As seen in:
Canon
EOS 5D Mark III 22.3 MP Full Frame
Canon
EOS Rebel T5 18-55mm SLR
Nikon
FX-format Digital SLR
Nikon
DX-format DSLR
Pentax
K-3II SLR- Body Only
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Good

A wide array of professional-grade features. Excellent professional quality.

Fantastic image quality. User-friendly features.

Full-frame, 24.3-MP camera. Advantageous auto mode. Shoots well in low light.

Brilliant 24.2-MP sensor. Simple and easy to navigate. WiFi/app combo allow it to serve as an external monitor.

24-MP sensor. Pristine image quality. Helpful shake reduction feature.

Bad

No built-in flash. Complex operation may be difficult for amateurs to navigate.

No built-in WiFi capabilities.

A complex camera with a steep learning curve for beginners.

Body has WiFi connectivity, but app is weak.

Video quality is not on par with competitors. Longer start-and-shoot speed. No WiFi.

Bottom Line

Designed for advanced photographers, this exquisite camera offers everything the professional would need. The best on the market.

Ideal for beginning photographers and those new to DSLR, this user-friendly camera is the best budget model available.

With plenty of professional-grade features, this mid-priced camera is more suitable for pros than novices.

An intermediate-level camera with a quality that exceeds most budget-priced DSLRs.

A lower-priced DSLR for mid-level photographers.

How we decide
BestReviews is committed to providing comprehensive and trusted reviews for products that matter to consumers. We do the research to help you save time and money.
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Products received from manufacturers
78
Models Considered
42
Hours Spent
1
Experts Interviewed
188
Consumers Consulted

Best DSLR Cameras

We sifted through hundreds of digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras to find the top five available on today's market. There is something for almost everyone on our shortlist, which incorporates a range of prices and skill levels.

Products we Considered

Canon
EOS 5D Mark III 22.3 MP Full Frame
Canon
EOS Rebel T5 18-55mm SLR
Nikon
FX-format Digital SLR
Nikon
DX-format DSLR
Pentax
K-3II SLR- Body Only

Considerations

Image Quality

A simple approach to analyzing any camera is the evaluation of the final product. In this section of our ratings, we judge each contender's image quality.

Features

In order to optimize image quality in a variety of situations, you must be able to make adjustments on the fly. In this section of our camera review, we examine the features that maximize each product's versatility and output.

Skill Level

People of all ability levels can now pick up a camera and capture high-quality images. Some provide a bit of “hand holding” to aid users. We discuss which DSLR cameras are best suited for novices vs. pros.

Price

Depending on skill level and expected use, DSLR prices vary. We help you determine which DSLRs are in your price range and what you get for your money.

Considerations

Image Quality

Canon EOS 5D Mark III 22.3 MP Full Frame

Owners have always been thrilled with Canon's image quality. The 5D's third iteration, the 22.3 MP, is incredible in good light and absolutely stunning in low light. One customer bragged about capturing a dazzling photo of his black lab at night with the lights off! We give Canon top marks for continuing its commitment to a full-frame sensor in the 5D line. This feature allows a 35mm lens to provide the same line of sight as a professional film camera. Videographers rave about the 5D's HDR mode, which makes it possible to combine three shots into one brilliant image. Needless to say, we’re impressed.

Canon EOS Rebel T5 EF-S 18-55mm IS II Digital SLR

Canon’s Rebel T5 is an excellent example of the state of technology. It is very clearly a “budget” camera, yet the 18-MP sensor provides an image quality that was only produced on professional cameras a few years ago. Users we surveyed consistently give this camera high ratings. Photographers enjoy taking advantage of the interchangeable lens mount, ensuring versatility not found in non-DSLR digital cameras and camcorders. Some owners who upgraded from the kit lens have expressed disappointment, saying there doesn't seem to be a noticeable display difference. Regardless of this sentiment, adding lenses to your rotisserie does permit you to increase your ability in specific scenarios that require varying lens attributes. The Rebel T5 affords you that capability and adaptability. Customers agree their pictures are sharp and vivid. In short, Canon’s Rebel is a reliable camera that delivers excellent images at a desirable price.

Nikon D750 FX-format Digital SLR Camera Body

Pro-level image quality, every time: Nikon D750 owners are enthusiastic about the beautiful stills and videos they're able to produce with this camera. Some mention a lens flare problem. However, the manufacturer is aware of this concern and offers free corrective maintenance to amend the issue. Considering its price, the D750’s tech specs are nothing short of robust. It features a 24.3-MP, full-frame sensor that we absolutely love. Customers swear by its ability to shoot in low light. The D750 performs so well, in fact, that many professionals use this camera as their primary body. After surveying hundreds of users, we can confidently say that you're likely to be thrilled with the Nikon D750’s picture.

