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Everyone has a special photographer in their life, and finding the best DSLR and SLR camera to fit their needs is never an easy task. Whether it’s a beginner who’s expressed interest in photography, or an enthusiast in need of an upgrade. We’ve chosen the top 3 best DSLR and SLR cameras from each of the following categories: Beginner (Budget), Beginner (Value), and Enthusiast. Any cameras above this level are used by a seasoned professional who would likely have developed set brand and feature preferences. We suggest that you leave it up to them to choose their cameras and photography equipment. Here’s a brief guide to making sure you choose the best DLSR or SLR camera for the photographer in your life.

Category 1: Beginner (Budget)

1. Canon – EOS Rebel T5 DSLR ($399) with kit lens

Canon EOS Rebel T5 - Real Estate Photographer Orange County | Virtual Tour Company Seattle | Aerial Photography Services San Diego

T5 SUMMARY

With a new, higher-resolution 18MP sensor, improved HD video recording and a better thorough covering of grip material, the Canon T5 is an updated entry into the Canon EOS line. Image quality is very good, though the high ISO performance falls behind some of its competitors. Keep in mind the T5’s entry-level price and top-tier performance along with its lack of features aren’t all that surprising. All in all, it’s a solid camera for the money and a great option for a beginner stepping into the DSLR world.

PROS

  • Very good image quality and great color accuracy
  • Feature Guide and Creative Auto helps new users
  • Canon EF-S mount provides access to many lens options
  • Great value for the money
  • Lightweight and compact design

CONS

  • Without AF assist from flash low-light AF can struggle
  • Dynamic range and high ISO performance
  • Slow burst mode
  • Mono sound
  • Shallow buffer
  • No continuous AF in movie mode
  • No external mic jack

BEST USES

  • Fashion Photography
  • Landscape Photography
  • 360 Photography
  • Action Photography
  • Virtual Tour Photography
  • Real Estate Photography
  • Aerial Photography (attached to aerial drone)
  • Architectural Photography
  • Lifestyle Photography
  • Travel Photography
  • HDR Photography
  • Panoramic Photography

 

2. Nikon – D3300 DSLR ($396) with kit lens

Nikon D3300 - Real Estate Photography Orange County | Virtual Tour Company Seattle | Aerial Photography Services San Diego

D3300 DSLR SUMMARY

The Nikon D3300 DSLR is a great camera in many ways: good build quality and good image quality. The D3300 DSLR excels in most areas although, the autofocus performance is a not the greatest and the limited external controls and small size may be a turn-off for some. If you’re ready to make the move to a DSLR camera, the Nikon D3300 DSLR camera is a nice starting point with a great combination of image quality, ease and price.

PROS

  • Excellent image quality with lots of fine detail
  • Good dynamic range
  • Uncompressed HDMI output
  • Very good high ISO performance
  • Deep buffers with JPEGs; 1080/60p video
  • Good print quality

CONS

  • AF struggles in low-light
  • Buffer depth is shallow with RAW files
  • No AE bracketing
  • No built-in Wi-Fi.
  • Contrast-detect AF in live view is slow

BEST USES

  • Fashion Photography
  • Landscape Photography
  • 360 Photography
  • Action Photography
  • Virtual Tour Photography
  • Real Estate Photography
  • Aerial Photography (attached to aerial drone)
  • Architectural Photography
  • Lifestyle Photography
  • Travel Photography
  • HDR Photography
  • Panoramic Photography

 

3. Sony – Alpha a6000 ($396) with Kit Lens

Sony a6000 - Real Estate Photography Orange County | Virtual Tour Company Seattle | Aerial Photography Services San Diego

A6000 SUMMARY

High-resolution and speedy processing crammed with plenty of desirable features, the Sony A6000 is also a couple hundred dollars less than its predecessor. Low price with high quality and features is the recipe for greatness. Our final verdict is that this affordable, swift-shooting camera is the best for its price.

