Recommended DSLR Cameras
Few things are more enjoyable to photographers than seeing the FEDEX guy come to the doorstep with a brand new box with a DSLR inside, but choosing which DSLR camera to buy can be daunting! Fortunately, it’s tough to make a “bad” choice because almost all modern DSLR cameras from major manufacturers will produce great results.
There are two questions you need to ask yourself before making a choice on which DSLR camera to buy: (1) What is your budget? I know you don’t want to spend any more than you have to, but what is the maximum you are willing to invest? And (2) What will you use the DSLR camera for? To earn money, to take pictures of your kids, to get landscape photos while traveling, etc.
With no further adieu, I give to you my personal recommendations for the best 3 options for new DSLR shooters.
My 3 Recommendations for Your First DSLR
Good: Nikon D3100 or Canon Rebel T1i
Both the Nikon D3100 or the Canon Rebel T1i would be a great choice for your first DSLR. Both cameras can be purchased for around $550 with an 18-55mm lens and will take absolutely fantastic pictures.
So which one? If you shoot a lot of video, then definitely choose the Canon Rebel T1i. Canon has maintained a substantial lead over Nikon in the area of video, and the T1i has exceptional video capabilities even though the camera is a few years old.
If you shoot landscapes or portraits, I’d go with the Nikon D3100. I prefer the Nikon for these situations because it has better low light performance. This means that it can shoot clean photos even in dark areas. This is especially important for beginning photographers who have a difficult time keeping their photos from being blurry.
Buy the Nikon D3100 on B&H Photo or from Amazon.com.
Buy the Canon Rebel T1i from from Amazon.com.
Better: Nikon D3200 or Canon Rebel T3i
I’ll confess. I really only listed the T3i here so that I wouldn’t get the Canon folks mad at me. The truth is that the Nikon D3200 is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!!! For us photo nerds who have been watching the industry for a long time, we are used to seeing the latest and greatest technology, so I’m not easily amused. However, this camera offers unbelievable image quality at a price point that I never would have thought possible. Seriously, run (do not walk) to your nearest camera store and buy one.
The reason I like the D3200, which was announced in April 2012, is that it is the first entry-level DSLR to offer an easy way to include wi-fi in the camera, and it shoots a stunning 24 megapixel file and performs well even at high ISOs. No question, this is the most impressive entry-level DSLR that I have seen in the last 5 years.
Buy the Nikon D3200 from B&H Photo or from Amazon.
Buy the Canon Rebel T3i from B&H Photo or from Amazon.
Best: Nikon D7000 or Canon T4i
Both the Nikon D7000 and the Canon T4i are great cameras. The main draw to the T4i is that awesome swivel screen and the video capabilities.
But if you’re looking for pure image quality, the D7000 takes the cake. Not only does it perform better in low light situations, it also includes some high-end features like weather sealing, time lapse, etc. If you shoot portraits or landscape, I’d go for the Nikon D7000.
Should I choose Canon, Nikon, or Sony? What about the “other guys?”
The fact of the matter is that Canon and Nikon currently dominate the DSLR camera market. In fact, surveys I have conducted show that over 95% of pro or advanced amateur photographers choose either Canon or Nikon. But which one? Honestly, just pick one. The differences between Canon and Nikon are minute. Having shot both brands extensively, I will say that the main difference between the brands is that Canon has an easier to use menu system and better video features, and Nikon has better image quality and more features like wi-fi, GPS, auto exposure bracketing, time lapse, etc.
When it really comes down to it, just buy whichever brand has the best camera in your price range and then stick with that brand.
Now the Sony question… I’ll be frank. I can’t yet recommend Sony DSLRs even though I know that makes some people mad! They are fantastic cameras and Sony is progressing rapidly, but I do not feel that they have caught up to Canon and Nikon. My two major beefs with Sony cameras are (1) Their lens line up simply doesn’t compare to Nikon or Canon, and (2) Their accessories, particularly for flash photography, are nowhere near what you can get from the two main manufacturers. Sony has some nice features like high frame rates and focus for video, but I don’t think it is the best choice for most photographers.
Should I go full frame?
Good question… one which I have answered extensively in this post.