Nikon D7200 DX-format DSLR Body

Nikon has garnered many loyal customers over the years in a very intense DSLR market. This is largely due to the company's consistent quality and innovation. The D7200's 24.2-MP sensor is brilliant, and users give it very high marks. Of course, Nikon permits photographers to manually set the aperture, exposure, shutter speed, etc. These are the standards we’ve come to love in DSLRs. When set properly, the camera performs well in low light, although it doesn’t quite match the more expensive models on our shortlist. Everything taken into consideration, photographers everywhere agree that the Nikon D7200's picture is impressive.

Pentax K-3II SLR Camera - Body Only

Still photography is absolutely gorgeous on the Pentax K-3II SLR Camera. The manufacturer includes a 24-MP sensor, and it works wonders. Customers gush about the images they’re able to produce. We commend Pentax for integrating a shake reduction feature; this allows photographers to avoid blur, thereby ensuring sharp images. Our one gripe is with the K-3II's video. While Pentax has been working hard to perfect this aspect of their devices, customers say the quality falls short of competitors. Keep in mind the camera records in 1080p up to 60fps, so it is without a doubt high quality. And, for its price range, the imagery – both still or video – is phenomenal.

The Canon Rebel T5 is clearly a budget camera, yet the 18-MP sensor provides an image quality that could only be produced on professional cameras a few years ago.
We spoke with an electronics shop expert who told us that most DSLRs can record up to 29:59 minutes of video. Adjustments can be made to extend recording time, but the cameras are originally set at this limit to avoid overheating.
Considerations

Features

Canon EOS 5D Mark III 22.3 MP Full Frame

Through its wide array of features, the Canon 5D gives the consumer lots of power. Manual mode makes everything completely customizable, including an ISO range of 100-25,600. (Owners who find that too daunting can enable Auto-ISO in manual mode.) Sports photographers enjoy the burst rate of 18 raw images at six frames per second. Perhaps the most important – and best-loved – aspect of the 5D is its 61-point AutoFocus. It's fast, it works, and it enhances every photographer's abilities. A few other notable items: the “Rate” button gives photographers the ability to assign a star level to each picture, and the “Creative” button in playback displays two images side-by-side for comparison on the fly. The list of features goes on, and we love Canon for that. We did have to knock a few points off for not including a built-in flash. Many users will naturally have their own lighting, but it would have been useful nonetheless.

As we’ve come to expect with DSLRs, the Rebel T5 is stacked with tools that enable users to succeed in all types of settings. Photographers can adjust ISO, shutter speed, aperture, exposure, and more. However, the scope of this camera is limited beyond that. The LCD screen is nice, but it lags behind competitors. Some owners hoped to see an integrated WiFi feature; instead, they had to purchase an accessory to access wireless capabilities. Using the viewfinder only displays 95 percent of the final image. We do give Canon kudos for including burst shooting of up to 3 fps. For a budget camera, that's a very nice feature. Overall, the Rebel T5 is a fairly simple camera, but you can do a lot with it.

Plenty of features are included in the D750, much to the delight of photographers and videographers alike. Its time lapse function can be set to fire once per second, once per day, or anywhere in between. And, it can go for up to 9,999 images per clip! Exposure smoothing works automatically as the lapse progresses. The auto-focus system features 51 points, and plenty of custom adjustments are available. Burst speed is 6.5 frames per second, and although we would have loved to see it reach eight frames per second, admittedly that’s being a little picky. We’re definitely happy with its 6.5 frames per second, especially because it can maintain that rate for 15 raw or 39 JPG images. Auto-mode is particularly advantageous because it takes care of every setting for you. Photographers report solid results from the Nikon D750; even the pros are satisfied with its slate of on-board features.

Nikon D7200 DX-format DSLR Body

We give the Nikon D7200 high marks for integrating WiFi connectivity in the body, but we had to take a few points off for the app that goes with it. There isn’t much you can do with it: settings can’t be altered, and you can’t start a video recording from it. When connected to a tablet, however, it serves as an excellent external monitor. Filmmakers who use the D7200 absolutely love using Nikon’s remote control app for that reason. Another minor knock: the camera's Live View is slow to focus, and it doesn’t always include the full image. Of course, one can simply avoid this by using the viewfinder, so it’s not a huge problem among customers. The autofocus system receives plenty of appluase. It shares the same 51-point system as the Nikon D750 – minus group customization. People find the design to be quite ergonomic as well.

