Best Entry Level DSLR of 2018

best entry level dslr cameras
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Let’s get one thing straight – the best entry level DSLR cameras aren’t just limited to photography beginners.

Photographers on a budget, those who don’t have specific requirements, or even those who want a second camera – an entry level DSLR is a great place to start your camera hunt!

Even professional photographers love the compact simplicity of these more basic forms of DSLR camera. I spent a month with Nikon’s entry level DSLR camera and was really impressed by it.

So if you’re in the market for a no-fuss DSLR that won’t break the bank, I think you’ll find this review useful.

Best Entry Level DSLR of 2018

Image Product Details
shk2-table__imageNikon D3400 w/18-55mm LensOUR #1 CHOICE
  • 24.2MP DX-Format CMOS Sensor
  • No Optical Low-Pass Filter
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shk2-table__imageCanon EOS Rebel T6GREAT VALUE
  • 18MP APS-C CMOS Sensor
  • Full HD 1080p
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shk2-table__imageCanon EOS 6DTOP RATED
  • 20.2MP full frame CMOS sensor
  • 1080p HD video
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shk2-table__imageCanon EOS 77D
  • 24.2 Megapixel CMOS (APS-C) sensor
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
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shk2-table__imageNikon D3300
  • 24.2 MP CMOS DX-format sensor
  • 11 AF points with 3D tracking
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shk2-table__imageCanon EOS Rebel SL2 w/18-55mm Lens
  • 24.2 Megapixel CMOS (APS-C) Sensor
  • Full HD 60p & External Microphone Input
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shk2-table__imageCanon EOS T7i w/18-55mm Lens
  • 24.2MP APS-C CMOS Sensor
  • Full HD 1080p
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shk2-table__imageNikon D7200
  • 24.2 MP DX-format CMOS image sensor
  • 51 point autofocus system
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shk2-table__imageCanon EOS Rebel T5 w/ 18-55mm Lens
  • 18 megapixel CMOS
  • EOS 1080p full HD movie mode
View Price →

 

Some of my choices above may surprise you…

Let’s first answer this question: What is an entry level DSLR? Most would say it’s the cheapest DSLR that a camera manufacturer offers.

I’d like to improve on this definition by saying that:

…an entry level DSLR is one that appeals to first purchasers, or photographers who want simplicity.

Entry level DSLR cameras typically won’t have every bell and whistle of more expensive or newer camera models, but this isn’t an important consideration for the buyer.

The best entry level DSLR cameras of 2018 aren’t necessarily the newest models, since this is where the real bargains lie.

Professional photographers may leap at every new camera release no matter the cost, but everyone else can take huge advantage of discounted older models – these DSLRs would not have been considered ‘entry level’ at their release, and offer great bang-for-the-buck to consumers today.

The factors I took into consideration when choosing the DSLRs in this review were:

  • Value for money – much more important than having the latest camera. Pro-grade DSLRs can be had for entry level DSLR prices!
  • Ease of use – those shopping for entry-level demand simplicity, whether due to their lack of experience as new photographers, or simply by choice.
  • Functionality – the DSLRs need to have useful functions that appeal to beginners who are used to fancy smart phones.

Entry Level DSLR Cameras

I’ve written about DSLRs vs mirrorless cameras in the past, and am a fan of compact cameras, instant cameras and everything in between. So why are DSLRs so good?

For many, DSLRs offer a real photography experience. Everything from the OVF to the shutter sound to the camera grip – it just feels better.

DSLRs may not be the most modern way to take a photo, but for everyone from those learning photography all the way up to the real photography purists, sometimes only a DSLR will do.

So let’s look at some of the best entry DSLR cameras available here in 2018.

Nikon D3400 w/ 18-55mm Lens

Megapixels: 24.2 megapixels
Dimensions: 3 x 4.9 x 3.9″ (124 x 98 x 75.5 mm)
Weight: 395 g (0.87 lb / 13.9 oz)
Price: Click here for the latest price

This is the camera that I spent a month with recently, and recommend to all my friends who are after a great basic DSLR that won’t break the bank.

I’ve always had a soft spot for entry-level DSLRs, ever since I bought my first one in Tokyo in 2008. It was a Nikon D40, similar in size and feel to the Nikon D3400, and it really ignited my passion for photography.

