Plenty of cameras could qualify for the best DSLRs for video. While mirrorless cameras tend to be where most technological advancements are happening, there's a lot to be said for a solid DSLR, as they tend to be cheaper and have a much wider selection of lenses. A DSLR as a system is a really solid choice for video shooters across the spectrum – but it pays to do your research and get the right one.
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There's plenty of choice out there, even though new DSLRs are a rarer breed these days. Older models are still plentifully available, many at knock-down prices, and this can make it hard to make sure you spend your money in the right place. The best DSLR overall is not necessarily the best one for video.
Here, we've compiled a quick guide to the features you should look out for when picking the best DSLR for video:
Resolution Simply the number of pixels you're shooting. These days, 4K is the standard that professional users and clients will expect, so you may want to make sure you get a DSLR that shoots video at this resolution. A lot of them do. But be careful – some will shoot 4K with a vicious crop that renders it almost unusable. Also, if you're shooting video in a more amateur way, or just for social media, then you definitely don't need 4K, and Full HD will be more than adequate.
LCD screen While many stills shooters can take or leave an articulated LCD screen, for video users, it's vital. Being able to compose shots from different angles, and even flip the screen around to allow you to film yourself, is vital for solo video content creators, so you'll ideally want to get a DSLR with a screen that can be moved about.
Autofocus While it's common for videographers to manually focus, having a good video autofocus system is a powerful part of your arsenal and gives you a great deal of flexibility. Shooting video with Live View (using the LCD) has an impact of autofocus, so you'll want to check what kind of Live View autofocus a DSLR offers, and how good it is.
Frame rates Resolution is only half the story when it comes to the kind of video a camera is capable of shooting; it also matters what frame rates it can shoot at. For instance, 24p (or 24fps) will give you a cinematic look, as this is the classic frame rate of motion picture film. 30p is a good all-around option, while 60p is noticeably smoother. Once you get higher than this, into 120p and up, you're into slow motion territory, which can be hugely useful to have available.
We've divided our guide up into sections. First we deal with the best video DSLRs for beginners, then a selection of higher-grade but affordable models that are suited for enthusiasts and those with a little experience behind them. Lastly, we've listed the best video DSLRs for expert users and professionals.
The best DSLRs for video in 2022
Best for beginners(opens in new tab)
If you’re just starting out with making video content, then you’ll probably have a restricted budget. For that reason, the Canon EOS 250D is an excellent option for beginners. You get a decent degree of video specs, in a very wallet-friendly model.
4K video is available - but with a fairly big crop (on top of the already cropped sensor), but at up to 60fps available in Full HD, you’ve got enough flexibility for recording vlogs.
Speaking of which, the fact that the screen fully articulates makes recording pieces to camera super easy, while the relatively small size of the camera makes it well-suited to travel, too.(opens in new tab)
This all-rounder is ideal for those who like to record both stills and video, especially photographers who are just starting to experiment with video content.
With its APS-C sized sensor and 4K crop applied, its best performance comes from Full HD video recording which you can capture up to 60fps. The screen tilts, making awkward angles helpful - though it should be noted that it doesn’t face all the way forward, so vlogging/presenting is harder to achieve.
In Live View mode, the D7500 uses contrast-detect AF. Although this is slower than shooting through the viewfinder, so long as your subject isn’t particularly erratic it’s still a decent performer.(opens in new tab)
The D500 is another excellent all-rounder that is well suited to photographers who are just starting to dabble in video content creation. With it being a few years old, you can also pick it up for a great price now - making it ideal for upgraders with a limited budget.
4K is offered (with a crop), so it’s Full HD you’re probably likely to use more often - with which you get a decent range of frame rates to make use of. The screen is another tilting device, which is useful for some awkward angles, but less appealing for vloggers and presenters.
Other useful features include a built-in interval timer, a time-lapse recording function and headphone / microphone sockets.
Intermediate enthusiasts(opens in new tab)
There’s a lot to like about the Canon EOS 90D if you’re looking for a video-centric DSLR. With uncropped 4K video and a range of frame rates - particularly in full HD - this is an ideal mid-level DSLR.
The fully-articulating touchscreen makes it ideal for capturing all sorts of angles, including presenting to camera, while the Dual Pixel CMOS AF puts in a good performance when shooting video. Another bonus is the headphone and microphone connectors too, allowing you to get serious about sound.
