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The Best DSLRs for Beginners

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A photo of the Nikon D3500 DSLR on a dramatic black background.
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When it comes to photography, DSLRs are the gold standard. They take high quality images that are perfect for work, family gatherings, and artistic endeavors, and their interchangeable lenses provide a level of flexibility that isn’t available on a point and shoot or smartphone. Thankfully, an entry level DSLR allows anyone to shoot stunning images, even beginners who are on a budget. Here are the best DSLRs for beginner photography.

Keep in mind that these are DSLRs, not mirrorless cameras. Both types of camera have their perks, and many photographers believe that mirrorless is the future, so you might want to read about mirrorless cameras if you haven’t already.

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a unique lens mounting system, so Canon lenses won’t fit on a Nikon body or vice versa. Whichever brand of DSLR you buy is probably the brand that you’ll stick with for most of your life, so don’t be afraid to spend a little extra if you like one more than another (Nikon and Canon are equally great, so this mostly comes down to personal preference). That said, if you already own some lenses, or you know someone who can loan you a cool lens, be sure to buy a compatible body!
  • Full Camera Kit, or Just the Body?: DSLRs have interchangeable lenses, so you aren’t limited to just one shooting distance style of photography. Still, choosing between a wide-angle, “normal,” telephoto, or macro lens is difficult, especially when you’re a beginner. That’s why most entry-level DSLRs come with an all-purpose lens, called a kit lens, which has a narrow aperture and a decent zoom. There’s just one problem—kit lenses tend to produce lower quality images than standalone lenses. If you’re already familiar with photography, I suggest buying a camera body without the kit lens and shopping for a lens that suits your style. If you’re new to photography, it’s best to stick with the kit lens until you get a feel for what you’re doing or what style of photos you’re most interested in.
  • Megapixels Aren’t Everything: A camera’s megapixel count determines the resolution (not necessarily the quality) of its photographs. As a beginner, you shouldn’t worry about comparing the megapixel count of two cameras, as the difference in this price range is negligible. Megapixels only become a serious selling point when you get into professional cameras or specialist photography (and even then, other factors are often more important).
  • Learn the Jargon: Anyone can take a DSLR, set it to Auto mode, and shoot killer photos. But there’s a lot of science behind photography, and a basic understanding of that science can help you shoot better photos or shop for equipment (especially lenses) in the future. Here are some important terms, along with links to in-depth articles on our sister site, How-To Geek.
  • Bear in mind that you might not need a DSLR. Point and shoot cameras are cheaper, smaller, and easier to manage than DSLRs cameras, but the photos they produce are much higher quality than what you get with a phone camera. If you just need to take decent pictures for work or a hobby, a point and shoot may be the way to go.

    Now that you know what you’re getting into, let’s check out the best beginner DSLRs! If you need more in-depth info on buying your first DSLR, check our detailed guide over at How-To Geek.

    Canon

    Canon’s EOS Rebel T7i is one of the most popular DSLRs for a reason. It’s affordable, easy to use, and it has modern features like Wi-Fi connectivity and a touchscreen. More importantly, the EOS Rebel T7i produces stunning high-quality images and shines in sports, wildlife, or action photography thanks to its 6 FPS burst mode and advanced autofocus system.

    Here are the EOS Rebel T7i’s specs:

    • 24MP APS-C Image Sensor
    • 1080p 60 FPS Video Recording
    • ISO of 100 to 25,600
    • 45-Point Cross-Type Autofocus (A feature from Canon’s more expensive 80D camera)
    • 6 FPS Burst Shooting
    • Dual Pixel Autofocus (For sharp video in sports or action settings)
    • Tilting Touchscreen Display
    • Wi-Fi, NFC, and Bluetooth (For accessories and file transfer)
    • Built-in Flash
    • Weather-Sealed Body
    • RAW Image Support (For nuanced editing)

    We picked the EOS Rebel T7i as our “best overall” beginner DSLR because it’s such an accessible camera. Not only does it have modern features like a touchscreen and wireless file transfer, it also features an updated user interface that tells you how each camera setting works, removing some of the guesswork for novice photographers.