PROS

  • Amazing image quality for the price
  • More compact than a DSLR
  • In-camera Wi-Fi wireless networking
  • Swift burst shooting with generous buffer depths
  • Blazing-fast hybrid autofocus
  • Good battery life with LCD monitor

CONS

  • Continuous autofocus can’t match its burst rate
  • No touch-screen display
  • Sluggish startup
  • Wi-Fi can be a bit frustrating to use
  • High-ISO JPEGs can look overprocessed

BEST USES

  • Fashion Photography
  • Wildlife Photography
  • Action Photography
  • Event Photography
  • Real Estate Photography
  • Architectural Photography
  • Lifestyle Photography
  • Travel Photography
  • HDR Photography
  • Time Lapse Photography
  • Panoramic Photography

 

Category 2: Beginner (Value)

1. Canon – EOS Rebel T6i DSLR ($749) body only

Canon EOS Rebel T6i - Real Estate Photography Orange County | Virtual Tour Company Seattle | Aerial Photography Services San Diego

T6I DSLR SUMMARY

With a new 24.2MP sensor, faster processor and an upgraded 19-point AF system, the T6i DSLR is a big update to the T5i DSLRand better option than the more basic T5 DSLR. It looks nearly identical to its predecessor, which isn’t a bad thing. The controls are easy and the camera is lightweight and comfortable. The Canon T6i DSLR is not ground-breaking, but it blends tried-and-true Canon DSLR characteristics with new features resulting in a well-rounded entry-level DSLR.

PROS

  • Highest resolution Canon APS-C camera yet
  • Touch Screen tilt/swivel LCD
  • Built-in Wi-Fi with NFC
  • Good high ISO performance for its class
  • Improved dynamic range over T5i
  • Very fast autofocus

CONS

  • Shallow buffer depth with RAW files
  • No 60p video frame rate
  • No Servo AF in Live View
  • Below average battery life

BEST USES

  • Fashion Photographer
  • Landscape Photographer
  • 360 Photographer
  • Virtual Tour Photographer
  • Real Estate Photographer
  • Architectural Photographer
  • Lifestyle Photographer
  • Food Photographer
  • HDR Photographer
  • Black and White Photographer
  • Panoramic Photographer

 

2. Nikon – D5500 DSLR ($696) body only

Nikon D5500 - Real Estate Photographer Orange County | Virtual Tour Company Seattle | Aerial Photography Services San Diego

D5500 DSLR SUMMARY

Nikon’s mid-level DSLR line gets a solid upgrade in the from the D5300 DSLR, it is the smallest and lightest DSLR yet made by Nikon. But there’s a lot of firepower packed inside this little gem, don’t let the small form factor fool you. This is a great, solid DSLR camera for the price and travels very well due to it’s size and weight.

PROS

  • Amazingly small for a DSLR
  • Generous JPEG buffer depth
  • Great image quality for its class
  • High resolution
  • superb low light and high ISO performance

CONS

  • No AA filter means it’s susceptible to aliasing artifacts
  • Buffer depths are shallow when shooting RAW
  • Lacks GPS from the predecessor

BEST USES

  • Landscape Photographer
  • 360 Photographer
  • Action Photographer
  • Virtual Tour Photographer
  • Real Estate Photographer
  • Aerial Photographer (attached to aerial drone)
  • Architecture Photographer
  • Travel Photographer
  • HDR Photographer
  • Panoramic Photographer

3. Sony Cyber Shot RX100 III ($748) with kit lens

Sony RX 100 III - Real Estate Photography Orange County | Virtual Tour Company Seattle | Aerial Photography Services San Diego

RX100 III SUMMARY

It was clear from the start that the Sony RX100 III would be an exciting camera, given that both its predecessors earned so many awards. Sony’s pocket size shooter line are in a class of their own, all three of these similar models are incredible cameras, we felt that the RX100 III was the best for it’s price.

PROS

  • High ISO noise levels much better than most pocket camera rivals
  • Wi-Fi wireless networking
  • Pop-up electronic viewfinder
  • Very high resolution gives lots of detail in good light
  • Bright lens across the zoom range
  • Great performance with very fast autofocus
  • Pocket-friendly design

CONS

  • Quite pricey for a fixed-lens camera
  • Not as much telephoto reach as its siblings
  • Noise processing is heavier-handed than in earlier models
  • Feels a little unbalanced without an accessory grip

BEST USES

  • Landscape Photography
  • Wildlife Photography
  • Action Photography
  • Event Photography
  • Virtual Tour Photography
  • Real Estate Photography
  • Architecture Photographer
  • Lifestyle Photography
  • Travel Photography
  • Black and White Photography
  • Time Lapse Photography
  • Panoramic Photography

 

Category 3: Photography Enthusiast

1. Nikon – D750 DSLR ($1,896) Body only

Nikon D750- Real Estate Photographer Orange County | Virtual Tour Company Seattle | Aerial Photography Services San Diego

D750 DSLR SUMMARY

The Nikon D750 DSLR is a middle ground powerhouse borrows from both the D610 and D810 for a great all-around multimedia DSLR. With a 24.3MP full-frame sensor and super fast processor, the D750 DSLR captures incredible, highly-detailed images with the best dynamic range and high ISO performance among DSLR’s. It also has the best burst shooting capabilities and low-light AF in it’s class. With an articulated LCD screen and other high-end movie features, the D750 DSLR is also a great option for multimedia producers and videographers.

