DSLRs For Beginners: SLR Cameras Under Test

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Simply take great pictures, even with a small budget – very easy with a beginner DSLR. Camera For Me presents the top models from the tests.

SLR cameras are the classics among cameras. They give photographers more image quality and more design options than compact cameras or smartphones. Due to the system camera boom, there are fewer new entry-level models, but they remain recommendable: entry-level DSLRs cost little, can do a lot and regularly get good marks in the tests of CAMERA FOR ME. You can read here which affordable SLRs are particularly recommendable.

SLR cameras: These are the advantages

With an SLR, you always get a slightly larger camera that doesn’t fit into your pocket as easily as most compact cameras. But size isn’t a disadvantage in this case: Thanks to large handles, devices for beginners lie comfortably in the hand and offer enough space for large displays, dials, and buttons. The camera settings can thus be quickly adjusted if you don’t want to take pictures with the fully automatic mode. But entry-level models are also small and light enough to hang on your shoulder for hours with a weight of fewer than 700 grams. The lightest model is the Nikon D3500, which weighs only 615 grams with the standard Nikon AF-P DX Nikkor zoom 18-55mm f3.5-5.6G ED VR. The larger camera housings contain significantly larger sensors than are usual with compact cameras. A sensor in APS-C format (sensor size depending on manufacturer 14.9×22.3 (Canon) or 15.6×23.5 millimeters (Nikon, Pentax)) is usually used with a cheap SLR camera – these are up to 13 times larger than the sensor of a compact camera and collect so much more light. This ensures better image quality. This becomes particularly clear in larger printouts and when shooting in low light – the pictures look really good even in dim light. But the larger sensor also has a side effect that is especially great for portraits: when the aperture is open, the depth of field is comparatively shallow – making it very easy to separate the subject from the background. Especially when a cheap 50 mm lens like the Canon EF 50mm f1.8 STM or the Nikon AF-S Nikkor 50mm f1.8G is attached to the camera. Also always there: a viewfinder. This makes it possible to take a closer look at the subject even in bright sunshine when only reflections can be seen on the display. This is an advantage over many inexpensive compact and system cameras, which often do without a viewfinder for cost reasons.

DSLRs for beginners from Canon and Nikon

You will have to calculate around 350 dollar for the entry-level models from Canon and Nikon. The box also contains an 18-55 millimeter lens, whose focal length range (29-88 millimeters for Canon and 28-84 millimeters for Nikon, each converted to 35mm format) covers most of the motifs. Both the Canon EOS 2000D and the Nikon D3500 are very easy to use. Beginners quickly get along with it. If you don’t want to deal with the camera settings, simply set the program selector wheel to “green”. Then the fully automatic select all settings. Top for beginners: The guide mode of the Nikon D3500 explains to the photographer very precisely which automatic is suitable for which subject. For the Canon EOS 2000D, the app Canon Photo Companion (for Apple and Android) gives similar help and instructions. The image quality is really good with both cameras. The 24-megapixel sensors deliver beautifully detailed and crisp images. The Nikon D3500 delivers a bit sharper images, in dim light also a bit more detailed. But the difference is small. Perfect for snapshots: The autofocus systems of both cameras react very quickly and accurately, while the more expensive D3500 is a bit faster than the EOS 2000D. However, both cameras have to get by with only a few autofocus measuring points (EOS 2000D: 9, D3500: 11). This sometimes makes it a bit more difficult to precisely define the point the camera should focus on.

Current camera model or predecessor?

Previous models are rarely cheaper, for example when there is a special offer. So it’s worth taking a look at the brochures of the major electrical stores such as Media Markt, Saturn & Co. The Nikon D3400 now even costs more than its successor, the D3500. The latter is not only cheaper but also brings two useful improvements: The autofocus reacts faster and the larger handle gives the D3500 a better grip. It looks similar with Canon: The Canon EOS 1300D is only seldom offered and is now considerably more expensive than the successor models EOS 2000D and Canon EOS 4000D – so the current EOS 2000D is the best choice: its zoom has an image stabilizer (not that of the EOS 4000D). In addition, the sensor’s higher resolution (24 megapixels instead of 18 megapixels as with the EOS 1300D and EOS 4000D) ensures more detailed photos.

