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Best DSLR cameras to suit all budgets and skill levels

Life is about making memories and it’s terrific to have a quality camera on hand to capture them. DSLR cameras range from kits suitable for beginners to cutting-edge pieces of high-end kit. Here are the best ones you can buy.

By Gemma Lumley | Last updated Nov 3, 2021

Woman using DLSR camera

In the world of photography, a DSLR is an old-school classic. Innovations such as mirrorless technology are becoming increasingly popular but DSLR cameras, with their fantastic image quality, longevity and value for money, are still loved by professional photographers and enthusiastic amateurs alike. 

A great DSLR will have 4K video capability and image stabilisers to prevent blurring, plus simple operating systems and solid ergonomic handling. They also give photographers the chance to develop their craft over many years as they will work with new lenses, accessories and offer lots of features to explore.  

Choosing the best DSLR camera for your needs is as much about your creative ambitions as it is about your budget. Are you keen to capture beautiful moments with your family or photograph stunning wildlife images? 

Whatever your style of photography, the perfect DSLR is waiting. To find it, we’ve researched camera specialist websites, sought out real recommendations on the Mumsnet forums and thoroughly read genuine customer reviews to make sure you're getting the one to suit you.

Here are the best DSLR cameras to buy in 2021.

1. Best overall DSLR camera: Nikon D7500

Best overall camera

Price: £849 for body only, £1129 for kit with lens | Buy now from Amazon

The Nikon D7500 is a fantastic DSLR that has lots of dynamic features without being overcomplicated. In addition, it delivers excellent image quality and file storage at a reasonable price. 

It’s easy to use with all the essential controls at your fingertips, and the speed of each shot is only just behind that of top-of-the-range mirrorless cameras, so you won’t miss the moment you want to capture. 

Thanks to a powerful sensor, this is a great camera to use in poor weather and at night, which means that you don’t need to invest in additional low-light lenses.

Delighted owners of the Nikon D7500 have commented on the lightweight but still sturdy feel of the carbon fibre body and the bright and responsive LCD touch screen. 

Key specs

  • Megapixels: 20.9
  • Screen type: LCD 
  • Maximum continuous shooting speed: 8 fps
  • Movies: 4K
  • User level: Novice
  • Weight: 0.72kg
  • Sensor size: ISO 100-51200

2. Best budget DSLR camera: Canon EOS 2000D

Budget camera

Price: £490 for kit (including lens)  | Buy now from Amazon

This Canon classic has been around for a while, but it’s still a hugely popular entry-level DSLR. The price is competitive, and it still has a 24mp, state-of-the-art sensor that will help you produce beautiful images. 

It’s not the fastest of cameras, but it has a super-sharp focus system, so you can still take great photos of the kids in action. 

We loved the simple and intuitive automatic settings that allow you to point and shoot while still creating the stunning images you would expect from a DSLR camera. 

Our favourite feature of the EOS 2000D is the outstanding battery life. It will last for 1,500 images before you need to recharge, ideal for using on a family holiday without having to worry about it giving up halfway through a day out. 

Key specs

  • Megapixels: 24.1
  • Screen type: 7.5cm LCD
  • Maximum continuous shooting speed: 5 fps
  • Movies: 1080p
  • User level: Novice
  • Weight: 1.84kg
  • Sensor size: ISO 100-6400 

3. Best DSLR camera for beginners: Nikon D3500

Amateur camera

Price: £619 (including lens) | Buy now from Amazon

“Nikons seem to be pretty good for ongoing compatibility, DH is still using his Nikon D70 from 12/13 years ago.”NotMeNoNo

The Nikon D3500 is a superb camera for people who are new to DSLR cameras but still want to develop their skills. It is also a very attractive price and would make a special gift for a teenager. 

The battery life is impressive at over 1,500 shots per charge; there's no more endless searching for charging leads at the end of every day out. 

Owners felt that this is one of the best DSLR cameras for amateurs because the menu's simplicity means that there's no need to be nervous about stepping away from the safety of automatic settings. 

Mumsnet users rate Nikon as one of the most reliable camera brands because of the longevity and flexibility of their cameras – once you have mastered the lens you get with the kit, there are plenty more to invest in. 

