There is no easy answer to a question like this. Although Digital SLR cameras (or DSLRs for short) are beside the best out there; They are using the largest sensors, they feature a big number of megapixels, and they have a huge selection of lenses. Below we explain the best DSLRs that the market has to offer in 2017 based on their categories. (professional, semi-pro and entry-level. Professional or known as Full-frame offers the best image quality but they are the biggest and the most expensive. Semi-pro and entry-level DSLRs (DX = NIKON & APS-C = Canon) have a slightly smaller image sensor but that doesn’t mean they can’t create outstanding image & video footage. This guide will cover all budget ranges in order to satisfy all of our readers no matter their category.
For more information, see below our DSLR comparison, informative article and buying advice in order to choose.
1. [amazon_textlink asin=’B01KURGS9E’ text=’CANON EOS 5D MARK IV ($3,299)’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’gga04-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’4172c325-8fd7-11e7-9bd0-8d5ad3326aa5′]
Category: Full frame Megapixels: 30.4 Sensor size: 864 sq. mm What we like: 4K video and a host of other modern features. What we don’t: More expensive than the Nikon D810 and fewer megapixels. Lenses: 10 Great Canon EF (Full Frame) Lenses
The Canon 5DS R and Nikon D810 below may have more megapixels, but we think the 5D Mark IV is the best all-around DSLR on the market in 2017. Compared to these other top models, the 5D Mark IV offers superior autofocus, faster shooting, a higher resolution LCD screen with touchscreen functionality, and 4K video, all at a lower weight. All things considered, it’s a modern, feature-packed DSLR that pretty much does it all.
Who should buy the 5D Mark IV? It’s Canon top full-frame DSLR not built specifically for action (that would be the 1DX Mark II). The 5DS R below is a nice choice for professional landscape and portrait photographers with super expensive lenses, but most people won’t be able to take full advantage of the sensor. And the 6D series, which soon will include the 6D Mark II, is great from a value perspective but doesn’t offer the resolution or features of the 5D Mark IV. For these reasons, it’s our top overall DSLR pick.
Category: Full frame Megapixels: 36.3 Sensor size: 861 sq. mm What we like: Still Nikon’s best pro DSLR. What we don’t: Three years old and counting. Lenses: Best Lenses for Nikon D810
The D810 is Nikon’s leading DSLR and an excellent option in terms of image quality, video quality, and features. You get a powerful 36.3-megapixel full-frame image sensor, a speedy processor, and superb low light performance for professional-level photos even in the toughest conditions. Add in the impressive line-up on FX lenses, and there isn’t a whole lot this camera can’t do.
For an extended period we had the D810 as our top DSLR choice—it offers nearly 6 more megapixels than the Canon 5D Mark IV above. But the D810 is 3 years old and counting, an eternity in the camera world, and Canon has made notable strides of late while Nikon has sat relatively silent. It will be interesting to see if an update to the D810 is released this year (rumors are that it will). We still love the D810, but it’s time for Nikon to make another jump.
3. [amazon_textlink asin=’B00T3ERT5S’ text=’CANON EOS 5DS R ($3,699)’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’gga04-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’81024680-8fd7-11e7-807d-d3ab9d7b04fb’]
Category: Full frame Megapixels: 50.6 Sensor size: 864 sq. mm What we like: The highest resolution DSLR on the market in 2017. What we don’t: Lack of video features compared to the 5D Mark IV. Lenses: 10 Great Canon EF (Full Frame) Lenses
Our second favorite DSLR from Canon is the specialized 5DS R. This extremely impressive camera is built for the most discerning of photographers—it has serious landscape photographers salivating. Most notably, you get a massive 50.6 megapixels of resolution, which surpasses the high-end Canon 5D Mark IV by 20.2 megapixels and tops the Nikon D810 by 14.5 megapixels. For those who prioritize image quality above all else, this is far and away the premier DSLR on the market.
Video shooters should keep in mind that the 5DS R bucks the hybrid trend and is designed primarily for still photography without video-centric features like headphone sockets or an HDMI output. And Canon released two versions of this camera: the 5DS R and the 5DS. The latter has an optical low pass filter and is about $200 cheaper, but at this level we think it’s worth paying up.
Category: Full frame Megapixels: 20.2 Sensor size: 855 sq. mm What we like: A tremendous value for a full-frame DSLR. What we don’t: Autofocus could be better. Lenses: 10 Great Canon EF (Full Frame) Lenses
A few years ago, a new category of “entry-level” full-frame DSLR emerged, making the technology more approachable for non-professionals. In 2017, the two leading models still are the Canon EOS 6D and Nikon D750, both of which serve their purposes well and offer excellent image quality for the price. We chose the 6D here because it’s a better value coming in at less than $1,800 with a 24-105mm kit lens (that’s super low for a new full-frame camera from a major brand).
