If you’ve decided that your smartphone camera simply isn’t up to the task, an entry-level DSLR camera is a great way to step up your photography game. Today’s modern DSLRs can capture excellent-quality images, no matter if you’re taking photos of your pets or capturing fast-action sports. With a seemingly endless array of models to choose from, our research team narrowed it down to the best options on the market for beginners. We even sent one of our favorites home with our testers so they could try it out in the wild and give their most honest feedback.
What to Look for in an Entry-Level DSLR Camera
Ruggedness – While some DSLRs need to be treated as delicately as a porcelain doll, other cameras are able to take quite a beating. If you think you might find yourself shooting outdoors in inclement weather or hiking through forests and desert terrain, get a camera with weatherproofing.
Shooting speed – Are you photographing flowers or high-speed sports? If you’re grabbing a camera for Junior’s soccer game, you’ll want to consider one that can take photos as fast as possible. Be sure to check the camera’s frames-per-second rate when taking photos.
Included lenses – While additional lenses can be added to a DSLR at any point, consider what’s included in the box when you purchase your first camera. If you’re shooting sports or nature photography, you’ll want to buy something that includes a telephoto lens for taking photos at a distance.
Best Overall: Nikon D3400
The follow-up to the beloved Nikon 3300, the Nikon D3400 improves on the original in every way, including a boost in battery life and a slightly lighter camera body. While the D3400 offers the same APS-C sensor and 24.2-megapixel count as its predecessor, it does so with nearly double the battery life. Along with battery life improvements, it also adds SnapBridge, Nikon’s Bluetooth-ready photo transfer system to move images from your camera to your smartphone. Nikon also upgraded the D3400 to 1080p video at 60 frames per second, which is a speed that has become increasingly standard on DSLR cameras in the entry level space.
The addition of Nikon’s “Guide Mode” is an excellent on-screen guide to help beginners understand the process of composing a photo. Last but certainly not least, is the inclusion of ISO100-25,600 on the 18-55mm VR kit lens for capturing greater picture detail. The stand-out price to performance ratio, comfortable frame and fast performance make the D3400 the best choice for jumping into the DSLR world.