Which is the best DSLR? Unfortunately there is no single right answer for everyone. We asked on Twitter what our followers favorite digital slr camera was and nearly every answer was different, or was a wish for an upgrade to an existing model. We can however show a list along with some explanations, that way you can make a more informed decision for buying the best dslr camera (and most affordable) that meets your needs.
There are hundreds of dslr cameras on the market, some with very close matches of specification or price. The process we used to come up with this list of the best was based on the same process we used to buy our favorite dslr, the Canon 7D. Our criteria for choosing the best dslr camera for your needs is based on price, resolution and speed. We put the top candidates into a spreadsheet and scored them in order from best to worst. Tallying up the scores gave us our results, with the best overall camera listed last.
What features were we interested in when considering various models of dslr cameras? Our review of cameras was assuming that most people reading this article are not professionals but also I not absolute beginners either. We assume that most people looking for a DSLR are likely to use at least some manual settings, but we also appreciate consumer type features such as a built-in flash. Of course, because we are not targeting high-end professionals with our list of the best dslr cameras, we appreciate lower prices versus high costs (the more affordable the camera the better)! For us, HD video in our DSLR camera was not a huge factor in our decisions though we are certainly happy when a camera has that feature.
Why are speed and resolution major factors for our list of the top rated DSLR cameras? We know some people would argue that your lens and sensor have a bigger impact on the output quality, and the end result is the whole point, right? Well, sure, but I started out in DSLR photography with a Canon 350D and two areas where I felt really limited were the frame rate and the resolution. Frankly when I compared photographs I took with my lenses on my friends full-frame 5D MkII I didn’t feel like he was getting a significant boost in image quality over my 7D but I felt I had the edge when shooting sports subjects such as Ice Hockey players and Formula 1 cars. In those cases the “crop factor” sensor might have helped give me the impression of getting closer to the action.
On with my list of the top reviewed DSLR cameras that offer the best bang for your buck …
10. Canon EOS 1000D
This DSLR camera was launched in 2008 and is aimed squarely at the entry-level market but despite that positioning and age, still packs in some serious features. While prices vary wildly, you can pick it up for low prices, making it the real bargain. If price is your main factor then it is well worth looking at, as this is one of the best and affordable DSLR cameras on the market.
9. Nikon D3100
The D3100 is one of only three DSLR cameras from 2010 in this list. The specs won’t set the world alight, especially the low frames per second, but the price is competitive and the resolution is decent at 14 mega pixels. Many people tell me they prefer the ergonomics of this Nikon body, which is worth considering into the equation.
8. Canon 5D MkII
Canon MUST be due to upgrade this model of DSLR. I am sure there is a huge amount of pent up demand. That said, even though the product was last refreshed in 2008, it is a fantastic performer. Full frame sensor is probably the headline feature, giving it extremely good quality in every environment you can throw at it. Resolution-wise you are looking at 21 mega pixels, which is good enough for some excellent prints at large sizes without much post processing. The full frame and the resolution mean many professional photographers use this as their go-to DSLR camera. The only let downs are the low frame rate for the high price. As mentioned earlier, expect this to be rectified soon, in which case it will likely be a dominant player once again.
7. Nikon D90
Nikon’s D90 is an update to their 10.2MP Nikon D80, and was aimed squarely up against the Canon 50D in terms of pricing and positioning. Unfortunately, while an excellent and popular camera, the newer Canon 60D beats it in all departments in terms of specs. Still, Nikon fans will tell you it works and feels better in actual use, and it is a good choice if you already have a Nikon lens collection.
6. Nikon D3X
If you are looking for a pro level DSLR camera then you are going to be heading up the price scale but also getting better performance for your money (and usually build quality). Nikon has a top end body with a matching price tag in the D3X. Obviously it will price out all but a minority of camera buyers but the image quality served up by its superior innards and 24 mega pixel sensor are very impressive. It is one of the best DSLR cameras available.
5. Canon 1D Mark IV
Photo journalists LOVE the Canon 1D in all its incarnations. The Mark IV only has a 16 mega pixel resolution but hold the trigger and it sounds like a machine gun with its 10 frames per second fire power! This body really is professional grade, it might sound like a machine gun but it is built like a tank, unfortunately it has a price tag to match. If you don’t need an affordable DSLR, this camera might be one of your best choices.
4. Canon Rebel T3i
Another entry-level DSLR camera, the Canon Rebel series has historically been the sweet spot between amateur price but respectable specs. This brand new refresh is the only 2011 camera on the list and packs 18 mega pixel resolution for a low price, potentially below $800 if you spot a deal! This is a high quality, yet very affordable DSLR camera.
3. Nikon D7000
It is quite common to find wedding photographers sporting a Nikon D7000 judging from the forums I have read. Looking at the spec to price ratio, I am not surprised. For around $1,200 you get 16 mega pixels and 6 frames per second.
2. Canon 60D
There is only a paper thin difference for many people between the 60D and the 7D. For most it comes down to price, where the 60D has the upper-hand. The only place (in this list) where the 60D falls down is the slower frames per second, but it really is a fantastic piece of equipment. This camera gets great reviews and is a top pick for your DSLR needs.
1. Canon 7D
It has to be said, the Canon 7D won out among our top ranked DSLR cameras but not by a huge margin. The faster frames per second helped, plus the build quality and hand feel (many Nikon owners would disagree there). This is not a budget-camera by any stretch however. Yes, you might be able to get a good deal, seeing as it is already being seen as an older model. If you are anything like me though you will love the results.
The best DSLR cameras is the kind of subject that naturally leads to discussion, arguments, and a lot of subjective personal taste, so let me pre-empt the flames by saying this is MY list of the best DSLRs. So, my point if I have one, is that you have to work out your own criteria. Maybe money is no object? Maybe cost consciousness is the priority? Perhaps you already have a collection of Nikon lenses? How would you rank this list? Have I been unfair and compared the wrong cameras? Please share your thoughts …