Best Canon DSLR Cameras

Updated November 2021
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We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for best canon dslr cameras

Canon makes some of the best DSLR cameras on the market. If you are looking for a large, capable camera for professional use or just to take on a trip, their lineup of DSLR models is definitely something to check out. With so many options, you might not know where to start.

Choosing the right Canon camera comes down to deciding what specifications and features you want. Each camera comes in one of two sensor sizes: APS-C and full frame. Beyond determining the size of the photos you can take, the sensor size also influences the overall resolution, image quality, and low-light capabilities of the camera.

We've done the research to help you find the best Canon DSLR camera. Read on to check out our handy guide to learn about some of the most important features and specs you need to consider before buying your own camera.

A Canon DSLR camera borrows a large part of its interior component design from previous models of Canon 35mm film cameras.

Canon DSLR image sensors

The image sensor is the key component of a Canon DSLR camera. Think of the image sensor as the equivalent of film in a previous model. The image sensor measures the intensity and color of the light traveling through the lens. It turns those light measurements into digital data that a computing device uses to recreate the image on a screen.

A physically larger image sensor will measure light more accurately than a smaller image sensor. In fact, image sensor size directly correlates with how well the DSLR camera performs in poor lighting.

Canon DSLR cameras offer two types of image sensors: full frame image sensors and APS-C image sensors.

Full-frame image sensors

A full-frame image sensor is used in high-end Canon DSLR cameras, as this type of image sensor offers the best image quality.

A full-frame image sensor approximates the size of a frame of 35mm film, measuring 36 mm x 24 mm.

"For the fastest performance level in a Canon DSLR camera, look for one that has a DIGIC 6 or DIGIC 7 image processor."
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APS-C image sensors

An APS-C image sensor is a bit smaller than a full-frame image sensor, but it’s larger than a point-and-shoot camera image sensor.

Canon DSLRs offer several slightly different measurements of APS-C image sensors. Some Canon DSLRs offer a 22.5mm x 15mm image sensor, for example. You can find Canon DSLR image sensors that measure 22.3mm x 14.9 mm, too.

Both full-frame and APS-C image sensors in Canon DSLRs are much bigger than the image sensor you’d find in a smartphone camera. This difference is one of the main reason why DSLRs create far greater image quality than smartphone cameras.

Other key parts of DSLR cameras

Canon DSLR cameras have components that clearly set them apart from point-and-shoot cameras and smartphone cameras. These components allow you to create great images and enhance your overall enjoyment of the camera.

Flash

Some Canon DSLR cameras include a convenient pop-up flash. However, for better quality, you may want to purchase and use an external flash with your DSLR camera.

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Did you know?
One of the best things about Canon DSLR cameras is the ability to shoot in full manual control mode, in which you can completely control the camera’s settings.
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Image processor

The image processor allows the camera to process data from photographs. Newer image processors run faster. With a faster processing speed, you can shoot several photos per second in burst mode.

Right-hand grip

Don’t forget this key part of the DSLR camera body. The right-hand grip allows you to hold the camera comfortably. A smartphone camera does not offer this  type of accommodation.

Memory card slots

Some Canon DSLR cameras offer two memory card slots, while others have just one. If you frequently shoot photos with your camera attached to a tripod, look for a camera body with memory card slots on the side of the DSLR.

(If the memory card slot sits on the bottom of the camera, you’d have to take the DSLR off the tripod to access the memory card.)

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Did you know?
For inexperienced photographers, Canon DSLR cameras allow for fully automatic operation much like that of a simple point-and-shoot camera.
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Resolution/megapixels

As mentioned above, the size and quality of the image sensor plays an important role in DSLR image quality.

However, it’s also notable that a camera with a larger megapixel measurement (or a higher resolution) yields better images than a camera with a smaller number of megapixels.

Viewfinder

You can use a viewfinder to frame the scene with a Canon DSLR camera. (With smartphone cameras, you’ll frame the scene using the display screen.)

A viewfinder helps you overcome any glare on the screen that could make it tough to frame the scene.

For example, if you’re shooting in bright sunlight, having a viewfinder is very helpful.

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Did you know?
Canon’s Rebel brand name carries over from its days of making 35mm film cameras. Today, the Rebel brand refers to Canon’s entry-level DSLR models.
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Canon DSLR prices

Canon offers a large number of DSLR cameras at a variety of price points. With so many options, you’re sure to find something that would fit your budget.

Canon DSLRs that cost less than $500

These basic Canon DSLRs are aimed at inexperienced photographers. They feature APS-C image sensors and have a set of manual control features, but they may not have the latest and fastest image processors. You will find some new Canon DSLR cameras at this price point as well as some former intermediate models that have dropped in price.

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Testing Canon DSLR cameras
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Canon DSLRs that cost $500 to $1,200

Intermediate Canon DSLR cameras have a few top-end features that separate them from entry-level DSLRs.

For example, you may occasionally find a full-frame image sensor camera in this price range.

Or you may find a high-quality autofocus system that contains several dozen AF points. This type of camera will serve you well for several years as your photography skills grow.

"A DSLR camera can record high-level photographs primarily because of a large image sensor."
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Canon DSLRs that cost more than $1,200

Canon DSLR cameras that fit in this price range are top-end models aimed at experienced and professional photographers. They nearly always feature full-frame image sensors with the latest and fastest image processors.

In fact, almost all of the components in this type of Canon camera will be above-average. Some pro-level Canon DSLRs may cost $3,000 or more, but they will help you create amazing photographs.

The price ranges listed here refer to the cost of the camera body only. Some Canon DSLRs also include a kit lens, which is a basic lens that allows you to begin shooting photos immediately. With a kit lens, you can expect the overall price to be $75 to $150 more.

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You’ll love the versatility of a Canon DSLR, as it can use numerous interchangeable lenses to gain more features.

FAQ

Q. What are some hidden costs of Canon DSLR cameras?

A. As your photography skills grow, you will probably want to add more lenses to your collection. Different lens options provide more versatility in the types of photos you can shoot. You also may want to purchase accessories such as an external flash unit that attaches to the DSLR hot shoe. Purchasing a tripod provides an ability to hold the Canon DSLR steady for certain types of photos. You’ll need a memory card and a camera bag, too.

Q. Why did my Canon DSLR ship with a kit lens?

A. Canon offers its DSLR cameras for sale in a couple of configurations. One of the most common options involves purchasing the DSLR with a kit lens or two. The kit lens is a basic lens that’s compatible with the DSLR camera. Using the kit lens, you can begin shooting photos as soon as you receive the camera.

If you were to buy a camera-body only Canon DSLR, you’d have to provide your own lens, as one would not be included in the box.

Q. Can I use lenses from prior models with a new Canon DSLR camera?

A. The type of lens mount included on your DSLR camera determines which types of lenses it may use. Canon offers two lens mounts with its DSLRs: the EF mount and the EF-S mount. The EF-S mount only accepts EF-S-compatible lenses. The EF mount will accommodate any EF lens and any EF-S lens.

As long as your other camera lens is able to fit the lens mount on your Canon DSLR camera, it should be compatible.

Q. Can I shoot video with a Canon DSLR camera?

A. One of the biggest improvements DSLR cameras have made in the past decade involves the ability to record high-end video. With a large image sensor and a fast processor, you can shoot good movie-quality videos using a Canon DSLR. At minimum, you will be able to shoot full HD resolution video. Some Canon DSLRs even offer 4K recording resolution.

Many Canon DSLRs have a microphone connection port that allows you to record high-quality audio, too.

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