    But while the T7i is quite accessible and shoots amazing photos, it costs a few hundred dollars more than the Nikon D3500, which offers a near-identical photo quality and has a few perks of its own. You should consider both cameras before pulling the trigger, although I highly recommend the T7i if you don’t know squat about cameras or plan to shoot sports and wildlife (again, the T7i’s autofocus system is lightning fast).

    Best Overall Beginner DSLR



    Canon EOS Rebel T7i

    Canon’s EOS Rebel T7i offers incredible image quality and a sports-ready autofocus system for a reasonable price. It also sports modern quality-of-life features and has a beginner-friendly interface.

    Nikon

    Nikon’s D3500 isn’t just an incredible value; it’s also one of the best entry-level DSLRs available today. It’s simple, easy to use, and produces stunning images that stand up to the more expensive Canon EOS Rebel T7i. That said, the D3500’s lower price tag comes with a few trade-offs.

    Here are the Nikon D3500’s specs:

    • 24MP APS-C Image Sensor
    • 1080p 60 FPS Video Recording
    • ISO of 100 to 25,600
    • 11-Point Autofocus System
    • 5 FPS Burst Shooting
    • Fixed LCD Display (No touchscreen)
    • Bluetooth (For accessories and file transfer)
    • Built-in Flash
    • RAW Image Support (For nuanced editing)

    As you can see, the Nikon D3500 stands up to the more expensive EOS Rebel T7i in most situations. Both cameras use a 24MP APS-C sensor, both shoot full HD video, and both share a 100 to 25,600 ISO (the standard for “beginner” cameras). I would also argue that the D3500 looks cooler than the T7i, but that’s a bit subjective.

    The D3500 only falls short when it comes to quality-of-life features like Wi-Fi connectivity or touchscreen controls, and unfortunately, its slower autofocus system can’t keep up with the T7i when shooting sports or action photography. It’s up to you to decide whether these features are worth the money or not.

    I should also point out that Nikon sells a D3500 bundle with a standard zoom lens and a telephoto lens, which is useful for scenic photography, wildlife photography, and even portraiture. The bundle only costs $100 more than the standard D3500 kit, and if you’re a beginner, it’s the most affordable way to start experimenting with lenses (aside from buying an old camera body and a new lens, which we’ll get to).

    Nikon

    Looking for something a little more substantial? The popular Nikon D7500 costs just a few hundred dollars more than the Canon EOS Rebel T7i, but its specs are comparable to some professional cameras (namely the Nikon D500). Not only that, but the D7500’s advanced autofocus system and exceptional ISO settings make it a contender in any situation, even if you’re shooting sports or night photography.

    Here are the Nikon D7500’s specs:

    • 20.9MP APS-C Image Sensor
    • 4K 30 FPS or 1080p 60 FPS (4K video is also cropped, unfortunately)
    • ISO of 100 to 1,638,400 (Better quality in low-light or dark scenes)
    • 51-Point Autofocus System
    • 8.1 FPS Burst Shooting
    • Tilting Touchscreen Display
    • Bluetooth and Wi-Fi
    • Built-in Flash
    • Weather-Sealed Body
    • 50-Shot RAW Buffer and 100-Shot JPG Buffer (The buffer allows you to take pictures quickly without waiting for the camera to “catch up,” which is usually an issue with cheaper DSLRs.)

    While the aforementioned Canon EOS Rebel T7i and Nikon D3500 can fulfill most photographers’ needs, the D7500 takes things a step further with its advanced image sensor, lightning-fast autofocus system, flexible ISO settings, and premium quality-of-life features. You can wander into nearly any situation with the D7500 and trust it to take good photos or videos, which is surprising for a camera at this price.

    Wait, you don’t like Nikon? If you’d prefer a Canon camera, check out the Canon EOS 80D, which offers a level of photo quality and flexibility that’s comparable to the D7500.

    while high-quality, are rarely featured in local camera stores or pawn shops.