What are the compromises of going with the Canon 6D? It has fewer megapixels than most other full-frame cameras at 20.2, and the autofocus is less advanced than the newer and more expensive 5D Mark IV. Compared to the Nikon D750, the resolution and speed of the 6D are slightly inferior. And the 6D is relatively old, but the new 6D Mark II was just announced and begins shipping this summer.
Category: Full frame Megapixels: 24.3 Sensor size: 861 sq. mm What we like: Ample resolution for most people for less than $2,000. What we don’t: In this price range, we like the new Canon 6D Mark II better. Lenses: Best Lenses for Nikon D750
Nikon didn’t exactly get off to a strong start with the sensor issues of the D610 and D600, but they got it right with the D750. In many ways, the D750 mirrors the image quality and functionality of the D810 only with fewer megapixels. You get the same EXPEED 4 image processor, image sensor dimensions, and 1080p video speeds. The D750 has an optical low pass filter (the D810 does not), but it also boasts a faster frame rate at 6 fps. Of course, the resolution is lower at 24.3 megapixels, but this is more than enough for many photographers and uses.
Like the D810, the D750 was released in 2014 and is due for an update. We still like this camera at its current price, although Canon’s 6D Mark II will be a serious competitor with more megapixels and bells and whistles. And the full-frame Canon 6D currently is selling for a bargain basement $1,399, giving it the nod on this list. But for Nikon shooters who want to go full frame for less than $2,000, the D750 is a solid choice.
Category: Enthusiast Megapixels: 20.9 Sensor size: 369 sq. mm What we like: Blazing fast speed and 4K video What we don’t: Very pricey for a crop sensor camera. Lenses:Best Lenses for Nikon D500
We neglected to include the ultra-pricey, full-frame Nikon D5 on this list, which costs around $6,500 and is designed specifically for professional action shooters. However, you can get similar speed and functionality in a much less expensive package with the new D500. This is Nikon’s fastest DX camera ever and shoots a whopping 10 frames per second, making it an intriguing option for sports and wildlife. The D500 even has the same advanced autofocus as the full-frame Nikon D5 and shoots 4K video (Nikon’s first crop sensor camera to do so). The major downside is the price: at $2,000 for the camera body, you’re at the same level as the full-frame Nikon D750 and have well exceeded the Canon 6D. Unless action photography is your highest priority or you already have a collection of DX lenses, we would give the nod to those cameras. But the Nikon D500 fills a niche for action shooters who don’t mind the smaller sensor.
Category: Full frame Megapixels: 36.4 Sensor size: 864 sq. mm What we like: Impressive resolution and weather sealing for the price. What we don’t: Limited lens options and subpar video.
For landscape and still photographers looking for a cheaper alternative to full-frame DSLRs from Canon and Nikon, the K-1 comes with few compromises. Ricoh-owned Pentax has long been known for its crop-frame cameras, which are strong on paper and competitively priced, and the trend continues with the full-frame K-1. Released last year, this DSLR has 36.4 megapixels of resolution (just a hair shy of the Nikon D810), built-in image stabilization, and a sturdy aluminum alloy body that is sealed as well as any model on this list.
The biggest concern when choosing the K-1 over the bigger brands is the quality of available lenses. Pentax K mount (or FA) lenses are flat out limited for the time being. The classic 24-70mm f/2.8 is available in a K mount and sold in a kit, although that lens and a couple others are essentially rebranded Tamron lenses. In addition, video quality and autofocus on the K-1 certainly aren’t up to the standards of other new full-frame DSLRs. But for still photographers looking for value in the full-frame market, we love the K-1.
Category: Enthusiast Megapixels: 24.6 Sensor size: 337 sq. mm What we like: The best Canon crop sensor DSLR for most people. What we don’t: Shooting speed and autofocus can’t match the 7D Mark II. Lenses: 10 Great Canon EF (Full Frame) Lenses
If you’re in the market for a Canon semi-pro camera, it’s a close call between the 80D and the 7D Mark II below. It’s true that the 7D Mark II is superior from a technical standpoint: it has better autofocus with 65 cross-type focus points instead of 45, and we like the autofocus joystick that allows you to pick your desired focus area. The 7D Mark II also shoots faster at 10 frames per second instead of 7. However, the Canon 80D offers more megapixels, a better LCD screen, is lighter, and cheaper. If you don’t plan on shooting on action photography—those folks need and use the extra speed—we think the 80D is a better value. It does everything most people need at a lower price point.