More zoom right from the start

Although entry-level SLR models are usually offered with an 18-55 mm zoom, there are also dealers who offer packages with other zoom lenses, such as the Canon EF-S 18-135mm f3.5-5 at Canon.6 IS STM (focal length 29-216 mm converted into 35mm format), for Nikon with the Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-105mm f3.5-5.6G ED VR or the Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-140mm f3.5-5.6G ED VR (focal length 28-161 or 28-214 mm converted into 35mm format). The Canon EOS 2000D with Canon EF-S 18-55mm f3.5-5.6 IS II costs about 350 dollar, with the 18-135 about 620 dollar (surcharge 270 dollar), individually the zoom costs about 400 dollar. With Nikon, the surcharge for more zoom is lower: With the 18-55 the D3500 costs around 350 dollar, with the 18-140 550 dollar (surcharge 200 dollar). The zoom, on the other hand, costs about around 370 dollar individually.

Better equipment: Canon EOS 800D, Nikon D5600

The fact that Canon and Nikon save a lot of equipment in their smallest models in favor of a significantly lower price is shown by cameras like the Canon EOS 800D, the largely identical Canon EOS 77D and the Nikon D5600. For example, photographers can get much more complex autofocus with 45 (Canon) or 39 (Nikon) measuring points for about 180 dollar (Nikon) or about 300 dollar (Canon) extra charge. In addition, there is a turn/fold display as well as a bit more speed and a bit better image quality. The 24-megapixel sensor of the EOS 800D and EOS 77D also offers faster autofocus for videos thanks to Canon’s own dual-pixel technology. All three cameras record video in Full HD (1920×1080 pixels) at a maximum of 60 frames per second. If you want to film in 4K with a DSLR, you have to dig deeper into Nikon’s pocket. The cheapest model is the Nikon D7500, which is available with the recommended zoom Nikon AF-S DX Nikkor 18-140mm f3.5-5.6G ED VR from about 1,300 dollar. At Canon, there is 4K video cheap only in the new Canon EOS 250D and the system camera Canon EOS M50. Of course, 4K is with expensive professional models with full format sensor like the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, the Canon EOS-1D X Mark II and the new system cameras Canon EOS R and Canon EOS RP.

Pentax: Weatherproof for beginners

If you are looking for a weatherproof reflex with a tight budget, you will quickly end up with Pentax. The somewhat older Pentax K-S2 is available from around 500 dollar – quite a chunk for this price class: it weighs 835 grams including zoom, battery and memory card. This is where the solid construction becomes noticeable: Plenty of metal and a few dozen seals ensure that the small Pentax is tough – in wind and weather. Despite its generous weight, the K-S2 is quite compact. This is due to its zoom: the Pentax HD DA 18-50mm f4-5.6 DC WR RE can be pushed together when not in use and then projects only 4 centimeters forward. If you’re shooting with a Pentax for the first time, you won’t need long to find your way around. The operation is simple, the menus quite clear. The pictures of the K-S2 (test score: 2.30, old test procedure) are great with a low ISO setting, with a higher ISO setting they rustle a bit more. Unfortunately, video films aren’t much fun with the K-S2: the autofocus is quite lame and loud. The resolution of Full HD is 30 frames per second. The successor to the K-S2 is the K-70 with a better sensor and somewhat better equipment – it’s available from about 600 dollar. With Pentax cameras, a price comparison is particularly worthwhile, as the prices of the individual dealers differ greatly – depending on which lens is included.

Top SLR cameras under test

Those who can spend more money on an SLR camera have a large selection at Canon, Nikon, and Pentax. Even system camera specialist Sony offers with the Sony Alpha 99 II another model. No matter whether extreme speed, maximum picture quality or ultra robust. And if you want to follow the trend towards system cameras, you will find tips on selecting the right camera in advice section.

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