Buying your first DSLR camera can be quite a challenge with all these different brands, models and numbers, and you definitely don’t want to buy the wrong camera. However, the technology we have today is awesome, meaning it’s impossible to get a bad DSLR.
Our list here is going to give you some of the best low cost entry-level DSLR cameras. They are perfect for students and beginning photographers!
Why you should buy an older camera
This post specifically focuses on older model cameras. Why?
While these cameras don’t have the newest technology available they are by no means outdated.
As an example, there are many people still using film cameras. Yes, the kind where you have to wait and develop the negatives! While it’s a specific kind of niche, those using film cameras are just as capable at capture amazing shots.
That’s the beauty of photography, the concepts and basics are timeless. Ansel Adams didn’t need a brand new digital camera to capture the beauty of nature. Even though there is a lot of great new technology out there, many camera models past about 2014 or 2015 are still widely used digital cameras today.
So functionality wise these are great still. Secondly, these are really low cost!
As with most things electronic, when an older model is replaced by a new more expensive one, the earlier version is cheaper.
In addition to a new version of these older model best-sellers, you can also find used versions if you want to save even more.
Buying an older model camera or finding a used one is a great option for photography students and a low cost option to get started with photography and learn the basics. Then after you are comfortable with how to control a camera you’ll have a better idea of what you might want if you’re ready to buy a newer camera.
One of our favorite choices is the Nikon D3300 with 24MP. Not only is it one of the more affordable DSLRs, it also beats many more expensive models.
Why should you buy a DSLR camera?
- Image quality is absolutely amazing (because of sensor quality, not the amount of megapixels)
- You can control every setting of the camera if you want to (many automatic modes as well)
- Over 60+ high quality lenses available from each brand, not to mention third-party companies
- Bigger sensors result in sharp images, less noise, ability to shoot in low light and better dynamic range
- Build quality and design make it easy for you to hold the camera properly; less blurred shots
- Extremely fast and accurate auto focus, even in low light
- Basic entry-level DSLR cameras can take ~5 high quality pictures in a second, professional models even more
That’s just a few awesome advantages of owning a device specifically created for photography! How many times have you seen something beautiful, only to be disappointed by the final shot that your automatic camera/phone created?
With just a little bit of practice and reading, you’ll not only understand how your camera sees the world, but how you can finally take the pictures that you always wanted to. Not 5 years after buying the camera, but in the first few weeks!
Your pictures will look good even when using the Auto modes, but the real journey starts when you start learning about the fundamentals (shutter speed, aperture, ISO speed and so on).
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Best Low Cost Entry-Level DSLR Cameras
If you have absolutely no clue about photography, then don’t worry, these cameras are perfect for you. If you have a lot of knowledge, but never owned a DSLR, then it’s even better. The good thing about DSLR cameras is that as you get better, they’re still capable of delivering tack sharp images (if gear was everything then we would all be professionals, your skills are just as important).
The Nikon D3300 is hands down the best-entry level DSLR out right now, and has been for more than a year. Inside of a small, lightweight body, you get features that many other more expensive models lack! It’s got a 24 megapixel sensor, 5 frames per second, ISO up to 25,600, 11 auto focus points, Full HD video at 60fps and a beginner friendly Guide mode (along with manual modes, a standard for DSLRs).
It’s an excellent all-around camera, perfect for traveling, action photography, products, people, indoor, landscape, you name it. You should also check out our list of 6 Best Lenses for Nikon D3300 to buy after getting the camera.
Want to spend as little as possible? The Canon Rebel T5 is a decent camera for anyone who wants to get serious with photography. It’s got a 12 megapixel APS-C sensor, which is more than enough for regular prints and viewing your pictures on a monitor, a 3fps burst mode, basic 9 AF point system and HD video.
While it doesn’t sound as exciting as most other cameras on this list, it will still blow any phone or point and shoot out of the water. Even with the 18-55mm kit lens, the quality is excellent, not to mention if you get yourself a sharp prime lens (check out our 10 Most Popular Lenses for Canon DSLRs). It’s also great as a gift for anyone interested in photography!
A more advanced entry-level, the Nikon D5300 is sort of like the D3300 on steroids. The main differences are 39 AF points compared to 9, built-in WiFi and GPS, moving LCD screen and slightly better battery (820 vs 700 shots in one charge). Everything else is the same, as they use the same 24.2 megapixel sensor. Low light performance, noise results and image quality are all identical, so only get the D5300 if you need the features mentioned above.
There’s also a D5500 out there, but the difference is even smaller, whereas the price gap is much higher. Not recommended from us if you’re looking for the best price/features combo.
The most advanced in the Rebel line is the Canon Rebel T6i, a camera with 24 megapixels, 19 all cross-type AF points (much more accurate in difficult situations than regular ones), Full HD video recording at 30fps, 4 shots per second, an ISO of maximum 25,600, built-in WiFi and NFC.
It also features Hybrid CMOS AF, perfect for accurate auto focusing during videos, and an articulating 3.0″ LCD touch-screen. It’s more expensive than the D5300 above since it actually competes with the D5500, so decide on your own which features you prefer.
You’re looking at the smallest and lightest DSLR available on the market right now, making the Canon Rebel SL1 an excellent choice for those who want to travel as light as possible (although none of the entry-levels above are heavy, or massive).
It’s got an 18 megapixel sensor, 4fps burst mode, ISO that expands up to 25,600, 9 auto focus points and weighs only 14.3 oz (body with battery and memory card). If you don’t plan on buying super expensive, big lenses, then combining the SL1 with some of the compact prime or zoom lenses (like the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM) is an excellent choice for traveling, or just owning a camera to take pictures daily.
Most people buy their first DSLR with a kit lens, which is usually the 18-55mm zoom. While it’s perfectly fine to start with, you will soon see that there is so much more to…