The best DSLR in 2024: Chunky, classic camera designs still loved today

The best DSLRs still stack up really well against the latest mirrorless cameras, especially if you value old-school handling over the latest gadgets. Mirrorless cameras may be all the rage now, but DSLR design still offers a strong, chunky build, value for money, and a range of lenses that mirrorless cameras have yet to match. We've tested every DSLR on the market, and these are our favorites right now.

We have an article on DSLRs vs mirrorless cameras that spells out all the technical and practical differences, and while mirrorless cameras do have very clear advantages in some respects, it's by no means one-sided.

DSLRs are an affordable way of making the jump from a camera phone or a point-and-shoot compact camera. Another big advantage of investing in a DSLR over a mirrorless camera is that you've got years' worth of lenses to choose from. For more on this, check out our guide to the best camera lenses to buy.

A handful of DSLR highlights deserve special attention: the Nikon D850 is a beefy professional camera that's a joy to use and has the resolution, shooting speed, and even video capabilities to be relevant today. For enthusiasts, the powerful Canon EOS 90D does everything the best mirrorless cameras in its class can do, with the handling and optical viewfinder of a DSLR.

Just be aware that both Canon and Nikon have now abandoned the DSLR segment and are unlikely to ever release another new DSLR camera model. Both manufacturers are also gradually discontinuing their DSLR lenses to instead focus on mirrorless lenses, and third-party lens manufacturers like Sigma and Tamron are doing the same.

Sebastian Oakley
Sebastian Oakley

For nearly two decades Sebastian's work has been published internationally. Originally specializing in Equestrianism, his visuals have been used by the leading names in the equestrian industry such as The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), The Jockey Club, Horse & Hound, and many more for various advertising campaigns, books, and pre/post-event highlights.

He is familiar with and shows great interest in medium and large format photography with products by Phase One, Hasselblad, Alpa, and Sinar. He has used many cinema cameras from the likes of Sony, RED, ARRI, and everything in between.

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The best DSLRs in 2024

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Best for megapixels

(Image credit: Future)
Best for megapixels

Specifications

Type: DSLR
Sensor: Full frame
Megapixels: 45.7MP
Lens mount: Nikon FX
Screen: 3.2in tilting touchscreen, 2,359,000 dots
Viewfinder: Pentaprism
Max burst speed: 7fps
Max video resolution: 4K
User level: Enthusiast/professional

Reasons to buy

+
Mighty resolving power
+
Pro-grade build but still compact

Reasons to avoid

-
Fairly noisy at very high ISO settings
-
Vertical grip is an optional add-on

We found the Nikon D850 an expensive camera when it was first launched, but now prices have fallen and its 45.7MP resolution is spectacular.

The Nikon D850 is amazing for video features too and makes it one of the best DSLRs for video around – though the newer Nikon D780 would be a better and cheaper choice for videographers. 

We know the Nikon D850 doesn't have the new Nikon D780's hybrid on-sensor autofocus technology, so its live view autofocus speeds are relatively pedestrian, but we don't find that much of a handicap for measured professional photographic shoots, and it scarcely puts a dent in the D850's all-round appeal as arguably the best DSLR of all time for professional photographers. It looked spectacular when it first came out in 2017, and it looks just as good today... but cheaper!

Read our full Nikon D850 review for more details

Best for beginners

(Image credit: Rod Lawton)
Best for beginners

Specifications

Type: DSLR
Sensor: APS-C
Megapixels: 24.2MP
Lens mount: Canon EF-S
Screen: 3in vari-angle touchscreen, 1,040,000 dots
Max burst speed: 5fps
Max video resolution: 4K
User level: Beginner

Reasons to buy

+
Guided screen options
+
Pivoting touchscreen
+
4K video

Reasons to avoid

-
The body might be too small for some

There are a few Canon cameras that are cheaper than the Canon EOS Rebel SL3 (known as the 250D in Europe) but they lack its features and build quality. 

You don't have to pay that much extra to have features such as a vari-angle touchscreen, a 24.3-megapixel sensor with Canon's Dual Pixel CMOS AF Technology which makes the autofocus in live mode really fast – just like a mirrorless camera's – and guided screen options to help you learn. It's also capable of 4K video so if you think you might want to have a go at filmmaking, this may be better for you than the Nikon D3500. 

Having used Canon's cheapest DSLRs (sorry, Canon), we think the EOS Rebel SL3/250D is definitely worth the extra.

