Which DSLR Camera Is Best For Me?

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So your iPhone isn’t cutting it and you lost the charger for that old point-and-shoot (it’s collecting dust, anyway). You’ve heard about DSLRs but from the price tags to the acronyms, accessories and brand names, you have no idea where to start in the search for a new camera. Canon or Nikon? Which lenses fit my camera? Wait… I need to choose lenses?!

As a photographer shooting portraiture for over a decade and creating content for various social media campaigns, I put my experience to the test to find you affordable, versatile, and quality DSLR camera bundles to get you the most for your money. You’ll be taking better photos in no time, with everything you need in one affordable, convenient bundle. Let’s find you a new DSLR camera!

How do I know which DSLR camera is best for me?

Before we get into our top picks, I want to give you a bit of information for better understanding. The acronym “DSLR” stands for digital single-lens reflex, which basically means that it is like a film camera in that it has a single-lens reflex – a mirror and prism system, but with alternate components like a digital imaging sensor as opposed to film. DSLRs outperform the basic point-and-shoot camera you may own in a number of ways, including interchangeable lenses, better autofocus, higher resolution images, and more. Now that we know what we are looking for, how do we know what kind of DSLR to invest in?

When choosing a DSLR, one is faced with tons of options and the task can seem pretty daunting, but making the right choice means higher quality images, adaptability, and deeper controls of your photo and video content.

DSLRs provide a greater customization and control over your work. Instead of always relying on a fully-automatic process, DSLRs allow you to fine tune shutter speed, aperture, and other aspects of the photo-taking experience. Think of it like driving a manual transmission car versus a fully-automatic. You’re still “driving the car” but you may get better gas mileage. Many users find the manual controls to be more fun. You can also change out the lenses, attach accessories like microphones, and capture high-quality video outperforming any smartphone on the market.

So with that said, here are my top choices based on various lifestyles and budgets.

The Winner:

For the enthusiast, and the content creator.

Who doesn’t love a good bundle-price? Save yourself the trouble (and money) finding all the pieces you need to complete your camera kit. The is part of the Canon Rebel line that started back with film SLR cameras and continued on from (you guessed it) T1 all the way through to the T7i. These cameras are wildly popular and a go-to for budding photographers and hobbyists.

This model comes with the DSLR camera body, two memory cards, camera strap, a mini tripod, cleaning kit, remote control, and more. Out of the box, the is ready to go in a variety of conditions. You won’t want to put it down.

Quality

The included lens has a focal length of 18-55mm which covers a range from wide angle to portrait. Additionally, the lens has an STM feature which is Canon’s technology to allow the mechanical parts of a camera lens to move around and zoom without creating audible noise. You can change focal length, focus and refocus, and your camera won’t pick up that hum and buzz of the camera focusing on its subject. This is critical for video if you need that audio to sound good!

The included 18-55mm lens has an aperture of f/3.8-f/5.6. This makes it capable in most lighting situations with a relatively “fast” wide open at f/3.8 up to a slightly slower f/5.6. This range covers nearly all beginner use-cases. If your needs grow to include low-light conditions or landscapes that need more depth of field, you can always upgrade the lens, but this is a great place to start.

Versatility

Canon’s Rebel line is versatile as ever with the , flaunting 1080p HD video recording, a 24.2-megabyte resolution, a fast and accurate autofocus system, and built-in WiFi and Bluetooth for image transfer on the go.

The camera has a built-in pop-up flash for low-light images in a pinch, and a connection for optional external flashes. When you’re capturing video, swivel and tilt that screen out and around to any angle for better viewing angles.

Who It’s For

Imagine you’re a small restaurant creating content for social media. You capture a few high-quality food photos and an HD video of your busy restaurant. You’re short on time, so you connect your smartphone to the and transfer the images wirelessly. No computers or cables, just a seamless experience getting a fresh photo and video content out to your customers, friends, and followers in the field or on the road.

A few weeks later, you need to update the website. With the tripod and zoomed all the way out, you capture the store-front and sign. Hand-held, you zoom into that perfect portrait focal length at 50mm and capture a few headshots of your team. All this without changing lenses or tons of complicated equipment.

Price & Warranty

The camera and all these accessories come in at an incredibly affordable price, considering how much comes with the kit. The camera body itself is comparable! You can’t beat this deal on everything you need to start taking better photos and video.

A wide variety of lenses is available for the Canon line of DSLRs. From Canon’s own brand to 3rd parties like Tamron and Sigma, you’ll have plenty of options to upgrade when you’ve outgrown the kit zoom lens. Canon is one of the most popular brands of DSLRs and therefore has quite a few accessories made for it. Whether you’re shooting portraits, real estate, product photography, or sceneries, you’ll find both zoom and fixed prime lenses over a range of wide-angle and telephoto focal lengths to meet every need.

