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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 3302, followed in second place by the Nikon D780 with a rating of 3291. 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 3302- Full Frame 20.04K/60p Jan 2020 6,499 i i Canon 1D X Mark III
2. Nikon D780 3291- Full Frame 24.34K/30p Jan 2020 2,299 i i Nikon D780
3. Nikon D850 3186100 Full Frame 45.44K/30p Jul 2017 3,299 i i Nikon D850
4. Nikon D6 3167- Full Frame 20.74K/30p Feb 2020 6,499 i i Nikon D6
5. Canon 90D 3084- APS-C 32.34K/30p Aug 2019 1,199 i i Canon 90D
6. Pentax K-1 II 3081- Full Frame 36.21080/60i Feb 2018 1,999 i i Pentax K-1 II
7. Sony A99 II 301092 Full Frame 42.24K/30p Sep 2016 3,199 i i Sony A99 II
8. Canon 6D Mark II 291085 Full Frame 26.01080/60p Jun 2017 1,999 i i Canon 6D Mark II
9. Leica S3 2892- Medium Format 64.04K/24p Sep 2018 24,490 i i Leica S3
10. Canon 5D Mark IV 281891 Full Frame 30.14K/30p Aug 2016 3,499 i i Canon 5D Mark IV
11. Canon SL3 2769- APS-C 24.04K/25p Apr 2019 599 i i Canon SL3
12. Canon 250D 2769- APS-C 24.04K/25p Apr 2019 599 i i Canon 250D
13. Nikon D7500 275686 APS-C 20.74K/30p Apr 2017 1,299 i i Nikon D7500
14. Nikon D5600 268184 APS-C 24.01080/60p Nov 2016 699 i i Nikon D5600
15. Canon 200D 267679 APS-C 24.01080/60p Jun 2017 549- i Canon 200D
16. Canon SL2 267679 APS-C 24.01080/60p Jun 2017 549- i Canon SL2
17. Canon 77D 266478 APS-C 24.01080/60p Feb 2017 899 i i Canon 77D
18. Pentax KP 2651- APS-C 24.11080/60i Jan 2017 1,099 i i Pentax KP
19. Canon T8i 2642- APS-C 24.04K/24p Feb 2020 749 i i Canon T8i
20. Canon 850D 2642- APS-C 24.04K/24p Feb 2020 749 i i Canon 850D

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 2892- Medium Format4K/24p Sep 2018 24,490 i i Leica S3
    2. Pentax 645Z 51.1 2042101 Medium Format1080/60i Apr 2014 8,499 i i Pentax 645Z
    3. Canon 5DS 50.3 216587 Full Frame1080/30p Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS
    4. Canon 5DS R 50.3 216586 Full Frame1080/30p Feb 2015 3,699 i i Canon 5DS R
    5. Nikon D850 45.4 3186100 Full Frame4K/30p Jul 2017 3,299 i i Nikon D850
    6. Sony A99 II 42.2 301092 Full Frame4K/30p Sep 2016 3,199 i i Sony A99 II
    7. Pentax 645D 39.5 163482 Medium Format- Mar 2010 9,995- i Pentax 645D
    8. Leica S Typ 007 37.5 2131- Medium Format4K/24p Sep 2014 24,490 i i Leica S Typ 007
    9. Leica S-E Typ 006 37.5 1979- Medium Format- Sep 2014 16,900- i Leica S-E Typ 006
    10. Leica S Typ 006 37.5 175276 Medium Format- Sep 2012 21,950- i Leica S Typ 006
    11. Leica S2 37.5 1562- Medium Format- Sep 2008 22,995- i Leica S2
    12. Pentax K-1 II 36.2 3081- Full Frame1080/60i Feb 2018 1,999 i i Pentax K-1 II
    13. Pentax K-1 36.2 257196 Full Frame1080/60i Feb 2016 1,799- i Pentax K-1
    14. Nikon D810 36.2 212297 Full Frame1080/60p Jun 2014 3,299- i Nikon D810
    15. Nikon D800 36.2 178095 Full Frame1080/30p Feb 2012 2,999- i Nikon D800
    16. Nikon D800E 36.2 178096 Full Frame1080/30p Feb 2012 3,299- i Nikon D800E
    17. Canon 90D 32.3 3084- APS-C4K/30p Aug 2019 1,199 i i Canon 90D
    18. Canon 5D Mark IV 30.1 281891 Full Frame4K/30p Aug 2016 3,499 i i Canon 5D Mark IV
    19. Canon 6D Mark II 26.0 291085 Full Frame1080/60p Jun 2017 1,999 i i Canon 6D Mark II
