Looking to make the step up to DSLR photography on a budget? One of these best entry-level DSLRs of 2015 could be the camera for you

‘Entry-level’ DSLR cameras, as they’re so often called, are ideally suited towards first-time DSLR users looking to take the step up from a regular compact camera and gain more control over their image making.

Entry-level DSLRs aren’t necessarily ‘low spec’ DSLRs at all; indeed many of the latest ‘entry-level’ models are actually quite well specified.

At the very least you can expect your new DSLR to come with an APS-C sensor that’s around ten times larger than the standard 1/2.3in sensors found in most compacts.

In addition, you can also expect the autofocus system to be faster and more flexible, with the optical viewfinder providing you with a window that allows you to concentrate on framing your image correctly.

With all of that in mind, here are some of the best entry-level DSLRs of 2015.

Canon EOS 1200D (Rebel T5) Canon EOS 1200D

Street price: £289 with 18-55mm lens

The Canon EOS 1200D follows on from the EOS 1100D in a long line of impressive Canon entry-level models.

The DSLR is impressively compact, while managing to maintain an impressive specification.

The APS-C sensor features a boosted resolution, with the chip now delivering an 18.1MP resolution up from 12.1MP. Even at this boosted resolution the 1200D still delivers a continuous shooting speed of 3fps with a burst depth of around 70 frames when shooting JPEG files.

Of course, there’s also the fact that in buying Canon you’ll be buying in to an impressive DSLR ecosystem that includes a proliferation of second-hand optics at affordable prices.

Best entry-level DSLR for: Joining the Canon DSLR tree at an affordable level

Read our full Canon EOS 1200D (Rebel T5) review

Find the best deal for the Canon EOS 1200D (Rebel T5)


Sony Alpha A58

Street price: £270 with 18-55mm lens

The A58 takes the highlights of the older A57 and A37 models and condenses them into a single new model.

Strictly speaking, it isn’t technically a DSLR – rather it’s what Sony calls a ‘SLT’ (Single Lens Translucent) camera.

This basically means that it uses a fixed semi-transparent mirror that allows some light to the sensor and some to the phase detection sensor in the prism.

The upshot of this is that the camera employs a 1.44m-dot electronic viewfinder instead of an optical viewfinder. The pay-off for this is increased shooting speed, with the A58 able to shoot at a very healthy 8fps – making it great for capturing fast-moving action with.

Best entry-level DSLR for: Continuous shooting

Read our full Sony Alpha A58 review

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Pentax K-500

Street price: £395 with 18-55mm lens

The Pentax K-500 sits in the entry-level space within Pentax’s DSLR range.

It’s yet another strongly featured entry-level DSLR that’s built around the same 16.28MP CMOS sensor that’s employed by the mid-range K-30 although the K-500 lacks the water-resistant seals of its more expensive sibling.

Elsewhere, the K-500 features an 11-point AF system (nine of which are cross-type sensors), a 100% optical viewfinder, a 3-inch, 920k-dot rear LCD display on the back and the ability to shoot continuously at up to 6fps.

Rounding things off are a generous range of built-in digital filters and image processing options along with 1080p Full HD movie capture.

Best entry-level DSLR for: Impressive AF performance

Read our Pentax K-500 review

Find the best deal for the Pentax K-500

Nikon D3300 Nikon D3300

£410 with 18-55mm kit zoom

The Nikon D3300 follows on from two incredibly popular DSLRs in the Nikon D3200 and D3100.

Perhaps the most note-worthy feature is the model’s 24.3MP sensor, carried on from the Nikon D3200. What’s different is that the camera’s anti-alias filter has been removed and as such it should result in sharper images.

This high megapixel count and the lack of an anti-alias filter reuslt in some truly impressive image quality that belies the camera’s entry-level status, making the D3300 worthy of a place on the shortlist.

Best entry-level DSLR for: High-resolution entry-level photography

Read our full Nikon D3300 review

Find the best deal for the Nikon D3300

  • himanshu

    I have the Sony Alpha A58. I wanted to buy D3300, but the salesman convinced me otherwise. I cannot express how happy with that advice. A58 has a number of small but useful features that are missing from D330 and 1200D. The evf means you can adjust the setting till the very moment you click pictures. This in turn means you actually see the changes those settings make to your final picture LIVE. The preview can quickly be seen on evf itself, means you don’t have to take your eye of the subject, it is faster in terms of FPS plus the cross point type focal points are a plus too. On top of it it has a bigger battery resulting in higher battery life. I take over 700 pics before charging the battery and even then there is a fair bit of life left.

  • Duke Sweden

    I’ve had the D3300 for a year now and it continues to thwart my need to move up to a more expensive DSLR. I use it mostly for video. I see no reason to settle for lesser video quality simply to have a swivelling viewfinder and “video friendly” controls. And no, I’m not a “Nikon is better than Canon” type. I’ll get whatever best suits my needs.

  • barney klingenberg

    95% coverage for both
    The a58 is also 100% but that is a evf.
    The pentax is the only entry-level with a proper penta-prism optical viewfinder mostly found in more advanced models(nikon d7xxx or canon 60d-70d-7d)

  • Le Balladeer

    100% Optical viewfinder? Only K-500 has it? What about D3300 and 1200D?

    Also, do you have a side by side comparison of these three?

  • Pedro Malheiros Rodrigues

    Canon 70D great DSLR .
    Whit 18-250 Sigma lens , for streetphoto .
    Kind Regards
    Pedro Malheiros Rodrigues

  • Christopher

    Uhm… you know that the Canon 1100D is NOT the T3i right?

    Unfortunately a mistake like this makes this entire article lose credibility.

    For anyone wondering:

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  • Entry Level Digital SLR

    i liked all your collection…
    just check out some more range of cameras…

    Entry Level Digital SLR

  • Bob

    T3i or T3.
    Nikon D3200 only uses
    AF-s lenses so AF will work, non AF-s lenses don’t have a motor.

  • Tom Fellows

    You should mention that the Nikon D3200 will not focus with any old lenses which don’t have their own focus motor (usually called AF-S lenses).

  • Steven

    I have just acquired the Nikon D3100 and have been using it in a showroom. Quite impressive but not easy to capture a pro shot.

  • Alara

    I can figure it out bescuae the point-and-shoot has a very limited depth of field. You’re missing the point though. Any camera, even a $5 digital can produce a good photo if there is a good amount of light and a proper support. It’s when you don’t have enough light or any way to stabilize the camera that you need a better body and better lens. For example, if I wanted a really wide angle view, that point-and-shoot would cut it. So until all the world is constantly bathed in f/8 light at 100 ISO and 1/125 shutter speed and you can adjust your angle of view telepathically, you’re going to need different cameras for different things.By the way, I own both those cameras and love them both.

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