Canon vs Nikon: Mid-range DSLRs
If you’ve got a bit more wiggle-room in your budget, the next step up is the 'mid-range' camera. In recent years, these models have thinned out a bit – so you might want to jump to the next section (enthusiast), if you’re looking for something to cater for a wide variety of shooting needs.
Announced at the start of 2020, but marred by delays thanks to Covid, the Canon EOS Rebel T8i / EOS 850D is essentially a modest refresh of the 800D, bringing it more in line with up-to-date expectations, such as 4K video.
Cameras like this do little to outdo beginner-friendly mirrorless models, but if you prefer the handling of a DSLR, the 850D is a decent mid-range choice. Perhaps you’ve already got some EF-mount lenses kicking about and want a new body to go with them.
Handling is good, albeit with a slightly plasticky body. It’s got a nicely chunky grip and a decent array of control dials and wheels. Image quality is very good, while perhaps one of the big plus points for cameras like this is its extensive battery life – exceeding most mirrorless options by quite some way.
If you already own the 800D – or perhaps you can find it cheaply somewhere – there isn’t a huge amount to tempt you to upgrade, unless you’re particularly keen on 4K video (but bear in mind it has a significant crop factor which limits its appeal somewhat).
Meanwhile, the Nikon D5600, despite being quite some way older than the EOS Rebel T8i / 850D, offers a similar shooting experience. It also has a 95% viewfinder and a plasticky finish, but it's also missing 4K video – if you're mainly concerned with stills, though, then that shouldn't bother you too much. More positive aspects are its good image quality, a well-performing 39-point AF system, plus a comfortable design.
The Canon just about edges it, mainly due to those limited video specs on the D5600, but it is a very close call. It’s hard to pick between these two cameras – with them both sharing similar specifications, it might come down to your budget – in which case, the D5600 is the better value of the two. Both are good 'step-up' cameras, and they’d also make ideal choices for first-time buyers. Head to the 'enthusiast' section if you’re looking for something with a little more power, though.
Winner: Canon EOS Rebel T8i / EOS 850D
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Amy has been writing about cameras, photography and associated tech since 2009. Amy was once part of the photography testing team for Future Publishing working across TechRadar, Digital Camera, PhotoPlus, N Photo and Photography Week. For her photography, she has won awards and has been exhibited. She often partakes in unusual projects - including one intense year where she used a different camera every single day. Amy is currently the Features Editor at Amateur Photographer magazine, and in her increasingly little spare time works across a number of high-profile publications including Wired, Stuff, Digital Camera World, Expert Reviews, and just a little off-tangent, PetsRadar.