This roundup has been updated - Click here for the latest version.
Despite the emergence of mirrorless cameras, the market is still dominated by conventional DSLRs. Several companies make excellent SLRs to help consumers get better quality pictures for under $1,000. Image quality in the category is generally very similar to entry-level mirrorless cameras and mid-level mirrorless cameras, so the key differentiators are larger grips, a more 'professional' appearance and, of course, optical viewfinders. They also tend to offer access to larger selection of quality lenses than most mirrorless camera systems can claim (though many of these options weren't designed with the APS-C format in mind).
We'll look at six of the most capable models here:
- Nikon D3200
- Canon EOS Rebel SL1/100D
- Pentax K-500
- Sony SLT-A58
- Nikon D5300
- Canon EOS Rebel T5i/700D
- Pentax K-50
Which you choose depends a lot on whether you want a smaller or larger camera, if you already own a few compatible lenses, and whether you plan to grow your photography or just stick to good quality snapshots. The three higher-end models featured here (from the Nikon D5300 onwards) provide a little more room for growing as a photographer, without having to upgrade right away, while the first four shed weight and versatility for the sake of simplicity.
Each of these cameras is based on an APS-C sensor, which generally offers slightly better high ISO quality over those mirrorless cameras based on Micro Four Thirds and 1" sensors, but both of these sensor types have recently improved. Sony, Samsung, Canon and Fujifilm mirrorless cameras also use APS-C sensors, so there's no inherent image quality advantage to the DSLR design.