Choosing the best DSLR becomes a lot easier when you decide what kind of user you are. We pick three DSLRs which are great for beginners because of their features, value and ease of use. Enthusiasts will want a DSLR that’s a step up from their old camera, and pros will want high-resolution full frame cameras built to last. We’ve split our buying guide into three sections to cater for each type of user.
1. Canon EOS Rebel SL3 / EOS 250D
Canon does make a couple of cheaper DSLRs than this one, notably the 18-megapixel EOS 4000D and the 24-megapixel EOS 2000D, but we reckon they’re too cut down in features and build quality and we’d recommend paying just a little bit extra for the EOS Rebel SL3 DSLR (sold as the EOS 250D in Europe). Why? Because it has a vari-angle touchscreen on the back and a sensor with Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF technology, so the autofocus in live view is really snappy. We also love the fact that you can start from a simple Guided user interface when you’re still learning, and then switch to the standard setup when you feel more confident and want more control. The Rebel SL3 / EOS 250D is a replacement for Canon’s older Rebel SL2 / EOS 200D, adding 4K video and better live view autofocus. This is a DSLR that can beat mirrorless cameras at their own game!
2. Nikon D3500
If the Canon EOS Rebel SL3 / EOS 250D is just a little too expensive, then the Nikon D3500 could be just the ticket – especially as it ranks as one the best Nikon cameras right now, as well as one of the best cameras for beginners. Beginners are often worried about DSLRs being complicated, but the Nikon D3500 has a brilliant ‘Guide’ shooting mode that acts as a fully interactive tutorial on photography, delivered via the rear LCD screen. The rear screen is fixed, and you’re limited to full HD video rather than 4K, but the 24-megapixel sensor delivers super-sharp images and the retracting 18-55mm kit lens is rather good too. The D3500 is small, light, cheap and very good.
3. Canon EOS Rebel T100 / EOS 4000D
Nobody wants to buy an expensive camera only to discover that photography’s not for them. You can limit the risk with this remarkably cheap DSLR and kit EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 III lens, it’s well suited to beginners, with the same ‘intelligent’ full auto shooting mode and feature guide as you’ll find in pricier Canon cameras. The ‘Quick’ menu is typically intuitive, and there are plenty of scene modes as well as more advanced shooting modes. There’s also a Creative Auto mode to help you progress from ‘basic zone’ to ‘creative zone’ modes. The 18MP image sensor is a little lacking in megapixels compared with most current DSLRs, and there are more serious cutbacks in other areas. We wouldn’t expect a touchscreen at this price, but the rear LCD is disappointingly small and low in pixel count. Ultimately, it’s a very basic camera but a sensible bargain-basement buy if you just want to dip your toe in the photographic water.