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The best DSLR

Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) cameras are a very popular choice for amateur and professional photographers alike. These cameras feature an optical viewfinder that presents a direct optical view through the lens. In contrast, mirrorless cameras capture the image with their sensor and project it on a screen.

DSLR
Schematic diagram of a DSLR[ephotozine.com]

There is a wide and growing choice of DSLRs on the market. It is not easy to decide which one is best. Indeed, what does it really mean to look for the best DSLR? The camera that offers the best imaging experience? The one with the highest sensor resolution? The one that is most portable? The DSLR that does not break the bank? The answers to these questions come down to personal preference, but hopefully the listings below will prove to be useful for your camera decision process.

The highest rated DSLR

Top Elo
The camera with the highest Elo: Canon 1D X Mark III

The Camera Elo represents a comprehensive rating that takes the body, sensor and feature characteristics of digital cameras into account. It is based on the outcomes of thousands of pair-wise comparisons undertaken via the CAM-parator app.

The Canon 1D X Mark III is currently the top-ranked DSLR with a Camera Elo of 3317, followed in second place by the Nikon D780 with a rating of 3290. The table below lists the 20 highest ranked DSLR in descending order of their Elo. It also reports the cameras' DXO Mark sensor quality score (as far as these are available), which can be taken as indicators of pure image quality. For both the Camera Elo and the DXO score, higher values represent better performance.

Best DSLR: The Cameras with the Highest Elo
    Camera
Model
Camera
Elo
DXO
Score
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Video
Format
Camera
Launch
(announced)
Launch
Price
(USD)
Street
Price
(USD)
Used
Price
(USD)
Camera
Model
1. Canon 1D X Mark III 331791 Full Frame 20.04K/60p Jan 2020 6,499 i i Canon 1D X Mark III
2. Nikon D780 3290- Full Frame 24.34K/30p Jan 2020 2,299 i i Nikon D780
3. Nikon D6 3192- Full Frame 20.74K/30p Feb 2020 6,499 i i Nikon D6
4. Canon 90D 3121- APS-C 32.34K/30p Aug 2019 1,199 i i Canon 90D
5. Pentax K-1 II 3023- Full Frame 36.21080/60i Feb 2018 1,999 i i Pentax K-1 II
6. Nikon D850 3018100 Full Frame 45.44K/30p Jul 2017 3,299 i i Nikon D850
7. Leica S3 2882- Medium Format 64.04K/24p Sep 2018 18,995 i i Leica S3
8. Canon SL3 2829- APS-C 24.04K/25p Apr 2019 599 i i Canon SL3
9. Canon 250D 2829- APS-C 24.04K/25p Apr 2019 599 i i Canon 250D
10. Canon 850D 2701- APS-C 24.04K/24p Feb 2020 749 i i Canon 850D
11. Canon 6D Mark II 269385 Full Frame 26.01080/60p Jun 2017 1,999 i i Canon 6D Mark II
12. Canon 200D 263579 APS-C 24.01080/60p Jun 2017 549- i Canon 200D
13. Canon SL2 263579 APS-C 24.01080/60p Jun 2017 549- i Canon SL2
14. Nikon D7500 263486 APS-C 20.74K/30p Apr 2017 1,299 i i Nikon D7500
15. Sony A99 II 262992 Full Frame 42.24K/30p Sep 2016 3,199 i i Sony A99 II
16. Canon 77D 259778 APS-C 24.01080/60p Feb 2017 899 i i Canon 77D
17. Nikon D5600 257084 APS-C 24.01080/60p Nov 2016 699 i i Nikon D5600
18. Canon 800D 2563- APS-C 24.01080/60p Feb 2017 749- i Canon 800D
19. Canon T7i 2563- APS-C 24.01080/60p Feb 2017 749- i Canon T7i
20. Pentax KP 2562- APS-C 24.11080/60i Jan 2017 1,099 i i Pentax KP

You can access more detail on the listed cameras by clicking on the camera's name. Alternatively, you can compare two DSLR using the search boxes below. Just enter two model names into the input fields and you will promptly be taken to a respective comparison.

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    The highest resolution DSLR

    Perhaps your primary aim is to capture images with great detail, for example in landscape photography, or to have the ability to crop images heavily in post processing while still maintaining good image quality. In this case, the best DSLR might be the one with the highest sensor resolution. The following table lists the 20 DSLRs with the highest megapixel count. Again, clicking on the camera's name will reveal further detail.