    Here’s the Pentax K-70’s specs:

    • 24MP APS-C AA Filterless Image Sensor
    • Pentaprism Viewfinder (An exceptionally clear viewfinder)
    • In-Body Image Stabilization
    • 1080p 60 FPS Video Recording
    • ISO of 100 to 204,800 (Great for low-light or night photography)
    • 11-Point Autofocus System
    • 6 FPS Burst Shooting (Slower at high ISOs)
    • Fixed LCD Display (No touchscreen)
    • Wi-Fi (For wireless image transfer)
    • Built-in Flash
    • Weatherproof Body
    • RAW Image Support

    If you’re just looking to do straight photography, then the Pentax K-70 may be the camera for you. A DSLR of this quality at this price is a rarity, and it’s an exceptional choice if you don’t mind using a camera that isn’t from Nikon or Canon. Also, because Pentax sells mid-range and professional DSLRs, you can comfortably upgrade your way through the brand’s ecosystem as you grow as a photographer (and keep your lenses along the way).

    Yang Zhen Siang/Shutterstock

    A camera is only as useful as the photographer using it. But as we mentioned earlier, the kit lenses that come with entry-level cameras can limit the quality of your photos or prevent you from shooting in the styles that you care about. And while you could buy a nice lens with a new DSLR body, there’s a much cheaper way to break past the quality hurdle of an entry-level camera setup—buy an old DSLR body and fit it with a killer lens.

    Generally speaking, any professional or mid-range DSLR made in the last 10 to 15 years will outperform today’s entry-level DSLRs in sports, wildlife, and low-light settings. But because they’re old, they aren’t great at shooting video (if they shoot video at all), and they often lack features like Wi-Fi or touchscreen controls.

    I’ve covered this topic in a dedicated article, but here are a few old camera bodies to give you an idea of what we’re talking about:

    • Old Cameras: Professionals are always looking for the latest and greatest, so pro-grade DSLRs tend to tank in value after just a few years. Still, they’re tough as all hell and shoot killer photos. Old professional cameras like the Nikon D700 and the Canon EOS 5D Mark II still sport impressive specs, yet they cost less than some entry-level camera kits. Plus, because their original owners are usually professionals, these old cameras are usually in pretty good shape.
    • Sorta-Old Cameras: Cameras that cost $700 to $1,000 in 2015 now sell used for around $300. A DSLR like the Canon EOS 7D or the Pentax K-3 is a nice option for someone who wants a tough camera with a high-megapixel CMOS sensor, modern SD card support (older cameras tend to use compact flash), and decent video support.
    • Newish Cameras: Newer DSLRs have features like Wi-Fi file transfer and high-res video recording. If those features are important to you, try hunting down a used Nikon D3500 or Canon EOS Rebel T7i body within the $300 range. (Ask around, one of your friends may own one and doesn’t use it.)

    We have more in-depth info on mixing and matching camera parts, which is worth a read if you’re looking to go this direction. Keep in mind that old camera bodies are not guaranteed to work and that you still need to pair your second-hand camera with a compatible lens.

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    What We’re Studying: The ‘Star Wars’ Novels Take a look at a Galaxy Far, Considerably Absent

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    Collection of "Star Wars" books in Google Books

    While anyone who hasn’t been living underneath a rock is mindful of the Skywalker saga’s various trilogies in just the Star Wars universe, not every person understands that there are hundreds of Star Wars novels out there that are just as thrilling. Their myriad new people, locales, and adventures more flesh out the presently enjoyable science-fiction-meets-fantasy universe.

    The largest explanation Star Wars has relished these kinds of great results around the past 4 decades is not due to the fact of the uber-amazing lightsabers or the epic people: It’s the hugely created universe. From the Empire’s undeniable design and style and Force dyads to padawans searching for the kyber crystal they’ll position in their lightsaber and Sheev Palpatine’s unstoppable journey to turning into a Sith Lord, the universe of Star Wars is impressively wide, deep, and engrossing. And that’s precisely what makes the novels so superb.

