We regularly test the latest single-lens reflex cameras (DSLR). You will find all of the top products that have been tested in these leader-boards
- Our place 1: Nikon D6
- Our 2nd place: Canon EOS-1D X Mark III
- Our 3rd place: Nikon D780
- For professionals and beginners: The best digital SLR cameras
- Test winner: The best digital SLR cameras can do that
- The heart of the digital reflex camera: the sensor
- Find the right lens for your digital SLR camera
- Questions Before You Buy: Compare DSLRs and Find the Best Deal
- The best SLR cameras in comparison
Our place 1: Nikon D6
Big, heavy and very expensive: the Nikon D6 is not a camera for everyone – but sports and action photographers are impressed by the top professional SLR with great image quality, very high speed and top autofocus: It not only sets photos very quickly sharp, but also tracks the sharpness extremely precisely. The sensor has “only” 20 megapixels, but is extremely light-sensitive. Even with a very, very high ISO setting, the pictures look great – it doesn’t get any better (yet). The Nikon D6 is a top photo camera and deserves to be at the top of the best list. When filming, it only offers 4K video, but unfortunately no additional functions such as RAW video or recordings in log format.
Our 2nd place: Canon EOS-1D X Mark III
The Canon EOS-1D X Mark III is a dream for sports and action photographers: extremely fast and extremely durable in series, with an extremely fast-reacting and very precise autofocus. The 20 megapixel sensor delivers top quality images, even in very little light. But the EOS-1D X Mark III shines not only when taking photos, but also when filming – Canon’s top professional camera scores with top quality and many professional functions, such as the ability to record videos with an even higher resolution (5.5K) and in RAW format. Is there still something to complain about? Just in terms of weight and price – the EOS-1D X Mark III is not only quite heavy, but also quite expensive.
Our 3rd place: Nikon D780
The Nikon D780 is an all-round successful mixture: The very solid housing lies comfortably in the hand, operation is very easy for experienced photographers, only the abundance of functions requires a little manual study from time to time. The D780’s 24-megapixel sensor scores with any light – even with ISO 6400, the images look good. In addition, it has a fast phase change autofocus, an advantage when taking photos and filming in LiveView. For sports and action photos, the photographer is best looking through the viewfinder. Then there is a fairly fast and very precise autofocus – only the top professional models are better!.
For professionals and beginners: The best digital SLR cameras
Digital SLR cameras are no longer just for professionals. Hobby photographers and beginners can also achieve excellent results with a DSLR. In comparison, easy-to-use models with a powerful image sensor and lens are convincing. Comprehensive image programs enable brilliant photos in every (light) situation, without the need for time-consuming manual settings. Together with the right accessories, professionals and beginners alike can find affordable SLR camera sets.
Test winner: The best digital SLR cameras can do that
You can get a good DSLR from Nikon and Co. for up to 500 euros – these are mostly SLR cameras for beginners. In the test, the models achieved top marks, which are comparatively compact, easy to use and powerful. The following criteria are taken into account in test reports:
- Image sensor: The heart of every DSLR is the image sensor. Basically, the following rule of thumb applies: the larger the image sensor, the better the image quality, even in difficult lighting conditions. Which sensor sizes play a role is explained in more detail below.
- Resolution: The resolution is given in megapixels and shows how many pixels a sensor has. Here, too, the following applies: the larger the value, the higher the resolution, i.e. also the image quality. With digital SLR cameras for beginners, ten to 20 megapixels are usually sufficient, while professional models come with up to 36 megapixels. How high the resolution actually has to be also depends on the size in which you want to develop photos later.
- Maximum shutter speed: The shutter speed, also known as exposure time, indicates how short or long the period of time can be in which light falls on the sensor. With short shutter speeds, even very fast movements can still be recorded sharply. With a good DSLR, the maximum shutter speed is up to 1/4000 seconds.
- Lens: In addition to the image sensor, the lens is the most important part of a digital SLR camera. With a suitable lens, even 3D photography is possible. When buying, make sure that you are buying a set of camera housing (body) and lens or just the housing. The focal length of the lens is crucial for brilliant photos. Choosing the best lens is discussed in more detail below.
- Video function: The best DSLRs have a video function and deliver moving images in at least Full HD. If you want to record videos in 4K, you have to dig deeper into your pocket.
- Operation: The top models on the leaderboard have a display with touchscreen and a viewfinder. A good resolution and a size of at least 2.5 to 3 inches (screen diagonal) are decisive for the display. The brightness should be adjustable. Digital reflex cameras with swiveling displays and live view, i.e. real-time transmission of the subject, are particularly convenient. Using an optical viewfinder, you can see exactly the image section you want to photograph. The touchscreen and viewfinder are complemented by easy-to-use function keys next to the display. The best way to find out how easily you can reach the individual buttons is to take a few test photos.
