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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
Camera with 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 2964, followed in second place by the Nikon D780 with a rating of 2934. 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, which can be taken as indicators of pure image quality. For both the Camera Elo and the DXO score, higher values represent better performance.

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The Cameras with the Highest Elo
    Camera
Model
Lens
Mount
Camera
Elo
DXO
Score
Sensor
Class
Resolution
(MP)
Video
Format
Camera
Launch
Launch
Price (USD)
Street
Price
1.
 
Canon 1D X Mark IIICanon EF 296491 Full Frame 20.04K/60p Jan 2020 6,499 amazon.com
2.
 
Nikon D780Nikon FX 293495 Full Frame 24.34K/30p Jan 2020 2,299 amazon.com
3.
 
Pentax K-3 IIIPentax K 291685 APS-C 25.64K/30p Mar 2021 1,999 amazon.com
4.
 
Nikon D6Nikon FX 290295 Full Frame 20.74K/30p Feb 2020 6,499 amazon.com
5.
 
Canon 90DCanon EF-S 280483 APS-C 32.34K/30p Aug 2019 1,199 amazon.com
6.
 
Nikon D850Nikon FX 2751100 Full Frame 45.44K/30p Jul 2017 3,299 amazon.com
7.
 
Pentax K-1 IIPentax K 269093 Full Frame 36.21080/60i Feb 2018 1,999 amazon.com
8.
 
Sony A99 IISony A 267092 Full Frame 42.24K/30p Sep 2016 3,199ebay.com
9.
 
Leica S3Leica S 261498 Medium Format 64.04K/24p Sep 2018 18,995 amazon.com
10.
 
Canon 250DCanon EF-S 260082 APS-C 24.04K/25p Apr 2019 599 amazon.com
11.
 
Canon 5D Mark IVCanon EF 258991 Full Frame 30.14K/30p Aug 2016 3,499 amazon.com
12.
 
Canon 850DCanon EF-S 256783 APS-C 24.04K/24p Feb 2020 749 amazon.com
13.
 
Canon 1D X Mark IICanon EF 254388 Full Frame 20.04K/60p Feb 2016 5,999ebay.com
14.
 
Canon 6D Mark IICanon EF 254085 Full Frame 26.01080/60p Jun 2017 1,999 amazon.com
15.
 
Nikon D500Nikon DX 253083 APS-C 20.74K/30p Jan 2016 1,999 amazon.com
16.
 
Pentax K-1Pentax K 252196 Full Frame 36.21080/60i Feb 2016 1,799ebay.com
17.
 
Nikon D7500Nikon DX 250786 APS-C 20.74K/30p Apr 2017 1,299 amazon.com
18.
 
Nikon D5Nikon FX 247188 Full Frame 20.74K/30p Jan 2016 6,499ebay.com
19.
 
Canon 200DCanon EF-S 246679 APS-C 24.01080/60p Jun 2017 549ebay.com
20.
 
Canon 77DCanon EF-S 245378 APS-C 24.01080/60p Feb 2017 899ebay.com
Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.

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.

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    The Cameras with the Highest Resolution
        Camera
    Model
    Lens
    Mount
    Resolution
    (MP)
    Camera
    Elo
    DXO
    Score
    Sensor
    Class
    Video
    Format
    Camera
    Launch
    Launch
    Price (USD)
    Street
    Price
    1.
     
    Leica S3Leica S 64.0 261498 Medium Format4K/24p Sep 2018 18,995 amazon.com
    2.
     
    Pentax 645ZPentax 645 51.1 2087101 Medium Format1080/60i Apr 2014 8,499 amazon.com
    3.
     
    Canon 5DSCanon EF 50.3 217087 Full Frame1080/30p Feb 2015 3,699 amazon.com
    4.
     
    Canon 5DS RCanon EF 50.3 217086 Full Frame1080/30p Feb 2015 3,699 amazon.com
    5.
     
    Nikon D850Nikon FX 45.4 2751100 Full Frame4K/30p Jul 2017 3,299 amazon.com
    6.
     
    Sony A99 IISony A 42.2 267092 Full Frame4K/30p Sep 2016 3,199ebay.com
    7.
     
