Light n Focus Picks 9 Best DSLRs for Beginners in 2016

One of the toughest decisions anyone faces as a photographer is buying their first camera. In the starting days of photography, people don’t normally have much money and the choices are many. In the end. the choice really comes down to which product gives the most value for money. Even if you have enough money to buy a really professional full-frame DSLR, it makes no sense to have one (unless someone is gifting one to you) when you don’t even know much about using an entry-level one. So we thought we would lessen the confusion a little bit and bring you, what we think, are the 9 best DSLRs for beginners in the market today.

In this article, we are going to cover almost all the big DSLR manufacturing brands and bring the best they have to offer in the entry-level segment. Since cost can be a big factor in the starting days of photography, we have decided to maintain a threshold of $800 USD and won’t go higher than that. All the cameras we have recommended in this article would cost you less than that and would get the job done for you perfectly. So let’s get started.

9 Best DSLRs for Beginners in 2016

Best DSLRs for Beginners from NIKON in 2016

Nikon D3300 (with AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR II Zoom Lens)

Price: $546

Best DSLRs for Beginners Nikon D3300
Nikon D3300 – BUY IT FROM AMAZON

Since its launch in 2014, the Nikon D3300 has been a hot favorite amongst beginner photographers and even today it is ruling the sales figures when it comes to entry-level Nikon DSLRs. The camera has a 24.2 megapixel Nikon DX format CMOS sensor, which produces excellent quality images for an entry-level DSLR. The camera has 11 autofocus points and comes with a pretty user-friendly interface. With an expandable ISO of up to 25,600, the D3300 can shoot pretty well in low light conditions. The D3300 also has an excellent burst mode capability for an entry-level DSLR where it can shoot up to 5 frames per second.

Pros:

Compact design and lightweight body

Excellent Image Quality

Excellent high ISO performance

Pretty good dynamic range

Impressive burst mode                                                                                                                                                               Cons:

Apparent noise even at low ISO

Lack of built-in Wi-Fi

Shallow buffer depth with RAW files

Nikon D3400 (with AF-P DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR)

Price: $647

Best DSLRs for beginners Nikon D3400
Nikon D3400 – BUY IT FROM AMAZON

Released only in August this year, the Nikon D3400 promises to be a winner in this category. It uses the same 24.2 megapixel CMOS sensor and the same EXPEED 4 processor that the D3300 has and gives you excellent image quality and performance. This is the first entry-level Nikon DSLR to have ‘always on Bluetooth’ Snapbridge connectivity through which you can transfer photos from your camera to your smartphone without any WiFi. Other important features of the D3400 include expandable ISO up to 25600, face detection and much improved battery life. According to Nikon, the D3400 can take 1200 photos on full charge, while the D3300 could take only 600.

The Nikon D3400 comes with two new kit lenses  – AF-P DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR and AF-P DX NIKKOR 70-300mm f/4.5-6.3G ED. While the camera costs only $647 USD with the new 18-55 lens, it costs a much higher $997 USD with both the lens on offer. 

Pros

Light weight (15% lighter than the Nikon D3300)

Built-in Snapbridge connectivity

Excellent image quality

Long battery life

Face detection and panoramic shooting

Cons:

No image stabilization

No environmental sealing

No touchscreen

Limited upgrade over the Nikon D3300

Nikon D5300 (with AF-S DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR II)

Price: $697

Best DSLRs for beginners Nikon D5300
Nikon D5300 – BUY IT FROM AMAZON

With a 24 megapixel CMOS sensor, 39 autofocus points with 3D tracking (9 cross types), built-in WiFi and highest 25600 ISO, the Nikon D5300 is your everyday do-it-all DSLR. The D5300 is fast and gives excellent image quality. The camera virtually has no shutter lag when you pre-focus and some has compared its image quality to the Nikon D7100, which is no mean feat. One of the biggest advantage of the Nikon D5300 is the fact that the camera gives you relatively low noise images even when you are shooting at ISO 3200. It has an in-camera HDR mode which works relatively well for an entry-level DSLR.

Pros:

Excellent image quality

Built-in WiFi

Faster autofocus

Impressive burst mode performance

Longer zoom kit lens

Low noise images

Cons:

Glossy LCD is prone to glare and reflections

No touchscreen

No image stabilization

Best DSLRs for Beginners from CANON in 2016

Canon EOS Rebel T6i (with EF-S 18-55mm IS STM)

Price: $749

Best DSLRs for Beginners Canon EOS Rebel T6i
Canon EOS Rebel T6i – BUY IT FROM AMAZON

The Canon EOS Rebel T6i is a substantially improved version of the Canon EOS T5i. It has a new 24.2 megapixel CMOS sensor, faster DIGIC 6 processor and an upgraded 19-point AF system. The camera is identical to its predecessor in terms of design and has an extremely user-friendly interface. Although it’s not a groundbreaking product in any way, the Rebel T6i boasts of most tried and tested Canon DSLR characteristics and can easily be termed as the best Canon entry-level DSLR available today in the market.

Pros:

Ergonomic design and lightweight body

Fast autofocus

Built-in WiFI/NFC

Excellent touchscreen

Improved dynamic range

Improved ISO performance

Excellent image quality

Cons:

Autofocus doesn’t work so well in live view, especially against fast moving objects

Low battery life

Shallow buffer depth during RAW shoot

Canon EOS Rebel T5i (with EF-S 18-55 IS STM)

Price: $649

Best DSLRs for Beginners Canon EOS Rebel T5i
Canon EOS Rebel T5i – BUY IT FROM AMAZON

The biggest advantage of the Canon EOS Rebel T5i is that the fact it has no glaring weaknesses. It boasts of an 18 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor which works along with 9 autofocus points, all of which are crosstypes. The camera gives decent quality videos and photos and has decent low light performance with an expandable ISO of up to 25,600. But one of the biggest drawbacks of the EOS Rebel T5i is that it’s 95 percent viewfinder coverage, which creates problems while framing a photo. It has an extremely user friendly interface with super fast touchscreen which makes it a joy to use. The EF-S 18-55 IS STM kit lens also gives good performance on all counts.

