The best DSLR camera for 2024: top choices for photography and video

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REASONS TO BUY
REASONS TO AVOID
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REASONS TO BUY
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Beginner or an enthusiast, the best DSLR cameras are still a great option for photographers. From affordable entry-level models to powerful full-frame flagships, we’ve extensively tested all of the top options available and shared our in-depth feedback in the ranked list below.

Although it’s been officially discontinued, the Nikon D3500 is still our favorite DSLR in 2024. With a straightforward interface, reliable battery life and excellent 24MP sensor, it’s a fantastic option for beginners on a budget. If you’re happy to spend more on a powerful DSLR, we also recommend the Canon EOS 90D as a versatile crop-sensor alternative.

While many manufacturers are now focused on making the best mirrorless cameras, our round-up proves there are still competitive DSLR cameras on the market. Whatever your budget and ability, our guide is designed to help you find your ideal DSLR. Each entry has been comprehensively tested by our expert team. We assess factors such as handling, battery life and performance in a range of real-world scenarios, to ensure our recommendations hit the mark.

If you’re new to photography, you’ll find specific suggestions in our guide to the best beginner DSLR camera options. You can also read more about the differences between DSLR and mirrorless cameras in our dedicated feature. If you’re not sure where to start, scroll down to the bottom for expert buying advice to keep in mind when making your pick. 

Written by
Tim Coleman
Written by
Timothy Coleman

Tim is TechRadar's Cameras editor, with over 15 years in the photo video industry and most of those in the world of tech journalism, Tim has developed a deeply technical knowledge and practical experience with all things camera related. Tim notes, "new DSLRs are a rarity these days, with the camera giants now focusing almost entirely on mirrorless models. Still, if you're a fan of the DSLR format, there are some great new and second-hand options out there."

The quick list

If you want a shortcut to the best DSLR cameras in 2024, the round-up below will give you an instant overview. If any options take your fancy, use the links beneath each entry to jump to our full summary.

The best DSLRs for 2024

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Below you'll find full write-ups for each of the best DSLR cameras in our list. We've tested each one extensively, so you can be sure that our recommendations can be trusted.

The best DSLR camera overall

best DSLR camera Nikon D3500 being held in two hands

(Image credit: Future)
The best DSLR camera for most people

Specifications

Sensor: APS-C CMOS
Megapixels: 24.2MP
Autofocus: 11-point AF, 1 cross-type
Screen type: 3.0-inch, 921,000 dots
Maximum continuous shooting speed: 5fps
Movies: 1080p
Battery life: 1,550 shots
User level: Beginner

Reasons to buy

+
Terrific 24MP sensor
+
Excellent value for money

Reasons to avoid

-
Basic external controls
-
Only 1080p Full HD video
Buy it if:

✅ You have a sharp eye: The D3500’s 24.2MP sensor produces impressive stills, especially when paired with decent DX mount lenses.

✅ You value longevity: With a huge 1,550-shot battery life, the Nikon D3500 is a camera that can keep going and going on a single charge.

Don't buy it if:

You want to shoot 4K video: Unlike most smartphones, the Nikon D3500 is limited to Full HD recording, rather than 4K footage.

❌  You like to use a touchscreen: With the same fixed 921,000-dot display as the D3400, the D3500 doesn’t benefit from a touch interface.

Nikon has discontinued the D3500, but you can still find it at many online retailers. That’s a good thing, because it’s an ideal choice for beginners looking to sharpen their photography skills. Despite its age, the D3500 has a fantastically capable APS-C sensor. In our tests, we found the images it produced were top-notch. We were also impressed by its battery life and ease of handling.

While experienced photographers should look further down this list for a suitable DSLR, we think the Nikon D3500 is proof that you don’t have to pay a fortune to get a great camera. Its controls are accessible for learners and, in the right hands, it’s a match for cameras that cost a lot more. During our review, we praised its guide mode for the way it introduces novices to manual controls, building their confidence and creativity.

To get the most out of the 24.2MP sensor, we’d recommend buying the D3500 with the ‘VR’ version of its kit lens, as this incorporates Nikon’s image stabilization system at little extra cost. Nikon also has a vast catalog of DX system lenses, giving you plenty of choice when your skills advance enough to justify a glass upgrade.

Read our in-depth Nikon D3500 review


The best crop-sensor DSLR

best DSLR camera Canon EOS 90D being held in two hands

(Image credit: Future)
The best premium crop-sensor DSLR

Specifications

Sensor: APS-C CMOS
Megapixels: 32.5MP
Autofocus: 45-point AF, 45 cross-type
Screen type: 3.0-inch, 1,040,000 dots
Maximum continuous shooting speed: 10fps
Movies: 4K
Battery life: 1300 shots
User level: Intermediate

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent pixel count - highest in class
+
Uncropped 4K video

Reasons to avoid

-
Default JPEG noise reduction not ideal
-
No sensor-based stabilization
Buy it if:

✅ You like a lot of pixels: With a 32.5MP APS-C sensor, the Canon EOS 90D produces detailed stills with lots of cropping flexibility.

✅ You want to shoot 4K video: Unlike a lot of beginner DSLRs, the EOS 90D can record 4K footage at 30fps, using the full width of the sensor.

Don't buy it if:

You already have an EOS 80D: Unless you need the option of 4K video, the Canon EOS 80D does a remarkable job of shooting stills.

❌  You shoot a lot after dark: Noise is well controlled at lower ISO values, but it becomes very evident at sensitives above 8000.

