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Shopping Guide for Best Nikon DSLR Cameras

When you think of great cameras, the Nikon brand name jumps immediately to mind.

Nikon Digital Single-Lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras render an excellent performance in many areas of photography.

With smartphone cameras taking over the point-and-shoot sector of the camera market, DSLRs continue to grow in popularity.

In fact, many people looking for a good beginner camera now seek an entry-level DSLR instead of a point-and-shoot camera.

Nikon offers a host of DSLR cameras that range from entry-level models to professional-level models. This gives photographers who love Nikon the opportunity to find the DSLR that meets their skill level and budget.

DSLR cameras borrow their shape and basic interior design from 35mm film SLR cameras.

When you’re ready to find the best Nikon DSLR camera for your photography needs, we’re ready to help.

At BestReviews, the highly detailed research we performed will give you the critical information you need to make a wise purchase.

We pride ourselves on the fact that we never accept free samples from manufacturers. This means you can trust that our selections and product reviews are free of bias.

DID YOU KNOW?

The ability to change out lenses gives the DSLR camera more versatility and is one of its greatest strengths.

Nikon DSLR Cameras vs. Other Cameras

If you’re already using a smartphone camera or a point-and-shoot camera, you may wonder whether you need a Nikon DSLR. Mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras have also become popular. Below, you can read about the pros and cons of different types of cameras.

Comparison

Smartphone Camera Pros and Cons

  • Pros

Most people carry a smartphone at all times, making it handy to use as a camera. People love the ability to share photos instantly on social media, and a smartphone camera excels in this area. The touchscreen operation of this type of camera simplifies its usage quite a bit over a DSLR.

  • Cons

The image quality of a smartphone camera remains well below that of a DSLR camera, especially when shooting in harsh lighting. You get significantly less optical zoom capability with a smartphone camera than you do with higher-quality camera lenses.

EXPERT TIP

To find a lens for a Nikon DSLR camera, it has to be compatible with the Nikon F-mount.


Staff  | BestReviews
Comparison

Point-and-Shoot Camera Pros and Cons

  • Pros

Many point-and-shoot cameras are smaller and weigh less than DSLR cameras. Point-and-shoot cameras are extremely easy to use. If you’d like a large telephoto lens that can reach far-off objects, the cost is lower in a point-and-shoot camera than the cost of a DSLR telephoto lens.

  • Cons

Overall image quality in a point-and-shoot camera cannot match a DSLR. If you want to shoot action photos or have a minimum shutter lag, the DSLR dramatically outperforms the point-and-shoot camera. You cannot swap out lenses with a point-and-shoot camera to gain new features.

DSLR cameras cost more than point-and-shoot cameras because they offer higher-quality interior components that control processing speed and image quality.

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BestReviews
Comparison

Mirrorless Camera Pros and Cons

  • Pros

A mirrorless camera has a thin body similar to that of a point-and-shoot camera, yet it provides image quality closer to a DSLR. You can use interchangeable lenses with a mirrorless camera, adding versatility. Mirrorless camera bodies tend to offer more design style and versatility than DSLRs.

  • Cons

As a general rule, a mirrorless camera cannot match a DSLR camera in terms of image quality and performance speed. (They’re close, but they’re not quite equal yet.) The interchangeable lenses can be expensive over time.

DID YOU KNOW?

Nikon DSLR cameras use EXPEED image-processing chips. Newer and faster EXPEED chips include the EXPEED 4 and EXPEED 5.

Comparison

DSLR Camera Pros and Cons

  • Pros

A DSLR camera produces the best image quality and best performance speeds of any camera. Interchangeable lenses give the photographer more versatility. DSLR cameras are much easier to use than they were several years ago.

  • Cons

The only significant downside to a DSLR involves expense. DSLR camera bodies are pricey initially, and owners incur added costs for lenses and other accessories.

EXPERT TIP

Those who own a Nikon DSLR camera will want a camera bag to protect their equipment during transport.


Staff  | BestReviews

Understanding Nikon DSLR Image Sensor Formats

Nikon DSLR cameras will carry one of two sizes of image sensors. These image sensor sizes can affect how your lenses will work, so you need to know the difference.

  • DX-Format

A DX-format image sensor measures 24mm by 16mm, making it the smaller of the two options.

  • FX-Format

The FX-format image sensor has about the same dimensions as a frame of old 35mm film. The image sensor measures 36mm by 24mm. You’ll also hear this referred to as a full-frame image sensor camera.

Product in Depth

Product in Depth

Nikon D5500 Digital SLR with 18-55mm Lens

Great Intermediate Camera

The Nikon D5500 is an exceptionally strong camera for beginners and intermediate photographers at a great price. It features both simple automatic controls and advanced manual controls to help your photography skills grow. Its 24.2 megapixels of resolution will fit the needs of most non-professional photographers, creating amazing photographs. The D5500 is fun to use, as it offers special effect features and full-HD movie recording.