With all the new fangled mirrorless cameras and fancy point and shoot cameras available here in 2018, it’s easy to lose sight of what I call real cameras.

You could argue that a real camera is a film camera, but my point is this: no camera feels as good in the hands, nor offers more organic operation than an SLR or DSLR. There’s something about the audible, physical ‘click’ of the shutter, the mechanical nature of the dials, the optical view finder (with its inherent limitations)… photography just somehow becomes more visceral.

All the entry-level DSLRs in this list can offer you this experience for an affordable price, but my pick of the bunch is this Nikon D3400.

You can read my full review of the Nikon D3400 if you want to see some sample photos, but suffice to say, the image quality blew me away. I just couldn’t believe that a camera at this price point (see latest price here) could produce an image so similar in quality to one I’d take with a camera 3 times the price.

Obviously, there are limitations with entry-level DSLRs when comparing them to full frame cameras, but for general shooting for the average photographer, they offer incredible bang for the buck.

So what’s so good about the Nikon D3400? First off, battery life. This is the main draw card of the D3400 vs D3300 – 1200 vs a measly 500.

It’s rare for an entry-level camera to offer such great battery life, and it’s nice to know that you don’t need to be looking at your battery meter when out on a shoot. Yes you can buy multiple batteries if you own the D3300, but who really wants to do that?!

On the topic of the D3300, there are some nay-sayers who prefer the older model for its slightly reduced price, but for the reasons I touch on in this review, there really isn’t any reason to not get the Nikon D3400.

Paired with the 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 VR kit lens, the entire camera weighs next to nothing, and is compact enough to throw in your bag, or even have hanging around your neck for an entire day.

The ‘VR’ in the lens refers to vibration reduction, and does a fine job in helping you shoot at slower shutter speeds handheld – this can mean the difference between using an ISO which produces clean images, or a higher ISO which results in a lot of grain. It’s particularly useful for indoor or low light situations where you don’t want to use the flash.

I’d also highly recommend you invest in the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G – with its larger maximum aperture, you’ll be able to blur the background in your photos, as well as shoot in lower light without the need of a flash.

The 11 focal points of the Nikon D3400 are closely grouped together, which is normal for entry-level cameras. This means that unless you are focusing on a subject in the centre portion of your frame, you’ll need to focus and recompose your shot – an essential technique used by professionals every day.

Auto-focus speeds are decent for a DSLR of this price, and holding down the shutter button fires off 5 consecutive photos per second (5fps). In good light, I found the auto-focus and burst mode fast enough to capture shots of our 3 year old running around, although it worked best when I kept the subject relatively centred in the frame.

In lower light, the auto-focus did struggle a little, but this is to be expected at the entry-level.

If you’re just getting started with photography, Guide Mode is a very handy feature of the Nikon D3400 (and one of the reasons I recommend this camera for beginners). Like having your own personal tutor, Guide Mode offers advice to help you learn how to shoot in various situations.

The 24MP APS-C CMOS is the heart of this camera, and the reason for its ability to produce images that look like those shot with far more expensive cameras. 24 Mega Pixels will allow you to blow up your photos when printing, or crop into them easily when editing.

When shooting RAW, the Nikon D3400 produces images that offer impressive dynamic range – slightly better in fact than the Nikon D3300. This means that when shooting at the base ISO level of 100, you can use software such as Adobe Lightroom to bring back detail in the shadow areas of your image.

I thought Nikon’s Snap Bridge feature would be a gimmick on the Nikon D3400, but it’s actually quite fun. Using Bluetooth to pair your smart phone with the camera, you can take photos and have them transfer in real time straight to your phone.

Image transfer via Bluetooth only takes a couple of seconds. I found it to be a great way to create backups of images I was shooting, or to transfer to my iPad to be able to view the images on a much bigger screen.

If you’re serious about shooting video, you may be slightly disappointed with the Nikon D3400, since it doesn’t offer an external mic output like its predecessor. However, it does still offer Full HD (1920 x 1080) video at up to 60 frames per second.

Overall, I’m a big fan of this camera. I wish it had an articulating screen (like the Nikon D5300), but aside from this one quibble, you’re getting a lot of camera for a great price.

