Buying guide: Best DSLRs

It's not easy to answer the question 'what's the best DSLR' because the question often means 'what is the best DSLR for me?' And the correct answer to that question will depend on your budget and what you want to use the camera for.

It's also complicated by the fact that, while DSLRs are renowned for their flexibility and image quality, there are now a series of cameras that offer similar (and potentially greater) capabilities that are also worth considering.

So, while this roundup will focus on DSLRs (cameras with a mirror that redirects the image from the lens into an optical viewfinder), we'll also recommend some mirrorless cameras that may be a better fit for you. These also have interchangeable lenses and comparable image quality but tend to be a bit smaller and are often better adapted to shooting video.

This guide breaks down your options roughly by price and focuses on all-round capability. For more precise recommendations, tailored to the photography you want to do, we'd recommend looking at our buying guides based around specific types of photography.

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Best DSLR around $500: Canon EOS Rebel SL3
($650 with 18-55mm lens)

Best DSLR under $500: Canon EOS SL3

The EOS Rebel SL3 (EOS 250D) features a 24 Megapixel sensor, fast Dual Pixel autofocus when using live view or taking video, a fully articulating touchscreen LCD and a 'Feature Assistant' that makes adjusting complex settings easy. It can capture 4K video (albeit with a substantial crop) and has built-in Wi-Fi and Bluetooth for easily sharing photos.

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Mirrorless alternative:

Best under $500, mirrorless alternative: Olympus E-M10 Mark IV

Olympus E-M10 Mark IV
$799 with 14-42mm lens

The E-M10 IV has a retro-styled body, and its electronic viewfinder is larger than the optical viewfinder on the SL3. It has a smaller, lower resolution sensor compared to the SL3 and a tilting touchscreen display, and it includes 4K video capture that is superior to the SL3's.

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Best DSLR around $1000: Nikon D7500
($1099 with 18-140mm lens)

The Nikon D7500 inherits some features from the more expensive D500, including its 20 Megapixel sensor, improved metering system, tilting touchscreen LCD, weather-sealing and 4K video capture. While the live view experience isn't nearly as robust as on Canon models, the D7500 is a clear winner when shooting through the viewfinder.

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Mirrorless alternative:

Best under $1000, mirrorless alternative: Fujifilm X-T30

Fujifilm X-T30
$999 with 15-45mm kit lens

The X-T30 has a classic design and produces great-looking photos. It offers Film Simulation modes to bring out your creative side and also has a tilting touchscreen display, 4K video capture and Wi-Fi.

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Best DSLR around $1500: Canon EOS 90D
($1599 with 18-135mm lens)

Best DSLR sround $1500: Canon EOS 90D

The EOS 90D is a well-built mid-range DSLR with an all-new 32.5 Megapixel sensor that produces excellent-quality images. While autofocus when using the optical viewfinder isn't amazing, live view AF is excellent. The camera can capture 4K video with no crop, and features a fully articulating touchscreen LCD and both mic and headphone sockets.

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Mirrorless alternative:

Best around $1500, mirrorless alternative: Fujifilm X-T3

Fujifilm X-T3
$1899 with premium 18-55mm lens

The X-T3 excels at both still photography and video. Photos look great and video features (including 4K/60p) and quality are top-notch. The weather-sealed body has an ultra-high-res viewfinder along with a clever 3-axis tilting LCD.

Best DSLR over $2000: Nikon D780
($2299 body only)

Best DSLR over $2000: Nikon D780

The D780 is a full-featured enthusiast DSLR with a 24MP full-frame sensor. Its 51-point viewfinder AF system tracks moving subjects with ease, and the on-sensor focus system focuses quickly in live view using the 3.2” tilting touchscreen. The D780 also offers the best 4K video quality and feature set of any DSLR on currently on the market. Photographers of all kinds will appreciate 7 fps burst speeds (boosted to 12 fps with electronic shutter), fast dual card slots and excellent battery life.

If you need more resolution and better viewfinder autofocus, the the 45MP D850 is worth considering despite its slightly clunky live view mode. It'll set you back another $700 or so.

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Mirrorless alternatives:

Best over $2500, mirrorless alternative 1: Sony a7 III Best over $2500, mirrorless alternative 2: Sony a7R IV

Sony a7 III
($1699 body only)

The a7 III is a heck of a camera for the price. It has built-in image stabilization along with an excellent 24MP full-frame sensor, stellar autofocus system, great 4K video quality and battery life that's well above average.

Sony a7R IV
($2999 body only)

The a7R IV has a whopping 61MP full-frame sensor, plus in-body IS, a state-of-the-art AF system, 4K video capture, dual card slots and above average battery life. Both image and video quality are top-notch.

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