The EOS 90D is quite the step forward for the EOS DSLR line. It's the first model of its kind to sport a 32.5MP APS-C sensor, which is a generous amount of pixels for both cropping and producing large prints. Unlike the earlier 80D, it also offers uncropped 4K video recording, while a new processing engine and faster burst shooting are also highlights. The 1300-shot battery provides far more juice than you'll get from the average mirrorless camera, while protection against dust and water is also a bonus.

In our review, we were impressed by the versatility of the 90D. It's an excellent all-rounder for those who like to photograph a broad range of different subjects. 

It's worth weighing up whether the benefits of a mirrorless alternative to the EOS 90D, like the Canon EOS M6 Mark II, might appeal to you. The M6 Mark II is smaller, cheaper and offers faster burst shooting. But by focusing on key areas like battery life, handling and a fully articulating rear screen, Canon has made the EOS 90D a strong and versatile alternative for anyone who prefers the DSLR experience.

Read our in-depth Canon EOS 90D review


The best full-frame hybrid DSLR

best DSLR camera Nikon D780 resting on some wood

(Image credit: Future)
The best full-frame hybrid DSLR

Specifications

Sensor: Full-frame CMOS
Megapixels: 24.5MP
Lens mount: Nikon F mount
Screen: 3.2-inch tilting touchscreen, 2,359,000 dots
Continuous shooting speed: 12fps
Max video resolution: 4K
Battery life: 2,260 shots
User level: Intermediate/pro

Reasons to buy

+
Fast live-view focusing
+
Tilting touchscreen

Reasons to avoid

-
Currently expensive
-
Big and heavy
Buy it if:

✅ You shoot video, too: One Nikon's most capable DSLRs for video, with 4K shooting and decent autofocus chops.
✅ You want a hybrid DSLR: Traditional DSLR benefits like great battery life and optical viewfinder fused with mirrorless tech.

Don't buy it if:

You want the best bang for buck: The D780 remain pricey and the mirrorless Z6 is a cost efficient alternative.
❌  You want high resolution photos: 24MP is nothing to sniff at, but the D850 has almost twice the resolution.

The D780 is effectively a hybrid of a full-frame DSLR and a mirrorless camera like the original Nikon Z6. And while it's still relatively expensive, the D780's slight price drop since it landed in 2020 means it's now our top pick for anyone who wants to combine the benefits of mirrorless tech and DSLRs.

Building on the solid foundation laid by the D750 (see no.8), the D780 uses the same 273-point on-sensor phase-detection AF system as the Z6, allowing it to focus rapidly when you're shooting via Live View. If you prefer to frame through its optical viewfinder, you'll be able to make the most of its impressive 2,260-shot battery life.

Our review revealed that the D780's image quality is among the best around, while its 4K video skills are boosted by the inclusion of modern features like Face and Eye detection. As one of the latest DSLR it's still quite pricey, but if that isn't an issue for you, then the D780 is one of the best full-frame all-rounders you can buy.

Read our in-depth Nikon D780 review


The best DSLR all-rounder for enthusiasts

best DSLR camera Nikon D7500 resting on the ground

(Image credit: Future)
The best all-rounder for DSLR enthusiasts

Specifications

Sensor: APS-C CMOS
Megapixels: 20.9MP
Autofocus: 51-point AF, 15 cross-type
Screen type: 3.2-inch tilt-angle touchscreen, 922,000 dots
Maximum continuous shooting speed: 8fps
Movies: 4K
Battery life: 950 shots
User level: Intermediate

Reasons to buy

+
Excellent 20.9MP sensor
+
Powerful 51-point AF system

Reasons to avoid

-
Only one SD card slot
-
Live View focusing slow
Buy it if:

✅ You have a budget of $1,100 / £1,000: The D7500 is regularly on sale and you'll struggle to find a better DSLR for the price.
✅ You're happy with the crop sensor: This is arguably the best all rounder DSLR with APS-C sensor.

Don't buy it if:

You shoot a lot of action: The quicker, dual-card slot D500 is the crop sensor camera to get for action.
❌  You want the best autofocus: Autofocus performance is the most notable sacrifice in this low-budget all-rounder.

Fancy the Nikon D500 but don't fancy the price tag? Well, if you're prepared to make a few compromises here and there, the D7500 is what you should be looking at. It's packed with the same 20.9MP APS-C sensor (or 'DX' as Nikon calls it) as its more senior stablemate, and also matches it in offering 4K video recording. 

Nikon has also furnished it with the same 180k-pixel RGB metering sensor and the tilting screen on the back is just as large at 3.2 inches in size, although not quite as detailed, and it's all wrapped up inside a weather-sealed body. In our tests, we were impressed by a number of things, including battery life, image quality and handling. It's a great all-rounder for those with a healthy amount of budget. 

On an even tighter budget? There's also the older 24.2MP Nikon D7200, which continues to offer great value – if you can find it on sale. 

Read our in-depth Nikon D7500 review


The best entry-level full-frame DSLR

best DSLR camera Canon EOS 6D Mark II being held in two hands

(Image credit: Future)
The best entry-level full-frame DSLR

Specifications

Sensor: Full-frame
Megapixels: 26.2MP
Autofocus: 45-point cross-type
Screen type: 3-inch articulating touchscreen, 1,040K dots
Continuous shooting speed: 6.5fps
Movies: 1080p
Battery life: 1,200 shots
User level: Beginner/enthusiast

Reasons to buy

+
Impressive features
+
Easy to use

Reasons to avoid