Read our full Canon EOS Rebel SL3/250D review for more details

Best for professionals

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)
Best for professionals

Specifications

Type: DSLR
Sensor: Full frame
Megapixels: 20.1MP
Lens mount: Canon EF-mount
Screen: 3.2-inch fixed touchscreen, 2.1million dots
Viewfinder: Pentaprism
Max burst speed: Optical viewfinder 16fps mechanical shutter / Live View 20fps mechanical or electronic shutter
Max video resolution: 4K RAW, 4K DCI, 4K UHD
User level: Professional

Reasons to buy

+
Smart Controller is a revelation
+
Deep Learning AF genuinely impresses
+
HDR stills and video standards
+
Uncropped 4K!

Reasons to avoid

-
Lower resolution than Sony A9 II
-
No animal AF (yet)
-
No image stabilization
-
No tilting LCD screen

The Canon EOS1-D X Mark III is a pro-grade camera stuffed with cutting-edge tech. The high-spec treats include deep learning autofocus, an optical Smart Controller, CFexpress, HEIF and HDR PQ support, 12-bit internal 4K RAW, AF head tracking and plenty more besides. The EOS1-D X Mark III is a very clever camera that merges the benefits of DSLR and mirrorless cameras into a hybrid body that's equally adept at shooting stills and video.

Here you get the best of both worlds: the ultimate speed we love from a DSLR, paired with the accuracy of mirrorless body. This is a hugely versatile camera that adapts to the requirements of individual photographers and their shooting demands.

When reviewing the EOS1-D X Mark III we were also very pleased to find that Canon has finally managed to enable uncropped 4K video recording - a feature that had long eluded the manufacturer.

Read our full Canon EOS-1D X Mark III review for more details

Best for affordability

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)
Best for affordability

Specifications

Type: DSLR
Sensor: APS-C
Megapixels: 24.2 MP
Screen: 3-inch tilting LCD, 921,000 dots
Viewfinder: Optical
Max burst speed: 6fps
Max video resolution: Full HD 1080p
User level: Enthusiast

Reasons to buy

+
Hybrid autofocus
+
Weather-resistant
+
In-camera shake reduction

Reasons to avoid

-
Max 1080p video

For anyone who is not quite ready to make the switch to mirrorless but wants the latest release with modern features, the Pentax KF is your only choice, as Canon and Nikon have now abandoned DSLR development for good.

Pentax aficionados will notice plenty of similarities between the Pentax K-70 and Pentax KF. Minor improvements include a higher-res LCD screen, and the newer camera is a little lighter. Remember that this is a mid-range camera not a bleeding-edge flagship, so don't expect the most exciting camera ever, but what it does, it does really well. 

During our time reviewing the KF we appreciated its Hybrid AF, 4.5 stops of in-body image stabilization, built-in flash (a feature you won't always get in a mid-range camera), and the KF's articulating screen. This is a highly capable camera, but one that's sadly let down by a lack of 4K video recording - at least its 1080p output is good enough for online viewing.

All-weather dependability is ensured that's to the KF's rugged weather sealed build - it's water- and dust-proof, and is even capable of operating in temperatures as low as 14°F (-10°C).

Read our full Pentax KF review for more details

Best for students

(Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)
Best for students

Specifications

Type: DSLR
Sensor: Full frame
Megapixels: 24.4MP
Lens mount: Nikon FX
Screen: 3.2in tilting screen, 2,359k dots
Viewfinder: Pentaprism
Max burst speed: 7/12fps
Max video resolution: 4K UHD
User level: Enthusiast/professional

Reasons to buy

+
Great handling
+
Fast live view AF
+
Uncropped 4K video

Reasons to avoid

-
Two AF systems to master
-
Manual live view swapping
-
Still quite expensive

The long-awaited upgrade to the much-loved Nikon D750 certainly didn't disappoint us. The Nikon D780 includes the same on-sensor phase detection autofocus as the Nikon Z6 to give the same mirrorless live view performance – a great advantage for stills photography and especially for video. 

Admittedly, Nikon was a bit slow off the mark as Canon has used its own Dual Pixel CMOS AF in its DSLRs to do the same thing for years. However, the D780 doesn't just have advanced live view AF – it also comes with a high-resolution tilting touchscreen display, 4K UHD video, dual UHS-II compatible memory card slots, and continuous shooting speeds up to 12fps in live view mode.

Combine that with its solid design and comfortable grip and you've got a camera that's an instant classic. We found during our time reviewing the D780 that it combines a well-thought-out design with a solid build and very satisfying handling.

