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Best DSLRs: The top DSLRs we’ve tested

Looking for the best DSLRs? Whether you’re buying your first camera or in the market for an upgrade, below you’ll find all the best DSLRs we’ve tested here at Trusted Reviews. 

With mirrorless cameras having risen in popularity exponentially over recent years, you might be wondering whether it’s even still worth picking up a DSLR. The truth is that, while mirrorless cameras often win out when it comes to video quality and sheer portability, there’s still a place for DSLRs. 

A DSLR generally offers a longer battery life, a more established selection of lenses and an optical viewfinder for a sharp and immediate view of what you’re shooting. 

We look at all of these features and more when we review a camera, including the design, display and viewfinder, features, image quality, video and software. We also include sample photos in all of our in-depth reviews, all of which you can find linked below. 

For the best DSLRs at a variety of prices and experience levels, scroll down. If you’re not set on a DSLR just yet, make sure to check out our other photography best lists, including the best mirrorless cameras, the best compact cameras, the best vlogging cameras, the best action cameras and the best instant cameras. Don’t forget to also visit our guide to the best cameras for an overall breakdown of the top cameras available right now. 

Best DSLRs at a glance 

How we test

Learn more about how we test cameras

We test every camera we review thoroughly. We use set tests to compare features properly and we use it as our main device over the review period. We’ll always tell you what we find and we never, ever, accept money to review a product.

Nikon D850

Best DSLR overall
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Pros

  • 45.7-megapixel sensor captures exceptionally fine detail
  • Fast viewfinder autofocus with silent shooting option in Live View
  • Rear thumb-operated sub-selector for fast AF point positioning
  • Extremely good 1840-shot battery life

Cons

  • No phase detection AF in Live View
  • Touchscreen operation doesn’t include key exposure settings
  • Wireless SnapBridge connectivity needs improvement

The Nikon D850 is a full-frame DSLR aimed at professional photographers and the successor to 2014’s D810. 

The camera features a 45.7-megapixel sensor – an upgrade from the D810’s 36.3-megapixel one – that brought the camera line with the 50.6-megapixel Canon 5DS  and the 42-megapixel Sony A7R II when it was released. 

The D850 is powered by the EXPEED 5 processor found in the D500 and the D5, which along with the sensor, helps keep noise to a minimum when using higher sensitivity settings. 

The also camera takes advantage of the same 153-point Multi-CAM 20K autofocus system found on these cameras, which we found to be fast and accurate when we tested it.

Continuous shooting is limited to 7fps, but you can connect the optional battery grip to increase this to 9fps (though this will, of course, cost extra). 

The camera features a weather-sealed magnesium alloy design with plenty of buttons, controls and customisation options. There’s a 3.2-inch, 2.36m-dot tiltable touchscreen and a large 100% viewfinder for lining up shots. 

When it comes to video, the D850 includes separate microphone and headphone inputs and was the first Nikon DSLR to support 4K video at up to 30fps. 

Reviewer: Michael Topham

Full review: Nikon D850

Nikon D3500

The best choice for beginners
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Pros

  • Good quality kit lens
  • Very good image quality
  • Fast and silent autofocus
  • Unexpectedly snappy live view
  • Great for keen learners
  • Value for money

Cons

  • Fixed rear screen
  • Video is HD rather than 4K
  • Chunky compared to a mirrorless camera

The Nikon D3500 is the best DSLR we’ve tested for anyone new to photography, though it has fierce competition with the Canon 250D

The D3500 is small for a DSLR (though not as compact as a mirrorless camera) and offers the advantage of the extra grip and balance of a DSLR. The screen is limited to a fixed 921K-dot display, but the camera comes with a fantastic 18-55mm AF-P kit lens that we found to be sharp and consistent across its focal range. 

The D3500 packs a 24-megapixel APS-C sensor and, though this camera is beginner-friendly, it isn’t simplistic. The D3500 features all the features you’d expect from a more serious DSLR, including the full set of program AE, aperture-priority, shutter-priority and manual modes. 

It has an ISO range of 100-25,600 for decent low-light performance and can capture 5fps in its burst for mode, making it easier to snap photos of energetic kids and pets. 