    Pentax 645DPentax 645 39.5 160982 Medium Format- Mar 2010 9,995ebay.com
    8.
     
    Leica S Typ 007Leica S 37.5 224193 Medium Format4K/24p Sep 2014 24,490ebay.com
    9.
     
    Leica S-E Typ 006Leica S 37.5 197193 Medium Format- Sep 2014 16,900ebay.com
    10.
     
    Leica S Typ 006Leica S 37.5 170776 Medium Format- Sep 2012 21,950ebay.com
    11.
     
    Leica S2Leica S 37.5 154482 Medium Format- Sep 2008 22,995ebay.com
    12.
     
    Pentax K-1 IIPentax K 36.2 269093 Full Frame1080/60i Feb 2018 1,999 amazon.com
    13.
     
    Pentax K-1Pentax K 36.2 252196 Full Frame1080/60i Feb 2016 1,799ebay.com
    14.
     
    Nikon D810Nikon FX 36.2 231197 Full Frame1080/60p Jun 2014 3,299ebay.com
    15.
     
    Nikon D800ENikon FX 36.2 206396 Full Frame1080/30p Feb 2012 3,299ebay.com
    16.
     
    Nikon D800Nikon FX 36.2 205895 Full Frame1080/30p Feb 2012 2,999ebay.com
    17.
     
    Canon 90DCanon EF-S 32.3 280483 APS-C4K/30p Aug 2019 1,199 amazon.com
    18.
     
    Canon 5D Mark IVCanon EF 30.1 258991 Full Frame4K/30p Aug 2016 3,499 amazon.com
    19.
     
    Canon 6D Mark IICanon EF 26.0 254085 Full Frame1080/60p Jun 2017 1,999 amazon.com
    20.
     
    Pentax K-3 IIIPentax K 25.6 291685 APS-C4K/30p Mar 2021 1,999 amazon.com
    Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.

    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.

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    The Lightest Models
        Camera
    Model
    Lens
    Mount
    Camera
    Weight
    Camera
    Size
    Camera
    Elo
    Sensor
    Class
    Resolution
    (MP)
    Camera
    Launch
    Launch
    Price (USD)
    Street
    Price
    1.
     
    Nikon D3500Nikon DX 415 g 124 x 97 x 70 g 2077 APS-C 24.0 Aug 2018 429 amazon.com
    2.
     
    Canon 4000DCanon EF-S 436 g 129 x 102 x 77 g 1842 APS-C 17.9 Feb 2018 399 amazon.com
    3.
     
    Nikon D3400Nikon DX 445 g 124 x 98 x 76 g 2049 APS-C 24.0 Aug 2016 499ebay.com
    4.
     
    Canon 250DCanon EF-S 449 g 122 x 93 x 70 g 2600 APS-C 24.0 Apr 2019 599 amazon.com
    5.
     
    Canon 200DCanon EF-S 453 g 122 x 93 x 70 g 2466 APS-C 24.0 Jun 2017 549ebay.com
    6.
     
    Nikon D5600Nikon DX 465 g 124 x 97 x 70 g 2452 APS-C 24.0 Nov 2016 699 amazon.com
    7.
     
    Nikon D5500Nikon DX 470 g 124 x 97 x 70 g 2145 APS-C 24.0 Jan 2015 899ebay.com
    8.
     
    Canon 2000DCanon EF-S 475 g 129 x 101 x 78 g 1980 APS-C 24.0 Feb 2018 449 amazon.com
    9.
     
    Canon 1300DCanon EF-S 485 g 129 x 101 x 78 g 1903 APS-C 17.9 Mar 2016 449ebay.com
    10.
     
    Canon 850DCanon EF-S 515 g 131 x 103 x 76 g 2567 APS-C 24.0 Feb 2020 749 amazon.com
    11.
     
    Canon 800DCanon EF-S 532 g 131 x 100 x 76 g 2420 APS-C 24.0 Feb 2017 749ebay.com
    12.
     
    Canon 77DCanon EF-S 540 g 131 x 100 x 76 g 2453 APS-C 24.0 Feb 2017 899ebay.com
    13.
     