Key specs

  • Megapixels: 24
  • Screen type: 8.1cm LCD
  • Maximum continuous shooting speed: 5 fps
  • Movies: 1080p
  • User level: Novice
  • Weight: 1.84kg
  • Sensor size: ISO 100-25600

4. Best compact DSLR camera: Nikon COOLPIX P950

compact camera

Price: £879 (built in lens) | Buy now from Amazon

“I own the Nikon P900 (had it for 18 months) and it's a great camera with a brilliant zoom... If you want to take a photo of a bird on a branch three miles away then it's fantastic!! Only bettered by the newer model P950 (much improved viewfinder, and smoother zoom action).” - ColinKnocksTwoPence

Known as a 'bridge' camera (essentially a hybrid between a conventional camera and a DSLR), the Nikon P950 is a winner due to its lightness and compact size, yet it certainly doesn't compromise on function. You could happily carry it around for the day without too much trouble, and it will leave more room in your camera bag for extra storage. 

The other major plus point of this, the best portable DSLR camera, is the incredible zoom. It has a vast range that allows you to take jaw-dropping close-ups of wildlife and entertain the kids with shots of minibeasts in the garden. 

We were excited by the power of the video function too. The 4K ultra HD, stereo sound and ability to plug it straight into the TV or a laptop means you can make a fabulous home movie and be enjoying it in minutes. 

The controls are designed ergonomically for easy handling and the side buttons are perfect for zooming in with one hand. The large vari-angle LCD screen is also great for framing a shot from an awkward position, such as capturing pets being silly or your kids at play. 

Key specs

  • Megapixels: 16
  • Screen type: 8.1cm LCD
  • Maximum continuous shooting speed: 7 fps 
  • Movies: 4K
  • User level: Novice
  • Weight: 1.05kg
  • Sensor size: ISO 100- 6400

5. Best DSLR camera for wildlife photography: Canon EOS 90D

Wildlife camera

Price: £1,249 for camera body only, £1,629 including lens | Buy now from Amazon

“If she wants to branch out into wildlife photography then the size of the zoom is pretty critical” - PhotoDad

The Canon EOS 90D is a fantastic camera with big ambitions. It has many impressive features, such as a ten-fps shutter speed, allowing an experienced photographer to produce sensational images from a split-second moment. 

The speed of each shot, dynamic zoom and the ability to capture a moving image without blurring are a winning combination for nature lovers. 

The vari-angle and the super-bright LCD screen are excellent too. Even in low light, it’s easy to see what you are photographing, and you can take photos from any angle you choose. 

Thanks to an impressive 32.5mp sensor that gives an exceptional level of detail, each photo will have gorgeous depth and can be printed clearly up to A3. 

Key specs

  • Megapixels: 32.5
  • Screen type: 8.1cm LCD 
  • Maximum continuous shooting speed: 11 fps
  • Movies: 4K
  • User level: Professional 
  • Weight: 1.22kg
  • Sensor size: ISO 100-25600

6. Best lightweight DSLR Camera: Pentax K-70

Lightweight camera

Price: £559 for camera body | Buy now from Amazon

The Pentax K-70 is a lightweight DSLR that was crafted specifically for outdoor photography. The body is fully weatherproof and has an ergonomic design that can be gripped comfortably and safely while wearing gloves. 

This robust camera has exceptional shake sensitivity so that when you're cold and shivering or taking photos of beautiful landscapes on a windy day, your images won't blur. 

Pentax isn't as well known as Canon or Nikon, but photographers who don't follow the crowd will reap the rewards of a DSLR with state-of-the-art features such as night vision technology and built-in wifi for a fantastic price. 

Camera enthusiasts who dream of taking the perfect 'bokeh' image (a super-sharp foreground and elegantly blurred background) will adore the K70's sophisticated features designed to create artistic and eye-catching photos. 

Key specs

  • Megapixels: 24
  • Screen type: 8.1cm LCD
  • Maximum continuous shooting speed: 6 fps
  • Movies: 1080p
  • User level: Novice
  • Weight: 1.03kg 
  • Sensor size: ISO 102400

7. Best DSLR camera for video: Nikon D850

video

Price: £2,799 (includes lens) | Buy now from Amazon

The Nikon D850 is one of our most expensive choices but we firmly believe it is worth the money, especially if you're a YouTuber or enjoy making mini-movies. You'll be amazed by the spectacular level of detail you can achieve with 45.7 megapixels giving rich colour, clarity and depth to your videos and photos. 

The D850 would also be an excellent camera for wildlife photography or filming your child's school play, as it will operate in silent mode so that you won't disturb your subject. 

Nikon's best cinematic DSLR camera has a fantastic battery life for a camera that works so hard. It can take over 1,800 photographs before it requires charging. However, if you're filming many home videos, this time frame is likely to be significantly reduced. 

