Best beginner DSLR cameras 2019: 10 cheap DSLRs perfect for new users

Ready to make the step up from your smartphone or point-and-shoot camera to something a bit more powerful? You’ve landed in the right place: these are the best beginner DSLRs you can buy right now in 2019.

An entry-level, beginner DSLR is the natural progression when you feel like you’ve outgrown your point-and-shoot compact camera or are no longer satisfied with the snaps you get from your smartphone. 

With so much competition between Canon and Nikon at this end of the market, and a raft of older models and new arrivals fighting against each other, it’s entirely possible that this will be the opportunity for one or both manufacturers to drop their asking prices to a new low.

Best beginner DSLR camera

Nikon D3500

Nikon’s very latest D3500 is a cracker. With a great sensor, a light and easy-to-use body and access to a huge range of lenses, it’s a perfect camera to get you started on your photographic journey.

Read our in-depth Nikon D3500 review

DSLRs for beginners deliver a big step up in image quality over a compact camera or smartphone. They may share the same number of megapixels, but the size of an entry-level DSLR’s sensor is physically much larger, which allows for superior results with more detail and better low-light performance. 

On top of that, you get plenty of manual control over things like shutter speed and aperture, together with the option to change lenses to suit whatever it is you’re shooting. Don’t worry if you’re still finding your feet here, as you can let the camera do all the hard work at first and slowly take more control as and when you feel more comfortable, all the while benefitting from that better standard of image quality. 

You may also want to consider a mirrorless camera as an alternative. If so, you’ll find our video above or Mirrorless vs DSLR cameras: 10 key differences guide very useful. Or, if you’re not sure what kind of camera you need at all, then read our easy-to-follow guide to camera types: What camera should I buy?

Still set on a DSLR? We think the best DSLR for beginners is the Nikon D3500. It’s small, light and cheap, but manages to provide a much better user experience than we normally get at this level, with a helpful Guide mode on board to show how to get the most out of the camera in an easy-to-understand way. Handling is great and the sensor produces very nice images, while features like 5fps burst shooting and full manual control give you some growing space too. 

Should you buy a mirrorless camera over a DSLR? Watch our guide video below to learn more: 

Entry-level DSLR bundles

If you’re buying your first DSLR, it makes sense to buy it as a kit, which generally includes the camera body along with an 18-55mm lens. Often referred to as a ‘kit’ lens, this covers a pretty broad zoom range, perfect for everything from landscapes to portraits – but that’s just the start. 

A word of warning, though. Look closely and manufacturers will often offer two types of kit lens, one with image stabilization and one without. Normally there’s not much difference in price, so make sure to go for the kit with the image-stabilized lens as it’ll make it easier to sharper images at slower shutter speeds.

These kinds of lenses are more than adequate to get you started, but the key advantage of DSLRs over compact cameras is that you can add to your kit with additional lenses. For example, wide-angle and telephoto zoom lenses, as well as high-quality macro options. You can also add a flashgun and other accessories, which help you to make the most of whatever types of photography you’re into.

Best mirrorless camera: Canon EOS M50

(Image credit: Future)

Mirrorless option: Canon EOS M50

Baby DSLR styling with 4K video and a lovely EVF

Sensor: APS-C CMOS | Megapixels: 24.1MP | Lens mount: Canon EF-M | Screen: 3-inch, 1,040,000 dots | Continuous shooting speed: 10fps | Max video resolution: 4K | User level: Beginner

Great handling for a mirrorless camera

Cheap considering the built-in EVF

4K video has a 1.6x crop factor

Lack of native lens options

We’ll get onto the best DSLRs for beginners in a second, but before we do, we just wanted to highlight a mirrorless option that has a handful of advantages. The EOS M50 is styled very much like a DSLR, but it’s far smaller and has a lovely electronic viewfinder that makes it particularly good for use in low light. It shoots 4K video and images at up to 10fps, which is speedier than what we get in DSLRs of a similar level, while the Dual Pixel CMOS AF system means it can focus smoothly and promptly across all manner of situations. There aren’t too many lens options around right now, but you can use EF lenses though an adapter. If you want something a little smaller than the average DSLR, it’s well worth a look.

Best DSLRs for beginners in 2019

You don’t need to spend huge sums on a DSLR to get something that handles well, takes great images and works with a huge variety of lenses. In fact, you can often save yourself a fair chunk of cash if you’re happy to go for a slightly older model. Manufacturers often keep these available as newer DSLRs arrive to give users a choice between the very latest tech and a better-value option. Here, we’ve listed the best cheap DSLRs, from recent arrivals to older favourites. 

Nikon D3500

(Image credit: Future)

1. Nikon D3500

Not the flashiest camera here, but we reckon it’s the best right now

Sensor: APS-C CMOS | Megapixels: 24.2MP | Lens mount: Nikon DX | Screen: 3-inch, 921,000 dots | Continuous shooting speed: 5fps | Max video resolution: 1080p | User level: Beginner

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