Top 3 DSLR Camera for Beginners Reviews
Even though smartphone cameras are getting better and better, and the same goes for mirrorless cameras, there is still a serious need for something more powerful if you are serious about photography or simply getting the best out of your photos. This is where DSLR comes in, which stands for Digital Single-Lens Reflex camera. The main differentiator of DSLR to traditional SLRs is that DSLRs use a digital imaging sensor, instead of photographic film.
So, you have decided to buy yourself a DSLR and you’ve probably been baffled by all the different options out there. Don’t worry, that’s why we are here. We’ll walk you through things to watch out for when choosing a DSLR and we’ll give you a few suggestions on what we consider to be the best DSLR camera for beginners.
How to choose a brand
Nowdays, there aren’t many companies which manufacture DSLRs. Panasonic and Sony have both discontinued their DSLR line and are instead manufacturing mirrorless cameras only. That leaves us with Canon, Nikon, Pentax and Sigma.
It is important to choose wisely when it comes to DSLR brands because once buy a camera and start buying lens for that camera brand, those lens will not be compatible with other DSLR brands. The more brand-specific lens and equipment you aquire, the more it becomes expensive to switch to another brand.
First of all, all these companies produce good DSLRs, and choosing the best one for you is a matter of preference based on different user needs.
Canon and Nikon are usually highly recommended because they have a very large selection of lens, accessories and equipment. This is perhaps the most important factor to consider. However, Pentax and Sigma still offer a decent variety of lens and other accessories for their DSLRs. What makes Pentax different, for example, is their need to differentiate their products from indsutry leaders, especially because their ecosystem is lagging behind. They do this by offering products with special features at lower prices, features which are ordinarily reserved for higher-end DSLRs. This is why you can find entry-level Pentax DSLRs which are water-proof, whereas if you would like a water-proof Canon or Nikon at the entry-level, you wouldn’t be able to find one.
Image stabilization (IS) is very important for photography, especially when it comes to shooting with entry-level DSLRs. With IS, you can snap photos at a lower shutter speed, allowing for more light to come in and reducing the need to use high ISO. (More ISO means more noise).
There are two types of image stabilization. In-lens IS (ILIS), where stabilization is built into lens, and In-Body IS (IBIS) where stabilization is built into the DSLR body regardless of lens. Canon, Nikon and Sigma all have lens-based stabilization, which is consider to be more effective than IBIS. The downside here is the fact that not all lens have image stabilization, especially entry-level, low-end lens. Lens with IS cost more.
Pentax uses IBIS, and so did Panasonic and Sony. The advantage of choosing Pentax here is quite obvious, no matter which lens you have, you’ll always have image stabilization by default.
Megapixel count and image quality
Thanks to misleading marketing, especially around smartphone cameras, many people are confused when it comes to understanding the effect megapixel count has on image quality.
The short answer is, more megapixels does not mean better image quality. However, more megapixels can have its advantages. For example, if you plan on producing large prints, such as those for bilboards, than it is better to have more megapixels.
High megapixel photos may also produce more details, but only if coupled with high quality lens.
Although all entry-level DSLRs feature APS-C sized sensors, there are differences in quality. You should check online samples and comparisons between different DSLR cameras to see which offers best image quality.
Another thing to consider, and this may be just my personal opinion, is that Canon offers slightly better entry-level lens when it comes to pure image quality.
Top 3 DSLR camera for beginners reviews
Nikon D3300 is among the best selling entry-level DSLR camera for beginners on the market. It gained popularity thanks to a solid design and high image quality, coupled with a very affordable price tag.
It is light for a DSLR, made almost entirely out of plastic. On the other hand, the body offers a very nice and comfortable grip.
D3300 features a large 24.2 MP filter-free sensor, ensuring high levels of detail in photos. Noise-handling is good, allowing for barely noticeable noise levels up to ISO 1600. At ISO 3200, noise levels are still minimal. Moving up to 6400 noise is becomes more visible, but photos are more than usable. Going beyond ISO 6400 will produce a lot of noise and serious loss of detail. However, with some post-processing it is possible to produce usable images for the web.
White balance accuracy, color reproductions and sharpness all perform impressively well for a DSLR in this class.
Video mode does what it is expected, and video quality is good as that on still images. D3300 can record up to 1080p in 60fps.
So far this camera sounds awesome, but not everything is so good. D300 inherits some of the issues present in its predecessor, D3200. Autofocus is still limited and slow with only 11 AF points.
Even though it boosts an impressive 5.1 fps burst-mode, general performance and speed is hindered by the slow AF, especially in live view mode.
Nikon has gone a step further into making this DSLR easier to use for beginners by adding a simple to use, straightforward interface. There is also a very useful beginners guide with real-time explanations of each function, much like a walkthrough. All of this is coupled a ton of different shooting modes, such as Auto, Semi-auto and manual. Semi-auto features the same scene-based settings but with the ability to further customize each setting. There is also the Effects mode, allow you to apply various effects in real-time.
It would be nice if Nikon included a touch-screen for easier access to settings and shooting modes but hey, you can’t have it all.
Another issue that remains the same as with the predecessor is a small, fogged viewfinder. This viewfinder is unimpressive at best, and the lack of clarity it suffers from could prove quite problematic during low-light shooting.
The Nikon D3300 is coupled with a 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 kit lens which are retractable (for about 0.5 inches) making them travel-friendly. These lens are one of the D300’s selling points, but even though retracting kit lens are a nice touch, performance didn’t significantly improve compared to predecessor’s kit lens.
