Although visually understood as “the type of camera the pros use,” DSLRs comprise a wide-ranging genre of cameras with numerous options available for all skill levels. Offering significantly more control while photographing than nearly any compact point-and-shoot camera available, DSLRs are a tried-and-true technology that blends intuitiveness and familiarity with the most current and up-to-date designs available in the world of camera design. In specific regard to the models mentioned here, this is a current lineup of DSLRs that strive to be equally as friendly and welcoming to the novice photographer without sacrificing the image quality all photographers have grown to expect.
Canon is one of the most versatile and expansive systems to begin with and, as such, offers a variety of gateway DSLRs to choose from. The current entry-level model is the EOS Rebel T6, which has a modest feature-set, but a wealth of imaging capabilities. It revolves around an 18MP APS-C CMOS sensor and DIGIC 4+ image processor, which afford Full HD 1080p/30 fps video recording, a 3 fps still shooting rate, and expanded sensitivity to ISO 12800. A 3.0” 920k-dot LCD monitor lets you review imagery and shoot in live view while built-in Wi-Fi with NFC is available for wirelessly sharing photos and movies and remotely controlling the camera from a mobile device.
Next in line, the EOS Rebel SL2 DSLR is distinct from the first Rebel due to the fact it is one of the smallest DSLRs available, from any manufacturer. Weighing slightly more than 14 oz and measuring just 4.8 x 3.6 x 2.7", this camera is an ideal option for photographers looking to have a camera with them at all times. Beyond its small size, it also features improved imaging specs, such as a 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor and DIGIC 7 image processor, which together combine to avail a top native sensitivity of ISO 51200, 5 fps continuous shooting rate, and Full HD 1080p/60 fps movie recording. A 9-point phase detection system incorporates a central cross point for added precision and, when working in live view or recording movies, the Dual Pixel CMOS AF system takes control and pairs both phase- and contrast-detection focusing methods for accuracy, speed, and focusing smoothness. Despite its small stature, the SL2 still features a large 3.0" touchscreen LCD with 1.04m-dot resolution, and built-in Wi-Fi with NFC and Bluetooth is also available.
At the peak of Canon’s EOS Rebel lineup is the Rebel T7i, which shares many imaging features with the SL2 but has an expanded feature-set and robust focusing system for a bit more control and customization when shooting. The same 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor and DIGIC 7 image processor are featured, along with a top ISO 51200, Full HD 1080p/60fps recording, and a slightly better 6 fps shooting rate compared to the SL2. The most notable difference in the T7i is the much expanded 45-point all cross-type phase-detection autofocus system, which is notably faster and more adept at tracking subjects due to its wider frame coverage. For video and live view shooting, Dual Pixel CMOS AF is featured again and offers especially smooth, quick, and accurate focus performance. Additionally, the T7i also has built-in Wi-Fi with NFC, Bluetooth, and a 3.0” 1.04m-dot vari-angle touchscreen LCD.
Regarding Nikon, there are two featured DSLR models that are ideally suited for those just learning, as well as those already well versed in the basics of photography. The entry-level option is the D3500, which is paired with the AF-P DX NIKKOR 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6G VR lens. A 24.2MP DX-format CMOS sensor and EXPEED 4 image processor form the central imaging components, which enable shooting up to 5 fps, native sensitivity to ISO 25600, and Full HD 1080p/60 video recording. A unique feature among entry-level DSLRs is the D3500’s omission of an optical low-pass filter, which helps to garner increased image sharpness and resolution compared to models featuring an OLPF to counteract the effects of moiré. Even with this filter removed, however, the processing capabilities of the EXPEED 4 serve to negate the false colors and artifacting to maximize the benefits of removing this commonly used filter. This stout set of features is backed by an 11-point autofocus system, a 3.0" 921k-dot LCD monitor, and SnapBridge Bluetooth connectivity for wirelessly transferring imagery from the camera to a linked smartphone or tablet. Also serving newcomers to photography, this model incorporates a dedicated Guide Mode that helps familiarize one with the variety of features throughout the entire camera system.
For photographers looking for a richer feature set and more versatile control, Nikon’s D5600 is the next model in line, and offers a number of distinct advantages over the D3400. The sensor and image processor remain the same—24.2MP DX-format CMOS and EXPEED 4—as well as the 5 fps continuous shooting rate and 1080p/60 fps video recording. From here, though, the D5600 adds a larger, higher-resolution 3.2" 1.04m-dot vari-angle touchscreen LCD screen, more expansive 39-point AF system with nine cross-type sensors, and built-in SnapBridge connectivity that uses Bluetooth and Wi-Fi with NFC. The basic image quality specifications are quite similar between the two models, but the added functionality of the D5600 allows users greater control when working with a variety of subject types, as well as more efficiency for sharing imagery.
While recently Sony has clearly been focusing much of its attention on the mirrorless market, the company is still committed to developing its branch of unique DSLRs—or to be more correct, DSLTs. Right from the beginning, Sony differentiates itself in that its A-mount cameras feature a Translucent Mirror and electronic viewfinder, as opposed to the traditional swinging reflex mirror and optical viewfinder. The benefits of this technology include previewing any exposure effects or creative settings prior to exposure, the ability to utilize full-time phase-detection AF during shooting, and being able to work with the viewfinder during movie recording.
Sony’s entry-level A-mount option is the Alpha a68, which features a rich set of forward-thinking technologies to benefit multimedia image-makers. Pairing a 24.2MP APS-C-sized Exmor CMOS sensor and BIONZ X image processor, this camera has a top sensitivity of ISO 25600, continuous shooting up to 8 fps, and 1080p/30 video recording at 50 Mbps in the XAVC S format. Beyond these specifications, a 79-point phase-detection AF system, with 15 cross-type points, covers a broad area of the image frame to suit working with moving subjects and in mixed lighting conditions, and SteadyShot INSIDE image stabilization minimizes the appearance of camera shake with any mounted lens. As previously mentioned, the a68 incorporates a 1.44m-dot OLED electronic viewfinder in addition to a 2.7" 460.8-dot LCD screen, which features a tilting design to ease the ergonomic strain of photographing from high and low angles.
A manufacturer known for thinking outside of the box, Pentax’s entry-level option features a number of distinctions that separates it from the pack. The K-70 features a 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor and PRIME MII image processor, which afford an impressive top sensitivity of ISO 204800, 6 fps continuous shooting, and Full HD 1080p/30 fps movie recording. The K-70 also features the SAFOX X 11-point AF system with 9 cross-type points, a 3.0" 921k-dot vari-angle LCD monitor, and in-camera Shake Reduction image stabilization, which further contributes to the anti-aliasing filter simulator and Pixel Shift Resolution functions. This model is also characterized by its weather-resistant construction, to permit working in trying environments, along with built-in Wi-Fi for wirelessly sharing imagery and remotely controlling the camera from a linked smartphone or tablet.
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