Thinking of trying your hand at photography? Or looking to switch from your smartphone and upgrade your snaps with ease? Capture all of life’s big moments in premium quality with an entry-level DSLR camera – the perfect piece of kit to get you snapping stunning shots, regardless of experience or ability.
While smartphone companies are constantly churning out new innovations to offer users more accessible routes into photography, you really can’t beat the quality of a DSLR camera. With interchangeable lenses that make it possible to shoot a wide variety of subjects, large sensors for crystal clear images, true optical viewfinders, enhanced control settings and more, DSLR cameras reign supreme as the most powerful and versatile pieces of tech for all your image-capturing needs, soaring above the capabilities of even the most state-of-the-art smartphones.
If you’re not a whiz at photography, shopping around for the best entry-level DSLR camera to suit your needs can be tricky - and that’s before you throw in all the mind-boggling photography jargon, abbreviations and measurements that can leave you feeling completely lost! Luckily for you, we’ve put together some of our favourite cameras for beginners, covering everything from budget to shooting style, to lend you a helping hand when looking for the perfect purchase. But, before diving in, let’s take a closer look at what exactly a DSLR camera is.
What is a DSLR camera?
The term ‘DSLR’ has become synonymous with most forms of digital cameras, but it’s actually short for ‘digital single-lens reflex camera’, which is just one form of digital camera in its own right. 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, offering its user endless possibilities to get creative with their snaps.
DSLR cameras feature an internal mirror and a prism which use light to bounce the image from the lens to the viewfinder (where users can see their subject). When a photo is taken, the mirror allows light through to the digital image sensor, where the photo is then captured and automatically stored on an SD card.
Thanks to their large sensors, DSLRs have a high ISO range, which allows the camera to capture more light and give better results - even in low light conditions. And, as most DSLR cameras are waterproof, you can confidently snap away in even the most torrential rain, sweltering heats, or humid weather conditions without having to worry about it damaging your piece of kit or hindering its performance - sweet!
What’s the best DSLR camera for beginners?
Before setting your heart on a DSLR camera, you need to consider your needs first. Are you looking to take show-stopping portraits, snap speedy sports games, or capture large landscapes? Are you after just image capturing or are you wanting the ability to record videos, too? Or, perhaps you’re after an all-rounder that will allow you to do all of this and more? For casual capturers, we recommend the latter, but for those of you looking to hone in particular shooting skills, you may need to consider purpose-made models instead.
Second, you need to consider your budget. DSLRs can set you back anywhere between £300 to well over £1,000, depending on its 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.
Whatever your needs, budget, or intended use may be, we’ve got the perfect beginner’s camera for you. So sit back, relax and let us inspire your imagination. Lights, camera, action!
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!
Pros: Powerful 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor, 11-point autofocus system, video recording function
Cons: No Wi-Fi, transferring images can be slow via Bluetooth, can’t film in 4K
After an all-in-one camera to capture richly detailed photos and Full HD movies, even in low light? Grab yourself the Nikon D3500 for a seriously competitive price.
Thanks to its ISO light sensitivity range of 100-25600, this camera captures shots of superior quality, whether you’re basking in intense sunlight or dancing under the moonlight at midnight. With a razor-sharp 5 fps autofocus system, you can take high-quality, action-packed shots in crystal clear quality, perfect for sports or for immortalising those special moments with your hyperactive kids.
Built for beginners, this camera comes with an Auto Mode that allows you to capture perfect DSLR-quality images with ease. To make your life even easier, it also features a Guide Mode which shows you exactly how to adjust the camera’s settings to ensure your photos and videos are always of the best quality possible – it’s like having your very own professional photographer in the palm of your hands!
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.
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.
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.
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.
Photography tips for beginners
Now you know what’s out there, it’s a good idea to start to learn all the tricks of the trade to really up your photography game. While entry-level DSLRs are designed to do all the hard work for you, it can still take a considerable amount of time to capture truly beautiful shots. However, if you come prepared with a host of hacks hidden up your sleeve, you can up the ante of your photography and capture incredible photographs right from the off. So, if you’re new to the whole photography thing, here’s some of our top tips and tricks to get you snapping impressive shots to show off to your friends and family.
