While Sony, Fujifilm, Panasonic, and Olympus continued to rain mirrorless cameras in 2017, the OGs of the photography game, Canon, Nikon, and Pentax, (mostly) stuck to their bread and butter: DSLRs. Whether you are shopping for a beginner or pro, there is a DSLR for you in the list below.
Budget DSLR Pick: Canon EOS Rebel SL2
If you want more creative control than your mobile phone or point-and-shoot can offer, but don’t want to break the proverbial bank, the Canon EOS Rebel SL2 is 2017’s gateway DSLR. Its 24.2MP APS-C CMOS sensor and DIGIC 7 Image Processor provide sharp images under a variety of lighting conditions with Full HD 1080p video recording. Furthering its performance, 9-point phase-detection autofocus offers quick, reliable focusing for stills and a Dual Pixel CMOS AF system for smooth focusing in video. Its 3" pivoting touchscreen and Selfie Mode lend flexibility, while Wi-Fi with NFC and Bluetooth connectivity give you the ability to upload and share images quickly. Weighing 14.32 oz (0.406 kg), it is the smallest and lightest camera to make the list, making it a great travel companion. Finally, Feature Assistant helps ease beginners into the many functions of the camera.
Mid-Range DSLR Picks: Pentax KP and Nikon D7500
Two options stand out for intermediate DSLR users: the Pentax KP and Nikon D7500. The Pentax KP’s 24.3MP APS-C CMOS sensor and PRIME IV 14-bit image processing engine with accelerator capture sharp images over a wide range of lighting conditions (ISO 100-819200). Further benefiting image quality, its 5-Axis Shake Reduction II system counters camera shake by up to five stops, while its Pixel Shift Resolution setting captures full-color data on each pixel by combining four shots into each file. Its SAFOX 11 AF system offers 27 focus points (25 cross-type) while capturing images at rates of up to seven frames per second RAW for bursts of eight frames. Additionally, video can be recorded in full HD 1080p and time-lapses in 4k resolution. Finally, arguably the most unique feature of the KP is the inclusion of three, interchangeable right-handed grips sized small, medium, and large.
The Nikon D7500 sits on the threshold of consumer and prosumer cameras, making it ideal for advanced enthusiasts. Its 21.51MP APS-C CMOS Sensor and EXPEED 5 image processor yield an impressive low-light sensitivity, expandable to a herculean ISO 1640000. It can shoot bursts of eight frames per second for up to 100 JPEGs or 50 14-bit lossless compressed RAW files. Additionally, its ability to record 4K UHD video distinguishes it from many of its competitors at even higher prices. Subjects can be captured quickly with its 51-Point Multi-CAM 3500FX II phase-detect autofocus system, while a contrast-based AF system is deployed when working in live view with the D7500’s 3.2" touchscreen. Its Scene Recognition System with 3D Color Matrix Metering III evaluates your frame to calculate exposure and white balance values quickly and accurately. Snapbridge, BLE (Bluetooth Low Energy), and Wi-Fi connectivity allow you to upload images in a snap. To learn more about the D7500, check out Bjorn Peterson’s hands-on review.
Prosumer Pick: Canon 6D Mark II
The Canon 6D Mark II is an appealing choice for photographers looking to step up to a full-frame sensor or as a second body for Canon-shooting professionals. A 26.2MP full-frame CMOS Sensor and DIGIC 7 Image Processor delivers high-resolution images at up to 6.5 frames per second. Its native sensitivity range of ISO 100-40000 can be expanded to ISO 50-102400 to tackle a variety of lighting conditions and 45-Point (all cross type) autofocus produces clean images quickly and consistently. Full HD video can be recorded up to 60p while Dual Pixel CMOS AF and 5-axis image stabilization maintain sharpness. UHD 4K time-lapses can be achieved using the camera’s built-in intervalometer. An articulating 3.0" LCD monitor with touchscreen interface allows touch-to-focus control during live-view shooting and easy image review. Built-in GPS, as well as Bluetooth and Wi-Fi and NFC capabilities, makes it easy to stay connected while shooting.
Pro Pick: Nikon D850
Combining a 45.7MP back side illuminated CMOS sensor, the Multi-CAM 20K 153-point (99 cross-type) AF system from Nikon’s flagship D5, UHD 4K video capture at 30p, and a touchscreen interface, the Nikon D850 makes for an impressive update to the D810. A very capable professional choice, it can shoot at seven frames per second with a buffer that can handle bursts of up to 51 14-bit lossless compressed RAW files. A native light sensitivity of ISO 64-25600 expandable to ISO 32-102400 ensures that you will never be left in the dark on assignment. It is capable of capturing 8K time-lapse recording and offers a specialized film digitizing mode for archiving analog work. A 3.2" touchscreen can be used for live-view shooting and image review while SnapBridge, BLE, and Wi-Fi capabilities keep you connected. Finally, it offers one XQD and one SD memory card slot which, when combined, allow overflow recording, in-camera file duplicating, and splitting raw and JPEG files between cards. To learn more about the D850, check out my and John Harris’ hands-on review.
Have you tried out any of the new DSLRs on this list? Love them? Hate them? Have one that didn’t make the cut? Add your praises and grievances in the Comments section, below.
