A young woman looking through a DSLR camera.

Quickly become a pro with this guide to beginner DSLR cameras

Published 5th January 2023
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Thinking about buying a DSLR camera? We don't blame you - DSLR cameras are some of the most popular photography devices available. They offer a wide range of features, a wide variety of brands, and a variety of accessories to enhance your images too.

This guide will provide you with an introduction to DSLR cameras, a brief overview of the features you should consider when shopping for a camera, and a look at some of the most popular brands and accessories.

What is a DSLR camera?

A DSLR camera is a digital camera that uses a single-lens reflex system. The main advantage is its ability to capture high-quality images with complete control over the camera settings. DSLR cameras have large sensors that allow for more accurate colour reproduction, better low-light performance, and higher-resolution images.

One of the standout features of a DSLR camera is its interchangeable lens function, where users can combine the camera body with any lens attachment of their choice. Essentially, these versatile pieces of kit can be completely transformed with just one attachment.

If you want to learn more about the different types, check out our camera buying guide.

DSLR features to consider

There are a few features you should consider when shopping for a DSLR camera. The first is the type of sensor, which captures the light that comes through the lens. Different sensors have different sizes, which will affect the image quality. The larger the sensor, the better the image quality.

The next is the autofocus system, which allows the camera to focus automatically on the subject. Different cameras have different autofocus systems, so it’s important to find one that meets your needs. 

The third feature to consider is the lens mount. This is the connection between the camera body and the lens. Different camera bodies have different lens mounts, so it’s important to make sure the lens you want to use is compatible with the camera body you’re considering. 

Finally, you should also consider the camera’s video capabilities. Many DSLR cameras offer the ability to record video, which can be a great feature for beginner photographers. Look for cameras with features such as full HD video recording, manual control over exposure settings, and built-in image stabilisation. 

DSLR camera brands

When shopping for a DSLR camera, you’ll also need to consider the brand. There are many different brands of DSLR cameras, so it’s important to find one that meets your needs. Here are a few of our favourites:

DSLR camera accessories

Once you’ve chosen a camera, it’s time to think about accessories. There are a number of accessories available for DSLR cameras; here are a few of the most popular:

  • Lenses: Lenses are one of the most important accessories for a DSLR camera. Different lenses have different focal lengths and aperture sizes, so it’s important to find the right lens for your needs.
  • Tripods: Tripods are essential for any photographer as they provide stability and allow you to take sharper images.
  • Filters: Filters are a great way to add creativity to your images. Different filters can add different effects, such as polarizing, UV, and ND filters.
  • Memory Cards: Memory cards are essential for storing your photos. Look for cards with fast read and write speeds and high capacity.

What’s the best DSLR camera for beginners?

Before setting your heart on a DSLR camera, you need to consider your needs first, then think about your budget. DSLRs come in at anywhere between £300 to well over £1,000, depending on their features, specs and capabilities.

If you’re looking for a more casual piece of kit, you can quite happily get away with a model on the lower end of the price spectrum, but if you’re wanting to jump on a new professional photography journey, you may be better off splashing the cash a little bit more.

Canon EOS 4000D

Canon dslr camera

Pros: Budget-friendly option, 18MP camera, built-in Wi-Fi 

Cons: No touchscreen, low-resolution LCD display can make checking focus difficult

If you’re on the hunt for a high-quality camera that won’t break the bank, you really can’t go wrong with the Canon EOS 4000D. Manufactured by one of the biggest names in the business, the EOS 4000D delivers the superior standards we’ve grown to expect from a Canon camera - without a hefty price tag attached! 

With an 18MP APS-C sensor that boasts 19x more surface area than many smartphones, this camera makes it easier than ever before to take truly impressive images – even in poor lighting conditions. Thanks to its natural background blur feature, your subjects take centre stage of the shot, allowing you to take incredible portraits with ease. 

Featuring a precise 3 fps autofocus and DIGIC 4+ image processor, your scenes are captured just as you see them in real life, immortalising all your best memories in premium quality forever. Boasting an optical viewfinder and 6.8cm LCD screen, you can easily frame all your shots without any prior knowledge of composition. 

If that wasn’t enough, with a Full HD video function, you can capture breath-taking videos with ease and transfer them instantly onto your smartphone, tablet or social media with the Canon Camera Connect app, sweet!

Canon EOS Rebel T7

Canon dslr camera

Pros: High-quality 24MP APS-C CMOS sensor, on-screen shooting guide, built-in Wi-Fi, Full HD video recording

Cons: Dated image processor, slow 3 fps burst rate, no touchscreen

Designed to help you realise your potential as a photographer, the Canon EOS Rebel T7 is a stunning entry-level piece of kit that will see you taking seriously impressive snaps in no time at all. 

Boasting versatile imaging capabilities and a user-friendly feature-set, the EOS Rebel T7 is the ultimate choice for beginners. Affordable yet capable, this DSLR allows you to capture images in both portrait and landscape, and choose between a variety of preset styles to up your artistry. You can even apply special effects in playback mode after you’ve captured an image and create three custom styles to save for later use. If you want to play around with styles but don’t want to ruin your original shot, don’t fret: the EOS Rebel T7 keeps the original copy intact and saves the edited version under a new file number. Pretty nifty! 