    Best DSLR: The Cameras with the Highest Resolution
        Camera
    Model
    Resolution
    (MP)
    Camera
    Elo
    DXO
    Score
    Sensor
    Class
    Video
    Format
    Camera
    Launch
    (announced)
    Launch
    Price
    (USD)
    Street
    Price
    (USD)
    Used
    Price
    (USD)
    Camera
    Model
    1. Leica S3 64.0 2882- Medium Format4K/24p Sep 2018 18,995 i i Leica S3
    2. Pentax 645Z 51.1 1962101 Medium Format1080/60i Apr 2014 8,499 i i Pentax 645Z
    3. Canon 5DS 50.3 209787 Full Frame1080/30p Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS
    4. Canon 5DS R 50.3 209786 Full Frame1080/30p Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS R
    5. Nikon D850 45.4 3018100 Full Frame4K/30p Jul 2017 3,299 i i Nikon D850
    6. Sony A99 II 42.2 262992 Full Frame4K/30p Sep 2016 3,199 i i Sony A99 II
    7. Pentax 645D 39.5 158682 Medium Format- Mar 2010 9,995- i Pentax 645D
    8. Leica S Typ 007 37.5 2034- Medium Format4K/24p Sep 2014 24,490 i i Leica S Typ 007
    9. Leica S-E Typ 006 37.5 1952- Medium Format- Sep 2014 16,900- i Leica S-E Typ 006
    10. Leica S Typ 006 37.5 170476 Medium Format- Sep 2012 21,950- i Leica S Typ 006
    11. Leica S2 37.5 1544- Medium Format- Sep 2008 22,995- i Leica S2
    12. Pentax K-1 II 36.2 3023- Full Frame1080/60i Feb 2018 1,999 i i Pentax K-1 II
    13. Pentax K-1 36.2 234296 Full Frame1080/60i Feb 2016 1,799- i Pentax K-1
    14. Nikon D810 36.2 198697 Full Frame1080/60p Jun 2014 3,299- i Nikon D810
    15. Nikon D800E 36.2 168196 Full Frame1080/30p Feb 2012 3,299- i Nikon D800E
    16. Nikon D800 36.2 168095 Full Frame1080/30p Feb 2012 2,999- i Nikon D800
    17. Canon 90D 32.3 3121- APS-C4K/30p Aug 2019 1,199 i i Canon 90D
    18. Canon 5D Mark IV 30.1 254491 Full Frame4K/30p Aug 2016 3,499 i i Canon 5D Mark IV
    19. Canon 6D Mark II 26.0 269385 Full Frame1080/60p Jun 2017 1,999 i i Canon 6D Mark II
    20. Sony A850 24.4 160179 Full Frame- Aug 2009 1,999- i Sony A850

    The most portable DSLR

    A well-known proverb states that the best camera is the one that you have with you. As such, a smaller and lighter camera will likely get more use than a bulkier and heavier model. The table below lists the 20 lightest DSLR that have been released since 2015 in ascending order of their weight.

    Best DSLR: The Smallest Models
        Camera
    Model
    Camera
    Weight
    Camera
    Size
    Camera
    Elo
    Sensor
    Class
    Resolution
    (MP)
    Camera
    Launch
    (announced)
    Launch
    Price
    (USD)
    Street
    Price
    (USD)
    Used
    Price
    (USD)
    Camera
    Model
    1. Nikon D3500 12.9 oz 4.9 x 3.8 x 2.8 in 2053 APS-C 24.0 Aug 2018 429 i i Nikon D3500
    2. Nikon D5500 14.8 oz 4.9 x 3.8 x 2.8 in 2043 APS-C 24.0 Jan 2015 899- i Nikon D5500
    3. Canon 4000D 15.4 oz 5.1 x 4.0 x 3.0 in 1536 APS-C 17.9 Feb 2018 399 i i Canon 4000D
    4. Canon T100 15.4 oz 5.1 x 4.0 x 3.0 in 1536 APS-C 17.9 Feb 2018 399 i i Canon T100
    5. Nikon D3400 15.7 oz 4.9 x 3.9 x 3.0 in 2055 APS-C 24.0 Aug 2016 499- i Nikon D3400
    6. Canon SL3 15.8 oz 4.8 x 3.7 x 2.8 in 2829 APS-C 24.0 Apr 2019 599 i i Canon SL3
    7. Canon 250D 15.8 oz 4.8 x 3.7 x 2.8 in 2829 APS-C 24.0 Apr 2019 599 i i Canon 250D
    8. Canon 200D 16.0 oz 4.8 x 3.7 x 2.8 in 2635 APS-C 24.0 Jun 2017 549- i Canon 200D
    9. Canon SL2 16.0 oz 4.8 x 3.7 x 2.8 in 2635 APS-C 24.0 Jun 2017 549- i Canon SL2
    10. Nikon D5600 16.4 oz 4.9 x 3.8 x 2.8 in 2570 APS-C 24.0 Nov 2016 699 i i Nikon D5600
    11. Canon 2000D 16.8 oz 5.1 x 4.0 x 3.1 in 1789 APS-C 24.0 Feb 2018 449 i i Canon 2000D
    12. Canon T7 16.8 oz 5.1 x 4.0 x 3.1 in 1789 APS-C 24.0 Feb 2018 449 i i Canon T7
    13. Canon 1300D 17.1 oz 5.1 x 4.0 x 3.1 in 1798 APS-C 17.9 Mar 2016 449- i Canon 1300D
    14. Canon T6 17.1 oz 5.1 x 4.0 x 3.1 in 1798 APS-C 17.9 Mar 2016 449- i Canon T6
    15. Canon 850D 18.2 oz 5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 in 2701 APS-C 24.0 Feb 2020 749 i i Canon 850D
    16. Canon T8i 18.2 oz 5.2 x 4.1 x 3.0 in 2000 APS-C 24.0 Feb 2020 749 i i Canon T8i
    17. Canon 800D 18.8 oz 5.2 x 3.9 x 3.0 in 2563 APS-C 24.0 Feb 2017 749- i Canon 800D
    18. Canon T7i 18.8 oz 5.2 x 3.9 x 3.0 in 2563 APS-C 24.0 Feb 2017 749- i Canon T7i
    19. Canon 77D 19.0 oz 5.2 x 3.9 x 3.0 in 2597 APS-C 24.0 Feb 2017 899 i i Canon 77D
    20. Canon 750D 19.6 oz 5.2 x 4.0 x 3.1 in 2066 APS-C 24.0 Feb 2015 749- i Canon 750D

