How to shop for a DSLR camera

Researching digital single-lens reflex cameras can quickly confuse you with photography jargon, specifications and accessories. You might know that you want a traditional camera, but there are so many factors to weigh up that they all start to look the same.

There are several things you need to consider. But first, there are only two major DSLR manufacturers: Canon and Nikon. Companies like Sony and Fujifilm also produce DSLR models, but they aren’t nearly as popular.

Brand loyalty aside, the second factor for consideration is the camera’s primary function. There are many DSLR models available, but some are better than others when it comes to recording videos or capturing still photos.

Just a quick refresher: DSLR cameras use a reflex mirror to bounce the light onto the optical viewfinder. In contrast, mirrorless cameras don’t have that, and the light is passed directly onto the image processor. 

DSLR camera’s primary function

Considerations for photography

Most DSLR users will look toward the camera to photograph still images, action-packed sports or breathtaking scenery. If that’s the case, aspects like resolution, aspect ratio, shutter speed and sensor come into play. 

For all intents and purposes, the megapixels are what most users will look at first. But when it comes to DSLRs, they are relatively unimportant. The sensor size determines the quality of your photos. The larger it is, the more light can fall on the processor, capturing more information. And at the basics of photography, the more information an image has, the better the end photo.

Considerations for recording videos

Taking photos might be the primary reason to get a digital camera, but plenty of users want to harness the video recording capabilities of a DSLR. But there is an added benefit, as some models can also be used as high-powered webcams.

When looking at a DSLR for video recording, the most significant factor is the capturing resolution. Any professional videographer won’t shoot in anything less than 4K, and plenty of cameras can do so. However, that also comes with a caution: Some models crop the final 4K video that resembles nothing like what you envisioned while filming it.

In addition to the resolution, the accompanying frame rate determines how smooth the footage is. Typically, most DSLR cameras record in 30 frames per second. That’s perfect for 1080p (full HD), but 4K resolution filming is viewed best at 60 frames per second.

What you need to buy for shooting photos

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR Camera

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV Full Frame Digital SLR Camera

A powerful camera by all accounts, it has a 30.4-megapixel full-frame CMOS sensor that can burst-shoot photos at seven frames per second. The built-in autofocus system can track 61 points to ensure continuous focus. It has a 3.2-inch screen at the back for easy adjustments and can record 4K video at 30 frames per second.

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Nikon D850 FX-Format Digital SLR Camera

Nikon D850 FX-Format Digital SLR Camera

With Nikon’s back-side illuminated full-size sensor, the D850 can take still images at a resolution of 45.7 megapixels. In addition, the autofocus allows for shooting up to 9 frames per second at full resolution, while it can also record 1080p slow-motion videos at 120 frames per second.

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Nikon D3500

Nikon D3500

The D3500 is a classic Nikon camera, and it is loved by beginners for its simplicity yet stunning photos. It has a 1-inch sensor with an image resolution of 24.7 megapixels and can shoot up to five frames per second. There is a 3-inch display on the back, and it can connect to other Bluetooth devices.

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Canon EOS Rebel T7 DSLR Camera with 18-55mm Lens

Canon EOS Rebel T7 DSLR Camera with 18-55 mm Lens

Weighing 1 pound, the Rebel T7 is another excellent choice for beginner photographers. The camera body houses a 24.1-megapixel image sensor, it can shoot up to three frames per second and it has built-in Wi-Fi. In addition, it has a nine-point autofocus function and an optical viewfinder with 95% viewing coverage. It comes with an 18-55-millimeter lens.

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What you need to buy for shooting videos

Canon EOS 90D DSLR Camera Deluxe Video Kit

Canon EOS 90D DSLR Camera Deluxe Video Kit

An essential bundle for any photographer who wants to record better videos, the kit includes the EOS 90D camera, a tripod, several lenses, a backpack and other accessories. The 90D has a 32.5-megapixel sensor and can record videos at 4K resolution at 30 frames per second. There is a 3.1-inch Vari-Angle LCD touchscreen on the back, and the kit also includes an 18-55-millimeter lens and a 29-88-millimeter lens.

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Nikon D7500 DSLR Camera with 18-140mm Lens

Nikon D7500 DSLR Camera with 18-140 mm Lens

With a 20.9-megapixel CMOS sensor and Nikon’s EXPEED 5 image processor, the D7500 is easily capable of recording 4K resolution footage at 30 frames per second. It can also record time-lapse videos in 4K, which is made easy by the 3.2-inch touchscreen on the back. In addition, the system tracks 51 autofocus points for still photos while shooting eight frames per second to keep things steady. The camera can connect to mobile devices through Bluetooth as a wireless trigger and connects to Wi-Fi to automatically upload images to the cloud.

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Canon EOS 250D (Rebel SL3) DSLR

Canon EOS 250D (Rebel SL3) DSLR

The 250D might not be as powerful as others regarding recording capabilities, but it is still a solid contender due to its ease of use. It has a 24.1-megapixel sensor, can record regular and time-lapse videos in 4K resolution and has a 3-inch Vari-Angle touchscreen on the back. The camera comes with a Canon EF-S 18-55-millimeter IS STM lens with a 28.8-88-millimeter equivalent focal length range.

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Charlie Fripp writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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