Read our full Nikon D780 review for more details 

Best for astrophotography

(Image credit: James Artaius)
Best for astrophotography

Specifications

Type: DSLR
Sensor: Full frame
Megapixels: 36MP
Lens mount: Pentax K
Screen: 3in three-way-tilt, 1,037k dots
Viewfinder: Pentaprism
Max burst speed: 4.4/6.4fps
Max video resolution: 1080p (Full HD)
User level: Enthusiast/professional

Reasons to buy

+
Robust construction
+
5-axis image stabilisation

Reasons to avoid

-
Pedestrian continuous drive speed
-
Relatively low 670-shot battery life

Even as the likes of Canon and Nikon abandon the DSLR format, Pentax continues on regardless, stick to what it knows best. Unsurprisingly then, we found the Pentax K-1 Mark II to be a typically solid yet unadventurous camera. It boasts a rugged, weather-sealed build, teamed with a very effective sensor-shift image stabilization system. The advantage of this technology is that it'll work with any attached lens, unlike rival Canon and Nikon DSLRs, which have to make do with lens-based optical image stabilization only.

Another benefit of in-body stabilization is the 5-axis stabilizer has trick modes that can enable anti-aliasing correction, and the system is even able to increase fine detail and texture using a Pixel Shift feature and multiple exposures. There's also an Astrotracer mode that helps stop stars appearing to streak across the night sky - a genuinely useful feature for astrophotography.

The K-1 Mark II is based around a 36-megapixel full-frame sensor, so you won't be short on resolving power. However we reckon the 33-point autofocus system feels outdated, and we found autofocussing in Live View to be particularly sluggish.

Read our full Pentax K-1 Mark II review for more details 

Best all-rounder

(Image credit: Rod Lawton/Digital Camera World)
Best all-rounder

Specifications

Type: DSLR
Sensor: APS-C
Megapixels: 32.5MP
Lens mount: Canon EF-S
Screen: 3in vari-angle touchscreen, 1,040,000 dots
Viewfinder: Pentaprism
Max burst speed: 10fps
Max video resolution: 4K UHD
User level: Enthusiast

Reasons to buy

+
Highest APS-C resolution yet
+
10fps continuous shooting
+
Uncropped 4K video

Reasons to avoid

-
Limited buffer capacity
-
18-135mm IS USM lens disappointing
-
Losing detail by ISO 1600

We spent some time testing the Canon EOS 90D and we are convinced this is the best Canon camera for those wanting a great all-rounder. It arrived with groundbreaking specs that no other DSLR in this category can match, and packs in an amazing 32.5 million pixels – the highest megapixel count for an APS-C DSLR - though you shouldn't expect to see any obvious and instant benefit in image quality. 

It all depends on the lenses, and the 18-135mm kit lens supplied for our review is not one of Canon's best. Instead, we were able to revel in the 90D's 10fps continuous shooting capability and its uncropped 4K video capture – a consumer-level Canon that (finally) doesn't reduce the angle of view for 4K video. 

The extra megapixels do dent the EOS 90D's high ISO/low light performance, but this camera has so many capabilities and so much potential, we think it's a dazzlingly good all-rounder for those that want to try every facet of photography. What's more, with its flip-out screen and Dual Pixel CMOS AF, it's just like using a mirrorless camera in live view mode.

Read our full Canon EOS 90D review for more details, or read our  Canon EOS 90D vs EOS 80D vs EOS 7D Mark II

Best for enthusiasts

(Image credit: Future)
Best for enthusiasts

Specifications

Type: DSLR
Sensor: APS-C
Megapixels: 20.9MP
Lens mount: Nikon DX
Screen: 3.2in tilting touchscreen, 922,000 dots
Viewfinder: Pentaprism
Max burst speed: 8fps
Max video resolution: 4K
User level: Enthusiast

Reasons to buy

+
Has the best bits from the D500
+
Lightweight build

Reasons to avoid

-
Less robust than the D500
-
Downgraded autofocus system

Despite being released back in 2017, our time reviewing the D7500 has convinced us that the Nikon D7500 deserves recognition as one of the best DSLRs for enthusiasts, even now. It's a decent all-rounder and Nikon's equivalent to the Canon EOS 90D. It offers a slightly faster continuous burst shooting speed at 8fps, though lacks the resolution of the 90D.