    Canon 750DCanon EF-S 555 g 132 x 101 x 78 g 2095 APS-C 24.0 Feb 2015 749ebay.com
    14.
     
    Canon 760DCanon EF-S 565 g 132 x 101 x 78 g 2116 APS-C 24.0 Feb 2015 649ebay.com
    15.
     
    Sony A68Sony A 610 g 143 x 104 x 81 g 2056 APS-C 24.0 Nov 2015 699ebay.com
    16.
     
    Pentax K-S2Pentax K 678 g 123 x 91 x 73 g 2161 APS-C 20.0 Feb 2015 749ebay.com
    17.
     
    Pentax K-70Pentax K 688 g 126 x 93 x 74 g 2367 APS-C 24.0 Jun 2016 649 amazon.com
    18.
     
    Canon 90DCanon EF-S 701 g 141 x 105 x 77 g 2804 APS-C 32.3 Aug 2019 1,199 amazon.com
    19.
     
    Pentax KPPentax K 703 g 132 x 101 x 76 g 2411 APS-C 24.1 Jan 2017 1,099ebay.com
    20.
     
    Nikon D7500Nikon DX 720 g 136 x 104 x 73 g 2507 APS-C 20.7 Apr 2017 1,299 amazon.com

    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.

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    The Least Expensive Models
        Camera
    Model
    Lens
    Mount
    Launch
    Price (USD)
    Camera
    Elo
    DXO
    Score
    Sensor
    Class
    Resolution
    (MP)
    Video
    Format
    Camera
    Launch
    Street
    Price
    1.
     
    Canon 4000DCanon EF-S 399 184263 APS-C 17.91080/30p Feb 2018 amazon.com
    2.
     
    Nikon D3500Nikon DX 429 207783 APS-C 24.01080/60p Aug 2018 amazon.com
    3.
     
    Canon 2000DCanon EF-S 449 198071 APS-C 24.01080/30p Feb 2018 amazon.com
    4.
     
    Canon 1300DCanon EF-S 449 190379 APS-C 17.91080/30p Mar 2016ebay.com
    5.
     
    Nikon D3400Nikon DX 499 204986 APS-C 24.01080/60p Aug 2016ebay.com
    6.
     
    Canon 200DCanon EF-S 549 246679 APS-C 24.01080/60p Jun 2017ebay.com
    7.
     
    Canon 250DCanon EF-S 599 260082 APS-C 24.04K/25p Apr 2019 amazon.com
    8.
     
    Pentax K-70Pentax K 649 236780 APS-C 24.01080/60i Jun 2016 amazon.com
    9.
     
    Canon 760DCanon EF-S 649 211670 APS-C 24.01080/30p Feb 2015ebay.com
    10.
     
    Nikon D5600Nikon DX 699 245284 APS-C 24.01080/60p Nov 2016 amazon.com
    11.
     
    Sony A68Sony A 699 205679 APS-C 24.01080/60i Nov 2015ebay.com
    12.
     
    Canon 850DCanon EF-S 749 256783 APS-C 24.04K/24p Feb 2020 amazon.com
    13.
     
    Canon 800DCanon EF-S 749 242080 APS-C 24.01080/60p Feb 2017ebay.com
    14.
     
    Pentax K-S2Pentax K 749 216179 APS-C 20.01080/30p Feb 2015ebay.com
    15.
     
    Canon 750DCanon EF-S 749 209571 APS-C 24.01080/30p Feb 2015ebay.com
    16.
     
    Canon 77DCanon EF-S 899 245378 APS-C 24.01080/60p Feb 2017ebay.com
    17.
     
    Nikon D5500Nikon DX 899 214584 APS-C 24.01080/60p Jan 2015ebay.com
    18.
     
    Pentax KPPentax K 1,099 241181 APS-C 24.11080/60i Jan 2017ebay.com
    19.
     
    Pentax K-3 IIPentax K 1,099 232280 APS-C 24.11080/60i Apr 2015ebay.com
    20.
     
    Canon 90DCanon EF-S 1,199 280483 APS-C 32.34K/30p Aug 2019 amazon.com
    Note: DXO values in italics represent estimates based on sensor size and age.

    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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