Key specs

  • Megapixels: 45.7 mp
  • Screen type: 8.1cm LCD
  • Maximum continuous shooting speed: 9 fps
  • Movies: 4K
  • User level: Enthusiast
  • Weight: 1kg
  • Sensor size: ISO 100-25600

8. Best DSLR camera for tourists: Nikon D5600

Tourist camera

Price: £619 (including lens) | Buy now from Amazon

The Nikon D5600 is a lightweight and simple to use camera at an affordable price. It’s small enough to fit into a handbag too, so it would be a great piece of kit to take on holiday or a road trip. 

Despite its small size, the D5600 still feels solid and has practical ergonomic grips. The tilting touch screen is easy to use too so if you’re juggling toddlers while trying to record the fun moments of the day, this will be a great companion. 

This camera doesn’t have a massive amount of manual features, so it’s not a camera we would recommend to a photographer looking to improve their skills over time. However, if you want to take fantastic photos quickly and with minimum faff, the D5600 is your perfect match. 

Key specs

  • Megapixels: 24.2 mp
  • Screen type: 8.1cm LCD
  • Maximum continuous shooting speed: 5fps
  • Movies: 1080p
  • User level: Novice 
  • Weight: 1kg
  • Sensor size: ISO 100-25600

9. Best advanced DSLR camera: Canon EOS 6D Mark II

Advanced camera

Price: £1,349 for camera body | Buy now from Amazon

The Canon EOS 6D Mark II has the ultimate combination of fast shutter speed and a high-resolution sensor, so you’ll be able to catch each moment as they happen with glorious detail and depth.

This camera is also a full-frame DSLR; this means that the photos and videos that you take will appear in the viewfinder and on paper exactly as they do before your eyes, with no cropping. 

One of our favourite aspects of this thoughtfully designed DSLR was the sensible placing of the controls. It seems as though Canon has listened to years of feedback from both amateur and professional photographers and placed the dials and buttons exactly where they need to be for ease of use. 

We were thrilled with the touch screens’ responsiveness as they are often slow and precious moments can get missed, but with the 6D you don’t need to rely on the viewfinder. 

This Canon zoom lens would be a great first lens to use with this ‘body only’ 6D Mark II.

Key specs

  • Megapixels: 32.5
  • Screen type: 8.1cm LCD
  • Maximum continuous shooting speed: 10 fps
  • Movies: 4K
  • User level: Professional
  • Weight: 1.2 kg
  • Sensor size: 10-25600

110. Best DSLR camera for professional photography: Pentax 645Z

Professional camera

Price: £4,699 (includes lens) | Buy now from WexPhotoVideo

The Pentax 645Z is a DSLR designed to be operated by a professional photographer, so it has a high price tag. However, if you’re planning on setting up a side hustle, then this is one of the best DSLR cameras you can buy. 

With a 51 megapixel sensor and exceptional editing functionality, this DSLR has the potential to take breathtaking photos. 

With a weatherproof body, auto-focus and image stabilisation, the 645Z is as good outdoors in all kinds of light as it is indoors. 

However, this isn’t a camera for a beginner; if you spend this kind of money expecting to use the automatic functions, you will be disappointed at the minimal differences between this and a £600 model. However, with the right skills and this level of tech, you’ll be astounded by the images that you will be able to create. 

Key specs

  • Megapixels: 51
  • Screen type: 3.2cm LCD
  • Maximum continuous shooting speed: 3 fps
  • Movies: 1080p
  • User level: Professional 
  • Weight: 1.5 kg 
  • Sensor size: ISO 100-284800

11. Best mirrorless camera: Canon EOS M50

Mirrorless camera

Price: £629 (including lens) | Buy now from Amazon

“I got a Canon EOS M50 and love it. Loads of features but still easy-ish to use as a beginner.” - SpangledBoots

Mirrorless technology (EVF) is the newest innovation, and cameras with it are rivalling traditional DSLRs for popularity with photographers. The Canon EOS M50 is a mirrorless camera at an entry-level price, so it is a great way to experiment with the new tech without spending a fortune. 

The majority of Mumsnetters who own mirrorless cameras are thrilled with them, and the M50 is one of the most popular as it is so affordable. 

This camera is light, compact and is so easy to use as the photos almost take themselves. The auto-focus system is handy when capturing a moving target such as a giggling toddler or a friend throwing the bouquet at her wedding. 

Vloggers and content creators will also adore the connectivity of the M50 as they will be able to send pin-sharp 4K images to their smartphones within seconds. 

The one negative we found is that, as with many mirrorless cameras, the battery life is poor. 

Key specs

  • Megapixels: 24.1
  • Screen type: Vari-angle LCD 
  • Maximum continuous shooting speed: 10 fps
  • Movies: 4K
  • User level: Enthusiast
  • Weight: 1.2kg
  • Sensor size: ISO 100-25600

What is a DSLR camera? 