Because of the way the Nikon DSLR lenses are designed, they have different capabilities with different image sensors. For example, Nikon makes both DX and non-DX lenses.

For a DX lens, you’ll see “DX” in the name of the lens somewhere. If the Nikon DSLR lens does not say “DX” in its name, you’ll refer to the lens as a non-DX lens.

(Nikon does not make lenses that say FX in the name; they’re called non-DX lenses instead.)

DX lenses can be built smaller because they’re designed to work with the smaller DX image sensor. Non-DX lenses are larger and heavier. We’ve collected some additional information on these two types of lenses as follows.

With Nikon DSLR cameras, you can use either a fully automatic shooting mode, a fully manual mode, or something in between. These cameras offer great versatility.

Staff
BestReviews
  • DX Lenses

If you use a DX lens on a DX image sensor or FX image sensor Nikon DSLR camera, you’ll receive a greater telephoto capability than the lens has typically. Nikon calls this situation the crop factor for the lens.

DX lenses feature a crop factor of 1.5x. So a lens with a stated 50mm focal length would look like a 75mm focal length on the DSLR camera because of the crop factor.

This feature works well for people who want more telephoto capability, but as a trade-off, you lose some wide-angle capability.

  • Non-DX Lenses

If you use a non-DX lens on either a DX or FX Nikon DSLR camera, no crop factor occurs.

EXPERT TIP

When comparing Nikon cameras, pay attention to whether it uses a DX or FX image sensor. FX sensors are larger with better performance levels, but they also cost more.


Staff  | BestReviews

Cost of Nikon DSLR Cameras

You’ll find Nikon DSLR cameras in several different price ranges. The list here focuses on the camera body only, rather than kits with the camera body and a basic lens.

Price

Entry-Level Cameras

The most basic Nikon DSLR cameras cost $300 to $750. These include slightly older models as well as newer, basic cameras.

Most of these DSLR cameras offer 16 to 24 megapixels of resolution.

Product in Depth

Product in Depth

Nikon D5300 Digital SLR with 18-55mm Lens

Strong Price and Technology

The Nikon D5300 DSLR camera represents a slightly older technology, but it still works very well. With 24 megapixels of resolution, most photographers get excellent results from this camera. The D5300 shows its age a bit in terms of operational speed. However, the best part about purchasing a slightly older piece of tech like the D5300 is that you’ll save a few hundred dollars in the process.

Price

Enthusiast-Level Cameras

Also called intermediate-level cameras, these Nikon DSLRs carry a price tag of between $750 and $2,000.

You may find some older pro-level cameras in this price range, but most feature the latest technology. These cameras offer between 20 and 35 megapixels of resolution.

DID YOU KNOW?

DSLRs run the range from cheaper models aimed at beginners to high-cost cameras for professionals.

Price

Pro-Level Cameras

Pro-level Nikon DSLR cameras are some of the best digital cameras ever created. You can expect to pay more than $2,000 for these DSLRs and perhaps as much as $10,000.

They carry all of the latest features, the fastest processors, and the highest megapixel counts – usually well over 30 megapixels.

Nikon is one of the most trusted camera brand names, dating back to the days of film cameras.

FAQ

Q. What are some extra costs I may incur with Nikon DSLR cameras?

A. Beyond the cost of the camera body, you can expect to pay for add-on components. For example, you may have to buy extra lenses separately. Individual lenses can run anywhere from $100 to $1,000 or more. Additionally, you can purchase things like memory cards, extra batteries, and external flash units to use with your Nikon DSLR camera.

Q. How do pro-level Nikon DSLRs differ from entry-level Nikon DSLRs?

A. You’ll initially notice the price differential between these levels of cameras. An entry-level DSLR body can be found for around $500, while Nikon pro-level DSLRs will cost $2,000 or more. For the extra cost of a pro-level DSLR, you’ll receive a larger image sensor, which results in better image quality. You’ll also enjoy faster performance than an entry-level DSLR, resulting in less shutter lag and more shots per second.

Q. What is a kit lens?

A. When you shop for a Nikon DSLR camera, you may see some models sold as the camera body only and some models sold with a kit lens. The package with the kit lens includes both the camera body and a basic lens, so you can begin shooting photos immediately. The package with just the camera body has no lens in the box, so you must purchase a lens separately before you can begin shooting.

Q. Will older Nikon lenses work on a new Nikon DSLR camera?

A. Yes. As long as the lens makes use of an F-mount, it will fit. All Nikon DSLR cameras make use of the F-mount so that all Nikon F-mount lenses will fit all Nikon DSLRs. The only Nikon lenses that won’t fit a Nikon DSLR are those interchangeable lenses made for Nikon mirrorless cameras. Even some F-mount Nikon film SLR camera lenses will fit Nikon DSLRs.

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