If you have absolutely no idea what a bokeh is, you’re not alone. Bokeh is essentially the ‘blur quality’ of an image, where the background is thrown out of focus in favour of small shapes (usually circular), putting the main focus on your subject while simultaneously creating a striking, artistic background.
To achieve this, all you’ll need is a camera lens with a large aperture, a sheet of cardboard and some duct tape. Then, simply draw the shape which you want in the middle of the cardboard, cut it out and attach the sheet of cardboard onto your lens using duct tape.
When you start shooting, you should notice your bokeh will have taken the shape of the hole you’ve cut out of the cardboard, totally transforming any mundane image into something truly spellbinding.
Long shutter snaps
Have you ever seen an image that practically looks as if it’s moving? That’s all down to long shutter photography. With just a few tweaks to your shutter speeds, you can effortlessly capture striking shots that exceed all expectations, sure to impress both you and your friends!
To take the best long shutter snaps, we advise using a tripod or some form of stabiliser to avoid any jerks or shakes which could ruin your shot. Turn your camera’s shooting mode to Manual or Bulb and use a slow shutter speed (between 5-30 seconds) for a longer exposure. Then, use your camera’s self-timer or cable release to take the stunning photo with absolutely no blurring – it’s that simple!
This technique is great for busy cityscapes, spinning Ferris wheels or large, flowing bodies of water, such as a waterfall. Try it out for yourself and see just how impressive your photography skills can be.
High dynamic range (HDR) photography
If you’ve ever seen a photo so beautiful that it’s almost enchanting, it’s likely to be a result of HDR photography techniques. Designed to enhance dynamic ranges in photographs, this technique brings images unseen to the naked eye to life, delivering an image so beautiful, it’s almost unbelievable. This technique combines photography skills with post-processing, so you’ll need a photo editing software to achieve this.
First of all, you’ll need to take three identical shots of your subject in three exposure brackets, (-2) stops, (0) stops, and (+2) stops. Then, using a photo editing software, such as Photoshop or PhotoMatrix, merge and level the images together. Alter the channel tuning and colours to achieve your desired aesthetic and that’s it - a truly stunning photo with very little effort, perfect!
High speed capturing
Have you ever tried to take an up-close-and-personal snap of the action, only to find your photo has come out blurry and out of focus? With a little bit of know-how and an understanding of shutter speed, aperture, and ISO settings, you can capture crystal clear shots of even the fastest-moving subjects, immortalising all the excitement of the action forever and ever.
High speed photography can be bracketed into three categories:
- Macro photography
- Sports photography
- Action photography
To achieve high speed photography, you’ll need to set your camera to a high shutter speed, regardless of which category you’re going for. Once you’ve chosen your subject (or set the stage up for macro photography), set your camera to a high shutter speed and set a higher ISO, you can start snapping! A word to the wise: don’t set your ISO too high or your photographs will come out grainy. The optimum level of your ISO can depend on many different factors, from light to the model of the camera itself, so this can take a bit of practice to perfect, but once you’ve got to know your camera a little better, you’ll be well on your way to taking show-stopping high speed shots.
Armed with a high-quality DSLR camera and some handy tips and tricks, you’ll be capturing and immortalising all of life’s most precious moments in stunning definition in no time at all, giving you a whole lifetime of memories to look back on and relive at will. If you’re looking for even more inspiration, check out OnBuy’s extensive range of digital cameras, which showcases everything from entry-level DSLRs all the way through to professional-grade pieces of kit. To really step up your photography game, grab yourself a range of camera accessories, lenses and filters, and studio equipment, and prepare to seriously impress your friends and family with your photo-snapping skills.
The information in this buyer’s guide is correct at the time of publishing but may be subject to change.