The comes with a one-year limited warranty included.

I’ve owned two Rebel series cameras over the years and I think you can see why! Even when using pro-grade video and camera gear, sometimes you miss the light-weight versatility of these affordable entry-level cameras and the consumer-focused features like WiFi-connectivity.

 

The Runner-Up:

For the backpacker, the traveler, and the rugged outdoors.

This comes with just the basics, but offers a lot for its small form factor and has some unique weather-proofing features. Including basics like the battery and strap, this kit also features a similar 18-50mm zoom lens. You’ll notice a few comparable features to our top pick including WiFi connectability, a swivel screen, and 1080p video.

Quality

Pulling in 24.24-megabyte resolution images, 1080p HD video recording, and stabilization features, you’ll be guaranteed a quality image no matter the conditions with the .

The included 18-50mm lens has an aperture of f/4-f/5.6. Like the Canon kit lens previously discussed, it is capable in most lighting situations up to its f/5.6 aperture setting but is open widest at f/4. This means it will be marginally less capable in low-light, but nothing deal-breaking. Again, the range covers most beginner use-cases and can always be upgraded to other compatible Pentax lenses.

Versatility

The has a leg up on our top pick’s lens when it comes to versatility. With a max focal length of 50mm, you’ll get closer than ever to your subject, while still capable of going wide on a scene.

Weather-proofing features on this DSLR also offer a unique angle on versatility. No longer will a light drizzle or sandy beaches be a cause for alarm. One hundred points on the are weather-sealed and dust-proof to keep you going when the conditions get messy. One of it’s coolest features is a night vision red light feature on the swivel LCD screen – astronomers and astrophotographers will celebrate this feature when capturing the stars and other low-light conditions.

Who It’s For

You’re packing your suitcase for a much-anticipated vacation. Clothes, passport, toothbrush… camera! It’s the trip of a lifetime, so you want better images and battery life than your smartphone. What camera can stand up to the demands of travel and perform in a variety of weather conditions?

You think to yourself about being on the beach and hiking the trails of Maui, concerned about damaging your expensive gear. Except you don’t, because you just upgraded to the with weather-proofing features.

Morning to night, wet to dry, this DSLR will stand up to the test in any condition. Capture picturesque mountains on your miles-long hikes and rest assured that you’ll get a wide shot of sandy beaches (and even some photos of the stars) with your Pentax and zoom lens. And it won’t be soaking in rice overnight after a few splashes from the waves.

Price & Warranty

This comes in around the same price as the Canon bundle but with a longer focal length and hard-to-beat weather-proofing features. It’s an investment worth a trip to the dog park or flying out to your next vacation.

The comes with a one-year warranty with an option to upgrade for an additional two years if purchased within 30 days of initial purchase.

The Honorable Mention:

For the beginner, the novice, and the budget-conscious.

Like our top pick, this includes a lot of accessories. You’ll get an 18-55mm lens and batteries, of course, but it also includes a lens cleaning kit, tripod, remote, external flash, and memory card. We couldn’t leave out Nikon in this roundup, so we’re reigning it in with an incredible deal on a budget DSLR kit.

Quality

The honorable mention goes to this Nikon bundle for those who want versatility and a full DSLR experience on a budget. The pulls in 24.2 megapixels and 1080p HD video recording, but with less on the technical back-end. You’ll find fewer autofocus points and less dynamic range, but a capable DSLR nonetheless.

The included lens has the same aperture range as the Canon kit lens we covered, which is pretty standard in this category of DSLR camera.

Versatility

The is very compact and lightweight, easy to use, and, like our Canon bundle, covers nearly everything you need from an entry-level DSLR. You won’t find a touchscreen or WiFi features, and no microphone connection (you’ll have to use the built-in mic for video), but you will get everything you need to start shooting in everyday situations.

Who It’s For

This is great for the photography enthusiast who doesn’t want to fuss with technical details and bells and whistles. It’s great for everyday use and an awesome gifting option for teens and other first-time users.

Price & Warranty

This DSLR bundle is a great beginner DSLR kit that is more budget friendly than our top pick. The includes a one-year warranty with an option to upgrade for an additional two years.

Wrap-Up

There are so many choices when searching for the right DSLR camera, and everyone from a business owner to world-traveler will need different features in their cameras. From Canon to Nikon, these camera bundles offer versatility at every price-point.

Don’t forget that Amazon offers extended warranties and accidental damage coverage when buying DSLRs and other electronics. Keep that in consideration when investing in your DSLR kit!

Here’s a side-by-side comparison to review all those specs in our three DSLR camera bundles!