Pentax K-3II SLR Camera - Body Only

For a mid-level camera, the K-3II boasts a nice arsenal of features. We were immediately blown away by its 8.3 frames-per-second burst speed. It runs for 24 raw+JPG, 25 raw, or 27 JPG images before slowing down. That is an incredible tool to have, especially for shooting things like action sports or bird watching. We did have to knock some points off for the K-3II's start-and-shoot speed of 0.9 seconds. If you're trying to take a quick shot in the wild, that's quite a bit of time. We're disappointed with the camera's lack of WiFi, too. Fortunately, purchasing a “FluCard” – a memory card with WiFi – enables you to control the camera remotely and transfer files. We're very pleased with the robust weather sealing for which Pentax has become known. Possibly most impressive is the K-3II's ISO range, which goes up to 51,200. That's particularly useful for those shooting in black and white. Overall, the K-3II is a complex and capable machine!

The affordable Canon Rebel T5 is stacked with tools that enable users to succeed in all types of settings.
Rafe
Expert Consultant
Rafe
Technologist, Product Review Professional

Rafe Needleman has been testing and writing about technology products for over 20 years. He has evaluated hundreds of products as editor of CNET and reviews/editorial director of Yahoo Tech.

Considerations

Skill Level

Canon EOS 5D Mark III 22.3 MP Full Frame

The Canon 5D delivers sheer versatility and power. Nevertheless, it is a difficult device to navigate; even professionals would be wise to read the manual first. Those with less experience may be better off starting with a simpler camera. The 5D line has been a staple of the freelance photography/videography industry for years, and users still love it. Don’t expect its spot at the top to go away anytime soon. Bottom line: if you are a professional, or seeking professional quality, you should give the Canon 5D Mark III consideration.

Canon EOS Rebel T5 EF-S 18-55mm IS II Digital SLR

We love how user-friendly the T5 is. If its list of adjustable features seems daunting, fear not: each setting displays a simple description to help owners understand what to do. If you're a beginner and need a little help getting started, this is definitely a helpful feature. More experienced shooters still get the customization we’ve come to love from DSLRs in manual mode. However, if you’re itching to get the best performance or upgrade your photography game, we suggest you take a look at some of our other contenders. While the Rebel T5 is an impressive camera, there are certainly more powerful alternatives. For a beginner, though, it is an excellent option.

Nikon D750 FX-format Digital SLR Camera Body

Users agree that the Nikon D750 is a lot of camera for a beginner. For the price, it's phenomenally powered. It’s a full-frame camera that operates at a professional level; a wedding photographer could use this device as his primary camera. Thus, in order to operate it properly, an expert skill level is required. Fortunately there is an auto-mode, and plenty of customers enjoy using it. Used in conjunction with an extensive guidebook (customers recommend purchasing a third-party manual as opposed to Nikon’s), a novice could work his way up to mastering the D750. However, it would certainly take some time.

Nikon D7200 DX-format DSLR Body

We think the D7200 could be the best intermediate-level camera on the market. It’s simpler than the Nikon D750, yet it still boasts a 24-MP sensor. It may have less overall capability, but it’s easier to navigate, and it costs less. For beginners looking to upgrade, this could be the perfect camera to use before jumping to a full-frame sensor. For capturing nature or filming a child's sporting event, this camera is definitely better than a budget-level DSLR. The automatic mode is useful; auto-focus is particularly quick and dependable. Some owners wish it were a bit quicker, and so do we. However, for an intermediate photographer, it should be more than enough.

Pentax K-3II SLR Camera - Body Only

You definitely have to know your stuff to operate the Pentax K-3II. The auto-focus isn’t the best available; sometimes you’re better off doing it manually. (This is especially true if you plan on shooting video, as it does not have continuous auto-focus.) Not all of the settings are automatic, although you can set ISO to automatic. To be sure, it won’t hold your hand while operating, but this camera is simpler than our more advanced contenders. Anyone with intermediate-level skills should be able to successfully implement the K-3II in their photography and videography. If you don’t feel like manually focusing, you may want to look at other models. But if you’re comfortable with manual focusing – and have a small budget – the K-3II could be your best bet.

If you're a professional photographer – or you're seeking professional image quality – the Canon EOS 5D definitely deserves consideration.
Considerations

Price

Canon EOS 5D Mark III 22.3 MP Full Frame

At $2499, the Canon 5D is one of the most expensive cameras on our shortlist. But, as the old saying goes, “You get what you pay for.” The 5D is a full-frame beast that is simply loaded with desirable features. The beauty of this device: it provides freelance photographers everything they need at a relatively low price (when compared with the level above it). There are more expensive DSLRs on today's market, but the difference in quality is marginal when compared to the price jump. And, while some may find the Canon's price tag high, owners swear by its amazing value.

Canon EOS Rebel T5 EF-S 18-55mm IS II Digital SLR

One of our favorite aspects of the Rebel T5 is its price. At just $398, this camera provides new and amateur photographers an affordable way to take spectacular photos. It’s definitely an upgrade from cell phone photography! For example, the Rebel has 18 MP; an iPhone 6 has eight MP. Unlike a phone, this camera is built specifically for photography and videography. If you’re just starting out in photography, or you simply want to try DSLR for the first time, we can’t recommend the Rebel T5 enough.