CLICK HERE FOR LATEST PRICE OF THE NIKON D3400

Canon EOS Rebel T6 w/ 18-55mm Lens

Megapixels: 18 megapixels
Dimensions: 13.5 x 8.5 x 23.5″ (129.0 x 101.3 x 77.6 mm)
Weight: 440 g (9.5 lb / 15.52 oz)
Price: Click here for the latest price

Here’s another excellent camera under $500 which will set you off in the right direction as a new photographer.

There’s always been a lot of heated discussion between Nikon and Canon – deciding between the two is tough for many. While I believe that the Nikon mentioned above is a better camera than the Canon T6, there is one notable advantage of investing in a Canon entry-level DSLR, and that’s the lenses.

Entry level DSLRs don’t usually contain AF motors, meaning that the lenses need to contain them if you want to use your camera’s auto-focus. Since the 1980’s, Canon has been producing many ‘EF’ lenses, which all contain motors. Nikon also produces many lenses with internal motors, but they are traditionally more expensive.

If you invest in an entry-level Canon like the Canon T6, you can take advantage of a wide range of cheap Canon lenses. By way of comparison, this 50mm Nikon lens is around $175, whereas a newer Canon version is $125.

If you’re looking to build a big lens collection, it may be important to you to go with Canon. However, most photographers buying entry-level cameras are only interested (at least initially), in using the kit lens, or perhaps one more additional lens.

Anyway, let’s have a closer look at the Canon T6 itself…

Featuring an 18MP APS-C CMOS sensor and a DIGIC 4+ image processor, the T6 offers great image quality with a native ISO range of 100-6400 (expandable to ISO 12800), to suit working in low or poor indoor lighting conditions.

If you want more Mega Pixels, the Canon T6i offers 24.2MP, as well as faster burst mode (3fps vs 5fps), more AF points (9 vs 19), and a tilting touch screen. It’s definitely a better camera, but it’s also over $200 more expensive than the Canon T6 (see latest price of the T6i here.)

If you can afford the Canon T6i, I’d say go for it – you’re getting a lot for your money. However, I still think the Canon T6 is one of the best entry-level cameras. It offers some great features, and gets you into the world of Canon DSLRs and all their sexy lenses for a very affordable price ;-)

Aside from its great price, what else does the Canon T6 have to offer? 9 AF points and only 3fps may not sound like much when compared to some other entry-level cameras, but unless you’re shooting sports or other fast moving subjects, it’s actually good enough.

Shooting at a slower frame rate also has the advantage of basically having an unlimited buffer (when shooting in JPEG). This means that if you hold down the shutter button, the Canon T6 will continue to shoot at 3fps right up until the point when your memory card fills up. If you’re shooting RAW, the buffer is only 6 photos.

As for video, the Canon T6 shoots 1080p at up to 30 fps, and 720p video at 60 fps. Similar to the Nikon D3400, there’s no external mic.

The Canon T6 also offers Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity. When paired with Canon’s iOS or Android app, this wireless connectivity makes it easy to transfer images straight from your camera to your mobile device.

For wired connections, you have a USB 2.0 port, a Type-C Mini HDMI port, and a wired remote trigger jack.

The 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS lens that comes with the T6 is of similar quality to other entry-level DSLR kit lenses at this price point – it’s a great focal range that’s offers a perfect starting place for beginner photographers to experiment with.

The ‘IS’ refers to image stabilization, helping you get a sharper shot in low light when hand-holding the camera. Since entry-level APS-C sensor cameras struggle with high ISOs, it’s good to be able to reduce shutter speeds to allow for lower ISOs.

Having said this, if you’re keen to shoot in low light (or indoors in poor light) without a flash, I’d recommend investing in the Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM lens, which will also help you achieve that coveted blurred background look to your photos.

In conclusion, the Canon T6 can produce some great looking images in a compact, ergonically-pleasing package, all for a bargain-basement price. If you can afford the Canon T6i, I recommend the upgrade, but if not, I’m sure you’ll be happy with the hugely popular T6.