    20. Sony A850 24.4 165779 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 365 g 124 x 97 x 70 g 2005 APS-C 24.0 Aug 2018 429 i i Nikon D3500
    2. Nikon D5500 420 g 124 x 97 x 70 g 2125 APS-C 24.0 Jan 2015 899- i Nikon D5500
    3. Canon 4000D 436 g 129 x 102 x 77 g 1495 APS-C 17.9 Feb 2018 399 i i Canon 4000D
    4. Canon T100 436 g 129 x 102 x 77 g 1495 APS-C 17.9 Feb 2018 399 i i Canon T100
    5. Nikon D3400 445 g 124 x 98 x 76 g 2011 APS-C 24.0 Aug 2016 499- i Nikon D3400
    6. Canon SL3 449 g 122 x 93 x 70 g 2769 APS-C 24.0 Apr 2019 599 i i Canon SL3
    7. Canon 250D 449 g 122 x 93 x 70 g 2769 APS-C 24.0 Apr 2019 599 i i Canon 250D
    8. Canon 200D 453 g 122 x 93 x 70 g 2676 APS-C 24.0 Jun 2017 549- i Canon 200D
    9. Canon SL2 453 g 122 x 93 x 70 g 2676 APS-C 24.0 Jun 2017 549- i Canon SL2
    10. Nikon D5600 465 g 124 x 97 x 70 g 2681 APS-C 24.0 Nov 2016 699 i i Nikon D5600
    11. Canon 2000D 475 g 129 x 101 x 78 g 1742 APS-C 24.0 Feb 2018 449 i i Canon 2000D
    12. Canon T7 475 g 129 x 101 x 78 g 1742 APS-C 24.0 Feb 2018 449 i i Canon T7
    13. Canon 1300D 485 g 129 x 101 x 78 g 1759 APS-C 17.9 Mar 2016 449- i Canon 1300D
    14. Canon T6 485 g 129 x 101 x 78 g 1759 APS-C 17.9 Mar 2016 449- i Canon T6
    15. Canon T8i 515 g 131 x 103 x 76 g 2642 APS-C 24.0 Feb 2020 749 i i Canon T8i
    16. Canon 850D 515 g 131 x 103 x 76 g 2642 APS-C 24.0 Feb 2020 749 i i Canon 850D
    17. Canon 800D 532 g 131 x 100 x 76 g 2611 APS-C 24.0 Feb 2017 749- i Canon 800D
    18. Canon T7i 532 g 131 x 100 x 76 g 2611 APS-C 24.0 Feb 2017 749- i Canon T7i
    19. Canon 77D 540 g 131 x 100 x 76 g 2664 APS-C 24.0 Feb 2017 899 i i Canon 77D
    20. Canon 750D 555 g 132 x 101 x 78 g 2158 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 149563 APS-C 17.91080/30p Feb 2018 i i Canon 4000D
    2. Canon T100 399 149563 APS-C 17.91080/30p Feb 2018 i i Canon T100
    3. Nikon D3500 429 2005- APS-C 24.01080/60p Aug 2018 i i Nikon D3500
    4. Canon 1300D 449 1759- APS-C 17.91080/30p Mar 2016- i Canon 1300D
    5. Canon T6 449 1759- APS-C 17.91080/30p Mar 2016- i Canon T6
    6. Canon 2000D 449 174271 APS-C 24.01080/30p Feb 2018 i i Canon 2000D
    7. Canon T7 449 1742- APS-C 24.01080/30p Feb 2018 i i Canon T7
    8. Nikon D3400 499 201186 APS-C 24.01080/60p Aug 2016- i Nikon D3400
    9. Canon 200D 549 267679 APS-C 24.01080/60p Jun 2017- i Canon 200D
    10. Canon SL2 549 267679 APS-C 24.01080/60p Jun 2017- i Canon SL2
    11. Canon SL3 599 2769- APS-C 24.04K/25p Apr 2019 i i Canon SL3
    12. Canon 250D 599 2769- APS-C 24.04K/25p Apr 2019 i i Canon 250D
    13. Pentax K-70 649 2554- APS-C 24.01080/60i Jun 2016 i i Pentax K-70
    14. Canon 760D 649 216870 APS-C 24.01080/30p Feb 2015- i Canon 760D
    15. Canon T6s 649 216870 APS-C 24.01080/30p Feb 2015- i Canon T6s
    16. Nikon D5600 699 268184 APS-C 24.01080/60p Nov 2016 i i Nikon D5600
    17. Sony A68 699 212979 APS-C 24.01080/60i Nov 2015- i Sony A68
    18. Canon T8i 749 2642- APS-C 24.04K/24p Feb 2020 i i Canon T8i
    19. Canon 850D 749 2642- APS-C 24.04K/24p Feb 2020 i i Canon 850D
    20. Canon 800D 749 2611- APS-C 24.01080/60p Feb 2017- i Canon 800D

    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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