Nikon D750 FX-format Digital SLR Camera Body

Considering its full-frame, 24.3-MP sensor, Nikon’s asking price of $1796 is incredible. To be clear, this is a professional-grade device. Our extensive survey indicates that a growing number of pro photographers are taking advantage of Nikon’s powerful tool. Don’t be surprised to see this camera being used by the photographer at the next wedding you attend! If you’re ready to take on the challenge of a full-frame DSLR, the Nikon D750 could be your best bet. For the price, it offers top-quality images and plenty of features.

Nikon D7200 DX-format DSLR Body

It’s price tag is middle-of-the-road, but the Nikon D7200 packs a powerful punch. The 24-MP sensor is simply phenomenal, and it has all of the customizable functions you'd need to shoot nearly anything. We would like to see an upgrade in the wireless remote and general software compatibility, and we’re optimistic that Nikon will release an improved version in the near future. Doing so would only increase the value of this product even further. Sure, it’s more expensive than entry-level models, but it’s definitely the most powerful mid-range DSLR. Potential buyers looking for that level should seriously consider the D7200.

Pentax K-3II SLR Camera - Body Only

We extol Pentax for offering the K-3II at such a great price. You'd have to be at least a little bit serious about photography to choose it over the Rebel T5, our Best Bang for Your Buck offering. If you are, the Pentax K-3II is well worth its cost. Its gigantic sensor, super-fast burst, and high ISO range are just a few of the reasons why we say that. Of course, there are features lacking in the K-3 that could be found in more expensive models: integrated WiFi, a better auto-focus system, a cropped sensor, etc. For many, those features are unnecessary and therefore not worth the bigger price tag. If you’re an intermediate hobbyist or parent, the K-3II deserves your consideration.

The Canon 5D is a full-frame beast that is simply loaded with desirable features.

Best of the Best

After a thorough analysis and extensive survey of hundreds of users across the country, the Canon 5D Mark III has been crowned our Best of the Best. What makes this device so great is its ability to transform a good photographer into a professional. People with a passion for the art can pick up a 5D at a reasonable price and become a freelancer the same day. It’s that good.

Beginning with its full-frame 22.3 MP and extending to its incredible versatility, the 5D does it all. An interchangeable lens mount lets users take full advantage of Canon’s impressive line of glass. Photographers are treated to a rich selection of features. Take, for example, the 61-point auto-focus system: it's fast and accurate, and users love it. A burst speed of six frames per second is great for sports photographers; we're told they can capture up to 18 raw images at a clip. The ability to compare side-by-side photos on the fly – and assign a star rating to each – is another unique feature that owners love.

The Canon 5D Mark III is for expert photographers and intermediate camera artists who are looking to improve their craft. When you consider the sheer power and versatility it affords people, the Canon 5D's price of $2499 really is an incredible value. For those considering a career (or side career) in freelance photography, the 5D is an extremely attractive investment. Whether you want ot expand your photography horizons or become a pro, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better camera than the Canon 5D Mark III.
Best of the Best
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What makes the Canon 5D Mark III so great is its ability to transform a good photographer into a professional.

Best Bang for your Buck

We love the Canon Rebel T5, priced at just $398. Talk about an affordable camera! DSLRs are the future of digital photography, and there aren’t many cheaper options on the entry-level market. Without a doubt, it's the Best Bang for Your Buck.

Image quality is excellent, which derives from the T5's 18-MP sensor. The camera upholds a favorite trait among DSLR users: an interchangeable lens mount. (We did knock a few points off because a better lens doesn’t necessarily translate to a better image on the T5.) Nevertheless, photographers enjoy the freedom to use a variety of focal lengths. With a burst speed of just three frames per second, we can’t recommend this camera for freelance sports photographers. But for the T5's target demographic – the beginner – it’s more than enough.

Possibly our favorite feature of all is the T5's on-board user guide. This handy feature instructs owners how and when to use the camera's various customizable settings. The guide makes this camera the best DSLR for beginners: you get all the power of a DSLR and the beautiful picture that comes with it. You don’t need to understand the ins and outs of the craft to get gorgeous images. The user-friendly guide holds your hand every step of the way.

Beginning photographers don't necessarily want to invest a lot of money; they just want to take beautiful picutres. For the price of a smartphone, even the most tech-averse user can get spectacular images from the Canon Rebel T5. Without a doubt, this product should be on every beginner's shopping radar.
Best Bang for your Buck
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For the price of a smartphone, even the most tech-averse user can get spectacular images from the Canon Rebel T5.
The team that worked on this review
  • Bob
    Bob
    Writer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Editor
  • Ann
    Ann
    Operations
  • Jimi
    Jimi
    Product Analyst
  • Ben
    Ben
    Operations

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