CLICK HERE FOR LATEST PRICE OF THE CANON EOS REBEL T6

Canon EOS 6D

Megapixels: 20.2 megapixels
Dimensions: 13.5 x 8.5 x 23.5″ (129.0 x 101.3 x 77.6 mm)
Weight: 680 g (1.7 lb / 24.0 oz)
Price: Click here for the latest price

Before you get all excited reading about how great the Canon 6D is, be forewarned – this camera is twice as expensive as the two I’ve previously reviewed above! (See latest price here). However, I believe it’s twice as good too…

The Canon 6D is what is known as a full frame camera. You can read more about full frame cameras here, but all you need to know right now is that being full frame, the Canon 6D has some big advantages over the crop sensor (APS-C) sensor DSLRs in this list.

First off, image quality, or rather, image quality in low light. With an ISO range of 100-25600 (expandable to 102400), the Canon 6D can pretty much shoot photos in the dark without a flash.

Should this matter to you? Well, maybe… maybe not. For professionals who need to capture images in all environments, being able to use higher ISOs to get clean images without the hassle of using a flash is incredibly useful.

For a beginner, using high ISOs can be fun… but it’s probably not essential. You have to decide what’s most important for you.

The next full frame advantage that may or may not be relevant to you is the increased dynamic range a full frame camera such as the Canon 6D can offer over the others in this list. Being able to pull back details in shadows, or recover your missed exposures using Lightroom can be useful for some.

Being full frame, lenses remain their intended focal length. This means that if you use a 50mm lens, your field of view when taking the photo is 50mm. On an APS-C sensor camera like the Canon T6, using the same lens will result in a field of view of around 80mm (a 1.6x multiplication factor).

Some photographers enjoy being able to use wide angle lenses at their intended widths; others prefer being able to get extended reach from their lenses with an APS-C sensor camera.

OK, now that the whole full frame vs crop sensor debate is out the way, let’s focus on the Canon 6D, and why I’ve chosen to include it in this list of the best entry-level DSLR cameras of the year.

‘Entry-level’ here is taken to mean the most basic camera in the full frame range. The Canon 6D was released in 2012, and replaced recently with the Canon 6D Mark II (reviewed here). Due to this, the Canon 6D has become an absolute bargain of a camera.

Check out the short video below to see why one photographer deliberately chose the Canon 6D over more modern cameras, even here in 2018.

Make no mistake – despite its excellent price, you can easily shoot professionally with this camera. The 20.2MP full-frame CMOS sensor combined with Canon’s DIGIC 5+ Image Processor produces beautifully detailed, rich images even in low light.

The 11 point AF includes a high-precision center cross-type AF point with EV -3 sensitivity, which basically means that in low light, you can aquire focus very easily with the central focal point. The focusing is actually even better than cameras costing twice the price.

4.5fps shooting speed is more than adequate for most situations, and when shooting JPEG the buffer will fill after around 1250 shots, and around 14 shots when shooting RAW.

Since full frame cameras are intended for professionals, you get excellent build quality with the Canon 6D. It feels solid in your hand, and buttons and dials are reassuring in use. I love the size of the Canon 6D – it has all the advantages of a small, lightweight entry-level DSLR, whilst still retaining excellent ergonomics, and much more robust components than cheaper offerings.

The Canon 6D isn’t a weather-proof DSLR, but Canon describes its build as being ‘dust and drop-proof’.

There’s built in Wifi for faster image transfer and remote control via Canon’s iOS and Android app, but the feature that excites me the most is the built-in GPS. Although it does drain the battery much quicker, it’s great to shoot with the GPS enabled while on holiday, only to be able to track your photos using Lightroom Map functionality when back at home.

I know several professional photographers who chose the Canon 6D over the Canon 5D range (traditionally much more expensive). Despite having only one memory card slot (pros usually want two), the reduced size, weight and obviously price of the Canon 6D made it incredibly attractive.

Admittedly, I’m stretching the term ‘entry-level DSLR’ a little with the inclusion of a full frame camera, but at this price point, it’s actually even cheaper than many APS-C sensor offerings.

Don’t be put off by the relative age of the Canon 6D compared to some of the other cameras in this list – newer doesn’t always mean better., and in many cases, you’re getting a lot more bang for your buck by investing in an older, or superseded model.

If you’re looking for an entry-level DSLR with the best image quality, look no further – the Canon 6D will simply blow you away. It offers functionality for beginners and professionals alike, and could be the only camera you ever need.

One caveat: this camera may not still be available when you read this! My advice – if you find it still in stock, snap it up quickly.

