The 5 Best DSLR Cameras

By William Tran on 17 October 2013 (Updated 8 July 2014) 0 comments

Many people have argued that smartphones are the best cameras to own nowadays, given that they now possess excellent photographic capabilities in addition to the other great conveniences of a smartphone. However, while it may be difficult to dispute the convenience of having a great camera on a phone, a DSLR camera is a far better companion if you really want to take stunning, high-quality photos worthy of an art gallery or the awe of your friends and colleagues.

DSLR cameras give you much more control over the quality of your photos, and their larger sensors are able to produce much more vibrant and detailed photos as well. Additionally, they can also produce amazingly high-quality HD videos and have become very popular tools for professional and amateur filmmakers alike. Despite the hefty price tags, DSLR cameras give you quite the bang for your buck.

What Is a DSLR Camera?

DSLR stands for Digital Single-Lens Reflex. Basically, a DSLR is a digital camera that utilizes a reflex mirror to both direct light from a lens into a viewfinder so that you can view the image you're shooting and also forward light from a lens onto the camera's sensor for digital processing. While classic point-and-shoot cameras possess only one lens that can never be removed, DSLR cameras use interchangeable lenses, which means you can swap out and choose lenses that best suit your needs.

There are a number of controls and functions on a DSLR that allow you manually fine tune specific aspects of your camera, including aperture, shutter speed, and light sensitivity (ISO). However, for beginners and those who desire it, DSLRs also have automatic control settings that can take care of all that stuff for you, so all you have to worry about is snapping the photo.

Best 5 DSLR Cameras

Nikon D800

If you're serious about photography and want a DSLR that delivers on performance and features, then the Nikon D800 is the camera for you. This entry-pro, full frame DSLR is a Consumer Search top pick that packs a record-breaking 36.3-megapixel FX CMOS sensor which will take super-crisp, highly-detailed photos that'll have extreme clarity even when zoomed in or cropped.

Many users have also reported that photos taken with this camera show rich colors and a great dynamic range. The Nikon D800 also performs amazingly well in low-light conditions, which is highly unexpected in a DSLR with such a high megapixel count. Combine that with excellent HD video recording capabilities within a weather-sealed body, and the Nikon D800 becomes a worthy investment when it comes to meeting your photography needs. Just makes sure you stock up on memory cards, because this camera fills them up fast. Currently $2,796.95 (body only) on Amazon.

Canon 5D Mark III

The 5D Mark III is Canon's answer to the Nikon D800 and is also the successor to the famous 5D Mark II, which was the first full-frame DSLR capable of HD video recording. The 5D Mark III stays true to its heritage by really shining in the video department. Its 22.3-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor utilizes a DIGIC 5+ image processor to deliver superior low-light performance and less moiré and aliasing (also known as "the rainbow effect") when recording HD video. The 5D Mark III can also record up to 30 minutes of continuous HD video, which is a big step up from the 12-minute standard on most other DSLRs.

Despite these video upgrades, the 5D Mark III is still a powerhouse when it comes to photography. With its whopping 61-point autofocus system and 6 frames-per-second burst shooting, this is the ideal DSLR for sports and action photography. This camera does cost quite a bit more than its rival, the D800. But if Nikon cameras aren't your cup of tea or if video functionality is more important to you, then the Canon 5D Mark III is worth every extra penny. Currently, $3,349.00 (body only) on Amazon.

Canon 60D

The Canon 60D is the best DSLR if you desire a camera with quality features and performance that won't break the bank. This midrange DSLR, which comes highly recommended by Consumer Reports and Consumer Search, has an 18-megapixel CMOS APS-C sensor with a 1.6x crop factor. That means images taken with this camera will be a bit more magnified than if they were taken on a full-frame DSLR. However, the picture quality still remains as superb as ever, with many users praising the sharpness and detail that this camera can achieve.

One special feature on the Canon 60D is its flip-out, swiveling LCD screen, which can be very useful for shooting video and getting weirdly-angled shots. It makes this camera perfect for budget filmmakers and amateur photographers looking to experiment. While its competitors and its successor (the Canon 70D) may have slightly better features, it's hard to beat the Canon 60D for the price. Currently $699.00 (body only) on Amazon.

Pentax K-30

The Pentax K-30 is hands-down the toughest camera on our list. If you're an adventure-seeker who's looking for a camera that can handle the outdoors, then this entry-level DSLR is the one you want to get. It's one of the only DSLRs in its class to be dustproof, coldproof (up to 14 degrees Fahrenheit), and weather-sealed; this camera can and will take anything you throw at it.

Beyond its amazing ruggedness, the Pentax K-30 is also a very impressive photo shooter. It's one of the only entry-level cameras to have a viewfinder with 100% coverage. Its 16-megapixel APS-C sensor performs wonderfully in low-light conditions, and its built-in image stabilizer is very effective at eliminating blur in photos. Its biggest downside is that its video mode lacks a lot of manual controls. But given the already impressive feature set at an incredible price, its no wonder the Pentax K-30 was named a "Best Buy" by Consumer Reports. Currently $497.99 (body only) on Amazon.

Nikon D3200

Whether you're a beginning photographer who desires to learn the craft or a photo enthusiast who wants an easy-to-use camera that's also budget-friendly, you'll be hard-pressed to find a camera better than the Nikon D3200 to fill those needs. Consumer Search named the Nikon D3200 as their Best DSLR for Beginners, and it's also a top pick from Consumer Reports, which goes to show that there's a lot to like about the Nikon D3200.

Having a 24.2-megapixel APS-C sensor in an entry-level camera is already an amazing value — one that puts it above most other budget DSLRs and even some pro-level ones. It can take very sharp photos in both well-lit and low-light environments. Its lightweight build makes the camera comfortable to hold and carry around with you. But for beginners especially, the Nikon D3200 has a very impressive and thorough Guide Mode that will teach first-time photographers step-by-step how to shoot photos in various conditions and environments. Overall, the Nikon D3200 offers one of the best deals for a DSLR on the market. Currently $546.95 (body only) on Amazon.

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