Pros:

Fast touchscreen

Good image and video quality

Lightweight body and compact design

Cons:

Limited viewfinder coverage

No weather sealing

Low number of autofocus points means not suited for action photography

Canon EOS Rebel SL1 (with 18-55mm STM Lens)

Price: $500

Best DSLRs for Beginners Canon EOS Rebel SL1
Canon EOS Rebel SL1 – BUY IT FROM AMAZON

If you want DSLR performance in a smaller mirrorless like body then the Canon EOS Rebel SL1 is the right choice for you. It is one of the smallest and lightest DSLR ever produced by Canon. Within this small body, the SL1 houses an 18 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor which delivers good quality images and videos. The camera has 9 autofocus points, with the center point being a crosstype. The autofocus is relatively fast and accurate. The camera also has some pretty neat low light performance features with an expandable ISO of up to 25,600. The touchscreen in the SL1 also works pretty well for an entry-level DSLR.

Pros:

Lightweight and compact design

Good image and video quality

Fast autofocus

Cons:

No WiFi or in-built geotagging

Only one crosstype AF point

Noise in images in at relatively lower ISO

Dynamic range could be better

Poor battery life

Best DSLRs for Beginners from SONY in 2016

Sony SLT-A58K (with 18-55mm kit lens)

Price: $598

Best DSLRs for Beginners Sony SLT-A58K
Sony SLT-A58K – BUY IT FROM AMAZON

The Sony A58 replaced both the A37 and the A57 in the market. It has a 20.1 megapixel APS-C sensor which delivers crisp and detailed images with low noise level. In fact, images produced by the SLT-A58K rivals that of most high-end DSLRs. It has a lock-on autofocus system which makes focussing on moving objects extremely easy and this system works pretty in against most subjects – moving or static. With an expandable ISO range of up to 25,600, the Sony SLT-A58K is a sure winner in the entry-level segment.

Pros:

Tack sharp images

Excellent autofocus

Ergonomic design

Excellent battery backup 

Good build quality

Cons:

Cluttered menu

Image noise at higher ISOs

Electronic viewfinder may be a turnoff for some

Pretty average kit lens

Best DSLRs for Beginners from PENTAX in 2016

Pentax K-50 (with DA L 18-55mm WR f/3.5-5.6 kit lens)

Price: $397

Best DSLRs for Beginners Pentax K-50
Pentax K-50 – BUY IT FROM AMAZON

The Pentax K-50 can be termed as a mid to entry level DSLR for the features it offers. This all weather DSLR comes with a high-performance 16 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor with an impressive ISO range of up to 51,200. A couple of unique features of the Pentax K-50 is that it has a shake reduction mechanism built into the camera and it supports AA sized batteries. Built in shake reduction means special image stabilized lenses are not required, which can save you a great deal of money on lenses. The 16 megapixel sensor produces superb quality images.

Pros:

Built-in shake reduction

Support for AA batteries

Good image quality

High ISO performance

Cons:

A bit bland design

Fixed LCD

Autofocus with kit lens quite noisy

No mic input

Pentax K-S2 

Price: $527

Best DSLRs for Beginners Pentax K-S2
Pentax K-S2 – BUY IT FROM AMAZON

The Pentax K-S2 is unusually compact for an weather sealed camera. Sporting a 20 megapixel APS-C CMOS sensor, the K-S2 is known for producing sharp and detailed images. The camera has built-in WiFi, which has an incredible range for an entry-level DSLR. Just like the Pentax K-50, the K-S2 has built-in image stabilization meaning no special IS lenses are required. 

Pros: 

Weather sealed and compact design

Fast autofocus

Excellent image quality

Good Wi-Fi range

High ISO (expandable up to 51,200)

Good burst performance

Selfie friendly LCD screen

Cons: 

Shallow buffer when shooting in RAW

Auto white balance performance not good

Low battery backup

Autofocus struggles in low light

So these were our picks for the best DSLRs for beginners available in the market today. Did we miss anything? Do you disagree with our picks. Feel free to let us know in the comment section below.. 

7 Comments

  • John Reply

    Your Nikon D5300 picture is a D3300.

    • admin Reply

      Thank you very much for pointing it out.. We have now corrected it.. Thank you once again.. 🙂

  • nicu Reply

    I’m not sure I get the point: the article claims to pick the “best DSLRs for beginners” then goes to list EVERY cheap model each of those manufacturers sells. How a beginner is supposed to learn which is the best for him?
    Note: I am not a beginner and sometimes I am asked by beginners for camera recommendations, I know how confusing such a list is for them.

    • admin Reply

      The very first paragraph of the article clears this point. We are assuming here that the beginners are on a tight budget (which happens to most of us) and listing the best models according to that. Yes there are better cameras out there.. Certainly. But I am sure that you won’t disagree on the fact that we have indeed mentioned some of the best entry-level models out there.

      • John Bloomfield Reply

        I think the point Nicu is making is you have just listed every model under a certain price instead of saying for example ‘this is the best canon under $xxx budget etc’

        So you haven’t really narrowed the choice for them you’ve just listed everything available under a certain price point.

        • admin Reply

          Let’s put it this way. We have put out the best models available under a certain price point..

  • John Bloomfield Reply

    I have found that the Auto_white balance on my Pentax K-S2 has been incredibly accurate.

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