CLICK HERE FOR LATEST PRICE OF THE CANON EOS 6D

Canon EOS 77D

Megapixels: 24.2 megapixels
Dimensions: 3 x 5.2 x 3.9″ (131.0 x 99.9 x 76.2 mm)
Weight: 493 g (1.2 lb / 17.39 oz)
Price: Click here for the latest price

The Canon entry level DSLR line up is rather confusing, especially when one includes older model of camera (as I’ve done in this list).

Here in 2018, the Canon 77D occupies a space in between the CanonT7i and the Canon 80D. It shares the same excellent 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor as the others, and the same Digic 7 processor as the T7i (the 80D using the older Digic 6).

What this means is that the Canon 77D offers a lot of its bigger brother’s advantages for almost $300 less (see latest price here).

Perhaps most notably, the 77D features Canon’s impressive Dual Pixel auto-focus system, which improves on AF performance across the board. DPAF is a complex technology, but all you need to know is that you’ll be able to focus on a subject much quicker, and track the subject more effectively across your frame than ever before.

If you’re tracking a subject and another object briefly obscures it, DPAF will stay focused on the original subject. Even unwanted subjects that are much closer to the camera than the primary subject will be largely ignored by the DPAF system, until they completely obscure or convincingly overtake the frame.

If you use Live View a lot, or you’re a video shooter, DPAF is amazing for switching focus points quickly. The 3″ vari-angle touchscreen of the Canon 77D makes this much easier – you’re able to slide your finger from one point to another, to ‘rack’ focus in a smooth fashion.

Canon leads the way with its DSLR touchscreen technology, offering much snappier, fuller featured options than the other brands. It’s great being able to use all the two finger gestures you’re used to from your smart phones on the LCD of the 77D.

In addition to DPAF, the Canon 77D offers a 45-point AF system with all cross type points, greatly increasing its ability to focus in low light.

Having lots of focus points isn’t all that important on an entry level DSLR, but if you’re trying to track movement (sports photography, wildlife photography, etc.), more focus points usually means more chance of getting a sharp photo.

One unique feature of the Canon 77D is the Colour Detection AF, which helps to detect skin tones in a scene – I have no idea what kind of black magic wizardry allows the camera to differentiate between so many skin tones!?

When a skin tone is detected, AI Servo AF starts off on skin-coloured focus points, then tracks the subject based of the original AF point’s colour information, maintaining focus on the person even when they’re moving. It’s pretty incredible to see in action.

Another great feature is Anti-Flicker shooting, which helps to minimize disparities in colour and exposure, especially during continuous shooting in sub-optimal lighting situations. If you’ve ever tried to shoot near a fluorescent light source, you’ll have seen some odd ‘banding’ on your photos – this feature attempts to eliminate that.

Other features include Wifi, Bluetooth and NFC for fast image transfer and remote control, twin control dials for easy one-handed shooting, a top plate LCD for quick reference, built-in interval timer for time lapses, eye-sensor to turn off the read LCD while shooting, mic port for audio recording and great image stabilization during video recording.

Although this review focuses on stills photography, it should be highlighted that the Canon 77D is one of the best DSLRs for shooting video – the features mentioned above, coupled with dual AF and the rotating touch screen makes this a very popular camera for vloggers -this is one of the only entry-level DSLRs that offers easy and dependable auto focus while shooting video.

The Canon 77D is a well-rounded and capable camera at its price point. For a decent discount compared to the Canon 80D, you get the same sensor and auto focus performance, with the addition of a newer processor, which has an impact especially on Live View performance.

I’m a big fan of shooting using Live View, (which is why I love mirrorless cameras), and the Canon 77D offers Live View performance which is as close as you’re going to get to mirrorless.

It’s a lot of fun to shoot, and feels well balanced and rugged in your hands – definitely a big step up from the Rebel series, whilst still maintaining the size/weight advantage of an entry-level DSLR over bulkier full frame models.

Image quality is superb, with beautiful skin tones as you can expect from a Canon sensor, and 24MP is more than enough to print large photos or crop while editing.

Overall, the Canon 77D is a great camera if you can afford it. It gives the beginner room to grow, and offers all the features even a pro will appreciate.