 

Camera
Lens 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 18-135 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
Screen Size 3.0” 3.0” 3.0”
ISO Range 100 – 25,600 100 – 102,400 100 – 25,600
WiFi Connectivity Yes Yes No
Sensor ASP-C Crop Sensor ASP-C Crop Sensor ASP-C Crop Sensor
Resolution 24.2 MP 20 MP 24.2 MP
Weight 1.18 lbs 1.5 lbs 0.87 lbs
Video 1080p HD, 60fps 1080p HD, 30fps 1080p HD, 60fps
Autofocus Points 45x 11x 9x
Accessories 2 Sony 16 GB memory cards
bag
wireless remote
memory card reader
cleaning kit
spider tripod
lens band
screen protectors
mini HDMI cable
wrist strap
lens pen
battery
charger
64 GB memory card
bag
macro 2x telephoto lens converter
55mm UV
Polarizer
FLD filter kit
external flash
wireless remote
spider tripod
cleaning kit
battery
charger
camera bag
battery
charger
Price (subject to change) $849.00 $796.95 $541.95

FAQ

Q: How do I choose new lenses for these cameras when I’m ready?

A: What the heck is EF, EF-S, DX, etc? Each camera manufacturer has a unique mount for their DSLRs, and some have more than one. All three of our DSLR choices above are crop-sensor, entry-level cameras and thus have mounts that match their slightly smaller sensor size.

For Canon, you’ll look for EF-S mounts, for Pentax the DA line, and Nikon the DX line. These acronyms always follow the lens model number/focal length. This is something to consider when upgrading your gear down the road.

Q: Canon, Nikon, Pentax…what’s the difference?

A: When it comes to each brand, camera manufacturers are known for stylistic choices, button-layouts, and other small characteristics that you’ll begin to identify after trying them out. When comparing specs of equally-capable cameras, even the pros tend to disagree. Which is better in extreme low-light? Which sensor captures the most accurate color?

We’ll save the brand wars for another article. Leave that to the pros – your DSLR preferences may change, but you have to start somewhere!

Q: Full Frame or Crop-Sensor?

A: Most entry-level DSLRs are crop-sensor cameras (known as ASP-C sensors). This means that it can be anywhere from 1.6x to 1.7x of a true “capture” of what your lens sees. A full-frame sensor often means higher capability in low-light (higher ISO), sharper images, and a greater dynamic range, but it comes along with a higher price-tag. Your lenses will have to match, as well. When a 50mm focal length meant for a full frame camera is captured by crop sensor, it’s actual field of view is really an 80mm equivalent.

This means two things for future lens purchases – lenses are often incompatible between the two, or, if they technically fit the mount, will not photograph the marked focal length. For this reason, it is a good idea to start with a kit lens because you know it is compatible and they often cover a zoom focal length that covers a wide array of purposes. You can find what feels best by playing within that range on your first lens.

Q: Where can I learn to use my new DSLR?

A: Almost all DSLRs come with a user guide which is a great start. Here, you will learn about the camera’s features, menus, and button schematics specific to your model of camera. Once you master the basics, there is a wealth of resources available online for you to learn DSLR photography from. Forums and websites exist purely for tutorials and how-to guides for the different modes and techniques relevant to these cameras.

YouTube is also a great resource! You can find videos that break down the shutter speed, light-metering, and more that show the camera in action alongside the resulting images. Now is a better time than ever to get into DSLR photography with the wealth of available resources. You may even be able to make some extra money from it.

Q: How do I know what aperture I need?

A: The aperture a camera can reach on each photo is limited to the physical build of the lens itself. All of the options discussed above have a range of aperture options rather than fixed apertures. Apertures of smaller numbers correspond to a wide-open depth of field, drawing in more light. This is what creates that soft, dreamy blur in the background of your subject. Higher numbers correspond to a narrower depth of field.

Typically narrower apertures correspond to scenes in which more of the subject is in focus, and those narrow apertures pull in less light. When shooting in manual or aperture priority, this is when you would choose the aperture for the camera. If you’re shooting in any other mode, it will choose the aperture for you based on the conditions it senses.

Q: What are all these modes? P, Av, Tv, M?

A: All these modes are part of the joy in shooting with DSLR cameras. You’ll learn what each mode does (and even some unique modes to your brand of camera) in the included product guides, but here’s a start.

P is for Program Mode, which guides the image based on various user-selected subjects like landscapes or portraits. It’s a good start to giving the camera an idea of what it’s looking at. Av and Tv are semi-automatic modes, focusing on Aperture (Av) and Shutter Speed (Tv) respectively – they take your choice of aperture or shutter speed and work all the other settings around it. This is helpful for when you know you’re shooting action or need a wide aperture for a portrait, but don’t want to adjust all the other settings for each photo. M is full manual, which unleashes the true power of the DSLR.

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