- Image programs and settings: Various intelligent image programs are particularly beneficial for beginners with a DSLR. A distinction is made here between automatic, semi-automatic and complete manual programs. Depending on the subject and light situation, for example, the exposure time, aperture and focus are adjusted automatically or by hand. Some cameras also support the photographer with suitable apps and guides. Basic functions are also the autofocus, various exposure methods and the white balance.
- Connections and interfaces: Good DSLRs can be connected to a smartphone or other digital device and controlled via Bluetooth, WLAN and / or NFC. In addition, a microphone, USB and HDMI connection are part of the basic equipment.
- Size and weight: Although digital SLR cameras are not as small and light as compact cameras, they usually weigh well under a kilo. Before you buy a model, you should try out how the camera fits in the hand and how heavy it is with all the equipment.
- Accessories: A good DSLR usually comes with a battery, charger and strap. If necessary, add a spare battery, a transport bag and various lenses to your set. A separate flash, memory cards and a tripod can also be useful accessories.
The heart of the digital reflex camera: the sensor
Basically, the larger the image sensor or sensor chip of a DSLR, the more pixels are recorded and the lower the noise is the final image. There are three different sensor sizes that can be relevant for your SLR camera:
- APS-C sensor: APS-C stands for “Advanced Photo System – Classic” and the sensor has an edge length of 23 x 15 mm. The advantage of this sensor size is that it takes up little space and the camera is kept correspondingly small and compact. In terms of price, APS-C sensors are also more likely to be found in cheaper DSLRs for beginners.
- Full format sensor: The full format sensor has an edge length of approx. 32 x 24 mm and is therefore ideally suited for extremely sharp, detailed photos. To get the best results with a full frame sensor, you need a powerful lens with a long focal length. You can usually find such sensors in more expensive professional DSLRs.
- Medium format sensor: With an edge length of 48 x 36 mm, this sensor is almost twice as large as the full format sensor. They are usually only used in connection with the corresponding motifs in very expensive professional cameras, for example in photo studios, since photos can easily be taken here for development in poster size.
Find the right lens for your digital SLR camera
Whether landscape or portrait: there is a suitable lens for every situation. When buying a DSLR, be sure to check whether you are getting the housing only or a kit or set of camera and lens. If you want to buy an extra lens, pay attention to the following points:The lock:
With DSLR there are two different locks for attaching the lens – the screw lock and the bayonet lock . The latter is the now more frequent and quicker to use shutter, as the lens is attached here and clicked into place with a short turn.Zoom or fixed focal length:
Especially for beginners, a zoom or telephoto lens is much more practical than a lens with a fixed focal length. With the cheaper telephoto lens, focal lengths of approx. 28 to 300 mm are possible. Standard for entry-level DSLRs are 18 – 55 mm. Lenses with a fixed focal length, as the name suggests, can only have one focal length and are usually more for the professional. The image quality may be a bit better here, but they are also more expensive.Auto focus:
The auto focus is used to automatically set the distance and thus the focus between the camera and the object. A distinction is made between one-time autofocus (for stationary subjects) and continuous autofocus (for moving subjects). If necessary, make sure that the autofocus can be deactivated, because sometimes a blur on an object can also be desired.Manufacturer:
Equal and alike like to join together – this is especially true for lenses and cameras. Most manufacturers are very peculiar in this regard and a camera is only compatible with an in-house lens.By the way:
there are now lenses with which you can take 3D images. Using a suitable lens, two images from different perspectives are taken of an object at the same time.
Questions Before You Buy: Compare DSLRs and Find the Best Deal
Even if there are already digital SLR cameras for beginners for up to or under 500 euros, the acquisition of such a device is a long-term investment that needs to be carefully considered. To find the best camera, ask yourself the following questions:
What do I want to photograph?
Digital SLR cameras are suitable for almost any type of photography. There may be differences in the image programs and in the lens.
What do I want to do with the photos?
If you “only” want to take photos for your own photo album, an inexpensive entry-level model with a conventional APS-C sensor is sufficient. You can also use a smaller memory card, as JPGs require significantly less space than high-resolution RAW files.
How much do I want to be able to determine myself?
There are digital single-lens reflex cameras with numerous fully automatic image programs and models in which you can set a great deal yourself.
Where do I use the camera?
If you travel a lot with the DSLR, a waterproof, particularly robust camera can make sense – but at the same time it should be compact and light. It may be worth purchasing an extra battery.
Which accessories do I need?
If you know in advance that you will need a tripod, a transport bag and other accessories, look out for the corresponding set offers. These often convince with an excellent price-performance ratio.When comparing SLR cameras, you should also make sure that you compare sets of equivalent value to one another: Often brands only offer the housing or the body and the lens has to be purchased separately.