The 51-point autofocus system is reliable and it has the ability to record 4K video. It has a tilting rear screen rather than the fully-articulated design on the EOS 90D and relies on slower contrast AF in live view mode, but if you do most of your shooting through the viewfinder these will be small points.

Nikon fans who like sports photography might also want to hunt down a Nikon D500, but this is a much more expensive camera and is now hard to find.

Read our full Nikon D7500 review for more details

Best option for just stills

(Image credit: James Artaius)
Best option for just stills

Specifications

Type: DSLR
Sensor: Full frame
Megapixels: 26.2MP
Lens mount: Canon EF
Screen: 3.2in vari-angle touchscreen, 1,040,000 dots
Viewfinder: Pentaprism
Max burst speed: 6.5fps
Max video resolution: 1080p (Full HD)
User level: Enthusiast

Reasons to buy

+
Packs a lot of upgrades
+
Lightweight for a full-frame DSLR

Reasons to avoid

-
Pricier than the original EOS 6D
-
AF points clustered in centre of frame

The Canon EOS 6D Mark II is now quite an old camera, but while its specifications are hardly cutting edge, this is still a powerful and versatile DSLR for photographers taking their first steps in full-frame photography. Most important of all, we think it's versatile, extremely well-designed, and straightforward to use. 

The 26-megapixel sensor is good rather than great, but it does have Canon’s Dual Pixel CMOS AF system, so the live view autofocus is very fast and effective. The 45-point viewfinder AF system is pretty good too, although the focus points are all clustered toward the center of the screen. 

The EOS 6D Mark II can capture images at 6.5fps in burst mode and has an extremely useful vari-angle touchscreen display. It has been upstaged somewhat by Canon's mirrorless models, but the 6D Mark II is still a solid buy that's cheaper than the Nikon D780.

Read our full Canon EOS 6D Mark II review for more details

Best for stills and video

(Image credit: Canon)
Best for stills and video

Specifications

Type: DSLR
Sensor: Full frame
Megapixels: 30.4MP
Lens mount: Canon EF
Screen: 3.2in touchscreen, 1,620,000 dots
Viewfinder: Pentaprism
Max burst speed: 7fps
Max video resolution: 4K
User level: Enthusiast/professional

Reasons to buy

+
30.4MP is a good compromise
+
Pro performance, manageable size

Reasons to avoid

-
Touchscreen fixed in place
-
Big price jump from EOS 5D Mark III

Released in 2016, the Canon EOS 5D IV is still a popular camera among professional photographers. We we were very impressed with the camera when we reviewed it at its launch, though we have to admit that it's now showing its age both for resolution and its cropped 4K video.

Compared to the Nikon D850, its resolution might seem pretty average, but for lots of photographers 30 megapixels is more than enough and you can shoot 4K video with this camera too, but the format used means the files it outputs are good but massive. 

The EOS 5D Mark IV features Canon's Dual Pixel CMOS AF which means users benefit from fast autofocus performance in live view and video modes. It's robust, reliable, and weather-resistant which is a major plus for pro photographers. 

Sadly, Canon has shifted all its attention to its EOS R Series mirrorless cameras, so it's almost certain we'll never ever see a successor to the EOS 5D IV.

Read our full Canon EOS 5D Mark IV review for more details

How we test DSLR cameras

We test DSLR cameras both in real-world shooting scenarios and in carefully controlled lab conditions. Find out how we test and review on Digital Camera World.

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 both real-world testing and our lab results to inform our comments in buying guides.

Sebastian Oakley
Ecommerce Editor

For nearly two decades Sebastian's work has been published internationally. Originally specializing in Equestrianism, his visuals have been used by the leading names in the equestrian industry such as The Fédération Equestre Internationale (FEI), The Jockey Club, Horse & Hound, and many more for various advertising campaigns, books, and pre/post-event highlights.


He is a Fellow of The Royal Society of Arts, holds a Foundation Degree in Equitation Science, and is a Master of Arts in Publishing.  He is a member of Nikon NPS and has been a Nikon user since the film days using a Nikon F5 and saw the digital transition with Nikon's D series cameras and is still to this day the youngest member to be elected into BEWA, The British Equestrian Writers' Association. 


He is familiar with and shows great interest in street, medium, and large format photography with products by Leica, Phase One, Hasselblad, Alpa, and Sinar. Sebastian has also used many cinema cameras from the likes of Sony, RED, ARRI, and everything in between. He now spends his spare time using his trusted Leica M-E or Leica M2 shooting Street photography or general life as he sees it, usually in Black and White.