If you are looking to move beyond the limitations of smartphone photography and upgrade to a camera offering better image and video quality, then an entry-level digital SLR, or DSLR, is the way to go because not only will it take care of your image quality needs, the learning curve is also much quicker than you might, probably, imagine.
So, irrespective of whether you’re a casual shooter or an aspiring filmmaker, you will find something in our selection of five to pique your interest.
Canon EOS Rebel T6
The Canon EOS Rebel T6 is, probably, the best entry-level camera you can hope to get in that price range.
As for the image quality, you’ll never regret spending the $449 it is going to set you back by.
The Rebel T6 supports all Canon lenses, giving you a plethora of lens options for the camera.
The Canon EF-S 18-55mm F/3.5-5.6 IS II lens, which comes bundled with the camera, captures images at a modest wide-angle and zooms-in to short telephoto field of view.
If you are a stickler for aesthetics, you must know that T6’s design is not its strong point, appearing to be somewhat dated, with most of the controls on the rear, including the LCD panel, which is an upgrade from its predecessor and now boasts a more advanced 920,000-dot resolution.
The Rebel T6 comes equipped with onboard Wi-Fi and works with the Canon Camera Connect app to take care of your connectivity needs.
The app, by the way, is a free download for both Android and iOS devices – to upload photos and videos to your smartphone.
Canon EOS Rebel SL2
The Canon EOS Rebel SL2 is the smallest and lightest DSLR in the company’s entry-level line-up.
It boasts some really attractive features for the casual photographer, which include a touch LCD screen, a guided interface as well as Wi-Fi, which is pretty much a given these days.
The SL2 comes with a Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/4-5.6 IS STM zoom and the fact that Canon has provided for a microphone input, should go down well with video bloggers, or vloggers, as they are more commonly known.
The SL2’s guided interface shows you the functionality and purpose of different camera settings with the help of some great graphics.
The SL2 also boasts integrated wireless connectivity, as it uses Bluetooth and NFC (Near-field communication) to connect to your Android or iOS device and uses Wi-Fi for file transfer and remote control.
The camera also supports input for a 3.5mm microphone, remote control, HDMI and USB connections.
The battery inside this camera is the same as the one inside the Rebel T7i as well as the newer Canon mirrorless models.
It takes a mere 0.6 seconds for the SL2 to start, focus and shoot.
The SL2 comes with the same 24MP Advanced Photo System type-C (APS-C) image sensor that Canon is now using on all its interchangeable lens cameras.
It is capable of shooting video at 1080p at 24, 30, or 60 frames per second, with 30 and 60 megabytes per second IPB compression options for great footage quality.
The Nikon D3400 is the newest addition to the company’s entry-level DSLR line-up.
Built around an impressive 24MP image sensor, with an 11-point auto-focus system capable of tracking subjects at 5.1 fps, the D3400 is a strong and consistent performer.
This Nikon DSLR comes bundled with the company’s AF-P DX Nikkor 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR, capable of delivering a pretty decent performance for a starter lens.
Having a camera that supports different lens types makes little sense if you don’t really have any plans to try out an additional lens or two, like a tele zoom, or a wide-aperture prime, or macro lens, for example, all of which will do wonders for your D3400, in terms of versatility.
The rear LCD is a cool 920,000-dot 3-inch panel, bright enough even in daylight.
The camera allows wireless file transfer to Android and iOS phones using the Nikon SnapBridge camera app.
It also supports Bluetooth – a handy option when it comes to transferring photos and videos to your phone, especially when you’re not in Wi-Fi range; it saves you from having to change the Wi-Fi settings.
The Nikon D3400 is a pretty responsive device that can start, focus and shoot in just about 0.7 seconds – pretty decent for an entry-level DSLR.
The D3400 uses the Nikon entry-level standard 11-point auto-focus system, with support for the company’s 3D tracking system to lock-in moving targets.
The camera records video at up to 1080/60p quality at 24, 25, 30 or 50 frames per second.
So, if you are the type of person who likes to tell your story of life through pictures and videos, the D3400 is, perhaps, the best pick, its price making it even better.
Canon EOS Rebel T7i
Canon’s newest camera in its T series, the EOS Rebel T7i carries forward its predecessors’ 24MP resolution but with a different sensor, using the company’s Dual Pixel Autofocus (DPAF) system for smooth auto-focus in recording video or shooting stills in Live View mode.
With the exception of a slight change to the rear control setting, everything else about the T7i’s design features is identical to the T6i.
The T7i uses a Pentamirror optical viewfinder – standard on entry-level DSLRs – and also boasts a new Guide Mode that makes the life of novices so much simpler.
Another addition to the T7i is the brand new Scene Mode that uses face detection to determine depth.
The standard built-in Wi-Fi gives you the flexibility to copy images to your smartphone or tablet; alternatively, you can use your Android or iOS device as a remote control via the Canon Camera Connect app.
The start, focus, and shoot time of the T7i is pretty impressive at 0.4 seconds, allowing you to capture some candid moments.
T7i records videos at 1080p at 24, 30 or 60 frames per second.
This sturdy traditional Nikon camera model with an optical viewfinder and an attractive price offers fantastic value for your hard-earned money and more.
What’s great about this camera is that you can have it bundled with an amazing lens kit at an outrageously affordable price.
The 3.2 inches LCD on the rear is big and crisp with 1,037,000 dots – its touchscreen feature allowing you to tap to set focus when working on Live View; touch-navigate the menus and swipe through images when viewing
The D5600 provides good physical connectivity options, including a flash mount; a 3.5mm microphone input, a micro USB port for data, a wired remote port, and a mini HDMI port.
Plus, it has a single memory card slot for SD, SDHC and SDXC cards, in a dedicated compartment on the right-hand side.
The camera uses Bluetooth for seamless background file transfers to an Android or iOS device and Wi-Fi for remote control and Live View.
Start, focus, and shoot happens in a quick 0.7 seconds for the D5600.
The D5600 shoots strong and crisp footages at a healthy 1080p at up to 60 frames per second.
A great buy for vloggers.