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The 5 Best DSLR Cameras For Beginners - Spring 2024 Reviews

Updated May 10, 2024 at 09:13 am
Best DSLR Cameras For Beginners

While mirrorless cameras have overtaken the market in recent years, there's still a lot to love about traditional DSLRs, from optical viewfinders that give you an unfiltered view of your subjects to unrivaled battery performance to ergonomics that have defined the shooting experience for generations of photographers. You can also generally find DSLRs for cheaper, especially if you look for used options at retailers like Adorama, B&H Photo Video, KEH Camera, and MPB. While it can be tempting to go right for a high-end model, it's important to get a handle on the basics when you're just starting out, so while we've included some newer cameras with more impressive feature sets, it's hard to go wrong with any DSLR released in the past several years if you've never used one before. It's also worth noting that while the camera body matters, lenses will make the biggest difference if you're serious about stepping up your photography game.

We've bought and tested over 100 cameras, and below, you'll find the best beginner DSLR cameras we've tested. If you're curious about mirrorless options, look at our picks for the best mirrorless cameras for beginners. Or, if you're looking for something more advanced, check out our recommendations for the best DSLR cameras overall or the best cameras for photography.

  1. Best DSLR Camera For Beginners

    The Canon EOS Rebel T8i is the best beginner DSLR we've tested. As Canon's most advanced entry-level DSLR, it's a great option to grow into as a photographer. Like all the cameras on this list, it's compatible with both crop sensor and full-frame lenses, and Canon's EF/EF-S lens mount includes a wide range of affordable lens options to choose from if you ever want to venture beyond the kit lens. Unlike some of our other picks below, this is also one of the few beginner DSLRs that can record 4k video, making it a good choice for those curious about getting into video as well.

    While it doesn't quite match up to newer mirrorless alternatives like the Canon EOS R50, the autofocus system on the T8i is one of the most advanced of any camera on this list. That, plus a relatively quick burst rate, makes the T8i a well-rounded choice, allowing you to shoot everything from slower subjects like portraits and landscapes to faster subjects like sports and wildlife.

    See our review

  2. Best Mid-Range DSLR Camera For Beginners

    If you don't need 4k video capability, you'll be all set with the Nikon D5600. It's the mid-range model in Nikon's entry-level DSLR lineup. Like the Canon EOS Rebel T8i, it's a fairly well-built camera with a fully articulated screen. Its intuitive user interface and relatively simple controls are also quite accessible to newcomers. Although it has a slower max burst rate and a less advanced autofocus system than the T8i, it can get the job done for most beginner photographers.

    Beyond that, its high-resolution APS-C sensor can capture high-quality images, and the camera is compatible with both Nikon DX (APS-C) and FX (full-frame) lenses, making it easy to upgrade your kit as your skills grow. Just be aware that the D5600 has been discontinued, so you'll have to peruse the used market to find one. Still, this is a great choice if you're looking for a mid-tier starter DSLR that won't cost you a fortune.

    See our review

  3. Best Budget DSLR Camera For Beginners

    The Canon EOS Rebel SL3 is part of Canon's entry-level SL series, designed, as the initials suggest, to be small and lightweight—in fact, it's the most portable DSLR Canon has ever produced. Beyond that, however, it's also just a great budget DSLR. With 4k video capability, quick burst shooting, and a solid autofocus system, it's a very well-rounded camera for the money.

    That said, it doesn't feel as well-built as the Nikon D5600 and has fewer physical controls than the Canon EOS Rebel T8i. That's not bad for those getting started, but it may feel slightly limiting after you get a handle on exposure settings. Otherwise, it has much in common with its Rebel sibling, including a similar sensor, a fully articulated touchscreen, and an easy-to-use menu system. Ultimately, this is a great little camera that won't break the bank and is lightweight enough that you'll want to bring it with you everywhere.

    See our review

  4. Best Cheap DSLR Camera For Beginners

    The Canon EOS Rebel T7 / EOS 2000D is among the cheapest interchangeable-lens cameras you can still buy brand new. If you don't want to risk buying a used camera, the Rebel T7 offers a no-frills shooting experience for those on a tight budget. Ease of use and simplicity are the name of the game here, with pared-down controls that anybody can get a handle on. Unlike the Canon EOS Rebel SL3, you won't find an articulated screen here, nor 4k video or fast burst shooting.

    What this camera does have, however, is a high-resolution sensor that can capture great images. Plus, it's compatible with all the same EF/EF-S lenses as its Rebel siblings, so you can always improve your photography by investing in better lenses. Ultimately, if you're looking for a cheap DSLR to get you started, it doesn't get more accessible than the T7.

    See our review

  5. Easiest-To-Use DSLR Camera For Beginners

    The Nikon D3500 is the best beginner DSLR camera for those completely new to photography. It's affordable, lightweight, and has a simple user interface, making it an easy jump from your smartphone. You won't find too many bells and whistles here, like 4k video capability or a flip-out screen, but this is a good choice for beginners because of its interactive 'Guide' shooting mode. Built right into the mode dial, the Guide Mode walks you through the basics of photography as you shoot.

    While it's aimed at total beginners, the D3500 has a sensor on par with the Nikon D5600 above, capturing excellent overall image quality. Battery life is also fantastic, so it can easily last through long days of use. Ultimately, if you don't know your aperture from your ISO yet, the D3500—or even older generations like the D3400—is a great place to start. However, like the D5600, it's been discontinued, so you'll likely have to look for a secondhand model.

    See our review

Recent Updates

  1. May 10, 2024: We brushed up some of the text throughout the article to make sure it's easy to read and up to date.

  2. Mar 12, 2024: We've looked over the picks in the article to ensure the text is clear and up to date.

  3. Jan 30, 2024: Reviewed that picks were still accurate and relevant for users.

  4. Dec 06, 2023: Moved the Canon EOS Rebel T7 from Notable Mentions to the 'Best Cheap DSLR Camera For Beginners' to round out the range of budgets.

  5. Nov 10, 2023: Moved links to various used retailers to the introduction of the article.

All Reviews

Our recommendations above are what we think are currently the best DSLR cameras to buy for beginners, according to their needs. We factor in the price, feedback from our visitors, and availability (no cameras that are difficult to find or almost out of stock in the US).

If you'd like to choose for yourself, here's the list of all our reviews for interchangeable-lens DSLR cameras, arranged in order of ascending price. Be careful not to get caught up in the details. There is no single perfect camera. Personal taste, preference, and shooting habits will matter more in your selection.