Best budget DSLR / CSC

 

If you're shopping for a budget DSLR or mirrorless Compact System Camera, you've come to the right place! At Camera Labs I write in-depth reviews of cameras but understand you're busy people who sometimes just want recommendations of the most outstanding products. So here I'll cut to the chase and list the best budget DSLRs and mirror-less Compact System Cameras around right now.

On this page you'll find the best entry-level models, aimed at beginners or those on tighter budgets. These may represent the budget-end of the market, but all deliver a step-up in quality, control and handling over a point-and-shoot camera and are therefore ideal for those upgrading or wanting to start photography at a higher level.

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Gordon's favourite budget DSLR right now: Canon EOS SL1 / 100D



Canon EOS SL1 / 100D review - buy it from Amazon USA, B&H, Amazon UK or Amazon DE. Thanks!

 

The Canon EOS Rebel SL1, or 100D as it's known outside North America, sits just above the entry-level T5 / 1200D, and is the smallest and lightest model with an APS-C sensor to date. It's around 1cm smaller in every dimension than Canon's next smallest DSLR yet manages not to compromise on control, composition or connectivity. On the contrary it's surprisingly comfortable to hold and use and the touch-screen interface is one of the best around. It inherits the 18 Megapixel resolution and 1080p video of recent Canon DSLRs, and sports a hybrid AF system with phase detect points spread over 80% of the sensor, which allows it to confidently refocus while filming video. There's also a new EF-S 18-55mm STM kit lens which focuses eerily quietly, although it looks a little long mounted on the tiny body. Overall this mini DSLR is great fun to use and delivers quality stills and video.

Pros: Tiny DSLR with 18 Mpixels, decent movie AF and great touchscreen.
Cons: Canon shrunk the body but not the kit lens. No Wifi either.
Overall: It may be small on size but not on handling and performance.



Highly recommended Alternatives

Nikon D3300 review - buy it at Amazon USA, B&H, Adorama, Amazon UK or Amazon DE. Thanks!

 

The D3300 is Nikon's entry-level DSLR for 2014. Like its predecessor, it boasts a 24 Megapixel APS-C sensor, but this time Nikon has dispensed with the low pass filter for slightly crisper-looking photos. The other major new feature is an updated kit lens which collapses to save space during transportation - it's still nowhere near as compact as a mirrorless camera, but at least it's more portable than earlier Nikon DSLR kits. The D3300 also offers 1080p movies at 60p, a range of filter effects, and like earlier models in this series offers a friendly GUIDE mode for beginners - a benefit that's not to be underestimated if you're stepping-up from a more basic camera. In some respects the D3300 is falling behind rivals, for example there's no built-in Wifi and inexplicably still no AE bracketing, but it remains a solid entry-level DSLR.

Pros: 24 Megapixels, compact kit zoom, friendly operation.
Cons: Relatively pricey, no built-in Wifi, no auto bracketing.
Overall: A good first DSLR, but also consider mirrorless rivals.





Sony A5000 review- buy it from Amazon USA, B&H, Amazon UK or Amazon DE. Thanks!

 

Sony'a Alpha A5000 is an entry-level mirrorless camera with a 20 Megapixel APS-C sensor, tilting screen and built-in Wifi. It goes head-to-head against entry-level DSLRs, sporting a similarly-sized sensor and the chance to swap lenses, but unlike most DSLRs at this price point, adds an articulated screen for easy self-portraits and built-in Wifi that supports wireless image transfer, smartphone remote control and downloadable apps. As a mirrorless camera, the A5000 is also a lot smaller and lighter than even a budget DSLR, and its full-time electronic composition means it supports technologies like face and scene detection to help you nail the shot quickly and easily. Downsides? There's no viewfinder, nor any means to connect one as an optional accessory, but for the money I still reckon Sony's made the right choices and delivered a camera that's highly compelling for the target market. If you're looking for an upgrade in quality, flexibility and control over a point-and-shoot camera or smartphone, I'd strongly recommend it.

Pros: Large APS-C sensor; tilting screen; Wifi; clever shooting modes.
Cons: No viewfinder or hotshoe to mount accessories.
Overall: Great value mirrorless camera that makes more sense than a budget DSLR.


Looking for something better? Check out my mid-range DSLR guide, or my other guides below!
 
     
Camera Labs Buyer's Guides

Best mirrorless camera

Best budget DSLR


Best mid-range DSLR


Best pro DSLR


Best point and shoot camera


Best superzoom


Best camera accessories

Best Canon lenses

Best Nikon lenses
 
 

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