or making decently sized prints.
For video, this camera shoots 1080p HD with Canon’s solid video codec, good enough for something like YouTube or if you’re learning to shoot video.
Best DSLR Camera for Video: Nikon D780—$1,649
Nikon’s D780 is the long-awaited follow up to the company’s much-loved D750, a camera considered a dependable all-around workhorse by many pro photographers. Released in 2020, it’s the newest DSLR on this list.
The D780 delivers everything people loved about the D750, with some noticeable improvements. On the video front, it has basically the same autofocusing system as Nikon’s mirrorless Z6 camera when in live view mode.
That means eye and face tracking as well as some of the best live view autofocus you’ll find in a DSLR—it’s basically a Z6 with an optical viewfinder. If you’re a portrait photographer looking for your first serious DSLR, this is worth a look.
Best DSLR Camera for Travel: Canon 6D Mk II—$894
This camera’s balance of price, compact design, and features make it not only a great budget camera but a good travel shooter. Easy to pack away but still having enough power to produce fairly data-rich RAW files, the 6D II would make a lot of sense to take on your next trip.
This is a camera you can put a 35mm lens on, set to auto, and shoot your heart out even if you don’t know the finer points of DSLR shooting yet.
The video codec isn’t as good as other Canon DSLRs, like the 5D series, but it’s an attainable full-frame for those who might otherwise be priced out of the market.
When using lenses designed for full-frame (FX) cameras on DX cameras, the lenses are magnified by 1.5x, making them useful for shooting distant subjects and sports.
On an FX-format camera with a DX lens mounted, the camera will automatically engage its built–in DX crop mode, thus recording an image only from the center section of the sensor.
How do I know if my camera is DSLR?
And of course, the most surefire method of determining if your camera is a DSLR or SLR is by searching for the film compartment. Naturally, if you’re able to load film into the camera, it is not a DSLR. If you can load film into it, then it is not a DSLR camera.