Nikon D3300 is a great choice for buyers on a limited budget, or those who are new to DSLRs. It is a useful and capable tool for anyone looking to transfer from a point-and-shoot to more serious shooters. Ultimately, image quality is perhaps the most important factor in any camera, and D3300 delivers excellent results. It has its flaws, as performance could be better but some trade-offs are expected for this price.
Canon EOS 750D
Canon EOS 750D is a successor to 700D, which came out in 2013. The D750 looks almost identical to its predecessor, but than again all entry-level Canon DSLRs look more or less the same.
With 750D you need to look on the inside to see all the action. Major upgrades include a new, larger sensor and a new Autofocus (AF) system, brought in from the Canon EOS 70D. There is also a new metering system and a new image processor. When it comes to connectivity, with 750D you get all you need – WiFi + NFC.
The 750D’s body is certainly nothing yaw dropping. Almost everything on the outside is made of polycarbonate (plastic), with an addition of rubberized gripping parts. It doesn’t feel very premium, but that is to be expected for this price. You would have to opt-out for some of the more expansive models which feature magnesium-alloy build. With that said, 750D does feel fairly sturdy and speaking from experience with this class of Canon DSLRs, it can take a number of punches before any damage occurs.
On the rear you will find a flip-out, rotateable 3-inch LCD touchscreen. This is perhaps the most useful feature on 700D, as this screen allows for much needed flexibility when shooting at low angles or taking selfies. The touchscreen is very responsive making it easy to operate through camera settings.
The new sensor is a 24.2 Megapixel (MP) ASP-C sensor. APS-C stands for Advanced Photo System type-C and this type of sensor (format) used in most entry-level to mid-range DSLRs. Compared to the small sensors found in typical point-and-shoot cameras, this sensor is of very high quality. However, when compared to the full-frame sensors of high-end DSLRs, this sensor is of lower quality.
ASP-C sensors are also known as “cropped sensors” because they only record a part of the whole image, unlike full-frame sensors. What this means for you is that you will get seemiNgly increased lens focal length, compared to using the same lens on a full-frame sensor. In other words, more zoomed in photos and a smaller field of view.
The sheer megapixel count is impressive, as it will allow for more detail in photos as well as larger prints. Image quality is very impressive for a camera in this price range. Coupled with good noise-handling, sharpness, well-balanced color reproduction, makes this DSLR a great choice for beginners who’s primary concern is pure photo quality. The only real downside is poor dynamic range, especially when compared to 750D’s rivals, Nikon and Pentax. You can however counteract this by using the new feature called “HDR backlit control” which captures three consecutive shots with different exposures and than patches them together to make a single high-dynamic range photo.
The new AF system has 19 cross-type AF points, while the 700D had only 9. This provides faster and more accurate autofocusing. 700D’s rival, Nikon D5500 has a 39-point AF system, a much higher number. But while 750D’s AF points are all cross-type, Nikon only has 9 cross-type AF points. Performance-wise, you will able to take up to 5 shots per second. Not bad for an entry-level DSLR.
The Canon 750D is an excellent choice for all those beginner photographers who would like to have the versatility of a DSLR, along with interchangeable lens, but without a heavy learning curve present with high-end DSLRs.
If you are looking for something a bit more powerful than basic entry-level DSLR functionallity, Nikon D5500 might just do the trick. It is a direct competitor of Canon EOS 750D and a successor to Nikon D5300. The D5000 series sits just above the D3000 series. While the Nikon D3300, which we reviewed above is a great DSLR camera for beginners with impressive image quality, it might be lacking some more advanced, enthusiast-orinented features. The D5500 is here to fill that gap, albeit at a higher price.
One major difference between the D5500 and most of DSLRs is its size. Nikon D5500 is a lightweight, compact DSLR, even more so than the D3300. The D5500 is significantly lighter, around 60g than D5300 and a bit smaller too. It features an unusually deep grip, providing for a firmer hold of the camera.
The body feels light, solid and durable. Instead of polycarbonate or magnesium allow Nikon used a carbon fiber composite for this DSLR camera for beginners. This material provides the same strength but at a lower weight.
It features the same-sized LCD screen on the rear, but this time with a touchscreen. A very nice addition, making it easier to navigate through the settings.
D5500’s sensor is a 24.2 megapixel CMOS without an optical low-pass filter. Image quality is generally very good. You can count on sharp images up to ISO 3200, after which noise-handling is still rather good but you can see details being smudged by post-processing noise reduction. ISO ranges from ISO 100 to ISO 25600. We were very impressed by dynamic range this sensor is able to produce. When shooting in RAW format, we are able to pull out details out of complete shadows, as well as reduce brightness in blown-out parts of an image.
While the performance at 5 frames per second (fps) is very decent, it is somewhat dragged down by the kit lens. This is because the kit lens that comes with the D5500 is much different than the one coupled with its predecessor. This time we get the retractable 18-55mm f/3.5 – 5.6 II lens. This lens is lighter and smaller, further playing into the “compact DSLR” point. The problem is performance, as this lens is rather slow when it comes to focusing, especially in live view.
The Nikon D5500 is a very good choice for an all-around, low-to-mid-range DSLR. It stands out from the crowd by borrowing features from high-end DSLRs and some other small but meaningful perks. For example, there is a sensor which can tell when you’re looking through the viewfinder, in which case the LCD automatically turns off. It offers excellent image quality for the price range and has solid build quality.