Video capture is limited to HD (all of our best mirrorless cameras right now support 4K shooting) but image quality is good, offering realistic colours both indoors and outdoors. 

Perhaps the biggest benefit to the D3500 over its mirrorless rivals is the camera’s excellent 1,550-shot battery life, which will keep you shooting for significantly longer without having to stop and recharge.

Reviewer: Rod Lawton

Full review: Nikon D3500

Pentax K-1 II

The most capable DSLR below £2000
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Pros

  • Huge degree of external control
  • Excellent rugged, weather-sealed build quality
  • Superb image quality, with high resolution and dynamic range
  • In-body stabilisation gives sharper images with almost any lens
  • Compatible with vast range of new and used K-mount lenses

Cons

  • Heavy and bulky body
  • Slow wake-up from auto power-off
  • Screen isn’t touch-sensitive
  • Sluggish live view autofocus

The Pentax K-1 II is the update to 2016’s Pentax K-1, the camera company’s first full-frame DSLR, and is the best value DSLR we’ve tested if you’ve got less than £2000 to spend on your next camera. 

The K-1 II boasts a durable, weatherproof magnesium alloy body that’s slightly heavier than even the D850. The large grip is coated with textured rubber for a secure hold and there are a large number of buttons, dials and switches, including customisable dials on the front and rear. 

There’s a 3.2-inch tilting LCD display that we found to be sharp and accurately colour calibrated, as well as an optical viewfinder with a magnification of 0.7x and almost 100% coverage of the scene. 

Inside, the camera packs a 36-megapixel full-frame sensor, fast autofocus and built-in image stabilisation. 

Image quality is excellent – we found the camera to be especially well suited to photographers looking to shoot static subjects like landscapes – and the ISO can go as high as 12,800 with acceptable results (we would avoid the ISO 409, 600 and ISO 819,200 settings). 

As far as video goes, the K-1 II can capture Full HD resolution at 30fps and the camera offers both microphone and headphone inputs. However, if video is your priority, we would recommend opting for a camera that supports 4K instead. 

Reviewer: Andy Westlake

Full review: Pentax K-1 II

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

A fantastic full-frame Canon DSLR
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Pros

  • Full-frame sensor
  • Touchscreen is useful
  • Solid 4K video recording
  • Built-in Wi-Fi

Cons

  • Heavy
  • Expensive
  • Frame rate isn’t particularly high

The Canon EOS 5D Mark IV is the fourth iteration of the 5D and an excellent DSLR if you’re looking for a full-frame Canon model. 

The design will be familiar for 5D Mark III users, though the hump where the viewfinder lives is larger to make room for the Wi-Fi and GPS unit and the grip is deeper for added security. 

The camera also replaces the Mark III’s 22.3-megapixel sensor with a 30.4-megapixel one and brings the native ISO up to 50-102,400 for improved low-light performance. 

There’s an optical viewfinder with Intelligent Viewfinder II to show information like shooting modes, a level and a grid to help with composition. There’s also a 3.2-inch, 1.62m-dot touch-sensitive display but isn’t an articulating one, meaning you can’t tilt it. 

The camera features two image processors: a DIGIC 6 chip for metering and a DIGIC 6+ for high-speed image processing. There’s also support for Canon’s Dual-Pixel AF technology and Dual-Pixel RAW and the AF points cover a greater area of the viewfinder than that on their predecessor and are sensitive down to -3EV. 

Images captured with this camera are sharp and colours are well-saturated and relatively noise-free up to around 25,600.

There’s also support for 4K video capture, putting this camera in line with many of our best mirrorless cameras when it comes to videography. That said, those interested in a mirrorless equivalent will want to check out the Canon EOS R.

Reviewer: Amy Davies

Full review: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

We also considered…

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FAQs

Which DSLR brand is better?

Right now, our favourite DSLR is by Nikon. However, there are plenty of great DSLRs by camera makers like Canon, Pentax and more.

Do DSLRs come with lenses?

You can buy DSLRs as body-only, but many manufacturers will offer them bundled with a kit lens but a bit more.

What is a full-frame DSLR?

A full-frame DSLR is any DSLR with a full-frame sensor. This means the image isn’t cropped and full-frame sensors offer additional benefits, like better low-light performance.

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