    The most affordable DSLR

    A DSLR is only as good as the lens that is placed in front of its sensor. Thus, the best DSLR is one that leaves room enough in the budget to purchase a high quality lens to go with it. More generally, budgetary considerations are almost always important when deciding on a camera purchase, so that the following listing should be of interest. It displays the 20 least expensive DSLRs that have been released since 2015 in ascending order of their launch prices (camera only). The latter provide a good idea on the market position of the cameras, but it is often worthwhile to check the current pricing, as all except the most recent models might be available at discounts or as great deals on the pre-owned market.

    Best DSLR: The Least Expensive Models
        Camera
    Model
    Launch
    Price (USD)
    Camera
    Elo
    DXO
    Score
    Sensor
    Class
    Resolution
    (MP)
    Video
    Format
    Camera
    Launch
    (announced)
    Street
    Price
    (USD)
    Used
    Price
    (USD)
    Camera
    Model
    1. Canon 4000D 399 153663 APS-C 17.91080/30p Feb 2018 i i Canon 4000D
    2. Canon T100 399 153663 APS-C 17.91080/30p Feb 2018 i i Canon T100
    3. Nikon D3500 429 2053- APS-C 24.01080/60p Aug 2018 i i Nikon D3500
    4. Canon 1300D 449 1798- APS-C 17.91080/30p Mar 2016- i Canon 1300D
    5. Canon T6 449 1798- APS-C 17.91080/30p Mar 2016- i Canon T6
    6. Canon 2000D 449 178971 APS-C 24.01080/30p Feb 2018 i i Canon 2000D
    7. Canon T7 449 1789- APS-C 24.01080/30p Feb 2018 i i Canon T7
    8. Nikon D3400 499 205586 APS-C 24.01080/60p Aug 2016- i Nikon D3400
    9. Canon 200D 549 263579 APS-C 24.01080/60p Jun 2017- i Canon 200D
    10. Canon SL2 549 263579 APS-C 24.01080/60p Jun 2017- i Canon SL2
    11. Canon SL3 599 2829- APS-C 24.04K/25p Apr 2019 i i Canon SL3
    12. Canon 250D 599 2829- APS-C 24.04K/25p Apr 2019 i i Canon 250D
    13. Pentax K-70 649 2366- APS-C 24.01080/60i Jun 2016 i i Pentax K-70
    14. Canon 760D 649 207270 APS-C 24.01080/30p Feb 2015- i Canon 760D
    15. Canon T6s 649 207270 APS-C 24.01080/30p Feb 2015- i Canon T6s
    16. Nikon D5600 699 257084 APS-C 24.01080/60p Nov 2016 i i Nikon D5600
    17. Sony A68 699 212179 APS-C 24.01080/60i Nov 2015- i Sony A68
    18. Canon 850D 749 2701- APS-C 24.04K/24p Feb 2020 i i Canon 850D
    19. Canon 800D 749 2563- APS-C 24.01080/60p Feb 2017- i Canon 800D
    20. Canon T7i 749 2563- APS-C 24.01080/60p Feb 2017- i Canon T7i

    Further Reading

    Additional information on the calculation of the Camera Elo can be found on a respective Elo methodology page. Moreover, there are other rankings of cameras by category that might be of interest:

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