CLICK HERE FOR LATEST PRICE OF THE CANON EOS 77D

Nikon D3300 w 18-55mm Lens

Megapixels: 24.2 megapixels
Dimensions: 3.9 x 4.9 x 3″ (122.4 x 92.6 x 69.8 mm)
Weight: 406 g (0.9 lb / 14.32 oz)
Price: Click here for the latest price

It may seem a little confusing that I’m recommending the Nikon D3300 here in this list of the best entry level DSLRs – after all, didn’t I just say that the Nikon D3400 is better?!

Well yes, in some ways it is, but I’ve decided to include this camera as it still offers a great deal for a great price (check current price here).

If you’ve got a modest budget and are looking for a cheap DSLR, look no further – for under $400, you can get a DSLR that can take awesome photos, feels good in the hand, offers some neat features and offers a mic port.

Let’s look at the Nikon D3300 specs first. It all starts out with Nikon’s superb 24.2MP sensor, which offers an ISO range of 1200 – 1800 (expandable to 25600). In testing, I found that ISO800 still looks ok, but you wouldn’t want to go much higher unless you’re planning on viewing (or printing) the photo quite small.

5fps continuous shooting isn’t too shabby for an entry-level DSLR, but you may find the 11 focal points a little limiting if you need to track a subject across the frame. This isn’t a DSLR intended for sports photography, but that said, it’s easily fast enough to keep up with children in good light.

I don’t want to spend too much on the Nikon D3300 after recommending its big brother earlier on in this review. Its only real advantage over the D3400 in my opinion is the lower price, but despite this, there are many, many loyal fans of the D3300.

If you can live with the somewhat sub-par battery life (500 shots per charge), and you’re not bothered about the ever so slightly better dynamic range of the D3400, you’re actually getting a big saving for not much sacrifice.

My advice – use the money you save in buying the Nikon D3300 to get a spare battery and your first prime lens (the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G is my top pick), and you’ve got yourself a decent camera set up at a very attractive price.

CLICK HERE FOR LATEST PRICE OF THE NIKON D3300

Canon Rebel SL2 w/ 18-55mm Lens

Megapixels: 24.2 megapixels
Dimensions: 2.7 x 4.8 x 3.6″ (68.58 x 121.92 x 91.44 mm)
Weight: 453.59 g (1 lb / 16 oz)
Price: Click here for the latest price

After the huge success of the first iteration of Canon’s SL camera back in 2013, we’ve waited a good few years for the release of its successor  – the Canon SL2.

Featuring the latest 24.2 Megapixel CMOS (APS-C) sensor and DIGIC 7 Image Processor, this is a camera packed with some great features, all at an attractive entry-level price point.

63-zone evaluative metering helps the Canon SL2 achieve optimal exposure with a diverse array of subjects and lighting conditions.

Shooting 5fps in continuous burst mode coupled the snappy 9 point AF system means that you’ve got a better chance of getting a photo in focus. 9 AF points is quite minimal (and a good reason to spend a little more on the T7i if you’re into sports photography), but it’s still of course a viable option to focus and recompose if your subject lies outside the centre-clustered AF points.

The Canon SL2 also features the latest Canon Dual Pixel technology, which means that AF in Live View is much more responsive than we’ve ever seen before on an entry-level DSLR camera.

Equipped with phase-detection, it can quickly and accurately determine how far away a subject is and where the lens should focus, and offers fast, smooth and precise auto focus that stays locked onto your subject, even if they are in motion, for both photos and videos.

On the topic of video, 1080P at 60fps, an external mic jack, dual pixel AF and a glorious 3″ touchscreen swiveling LCD monitor are a few of the reasons by this is a very popular camera for vloggers.

As mentioned before, being able to slide your finger from one subject to another using Live View is a great way to ‘rack focus’ while shooting video, or simply to switch focus points quickly when shooting stills.

Wifi, Bluetooth and NFS is pretty standard on this category of entry level DSLR, but it has to be said that the Canon implementation works very well – I found that my iPhone was able to pair quickly and easily via the iOS app, and controlling the camera remotely worked well with minimal lag too.

On thing to remember is that you can’t send the RAW photos via this method to your smart devices – only JPEG. If you want to transfer RAWs, you’ll need to use some kind of memory card reader for your smart device, and compatible software of course.

There’s a bit of confusion as to how the Canon SL2 differs from its big brother, the Canon T7i. At first glance they may look similar, but when you pick them both up, you’ll notice an immediate weight difference  – the Canon SL2 is smaller and 79g lighter.