The high-tech 24.1MP APS-C CMOS sensor works in tandem with the DIGIC 4+ image processor to produce high-resolution images with stunning clarity, reduced noise, and a flexible native sensitivity range from ISO 100-6400 (for a variety of lighting conditions). While the 3 fps burst rate isn’t much to write home about, it still allows you to capture moving objects in fairly decent quality. However, if you’re wanting to take high-quality images of action-packed sports games, a camera with a higher fps would be better. 

Although this camera doesn’t allow for 4K video capturing, you can still shoot quality Full HD 1080/30p recordings using the EOS Rebel T7. Movies are recorded in MPEG4 AVC H264, which produces .MOV files that can be shared easily via the integrated Wi-Fi function. Simply download Canon’s Camera Connect app (for iOS and Android) and transfer images and videos from your camera directly to your smartphone - it’s as simple as that! You can even use the app to shoot and adjust parameters (including ISO, exposure, and white balance) remotely using the T7.

Nikon D7500

nikon camera

Pros: Fast and accurate autofocus, advanced auto ISO settings, 4K video capturing 

Cons: Single card slot, limited tilt screen rotation, larger than a mirrorless camera

Discover the latest model in Nikon’s semi-professional D7000 series and the budget-friendly alternative to the flagship D500 camera with the high-performance D7500 DSLR camera. 

With a 20.9MP DX-format sensor, state-of-the-art EXPEED 5 processor, and 180K-pixel RGB metering sensor, this camera delivers phenomenally accurate, high-definition images with rich tonal gradations, performing incredibly well even at high ISOs. The 51-point AF system will track and lock onto your subject, keeping it in focus to allow you to capture crystal clear images, even in high-action environments. 

Thanks to its 8cm tilting monitor, you can operate AF and shutter-release functions via easy-to-use touch controls when you shoot in Live View. Plus, with an easily accessible command dial and multi-selector, you can even change settings whilst shooting, ensuring that each and every shot is as perfect as possible. 

What’s more, with two video settings, you can record stunning 4K/UHD 30p footage or capture streamlined Full HD (1080p) movies at frame rates of up to 50p/60p, eternalising all your most treasured memories in captivating cinematic quality. Explore new worlds of artistic capabilities with the time lapse feature, which allows you to transform street scenes and sunrises into dramatic high-speed sequences with just the touch of a button.

Nikon D5600

Nikon d5600

Pros: Powerful 24.2MP CMOS APS-C sensor, 39-point system for quick and reliable autofocus, fully-articulating touchscreen

Cons: Can’t change the aperture while recording video, relatively expensive for an entry-level DSLR

Our third and final entry from Nikon is the stunning D5600. Small yet mighty, this feature-packed DSLR is the perfect in-between model for novices. It’s certainly a step up from the D3500 mentioned earlier in this guide, but not quite as pro-orientated as the D7500 above, so it’s certainly a top choice for beginners looking to capture stunning shots with ease.

With a lightweight and unobtrusive design, the D5600 is the perfect travelling companion. Its ergonomic, well-sculpted grip is both comfortable and secure, ensuring a proper hold. While some of the buttons are unusually small (though to be expected from such a compact kit), this doesn’t hinder their operation or performance - but you may have to squint to read some of them in poor lighting conditions!

Boasting an impressive 24.2MP CMOS APS-C sensor, no optical low-pass filter (OLPF), EXPEED 4 processor and ISO range of 100-25600, the D5600’s performance far surpasses its price tag, delivering terrific images each and every time. The beginner-friendly vari-angle screen is extremely easy to use, making capturing images at even some of the strangest angles a total breeze. And, thanks to its 5 fps burst rate and 39-point AF system, tracking and capturing fast-moving subjects has truly never been easier, making it the perfect option for avid sports fans. 

Canon EOS 90D

DSLR canon camera

Pros: Impressive 32.5MP APS-C sensor, high IOS sensitivity, 4K video capturing

Cons: The most expensive camera featured on this list, single memory card slot

Yet another incredible invention by the camera specialists at Canon, the EOS 90D is truly unmatched in quality. Though on the more pricier end of the spectrum, you get what you pay for (and so much more!) with this premium piece of kit. 

A beautiful blend of speed, image quality and portability, this compact camera will get you closer to nature and bring you to the forefront of the action like never before. With a high-performance 32.5MP APS-C sensor that gives the lens 1.6x the telephoto reach it would have on a standard full-frame camera, you can achieve the most stunning shots possible – even from a great distance away from your subject. Even better, all the images you capture can be cropped, rotated and resized with image quality that’s detailed enough for large prints. So, why not decorate your home from top to bottom with all your best snaps? 

Shooting up to 10 fps, this camera reveals the moments that are impossible to see with the naked eye, giving you a whole new look on the world. Thanks to its high ISO sensitivity (up to ISO 25,600), you can freeze action with incredibly fast shutter speeds (as fast as 1/8000sec) and capture even the most fast-paced action in premium high definition. 

Boasting an advanced autofocusing system which combines 45 cross-type AF points with a 220,000-pixel RBG+IR exposure sensor, this camera tracks even the quickest subject, capturing them in crystal clear quality that’s sure to impress even the most professional photographer. 

When it comes to getting your hands on the perfect all-rounder that captures incredible stills and video footage, you really can’t go wrong with the Canon EOS 90D.

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