2017 was pretty good. Over the years I've made a steady advance in camera bodies. Started with a 90s film then jumped to the new and improved D-200. Great camera for what it was at the time! Still got it. Then the new and improved D-300s. Better camera but those guys at Nikon just can't leave well enough alone, so, here comes the new and improved D-750. Took most of my shots with it and once in awhile used the 300 with different lenses. For Xmas this year finally broke down and got myself the 105mm 1:4. Amazing lens! Was taking all kinds of shots with it on the 750 right up until the 750 decided to get a mind of it's own. The play back button started to not work every time you press it.............??.........Sometimes, while pressing it, the camera would start taking shots and wouldn't stop! I called BH and talked to a tech there. He said he never heard of this and gave me an email procedure to send it in to Nikon out in Long Island. They still have it, but did send me a bill I needed to pay before they would fix it. $276.00 later and I'm waiting to get it back. I just thought that maybe the camera should have lasted a little longer than 1 yr. and 4 mos. from when I bought it! My D-200 still works great, no problems, and has over 9,000 shots on it!
2017 is the year that I replaced the Nikon DSLRs I work with. Early in the year I repaced my D300 with a D500 (OK I was slow, the D500 was released in 2016) and was so impressed with its image quality, low light capability, focus tracking, and speed that I bought a second D500 to replace my wife's D300s. The difference between the D300 series and the the D500 is breathtaking. In August I photographed a 5 day canoe camping trip on the Gunnison River in Colorado for Centennial Canoe Outfitters. The photos taken with the D500 and the Nikon 200-500mm f/5.6 of the people in their canoes coming through the Hail Mary Rapids were tack sharp and amazing. One night there was heavy rain and we took shelter in a cave that we lit with a single log campfire that provided enough light for the D500 to shoot the guitar playing and singing (ISO 81275)!
I received my D850 in October as a replacement for my D3 and once again am amazaed at the image quality, low light ability, focus tracking and incredible resolution of the 45.7 megapixel back lit sensor. As a landscape and portrait camera the D850 is a quantum leap beyond what the D3 was capable of.
I've been using a Nikon D 750 (w/ 24-120 MM) for about a year now, and, in my opinion, it should be on this list, maybe replacing the Canon 6D Mark II.
The D750 is definitely a solid camera! This list only covered DSLRs that were released in 2017 (D750 came out in 2014). Thanks for reading!
There is such a large group of people who will do anything to demean the Canon 6D Mk II, it's almost as if there is some kind of hidden agenda here. All you have to do is look at all of the constant, out of the blue, negative comments towards this camera. I have been suspect since it's release that there is a group of posters that are coming out of nowhere to shame the Canon 6D Mk II for no particular reason. The only reason that the Canon 6D Mk II got a bad rap was for a not so stellar dynamic range in a very narrow margin of ISO, and the way these commentors are just repeating that message over and over, was to the point of calling the camera a boat anchor. There is a huge negative base of posters who just wouldn't let up on it.
I own the Canon, and it is exactly what we asked for. It's an 80D in a full frame body. The way it takes high ISO captures is stunning, and the color rendition is superb. DxO Mark gave this camera very high marks in regard to this area, and the way this camera handles noise at these high ISO's is outstanding. I really love this camera, and it really is much better than it's predecessor, the 6D, which I also own, and the addition of this improved noise floor, the dual pixel auto-focus, and the added focus points is the icing on the cake. I love the articulating tilt screen, and the ability to touch the screen to focus and capture an image is really a bonus that you won't want to go back once you get used to it.
The Canon 6D Mk II is an excellent camera, and it is being compared to, unfairly I might add, to the 5D Mk IV and now even the Nikon D850. Those cameras are almost twice the price, and the 6D Mk II wasn't intended to compete with them, yet it holds it's own as far as the quality of the captures it delivers. I love this camera!
I have used the D850 since it's day of release and am very happy I upgraded from the D810. Although the D810 was/is a great camera, the D850 is a better fit for me in many ways. With its expanded buffer it is now more useable for sports action work, not my first choice (that spot belongs to my D5), but my second. I have been using it on my jobs for almost a month and have had no negative issues, only positives, The D850 is an exceptional camera.
I agree-- the D850 has a lot of us who got to test it out thinking about grabbing one. I'm sure it is going to become a workhorse for many photographers.
I'm curious how the Sony A77 II didn't make the cut for recommended DSLR's? While E-mount is certainly gaining strength, Sony still has top notch current A-mount DSLR's in production.
The A77 II is a great camera. This list only covered DSLRs released in 2017 so it didn't make the cut but we certainly haven't forgotten about them. Thanks for reading.
I'm getting older and my canon 7D is getting heavier, trying to learn more about mirrorless cameras. Do you plan to have a "best of Mirrorless" for 2017 ?
Yep, we have an article in the works on the 2017 mirrorless cameras. However, it won't be published until early December. In the meantime, you might want to check out this article from last year:
To familiarize yourself with the difference between dslrs and mirroless cameras, you might also want to look at this article:
Just be aware that the models mentioned in those articles are not the newest releases.