    So if you are on the lookout to get your Star Wars correct even though eagerly awaiting for the next motion picture or Disney+ collection to drop, these books should do the trick. A very good chunk of them revolve around the beloved Skywalker saga, but if you’d instead examine the other stories in the Expanded Universe (which is entirely easy to understand), you’ve acquired lots of selections at your fingertips, or instead, at your community bookstore.

    Three "Star Wars" novels on a wooden table
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    Not long ago, I determined to embark on a journey in which I read all of the Star Wars novels, and so significantly I have liked each single word. Granted, I have not made as a lot development with the publications as I would have liked to at this position (as in, not even 30 textbooks nevertheless because I obtained sidetracked with other publications) so much, they are a ton of fun to study and do a good career of fleshing out the universe over and above what we have seen in the films.

    The textbooks are an complete blast and have released new people, worlds, and goods. I like how considerably richer the universe (and even the videos) really feel for the reason that of them the lore is richer than that of almost any other universe out there and, as a enthusiast, I am so grateful. In addition, the textbooks are all created by varying authors, which is superb as it will allow many resourceful voices, kinds, and tips to interact with the universe, building it a lot more sturdy. Some authors wrote a number of novels—like Drew Karpyshyn, Michael Kogge, Chuck Wendig, John Jackson Miller, and Timothy Zahn—so if you like one ebook by them, you can glance forward to the others they wrote.

    The most critical issue to observe about the Star Wars novels is that they arrive in a person of two flavors: canon and non-canon, which are generally referred to as the Legends or Expanded Universe books. Canon refers to the textbooks (and video game titles, graphic novels, etc.) whose written content is accepted as an official part of the Star Wars timeline, identical as the videos and animated reveals. Anything else is non-canon, as it contains data that in some way contradicts the canon lore.

    Hand holding "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" book by author Jason Fry in a bookstore
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    For all those new to the novels, I advocate jumping in with any that are canon like Star Wars Rebels: Rise of the Rebels, Tarkin, Battlefront: Twilight Organization, or Thrawn: Treason. The extensive the vast majority of these will have characters and destinations you will recognize from the films. Also these publications are set just prior to the infamous Fight of Yavin (BBY), which observed activities like Princess Leia obtaining the plans to the Dying Star, Emperor Palpatine dissolving the Imperial Senate and setting up his dictatorship, and Luke ultimately destroying the Dying Star. Also, other individuals are set just immediately after the Struggle of Yavin (ABY).

    For everybody else, I propose executing what I did: jumping into the deep conclude with the Legends novels. I determined that I desired to study all of the Legends textbooks in chronological buy (inside of the universe, not by the publish day), starting off with Tim Lebbon’s Dawn of the Jedi: Into the Void, which normally takes place 25,793 BBY, and progressing via the Dropped Tribe of the Sith (5,000-2,975 BBY) and The Old Republic (3,954-3,640 BBY) arcs.

    With roughly 400 novels, you may possibly be questioning the place particularly to start off. Thankfully, you have obtained plenty of options. Timothy Zahn’s The Thrawn Trilogy—which includes Heir to the Empire, Dim Power Growing, and The Very last Command—is widely regarded as a amazing series and a terrific position for virtually all people to commence. Or you can also choose for The X-Wing series by Aaron Allston and Michael A. Stackpole, The Republic Commando collection by Karen Traviss, Darth Maul: Shadow Hunter by Michael Reaves, or Aftermath Trilogy by Chuck Wendig, which span the hole in between Return of the Jedi and The Pressure Awakens, and introduces new figures.

    When determining to browse all of these books is definitely an formidable idea, these books are an fascinating and immersive way to discover far more about Star Wars‘ abundant, awe-inspiring universe. You can locate these books on Bookshop.org, Google Guides, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and at many other on the internet and brick-and-mortar booksellers. May well the Drive be with you!

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