PROS

  • Articulated LCD monitor
  • Class-leading burst rate
  • Excellent battery life
  • Built-in Wi-Fi
  • Very good 51-pt AF system
  • Uncompressed 4:2:2 HDMI video output
  • AF system works in very low light
  • Outstanding image quality with great dynamic range and high ISO performance
  • Deep, comfortable handgrip

CONS

  • Shutter speed tops out at 1/4000s
  • Sluggish Live View AF
  • Buffer fills quickly with 14-bit RAW
  • Weak low-pass filter is great for detail but higher risk of moire
  • OVF coverage closer to 97%

BEST USES

  • Landscape Photography
  • Fashion Photography
  • 360 Photography
  • Action Photography
  • Event Photography
  • Virtual Tour Photography
  • Real Estate Photography
  • Aerial Photography (attached to aerial drone)
  • Architecture Photography
  • Lifestyle Photography
  • Food Photography
  • Travel Photography
  • HDR Photography
  • Time Lapse Photography
  • Panoramic Photography

 

2. Canon – EOS 6D SLR ($1,399) Body Only

Canon EOS 6D - Real Estate Photographer Orange County | Virtual Tour Company Seattle | Aerial Photography Services San Diego

6D SLR SUMMARY

Canon has created a smaller, lighter weight and less expensive full-frame digital SLR for prosumer photographers with the 20.2-megapixel 6D SLR. The well-designed 6D SLR is essentially a mini 5D Mark III for the common folk. While it doesn’t feature as advanced a camera build as that step-up model, and its autofocus system is fairly basic, the Canon 6D SLR is otherwise a awesome, responsive DSLR that offers the advantages of full-frame in a slim but comfortable camera body.

PROS

  • Responsive all-around performer
  • Built-in GPS and geotagging
  • Superior HD video-shooting chops
  • Excellent image quality on par to more expensive full-frame DSLRs
  • Built-in Wi-Fi with remote control and sharing features

CONS

  • Mediocre burst speed
  • No external headphone jack
  • Rather basic 11-point autofocus system
  • Lacks a built-in, pop-up flash

BEST USES

  • 360 Photography
  • Action Photography
  • Event Photography
  • Virtual Tour Photography
  • Real Estate Photography
  • Architectural Photography
  • Travel Photography
  • HDR Photography
  • Black and White Photography
  • Panoramic Photography

 

3. Sony – A7II ($1,698) Body Only

Sony A7II - Real Estate Photographer Orange County | Virtual Tour Company Seattle | Aerial Photography Services San Diego

A7 II SUMMARY

Sony has another award winner on their hands with the A7 II. They addressed some of the design and ergonomic quirks of the original model, and provided a notable technological achievement with their 5-axis image stabilization. They also offered some subtle, yet worthwhile, performance enhancements. It is a is a more well-rounded camera and therefore an even more enticing option for those wanting full-frame image quality but not a full-frame DSLR-sized camera.

PROS

  • Mark II maintains same impressive image quality
  • Much-improved ergonomics and top-deck control layout
  • Excellent 5-axis sensor-shift image stabilization
  • Faster startup time
  • Hybrid AF performs well with good continuous AF
  • XAVC S 50 Mbps video format
  • Sensor-shift IS brings stabilization to nearly any lens
  • Dynamic range and high ISO performance

CONS

  • Loud shutter (but electronic first-curtain helps)
  • Low-light AF still not as good as most DSLRs
  • Slow buffer clearing
  • Battery life could be better
  • Limited selection of native Sony FE lenses
  • High ISO JPEGs look over-processed

BEST USES

  • Fashion Photography
  • Action Photography
  • Event Photography
  • Virtual Tour Photography
  • Real Estate Photography
  • Architectural Photographer
  • Lifestyle Photography
  • Food Photography
  • Travel Photography
  • HDR Photography
  • Black and White Photography
  • Panoramic Photography

 

*  Please note that camera review information has been pulled from Imaging Resource and other leading photography review sites.

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Author

Jason Sievert - CEO, Invision Studio

I believe in sharing knowledge with others when you have the chance; so I love to write an article every once in a while when I’m not busy running Invision Studio, climbing, hiking, traveling or reading. Don’t live life to work hard, work hard to live life!

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