Aside from minor differences in both cameras, it’s interesting to learn that the cheaper, smaller Canon SL2 actually offers more shots per battery charge than the T7i – 650 vs 600. (You’ll have to read my review of the T7i below to see why it’s still worth those extra dollars though…)

Check out the video below – it’s more focused towards video shooters, but still gives you a good idea of why the Canon SL2 is so good for stills shooters too.

One neat inclusion on the Canon SL2, and an indication that it’s an entry-level camera aimed at beginners, is the Feature Assistant. By explaining and illustrating the camera’s shooting modes and their effects with sample photos of each mode, the Feature Assistant encourages experimentation and provides guidance for creating the photograph you’re striving for.

Despite being lightweight and compact for a DSLR camera, the Canon SL2 features a nice, deep grip, and the great ergonomics that we’ve come to expect on Canon DSLRs. Even with my large hands, I felt comfortable carrying and shooting with the SL2.

The main benefit of the Canon SL2 for me seems to be the inclusion of the same Dual Pixel AF technology found in Canon’s much more expensive cameras, all in a small, lightweight, affordable body.

If you’re budget is around 500 bucks, it’s hard to find a DSLR camera with more technologically advanced features. It’s also a good backdoor route into the fantastic world of Canon lenses… :-)

CLICK HERE FOR LATEST PRICE OF THE CANON EOS REBEL SL2

Canon EOS T7i w/18-55mm Lens

Megapixels: 24.2 megapixels
Dimensions: 16.2 x 13 x 8.7″ (411.48 x 330.2 x 220.98 mm)
Weight: 485 g (7.55 lb / 17.11 oz)
Price: Click here for the latest price

At a couple of hundred dollars more than the SL2 (see latest price here), the Canon T7i (‘800D’) is an extremely popular choice for many beginner and enthusiast photographers in 2018.

Sharing the same 24.2 Megapixel CMOS (APS-C) sensor and DIGIC 7 Image Processor as the SL2, image quality is very similar, if not identical.

High ISO performance is on par for a crop sensor camera of this calibre – you can shoot over 800ISO if capturing the moment is your biggest priority, but at this point or lower is where I’d recommend you stay for the best detail and minimal noise.

JPEG images straight out of camera are vibrant and detailed, and skin tones has a beautiful warmth to them that’s become associated with Canon sensors.

The overall the build quality is nice on the Canon T7i. It’s definitely a smaller build than most DSLRs which could be a big bonus if you like to travel or walk around with a lighter camera.

The articulating, touchscreen LCD is a great feature of the T7i, and thanks to Dual Pixel AF and face recognition, focusing in Live View is a breeze. Being able to tap your subject and have your camera focus on them in a split second is something formerly only mirrorless cameras could do.

One key area where the Canon T7i differs with the SL2 is in the number of AF points. While the SL2 only features 9 AF points, the T7i ups the ante with 45 AF points, all of which are horizontally and vertically sensitive.

Taking full advantage of the Dual Pixel AF, the Canon T7i can track subjects around the frame just as well in Live View mode than it can when you’re looking through the viewfinder, which is perfect if you just want to tap the screen and have the camera follow your child at they run around.

Traditionally, Live View performance, particularly on entry level DSLRs was atrocious. Now however, DPAF means that the shooting experience whether using the optical viewfinder or Live View is actually almost identical.

For video shooters, 1080P at 50fps is the same performance as the SL2, but having those extra AF points spread further over the frame will help keep your moving subject in focus.

The kit lens that comes bundled with Canon entry-level cameras is a standard 18-55mm offering, allowing you to shoot at an approximate field of view of 28mm at the wide end, and 88mm at the long end (with Canon APS-C sensor cameras such as the Canon T7i, there’s a 1.6x multiplication factor to calculate the 35mm equivalent).

It’s a basic, lightweight lens that obviously struggles in low light, but actually does a fine job in decent light and focuses very quickly indeed. As always, I’d recommend upgrading to a fixed lens such as the Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM if you’re keen on shooting without flash in low light.

All in all, the Canon T7i is a full featured camera at a competitive price point – it feels more like a ‘serious’ camera than some of the cheaper Canon DSLR models, with a sturdier build quality and a few more dedicated buttons.