If you’re somebody that shoots stills as well as video, the 90D is a fantastic all-rounder, with its high-resolution sensor being well-suited to both types of content.(opens in new tab)
The Nikon D850 has been the DSLR to beat for several years, and with its blend of high-resolution sensor, excellent handling and range of features, it’s arguably still the king of the sector.
For video users, you get uncropped 4K and a diverse range of frame rates in both 4K and Full HD resolutions. Unlike many professional/advanced-level full-frame DSLRs, the screen tilts. Although that’s not super-handy for vlogging, it’s very helpful for recording from other awkward angles.
This is a DSLR which is ideal for those who are photographers first, and want to put all of their expertise into video - regularly switching between the two types of content. Other useful high-end video features include advanced sound controls, along with a headphone and microphone connection.(opens in new tab)
Using a full-frame DSLR for video makes a lot of sense, but if you’re keen not to overspend, the D780 is a good intermediate option that gives you a lot of value for money.
You get uncropped 4K here, with a range of frame rates if you step down to Full HD - including slow motion recording. Once again, we’ve got a tilting screen - rather than fully articulating - so it’s best suited to video content creators rather than vloggers.
There’s a range of professional video specs that might also come in handy such as N-Log recording, Hybrid Log Gamma (HLG) and Timecode output. Microphone and headphone sockets round out the spec sheet to make this appealing to serious movie shooters(opens in new tab)
If you’re really after a full-frame DSLR for your video, but you don’t want to spend a huge amount, the Canon EOS 6D Mark II is a good “entry-level” full-framer that suits those who create occasional videos.
The biggest downside here is the lack of 4K shooting, something which will be a deal-breaker for some but less so for others. Otherwise, you get a good degree of frame rates and the Dual Pixel CMOS AF works well, too. A vari-angle touchscreen makes it easy to capture awkward angles too.
Primarily, this is a camera for stills photographers, but if video is a secondary concern it’s certainly worth thinking about.
Experts and professionals(opens in new tab)
It was the 5D series that started the trend for video in DSLRs, the legacy of which we can still see today in modern DSLRs and even mirrorless cameras.
If you’re keen to stick with the Canon brand, then the 5D Mark IV is a fantastic option that will suit advanced shooters and video makers. There’s 4K (albeit subject to a crop), and a great range of different frame rates - though you will have to drop down to 720p HD to record slow-motion.
Other useful video features include microphone and headphone sockets, time-lapse video recording, HDR Movie and the ability to record in Canon Log Gamma.
On the downside however, the screen is fixed in place, making it less suitable to unusual angles, and totally unsuitable for vlogging / presenting to camera.(opens in new tab)
The Canon 1DX Mark III has a huge wealth of video features - but you’ll likely need huge wealth if you want to buy one.
If money is no object it’s the camera to go for, thanks to specifications such as uncropped 4K video at up to 60fps. You can even go one step further and produce 4K RAW (also known as 5.5K).
Smooth focusing is provided thanks to Dual Pixel CMOS AF (though it’s to be noted that this is not available in uncropped 4K/RAW at 60/50p), while there’s also a host of manual focusing controls, such as focus peaking, that professionals crave.
If video is at the forefront of your mind, the 1DX Mark III is an excellent choice - but the fixed screen is a disappointment considering the rest of the otherwise high-end specs.
Nikon’s flagship DSLR is a good choice for professionals who mainly shoot stills, but also want a capable video camera.
Unfortunately, especially considering the price tag, 4K video comes with a crop, but Full HD gives you a good range of frame rates to work with.
Autofocusing via Live View is also a bit of a let down here, especially again in comparison to its stellar performance through the viewfinder. If you’re primarily a stills shooter, it’ll be less of an issue, but it is a disappointment for a flagship.
Putting those issues aside, there are some useful other features, such as focus peaking, zebras and time coding - so as long as you’re happy with manual focusing it can still be a very good tool for professionals. A fixed screen makes it less appealing to vloggers / presenters, but for that type of user, the D6 is likely be overkill anyway.
How we test cameras
We test mirrorless and DSLR cameras both in real-world shooting scenarios and in carefully controlled lab conditions. Our lab tests measure resolution, dynamic range and signal to noise ratio. Resolution is measured using ISO resolution charts, dynamic range is measured using DxO Analyzer test equipment and DxO Analyzer is also used for noise analysis across the camera's ISO range. We use these real-world testing and lab results to inform our comments in buying guides. For compact cameras, we judge on real world handling and photographic results alone.
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