DSLR is short for Digital Single Lens Reflex. Here’s what that means in terms of how the camera works:

  • Digital: operates on a digital sensor rather than traditional camera film
  • Single-Lens: uses one lens for focusing on the subject, framing the shot and capturing the image
  • Reflex: a system of using light to show you an exact view of the scene before you

A DSLR camera will have a body onto which you can screw interchangeable lenses. This capability allows the photographer to take different picture styles, such as wide angles for landscapes and macro for close-up work. 

How to choose the best DSLR camera

A decent DSLR camera can cost hundreds, if not thousands, so it’s crucial to do your research and select the best one for your needs. Here are some points to consider before you invest:

  • Body only or a kit?: A body-only DSLR won’t come with a lens. If this is your first DSLR, we highly recommend a kit camera, which includes a general-purpose lens. This lens will allow you to experiment and know the camera before choosing the right kind of lens for your needs.
  • Your skill level: A beginner's camera will be simple to use and have the 'go-to' controls within easy reach and the more complicated functions stored in a digital menu. A high-end DSLR will have lots more buttons and dials to give experienced photographers the control they want over each picture they take. 
  • Budget: If you're content to let the camera make the decisions as part of the automatic functions, there's no point in spending thousands on a professional camera. 
  • Sensor type: The sensor decides how much detail will be present in each photo. A crop sensor camera will be cheaper and lighter, but it will automatically cut off the edges of your photo to make it a more precise image overall. A full-frame DSLR will be sophisticated enough to give you a clear image without having to make size adjustments. It will also work better in low light. 
  • Sensor size: In essence, the bigger the sensor is, the better the photo will look. Search product descriptions for high ISO ratings as that means more image-enhancing light will filter into the camera. A high megapixel number is also helpful as it will allow you to print off your images in a larger size. 
  • Classic DSLR or mirrorless technology?: Mirrorless cameras have a unique viewfinder that projects the image onto an electronic screen rather than a mirror. As a result, they are smaller and lighter than DSLRs, shoot photos faster and have better image stabilisation capabilities. However, they don’t have the battery life of a DSLR, and the range of lenses available is limited. Many professional photographers still prefer the control over the photo a DSLR offers and leave the mirrorless cameras for amateurs.

Where is the best place to buy a DSLR camera? 

You can buy DSLR cameras in many places, so it can be challenging to know where you will get the best deal. 

Online stores like Amazon have an extensive range of DSLR cameras on next-day delivery and with manufacturer guarantees included. Certain models can be expensive, but best buy DSLR bundles are available. 

Department stores like John Lewis will have expert staff to help you make a decision, however their range of in store stock could be slightly limited, and they may tend to focus on the new and exciting models rather than solid workhorses. 

Small independent shops are fantastic to support, and they will have a breadth of knowledge and access to pristine second-hand cameras. However, they cannot often be competitive on price.

If you're on a tight budget, websites such as London Camera Exchange are also great for second-hand cameras and accessories but don’t allow yourself to give in to the temptation of too-good-to-be-true ‘grey market’ retailers.  

What is the best DSLR camera? 

The Nikon 7500 combines superb image technology with a light and comfortable to use body. It has a large and responsive touch screen that tilts and simple button controls so that taking great photos is a fast and easy process. 

While the price isn’t low, for a kit camera with these features, we believe it to be of excellent value and within reach of amateur photographers with ambitions to improve fast. 

What is the best DSLR camera for home use?

If you plan to use your new DSLR camera to capture precious moments such as happy family days out and sun-soaked summer holidays, then our tip would be not to complicate the decision. 

The Nikon D3500 is the perfect family camera as you don’t need to spend thousands on a camera with more capability than you need. It also has intuitive automatic settings that will think for you. 

For beautiful photos of your family at play, laughing friends and hilarious pets, choose this popular DSLR camera with a state-of-the-art sensor for image quality and simple operation and you won’t miss a moment.

How we chose our recommendations

We researched the technical specifications, image quality and functionality of each of the DSLR cameras we have recommended to ensure all our suggestions will be fun to use and allow you to capture the kinds of images that bring you joy. 

We also consulted independent review sites for product opinions to ensure we were bringing you an honest summary of the best DSLR cameras to suit all budgets in 2021.

Why you should trust us

We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.spend hours scouring the Mumsnet forums and online bestseller lists to find amazing products that real parents love.

Transparency is vital to us, and that's why we're always honest about where we find our recommendations. We write about products that we feel offer the best value to most parents – the ones that our users would recommend to their friends and family.

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