Category: Enthusiast Megapixels: 24.2 Sensor size: 366 sq. mm What we like: Weather sealing. What we don’t: No touchscreen functionality. Lenses: Best lenses for Nikon D7200
Until the release of the D500 above, the D7200 was Nikon’s leading DX-format camera and boasts outstanding image quality and build. The latest version includes increased buffering speeds, Wi-Fi and NFC connectivity, and a much-improved top LCD screen. The semi-pro D7200 is a major step up from entry-level DSLRs like the Nikon D5500 and D3300 below with faster shooting, a more advanced autofocus, and weather sealing (that’s a major feature for outdoor and travel photographers). If deciding between the D7200 and Canon 80D above, both cameras have very similar spec sheets and the choice mostly comes down to brand preference. The 80D has an articulating touchscreen but the D7200 wins out on other important features like ISO sensitivity and focus points. Both are excellent cameras and you can’t go wrong with either.
10. [amazon_textlink asin=’B00NEWZDRG’ text=’CANON EOS 7D MARK II ($1,499)’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’gga04-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’17bab791-8fd8-11e7-bcfc-7b660e5f1efd’]
Category: Enthusiast Megapixels: 20.2 Sensor size: 336 sq. mm What we like: Canon’s fastest crop sensor DSLR at 10 fps. What we don’t: Heavy and expensive. Lenses: 10 Great Canon EF (Full Frame) Lenses
The 7D Mark II is Canon’s most feature-packed crop sensor camera, so why is it not higher on this list? Simply put, it makes the most sense only for serious action shooters and we think the Canon 80D is a better overall value. In fact, the real competition comes from across the aisle with the Nikon D500: both are enthusiast DSLRs designed for action photography. In a head-to-head matchup, the D500 wins out because it shoots 4K video, has a more advanced autofocus (the 7D Mark II still is excellent in this regard), and comes in slightly lighter despite the flip-out screen. The 7D Mark II is about $400 cheaper, and if you prefer Canon functionality or already own lenses, the 7D Mark II still is a nice choice. To reiterate, we have the 7D Mark II below the 80D simply because few people need the extra speed and therefore the extra expense isn’t usually merited.
Category: Entry level + Megapixels: 24.24 Sensor size: 366 sq. mm What we like: Impressive resolution and weather sealing. What we don’t: Heavy and limited lens options.
Pentax doesn’t have the brand recognition of Canon or Nikon, but its DSLRs are competitive pretty much across the board. In addition to the weather sealing that Pentax is known for (you’ll have to spend considerably more to get weather sealing from other companies) the K-70 is a very solid mid-range digital SLR. You get in-body image stabilization, which the Canon T6i and Nikon D5500 both lack, along with impressive low light performance and customizable twin dials that allow for easy manual operation.
What are the downsides of the K-70? First and foremost, the lens offerings from Pentax are much more limited that Canon or Nikon. The weather sealing also adds weight to the camera making it relatively heavy, and you don’t get touchscreen functionality (the T6i and D5500 both have touchscreens). All in all, we think it’s a very close call between the leading mid-range cameras and Pentax is right in the mix. For an even cheaper weather-sealed DSLR, see the Pentax KS-2.
Category: Entry level + Megapixels: 24.2 Sensor size: 366 sq. mm What we like: A nice feature set. What we don’t: The Canon Rebel T7i shoots better video. Lenses:Best Lenses for Nikon D5500
Moving down from the semi-pro category to entry level are the biggest sellers on the market. Our favorite entry-level DSLR is the Nikon D5500, which has been called an “advanced beginner” model and rightfully so. Compared to true entry-level DSLRs like the Nikon D3400 below, you get a number of nice features like a tilting touchscreen for navigation, built-in Wi-Fi, and perhaps most importantly, better autofocus. We like both cameras and there aren’t major differences in terms of image quality, so the choice mostly comes down to whether you value the added features. Perhaps the best comparison for the D5500 is to the Canon Rebel T7i, which shoots better video but is not quite as good for stills.
It’s worth noting that the Nikon 5600 was released in spring of 2017, which includes the addition of SnapBridge technology. However, SnapBridge hasn’t exactly gotten rave reviews in terms of functionality and user experience (make sure to have the latest firmware installed). This feature alone doesn’t merit the extra $100 in our book, and therefore we are sticking with the tried and true D5500.
