Budget DSLRs group test

Introduction

For truly professional-looking photography, you need an interchangeable lens camera, most commonly a digital SLR (DSLR). And, while digital compact camera ownership is static in the UK – and in decline elsewhere – sales of DSLRs continue to rise. They’re physically bulkier, yes, but they offer more features for your money than ever – and you can pick them up at increasingly competitive prices too.

For example, five or six years a ago a DSLR body and lens combination would set you back the best part of £1,000; now a comparable setup won’t cost much more than £300, with a bit of shopping around.

Dealers’ online sites, and, of course, eBay, often feature great deals on recently replaced models for those looking to get a bit more bang for their buck. Just because a new model is out doesn’t mean its predecessor isn’t worth considering, as slightly faster operation and a boost to resolution are often the only improvements to a model.

That said, the six DSLRs we’ve chosen here – all available at around £500 or under with standard zoom lens – are current models at the time of writing. To ensure a level playing field, we’ve collected together our examples based on the latest recommended prices as stated by the manufacturer.

This means that with a bit of research, in the vast majority of cases you’ll be able to find them cheaper still – there are still great deals to be had, even on new stock. Bear in mind, too, that DSLRs tend to hold their value, replaced on average once a year or less, compared to every six months for a pocket digital camera.

With all this in mind, what are the features and functionality you should be looking for in a DSLR? Build quality aside, how about Live View, where the LCD screen can be used to both compose and review shots; in-body or lens-only image stabilisation to help avoid blurry shots; dust reduction or prevention to prevent spots on the sensor showing up in images; and, if you’re lucky, HD video recording alongside stills.

It’s worth remembering that when buying a DSLR you’re not just buying a camera – you’re locking into your chosen manufacturer’s system, each offering varying amounts of swappable lenses, accessories and support. So let’s see what each has to offer...

Find the best price

Price comparison powered by Reevoo

£282

Latest deals from