My recommendation would be to check out the video above to see the differences between the T7i and the SL2 and work out if they are important to you.

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Nikon D7200

Megapixels: 24.2 megapixels
Dimensions: 5.3 x 3 x 4.2″ (135.5 mm X 106.5 mm x 76 mm)
Weight: 675 g (1.49 lb / 23.9 oz)
Price: Click here for the latest price

The Nikon D7200 is Nikon’s high-end APS-C camera, and one of the few DX format cameras in their range to support auto focus on older Nikon lenses without built-in motors.

This means you can take advantage of classic, lightweight, affordable lenses such as the excellent Nikon 50mm f/1.8D (which would give an equivalent 85mm field of view on this camera).

At the heart of the Nikon D7200 is Nikon’s excellent 24.2 MP APS-C CMOS sensor combined with the EXPEED 4 image processing engine. Image quality is impressive – sharp, vivid and rich JPEGS, and RAW files that retain a lot of dynamic range for some fun while post processing.

Native ISO runs up to 25,600, extendable up to 102,400, although at this upper limit you’re limited to black and white only. This is a fair compromise though, since at these kind of ISOs there’d be very little colour detail left anyway.

At low ISOs, there’s a complete lack of banding in shadows, and in practice, clean files can be achieved up to around ISO 800. Depending on how big you’re printing your photos, you can push the ISO a little higher with some success in low light, but being a drop sensor camera, don’t expect to be able to see in the dark.

The area where the Nikon D7200 really shines is in Auto Focus. The basic AF point layout is the same as one its predecessor the D7100, with 51 AF points, the centre 15 being more sensitive cross-type AF points. To aid in low light shooting, the AF points are now sensitive down to -3EV (a full stop better than the D7100), allowing you to lock on to your subject even quicker.

DPReview actually made the bold claim that the AutoFocus in low light is so good on the Nikon D7200 in fact that it beats other full frame cameras such as the Nikon D810 and D750 – cameras that are almost twice the price!

In addition to the souped up AF system, the Nikon D7200 also offers some impressive buffer capabilities – you can now shoot continuously for up to 27 RAWS (12-bit compressed), or over 100 JPEGs. The maximum burst rate is an impressive 6fps.

The Nikon D7200 features Nikon’s WiFi/NFC Snap Bridge technology, which allows you to transfer your photos to a linked smart device in real time while shooting. A practical application for this could be to give a linked iPad to a client while you shoot, so that they can see your images as you shoot – wireless tethering.

Battery life on entry level DSLRs is always a bit of a worry, but the Nikon D7200 excels in this regard with a claimed 1110 shots per charge. This is 160 shots more than its predecessor, and a welcome addition particularly if you plan to use the Nikon D7200 for traveling.

As for video shooters, the Nikon D7200 was actually the first DX format camera to offer time-lapse movie capabilities with smooth exposure variations entirely in-camera. You’re also able to transfer uncompressed footage onto an external recorder with an optional cable while recording simultaneously to the internal memory card – something that many much more expensive DSLRs cannot do.

With some many similar entry level DSLRs on the market in 2018, it can be hard to make buying decisions. I’d say that this Nikon is for sports shooters, or those that need to capture fast action, such as kids’ sports days, shots of pets running, or even motorsport.

Thanks to the age of the Nikon D7200 (released in 2015), you can now take advantage of some massively reduced prices (see here for example), making it a very attractive DX format camera indeed, and a big step up from more basic entry-level DSLR offerings such as the Nikon D3400.

CLICK HERE FOR LATEST PRICE OF THE NIKON D7200

Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post contain affiliate links which help support Shotkit.
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  • I concur with the conclusions on the Canon 6D. I’ve owned mine for about a year and it was a refurbished one from Canon for $1300. I love it. The pictures are phenomenal and shoots well in low light. It is my primary camera. My backup camera was not reviewed but it is a Canon 7D M2 which is a crop sensor camera with equally as good low light capability, within the limits of a crop sensor, with a built in flash and two card slots. They both use the same battery and SD card too. It was the same price as the 6D and has a 10 fps shoot rate. Its my go-to for sporting events and yes, I do use them professionally. The great thing is I didn’t spend the price of a used car on either of them and they pack well in the saddlebags on my bike without any ill effects, in a decent case of course.