13. [amazon_textlink asin=’B06VT2NQD8′ text=’CANON EOS REBEL T7I ($849 WITH 18-55MM LENS)’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’gga04-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’65945fd0-8fd8-11e7-af21-83eab21e8abf’]
Category: Entry level + Megapixels: 24.2 Sensor size: 332 sq. mm What we like: Tons of features and shoots excellent video. What we don’t: Approaching $1,000 with a kit lens. Lenses: 10 Great Canon EF (Full Frame) Lenses
Canon’s Rebel series has become synonymous with entry-level DSLRs, and with all the success, they keep rolling out new models without the need for major tweaks. The new Canon Rebel T7i remains at 24.2 megapixels but adds a whole host of handy upgrades. Compared to the older T6i, you get superior autofocus, faster shooting at 6 fps, longer battery life, better low light performance, and built-in Bluetooth, among other features. For first-time DSLR buyers and those looking to replace an older model, this should be all the camera you need.
The biggest downside of the T7i is cost. The camera body on its own currently is only $50 more than the T6i, but the 18-55mm kit is $150 more and the 18-135mm kit is $200 more. The features together are nice and do add a significant amount of value, but none are earth shattering and saving with the T6i is a perfectly viable option. Both are top-tier DSLRs in the sub-$1,000 price range for stills and videos.
Category: Entry level + Megapixels: 24.2 Sensor size: 366 sq. mm What we like: Great autofocus and fast shooting speeds for an entry-level DSLR. What we don’t: Build quality could be better.
Sony is best known for its mirrorless cameras and premium point-and-shoots, but its current DSLR offerings are nothing to scoff at. Case in point: the Sony Alpha a68 is very competitive at the entry-level end of the DSLR spectrum. This camera features an advanced autofocus system that performs extremely well for action photography, along with built-in image stabilization to help offset camera shake. Along with a 24.2-megapixel APS-C sensor, the Alpha a68 is an intriguing competitor to popular DSLRs like the Nikon D5500 and Canon Rebel T6i.
Two notable shortcomings of the a68 are its mostly plastic build and lack of lens options. Durability isn’t a strong point of entry-level DSLRs in general, and the a68 is no exception despite the rather hefty 24.6-ounce weight (the D5500 and T6i are considerably lighter). And unlike stalwarts Canon and Nikon, Sony doesn’t have nearly the same depth or quality of lens offerings for its DSLRs. But for those who value shooting speed and accuracy but don’t want to spend up for a semi-pro model, the Sony a68 is a nice option.
Category: Entry level Megapixels: 24.2 Sensor size: 357 sq. mm What we like: Good image and video quality and a great value. What we don’t: Inferior flash. Lenses:Best Lenses for Nikon D3300
When people are just getting into photography and ask which DSLR they should buy, we often recommend Nikon’s D3000 series. These entry-level cameras offer solid image and video quality, are easy to use, and relatively inexpensive for what you get. Down the road you may want to upgrade to an enthusiast or full-frame camera, but a DSLR like the Nikon D3400 is a terrific starting point.
The Nikon D3400 was new for last year with only minor updates over its popular predecessor: the D3300. The image sensor, processor, and autofocus are the same, but the D3400 has Bluetooth connectivity and a much-improved battery life at the sacrifice of the flash. Both cameras currently are the same price at $497 with an 18-55mm kit lens. If you plan on using your flash frequently, grab the older D3300. Otherwise, we appreciate the extended battery of the D3400.
16. [amazon_textlink asin=’B00IB1BTWI’ text=’CANON EOS REBEL T5 ($391 WITH 18-55MM LENS)’ template=’ProductLink’ store=’gga04-20′ marketplace=’US’ link_id=’1e8cf29d-8fdc-11e7-8840-015d3ba32c96′]
Category: Entry level Megapixels: 18 Sensor size: 332 sq. mm What we like: A super low price for a Canon DSLR. What we don’t: Autofocus is not great for moving subjects. Lenses: 10 Great Canon EF (Full Frame) Lenses
The T5 is proof that you don’t necessarily need to pay big bucks for access to the Canon Rebel Series. This camera doesn’t have the bells and whistles of the pricier Rebel T6i above or its sibling the Canon T5i, but it’s a solid camera nevertheless. How is it so inexpensive? Canon utilized some nice cost-saving techniques to make it happen. First, the rear LCD screen doesn’t have touch functionality nor does it swivel. Second, the T5 has a slower burst rate than the T6i at 3 fps instead of 5 fps. Finally, the autofocus isn’t as advanced with only 1 cross-type focus point (yes, 1). But we love the price, which at around $350 with a kit lens is comparable to many point-and-shoots that don’t offer nearly the same image quality.