With new DSLRs now typically being replaced annually itu2019s not always clear whether having the u2018very latestu2019 model is really worth the extra investment. We take a look at six popular DSLRs to see if it isu2026
The pace of change in the digital camera market has accelerated markedly in recent years. Whereas it used to be the case that manufacturers would launch a new model and then give it a couple of years or so before replacing it with a new model, these days the shelf-life for new cameras is much diminished with new models usually being replaced or refreshed on an annual basis.
Of course with the continual yearly updates to established DSLR ranges it can be hard to keep track of what exactly has changed from one model to the next. Or indeed whether the new technologies and upgraded specifications of successive models are really worth the added price premium.
Below we’ll help identify the key differences between a number of popular DSLRs, pitting a slightly older model against the current one to see exactly what you get for your money, and whether the added expense of purchasing the very latest model is really justified.
DSLR upgrade comparisons
Canon EOS 1100D vs Canon EOS 1200D
The entry-level DSLR market has moved on considerably since the 1100D was released in 2011, with rivals such as the Nikon D3200 (and D3300) and Pentax K-500 all arguably offering more for your money than the three-year-old 1100D. The release of the EOS 1200D seeks to redress this by improving the older model in a number of key areas.
Headline upgrades include a new 18MP sensor that’s able to capture more detail, a larger and sharper rear LCD display and the ability to record 1080p Full HD movies. In addition, the outer body of the 1200D has been finished with a textured coating, lending it a much nicer feel in the hand compared to the somewhat plasticky 1100D. If you’re looking to buy your first DSLR and have your heart set on Canon, then the extra £120 is money well spent for the range of improvements on offer.
Nikon D3200 vs Nikon D3300
Upon its release in 2012 the 24.2MP APS-C sensor at the heart of the D3200 raised the bar for what could be expected of entry-level DSLRs. It’s successor, the D3300, retains the same high resolution, although the sensor has been tweaked to allow for the removal of the anti-aliasing filter, which in turn enables the D3300 to capture sharper images with even more fine detail than its predecessor.
The D3300 also comes equipped with the latest Nikon EXPEED 4 image processor, which allows it to offer a wider choice of Full HD movie-recording options, along with a faster maximum continuous shooting speed of 4fps. The D3300 also gains an extra sensitivity stop over its predecessor, up to a maximum ISO 12,800 (25,600 in expanded mode).
Last but not least, the D3300 also comes with Automatic HDR capture and a Panorama mode – neither of which are found on the D3200.
The older D3200 is still a classy little first-time DSLR though, that comes equipped with Nikon’s bespoke Guide Mode, which aims to help DSLR newcomers get to grips with their camera by offering useful shooting tips and information on the rear display.
Canon EOS 600D vs Canon EOS 700D
Released in the spring of 2013, the 700D was actually the successor to the 650D, which came out 12 months earlier. However, given that the two models are virtually identical, it makes more sense to compare it to the model before that – the 600D, which was released in 2011. Thanks to its Hybrid CMOS technology the most noticeable improvement the 700D brings to the table is distinctly snappier autofocus when the camera is used in live view or to record movies with.
Regular through-the-viewfinder autofocus is also improved slightly, with all the 700D’s nine AF sensors now being of the cross-type variety. Elsewhere, sensitivity is boosted by an extra step and the maximum continuous shooting speed is slightly higher too. On the back of the 700D the vari-angle LCD display also benefits from touchscreen functionality.
Apart from that though, there isn’t much else to separate the two models, and ultimately both are very good mid-market DSLRs. Unless you regularly use live view and really need the increased AF speed, then there’s certainly a case for investing in the older model and putting the spare cash towards a new lens or other useful equipment.
Nikon D5200 vs Nikon D5300
Over the course of the past year or so built-in Wi-fi connectivity has become the biggest technological trend to hit digital cameras, as it allows you to instantly share your images over the internet straight from your camera. While many compacts and system cameras now offer Wi-fi as standard, it’s still not entirely common in DSLRs.
This is beginning to change though, with the mid-market D5300 becoming the first Nikon DSLRs to offer the technology when it was released. In addition the D5300 also offers built-in GPS, which can be used to geotag your images with. Elsewhere, the improvements are mostly incremental though.
At 24.2MP sensor resolution is the same as the D5200, although the removal of the low-pass filter does produce slightly sharper images – you’ll need to pixel peep very closely at them to spot the difference though. While the D5300 certainly has the edge on the D5200 thanks to the inclusion of Wi-fi and GPS, the older model is still a very good camera. If you think you can live without the two headline additions then you could save yourself around £150 by going for the older model.
Canon EOS 60D vs Canon EOS 70D
Launched in 2010 the EOS 60D remains a dependable enthusiast-level camera that’s capable of producing great images, however given that its now four years old the 70D improves on it in almost every way possible. Resolution has been upped from 17.9MP to 20MP, the number of AF-points has been increased from nine to 19, continuous shooting speed is faster, and maximum sensitivity has also been raised.
Not only this, but the 70D also employs some clever sensor-based phase-detect autofocus technology (Hybrid CMOS) to greatly speed up autofocus performance when the camera is being used in live view, or to record video with.
Movie recording options have also been expanded, while on the back of the camera the vari-angle display also offers touch-screen control over the camera. While the 70D undoubtedly offers a much stronger feature set, it does cost more than double. Likewise, while the older 60D cannot really compete in terms of core specifications and features it does nonetheless represents excellent value for money at its current price.
Nikon D7000 vs Nikon D7100
The D7100 succeeds 2010’s popular D7000 model. Both cameras are designed to appeal to enthusiasts, and as such build quality is excellent with both models protected by metal casing and weather sealing. Being the newer model the D7100 does enjoy a number of improvements over the D7000 though.
Chief among these is an upgraded sensor that offers significantly more resolution. In keeping with other recent Nikon DSLRs, the D7100’s sensor has also had its low-pass filter removed for sharper images overall. Elsewhere the autofocus module has also been upgraded, with the D7100 able to offer 51 AF points to the D7000’s 39.
The D7100 also offers more movie recording options, with higher frame rates of 50fps and 60fps added to the mix. Despite having a newer EXPEED 3 image processor on board, the D7100 and D7000 both match each other with 6fps continuous shooting. Likewise, sensitivity options are the same for both cameras. The difference in headline specs is mirrored by an equally large gulf in price – around £300 at present. While there’s plenty to admire about the newer model, the D7000 remains a fantastic camera that won numerous awards upon its release. At a shade under £600 it’s also undoubtedly a bit of a steal.